This seventeen year old cross country skier left the ski trail and got lost. As is the case with Murphy's Law (If Something Can Go Wrong at the Worst Time, It Will Go Wrong), it was the one time he didn't take his cell phone with him. He made a snow cave in the snow which gave him shelter (from low temperatures, wind chill, and weather) and he insulated the floor of his snow cave with tree branches which gave him some insulation from the cold floor. He tried to make fire but didn't know how, and by day he drank from a stream and would follow the noise he heard from snowmobiles until he was found. Not panicking, having basic knowledge of survival skills (which he learned from TV), keeping sheltered and hydrated were all key to his success.
Some Discussion Points in particular for Cold Weather Outdoors:
- Always bring communication with you and tell someone your route and time you expect to be back.
- Always travel with a partner, the two-person rule is important.
- Always bring the basics (compass, butane lighter, small knife, and a whistle) in a Zip Lock bag in your pocket. Or carry a small Day Pack (small Tarp, dry socks in a zip lock bag, other items below) with things if you had to stay overnight.
- You can add some Granola bars and always have a wide mouth (a small mouth bottle will freeze shut) water bottle.
- You can also have a Fire Starter kit (waterproof matches, tinder, flint & steel, magnesium bar for shavings) in a small zip lock bag as well.
- If you are walking, skiing, or snow-shoeing in relatively fresh snow and you know where you were when you started, JUST FOLLOW YOUR TRACKS BACK OUT. It is a very simple technique that very few people realize, especially if they panic. Relax and think, if you here noise (= civilization) that might be your guide.
- The minute you leave a marked trail realize you are making a bigger decision than you may realize...?
- You will be cold in a snow cave but not freezing like you would outside with no shelter.
CAUTION: It is OK to practice building snow caves, but always do it with someone else until you get proficient in case you dig it wrong & it collapses. Tell a parent / guardian what you are doing. Never do this alone, unless it is a life or death situation of survival.
Just a few thoughts on Cold Weather Survival / Survival, but your brain and some knowledge can go a long way to help you survive.