Episode-767- Winter is Coming Are You Ready — 41 Comments

    • @James, first keep it in the car not the trunk and park in the sun during the day, that will give enough gain to make it though most nights. Second if it is really cold take the water in the house and put it back in the morning when you leave. Pain in the butt but worth it. If you store water in your trunk in cold climates it will freeze, period.

  1. Hey Jack, have not listened yet, but I carry a Coleman Sport Cat Catalytic heater and three 1lb propane tanks in my RAV4 in the winter. And as you know, from one of my money saving tips, I fill those one pounders with the brass attachement via a 20 lb tank

  2. At one point I used to work as an interiorscaper. Yeah, I was the lady who watered all the office plants. Sometimes we had plants die (an office is not an ideal plant environment) and we had to bring a fresh plant replacement. Sometimes, this happened during winter (and winter in Colorado Springs, Colorado isn’t even as harsh as some truly northern sections of the country). Our rule was that a van or truck only held 15-20 minutes worth of heat to protect a plant. That’s not very long, folks. Listen to Jack, he’s right.

  3. Jack,
    You repeatedly mentioned CO2 detectors for the home. Do you actually mean CO (carbon monoxide) detector?


    • Carbon monoxide detectors and false alarms.
      Of the most frequent false alarms I have seen, most were related to car exhaust seeping in from the garage. One or two actions usually sets off a detector on the first floor or even in the basement and both are because of vehicles in an attached garage. These entrances to your home from the garage are often located near your washrooms and the related water heaters. Making it a smart location of carbon monoxide detectors.

      1. The large garage door is left open when you return home when you park in the garage. When you open the door from your garage to step into the house a guest of wind moves the exhaust into your home. Truly a small amount of CO but these devices are made well and are sensitive.

      2. Secondly, the garage door is closed and your vehicle is running for a spell; either to warm it up or when you return home. A significant amount of CO builds up and when you open the door to your home – Bam! – the sensors go off.
      Could happen several minuets after you return and the furnace has a chance to circulate the air in your home.
      Regardless of the surprise and hassle of false alarms, please don’t remove these from your home as they do save lives.

    • I caught that too. I’ve heard him mix up the two terms before and frankly I don’t care because I know the difference, however spreading misinformation is dangerous.

      • @Ross Radford, just how the hell could it be dangerous? Can you actually buy a CO2 detector and accidentally die of CO while it doesn’t go off? Will someone now go out and stick their mouth on a tail pipe or what?

        • Jack, I apologize if my post was not worded clearly. My point was simply that CO and CO2 are NOT the same thing. If someone were to go out and buy a CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) detector thinking it would protect them against CO (Carbon Monoxide) poisoning, they would be sadly mistaken.

        • We’re dealing with possible life or death situations. If that’s the risk you’re willing to take then so be it. I was simply noting the difference between CO and CO2 and if you want to ignore that instead of thanking me and then lock the post so I can’t reply and have the last word then maybe you’re more arrogant than I thought.

        • @Ross Radford, the thing is yes I misspoke but no in no way would I thank you for your deeply misguided opinion. There is no such thing as a CO2 detector so your entire asseveration is simply NOT POSSIBLE. So no there is no life and death situation here. It is so easy to sit back and nit pick but it is a lot harder to do. Again your claim that this is dangerous because your claim that someone could buy the wrong detector is absolutely impossible.

  4. Back up 30K BTU propane wall heater is ready to go. I just got off the phone with the dealer who will be installing the conversion kit for my corn stove so I can also burn pellets. I wish it was wood, but that will be another house.

  5. I’m guessing a good rule of thumb is that if we need a blow drier to melt the 1/2-1″ plus covering of ice off the car so we can open the door, that maybe we should wait for better weather.

    Still remember leaving Louisiana morning after icestorm, starting 24+ hour drive back to college many years back, no cell phones, no emergency supplies nor extra cash, just packed full of college kids and their stuff (4 of us in a VW). Semi’s on slight inclines not able to make it up the hill due to black ice, cars spinning on the road, cars off the road. We were lucky, but if we’d waited just half a day things would have been so much safer. Scary drive.

