Volunteering in Ukraine in winter: A Guide for Volunteers to Preparing for the Cold Season
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November 27, 2023

Volunteering in Ukraine in winter: A Guide for Volunteers to Preparing for the Cold Season

Volunteering in Ukraine during the cold season presents unique challenges, so it's essential for volunteers to prepare in advance. While the situation demands adaptability, taking proactive steps to ensure a smooth experience throughout your trip is extremely important.

In this guide, we'll go over the essential items volunteers should bring and purchase upon arrival, with a focus on preparing for potential power outages.

Items to buy prior to arrival:

1. Lights and Illumination

During winter in Ukraine, daylight hours are limited, and power outages can leave you in complete darkness. Battery-operated lights, along with small flashlights, and/or headlamps ensure visibility, especially when returning home after dark. Given the possibility of a phone running out of power and avoiding consuming the battery, having flashlights becomes crucial for navigation and safety.

2. Power Banks

Power banks are essential for keeping communication devices charged during outages. It's advisable to procure power banks with a minimum capacity of 20,000 mAh. This ensures a robust and extended power supply, allowing multiple charges of your phone.

Additionally, consider having an older phone with a longer battery life as a backup.

3. Warm Clothing

Thermal layers, waterproof and windproof outerwear, insulated gloves, hats and scarves and quality winter boots are a must. Proper insulation and warm clothing protect against cold-related illnesses and contribute to overall well-being, especially in situations where heating systems may fail.

4. First aid kit with essential medical supplies.

Tip: Search for accommodation that has a gas stove.

Items to buy upon arrival in Ukraine:

1. Candles, lighters, and matches

Candles serve as a reliable source of light during power outages. Unlike flashlights or battery-operated lights that have a limited lifespan, candles can burn for an extended period, providing continuous illumination for several hours.

However, always exercise caution, never leave candles unattended and put them out when you go to sleep.

2. Water Supply Preparation

Having a reserve of drinking water (about 2 liters per person per day) ensures access to drinkable water during emergencies. While the tap water in Ukraine is chemically safe, it is advised to boil it before consumption. Alternatively, you can buy it from shops.

Technical water storage is also essential for various household needs, especially when the regular supply may be compromised.

3. Food Stock

Power outages can disrupt immediate access to fresh food and cooking facilities. Non-perishable foods and alternative cooking methods, ensure a stable food supply. Quick-cooking products and canned goods become essential for preparing meals without relying on electricity.

Here are some items to add to your shopping list:

  • crackers and biscuits
  • energy bars
  • dried fruits
  • instant noodles
  • canned vegetables such as peas and beans are nutritious options
  • canned fish: tuna, sardines, and salmon provide a good source of protein and healthy fats
  • canned meat such as canned chicken or beef
  • oatmeal and cereals
  • milk powder, a versatile ingredient for hot beverages, cooking, and preparing instant oatmeal
  • quick-cooking grains such as quinoa, couscous, buckwheat and instant rice are excellent choices for quick and easy meals
  • rice cakes - these are durable options that can be paired with spreads, canned goods, or cheeses
  • canned soups and stews: ready-to-eat options that can be heated without relying on a stove.

4. Cash

During power outages, electronic payment systems may be unavailable. Keeping a sufficient amount of cash on hand is vital for purchasing essential goods and services.

By planning ahead and acquiring key items both before and after arriving in Ukraine, volunteers can better navigate the challenges of winter and focus on their volunteering activities better. 

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