Cold Weather Survival Tips

jeep in snowThe weather outside is frightful but you’re home safe from the dangers cold weather poses. Only, you’re not as safe as you think. That’s the harsh truth.

But the good news is that you have most of what you need scattered throughout your home. With a little organization, you’ll have a cold weather survival kit and emergency plan in no time. Work a little more, and you will have a plan and kit for your car, too.


So, let’s get started. Knowing your home will help you control any cold weather emergency from the start. In some instances, it might avert one altogether. Every adult family member, including you, should know where/how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity.

TIP: Include a photograph and written (printed) instructions in your cold weather survival kit so you have a refresher at hand when you might be under stress trying to remember what to do.


Rotate your stash of bottled water, non-perishable foods, and batteries we know you already have stocked away. You don’t want to be caught with out-of-date food and batteries in your cold weather survival kit. That defeats the purpose of being prepared. Be sure you have food appropriate for the weather. It goes (almost) without saying that it should be food you can eat even if you can’t cook it.


With any alternative heating source, make sure it’s operational before the emergency arises. Train other family members how to properly use and maintain it.

If you have a wood burning fireplace or stove, remember to chop enough wood before a cold-weather storm hits and store it in an easily accessible, dry place.


Whether you’re home without power or traveling in cold weather, dress in lose fitting layers. And make sure to have lots of extra blankets to keep warm under. If you’re traveling, keep an extra set of clothes for you and your family in a to-go bag in the trunk of your car. Include extra hats, gloves, scarves, shoes, and socks.

It’s particularly important to guard against being stuck in wet clothes. Wet clothing or shoes can quickly rob you of body heat when stranded during a winter storm. This can lead to hypothermia.

Car Kit

Being prepared on the road is a lot like being prepared at home. So, you’ll want a battery-operated radio, cell phone charger, flashlight with additional batteries, a first aid kit and food. In this instance, energy bars, candy bars and dried fruit are great portable food choices that don’t need cooking. Don’t forget the water.

For a road trip, pack an additional 7-day supply of medication and dietary needs. If your doctor or pharmacist isn’t already in your contacts, make sure to include them before heading out.

Cold weather doesn’t differentiate between local travel and long-distance travel, so make sure to always have the following items in your car during the winter months:

  1. Large, warm blankets – enough for you and all your passengers
  2. Snow shovel
  3. Windshield scraper
  4. Broom
  5. Kitty litter for traction
  6. Flares and reflectors
  7. Candles and matches
  8. Rope or tow chain
  9. Booster cables
  10. Distress flags

Review best practices for being stranded in a car in cold weather. Know when to hunker down and wait and how to make that wait as pleasant and safe as possible. Remember to conserve your strength if the wait is likely to be a long one. Do the right things to make your vehicle visible to others.


Like any preparedness activity, there is a lot here to consider. Don’t do it all at once, or at the 11th hour. Get started today by taking an inventory of what you already have and compare it to what you need. Then go get what’s missing. We’re betting you don’t need as much as you think you do. Don’t forget to discuss your cold-weather survival kit and plan with your family. Remember: practice, practice.

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About Bret Smith

I am a long-time lover of all things outdoors. Whether hunting, shooting, fishing or just hiking and camping, I take every opportunity to enjoy nature and share it with others.

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