How to Be Prepared for Winter

You have to be prepared for winter.  It is too brutal to not.

Winter is coming and you have to get ready.   It is vitally important to prepare for winter. You will suffer big time if you don't. Winter in northern climates can be so stressful. It is hard to believe that so many people live where the winters are severe.

You need to get ready before the bad weather hits, not after. After a big storms starts is too late. Then you will struggle and suffer.  Do your preparing now, before the snow and cold. Get this done before you start your Christmas preparations. Start now.

You can have a less stressful winter if you get ready for it.  You can just relax and not worry.

If you don’t, you will struggle, you will suffer, and you will feel enormous stress.  You may even die.


From Milwaukee Journal

Third Milwaukee Area Death From Snowstorm Pile Up

I would stay off the freeways in northern states in snowstorms.


Winter is Frustrating

Winter is the most frustrating season for me because it takes up what I value most, time.

Just look at my list of winter woes that suck a lot of time:

  • You have to worry about it and spend time reading preparing for winter articles.
  • There is snow to shovel and salt to spread.
  • You have to walk much slower to avoid falling on the ice.
  • Putting on and taking off your big coat and gloves takes a lot of time.
  • Your house gets messy and dirty from the snow and salty snow.
  • All the extra work makes you more tired so you need to go to bed earlier.
  • You wear more clothes so there is more laundry.
  • The kids are in school so there is homework to help them with and school related meetings and activities.
  • You have to drive slower in the snow and ice.
  • You have extra time involved to clear your car of ice and snow.
  • You have to spend time changing all your plans due to bad weather.
First snow of season, November 21, 2015 Southeast Wisconsin

What to Buy to be Prepared For Winter

You will have to spend money.  I know you don’t want to.  Christmas is coming.  You already have bills to pay.  There are end of the year bills in addition to your normal bills.  But this is your life we are talking about.  You cannot get by without being prepared.  And being prepared costs more money.  The good news is that a lot of the things you buy you will put to good use and be able to use them over and over again in the years ahead. 

Here is the initial list to get you started on your budgeting:

  • New tires for your car
  • Keep your car full of gas
  • Get your car checked by a mechanic
  • New winter wiper blades for your car
  • Windshield scrapers
  • Windshield brushes
  • Salt
  • Shovels
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Coats
  • Long underwear
  • Boots
  • Wool socks
  • Winter pants such as lined pants or snow pants or wool pants.
  • Fleece sweatshirts
  • Sweaters
  • Scarves
  • Neck warmers
  • Extra water
  • Extra canned and dried food
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares
  • Flashlights
  • First Aid kits
  • Other Emergency items

The list is long and expensive.  But you need it.  You probably have some of this already.  Pull it all out and take stock of what you have.  See what is good and what is junk and make your list of what you need.  Throw out the junk.

Get out your winter clothes and have them all handy.  Put your summer clothes away and keep your winter clothes at the front of your closet and the top of you drawers.

Start buying what you can afford.    Ask for these items for Christmas gifts.  Tell people what you need.  They will love to give you something you can really use.

You may need to get prepared for winter over a few seasons if you cannot afford to get everything now.  The point is to start now, doing whatever you can now for these preparations.  You do not want to wait until you have the money for all of this, Use what money you have now to the best you can now.

Prepared For Winter -
How To Park Your Car

Your car is vital in being prepared for winter.  It may be the difference between living and dying.  It can certainly help you be prepared and less frustrated.

When you are expecting a big snowstorm back your car into the garage. Then when you drive out you don't have to do any backing. Backing up is the main time when you will get stuck in a snowdrift or hit another car in the street. You avoid all those problems by setting up your car to drive forward as much as possible.

If you need to park it outside, like at work, then park it in a smart way.  If you can, park in a covered structure if snow is on the way.  When you park in a parking lot keep the nose of the car at the edge of the drive aisle rather than at the front of another car.  This way you do not need to back up.  You just start driving forward.  You may need to park a little farther away to do this, but it is so worth it to avoid the backing up.

If you park in the street try to leave as much room as possible between your car and the car in front of you and in back of you.  The idea is to drive forward and out rather than having to do a lot of back and forth movements.  You may want to do some shoveling in front of your car and behind it before you try to move it.

What To Keep in Your Car to be Prepared for Winter

You don't have to bundle up with heavy coats, hat and mittens when the weather is good.  Most people do not bundle up all winter. There is not really a need to do that. It is not snowing and cold all the time.  Just be prepared for winter by having this gear in your car all the time.

I keep all of this gear in an collapsible type athletic bag

  • Pair of winter boots
  • Heavy mittens
  • Leather gloves
  • Fleece type gloves,
  • Wool socks
  • Winter hat
  • Fleece sweatshirt
  • Winter Work Coat

How Bering Prepared for Winter Paid Off For Me - Before I Got My 4X4 truck:)

I had to dig myself out of snowdrifts on the side of the freeway and I was very happy to put on my boots and other gear before I started this.  I had no idea that we were expecting a huge storm when I went to work that morning.  So I was just wearing my nice light leather jacket and light gloves that day.  That is what I wear most of the winter.

