Survive the Winter
Make it through using these Ten Winter Survival Tips
Don’t be left out in the Cold
Winter can leave any time now! The frigid -40 temps that a lot of us have been experiencing have left a lot of us out in the cold. Being prepared for a brutal winter is something that I always thought I had a handle on but boy was I wrong. The past few weeks have been a learning experience for me. I’ve learned many tips and some tricks to survive and get through this chilly season. Here are my 10 tips to help you survive the winter.
Country living at it’s finest! I have thought myself as a rugged rural kinda gal that can handle not having all the amenities of city living. We don’t have city water and we run on a cistern and septic system and we heat with wood. As a rule, I do very well. I have no issue going pee outside when I need to or camping without all the gizmos and gadgets to make the experience as comfy as can be. What I can tell you is that these past few weeks living like Laura Ingalls in the little house on the prairie has been an experience and one that has tested my resolve and patience.
That said, there’s no choice or option but to make the best of the situation. It is what it is. It will either kill me or make me stronger. It’s up to me whether I break down or learn from it all. I have chosen to learn and push on. This said, I’ve had my moments where positivity has left the building and I ranted like a mad woman. To be honest, it was a great release.
I was never a boy scout (obviously) but I always have been one to think ahead of different scenarios that may play out and prepare for them. The whole year of 2017 had been very difficult for us and it’s played into 2018 as well. Life and a little bit of Murphy’s Law (or rather a lot) had a hand in us not being as prepared for winter as we would have liked to have been. I’ve learned a thing or two about surviving and getting through the cold of winter and I’m passing it along. Although most of my suggestions are geared towards life in the country, if any of my tips and suggestions help anyone, I’m a happy camper.
Tip 1: Test Baseboard Heating and Portable Heaters
While we primarily heat with wood, we do (or rather did) have the option of using baseboard heating. When I first tested ours they set off our smoke detectors. This may have been due to dust being caught inside and on the heating elements where I couldn’t get at to clean out. It wasn’t until further testing and inspection that I noticed that the wires were frying on one of them. Well there went that and I turned them all off just to be safe. Our one portable heater that we had was being used so much that it went kaput. So heating with wood was now our only option. I do know a lot of people though, who like to take a camper van to go camping in (instead of a tent) and they like to use an RV battery to help them keep warm, but I guess it’s up to you to how you want to keep warm on your camping expedition.
Tip 2: Check Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors!
It’s important to check these devices periodically. They do have an expiry date! Since we heat with wood, I am always making sure ours are up to date and have new batteries installed. I test them periodically too.
Tip 3: Stockpile Wood & Have Back Up Resources for Heat!
As a rule, we stockpile wood to be prepared for the winter heating season. During the summer, we thought we were well on our way. We have a lot of wood that was given to us by a tree removal service but it had to be split and then left to sit and cure. Our log splitter had very different plans and went kaput which left us with no way to split the wood. Our only next option was to purchase wood from our local wood guy. Well turns out that facility had a fire and had no wood for anyone around here to buy. This left a lot of people scrambling actually. Our next option was to let our fingers do the walking and contact other businesses. We found one but they won’t have any wood until the beginning of February. Oi Vey! I loathe winter!
Tip 4: Bundle Up Like Ralphie!
With no wood for heat we have been wearing our outerwear indoors. Sleeping bags and multiple comforters on the bed have become our best friend. Having no heat in the home has no doubt contributed to our freezing pipes. Did I mention how much I hate winter yet? LOL
Tip 5: Keep a Snake & Bags of Rock Salt on hand!
No, not that kind of snake. The snake I am talking about is one that can be used to travel down pipes in an effort to find clogs. Sometimes, depending on how frozen pipes are, using a snake will do the trick in moving the obstruction. The snake can be used in conjunction with a plunger and Rock Salt. It’s not just for sidewalks and steps. Who knew that rock salt is great for thawing frozen pipes?! I sure didn’t until recently. Our pipes have been frozen for more than two weeks. Adding a bit of rock salt into a sink or toilet before plunging won’t always work bit it’s worth a try. We managed to thaw our pipes this way for a couple of days. In those couple of days I was able to shower, do laundry and use my toilet! It was the best two days of this entire winter and to be honest it was better than Christmas. This was something to get excited about! LOL
Tip 6: Keep jugs of water on hand!
