The Fall & Winter Prepper Checklist: 9 Things To Get Your Home Prepped for Disasters

by | Oct 19, 2018 | Headline News | 42 comments

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    This article was originally published by Jeremiah Johnson at Tess Pennington’s

    Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint: How To Survive ANY Disaster

    It’s time to get to the business of readying the house for winter. Be aware that Hurricane Season is here and Fire Season has not ended. This article is a reminder of the things you need to get done and squared away before the cold weather arrives.

    1. Wood Supply

    In years past, I’ve emphasized this continually. Now is the time (if fire season precludes use of chainsaws) to cut your wood and to assure your wood supply is ready and accessible. This is both for winter and as a prep: if everything goes down the tubes tomorrow, you will find that the nice fire becomes a necessary fire to heat the home and to cook food. Make sure you have a supply that you can put the majority of the wood, and an area that is readily accessible. Make certain your wood is off of the ground and that it is protected: either under a roof (as in a woodshed) or under a tarp. Cut it all now, and do a sound estimate on your rate of consumption under adverse conditions (loss of power, or SHTF scenario). Don’t forget fire starting materials and a good supply of newspaper: since the latter contains no “news” it’s perfect for burning and can be stored in your woodshed. Ensure chainsaws, axes, splitters, and other tools are in good working order and ready to use. And don’t forget about new box of matches!

    2. Chimney, Roof, and House “Integrity”

    Don’t procrastinate, and have that chimney swept out now, or do it yourself. It’s easier if you have a stovepipe rather than a chimney: then you need the appropriate-diameter brush and the detachable rods. Creosote fires can burn down the whole house. You can pick up the rods and brush at a hardware store or order them online and have them sent to you. Read more about how to properly clean your chimney here. Make sure your roof is cleared of debris and your rain gutters are cleared and in working order. House “integrity” refers to closing up any kinds of gaps, cracks, or holes in the foundation or body that leave room for heat loss and entry of cold air. This is best accomplished with spray-in foam, silicone caulk, and weatherization with heavy plastic and foam molding.

    3. “Twice on the Pipes”

    [To paraphrase Tony Orlando and Dawn] check to make sure all of your pipes are well insulated, especially those exposed to the freezing temperatures. The foam-type with the slit/slotted aperture is good; make sure to close the aperture with duct tape, as the glue on the edges is usually lacking. Once again, blow-in foam in an aerosol can works really well in those tight spaces where there isn’t much room to cram in insulation. It’s only about $8 per can and goes a long way. Protect your outlets for hoses with foam outlet covers. Make sure your drain the water out of all your garden and utility hoses before the freezing weather sets in.

    4. Shift the Food Supply

    For your perishables, now will be a good time to fill up that freezer with frozen food, as you will soon have freezing temperatures to sustain them if you should lose power. Hunting wild game is a great way to fill the freezer with tasty protein sources. I once wrote that anything needing cooking you should do prior to freezing. Then you freeze it after it is cooked. Your item is then ready to go…just warm it up.

    5. Personal Gear and Clothing

    Get those winter clothes out of storage and ready to use. This includes changing out the light sleeping bag of the summer with the extreme cold weather bag and Gore-Tex cover. Pull that Gore-Tex “Gumby” suit out of the storage! Ensure all of your thermal underwear is serviceable and ready to go. Remember: dress in layers, and plan on dressing in layers. It is easier to “peel” off a layer if need be than remove the whole “space suit” and then be cold underneath. Boots and footgear need to be cleaned and serviceable. Almost time to switch off from summer hikers to winter boots with Thinsulate.

    6. Stored Goods and Prepper Supplies

    Ensure that all of your perishables and canned goods and supplies are protected from the cold and from alternate freezing-thawing cycles. Long ago I recommended “wide-mouth” Mason jars, as they can usually stand up to the rigors of a freeze. Ensure that medications that cannot be frozen will not be frozen. This is a good time to conduct an inventory and make sure your FIFO (First-in, First-out) lists are up to date. Also be sure that there are adequate measures to control vermin, such as rats and mice that will enter the house as the temperatures drop. The cat (as you know) is my preferred measure of choice, but if you do not have one, you’ll have to plan accordingly with traps and other deterrents. Regularly checking your supplies (yes, even once every day!) will help in this department. Also, if you have a cat? Make sure he can go in where the supplies are kept.

