by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

People, I hate to tell you, but it’s time to start preparing for the winter.

Very soon the holidays will kick into full gear. Everyone will be shopping. Everyone will be more rushed. It’s a fantastic time of year, but before you get into that holiday season of peace on Earth, how about preparing now for a little peace of mind?

To that end, I asked my Facebook followers how they’re prepping for the winter. Their answers were so insightful that I thought you’d enjoy reading some of them.* (By the way, for medical supply suggestions, download my free list.)

Food Prepping
Top-10 Most-Mentioned Winter-Survival Supplies

10. Tie: Heaters
Tie: Warm clothes

9. Tie: Radio/two-way radio
Tie: Cooking supplies (wood stove, solar oven, grilling equipment)
Tie: Batteries

8. Matches/lighters

7. Firewood

6. Tie: Fuel (gas, lamp oil, cooking fuel, etc.)
Tie: First aid, medicines and remedies

5. Blankets/sleeping bags

4. Water

3. Food: dried, frozen, boxed

2. Lighting (candles, lamps, flashlights)

1. Food: canned

Got lots. Canning potatoes this weekend from a friend. Have a whole pig coming also. Will live good.

Canned goods and snack bars and crackers. Always have candles handy.

Solar oven and dehydrated food and spices so it will taste yummy.

Butchered our 350 lb. pig and soon to be 45 or so chickens, plus still have deer hunting season. So this time of the year is busy. I have been rendering lard and canning it as well as dehydrating all kids of things. Last thing was potatoes.

Getting dried foods put up and seeds put away. Canned foods.

Been stocking up on canned foods. Work for a battery company.

Hunting season! Time to put meat in freezer and canning jars.

Travel Ready

Candles, waterproof matches, and a good supply of newspaper … and ice melt. I am also updating my winterized 72-hour kit for when I travel this winter.

I shopped Amazon and bought the four-piece military sleep system for $64. It’s going in the trunk of my car.

I’m checking out the car list. Keep in mind if you have supplies: Always make sure you have the most updated items. Example: I didn’t know flares expired until seeing Deadliest Catch. And the newest updated fun stuff like combination key chain whistle compass. Of course the usual: blanket, snacks, metal can, emergency candle (candle can heat a car), flashlight, etc. One thing to remember is the Space Bags. I put blanket and most of items in. It vacuums flat if not close to it. Plus it’s waterproof. Don’t let the cheap version fool ya. Don’t work.
Barbara D.

I started readying my winter car pack.

Have a 4-wheel-drive SUV so I can get to the store.

Don’t forget cash and gas.

47 Ways You’re Preparing for Winter Survival This YearOne thing I tell my college peeps is to put a sleeping bag and kit in the BACK SEAT of the car. If they happen to go in the ditch or get hurt, they can reach that versus trying to get out in a snow bank to get it out of a possibly damaged or snow covered trunk or trying to open the inside way to the trunk.

Heat and Power


Got it. I’m ready. Would like more fuel put up just in case for the generator.

Forecasters saying will be colder than usual winter, so trying to get firewood ready & stocking more canned goods than usual.

Loose Ends

Picking up loose ends and focusing on first aid.

Check, check, check and more checks.

Winter Survival With Children

If you have small children buy “shelf milk.” It can be placed on shelf till needed. I drink it often. I keep bunch on hand. Great way to make sure kids get milk, and it actually tastes great!

Self-Sufficient Winter Survival

We live in the very north of Texas and live about 50 miles from the nearest Walmart. It could be 20 below this winter or 80 degrees, lol. We always stock up on food and meds and household supplies. You just never know if we will need ’em for winter storms or when we are too busy to drive the 100 miles round trip to town.

I live in the mountains of Va., and I don’t need stuff for my car, but I am prepping my house. Have a wood stove and 9 acres of wood. Have cases of water and 500 jars of canned food. Plenty of dried beans and rice. Stocking up on dog food. Eight propane tanks if I need to can freezer stuff. Plenty of batteries and lamp oil, and my husband is a ham radio operator. Need a hand pump for well. And if that’s not enough then its time to be with Lord!

Winter Survival in Canada

In Quebec we check to see if we need new cleats for our boots because now the winters get rain which can freeze and turn to ice. Then often fresh snow falls on ice; very sneaky! The wood gets brought in latest September to dry for Nov., Dec. I always keep candles, some canned goods and homemade bread in the freezer.  I’ve stocked up on thermal underwear, socks and a coat good to -30. Farmers’ Almanac predicts a cold winter.

Winter Survival in the Southern United States
Spam or No Spam?

My family used to call Spam hurricane food. I did not know people really ate it without a weather emergency until I moved from FL to SC.

Some Southerners fry slices and eat it on a sandwich. Personally I don’t care for Spam.

