Winter Prep Checklist

By: Valerie


Are you ready for winter? Ready or not, winter is taking aim at this country, and if you haven’t already, now is the time to get your winter preps done. Checklists are a great way to ensure you don’t miss anything.


If you live in the North, you’re probably well ahead of the game. For us down here in the South, it’s about time to get going before another snow and ice storm hits, like last January. And, if you’re like me, you love to see a checklist with things you can go ahead and mark off right away, because you’ve already done it!



  • Make sure your car has plenty of anti-freeze, and that you’ve got more tucked away in your garage. Go ahead and check your other fluid levels as well.
  • Check your windshield wiper blades. Replace them if they look worn or haven’t been doing a good job.
  • Take a peak at your tires. Check the tread to make sure you’ve got adequate grip on the roads. Switch to snow tires if you live in an area where they are needed.
  • Check your filters, spark plugs, and batteries. If you aren’t mechanically inclined, have an auto mechanic give your car a once-over.
  • Make sure your all your lights are in good working order. Check the headlights, taillights, and blinkers.

Car Survival

  • Take a look in your BOB or GOOD bag/container. Is there anything you need to add to it?
  • Add extra blankets to your BOB, and throw an another blanket in your trunk or backseat.
  • If you have warm-weather clothes in your bag, switch them out for warm clothes. Don’t forget extra pants, shirts, socks, and boots, in case what you have gets wet from snow or rain.
  • Add extra socks to your car or bag. Extra as in, in addition to what you just put in there.
  • Double and triple check to be sure you have enough warm clothes and blankets for your kids.
  • Check the date and quality of the food and water in your car or BOB. Now’s a good time to rotate things out if you haven’t done it recently.
  • Add some small toys or crayons and paper to make sure you can keep the kids occupied. Travel in winter weather can take longer than normal, even if it is safe to travel.


  • Stock up on your alternative heating options—firewood, gas for generations, etc. Don’t forget about matches, lighters, fire starters, and all the other accessories needed to keep warm.
  • Make sure you have plenty of water. You’ll need water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene, and for pets as well.
  • Rotate your food storage if needed, and stock up on cold weather treats to have on hand. Hot chocolate, marshmallows for the kids, and plenty of beans and seasoning for chili are a great start.
  • Get more batteries. You know you’ll use them.
  • Check your gutters and downspouts. Clean them or have them cleaned.
  • Make any repairs to your home that will ensure you stay warm and safe during any winter storm.
  • Trim any tree limbs that could fall on the house if the weight of ice caused them to break.
  • Winterize your pipes, appliances, windows, and doors. Check insulation and install storm doors if needed.
  • Stock up on inexpensive games and toys for the kids to squash cabin fever. Or, put away some of the toys the kids already have and bring them back when the “I’m bored!” whines begin.


  • Get a weather radio. Set it to notify you of any winter weather advisories, watches, or warnings.
  • Understand the risks in your particular area. If you’re used to snow, ice or wind chills might be a bigger concern. If snow is uncommon, like in the South, where it tends to shut everything down, you’ll need to be ready to head to the store BEFORE the masses hit the streets.
  • Sign up for weather alerts that are specific to your area. This is also great for spring and summer severe weather.
  • Have a game plan for getting the kids home from school if it is canceled early. Also, go ahead and think about what you’ll do with the kids if school is called off for a day, and you still have to report to work.
  • Print some checklists or spreadsheets to catalog your survival inventory. It’ll give you something to do when you can’t play checkers for the millionth time.
  • Make notes of things that do and don’t work if you experience power outages or other quasi-end of the world situations.


What do you do to get ready for winter? What’s on this list that you hadn’t thought of or done? What can you add to this list to help someone else?

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  1. Great idea to post this, Valerie. I might come up with more stuff later but here are a couple more ideas.

    Add fuel stabilizer to your stored fuels, especially E10 gasoline. I normally use Stabil which makes things start much better come Spring but this year I’m thinking about trying this.

    In addition to having spare antifreeze I like to carry a spare quart of oil or two, deicer spray (also great for killing wasps during the warmer months), gas treatment like Heet, and spare wiper blades in the car. Good time to check your vehicle hoses as well. Also time to put the ice scraper, snow brush, and snow shovel into the car if you don’t leave them there. I like to carry a tire pressure gauge, not all gas station air compressors have gauges. Small toolkit couldn’t hurt either. If you used one of the rinky-dink small inflatable spare tires and just tossed it in the trunk, replace it; they’re only good for 50-100 miles or so. Oh, this subject could be it’s own post.

    If you have some electric-start equipment like garden tractors, motorcycles, etc. throw them on a quality trickle charger. Cheap trickle chargers can eat a lot of juice and/or reduce your battery’s lifespan. I like the Battery Tender Jr product but there are many other quite acceptable choices. Batteries are expensive and you only have to buy trickle chargers once.

    Depending on where you are in the country it might be a bit late for this, but decide whether your septic system tank needs to be emptied. Nasty task in the winter (which might mean it costs more money), and could be a major problem for you if it overflows.

    Seasonal equipment like snow blowers – check that they run and operate properly. Of course if you have a generator you start and test it periodically as well, right?

    If you plan to spend more time indoors this winter, pick a special project to do over the winter. You could do a lot worse than earn a ham radio license to improve your emergency communication skills and capabilities.. Once you’re licensed you can participate in public service events and get exposure to trained emergency services people and in many cases free training. Please understand, a ham license is not the only way you can get such exposure but it’s a very good way. Understanding basic electronics is also a very useful skill.

    Plan next year’s garden.

    I *know* there are a lot more good ideas out there, let’s hear ’em.

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