    7. Emergency Equipment

    This means all of your alarms, night vision devices, family communication devices (such as CBs and Motorolas), scanners, radios, emergency signaling devices, and first aid gear are accounted for and in working order. Some time back I wrote a piece on the importance of taking an inventory for accountability and serviceability on your equipment. This piece needs to be applied here. Check all of your battery compartments for any signs of rust or leakage, and actually test the device. A thermal sight does no good if the batteries are either dead or leaking into the chamber. Ensure all of your family members know where this equipment is and how to use it.

    8. Snow Removal

    This may seem minor until you’re in a snowstorm and have to get out of the house because of some emergency. Have the high-tech (the snow blower) as well as the low-tech (the shovel) ready and in good working order. Have plenty of ice melt, salt, and sand prior to an Arctic Ragnarok moving into your neighborhood. On a side note, if you have an ample supply of snow, you can harvest the clean snow for an emergency water supply.

    9. “I’m your vehicle, Ba-by!”

    As Tom Jones once crooned, only the reverse is true here. It won’t take you anywhere you want to go…unless it is serviced and in good mechanical working order. Load up the trunk or back bed with supplies for emergencies, such as food, blankets, emergency gear, and what is needed. Don’t let yourself down by allowing your vehicles to be in disrepair. Take care of this stuff now, before the winter sets in.

    These are the basics to get the “creative juices” flowing in your mind. Of course there are many more items that could be listed; however, these are basics and not intended to be comprehensive. The best time to start on them is now. Don’t put off doing these tasks, as they are important to accomplish before the cold, wet weather sets in. An ounce of prevention over a pound of cure any day.  JJ out!


    About the Author

    Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

    Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

    Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

    The Prepper's Blueprint

    Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

    Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

    Visit her website at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.


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      1. 1. I use gas and already stocked up.
        2. I don’t have chimneys, and the rest of house is solid.
        3. My pipes have never frozen. They are protected under the house, and some of the heat transfers through the floor to the enclosed crawl space.
        4. The freezer is full already.
        5. All my clothes are in one place, so there’s no getting them “out of storage and ready to use.”
        6. Everything is stored where it won’t freeze. It doesn’t get cold for long enough to freeze inside the house unless we had no heat at all for a very long time.
        7. It’s about time to buy some more batteries. Everything is shipshape, and we have some new LED flashlights that plug into the car cigarette lighter socket.
        8. If we get a lot of snow, we just don’t go anywhere. I have never done any major snow removal. We sweep the porches and steps, and might sweep the front walk out to the mailbox.
        9. The vehicles are always ready. More stuff is ready to toss in at the last minute.

        • Here in Florida here is our Fall and Winter checklist:
          1. Get more LP Gas for the BBQ cause we are grilling again this weekend.
          2. More suntan lotion for kayaking.
          3. Check bike tire Air cause we are still Biking 365 days a year.
          4. Enjoy the nice breeze so stock up on Cigars and wine for the front porch.
          5. Have some fire wood ready to go for our outside camp fires and star gazing.
          6. Stock up on more cold beer.
          7. Check solar panel battery water monthly.
          8. Find a good hat with a brim so the sun won’t burn our noses.
          9. Wear seat belts, cause all the dumb snowbirds coming down here usually lost and clueless about Safe driving.
          10. Put winter air in our vehicle tires.. Just in case. Ha!!
          11. Bonus, Laugh at all the idiots still living up north freezing their asses off for the next 7 months.

          • ” Bonus, Laugh at all the idiots still living up north freezing their asses off for the next 7 months.”

            Evidently the last laugh is on YOU! Have fun in your hurricane, bug infested, humid assed swamp, overpopulated, flooded, shithole. Snow is not a problem it is a blessing (for those who are not pansies). NO hurricanes, NO floods, NO weather disasters, FEW bugs, FOUR seasons, FEW cops, LOW crime, LOTS of guns, Nice summers, Beautiful scenery, Privacy, Miles of open space! Freezing is about 3-4 months max. HA!

            • I love the snow, I love grilling when it’s cold outside. I don’t mind anything that comes with winter. It’s great being outside when it’s snowing. I guess some people just can’t handle it.

            • Winter up north will take care of the a huge part of the population, who aren’t prepped. It may be a safer place than down south as they die off or flee.

              If you can keep your plumbing from freezing you win.

              Can you drain plumbing and isolate plumbing? Perhaps just keep one bathroom and the kitchen running?