    No wonder my dad had gray hair, and was always calling after each road trip to see if we made it back safely.

  6. I read this ( on Monday and meant to post it on the TSP facebook page, but forgot. I’m just starting to listen to this episode, but I would imagine this article might be a good way to get people to think, and then provide them with this episode to listen to once they start asking for ideas on how to be prepared.

    I’m in Ohio and we’ll be doubling our efforts to make sure we’re ready.

  7. Hey Jack, You mentioned checking batteries. I have a suggestion. When your replace batteries in your flashlights, emergency radios, etc., use Energizer Lithium batteries. These batteries cost twice as much as Alkalines, but last 4-8 times longer in use. They don’t have lead/acid inside, so they don’t leak and corrode in your device. They have a 20 year shelf life so they will always be ready when you need them. They also work down to -20 or up to +120 degrees so you can leave them in your trunk. These are a great cheap investment to have light when you need it in an emergency.

  8. Mr. beams also has some pretty interesting home security uses. I like the idea of being able to light up the other areas of the house remotely, while leaving my bedroom dark.

  9. We had our first fire place fire going this morning, our temps in the low 40’s. Any excuse to make a fire!! I’m in Ocala, Fl. and we were 46 this morning, very chilly after a long, sweltering summer. (but not like those poor souls in Texas)

    OK… we live in Florida, but we DO have a few days that get into the 20’s, which kills my garden crops. I love this time of year; grass stops growing, so no more mowing, beautiful days that are cool and dry, nights that give us an excuse to fire up my fire place.

    I’ll listen to see what I need to shore up, and I’m sure there are several things needing attention. But, no matter what, I LOVE this time of year!! Hope others do too…

  10. Oh THANK YOU THANK YOU now I don’t have to harp on the honey do list that has been on the fridge since end sept. You have more clout ok maybe less nag than I do.

    I can tell you first hand listen to your “hackles” as you call it. Mine went off when I was going to walk to spend the night at a friends house (about 1 1/2 miles away) . Stepped off the front porch and wham something was wrong. Asked mom to drive me she said walk or stay home there isn’t any thing out there (we lived in the country). Not wanting to stay home I set out. After stepping off our 1/2 mile long drive that feeling came back bigger than ever. I started walking faster and faster looking into the shadows. As I got about 1/2 way to my friends house out from behind some brush a man dressed in a dark colored hooded sweat shirt and ski mask jumped me. I stood there frozen. I wanted to scream I wanted to hit him with my sleeping bag and run but couldn’t I was frozen solid. The only thing I could do was stare at his eyes as he grabbed my arms.

    After what seemed like forever he laughed and took his ski mask off. It was the older brother of my friend! I was very very lucky and learned from that to always trust my “hackles”. They have saved me a time or two since that night.

    What happened to the brother? Well itching powder in his bed and skivvie drawer. Then we told the older brothers and they pounded on him. We put cow pie in his sausage the next AM and then told his dad boy did he get it big time.

    Will wait eagerly for the prepare for spring show. Thanks again

  11. I finally started putting together my first real ‘get home kit’ to keep in back of my Jeep. While adding some fire starting supplies I realized I had to make some adjustments. Living in Staten Island and often being in Brooklyn (New York City), making a fire would not be high on a list of necessary things due to the area, but keeping warm is. A few posts back a Coleman catalytic heater was mentioned. Aside from the usual CO dangers, I’ve thought of something like that to keep the car warm. Has anyone had to use one, and if so how did it work?

    Does anyone have suggestions on something to keep warm while walking? I used to have one of those liquid fueled catalytic hand warmers. It got real hot and would run for hours on one fill up, but as I recall it was really hard to get it going even under ideal conditions- and it didn’t do anything to keep your feet warm. Any ideas would be appreciated.

      • Those things do work well but remember that they have a shelf life. I’d suggest getting fresh ones every season even if you keep the previous set in the vehicle to use first. They’re cheap and disposable.

        Another thought to keep your feet warm are winter boots.