When I saw how heavy it was snowing later that day I decided to take the rest of the day off to try to beat the bad weather.

I lost.

I made it about ¾ of the way home on the freeway before winter beat me.  My windshield was so fogged up I could not see.  The plows only had half a lane on the freeway cleared.  I was afraid for my life.  I could not see in front of me at all. 

I stopped my car under a freeway overpass to get out and try clear my windshield so I could see. 

This is how being prepared for winter helped me.

I went to my trunk to change into my boots, winter coat, hat and big gloves and went to work clearing the snow from the hood and windshield.  I also had to clear the snow from the hood because it kept sliding down onto my windshield.  It was snowing so hard that I had to work really fast to stay ahead of it.

When I had it fairly well cleared I got back in the car to leave and found I was stuck.  I went back to my trunk for my shovel and spent the next 10 minutes clearing the snow from in front of and in back of my car.

This was on the freeway.  It was still snowing extremely hard.  Cars were going past me.

I was on my hands and knees clearing the snow from under my car.

I finally was able to get unstuck and made it home.

This is what can happen to you. You can be in these extremely adverse conditions.  You can make it home safely if you are prepared for winter.  You are not going to be able to work that hard in terribly adverse conditions if you are in your fancy, lightweight shoes and jacket.  You need to wear work type clothes to do that type of work.

I did not even have to ruin my good looking leather coat.

How to Clear Your Driveway and Sidewalks to be Prepared for Winter

The second best way(first is a 3 wheel drive vehicle) to be prepared for winter is to get a snowblower.  Dealing with a lot of snow is a pleasure with a powerful snowblower.

Get prepared for winter early.

Fill your snow blower with gas, check the oil, pump up the tires, start it up and place it in your garage so it is ready to go before the first snowstorm.  Keep it located in your garage so you can get it out without having to move your car.

Make sure your snow blower works before it snows.  Have it full of gas, with the oil checked.  When the snow comes, it will not want to start for the first time.  Start it up to make sure it starts in only a few pulls.  If it does not, then you have a problem.  You will have to get it fixed.

Even if you have a snow blower you will need a shovel or 2.  If you buy a better, more expensive, shovel it will last longer.  Plus it will be easier to use.

Check the condition of your shovels.  See if the handles are securely fastened to the shovel part.  See if the shovel is straight and not warped.

Keep your shovels where you need them.  I have them hanging right by the big door in the garage.

I also keep one standing outside on my back deck.  Then I can just clear the snow from my deck without going to the garage for a shovel.

I also keep one in the bed of my trunk.  I always had s small shovel in the trunk of my car.

When you first start snow blowing and shoveling, make sure and clear your driveway and sidewalks completely, maybe even a bigger area. Blow it as far away as you can. You never know how much snow there will be and how soon it will melt. If you don't start the winter with it being completely clear it will be harder and harder to clear as the winter drags on. You will have less and less room to put the snow. Your driveway and walks will get narrower and narrower.

Be Prepared For Winter By Knowing When to Do Your Errands

Stay ahead of your errands. Go sooner, rather than later. Don't wait for things to run out. You don't want to be low on food and personal necessities during a 3 day blizzard. You don't want to be forced to go out. It is so much better to avoid driving in the bad weather. Buy whatever is that you need most of the time. You need this stuff anyway so it is not a waste, you will use it. Buy an extra can of coffee, bottled water, canned and frozen food, toilet paper, Kleenex, whatever it is. The idea is that you can just stay home for a few days if you need to.

Just make up your mind that you will not always be able to do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it. Last winter there were so many weekends I wanted to go out, but didn't because of the snow and cold. I did not want to deal with the problems of winter. Winter also creates a lot more work. There are a lot more clothes to wash and a lot more messy floors to clean. Just brace yourself for the extra work.

Be Prepared for Winter By Driving More Safely

It looks bad because it is bad

If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared for winter and that you know how to handle road conditions. It's helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you're familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner's manual for tips specific to your vehicle.

You cannot really go wrong keeping your speed under control.

 I try to avoid big hills and areas where I know there is a lot of traffic.

It is better to try to keep to the roads with curbs on the sides.  When you drive on roads with curbs there will not be steep ditches that could slide off into. 

Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.

Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

Keep your lights and windshield clean.

Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.

Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.

Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

More Driving Tips to be Prepared for Winter

Here is some prepared for winter advice on driving.

What to do if your rear wheels skid

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
  3.  If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse -- this is normal.  It feels like you are driving over something.

What to do if your front wheels skid

  1.  Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.
  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

What to do if you get stuck

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.  Make sure you have a shovel in your vehicle.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first -- it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

If you are really worried about all this, get a 4 wheel drive vehicle.  It is the ultimate in being prepared for winter.