              There is a system for instant hot water they sell. It’s a valve with a small circulating pump. It runs on a timer, so when you get up, the valve is opened connecting your hot and cold water, the pump has been running so your hot water pipe is full of hot water. It runs in a loop. It’s not very green, but in a big house you have hot water instantly.

              This is not a bad system for a prepper, with the right switching it could provide much needed heat, and keep pipes from freezing. In a massive power failure, my water heater still runs, it has a pilot light. A solar panel or two, along with a battery and an inverter could run these little circulating pumps.

              I think I need to read up on this. I have a fireplace, and wood, could I just keep my plumbing operational in freezing weather.

              I have valves that can isolate my second floor. Certainly I can drain those pipes. Don’t forget to add antifreeze to toilets and drain traps that are below freezing.

            • Yeah it will get real hot up there when Yosemite caldron Blows and destroys 5 states across, and you have a blackout and falling cinders torching everything.. Make sure you got’s plenty of white lighting to kill the pain there Genius.. lol I grew up, in those northern Midwest state and could not wait to leave the winter shithole depression, no sun for months tundra. That’s why you drink so much in the winter. Depression from no sun.

              • Ya northern midwest is a shithole for sure. I’m not too worried about Yosemite or volcanoes in general. Winter is sunny here about 70% of the time, I like it. Watch out for the tsunami coming across the atlantic, it will ruin yer day for sure! Maybe stock a life raft with supplies just in case lol. 😛

                • Not Yosemite– Yellowstone.

            • here!

            • Yeah, I notice that NOBODY retires and moves “up North”.

          • former floridian here; most happy to have escaped to minnesota.

            extreme winter repels scumbags. i wonder where they all go during the cold months.

            i pedal 365 days a year too. during the winter, one can leave their bike unlocked anywhere. when it’s minus ten out “come and take it”

            dumb snowbirds driving? perhaps they can get lessons from a local miamian? and for the record, we’re pretty glad once the summer people are gone too.

            enjoy your climate. we’ll enjoy ours.

      2. “I’m your vehicle” was first recorded by Ides of March, then most famously by Blood, Sweat and Tears. Tom Jones may have covered it at some time.

        • I have been doing all the articles points for at least 2 decades. NEXT?

      3. Nice article. Most common things to happen would include:

        your car – dead battery or slip into snow bank or ditch

        Snow or ice on your sidewalk

        Power outage – yes your gas furnace needs electricity

        The rest is mostly daily living in winter.

        • Answers…. come a long. Ice melter. woodstove. I think the most common thing to happen is some moron that can’t drive in snow ruining your day….

          • I was going to the annual boat show in Seattle one night.
            I had to avoid an articulated bus (they are about 70 feet long)
            rotating up right, down the middle of the street, uncontrollably. after it passed by I went to the boat show. It finally stopped and no one seemed to be hurt.
            Even professional drivers have difficulties sometimes.
            I had a 4WD he did not.

            • Driving home in a snow storm I had three bags of sand. I came upon a semi blocking traffic. I offered the onsite officer a bag of sand with the advice the trucker should pull into the the mall across the street and be allowed to sleep there. The trucker hated the idea, but he couldn’t move on level ground?

              The cop smiled took the 40# bag of sand, and stuck a knife into it, most of which immediately fell out at his feet. I got in my truck and drove away. You just can’t fix three levels of stupid.

              Truckers are issued tires that are appropriate for expected conditions, an early snow storm catches them all off guard. Lots of spinning and stuck trucks, until they change tires. Ahhhh. I had a rear wheel drive van with possi traction and good tires. It was a beast, and got me home many times. Often I took the worst route because the locals feared the hills, that I could easily traverse.

              These days I have a Subaru Outback. They are the best highway to dirt road all wheel drive made, unless you want to drive in the woods. Then a power wagon with high clearance and undercarriage armor is the only way to go. But then I do get 30+ MPG and on highway conditions it has a 500 mile range on one tank. It’s a great bug out car. It’s the number one selling CAR in Alaska. Trucks rule Alaska, but if you want a car that gets good economy fuel use, but will get you home, a Subaru is the cats meow.

              • PTPO,
                I once owned two Subaru Brats. Both were 1976 models. Nothing can beat them in the winter. They off roaded as well. Too bad they quit making them. I put over 250,000 miles on each of them. Since they were Carburated my best was 25MPG.