        • I was thinking about that. For a quick look I didn’t see any mention of shelf life on their site. I can always use the old ones while shoveling snow or at work. I’ll treat them like smoke detector batteries, replace them regularly without waiting for the low battery warning to go off.

          BTW, if you haven’t heard of PALights check them out. That’s where my old smoke detector batteries go to die. At last check they’re under $20 and run on 9 volt batteries. It’s an LED light- not really water or shock proof, pretty bright, and nice to keep around the house. They emit a low level light even when off so they’re easy to find in the dark. If memory serves they run about 8 hours on a fresh battery.

      • Thanks for the idea. I heard of Hothands before, but until I went to the link you sent I had no idea they made such a variety of sizes. I’ll have to get a handful to keep in my kit. Being self contained, no fuel required, they seem to be a great thing to have around.

  12. Great Post! makes sense all the way around! You went places I go gently, eg 4 wheel drive is NOT 4 wheel stop, etc. Great Delivery as well. Stress the BAD!, Give the good, and NO sugar coating. Thanks, reminds me to get the spare rechecked, the chains are ready for use, and A Radiator Flush is a good idea,
    Also , “tuck your vehicle in at night, Drop light to the oil pan, etc. Blanket over the block, My mom did it for several years with a little 4 battery 6 volt MGB GT, In Idaho, it started up every single time.

  13. Freezing rain is no fun.

    In addition to good wiper blades and anti-freeze washer fluid, periodically applying some RainX on the windshield and headlights helps a lot.

    Also, shooting a little graphite lock lubricant in the car door locks can help prevent frozen locks. A little silicone on the door weather stripping will also help keep the doors from freezing shut.

  14. Dam jack you guys got some crazy weather down there, we haven’t had frost here in Michigan yet and you already had it. WOW.. We may see frost tomorrow night tho..

    • @Brent, I wouldn’t call it a true frost the frost was only on metal surfaces not the vegetation, still a cold snap for us indeed.

  15. A tip for those of us who are looking at real winter (I’m in Minnesota) is to put a cheap set of winter boots in your vehicle kit. Last winter we had an early snow storm (lots of snow too) and while I had my normal kit I didn’t have boots in them (dress shoes don’t cut it). I ordered a cheap set of winter boots to put in each vehicle (1000g or more of Thinsulate).

    As far as water in the vehicles, I’ve had great luck using Gatorade bottles in the winter. Yes, they will freeze solid but they don’t leak even after many freeze thaw cycles. However, I’m currently shifting to the small water bottles as they’ll be easier to thaw for use.

    A final tip primarily for 4wd owners. Some of the major all terrain tire designs are also designated as snow tires. They will have the “Snowflake on the Mountain” symbol aka being Severe Weather Rated. They don’t have the special rubber compounds that will give you an additional edge on ice but the tread pattern should help. I’ve been using them for several years and won’t put anything else on my 4wd’s.


    • Just remembered something else after I hit Submit. I keep a little thing of lock de-icer in my coat pocket all winter. I’ve learned to use a little masking tape to keep the cap on. The canisters are cheap and can be found locally. This way you can either get yourself into your vehicle or help someone else if need be.

      Here’s an example off Amazon (I’d still get this locally as I think it’s a bit cheaper).–Icer-Lubricant/dp/B000AMKU58/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319218080&sr=8-1


      • In addition to the weather preps for automobile that have been mentioned, here’s another one: a tarp placed over the windshield can help minimize scraping the frost accumulation in the morning. The side and rear windows aren’t usually as much of a hassle as th.e windshield. If you custom make the covers, add magnets sewn into the corners

  16. Chimney Fire:

    Fireplace cleaning is something most people don’t really appreciate. Most people have never seen a chimney fire. It is HOT. If you’ve ever seen one, it WILL scare you enough to keep your chimney cleaned annually.

    Or you can just trust me on that and service your chimney every year (do it yourself…its not that tough).

  17. Weather is so weird. Lows were supposedly in the middle to upper 30’s. Frost on windows. Plants OK. Then I visit our land 20 minutes away and found they got frozen. Watermelon, tops of basil plants, tomato plants with lots of baby tomatoes just starting 🙁 I was hoping, surprisingly the pepper plants where fine, but they’d fallen over loaded with peppers. Some of the perennial bushes where frozen. And here it was 90 the day before. Must have been a cold wind blowing.

