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Preparing Your Family for Winter Weather

You've remembered to winterize your house and your car, but is your family ready? Be sure to prepare your kids and your kitchen for snowy days and long winter nights.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Wintertime. Ice, snow, and, perhaps worse, lots of "snow days" with the kids in the house. Are you and your family "winterized"?

Preparing for unexpected campouts in your living room is not exactly akin to preparing for a terrorist attack, but some of the same precautions apply. Ice can put weight on electrical lines and cut off power, so have the following on hand:

  • Flashlights and batteries; candles are not a wise choice, because in bad weather you can have a fire and no one can reach you.
  • Plenty of blankets.
  • A safety kit for your car, consisting of shovel, sand or cat litter for traction, tire chains, booster cables, a cell phone, extra warm clothing or boots, an ice scraper, small tools, winter sleeping bag or blankets, snack food, water, flashlight with good batteries, matches and newspapers, games and toys, zip-top bags (for elimination if stranded), and a 12-volt adapter coil heater that can plug into the lighter to heat water.
  • Salt or sand for treacherous sidewalks.
  • Safe, radiant space heater (no open coils).
  • Fan for fireplace that blows heat into the room and does not suck it up the chimney.
  • Supplies of medication to last a few days at least.
  • The phone numbers of older or disabled neighbors, just in case.

Making Your Kitchen Ready for Winter

Larrian Gillespie, MD, author of The Goddess Diet, tells WebMD that winter is all about comfort. "Soups, soups," she chants. "You want to stock your larder for those unexpected snow days. It's hard to make a bad soup. Just add the flavor with herbs and spices and avoid carbs that raise blood sugar such as pasta. Instead use barley and chunky root veggies, such as carrots and turnips. If you use meat, cool the soup first and remove the hardened fat, then reheat."

What else should you load up on?

  • Steel cut oats, for oatmeal, Gillespie says
  • Frozen berries. Great in that oatmeal for any meal of the day
  • Peanut butter
  • Tuna
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Canned juices
  • Crackers/bread
  • Long-keeping milk
  • Vitamins
  • Baby food. And don't forget diapers, towelettes, bottles, ointment, and the rest.
  • Pet food
  • Carrots, squash, and apples. Keep apples in the fridge, she says; they last a month that way.
  • Raisins and nuts
  • A slow cooker

The Department of Homeland Security recommends three days' worth of food.

For those long afternoons out sledding, set the slow cooker to make herb chicken. Put rough-cut celery, onions, and carrots in your pot, add pieces of a cut-up fryer, and bring the water up half-way. Cook for several hours. After a day's winter activity, add some barley and salt and pepper and cook a few minutes before serving.

When pent-up kids need a diversion, cut out bread into stars with a cookie cutter and toast it. Let the kids mix up tuna salad out of mayo, dill, and mustard and spread it onto every point.

If the kids are still bouncing off the walls, mix up some fake Play-Doh: 3 cups of flour, 1.5 cups of salt, 6 teaspoons of cream of tartar, and 3 cups of water. Mix the dough until it balls up and can be handled. Then set the "energy bunnies" to sculpting animals and little cars. If you are the brave type, add food coloring.

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