Make sure your car kits are up to date. If you didn't put together a kit last time we did them week by week, click here to check out the list of what we recommend. Consider adding some extra blankets and towels, especially if you live in colder climates, and definitely if you regularly drive on rural roads. Update your food and water, if necessary. Many people have asked us about water going bad in plastic bottles over time. If you rotate, this won't be as much of an issue, especially in the winter. You should have a kit in every car your family drives.
Keep your cell phones charged. I plug in my cell phone every night, regardless of whether or not I need to. You never know when the power is going to go out and you won't have a chance to charge it. I do have a cell phone charger outlet in my crank powered flashlight/radio in my 72-hour kits, in case I need it (although, that wouldn't help me in the car.. maybe I should move it to my car?). An upgrade: buy some walkie-talkies to share with your neighbors so that you can keep in contact during an emergency, in case the phone lines are down.
Have proper heating backups. Technically, you can safely keep your house at a cool 40
degrees without worrying about health hazards or your pipes freezing. Layer up - blankets, warm clothing, etc. Consider getting some space heaters or other alternative heat sources in case your power goes out. Of course, make sure you know how to operate them properly before you actually need to use them in an emergency. An upgrade: get a generator. Neither Abbie nor I have these, but with some online research I'm sure you could find one that's perfect for your home, if desired.
Know where your flashlights are. Sometimes the most annoying part of losing power is actually trying to find those flashlights, especially if it's completely dark! I hate digging through our 72-hour kits to find our lighting sources. It would be helpful to buy a cheap flashlight to keep somewhere in each room. The key for me will be keeping it in a place where I can easily find it in the dark, but hiding it well enough so that my two-year-old doesn't see it and demand to play with it, thus wearing out the batteries. An upgrade: keeping a wind-up flashlight in each room. This one on Amazon is on sale, and has great reviews. You can also find them in stores.
Bundle up. When I was growing up, my parents kept a big wooden box full of hats, mittens, and scarves in our mudroom. Every time we left the house during the winter, we were required to put them on (or at least bring them with us). At the time I was pretty embarrassed (high schoolers don't usually wear knit hats with reindeer on them), but I now appreciate the precautions. We drove on a lot of rural roads in New England, and I wasn't driving the most reliable car (a 17 y/o VW Quantum...), so if we had ever broken down on the side of the road, those warm layers would have really come in handy. Actually, they came in handy anyway because I was usually to my destination before the heat started to work! There's no real upgrade for bundling up.
Gas up. My parents also insisted that we never let our gas run lower than half a tank. You never know when you will be stranded on the side of the road in a snowstorm, and you may need to keep your car on for warmth (just be sure your exhaust pipe is not blocked!). Keeping the gas relatively full in your car is a great preparedness method anyway, but especially so in the winter.
For more ideas and tips for storm/power loss preparation, check out a guest post from a few years ago, "What I Wish I'd Known During the 2008 Ice Storm".
What do you do to prepare for cold weather?