We live in the country and require our water to be trucked in. As a rule, we have quite a few jugs of drinking water filled at any given time. We only use the water that is filled in the water tank for laundry, showering and doing the dishes. Having water jugs stored away will ensure that everyone has water to drink, meals can be cooked plus daily cleansing and the odd laundry load can be done.
Tip 7: Have a couple of empty tote bins on hand!
When pipes freeze and the sink is unable to be used, these totes will come in handy. Water from the spare jugs can be heated and added to the totes. Doing this can be used for multiple purposes.
The first being washing the dishes. Feeding the family and dirty dishes piling up don’t stop because the pipes are frozen. Having a tote bin to wash and one to rinse the dishes will help immensely. The second purpose is having the ability to wash some laundry if need be. Sometimes going to a laundromat isn’t feasible or leaving the driveway for that matter. This method was great for washing small things like socks, underwear and one pair of pants each for the hubby and I. Once I was satisfied that the clothes were clean, I rinsed them in the second tote and wrung them out the best that I could. Then I just popped them in the dryer and presto! We had some clean clothes for the next few days. The other use for the totes is for a standing shower. I wish I had thought of this a lot earlier! Just fill the tote with hot water, stand inside and carefully bathe trying not to get water all over the place. It was great and fantastic to have water cascade over me. It was the best feeling ever!
Tip 8: Stockpile Wet Naps and Hand Sanitizer!
When water is scarce, having these on hand is a godsend as it’s not always possible to wash your hands. The wet naps can be used after meals and then tossed away. To keep the germs at bay, applying the sanitizer to hands in the morning and throughout the day will help to keep every ones hands clean and germ free.
Tip 9: Have A Generator & Fill the BBQ Propane Tanks!
It’s always a great idea to make sure that the propane tanks for the BBQ are full. Propane is very efficient source of energy, but is often harder to maintain. You can find out more about propane and it’s uses on a site such as PropaneTennesse.com, and it might be worth checking them out if you want to find out more about propane. If your power goes out sporadically during the winter such as mine does, doing this will ensure that you can at least cook a meal or heat water. Not everyone has or can afford a generator to keep the power going so having the BBQ as a backup is great.
Tip 10: Stockpile Plastic Bags (Eco Friendly) & Have 2 Pails on hand!
This may sound really gross to a lot of people but when you can’t use the toilet there are not many options to be had. I mean, when ya gotta go ya gotta go! We do not have an outhouse and in this frigid cold I wouldn’t use one anyhow. I have only had one option and that was to place a plastic bag into a pail and do my business in there then tossing the bag into a larger green garbage bag which we have been keeping in a can outside. Going pee has been much easier. We have a separate pail for that. Once done we just pour it out in the yard into a designated spot.
Stock up on Hot Hands, food and other essentials. Hot Hands have been my best friend alongside my comforters and warm winter wear. I’ve been using them at night and during the day when I need to warm up. I find I’ve been using the ones for my feet in my boots more so than the ones for my hands. If my feet are warm the rest of me is much warmer.
So this is my life right now until this winter freeze leaves us and hopefully it is sooner than later!
Are you caught in the grasp of this winters deep freeze? If you have any other tips or suggestions that I haven’t mentioned, I’d surely LOVE to hear about them. I might even use them to help us through this nasty cold winter season.
Christine is a mom, a soon to be grandmother and a fur mom to one ‘fur baby’, a dog named Tracker who is never far from Christine’s side. A devoted gardener, during the spring and summer months Christine can normally be found tending to her flower and vegetable gardens. Living in Southern Ontario near Lake Erie, Christine enjoys spending time outdoors and is an avid hiker. She also loves doing small diy projects in her spare time.
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