I love Spam … yum. My family hates it; they hate any canned meat.

In Fl. we prep for hurricane season instead of winter. Batteries, water, canned food/nonperishables, ice, candles, first aid kit and stuff to grill, with extra charcoal or gas.

In north LA (Louisiana) we have to prepare for hurricane season, then ice storms. We stock up early because stores always run low when a storm alert is issued. Canned goods, pouch tuna, bottled water, antibacterial wipes, and equipment to cook on a fireplace or grill. Of course, firewood, first aid materials, emergency repair materials, and matches. Bought a water filter, hand-crank light/radio, and rechargeable solar lanterns last year. After volunteering during hurricane Katrina, I will never want to find myself unprepared.

Well, in south Texas my kit rarely changes. Hooded sweatshirt and plenty of water as usual.

Stocking up on firewood. Our house’s main heat source is a fireplace. Good thing we live in Arkansas!

I live in the Houston area. Winter is not as big of a problem here.

Still in upper 70s here in Ga. on Nov 1. Winter prepping.

Prepping It All
Been There, Done That Winter-Survival Tips

There may not be an open store or restaurant. You may need battery lamps and flashlights. Lots of water and food. These are things I learned as a child, and I am 69. If the power goes down everything in life changes.
Brenda R.

We always do [prepare] here. We have gone without power for a total of 15 days. We could have gone longer, but when the lights came back on we all did the happy dance.
Brenda L.

A little tip: Always go hand-cranked lighting and radios. It’s just as cheap as battery operation if not more.

The heaters I make, cheap ‘n’ easy. Probably already have these supplies at home. Note: i use 000 steel wool instead of toilet paper:

Just one other tip here for those who store dried beans with emergency supplies: We always put lentils with our emergency stash because unlike other beans, they require no soaking and cook in much less time, using less fuel/energy.

Colorado here too. Got ECW [extreme cold weather] bags for my daughter and I; made alcohol portable heater for truck too. We won’t freeze in a worse-case scenario. Keeping up on turmeric and smoothies with echinacea to keep the sickies at bay. Apple cider vinegar too.

In Ohio we prepare for the winter, because we never know what the winter will be like here. I keep a blanket for each family member plus one extra in my van, water, snack bars and a couple boxes of cereal.

Got the chickens on deep freeze, beef coming next week, generator ready, fuel stocked, canned some, stocked canned and dried food, meds and toiletries. Must do more water, still working on firewood.

Soup, lots of soup. Canned goods, blankets, and lots of batteries.
Barbara M.

Blankets, nonperishables, candles.

Antibiotics, down or fake down comforters, garbage bags.

Water; blankets; food and extra clothes and a lighter and plastic and feet, body and hand warmers in my car and home.

Candles in the car too! Dry soups weigh less. Taped the windows and wrapped them in bubble wrap.

I need matches, batteries and toilet paper for back stock.

Wood stove you can cook on. Wood. Soups. Water and filtration. Blankets. Candles, hand-cranked radios and lights.

I need to buy some solar lights. Need to can more meat. Need more dried foods. I’m about half there on my basic items. I’ll get stocked up soon. Won’t take long.

Always Prepared

47 Ways You’re Preparing for Winter Survival This YearI always keep lots of canned items, keep our oil lamps full and keep candles/ matches/lighters, kerosene heaters ready, stock up on gallons of water. I’m ready!

Not doing anything different than normal. We always have soup, fresh water, oil lamps on hand. I also keep Gatorade in the pantry for emergency sickness. Over the years I’ve made lists when the power goes out. So now were pretty set. Also have lots of extra vitamins, cough drops and honey.

I like to stock up on Sterno or heat-in-a-can during the summer, so I have plenty during the just-in-case winter months.

I have a hard time finding Sterno heat this time of year in my area. Do you order it online or buy local?

I think on Money Saving Mom it showed how to make 20-hour burning candles in pint jars for home. You can use a roll of toilet paper in a gallon size, can pour rubbing alcohol on it and light for heat and light. Also cans of vegetable shortening with a wick are cheaper and burn cleaner probably than the Sterno cans. YouTube has lots of ideas for staying safe and warm. Buy some outdoor solar yard lights, bring inside and put in front of window during the day to recharge, and stick in plants or vases, etc., in the evening for lots of light no cost.

Every 10 years or so it floods here in California. We have a camp trailer stocked with food and water. Everything else we need to survive. In our cars we have the same gear as always. Food flashlights. Shotguns and ammo. Camouflage netting and jumpsuits. Space blankets. Two-way radios, etc.


Whew, don’t you agree they’re great? How about you? How are you preparing?


*Responses have been lightly edited for clarity, spelling, etc.

Disclaimer: I can’t vouch for the do-it-yourself tips, such as making homemade heaters. All the tips in this article are for your general information in case you’d like to research further.