How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Survival Scenario: Winter Storm

Don't get caught in this snowstorm!Picture with me the following scenario.

You sit down to watch the 6 o’clock news, and catch the weather man telling everyone in a lead story that a severe arctic storm is bearing down on your area, and you can expect to get several feet of snow over the next three days, with potential ice storms to follow. You immediately move into panic mode because you know you’ve been procrastinating on going grocery shopping and you’re almost out of milk.

You and hundreds of your best neighbors converge on the local grocery store, which rapidly begins to resemble a Kansas wheat field after the locusts have been through. You’re lucky enough to pick up a cart load of groceries and whatnot, but you really don’t have any sense of assurance that you have what it takes to get through the next couple of days. But hey, worst case scenario you can come back to the store in a day or two after they stock the shelves again. You make it home as the snow begins to fall, feeling a bit better about the whole situation.

Later that night, the power goes out and since your home only has electrical heat, things start to get a little chilly. You head to the garage to get your box of camping gear and pull out your sleeping bag to use for extra warmth. Unfortunately a little furry rodent seems to have needed a nest, and has torn the sleeping bag half to shreds. It’s usable, but good grief is it gross. Later that night you and your family are huddled in a little blob trying to keep warm. You’re not used to not having your furnace running.

The next day you realize you need to find a new solution for the whole heat problem. You head out to the car, fire it up, and drive towards the main road. As you get towards the entrance to your subdivision, you see half a dozen of your neighbor’s cars piled up at the bottom of the relatively gentle slope. Apparently it’s too darn slick to get up that hill. So much for heading to the store.

Four days later, cold, hungry as all get-out, the power goes on and your life begins to return to normal. The food in your refrigerator and freezer has spoiled, and the roads aren’t quite passable yet, but by afternoon the City has cleared them up. You head to the store and find the shelves still bare because the trucks haven’t been running for days. You manage to pick up a few weird looking boxes of some noodle soup and head home. The next day the stores get their regular shipments in and you finally manage to get your groceries.

All in all, it’s been a pretty miserable few days. Making matters worse, the stress of the situation and the induced stress from being cooped up with little food and water and less heat has gotten to you and your family. Right now you and your wife are barely talking and you know it’ll be days before you two are back to normal.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it.

Not to me. This is a scenario that is far too common, and far too likely.

Same situation, different circumstances.

Instead of moving into panic mode when you hear about the storm, you kick back and finish watching the news. After the news is over, you go and fill up a spare 5 gallon gas tank to add to the four you already have previously filled. This one was empty because you never filled it up after mowing the lawn at the end of summer.

You pull your generator out of the garage and put it outside in a small lean-to shed you built to keep it out of the elements when you need to use it. The shed is prewired with electrical connections into the garage and a few strategically placed outlets in your home. You get the generator fueled up and tested, and turn it back off, knowing it’s ready to go just in case. Then you head out to the back yard to make sure you have enough firewood put up nearby.

While you were getting the generator set up, your wife used up some of the more spoilable things in your fridge, making some cookies and preparing a casserole that can be frozen and reheated on your propane grill. Most of your frozen items are in a chest freezer in the garage as opposed to the small freezer that is part of the fridge. You planned this because you knew that a chest freezer will stay cold FAR longer than a standup freezer or the one on the fridge. As it turns out, just running it for an hour or so a day will keep it cold indefinitely during winter time. Shouldn’t be a problem at all.

When the power goes out, you bring in some extra firewood and fire up the wood stove fireplace insert you put in for the romantic atmosphere (and for emergency situations) and get some extra heat built up in the house. Your wife pulls out a few extra comforters for each bedroom and everyone heads to bed. After damping the fire, you head up to bed too.

For the next several days, you and your family eat from your well stocked pantry, barely dipping into your food storage room. Running the generator for a few hours a couple times a day you keep all the perishables cold, and you have no need to leave the house at all. You do check in on your neighbors a few times, bringing the retired couple next door some warm food at dinner time.

After the storm is over and the city has things cleaned up, you feel great. You had wonderful family time playing board games and other activities that you don’t need power for. The whole situation was actually less stressful than you might think, because you were prepared for the situation and you didn’t incur any emergency related stress. Your wife deserves major kudos for keeping all of those board games around in the day and age of the XBox though, that’s for sure!

Who would you rather be?

This scenario can really be applied for many different types of inclement weather. Work through what might be relevant for you and think about it!

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7 Responses to Survival Scenario: Winter Storm

  1. We got a taste of this scenario last winter with unusual snow that blocked truck deliveries. There were empty freezer cases and bare shelves at the local grocery store. I was not very well-prepared for it. Now I know it can happen anytime, not just in a big catastrophic event.

    • it ends up not being JUST grocery stores. Gas stations, convenience stores, fast food and other restaurants. Basically, all of your modern conveniences can be affected by a weather event like this. Be prepared!

  2. Must comment. After our snow storm last year we had no power for almost a week. I didn’t think it was that bad, but i wife put her foot down and told us to get a generator installed. We now are the proud owners of self starting generator with an automatic transfer switch (auto cuts in when the power is lost). As i think about it, it will be a good investment as i travel a lot, and a storm hitting when i am out of town will really be a hardship for the family. The generator was pricey, but we have a peace of mind. Just have to keep the propane tank full!

  3. Where i work there was a manager that had no power for over a week. He was a wreck. Most people didn’t have that long of power outage. As i think back to that time, what you say is exactly right. So many little things made life really hard. Thing was i didn’t know WHen the power would come back. That was kinda scary for my girlfriend and i. I will take your advice and think this through a bit more and get a little more organize. Didn’t know there was so much to think about as we start the family!

  4. […] Even if you’re not in the immediate line of fire of a natural disaster you have to recognize that our transportation system is fragile.  There is a high likelihood that along with any disaster will come a significant interruption in the supply of goods.  Think empty shelves at the grocery store and dry fuel tanks at the gas station.  Be sure you’re prepared.  For a real life example of what could happen, read my post on a winter storm survival scenario. […]

  5. Snowmageddon last year for us – , 30″ of snow meant 5 days no power and we had to leave after two. Ifyou are on well ther is no water after your inside tank is empty with no power to work the well pump and the house got cold. With an elderly father living here I had to storm proof the house. I staggered the cost of a generator, transfer switch and extra gas containers over the next few months. So, for about $1600 total – (that’s for generator , an electrician to install a 10 circuit manual transfer switch and the 40′ generator cord) we can live comfortably. It’s not automatic – but simple enough to do. There is now a large plug on the side of the house – and the gencord gets plugged in between that and the generator. Now just need to switch on the circuits in the transfer switch panel and we will have use of the well pump, furnace, lights and all outlets. Can’t use high wattage stuff like washer, dryer, dishwasher or stove but can cook/heat food with a microwave or crockpot and the fridge will keep running. Most around here only keep the house running during the day – at night they turn off the generator since the house will stay warm enough and the fridge will stay cold enough till the next day when you can fire up the generator again.