Five Must-Haves When You’re Snowed In

The view from my elevated deck, which over looks a small parking lot.  Believe it or not, there are cars down there.

The view from my elevated deck, which over looks a small parking lot. Believe it or not, there are cars down there.

I don’t care what the calendar says, winter isn’t coming, it’s here! At least in Buffalo, New York, where I currently reside.

We got pounded by some lake effect snow last night. But it wasn’t just run-of-the-mill lake effect snow, it was thunder lake effect snow!

Yes, that’s even more dreadful and frightening, because not only did we get upwards of 3 feet of snow, we had high wind gusts accented by loud cracks of thunder!

Needless to say today we’re snowed in. My girlfriend and I, that is.

And given that we’re snowed in, I figured I’d put together a list of the things I value most when I’m at the mercy of a wintery tempest.  Now, my list isn’t the end all be all.  I’m definitely leaving some items off.   But here is what I came up with:

1. Self-defense tools

Stevens and a Swamp Rat.  SImple, but effective.  Yes, an uninspiring photo, I know.

Stevens and a Swamp Rat. SImple, but effective. Yes, an uninspiring photo, I know.

While the chances of a burglar, home intrude, serial rapist, sociopath, etc., breaking into my residence may be rarer in the midst of a mini blizzard, there’s still a chance that they’re out there casing my apartment, preparing to invade. If that happens, it’s good to know that I have the tools to deal with the threat.

You’ll notice in the photo that I have 12 gauge shotgun, Stevens Model 320, and a decent size combat knife, a Swamp Rat RMDx LE. Sufficient tools indeed (What does your go-to home defense posture look like?).

Let’s face facts, in these snowy conditions with roads closed, low visibility, freezing temperatures navigating the streets is extremely difficult. Police and first responders could be hours away, not minutes.

If you don’t have tools for self-defense in situations where help is not readily available, you’re gambling with your life and the lives of the people you love. Get armed, get trained and get mentally prepared for whatever may come your way.

2. Warm Clothes

Yes, at some point I’m going to have to go outside and shovel off my GF’s car. I’m not looking forward to it. Thankfully, I have proper clothing to deal with the elements. Wool coat, leather gloves, scarf, wool hat…

But I also got me a pair of Thinsulate Wrangler jeans! Yeah, they’re a little bulky, but they are Warm! I’d suggest getting a pair if you live in snowy conditions. I ordered them off the Internet, from, I think with shipping and tax I paid $55.94. A bit pricey for a pair of jeans, but you won’t regret it.

Wranglers!  For those who are snow bound, get yourself a pair!

Wranglers! For those who are snow bound, get yourself a pair!

3. Crockpot

Chili, stew, meatballs — they all work in a crockpot! I love to cook. And when you’re snowed in, there’s something about a hearty, slow-cooked meal that warms the soul. The aroma also makes your home smell lovely.

In a power outage situation, crockpot ain’t gonna work. Thankfully, we still have our power on. And as I write this, it doesn’t appear that there are outages in my area. So, I’m going to start making some meatballs and pasta sauce. Yum.

My crockpot is bigger than yours!

My crockpot is bigger than yours!

4. Beer

Magic Hat #9.  Try some!  It's good!

Magic Hat #9. Try some! It’s good!

Back when I was real young, the inimitable Jimmy Griffin, the former Buffalo mayor, gave arguably the best advice to citizens following a similar lake effect snow storm that hit the city on Jan. 18, 1985.

The intrepid Griffin said, “Stay inside, grab a six-pack and watch a good football game.”

I couldn’t agree more. Besides, what’s good food without good drink?

Aside from having a bottle of Bullet Bourbon in the cabinet above the refrigerator, I have more than a six pack of Magic Hat #9. The “not quite pale ale.” It’s a great bear, crisp, not too hoppy, and it goes down smooth.

5. Snow Angel

Hopefully, when you get snowed in, you get snowed in with a friend. Better yet, hopefully you get snowed in with a “snow angel.” In my case, I got my GF. Couldn’t ask for a better situation. Later today, we’ll snuggle down on the couch, crack a beer, and watch a movie together. It’s the perfect way to spend a snow day.

Actually, we probably won’t watch a movie. We’ll probably end up watching Real Housewives of (Fill in the Blank). I don’t mind compromising on that. I make her watch and cheer for the Buffalo Bills, arguably the most painful professional sports team to follow.

Sorry, she wouldn’t pose for a picture.


For those of you who are also snowed in or bound to be snowed in at some point this winter, what’s on your 5 must-have list?  

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Martin Pierce November 25, 2014, 11:53 pm

    Well, as close as I am likely to get to snow is on my windshield when we move to henderson, NV. Now in So. Cal. still for a while is Earthquakes, if & when, and hot weather. But everything else you wrote of is still valid here and have plenty of whatever to suffice.

  • morgo November 24, 2014, 6:00 pm

    Now going into my 6th decade I had to chuckle at this article. No, not because the horrific storm, these are nothing to sneeze at. Often it seemed growing up North of Green Bay would hear of some poor souls drifted in after sliding into a ditch. Still haunting, my last year of Norte living, a poor young mother went to grab some clothes off the line before a blizzard hit, only being blinded, they found her 30 feet from her back porch. Gives you concerns.

