Thank you all for your great comments. The ideas are all spot on and very helpful.
Today, is Shelter Day
The first question to ask is how safe are you? Do you live with someone who loses their temper and uses you as a punching bag when stressed? If so, make a plan that includes gathering passport, social security card, birth certificate for you and your dependents and going some place safe - including a shelter. Try and take some personal effects, clothes, blankets... Do not announce your departure, do it quietly. Do not plan on going back to pick up anything precious. Call someone for a ride if you don't have access to a car. This is true anytime.
Next, how safe and secure are your current housing arrangements? If things go bad sooner rather than later, are you going to stay put or go be with others? If you plan on leaving in event of an emergency you might want to be in communication with those to whom you would go. Be prepared to be a good guest. Don't show up empty handed: bring tools, food, bedding, money... Plan on working and being of use. In this case you are not really a house guest, so plan on showering last, smoke outside, clean, help with meals, help with children, and find a project (such as a garden or cold frame) you can work on.
If you are staying put, Sharon Astyk has really covered this with her adapting in place classes. If you haven't already read these posts, click on the link and go read her posts from this summer. Her site has a search button, too. If you have read it great, perhaps look again.....wait, take a pencil and paper with you and take notes about changes you want to make.
In addition to what we have already covered, think about getting: tarps and tie down rope, lots of extra blankets and pillows, extra buckets, warm sweaters, matches, plastic bags, an alternative heating source, alternative toileting, alternative clothes washing, alternative cooking, good walking shoes, and lighting.
One thing is guaranteed, heating prices are going up, and so if you are planning on insulating, pick it up the materials sooner rather than later. If, like us insulation isn't in the budget, plan on ways to be more comfortable and use less energy.
Something that I've read about recently is window quilts - that is curtains made just like quilts for those who can't afford to put up insulated window drapes. Remember old castles hung tapestries on the walls to help with heating, you can similarly hang quilts and tapestries on your walls that have the coldest exposure. It doesn't have to look bad, in fact I have my best quilt hanging as a display. I plan on putting up some antique quilts that I'd rather not use. Unless you have people in every room, plan on closing off part of your house.
In the event that you lose the ability to heat your house and it is very cold, DH and I have talked about shutting off water at the main and opening the faucets to drain into the tubs. This will keep the pipes from breaking, causing water damage later on. Better of course to have alternative heating.
Plan on Alternative Heating according to what's best for your area. I do not recommend grid tied alternatives such as electric space heaters. I have seen a pretty good kerosene heater that sits in the middle of a room - it's kind of smelly but affordable. There are propane heaters for those in low altitudes. Wood stoves are an option for those who can get wood. They of course require installation. Solar is a wonderful option for those who have the money but not something you can put together quickly. Whenever you are heating with an alternative method, be sure you pay attention to fire hazard, burn risk, and especially have adequate ventilation. People die very quickly and quietly from carbon monoxide poisoning.
I have been canning all summer on a camp chef stove. It runs on propane (and I just picked up an extra bottle) and is very sturdy. I use it on the covered porch. We are about half way through building our adobe oven according to these plans from Sunset magazine. Darn, I have misplaced my camara or I'd show a picture of the project.
Our trouble is that we have bought all the firebrick available in our town and the next one down the road. For solar cooking check out Hausfrau's blog as I consider her the queen of sun cooking.
The buckets are for alternative toileting and clothes washing. You may want to pick up a dedicated plunger for washing clothes in a bucket (I'd personally want to know the plunger hadn't last been down the toilet). Tarps are an all around useful thing to have for everything from roof repair to sun shade to covering something you don't want to look at, or have seen, or be rained on. Suffice to say if you need one it's great to have on hand.
There are solar charged lanterns you can buy and Leahman's has a great selection of fuel burning lanterns. A reader recommends www.SundanceSolar.com for solar lanterns, battery chargers... and www.ccrane.com. Great stuff on both sites! Ccrane has an AM FM radio and flashlight that runs on a charge from cranking,solar or USB and will charge a cell phone! They also have a good solar battery charger.
What are your ideas for securing your house? Have you made recent changes for preparedness? Can you think of other ideas? Hit any good yard sales lately?