Every season has its share of chores which we need to grudgingly do to prepare us for what is coming. Winter is no exception.
As the temperatures drop and daylight hours dwindle, there are many things we should be doing to prepare ourselves and our homes.
Regardless of what you call home, be it an apartment, single-family home, or off-grid homestead, we all need to make preparing for the change in seasons a priority.
While there are a lot of things that we could do to prepare, I have compiled a list of some of the more critical preparations we should be doing.
If you have a wood stove or wood-burning fireplace, you already know that having enough wood is essential, especially during winter.
However, given the current economic climate and the prevalence of severe weather events, it would be prudent to increase your supply of firewood.
Power outages, supply disruptions, natural disasters, extreme cold, or a host of other problems could lead to relying on your wood pile more than in past years.
There is no downside to having more wood than you need, chopping is good exercise, and you will eventually burn it, even if it is not this winter.
Cold drafts are not only unpleasant, but they are a sign that your home is hemorrhaging heat.
Before the chill sets in, it is an excellent time to go around your house to ensure that everything is sealed tight and that your insulation is doing its job.
I like to use this time to check that any weather stripping I have installed previously is still in good condition and not in need of replacement.
Winter is the season for power outages, and we need to test our backup power options now before the lights go out.
Generators should be maintained, cleaned, and tested to ensure they run and can still provide the necessary power.
Battery banks should be topped up, checked, and tested. Now is an excellent time to confirm how long your battery bank will power the required devices without recharging.
Solar panels must be inspected and tested to verify that they are undamaged and produce the necessary voltage. Check the condition of all wires and connectors, confirming that the inverter and charge controller is working correctly.
All other alternative power supplies should be checked and confirmed to operate appropriately. Wind turbines should have their routine maintenance conducted, guy lines and mounting plates inspected and checked, and all cables, wires, and connections inspected for wear and damage.
Water wheels and turbines need to have routine maintenance performed. All cables, wires, and connectors must be inspected like other backup power systems.
Backup power is useless if it fails when we need it most.
As winter descends upon us and the growing season ends, it is an excellent time to take stock of our food storage and to ensure that we have enough in case of SHTF hits in the dead of winter.
Now is the best time to improve our stockpiles of food and supplies and to rotate out any old stock.
Winter may not bring a full-scale SHTF scenario, but it can cause supply chain disruptions, wide-scale blackouts, or other severe weather events that could cause us to dip into our stored food.
We must ensure that we have enough water and confirm that none of our water supplies are in danger of freezing.
For example, if you keep 55-gallon drums in the garage, check that they are not in a position where they could freeze when the temperature dips below zero.
I like to monitor the temperature around my various caches of water to confirm that the temperature is not getting too hot or cold.
SHTF does not have to be a massive event. A burst pipe will become a personal SHTF situation really fast, if it catches you by surprise.
Go around and ensure that all your pipes are protected from freezing and that you have measures in place to repair or replace sections that leak or burst.
Turn off outside faucets and cover them with an insulated cap to prevent them from freezing. Show every family member where the main water shut off is and how to kill the water to your home in case of a burst pipe.
The Exterior Of The Home
Take a walk around the outside of your home and check that there is no damage that needs repairing. Also, look for anything loose or needs further fastening so that it does not blow away during a winter storm.
Now is also a good time to inspect the roof for loose or missing shingles and any spots where there could be potential leaks.
If any projects require digging, moving them to the front of the line is a good idea before the ground freezes. Of course, some things can wait for spring, but if there is anything that you are planning that is more pressing, now would be a good time to get that project started.
It is sometimes tough to remember what articles of winter clothing wore out last year or were totally inadequate.
I like to look through my winter wardrobe in the late summer to see what needs replacing or an upgrade.
If you have children, then now is a good time to go through their closets and see what can be handed down or donated and who needs some new winter clothes.
Winter will bring winter storms, and those storms can result in blackouts. So, everyone should have a kit specifically for power outages.
Inside would be battery-operated flashlights, lanterns, and headlamps with enough batteries to run them for an extended period of time. Also include candles, warm blankets, a corded phone, a manual can opener, and a battery-operated or hand-crank shortwave radio.
Now is a good time to go through your blackout kit and confirm that everything works, the batteries are still good, and everything is in order.
We all hate doing chores around the house. When those chores directly affect our preparedness, they can not be put off for another day, especially when the past few years have shown us that winter can come earlier and with a bigger punch.