Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hunker Down To Do List (12 Ways to Prepare for Winter)

Lately, I've been feeling a really strong pull to pack in for the winter. I want to say that I always feel this way, at least a little bit, but this year seems different. Almost like a, "okay, stop putting this off and do it!" warning. Maybe it's that I have three little ones to care for now, or that everyone keeps saying this winter will be awful, or the memory of the day just before Christmas last year that we spent under blankets without power, bailing out the sump pump and holding our 2 month old extra-close.

Whatever the reason, I've been taking steps towards "hunkering down" for basically November - March (gotta love Buffalo), and I thought I'd share some things in case you're feeling the drive, too.

I am by no means a prepper. I don't think zombies are coming (are you guys for real?), and I'm not setting us up to live in a corner of our basement with basic necessities for 3 months while we eat out of tin cans with plastic spoons and carefully ration water between the 5 of us (+ the cats). Of course, it is better to be safe than sorry, so I want to at least not be caught completely useless in the event of emergency, so I've included a few things on lightly preparing for the worst.

Hunker Down To Do List

1. Clean our dryer lint traps and hoses
We should be doing this more often, but doing it at all is better than never. Lint gets into more than just the trap you clean between loads - it builds up in the hose leading outside and in the trap holder and can pose a fire hazard. When we do this, we use wire hangers and the vacuum to clear out lodged lint, and then scrub the trap with water and dish soap.

2. Clean out washing machine rubber
Laundry is enough of a chore, I can't be bothered to clean off the rubber seals constantly! But to make sure we're actually getting all of those loads of bulky sweaters and blankets and socks totally clean, I want to make sure there's no mold here. First, spray it down really well with a water and vinegar mixture. Let it sit with the washer door open overnight. Then scrub it out with a disinfecting cleaner and wipe it dry. Wiping it dry after each load will prevent mold, as will a spritz of white vinegar now and then.

3. Wash garbage cans
With kids haphazardly throwing their messy snacks away, the front and inside lid of our garbage can gets disgusting! Before the outdoor taps are shut off and the hoses are put away for winter, I like to hose all the cans down outside, then wipe them with a disinfectant when they're dry.

4. Put away summer-only clothes
No-brainer. Our house (and closets, and dressers) are too small to keep all of our clothes out year-round, so we have to pull out the most obvious Summer pieces and put them away in bins in our basement.

5. Pull out seasonal books
This one might not seem so important, but again - we have a series lack of space, so I pack up seasonal books and pull them back out when they're relevant again. I recently pulled out a big stack of fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving picture books that the kids have been choosing from for their bedtime stories. I have a massive stack of Christmas and Winter ones to swap them out with after Thanksgiving.

6. Pull down storm windows
Our windows in this house are old and drafty as it is, but this certainly helps. I'm sure you all do this simple one, too.

7. Make an emergency kit for the van
I always think about what I'd do if I were stranded in bad weather with three kids and no supplies or no way to keep warm should it be a situation where we run out of gas or something. Since Luke was born I've thought about keeping a small kit of things in the car, and just never get around to it. We've been lucky, but it's definitely happening this year. I will share more detail about this one next week!

8. Create a small emergency kit for home
So, this is my light-prepping part. I'm using a plastic bin and filling it with some canned food and other necessities. It's not exactly a 72 hour kit, or anything overly prep-worthy, but it's just...something. Should we need to stay in the basement during a storm, or the roads become undriveable and we don't have access to necessities, we have a little back up. I've packed up things like canned food, plastic utensils, paper plates and napkins, candles, diapers and wipes, and old clothes.

9. Buy a generator, prep it, and fill gas cans.
This is another thing we wanted to do for years. Here in NY, we got tax rebate checks recently and since it was unplanned money we decided it was the perfect time to invest in a generator and be more prepared for the winter. Of course the year we buy one we will probably never need it, but the thought of hooking up the sump pump and fridge to it during a power outage is really comforting! We can then spend time as a family, keeping warm and playing games, rather than worrying about our basement flooding and our food spoiling.

10. Clean and dust in bedrooms.
Cuddle weather means lots of time under blankets in our pj's, reading books in our beds or snuggling up to watch a movie. There's nothing better than doing that in clean rooms with fresh sheets!

11. Detail-clean furniture and carpet.
Our couches and recliner get really nasty pretty quickly because of sticky little boy hands. Knowing we'll be spending a lot of time on them in the coming months makes this the perfect time to give them a scrub down. We also like to shampoo the carpet at this time, particularly before the Christmas tree goes up.

12. Stock up household necessities.
When I go to the grocery store now and I'm shopping for a recipe, I buy two of whatever it is I need. If a recipe calls for 2 cans of diced tomatoes, I buy 4. The extras get stored in the bottom of our pantry for those days when it's snowy and windy and we're low on groceries but really don't want to go anywhere. I like the idea of staying in pj's and settling in for a movie while a soup simmers away on the stove or in the crock pot. I also make sure we have a back up to all of our common cleaning supplies and toiletries so there's no unnecessary running out for something like that, and even if we're not close to running out of perishables (like milk, bananas, lunch meat), I will buy extra to reduce the need to run out if it were to start snowing. A lot of things I just throw into freezer safe bags if I have too much and pop them in the freezer - like loaves of bread, lunch meat, ground meat, ect.

So, not too crazy, but still some great steps to take, I think! I also want to totally clear out and organize my craft room to streamline production for my busy season on Etsy. My main goal here is to have a cozy place to be during these hibernation-like months, and to be able to stay home and warm during iffy weather. Hope this list helps! :)

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