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Planning For Winter In The Summer
Winter Survival…the MOST important preparation may not be what you think!
Yep, it’s hot outside…117 today where I live in Southern Utah, in fact. So, why start preparing for colder weather that’s still months away? Because winter survival is extremely difficult, and the most important preparation of all has nothing to do with stocking caps, wool socks or Pepperoni Hot Pockets (…mmmm…Hot Pockets…).
Each year nearly 1000 Americans die from cold-weather exposure and related injuries. Generally these deaths occur while traveling or participating in outdoor activities, and rarely at home or in permanent shelters. Moreover, the number occurring during a long-term survival scenario (widespread natural disaster, war, financial collapse, EMP…zombie apocalypse…) is virtually zero. So, the normal prepper approach isn’t going to position us for optimal success in most likely winter survival situations.
Have you ever tried to walk though knee-deep snow while taking the garbage can to the curb? The physical effort required for mobility or recovery in a snow-survival scenario can be three times that of a normal “emergency”. The obvious dangers are hypothermia and frostbite, shelter and clothing issues for sure, but are greatly exasperated by dehydration and the loss of insulation due to excessive sweat. Compound that with the increased exertion levels, causing exhaustion and even heart attack, and your cold-weather survival prospects are drastically reduced.
So, with that being said, the first secret to winter survival is…drum roll please…
Okay, maybe not that big of a surprise, but something that has to be specifically planned for during winter because we don’t normally think of it as lacking or necessary when it’s cold outside. Eating a large amount of snow to produce a relatively small amount of water is generally a bad idea, body temperature quickly becoming a factor, and keeping water thawed can also be a real trick. Preparation should include a supply of drinkable water, as much as a third more than you might normally carry, and a reliable way to melt ice and snow. In a pinch a frozen bottle can be placed in a warm bodily nook or crevasse, but again this is generally a poor idea as it contributes to lowering core temperature. A better solution is a Jet-Boil or pocket rocket type stove. Have one in your car or in your pack at all-times during the winter months…don’t forget the fuel…perfect for melting water and frozen Twinkies.
The real secret to winter survival is what the military calls “situational awareness”…that’s ”knowing your surroundings” to you and me. Understanding your location, temperature, snow depth, snow slope, and proximity to shelter and aid can ultimately be more important than the type of coat, knife or freeze-dried food in your pack. This takes real preparation. You’ll need to consult maps, locals, weather and snow reports, and the mother-of-all survival guides (Google, of course!) before you head out. If you’re traveling by car in the winter you need to know the road conditions and have a significant survival kit in the trunk. This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how few winter travelers have made any appropriate preparedness effort. Planning your winter trips and activities ahead of time will almost always save you money, and can literally save your life or that of your family.
June is a great time to get set for the winter months ahead, and at SurvivalKit.com we have the perfect preparedness kits for your car. Order one for each auto today…just remember to
Simple Sheltering Tricks That Can be Used Anywhere
Creating a shelter in a hurry is priority number one in any survival situation. Fortunately, you can build one with minimal material in a matter of minutes in most situations. Let’s take a look at a couple of different options that are available based on whether or not you are using material that you have on hand or relying on nature to provide the items.
Tarps and Rope
The most basic shelter that you can make involves taking a piece of cordage and tying it to two trees. Then, simply drape a large plastic tarp, poncho or piece of canvas over the rope. This will create a simple “A” frame shelter that will provide protection against the elements. You can secure the material to the ground by using rocks or inserting sticks as stakes.
You can also create a lean-to shelter by tying off opposite ends of the material to trees and anchoring them with rocks. This will create an angular shelter that resembles ½ of an “A” frame. This method is ideal when the open side is placed against large rocks, a wall or other barrier that can complete the enclosure.
Finally, you can use your tarp or canvas as a roof by tying off each corner to a tree. This will not give you the protection of walls, but it will shield you from the sun and rain. In each case, you can make modifications and improvise as you see fit based on your circumstances.
Building a Tent From Branches
You can also build a single-person shelter in minutes using large branches and natural debris. The first step is to find a large branch with a “Y” joint on top that will serve as the anchor. It should be at least a few feet long in order to give you ample space to crawl into once the shelter is complete. Once the large piece has been inserted into the ground, find another branch that is at least a foot longer than your body with your arms stretched over your head. This will serve as the backbone of your shelter and ensure that you have enough room inside to be comfortable.
Lay one end of the branch between the “Y” joint and the other end on the ground on the opposite side. You can add smaller branches on either side along the length of the support beam and tie them with bark or cordage for additional support. Drape a tarp, canvas or plastic over the skeleton and crawl inside.
If you have ample cordage, you can also make the frame of the shelter out of sticks by leaning them on an angle into each other at the top. It will look like an inverted “V” with the ends of the sticks forming a small groove on top. You can then place the long support beam along the length of the frame as well. This will give you a stronger shelter with a wider opening in the front as opposed to the “Y” example above.
The nice thing about these shelters is that you can cover the skeleton with all kinds of material if you don’t have a tarp, plastic or canvas. You can use branches, moss, debris, dirt, smaller sticks or a combination of everything in order to create the shell of the shelter. You can even use snow. The important thing is that you think outside of the box and create a protective barrier between you and the elements with the material that you have on hand.
These shelters are not designed to serve as permanent, fortified structures. Rather, they are intended to help you to stay warm and dry with minimal preparation or resources in an emergency. These simple techniques can end up saving your life, so they are essential skills to have at your disposal. Take some time to practice and improvise so that you will know what to expect if you ever need to build one in a real-world situation.