Fall is the perfect time to start winterizing your home, life, and emergency plans. It’s important to start early, before a lot of the supplies you need will be in heavy demand (or, if you need a professional to come out and service something, before they’re booked up). From your bug-out bag to your sunny disposition, a true prepper is locked, stocked, and ready for the worst at a moment’s notice — in any weather.
Seal Your Home
Seal the house against the elements properly. Check windows and doors for leaks. Start looking for drafts now that the weather is cooling. Give your shingles and roofing a good once over. While you’re at it, make sure your home is unfriendly for critters who will start looking for protection from the cold. Seal up any cracks on the exterior of your home, and make sure your all of the tiny entrances, like cracks or gaps around piping, are covered.
Protect Your Pipes
Protect your home from burst pipes. If you irrigate your lawn, be sure to blow out the sprinkler lines to keep them from bursting before a good freeze or snow. Make sure your pipes are well insulated and there’s no leakage.
Every chimney needs routine maintenance, so give the chimney a good once over. Your fireplace is an excellent way to conserve heating during the colder months (and it’s cozy to boot). You want the chimney to be clear of debris or blockage. A blocked chimney can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, so for extra protection make sure your carbon monoxide detector has good batteries and is in working order. It’s not a bad idea to vent the chimney as well, to protect from wildlife.
Tend the Garden
If you garden to keep fresh fruits and vegetables in your stockpile, fall is typically a big harvest season. Store what you can responsibly (typically in a cool, dry place, like a basement or cellar), and for the rest, canning or preserving is the way to go. Once your garden is cleared out, do what you can to get it ready for next spring. Get rid of any dead or dying vegetation and add mulch.
Make sure your winter stockpile is up to snuff. Any tools you’ll rely on, like snow shovels, salt, cat litter, and batteries, are stocked and in good condition. Keep extra fuel on hand for generators or cars in case of a shortage or big storm. Make sure your food stockpile is in good condition; you should have plenty of bottled water and non-perishables already on hand, but it never hurts to make sure everything is in good condition or beef up your stockpile.
Prep your car. Get your car serviced to make sure everything is in good working order. Make sure your fluids are good, your tires still have tread (or make the snow/all-weather switch), and your winter wipers are in place. Lubricate the doors to keep them from freezing shut. Move your winter supplies into the vehicle. A good winter supply should have things to help you move your car when stuck, as well as flares, blankets, and flashlights. If you don’t have a bug-out kit in the car, re-evaluate and see if you feel like one is necessary.
Give your bug-out kit a good inspection. Make sure it includes anything you might need in colder weather. If you have a bug-out plan, go over it to make sure it’s still sensible and ready to go. Fall is also a good time to check with everyone in your bug-out plan (if you’re not planning on going alone) to make sure their kits, supplies and plans are up-to-date and viable.
Make sure your health is good, and do what you need to make sure it stays that way. Fall is a good time for a check up before the hibernation kicks in. Get a flu shot. People prone to dry skin can suffer during cold weather, so you might want to invest in a quality humidifier. If you don’t relish the idea of seeing a doctor, invest in technology to help you monitor your health. Wearable fitness trackers can monitor your heart rate, sleep patterns, and activity levels. For those with ongoing health conditions, like diabetes, wearable tech can help you keep track of your blood sugar. Make sure your first aid kit is fully supplied.
Don’t stop at your body; make sure to keep an eye on your emotional well-being. With the longer nights, some people become more prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Keep natural lighting on hand to help combat SAD. Make sure you have things to keep you occupied at home to stave off boredom. After all, even though it’s only fall, it’s going to be a long winter.
Brooke Faulkner writes and raises her sons in the Pacific Northwest. She is always looking for ways to make healthy living an accessible part of every day life. Find more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek