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10 Things You Need in Your Winter Survival Kit


Winter is coming. That’s right, another season of snow, cold and darkness is on its way. If you can’t get out of winter by flying south, get into winter by making the best of the season. One way to make winter work for you is by getting prepared for the worst. We’ve put together a list of the 10 items you need in your winter survival kit. Whether you opt for a pre-made kit or make your own, here’s what you should have on hand this winter to be ready for whatever nature throws your way.

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1. Watera

This one’s a biggie. In the event that you’re snowed in at home or in your car, having a water supply is more important than having food on hand. Not to be morbid, but you can go much longer without food than without water. Keep water in the car, not in the trunk, to reduce the risk that your water will freeze. If you live someplace with extreme winters and dangerous roads, you might consider springing for a small camp stove that you can use to melt snow and ice.

2. Blankets

In addition to staying hydrated, you’ll need to stay warm. Keep warm clothes and blankets at home and in your car. Again, it’s better to keep winter supplies in the main part of your car rather than in the trunk. You don’t want to have to step outside of your car in a white-out. A space-efficient and frugal option is the space blanket. Also known as emergency blankets or Mylar blankets, these crinkly silver blankets do a great job keeping your body heat in. Plus, they’re lightweight and small when folded.

3. Flashlights and Flares

Flashlights will come in handy if winter weather causes a power outage. They’re safer than candles, too. Just make sure that you check the batteries on your flashlights regularly. You may also want to consider a hand-powered flashlight or one with solar charging. For your car, stock a flashlight and flares. If you run off the road you can use both to signal for help.

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4. Shovel

10 Things You Need in Your Winter Survival Kit

If you’re snowed in, a shovel will be your best friend. Make sure yours is a comfortable length for you and light enough to use without tiring too quickly. Keep one in your car and at home and you’ll be able to dig your way out in case of a snowpocalypse. Don’t forget to use your shovel to keep the tailpipe of your car clear if you’re planning on running the engine.

5. Power Source

If you live in a place that frequently experiences blizzards and winter power failures, you may already have a backup generator. If you don’t and don’t want to invest in one, consider an alternative power source that you can put in your winter survival kit. This could be a power cord that connects to the electricity of your vehicle and charges your phone, a backup battery to power your phone at home or a hand-crank device that lets you produce your own power.

6. Food

10 Things You Need in Your Winter Survival Kit

Calorie-dense food that keeps well is best for winter preparedness. Keep some power bars, nuts and dried fruit in your car so you’ll have something to eat if you’re stuck in your vehicle. At home, keep a supply of food items that don’t require electricity or gas to be ready to eat. Canned goods are the standard here, but you can plan more gourmet survival foods if that’s your style.

7. Tools and Supplies

Some simple tools and supplies can help you manage the worst-case scenarios that can come with winter weather. A tarp and some duct tape can cover a hole caused by a falling tree. A tool kit and a good knife can help you make simple repairs when help can’t get to you.

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8. First Aid Kit

You should have one of these anyway, but if you’re putting together your winter survival kit and still don’t have a first aid kit in your car and home, now is the time to make that investment. A well-stocked first aid kit will give you peace of mind when a storm is on the way and help you weather what nature has in store for you. In addition to the standard first aid kit components, you should keep a supply of any medicines necessary to you and your family. You don’t want to be stuck in your car or home when your asthma inhaler runs out.

9. Radio

A radio lets you stay up on emergency announcements and weather updates. It will also provide a source of entertainment during potentially long, boring hours stuck at home or in your car. Look for radios that are battery powered or that have solar or hand-crank charging. Check your radio periodically to make sure it’s still in working order. NOAA offers its own weather radio.

10. Toiletries

No, we’re not talking about cologne or eyeliner. More like toilet paper and, for your vehicle, a jar with a lid. You get the idea. Being prepared with the basics will help you stay comfortable if you’re snowed in.

Bottom Line

You don’t have to be a full-on prepper to make some smart choices about winter readiness. Don’t let a blizzard catch you off guard this season. If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate you can probably skip the shovel, but certain items – a first aid kit, for example – are must-haves no matter where you live.

Update: Now that you’re prepared for wintry weather, you can focus on preparing for other things,  like saving for retirement.  A financial advisor is key to getting and staying on track with your retirement savings. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to up to three fiduciaries who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.

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