If you’ve never been to Montana, you’d probably think that once winter sets in we get 6′ of snow and everything comes to a halt. Not true. The eastern part of the state, flat as a cookie sheet, gets bone-numbing cold and some amazing snow…the mountains on the western side also get a goodly amount of snow. But, this little valley Im in is, for some reason, one of the warmest parts of Montana. We refer to it as The Banana Belt. This area gets the least snowfall of anywhere in the state. That’s not to say we don”t get any, it means that when Helena, Kalispell, and Butte are getting 15″ of snow we get 5″.
Today was the first “major” snowfall of the season, with about 2″ piling up. This is barely enough to break out the snow shovels, although in the redneck states this wolud be considered an apocalyptic amount of snow. But, it does mean that winter is pretty much here.
Being a survivalist in the winter is a lot different than being a survivalist in the summer. The biggest problem in winter is simply not having power. If the electricity goes out you lose lighting (which isn’t that big a deal), refrigeration (which is no deal at all when you can just put your freezer’s contents on the porch and they’ll stay frozen), and heating/circulation (which is a big deal).
Around this household, the goal for emergency heating is simple: keep the house warm enough so the pipes don’t freeze. Now, yes, you could eliminate that threat by draining the pipes but I really don’t relish living through a crisis without flush toilets or showers. So, I’ve a kerosene heater for the basement, and one for the main floor of the house. Additionally, I’ve a few small propane heaters as well to be moved around as necessary for ‘spot heating’. In the time I’ve lived in this house, there’s only been one or two winter power failures and they’ve never gone more than five or six hours. But…thats no guarantee that a big one won’t happen. If I lived out of town or out in the hills…well, at that point it’s almost a certainty that at some point you’re going to get a power outage measured in days (or weeks). Last years windstorm knocked out power here in town for almost ten hours, but The Metals Pimp was out for a couple days. Folks further down the valley in the smaller towns and out in the hills were without for weeks.
Needless to say, winter also seriously changes the gear loadout for the vehicle. The big Pelican Case O’ Survival Gear comes out of storage and goes in the vehicle. I don’t want to get into a long list, but right off the bat theres an extreme cold weather bag in there, blankets, candles, water pouches, a complete change of clothes, spare winter outerwear, and a host of other things to let me stay with the vehicle. (A couple thick books are a good idea.) Sure it takes up a bit of space in the vehicle, but I’d rather deal with that than deal with losing a few fingers and toes because my failure to plan put me in touch with my inner Jim Kim.
Come to think of it, I could use some low-hanging fruit in terms of blog fodder…maybe I’ll crack open the Pelican case and do a little show and tell. Anyone wanna link a picture of their winter gear?