                • I have a 93 F-150 4X4 with LS posi rear end and that truck is a snow machine! Chain it up and away you go! Now as far as 4 wheelers go DO NOT BUY POLARIS! They are fooking loud as hell, get shitty gas mileage, hard to work on, have belt drive. I am going to sell mine and get a Honda! I have 2 smaller Hondas that are 2wd and are absolutely great. Hondas are MUCH quieter, MUCH better mileage, MUCH longer lasting and low maintenence, gear drive transmission, MUCH better rack system, No wonder there are a million polarises for sale on craigslist lol.

      4. I dropped a nice doe yesterday evening as Muzzleloader season is in. My son bagged a nice sika deer as well as a 130 pound whitetail doe. So far we should match last years number of deer taken if the weather holds.

        • Last week I trapped that freaking wild domestic cat that I say many times on my IR trail cams, that kept coming in here at night. The last time I say it, it was chasing all of my wild little bunny rabbits on my property. Sooooo.. I set up a live trap with a can of liver cat food.. Boom 2 hours after dark heard the cage snap. Trapped the SOB in a live cage and then put a pellet in its skull and he immediately went to sleep. Problem buried. No more Cat problem here.

          Warning for you Cat owners who let your cats run wild. They are killing machines, that harass all sorts of wildlife, kill thousands of innocent song birds a year and other nice wildlife just for the sport of it. Those POS Cats come onto my property, its dead. Just a fair warning, Got it? Good!!

          • TSB,
            You have some wimpy birds.
            My wifes cats(she has three) are scared to even get
            close to our collection of wild birds.
            Occasionally Hum bao(I name her cats after Chinese dishes)
            will bring in a sparrow as a “gift” but it is not dead
            and we have to rescue it.
            I’m not even going to list what I have
            for wild birds, but I could start a zoo.
            Perhaps it was the wild turkeys that put the fear of
            birds in the cats?

            • I live in a blue state. We had no wild turkeys. Hunters paid up and reintroduced them. They bred like flys, until coyoties discovered how good they taste.

              And again they are near impossible to find. Of course we are still infested with the Ohio geese, erroneously call Canadian geese.

              They are a blight. They eat treated lawns and their meat is quite toxic. If the SHTF and lawn services are out of business,they may be viable food after a few years.

              • Many of you may recall I also have a Toyota hybrid car.

                Well recently the hybrid battery died,

                Turned out Toyota offered 5 grand to fix the battery.

                Or a battery rebuilder that would give a one year warranty.

                Or I went with GreenBean battery that gave me a five year warranty with my battery for half what Toyota offered.

                Yup I went with

                Been working great,

                • A person I know had a prius and the transmission went out. 13 grand to replace it. Screw that!

                • Did they refill the tampon dispenser also?

              • Here is a great learning video of how to increase your Turkey population, by trapping the raccoons and the possum like in Feb and March, before the time the turkeys lays eggs in April. Just a few Raccoons and possums will destroy hundreds of Turkey nests and eat the eggs, so trap them masked terrorists, just before the Turkeys are due to lay eggs, and that will help your turkey population immensely. This Guy used IR Trail Cams to identify the culprits. Great Video watch n learn. I am going to deploy this trapping technique on my property this next Feb n March.

                @ REALVIDEO- ht tps://

          • TharSheBlows you are one sicko. Interesting how you care so much about song birds but have such an intense hatred for cats that you kill them. Cats are only doing what cats are programmed to do in their DNA. Blame whatever created this red tooth and claw world we live in. Why don’t you try hunting an apex predator instead of bunny rabbits (pu–y). Funny how humans consume the most gentle of the animal kingdom but you pathetic mofo are concerned about song birds. Every single thing on this planet consumes something to survive. Human beings are worse than cats. Why don’t you catch and kill them in your trap too? Psycho.

      5. Just a comment about vehicles
        I spent 20+ years in WA state living on the side of a mountain 32+ miles east of Seattle. I have lived on the lower slope of a volcano in Hawaii for the last 18+ years.
        You need to own at least one 4WD MANUAL transmission truck. For snow, ice, or rough road-less terrain. I own two(I had three at one time) and have had two for the last 38+ years( not the same ones of course). It has to be a manual and 4WD.
        This is not some sort of “redneck” thing, it is practical.

        • Check out a Suberu, they make the best asymmetrical all wheel drive you can buy. Their new CV transmission is amazing. You can get near hybrid fuel economy, without the hydride batteries etc.

