Staying Safe and Sane When Snowed In For Days

Avatar Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: April 15, 2021
Staying Safe and Sane When Snowed In For Days

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There have been a lot of snow storms this year. The pictures of bare shelves when a storm is announced shows that people are rushing at the last minute for basic supplies. After you get all your basics, you need to cover the issue of being stuck inside. I have been snowed in for many days at a time growing up in the North Cascades. It was 10 miles to the nearest small town of any size and 20 to any real entertainment options. This was before the internet was available. We didn’t even have a television in the house I grew up in. I had to find other ways. Oh sometimes I would go to my grandmas and watch tv on the floor model Zenith, but most of the time all I had was books, writing, radio, and cassette tapes. Nowadays everyone has so many options to choose from, and they don’t take a lot of electricity either.

We still have many weeks of potentially snowy conditions in North Carolina, and I know that there are places that will experience winter conditions for months after we do even. This means we all have potentially long periods to face where we are stuck at home.

My husband remembers a historic snowstorm that happened in western North Carolina the second week of March 1993. People that have lived here a long time still talk about this storm because it dumped 2.5 feet of snow in a short period. It took a week to melt away and many people were without power or heat for days. Since it was 1993, there was not a plethora of electronic gadgets and inexpensive handheld video games. Of course, very few people had backup power of any type. A lot of you reading this probably remember when solar panels and back up power were much more expensive and not as mainstream.

This year has been very snowy for a lot of the country

Recently we stayed at home for 8 days straight, and it was at least partially due to a snowstorm that was bigger than the weather people predicted. I wanted to create a list of possible entertaining things to do when snowed in. I realize that some of these may require some electricity or the ability to recharge devices, but some do not.

Prepping for entertainment

It is easy to get caught up in the serious aspects of prepping. I write a lot about some awful situations and how to get through them. One aspect of survival that is critical and sometimes poo-pooed by the “tough and hardcore” crowd is preparing for the waiting and the in-between time. Snowstorms and cold weather are a good time to simulate bugging in.

If you or a family member can’t keep their head straight for four days or more of being snowed in, then you got a problem that needs to be worked on. The last snow storm we had showed me just how desperate people can be to get out and away even if conditions are really dangerous and they don’t have to go to work. After a few days, people were doing nutty things just so they could leave their houses. They risked their lives and endangered others on the highway simply because they were too bored or could not get along with each other long enough to get through a snow storm. It is better to realize these limitations during regular times and work on how to ensure better morale and a healthier approach during a long term emergency.

Before a storm do the following to help stay entertained even if the power goes out

Check out your battery situation.

Recharge your AA and AAA batteries. If you don’t use rechargeables, you should consider it. We like to keep a few nonrechargeables around too. When AA or AAA are on sale for under $1 for four we pick up a few here and there. Our local grocery store used to have Rayovac batteries on sale pretty often, but it is a bit rarer now.

Consider buying some extra lighting that will run on batteries or use very little power if using a power center like the Jackery Explorer 24

Consider the ages and abilities of everyone in your home when planning entertainment

Kids get stir crazy and have a lot of energy. Sure playing out in the snow can be fun but that is not going to be something that they can do the whole snowed in time. Also, you need something to do as well! If the adults are miserable, kids can pick up on that and you just get a situation where everyone is fairly unhappy or even argumentative with those around them.

Special snacks

Shelf stable snacks are easy to put back and help with the food situation when it is harder to cook and wash dishes. Just make sure to stash them well, so kids don’t find them in advance!

Extra cozy blankets

Fleece blankets are inexpensive and they are very useful. Check out my post “The Many Uses Of Fleece Blankets During Good Times and Bad ”  for more details on fun crafts and useful items that can be made with fleece blankets. If you have a few extra that you don’t need to stay warm or that you want to layer to make thicker blankets, being snowed in can be a good time to try your hand at some projects!

Board games

There are all kinds of board games out there that are suitable for different age groups. It may be a good idea to have some that are for adults and older kids and a few that everyone can play. However you decide to go about it, just make sure you are not leaving someone out or you provide alternative entertainment options for them.

