The first thing you should know about North Dakota is that it's cold. I know that should be a no brainer, but if you're new here or not from here, or again, caught here at an inopportune time, you have to really really understand, to the depth of your core, how cold it is. To know that sometimes, your car won't start because the gas lines are frozen. Or that somedays you wake up and the HIGH for the day will be -17. Or that your kids don't get to play outside for about 8 months out of the year. That you can't grow food outside except maybe 6-12 weeks out of the year, so your garden has to be ready as soon as it thaws. That some days, despite the layers and heaters and warm foods, you still just don't warm up. Hypothermia is barely kept at bay from November to April. You keep these kinds of nightmares for a movie based in the Arctic or northern Alaska in Winter. No no, it's been a HORRID winter here in North Dakota and downright dangerous. You need to know that!
As a prepper, I'm making a shortlist of things you need to prepare for, with cold weather considerations. It's coming up on spring, which means NOW is a good time to evaluate how your winter went, what you need to do to prepare for next winter.
1) Always have alternate heat sources. Imagine a worse-case scenario leaving you without electricity. Those space heaters, heating blankets, and the central heat are all GONE. Now what? I know people who have removed their wood-burning stove to replace them with the pretty electric fireplaces. They are stunning additions to a family room, yes, but what good will they do without electricty? A few years ago, we were hit with an early blizzard. Most of the trees still had their leaves, so when the leaves were laden with snow and ice, they pulled the branches down and pulled the power lines with them. People were cold in their homes for days as crews had to dig out live wires and reestablish the grid. Not a pretty sight. The craziest thing is that no one expected it to be that bad and therefore.... DID NOT PREPARE! C'mon, people! We have a wood burning stove, which not only provides a massive amount of luscious heat, but also enabled me to warm dinner on the top. Grilled cheeses and Tomato Soup by a roaring fire.... heavenly! (By contrast, my in-laws were eating Chef Boyardee COLD out of a can for days!!!) Consider always having alternate heat sources. Propane heaters, wood burning stove, wood burning fireplace, and of course, plenty of fuel-- fire or propane.
2) Emergency blankets and pocket warmers. These things are SO COMPACT and SO CHEAP, it's crazy not to have these stored by the pallet! We like Hot Hands. We also keep mylar blankets in the glove compartments, all the emergency kits, even in the kids' emergency kits in their backpacks.
Okay, I'm trying to post the picture but I don't know if it's showing up. You can follow the above link to one from Amazon, for all of $1.59. Like I said, keep them everywhere!
Something else to consider: Fur blankets. Now, don't get mad at me for condoning fur and animal cruelty, blah blah blah. You can get a good faux fur too. A while back, like late 90s, these were a huge trend. Everyone was getting fur throw blankets, in rich mink- blacks, browns. I got a faux one from lillian vernon, I think. Big Queen size. Faux leopard print on one side, fake brown mink on the other. This is the heaviest, warmest blanket I've ever had! Bulky, so not meant for a bug-out-bag, although it would probably be the last thing I would grab if we were bugging out. Like I said, it's the warmest thing I've even been in. Including a down comforter. You may disagree based on your experience. One other thing I've noticed it was good for, though, was as insulation UNDER us. We were in yellowstone a few summers ago, it was chilly at night. The air mattress was cold underneath, the air in the mattress turning cold overnight. Put the fur blanket (yes I took it camping, I told you it would be the last thing I would grab!) under us and stayed toasty the rest of the trip. (well, threw the hot hands in the sleeping bags, too!)
3) Warm foods and warm beverages. We keep stashes of hot chocolate in our emergency pantry. And even in the bug out bags. Also beef broth. Some warm beef broth with some dehydrated veggies tossed in will be an incredible booster in an emergency!!!
4) Cold weather gear. Okay, I'm not talking about heavy equipment. Coats, hats, gloves. It's spring which means you can go to walmart and get gloves for $1, mittens and knit hats for 50 cents. Coats for $15-20. Everything's on clearance so buy now for next season. We got the teen a fleece-lined microsuede jacket at the department store for $9!!!!! It's heavy and warm and he loves it. Picked up the next size too for him to grow into. If you have a really really good coat, now might also be a good time to make repairs- does the zipper need replacing? How about any loose buttons? Want to sew in a warmer lining? Now's the time to do it to get it ready for next winter. Make sure you take care of your winter gear before you store it for next year.
Okay, like I said, this had to be a short list. My hubby is begging me to finish the taxes today so I suppose I should be working on that! If I can think of anything else during the day I'll add it. Otherwise, email me and let me know if I forgot anything vital!