    Almost lost it in Kansas of all places. Not even extreme West either, more central when a blizzard kicked up and a stupid arrogant butthead (me) was trying to make time and get home a good 200 miles away. Snow began covering the very rural back highway, wind made it worst. Vehicle carb choking out, even made peace with the man upstairs.

    One concern was not two legged varmints in those days, although a desperate wild dog could have been a reality. But, we readers should always be ready for this.

    If an older man could give advice it would be…. think….. what would you need if the power went out and it got very very very cold for a long time. Think about it? Cans of tuna, or tamales, some burn logs, good battery powered radio for fun and weather, matches, those cheap throw blankets, cheap nylons the kind you wife always has to have when running late, (they can be very warming) just think of all those cheapy things which could make a long stretch of home bound be better. Hint. I watched my 110 lb wife who gagged at the canned meat grocery line, thought of Vienna Sausage brought real barf, snarf down fried Spam once after 4 days in an ice storm. We had it not so bad for we had a lot of stuff ready, saving energy for other things hahhahahhhheeheh.

  • Todd Marlatt November 24, 2014, 2:08 pm

    Wrangler Jeans in the very cold !?!?!?!? You must be kidding !?!?!?!

    Cotton: Worthless in the cold.
    the Mountaineers*: “Cotton: Dead man’s clothes”
    *foremost US climbing/hiking organizaiton

    Cotton has no place in cold weather. Totally useless. Think wool or fleece or any of the other new warm, light and breathable fabrics, but not cotton.
    Think layers: As it gets colder, add incremental layers: silk underwear, wool or new synthetic middle weight next, they heavy weight fleece and down. No cotton. If you must go out in the cold/deep snow – wear a bib or other outer protection.

    Other: In these circumstances, think survival: Shelter, heat, food, water. If the power goes out, what are you going to do for water? Must have independent heat to melt snow/ice.

    Recommendation: for any “preppy” or other suffering this North East storm, I recommend you get a copy of the Mountaineers “Freedom of the Hills”, specifically their “10 Essentials”, which although is geared for hiking/climbing, provides the basics to survive.

  • Dwayne Carlock November 24, 2014, 1:15 pm

    Personally I found the article both humorous and well-written. A tongue-in-cheek expose’ of how we need not only to survive a snow (or here in the south ice) event but do it while keeping our sense of humor. Rarely do our utilities fail even with ice & snow (which are not an annual event thank goodness), but if they do we have a generator to maintain a reasonable facsimile of normal life. Thanks for reminding us of how we can do more than survive an unexpected weather event, but do it without degrading into anger, moods, and frustration.

    • Bill November 25, 2014, 9:01 am

      Well said Dwayne

  • Rodney November 24, 2014, 12:53 pm

    Here are the things I think are most important when one is snowed in or suffering the effects of an ice storm (or any other emergency situation where you have to “bug in” for days or weeks at a time), especially when you lose power:
    1. Alternate heat source that is legal in your area. Make sure that it is also UL Approved.
    2. Fresh water. The little 20 ounce bottles are fine and dandy but for long term they can be spendy and not quite enough. Either buy the 3.5 gallon jugs that are available at most grocery stores or buy food quality jugs specifically designed for storing water and fill them yourself.
    3. Alternate cooking source. Remember to have adequate ventilation. The fumes from propane or white gas create carbon monoxide and can kill you.
    4. Alternate light source. Candles are okay but you don’t really want to leave them burning all the time. Oil lamps are a better way to go but you don’t really want to use the cheap decorative kind as they don’t put off much light. Check out Lehman’s Non-Electric for a good selection of lamps. Flashlights are okay and good until you get your lamps going.
    5. Battery operated radio for news and weather reports. (Don’t forget extra batteries.)
    6. Food.
    7. First aid kit, well stocked.

  • Mitch Spence November 24, 2014, 11:55 am

    This article was so incredibly stupid, I thought I was on the Yahoo website. Are you trying to compete with them?
    An article like this this needs writing talent and humor. It had neither.

  • John November 24, 2014, 10:17 am

    This article is tongue in cheek, right? This is a joke, right? What happens when you lose power for a few days?
    I have been there. I have a camp stove, extra propane bottles and ample cold and hot food and clothing for such a situation. The protection items are a given. But beer, tv, crockpot and girlfriend is not surviving. That is wishing during serious situations.
    GunsAmerica can do better than this.

  • Santa Walt November 24, 2014, 8:41 am

    If you need beer to survive being snowed in, you have a serious problem and need some help–like a rehab.

    • Larry November 25, 2014, 2:58 pm

      Yeah! Why not Caribbean spiced rum & coke?

  • Centurion_Cornelius November 24, 2014, 5:27 am

    Brought up in a rural area, here’s always been my own “action plan” in disasters: once you and yours are squared-away, take the time and trouble to phone or–if within safe walking distance– to check up on family, friends, or neighbors who may need your help. These can be elderly folks, the disabled, single moms, those with special needs, or those less fortunate.

    A friendly smile with a warm: “How are ya doin? Need anything?” does wonders and will help cement your relationships with others in your own personal neighborhood “web.”

    You’d be surprises how the old notion of: “What goes around comes around” works. I’ve made a few calls to others in disasters, who then later wind up helping me down the road when I need help. One hand washes the other!

    For this we give thanks!

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