I am the queen of procrastination. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I always find myself leaving tasks undone until the very last minute. Sometimes I think it’s because I’ve convinced myself that I do my best work under pressure, and other times I think it’s because I secretly love the stress that comes with that pressure. Regardless, I procrastinate.
What does this character flaw of mine have to do with winter? Well, with procrastination often comes unpreparedness, and that fact bit me in the behind last winter when I found myself working into the wee hours one night when the power went out. Not only did I not have any candles, matches, or other light source on hand, I had also let the batteries of my laptop and smartphone get dangerously low. It was not a good situation. So this year, I am going to make sure I am prepared for whatever is thrown at me by stocking up on a few key items, as you should too.
For the Home
It really doesn’t take much to make sure your home is winter ready. The experts recommend that you have enough food, water, and supplies on hand to last you–and everyone else in your household–a minimum of four days.
It’s not enough to have a fridge stocked with fresh produce and dairy products. If the power goes out, all that food is “going out” as well, so make sure you’ve got ample food on hand that doesn’t require refrigeration. And unless you have a gas stove, you’ll need food that doesn’t require heating either. Think along the lines of canned meats (for sandwiches), fruit, energy bars, and crackers. If you have a gas stove, pasta, pasta sauce, and canned soups and stews can go a long way.
One candle in a power outage in the middle of winter isn’t going to cut it folks, especially when it gets dark at 4PM! So do yourself a favour and stock up. Sure, you can go with standard pillar candles and read and play board games by traditional candlelight, or you can go high tech the in case of an emergency and illuminate the darkness with PLAYBULB candles from MIPOW. PLAYBULB candles can glow in millions of colours to suit your mood, don’t pose a fire hazard since they are flameless, and last 240 hours (that’s 10 days) on three AA batteries. And when the power comes back on, you can either keep using them to set the mood, or flip them over and use them as candleholders.
Everyone needs a flashlight, and I’m not talking about the one on your smartphone. If your smartphone dies, so too does your flashlight, and that’s not ideal in an emergency. This LED flashlight from Pelican is perfect for keeping in a kitchen drawer. It drives a big does of brightness (120 lumens) and is small enough to fit in the smallest of places. With a fresh set of AAA batteries, it will run for three hours solid, which is ample time if you’ve got candles for your main source of light. That said, make sure you stock up on batteries as well because you might just need your flashlight to guide your way to the bathroom in the middle of a power-free night.
- Battery-Powered Radio
For some reason when I think of having a battery-powered radio on hand, I get visions of the apocalypse or of zombies taking over the planet (I watch far too many sci-fi movies), but really, in case of an emergency, a battery-powered radio might be your only connection to the news and what’s happening in your city or neighbourhood. The great thing about battery-powered radios is that they don’t need to be fancy. This one from Sony will get the job done, and if the news or music on the radio isn’t suiting your fancy, you can simply connect your MP3 player and relax to whatever floats your boat.
- UPS Battery Backup
Let’s be honest, the thought of being without your electronics even temporarily is pretty panic inducing; but can you image if all those beautiful devices are shorted out and rendered useless because of a winter storm? That’s where UPS battery backups like this one from CyberPower come into play. With it, you get battery power and surge protection for your computer, networking devices, and entertainment systems. In fact, it’s got 10 outlets into which you can plug an array of electronics, plus two USB charging ports for tablets and phones, and telephone, network, and coaxial line ports. Bottom line, if there is a surge in power, this backup has your back.
On the Road
Winter weather can wreak havoc on the road. There’s ice, snow, sleet, rain, and let’s be honest, horrible drivers. All those factors add up one thing–you need to make sure you’re prepared when you venture out in your vehicle. On top of the basics, such as making sure your vehicle has adequate antifreeze levels, a functioning battery, and proper tires for the season, you should also have emergency supplies in case life decides to throw a wrench into the mix.
- Ice scraper
If you’re anything like me you’ve used a credit card on more than one occasion to scrape the ice off your car windows. This is less than ideal. Do yourself a favour and drop a few bucks on an actual ice scraper. I got one in my stocking for Christmas last year that was a mitten and ice scraper in one. I’ve yet to use it because I park underground and live in Vancouver, but if I need it, it’s there!
- Jumper Cables & Charger
Being stranded on the side of the road isn’t something that anyone wants to experience, especially in the middle of winter. But if your car decides to boycott winter and dies on the road, you need two things. First, you need jumper cables, and second, you need a means of charging your phone. Not only do you need it to call for help, but you also need it to keep you entertained while you wait for help to arrive. The Wagan iOnBoost V8 Jumpstarter & Mobile Device Charger is essential for anyone who drives in winter conditions. It’s super compact and can jump start up to V10 trucks and RVs, while also being able to charge laptops, tablets, USB devices and smartphones. It can also jumpstart 10 other vehicles before needing a charge, so once you’re back in action, you can be a hero and drive around town boosting others in need!
Just like you need a flashlight it the power goes out at home, a flashlight is a must have in your car, especially if you need to sort through all the junk in your trunk to find those jumper cables. But the reality is you could have a flashlight in your glove box for years, yet when you really need it, it’s dead. That’s why the Freeplay Mini Sherpa Self-Powered LED Flashlight is the perfect in-car flashlight. With its Freeplay wind-up technology all you need to do is wind the crank for 30 seconds for about eight minutes of light.
- First Aid Kit
Yes, it’s a little scary, but I’d rather have a first aid kit in my car that I never use, as opposed to needing one and not having one if ever in an emergency situation. A basic first aid kit is something everyone should have in their car at all times. And it should be in your glove box, not your trunk, because if you need it, you’ll likely need easy access to it. Morbid, perhaps, but it’s always better to be prepared!!
It’s easy to say that you will get prepared for winter “soon,” but “soon” is right around the corner. And being prepared doesn’t mean that you are being negative or morbid or a doomsayer, it’s all about making sure that if emergency or disaster strike that you can look it right in the eyes and say “I got this.”
Here are some other ways you can prepare for winter:
Upgrade your kitchen and dining
Stay safe while driving
Winterproof your home
Always good to have some extra help tucked away in your back pocket too! I’ve been a CAA member since I was 18 or 19. I remember when they came out to help me one time when my car got stuck and snow was coming down like crazy…you know, as crazy as it falls in Vancouver the once or twice a year.
Those portable battery jumper packs are amazing though. Even if you yourself don’t need a jump, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll run into somebody every winter that inevitably does.
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