Emergency kits all share some basics: flashlight, batteries, some extra water, etc. But as anyone who lives in a cold climate will tell you, losing power in the dead of winter presents a slightly different set of challenges.
To address those challenges, we've assembled this Cold Weather Emergency Kit gallery, so you won't be left out in the cold the next time the polar vortex knocks out your power.
A winter storm coats a suburban neighborhood. (Credit: Flickr/~*~Jen~*~ )
Such a simple thing, isn't it? But if a power outage robs you of your heat, too, you'll want a few extra blankets on hand to stay warm.
Ideally, keep them in an easy-to-access location, like a trunk or first floor closet. Make sure they are not exposed to mold or moisture. And if possible, keep them stored away from an exterior wall, where they're liable to get cold and not so much fun to bundle up in.
Like the blankets, some extra cold weather apparel can go along way towards letting you ride out a cold weather power outage.
Consider storing all or most of your winter gear in once location, like a mud room, foyer or laundry room dresser. That way the whole family knows where to go to find an extra pair of mittens or that knit hat to keep the ears warm. Some extra winter hats in particular are important, since we lose most of our heat through our heads.
It can be tempting to wander out into a snow storm after losing power to get a sense for the breadth of the outage and to check in with neighbors. In reality, this move can put you -- and utility workers -- in greater harm, especially if road conditions are poor.
To stay up to date on a storm's progress and the work being done to restore power, keep a battery-operated or hand-crank radio in your cold weather emergency kit. They are relatively inexpensive and will make you feel more connected during the worst of it.
This is just an emergency kit staple. Flashlights and extra batteries should be stored in an easy-to-get-to location, like under the kitchen sink or on a designated shelf in the garage.
Avoid using candles for light during a winter time power outage, as this simply poses a fire hazard, especially when there are little ones involved. As romantic as candles can seem, all it takes is one careless bump or one unsupervised animal and you could be losing much more than just your electricity.
Heating Fuel - Firewood
If your home is heated by wood, always have a good supply ready to go. This can mean a haul of logs on-hand near your stove or fireplace, a half-cord stacked in a garage or nearby overhang or the whole load drying out in a wood storage shed.
Whatever the case, don't let your supply ever run so low that you run out in the middle of a storm or outage -- especially if you depend on wood for heat. If it's your supplemental heat in normal circumstances, it may become your primary heat if the power goes out, so you'll want to know it can last the outage.
Generators are a bigger-ticket item, to be sure, but the investment sees immediately payback (not literally, but certainly emotionally) when cranking one on during an outage can bring back light and heat.
With portable generators, be sure you are not running one in an enclosed space, like a garage or workshop, as this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Consider hiring an electrician to help install or guide you through the usage of a generator.
This should go without saying, but always have a few days' to a week's supply of food and water in the house. Don't depend on the tap water if/when the power goes out. If you lose heat, too, those pipes may quickly freeze, so you'll want some back-up water to rely on.
Stock up on food that won't perish quickly or can be eaten with little preparation, like canned goods. The food in your fridge and freezer will last a while, provided you aren't opening the door often.
Extra Medical Supplies
It's extremely important that a household has extra medical supplies on hand at all times, particularly for emergency situations like cold weather power outages.
Have some extra prescription drugs/medications stocked up in the medicine cabinets, and make sure that anyone who wears prescription glasses has an extra pair nearby. Contact wearers should have extra solution stocked up, too.
To be on the safe side, have extra supplies of the following:
Want more winter prep tips? Check out 8 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter.