Personally, I think the winter months are the most dangerous for the outdoor enthusiast or winter traveller. During summer if you are overheated you can usually stop, rest and rehydrate. However, during a winter storm if you either not properly clothed or sheltered you are in big trouble. Prevention is the key to cold winter survival. This article is not an exhaustive report on bush craft skills. It does not teach you how to build a survival tent or hunt for game. Click here for a more advanced outdoor survival guide. However, it is an excellent introduction to cold weather survival. So, if you pay attention you might be in danger of actually learning something. So, here are basic preventive measures that you can take for you to have the best chance of surviving in the cold.
Wear your clothes loosely and in layers (this includes your underwear). And you need to keep your clothes both dry and clean. So, if your clothes become wet or damp, change them as soon as you are able. Also, to reduce sweating, remove excess clothes when you are working or near hot areas like a campfire. Also, always to cover your head when you are out in the cold as your body loses a lot of its temperatures through your head.
Take Care of Your Feet
You need to have many winter socks with you and, of course, keep them clean and dry and change your socks if they become wet. Additionally, lace up your shoes as loose as you can. You need to remember to change your socks even if they become wet from sweating. Use foot powder on your feet and your shoes whenever you are changing your socks and when able clean your feet.
Protect Your Hands
The key to protecting your hands from the elements is proper gloves or mittens. You need to purchase mittens or gloves with inserts. Also, waterproof your gloves or mittens by applying waterproofing treatment like snow seal.
Protect Your Face and Ears
You need to cover your ears and face with a scarf or other clothing. The ideal hat would be a cap with flaps or a balaclava. You can warm up your face and ears by putting your hands on your face. But, don’t rub any part of your fce.
To prevent snow blindness, you need to wear sunglasses or goggles. If you don’t have glasses with you, try to make improvised sunglasses where you can put two slits into cardboard were you would then attach the cardboard to your face through string or, if you’ve them, an extra set of shoelaces.
- Physical Activity-To keep warm; you need to keep moving. Notably, move your arms, shoulder and other big muscles. And if you’re are stuck in a tent or other area with limited mobility keep your feet, fingers hands and toes moving.
- Don’t Drink or Smoke-The stereotype of the St Bernard rescue dog with a liquor collar is false. So, when it is cold, avoid drinking alcohol as alcohol makes you lose your body lose heat quicker. Tobacco also is bad as smoking can decrease blood flow.
- Keep Hydrated and Eat-To keep your energy up you need to eat regularly and remember to regularly hydrate by drinking water and warm beverages. You are in danger of not hydrating correctly if your urine is dark and yellow. You should at least try to drink 3.5 quarts of H20 per day if you are doing physically strenuous work.
- Sunburn-Your exposure to the sun is doubled when you are on the snow. So, you need to use 30 SPF or more sunscreen. This link is an excellent guide to protecting your skins from the sun in snowy conditions.
- Be Prepared– Know how to recognized and deal with sudden weather changes.
- Get Help– If you or a partner have signs of any cold injury (like hypothermia, frostbite, etc.) get help ASAP. This means that you may have to shorten your camping or hunting vacation.
- Don’t Rub Your Body Parts-Whatever you do you should not rub parts of your body that are cold. Ths is especially true if you think you may have frostbite as rubbing frostbitten body parts will likely cause additional injuries.