  18. When you get a CO detector (which I assume is what Jack meant instead of CO2), look for dual powered units. These run off of the line power with a battery backup. Using a Lithium battery as the backup source will pretty much ensure that the unit will work for 10+ years without much maintenance; however, be sure to use the press to test button monthly. I used to work on a team that designed both CO and Smoke detectors, and the other thing about both of these devices is that they should be replaced with new ones about every 10 years to ensure that they are functioning properly. They contain no moving parts with the exception of the test button and the alarm module, but even non-moving components do age over time, and these units are inexpensive enough not to bet your life on them working forever.
    Another thing about these units is their sensitivity. Unlike a smoke alarm which simply detects the presence of smoke beyond a certain level, CO detectors generally look for a level over time, in order to model how Co affects a human. A small amount of CO for a short time is not harmful and many times will not set off the CO alarm, where a large level for a short time or a small level for a longer time will do so. The balance is to ensure safety while not creating too many false alarms, at which point the unit is generally disconnected or ignored. We had a unit intermittently alarm after the furnace had run for quite some time, and after investigating the problem, found that the forced draft inducer (the fan that forces the flue gases out of a PVC pipe on a high efficiency chimneyless system) motor was only running at about 2/3 of its normal speed, and was something we wouldn’t have noticed without the detector.

    When looking for a kerosene heater for supplemental home heating, make the extra investment in fiberglass wicks instead of the cotton ones. If the fuel runs low, the heater simply stops working, unlike the cotton wicks which will begin to burn or smolder without fuel and emit nasty soot into the heated space.

    A very basic emergency car kit can be assembled into a #10 can with a lid. Using an old style beer/pop can opener or other means, place a row of a half a dozen holes around the base of the can. Into the can you can place strike anywhere matches (in a waterproof container) and/or a butane lighter, some votive style candles, a few emergency space blankets, and some hard candy, beef jerky, candy bars, etc, and an extra pair of gloves. You may add anything else you may need that will fit, but IMO you can almost never have too many candles or space blankets. I agree with Jack on the space blankets, that the grommet style tarps are better than the small ones, but at $3.00 each a few extra small ones in the kit can be very useful. Also, on the grommet style, they now have a version with an extra piece in the middle designed to be used as a hood, allowing the blanket to be used as a poncho/tarp with head covering.
    To use the kit, empty the contents, place two or more candles in the bottom of the can and light them. The can will keep the fire hazard to a minimum, and you will be surprised how much heat just two or three candles will provide. Wrap in the space blankets or use them to make your heated area smaller if in a larger vehicle like a van.

    On spare tires we recently ran into an interesting/embarrassing situation when my wife had a flat on her Toyota Sienna van. It has a full sized spare tire (not a donut) stored up under the rear of the vehicle. It is held in place with a cable and a winch system. She called AAA and when they went to get the tire to change it, it was gone. It seems that the cable had rusted and the tire had fallen off. We have no idea when or where, but it is probably a great idea to check equipment more thoroughly than we did in this case. AAA BTW towed her vehicle home, and we have had to acquire another spare.

    One final comment on having cell phone vehicle chargers. I think of them as a necessity, but since I’m basically a cheapskate I buy them at bargain prices from where the prices are amazingly low and the quality amazingly high. The stuff ships without tax or S&H fees directly from Hong Kong. All of my orders have arrived in 7-10 days in a large padded envelope via US mail. I have no affiliation with these folks, but have been very impressed with the equipment and prices.

  19. And here’s where SoCal comes into its own. I’ve taken bike rides in shorts to the ocean in January. It’s rough 🙂

  20. I love the comments about 4wd. My husband and I have always said, “You might have four wheel drive, but we ALL have four wheel breaking!”

  21. One other thing to do for car cell phone charger is get one that accepts USB and keep USB cables for both in your cars. Much easier to keep around and generally cheaper.