      6. And prepare to feed millions more migrants (invaders). Conservative Treehouse has a good article on how much of your tax dollars are being used to house and feed the invaders. Religious organizations getting hundreds of millions of your tax dollars every year. If you don’t pay federal taxes, no problem. You still pay. Every time the government prints more money it makes the money in your pocket worth less. That’s a tax no one hides from.

      7. No wonder Florida has as big a hoard of people from elsewhere where it’s cold. You could probably stuff double or even triple the population in here as this state is rated highly for business. What a freaking joke!

        • Lot’s of old folks homes lol.

      8. If you live with a noisy family or a nagging wife, you might find yourself snowed in with no place to go. With snowshoes you can get out of most bad situations. Alternatively, board games, videos, books, etc. for the family;booze for you.

      9. Gloves are vital? I worked Williston ND. 4 winters, I like Frabill ice fishing gloves. Layering is not good you need the ability to open up quickly when sweating ,when goose down gets wet it’s worthless. A thick vest and coat two zippers to open quickly in a fight , you will see the steam come off you. Those 8 hour chemical warmers work , seems to me you loose most heat from your legs , I wear 3 layers of black sweat pants, then you hardly need a coat, black fabric dries faster, you can get used mountaineering boots on line cheap they. are heavy but last. 300 dollar boots for 50 bucks. Hands and feet. Dry lube only. The Eskimos say the best way to keep warm is to eat seal fat and wear caribou coat.or rub seal fat on your skin. Which would be like kerodex.fisherman use it on their hands to handle nets which catch gloves. And it has skin conditioners for long term it’s too cold to bath. The Norwegians have a name for greasing down and getting in a special sleeping bag. A gun that has the gas piston attached to the bolt so it can be broken loose by pulling bolt.A 20 below ratted synthetic sleeping bag . A overcoat that doesn’t get little holes from sparks from camp fire.If not some glue and little patches.A heavy duty vented golf umbrella for wind deflection. Metal canteens to melt your water. I like the 1 quart disk Boy Scout ones.A floatation vest for your dog and a wet suit vest for you,sweat is a problem even when sleeping. A extreme tent. Cross country skis are move fast.A vest made of windshield shade material can cut down thermal imaging.Camp fires and smoke bad. Extreme cold can be your best friend ,and your enemies worst nightmare.

      10. I have three recommendations in the event of a power outage.

        The first is at least two or more Headlamps which free up your hands to do things in the dark.

        The second is an awesome flashlight made by Lumentop called the Lumentop Tool 2.0.

        The Tool 2.0 takes a single AA battery but if you put in it a rechargeable “14500” lithium ion battery, it reaches a maximum of 650 lumens!

        The Tool 2.0 can tailstand, meaning it can stand up on its own to light up a room. Of course, any flashlight battery lasts the longest when you use the least amount of lumens.

        The last recommendation is to have on hand plenty of batteries for your lights. Remember that alkaline batteries can leak and ruin your light or other device. Consider buying the (nonrechargeable) lithium AA and lithium AAA batteries which never leak. Also, the lithium battery chemistry will always work in very cold weather whereas the alkalines will not and you might mistakenly think your flashlight is broken when it really isn’t.

        – the Lone Ranger

        • I have a few 600 lumens CAT work lights that charge off my car battery with my phone charger. I definitely recommend having at least ONE of them for every vehicle: $30. Loews. 🙂

          • A old type camera flash 4 AAs is a cheap alternative for night blinding the enemy?

      11. Stock up on pumpkin pie spice on sale, now. Get a couple of cases of evaporated canned milk, condensed sweetened canned milk, evaporated dried milk, and tons of candy and dark chocolate. Vacuum seal and freeze chocolate bars. High calorie, nutritious, survival food is even good to give away to trick or treating kids, and keep some for diet cheaters. But especially store as a go-to calorie dense survival food during cold winters.


      12. Stock up on Reeses peanut butter cups, they say five pounds will last around five days.

      13. Where I live, the worst pests are the damn elk! They think they own the town, small herds walk down the streets and are a hazard to transportation, yup people run into them and die. (one took out my jeep a few years back) totaled!

        They can jump any fence and destroy your garden and orchard in a matter of minutes. You are not allowed to shoot them in the town limits, and I think they know that…

        But try and get a hunting tag to kill the vermin and you
        have to compete with a million flat landers for a tag.

      14. Harbard no wonder I can’t find an elk, they’re all in your town. I’ve hunted almost every day for a month and ain’t seen or heard a single elk. Now I understand why, thanks for the info. Trekker Out. P.S. I sure ain’t no flat lander.

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