The sun is beating down, it’s somewhere around 80 degrees in the shade, there are hot dogs and fresh corn-on-the-cob corn on the grill, and the kids are splashing around in the pool. What time is it? It’s time to start stockpiling for winter, of course.
Even though it seems like snow and cold are in the far-distant future, there is no better time to start collecting necessities for winter than right now. By “winter necessities,” I do not mean items which are specifically related to weather, like snow shovels and roof rakes and sidewalk salt and windshield scrapers or winter clothing like sweaters and hats and mittens and boots. Although I would never discourage you from acquiring any of those things now if you can, there might not be adequate selections in stores quite yet.
I also am not referencing food. Most of us who are either off-gridders or homesteaders or preppers—or some combination of all three—keep a pretty good stockpile of food most of the time. In fact, canning garden produce and making big batches of cheese to put in the freezer are probably a couple of the activities we’re doing while the kids are swimming.
And even those who do not raise and preserve their own food often keep the larder full of store-bought non-perishables like grains and pasta and dry beans and canned goods. If your supplies of food are low right now, however, this is definitely the time to build them back up.
Water, too, is something that many people store all year long. But those of us who live out in the country know there is a greater chance during winter of being either without power or holed up at home during inclement weather, and recognize the need for storing water for other reasons, as well. I keep a couple of five-gallon jugs full of tap water on hand at all times—it’s nothing I would want to drink unless I absolutely had to, but it would work great for flushing toilets and other general household needs. But in winter, I double that amount, just because.
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What I do recommend that you start stocking up on now are basics that you use both year-round and in winter. Here are a few ideas to get you started compiling your own list of needs:
1. Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. If your life and well-being depend upon having access to medications, then you want to plan well in advance for the possible foul weather to avoid being without them. It is also a good idea to go through the medicine cabinet and replenish regularly used items such as aspirin and cold treatments, replacing expired meds as necessary.
2. First-aid supplies. Bandages, first-aid creams and ointments, hot packs, and any other supplies that your family uses should be sorted through and stocked up before winter.
3. Batteries. Don’t wait until the weather turns ugly to check the battery supplies. Whatever you use them for—flashlights, lanterns, radios, smoke detectors or other needs—there will never be a better time than now to stock up.
4. Diapers. If someone in your house wears diapers, don’t risk running out. Nobody will be happy if that happens.
5. Toilet paper. This is something that’s so easy to overlook, but so difficult to live without. Make sure you have enough on hand to see you through at least one snowstorm and two trips to the store without remembering to buy it.
6. Paper towel. If you use it, get it now. This goes for other everyday disposable products, too.
7. Hygiene supplies. While having soap and shampoo and conditioner and hand lotion and deodorant might not be at the top of everyone’s survival list, running out of whatever toiletries you are accustomed to using could be unpleasant. And chances are good that winter will bring about more inconvenience than true crisis—and by that I mean that while a half inch of freezing rain on the roads might not be the end of the world, it is enough to make you wish you had not run out of shampoo and were stuck with the choice of whether or not to risk driving on ice to go get some. Don’t forget to stock up on feminine hygiene products, too.
8. Laundry and cleaning supplies. As with personal hygiene items, having fabric softener on hand may not make a difference if anything truly catastrophic happens. But having clean clothes and housework done without having to go out in nasty weather will make life easier.
9. Pet food. This is another item which is easy to forget but important to have on hand. If you have pets, you know you won’t want them to go hungry.
10. Miscellaneous household and vehicle supplies. Different families have different needs, so your winter must-have list might look nothing like mine. Antifreeze, boot waterproofing, snowshoe bindings, long matches for the fireplace—evaluate your own needs, and stock up now.
Why is stocking up specifically for winter so important? Some items are more crucial in winter than during warmer months. Others are more likely to be used up when the weather is cold, and therefore there is a greater need for stockpiling. And some things are just so essential that you do not want to risk running out in the middle of a blizzard.
But why worry about it now? Remember that stocking up on many of these items can run into some money, and could be enough to put a strain on some households’ budgets if saved up and bought all at once. It’s easier to start well ahead of time and spread the costs out over multiple months. And people are so busy that last-minute tasks can steamroll right over them.
Planning ahead and anticipating potential needs is always prudent, and never more so than when dealing with household winter preparedness.
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