What to Do When the Big Storm is on the Way

Prepare for winter harder, do more to be ready and then stay home.  There is no sense to be out and about driving when it is a blizzard or 30 below.  The weather will be better and then you can get back to normal.

So many people try to live their lives as if the horribly difficult weather was no big deal.

It is a big deal.  It is difficult.  Everything you do will be much more difficult as well as much more dangerous.  You may be a good winter driver.  You may have a 4 wheel drive.  But the other people on the road will not.  They will crash into you.  Their car will get stuck in the intersection and back up traffic for miles.  Sometimes it is pure luck that will keep you alive.  Don’t always push it.

If you are prepared for winter you will be able to just stay in for a day or two and wait out the storm.  It will pass.

Going out for a gallon of milk or your prescription or even to work will not be needed.

That’s right, I said to stay home from work.  Save some vacation or time off or good will for the worst weather.  Your life is worth a few days of vacation.  Sometimes it is just a matter of waiting a few hours until it is lighter and the plows have been out.

You really have to examine your work schedule if you have to be there at a specific time in terrible weather.  Look for work that does not demand that you have to be there when the weather is terrible.

Being prepared for winter includes carefully choosing your work.

What to Do All Year Long to Be Prepared for Winter

You really should not have to deal with winter all year.  I do tend to keep it mind so if I find a really good deal on something that I know will come in handy during the winter, I buy it.

You can pick up nice shovels, snow blowers and other winter gear at garage sales.

It is always a good idea to have extra salt just in case.

You can also pick up cheap books, cheap movies and other interesting things to do when you are forced to stay home.

As to the other preparations, you really should always have bottled water, canned food and dry or boxed food stockpiled for whatever situation.  A bad storm is the situation.  It is the minor disaster that will probably happen to you at some time in your life.  It will probably happen multiple times to you until you move to a milder climate.

The big thing is just to be aware.  Avoid making too many long range commitments that force you to do things in the winter.

Outfitting Your Vehicle to Be Prepared for Winter

The best thing to be prepared for winter is to have a vehicle that is designed for winter.  This is a 4 wheel drive.  An all-wheel drive is almost as good.  Many front wheel drive cars are very good in winter weather also, if you buy winter tires.

Buy new tires more often.  A good schedule for a normal front wheel drive car is to buy 2 new tires every fall for the front wheels.  Then you move the front tires to the rear.  That way the front tires are new at the start of every winter season and the rear tires are only one year old.

It is expensive, but you do live in a winter climate and living where it is winter is more expensive in every way.

Buy new winter wiper blades at the start of every winter.  These types of winter blades work really well.  They have a rubber sleeve over most of the bracing so the snow does not stick in this area.  Plus new blades just work so much better.

Put all the gear discussed earlier in your car.  It will do no good sitting in the garage.  When summer comes you can remove this stuff from your car.

You may want to have some sandbags in your trunk.

Always keep your car gassed up.  When it hits half empty on your gauge, fill it up.

Keep some money in your car.

Prepared for Winter and Keeping Your House Clean

 Winter is messy.  There is all the extra laundry that never ends.  There are the snowy, wet clothes lying all over the place.  There is all the salt and sand your boots and shoes will drag in.  And there is no good way to avoid all this.  You just have to deal with it. 

Here are some simple ways to help

  • Put big mats and rugs in front of your doors to try to capture some of the salt, sand, dirt, mud and snow.
  • Put some sort of boot tray or rack near the door so people know to put their boots here rather than tracking a mess all over.
  • Have hooks or ways to hang up coats, hats, scarves and gloves near the door to keep the mess in one area.
  • Keep a mop or towels handy to wipe up the wet mess as easily as possible.
  • Try to avoid going in and out a lot to minimize the times you expose your feet to the mess.

Just realize that summer will arrive and bring with it a lot less work.

Make It Easy by Being Prepared For Winter

Just follow this guidance and use your common sense.

You need to approach being prepared for winter like any other project.  It is a series of steps and to do items.  Just start doing them.  Any preparation will help.  Don’t wait if you cannot afford to do everything or you do not have the time to do everything.  Make a list of to do items and do them as you can.  Winter is a long season.  It may be nice with no issues for months.  But you may get a big storm in March or even April.  It has even snowed very heavily in May in southern Wisconsin.

You know what to do now, so start doing it.  Spend less on trivial things that you can do without and more on your winter survival preparations.

Do these things now.  Get ready now.  You will not regret it.  If you do not use anything, these items will be ready for next winter and the next.  Terrible winters come.  Some winters are mild, most have times of severity.  Some are so terrible; you wonder how you will make it.

But you will make it if you are prepared.

› Prepared for WInter

Share a Story About This Topic.

Do you have a story about this or something to add? Share it!

[ ? ]

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

 submission guidelines.


(You can preview and edit on the next page)