The El Nino Winter- how I plan to survive the cold.


So for the last couple of months I’ve been hearing alot of chatter and mixed information about how bad winter 2016 is going to be. According to the Farmers Almanac, permisson seeds, and a few other sources we are supposed to have a pretty bad winter here in Iowa and just about everywhere else in the United States.

According to Google, 2016 is an El Nino year. For those of you who are not into the weather this is a common term.

El Niño is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, as opposed to La Niña, which is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. El Niño is an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather around the globeAmong these consequences are increased rainfall across the southern tier of the US and in Peru, which has caused destructive flooding, and drought in the West Pacific, sometimes associated with devastating brush fires in Australia. Observations of conditions in the tropical Pacific are considered essential for the prediction of short term (a few months to 1 year) climate variations.” (Source:

What does this mean? It means that we should expect some deviation from the normal snow fall and a strong, damaging hurricane season; Mathew has already been deadly and he is the first major storm this season.

I’ve heard whispers of 50x the normal amount of snowfall, power outages, and extremely cold temperatures; it sounds a bit exaggerated to me but you can never be to careful.

I’m a bit paranoid and believe that it’s better to be prepared rather than Sh*t out of luck if something is to happen so I’ve compiled a list of things to grab BEFORE the first snowfall and decided to share them with you guys. Im purchasing a few things each payday to stretch it out. There are some links to the cheapest of each product that I have found (non affiliate) so if you decide to stock up now you can save a few dollars too.

So first things first, if you don’t have an alternate source of electricity I suggest you find one now, especially if you have electric heat. We got a small generator given to us by a friend but you can find a cheap one on ebay or even ask around in your local areas Facebook Swap Shops and see if anyone is getting rid of one.

Solar panels won’t do you much good in the winter which is why I didn’t suggest those first but a good VAWT wind turbine will. They aren’t cheap but you can make one yourself out of pvc pipe if you want to cut costs. You can find quite a few tutorials on how to build them on YouTube.


Keep in mind that this list is specifically catered to my family of 4 and is meant to last us 2 weeks (I chose this length of time because 8 or 9 years ago we had a horrible ice storm that nocked out the power lines for a few days straight and over a week in some areas). This list takes into account some of the other preps we have here already so if your starting from scratch then your list may be longer.

On a side note, if you do have electric heat, I highly suggest you invest in an alternate heating source if you can’t come up with a generator. You can purchase a couple of small propane heaters for around $60 each or go full Frontier and snag a small wood burning stove, pipes, and some wood and not have to worry about freezing if the power goes out. We have an electric wood burning pellet stove to heat our house but we keep propane on hand just in case.

If you want to splurge, there are solar window heaters you can buy which can add almost 20 degrees to any room with a sun facing window these will cost you around $150. Or you can build one yourself for much less using pop cans, black spray paint, insulation board, and a couple of pipes. There are tutorials on YouTube for those as well.i will be building one in a few weeks and documenting it here so keep your eyes open for that post.

Without further ado, here is my winter survival list. *keep in mind that I created this list with loss of power in mind. If the power goes out we loose our heat source, shortly after it goes out the water pipes will freeze and we will have no drinking water. The products on this list are meant to keep our family fed, warm, and hydrated until the power comes back on.

40 gallons of gas for the generator

2- 30 lb propane tanks

10 pk  disaster blankets

4- 100 hour candles

2-Camping stove and 4 packs- fuel pellets

EasyPrep food (2 weeks worth or 2 buckets)

100 gallons of distilled water (2 weeks worth for 4 humans, 4 dogs, and 2 cats. You can purchase water cans and fill them up yourself too which is probably cheaper.)

Jumbo first aid kit (homemade)

Thermal socks

2 boxes Instant hot packs

Hand crank emergency weather radio

4 hand crank led flashlights 

6 flats (72 cans) of  stews and soups

If your wondering why I have included candles if we have a generator, this is because the generator is dedicated to our pellet stove to keep the house warm. If, by chance, we get snowed in and can’t make it to town to get more gas and runt through all of the gas we have on hand then we will revert to using propane and the hand warmers and blankets. I believe to always have at least 2 backups. As for water, it’s nice to have alot on hand. If the pipes freeze we need at least 1 gallon per person per day for drinking. The extra is for cooking, cleaning, and flushing toilets. Hygiene is very important.


A side note- alot of the links in this post are for The Ready Store and Budk. I love and use their products all the time. They are great quality and work exactly as you expect without costing you alot of money. The foods you get from The Ready Store are always top quality, taste amazing, and have a comparable price to that of fresh product straight from the shelf. They have a 20+ year shelf life and come in sturdy packaging that lasts so you don’t have to worry about your foods being compromised. The food is also good to eat at any point in time. The first thing I did when I got my first shipment was open some up and prepared them for my family. We all loved them which was surprising and sealed the deal.

With that being said,as much as I love The Ready Stores freeze dried and dehydrated foods, I am putting money aside to purchase my own freeze dryer from Harvest Right within the next couple of years to save myself even more money.


That is my list so far, I’m sure I will add more to it as I go but those are the basics. I am going to be making emergency packs for both vehicles out of the things I buy  which will include extra clothes, first aid kit, hot packs, blankets, water, food, some form of heating for food, water, and the car itself,  flares, and mobile communication devices.

What’s on your winter survival list? Share it in the comments below!





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