Winter is one of the perfect seasons to have fun when it comes to outdoor adventure. The best experience of hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and much more could be gotten during the winter. But do you know that during the winter the condition is more extreme? The cold temperature that winter brings can result in frostbite or hypothermia.
Unfortunately, anybody can face survival circumstances during the cold season. When there is a threat to your life, you will need to cope with the survival situations. Let us take a look at some situations. What would you do if your buddy hit their head on a tree while skiing down the backcountry route? What would you do if a thick piece of falling ice removes your belayer? Or what would you do if your winter clothes and footwear such as snowboard boots are soaked when you fall through an ice ledge on a river?
Of course, you can have some essential gears with you such as your helmets, snowmobile goggles and much more. However, when you decide to go out for a winter adventure, you need to be prepared for the unknown. In this article, we are going to open your eye to 5 essential winter survival skills that can help you when circumstances spiral out of control during your winter adventure.
THE ESSENTIAL WINTER SURVIVAL SKILLS
- Construct A Shelter
Building a shelter should come first so you can place a barrier between the elements and yourself. The wind and the cold can be dangerous to your health and that of your partners. It can cause frostbite and hypothermia as earlier said. If you are in an open space it is important you get below the treeline. Getting below the treeline would be easy if everybody in your team is mobile.
Research studies have shown that people who often get below treeline have a higher chance of survival than those who don’t. The trees will help protect you against the wind. In fact, it will also serve as a source of fuel to make fire. The available materials around the environment can also be used to construct a shelter. The materials are Rocks, leaves, moss, grass, and sticks either small or large.
If you can’t move below the treeline due to the weather you can you can dig a snow pit, cave or trench. Also, if any member of the group or team is injured and can’t move, the same thing is applicable. When making the shelter close it off on all side but ensure you leave space for adequate ventilation.
- Setup A Fire
Build a fire if you are still wet or cold. It will increase your chance of surviving the extreme weather condition. Sometimes you may think a camp stove would work out but not perfectly. It can only be used to melt snow or make hot drinks; it cannot keep you warm for long. Setting up a fire can be advantageous than a camp stove. The smoke coming from the fire can help you, alert rescuers, so they can locate where you are.
No doubt, it is very challenging to make a fire during the winter. The dead woods might be wet and the ground covered with snow. To have a better chance of overcoming the challenge you need to take fire starter with you. Put fire starters such as Vaseline coated cotton balls or egg carton squares dipped in wax in your backpack.
You don’t need to make a big fire. When you keep it small, you will have a better chance of keeping the fire up for long. To set up a fire on a ground covered with snow, dig a pit of about 2ft then put small thick logs at the bottom. Ensure the logs are of the same length and also look for tinder to start the fire. Before you add larger pieces of wood to the fire, make sure you build a deep bed of hot coals.
There are great possibilities that any large piece of wood you pick up would be wet. You might need to take a pruning saw or lightweight chain along with you. This will help you to split the woods. You can then build a pyramid style fire or log cabin. It will make the wood at the top dry while the on below is burning.
- Provide First Aid If Anyone Is Injured
If you have an injured person in your group, you need to make the condition of the person stable until help arrive. Move the person to a safe place and put him or her on an insulating sleeping bag. This will help prevent the victim from contacting the ground and also prevent hypothermia.
Your main focus is to keep the person stable and stopping the victim from moving around. This will prevent the person from getting injured the more.
During the winter, rescue sometimes takes much time, so you need to keep the injured member of the group warm. When going for an outdoor adventure during the winter, don’t forget to store your First aid kit in a packing cube. During an emergency, it will be easy to access.
- Melt The Snow
When you are in a survival situation during the winter, it is important to stay hydrated. It would defend you from frostbite and hypothermia. If you have used up your water and you have none left, you will have to melt the snow. It will help provide drinking water. You can use your camp stove or cook pot to melt the snow. In a situation where you don’t have a stove or pot, you can use a water bottle.
Pack the snow inside the water bottle and keep it in your cloth. This should be done only if you have the fire on and your body warm. When these are in place the snow in the bottle will melt. The fire and water will keep you alive till help comes.
- Be Located And Rescued
When preparing for a trip, it is good when you leave your trip plan with a trusted family member or friend. Once you are exceeding the scheduled time of return, they will call search and rescue. You need to know that SAR teams will only search during the daylight and when there are no bad conditions. This means you will be on your own till they show up.
In a situation where no one knows your trip plan, and you are missing, you would need to look for a way to signal for help. Generate smoke by putting leaves or green wood in the fire. The rescuers will be able to locate you once they see the fire. Also, you can bring additional gears such as personal locator for communication. During the winter you cannot rely on electronics most times but they worth being invested on.
Do you know reading and writing down the 5 essential winter survival skills discussed above is not the best? It would be great if you can put them all into practice. Take time to master them so you won’t have to think of what to do if you are in an emergency situation. Prepare for the worst, and you will not have to worry anytime you are going for an adventure during the winter.
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