Emergency radio and mp3s

I did a post over at The Organic Prepper on creating a music box for SHTF.  The same music box can be a big comfort for even a regular weather-related event like a blizzard or snow storm. I know that if I can stay warm, listen to music and read a good book or write, I can stay entertained. Music helps keep a healthy mindset and gives a sense of normality.

The Kaito KA900 is a great radio. Check out my review for more info!

Notebooks and pens

Coloring books

Coloring is not just for kids. You can get a lot of different types of coloring books. Some have very intricate designs. This is a good way to color with kids without having to color cartoon characters.  Now you have the option of getting your own coloring book that reflects your interest. You may find that you like being asked to color a little more if you have a grown-up coloring book too! A lot of people claim that it is very stress relieving and makes them look away from computer screens and television in their free time.

Water mats for kids to draw on

amazon product

I think these are really cool toys because they are reusable, small enough to store in small living spaces, inexpensive, and large enough for multiple kids to draw on and have some fun. Also, there is no huge mess, ink stains, etc. They come with a lot of stencils and shapes that can help kids learn while they have fun too!

Build an indoor fort with the kids, significant other, or even by yourself

I used to love making forts inside when I was a little girl and it was rainy outside, which was a lot of the time in western Washington. While I don’t do this now, there is no reason adults can’t do it too! Grab your significant other or make a fort yourself. Sometimes it can be fun to act a little bit like a kid. Hmmm, a wine and cheese picnic and a good book in my indoor fort……..I’ll be right back!

You can also pitch a tent in your house for a makeshift fort if you have space. You can use a cheap tent for something like this.

Practice winter survival skills

If conditions are good enough to go outside safely, it may be just the time to practice the survival skills under cold conditions. If you have gear that you have never practiced with, get it out and give it a test run. If you have not had much experience building a fire under snowy and wet conditions, now is the time to practice.

Check out the recent post  “Cold Weather Survival Simulation & Spend A Night In The Cold.”

Be there for others, don’t just go off to yourself and leave everyone to fend for themselves. Also running away from conflicts when snowed in is not a good long term solution

If I am in a group, I tend to eventually wander off to do my own thing. That can be okay in some situations.

Now if everyone wants to do this, it is one thing, but if you act like you don’t want anything to do with others in your family when snowed in, that is not necessarily a helpful action. Some families and roommates get along better than others, so doing your own thing can be helpful in some cases. My point is that you need to strike a balance that works for everyone.

So many people have big houses and private areas for each person in the home, this can lead to less interaction than is healthy in a household. I live in a house that is under 600 sq feet, and we still can be in different sections and rooms, but with that small of square footage, it is much harder to hide from any conflict or grumpiness that either person exhibits. That means working through issues instead of running from them entirely.

Dealing with the winter blues can be tough. If someone is having a hard time, they may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder

It is pretty common for people to experience feeling a little down in the deep of winter when there is less sunlight and it is a struggle to stay warm and motivated. At the same time, if these feelings become too extreme and go on for days and days, the problem may be greater and need some extra attention. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is unfortunately very common. It is most likely to occur in places with moderate to severe winter weather or just rainy and gloomy conditions.

Most people respond well to treatments for SAD. While medications help severe cases, there are a lot of methods that require no medications. We touched on some methods in the previous post, “Transitioning From Fall To Winter & Staying Positive Tips For Dealing With Changes, Holidays, SAD, and More!”.

Remember that SAD can happen to anyone and in any climate even if it is most common in colder ones.

Stay safe out in the cold. It is easy to get hypothermia.

When it snows it is a lot of fun to get outside and sled, take walks, build snowmen, igloos, or whatever floats your boat. Hiking can be a lot of fun too. Extra time spent out in the cold means you need to make sure you are dressed right and recognize when you need to warm up.

I did a post on how to prevent hypothermia that has some tips for how to dress and what to do if someone is exhibiting hypothermic behaviors. You don’t have to be playing out in -10F to get hypothermia. Kids and smaller adults may be more susceptible. Children don’t always notice that they are too cold because they are caught up in the excitement of playing in the snow.

