Winter survival skills
By applying some winter survival basics you will be safer when traveling in the wilderness during the winter season. Winter and cold weather can be wonderful…. but also harsh and dangerous. Many unexpected things can happen during a winter trip. Even experienced winter wilderness adventurers can get caught by weather or an equipment failure.
Good preparation is essential for all wilderness travel, especially in winter. Take special care of your clothing. Cold weather requires you to really think through what you’re going to wear to stay warm.
If you are caught out overnight the most important thing is to keep yourself dry and warm. So one of your highest priorities is to find or construct a shelter. Evaluate your situation.
Winter survival shelters
If you are caught out overnight, it is extremely important to keep yourself dry and warm. Therefore, one of your highest priorities should be to find or construct a shelter. You need a shelter that keeps the wind, snow and rain out.
Select a site that is dry and has as little snow as possible. Look for higher ground, a flat location, with lots of trees, such an area will provide relief from direct wind and snow, as well as an ample supply of material for shelter building. If
there’s no chance to reach higher ground, build a floor using dead branches or stones. Don’t stay in shelters that get damp or waterlogged.
Use available materials to get a roof over your head. Be creative! Maybe you can make use of natural cover? A medium-sized tree may have pockets in the snow beneath a branch. Try digging under any tree with spreading branches in the lee side.
After you’ve built your shelter, get a fire going. Make something hot to drink to get warmth but also avoid getting dehydrated. Melt ice and snow to get survival water.
Keeping your body warm
Don’t over-exert yourself while building your snow shelter. Pace your activity to avoid perspiration. If it’s raining or snowing, put on an emergency poncho to protect your clothes and keep you dry. Try to keep your boots, socks and feet dry as well. If not, you risk making yourself even colder as your sweat starts to freeze. Beware of hypothermia and frostbite.
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