Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to Survive in the Winter Wilderness

There was some very good news on my news reader this morning--this family that had been missing in the snowy wilderness was found healthy and happy.  That doesn't always happen.  Each winter it is pretty much a given that there will be people wrecked/lost in the wilderness and help often comes too late (ie: this example.  Interesting follow up to this case here.).  Here are some ways to improve your odds of rescue if you are found in a similar situation:

  • Think twice before going into the wilderness during the winter (you need a whole different set of survival skills than you need in the summer)
  • Know where you are going and obey all signs (road closed, etc)
  • Leave your itinerary with a responsible person and call them when you get to where you are going.  They will know to summon help if you don't contact them within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Keep a car cell phone charger in your vehicle to keep your cell phone charged (helps when pinging the phone in a search situation)
  • Make sure your car is well stocked for an unexpected multi-day survival event (extra food, water, blankets, emergency kit, first aid kit, flashlight, toilet paper, matches, flares, etc)
  • Make sure your car is in good working order (good tires, tire chains, engine in good repair, etc) 
  • Have some experience camping in all weather conditions (you can't beat actual experience when it comes to winter camping)
  • Don't leave your vehicle if at all possible (a vehicle is easier to spot by search crews than a person)
  • Figure out how to signal for help (this can range from sending smoke signals to tying fluorescent streamers to the top of your vehicle).
  • Focus on the basics (staying hydrated, staying fed if possible, staying warm, keeping a positive attitude)
  • Do some research.  Start here, here, and here.

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