What do you do when snowed in? Do you have a box of stuff for just in case you find yourself stuck at home for many days at a time? What fun games and things do you have to add to the activities discussed in this post?

Samantha Biggers can be reached at


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4 Responses to “Staying Safe and Sane When Snowed In For Days”

  1. I have to give credit where credit is due…THANKS honey (my wife). I wouldn’t even be able to leave a reply if it weren’t for her.

    We still have power (though there have been several intermittent shut-downs due to snow-laden branches) on the lines leading up to where we live. However, our internet connection (via satellite) was “down” with an unknown “system error.”

    It’s been that way for more than a day and I was thinking about calling the provider…but there is NO WAY a service tech could reach us. Our main roadway is plowed periodically, but the quarter mile drive in to our country place is currently impassable.

    So…how did the problem resolve? My wife suggested that the snow might be covering the satellite dish…and she was right! As soon as I scraped off the thin layer, our reception resumed. We’ve only had satellite internet for a couple of months and I had NO idea, till now, that “obstructions” could include a thin buildup of snow.

    Thanks Honey!!!

  2. Hard copy books for all ages! Decks of playing cards are inexpensive, invest in a Hoyle’s for many different game rules. Uno is a universal winner among age groups. Invest in board games, look at your local thrift store. I have several editions of trivial pursuit, as well as the basics like life and monopoly. If you have power, look at dance videos/exercise videos that everyone can join in. Have coloring books, magic markers, crayons, colored pencils. I also save the toys from ‘happy meals’ for the kids. Saving a ‘music box’ like Samantha shared is great, but why not pick up some inexpensive musical instruments and learn to use them? A great childhood memory, not weather related, was my dad and his buddies just sitting around with a guitar, singing songs (helped me get interested in learning to play guitar). Crafts…learn and teach someone how to knit, crochet, cross stitch, sew, repurpose items. Take a worn out pair of jeans, and see how many items you can create from them. Safely spend some time outside. Start growing some seeds indoors. You just need to use your imagination. Granted, it is more difficult to engage kids who are used to their ‘devices’. Have them help with food prep, if they want to eat, they need to pitch in. And they can (and should) help with clean up. Teaching moment. If it’s not unsafe, take the family outside at night to try to identify constellations and stars. Snuggle up together under blankets, and share family memories and stories and hot cocoa. Take a 15 (or 30) minute break, where everyone does what they want to do alone (within reason, and safely). You will need breaks from each other. Everyone gets their own room or own spot in the room. No judgement, and when the group comes back together, it’s team time again. That means that older kids help entertain/educate the younger kids. Give everyone a sense of purpose, a responsibility. Yeah, I got a little deeper than the original intent of the article.

  3. We like to put puzzles together. There are puzzles now that accommodate any age or ability level all in one puzzle. On one end are the smaller pieces, in the middle are middle sized pieces, and on the other end are the larger pieces like in childrens’ puzzles. A whole family could take part in those! Don’t forget card games… I have a deck of informational playing cards and ran a copy of rules for different card games from an online source folded and placed in a ziplock bag, which I keep in my BOB.
    Also, I have a dreidel-like top with 4 sides. On each side are simple directions: “Put” ( put a token in the pot), “Take” (take a token from the pot, “None” (do nothing), and “Take All” ( take all the tokens). When all the tokens are taken out, everybody adds one to the pot, and the game continues until one player ends up with all the tokens ( or a pre- determined amount). Players who run out of tokens are out of the game. Tokens can be anything: pennies, peanuts, poker chips, Hershey’s kisses ( the winner gets to eat them all!) or any small items. Players each add a token to the pot, and each in turn spins the dreidel or top and follows the direction on the side facing up. Any number of people can play, just have enough tokens for each to start with at least three. An even number of people is best. I think you can order real dreidels off of Amazon or Ebay, or you could “google” them to see what they look like and make one, if you are so inclined!

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