Cold winter survival

by Dustin C

When forced to stay out of conventional shelters (houses, buildings, automobiles) one must work with what one has at hand. Below are a few tips that should seem like common sense. However, our lives are made easier and far safer by conventional means, and thus it seems as a whole, we have lost some of our collective survival skills.

This is by no means a complete list, nor will it allow you to build a winter cabin out of pine needles and dead branches. However, if you keep your senses up and your intolerance down these tips may help you survive if you are stranded or unable to reach conventional shelter during a cold winter survival situation.

1: Take and keep EVERYTHING man made: Even if it is only a spent soda can, it can provide you materials that are simply not made by mother nature. Face it: The fast food wrapper with mustard on it, having been made of wax paper, is a great fire starting material.`

2: EVERYTHING has value: Remember the soda can? The tab can be used to cut other materials, including the can it came on, it can be used for as stringing tab on a makeshift bow. The can may be used as a weapon itself by crushing it and bending the metal, this is also useful as a small digging tool for hard ground. The can top can be cut off or punched in and the whole used as a small fire can in limited size shelters or for starting a fire in windy conditions. Of course it can be used to transport and even boil water if you are careful.

3: EVERYONE can help: Children are great helpers if you motivate them. Cold is a great motivator, nobody likes to be cold and least of all children. Adults, we hope, will put aside any personal issues they might be having and help with the effort to shelter the group they are with. Wounded members, if able to function with their hands, can do any number of time consuming tasks that more able bodied survivors won't have time for if they are out gathering supplies or actually building the shelter. Even unconscious individuals can help warm a shelter with their body heat. NO individual is without worth or value.

4: Trees are our friends: Trees of any kind are one of the most helpful things you can make use of in a survival situation. Materials for building, fire building, possibly food, a source of small animals, and attention are all provided by almost all trees. Trees are what people look at FIRST in a landscape. If you are signaling someone they most likely will be looking for you in the trees as some point anyway because common sense says you'll be there to take advantage of the shelter and materials it will provide. Always build near or right at a tree if possible.

5: THINK!!! Yes, three exclamation points. The one single item you take with you everywhere is your brain, and it is truly the only thing that will save you. You must learn to ignore convention and issues with 'icky' things like food you are not used to eating and having to work just to get clean drinkable water. If you truly are in a survival situation these things really won't seem as bad as they might right now. Your life is worth more than the few minutes it takes to build a fire and boil that water you need to drink in order to stay alive and HEALTHY, isn't it?

Just remember, there are at least fifty ways to use almost every single thing you can pick up with your hands. Everything from a foam cup to a first aid kit can be used for more than their stated purpose, its up to you to find the ones you will need if every you are trapped in a cold weather survival situation.

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by: Yoyo

The cold winter survival tips that are shared here on the webpage are truly useful to travelers and residents of cold areas.

excellent post
by: Winyan Staz

Excellent post full of great information. I want to add that if you are in a desert area, you can still make a shelter of sorts to keep out of the sun.

Its important to stay out of the sun to keep your body temperatures down and the water loss as low as possible.

As you move at night or EARLY morning or early evening (sleep in the day and or the darkest part of the night) pick up any sticks (if any) as you move...even old sagebrush will work...and before the sun gets too hot dig down into the sand or dirt(preferably next to any outcrop if possible) and place your sticks over the top and lay more brush or even a scrap of material such as a shirt over those. Its important to stay out of the sun to keep your body temperatures down and the water loss as low as possible.

If you can find enough old sage etc, put some on the bottom to lay on. Collecting as you move will also give you material for a fire later. Dont forget to pick up any old dried cow pies etc as they too will burn. If there are no sticks etc you still want to find or dig a place as deep as you need to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Dont over-work at it but be sure that as the sun moves you can move to stay in the shade.
Look for water where you find any trees that drop their leaves in the fall.

If you have some garbage bags or plastic bags, tie them tight over green plants and have part of the bag hang down lower than the rest...they will collect a bit of moisture that way. Even if all you get is a bit of moisture to wipe your lips or hold in your mouth it will all help. Some cactus have fluids you can drink...and pulp or fruit you can eat. Many do not.

Take a few minutes to learn the plants before you find yourself in a situation where you will want the knowledge. Wouldn't hurt to learn how to make a solar still either as they are fairly simple to make if you have the plastic or materials needed.

Don't exert yourself
by: Bill

Excellent post, and nice to seeone that isn't about 'the best survival knife' in the world. One more thing, to remember, don't over exert yourself, especially in the cold. Once you start sweating profusely, you're done. Because when you stop, all that moisture, will freeze into a nice film of water on your body, thus sapping more heat from you.

Debris hut
by: Dustin T

Make a debris hut - unless you are in an arid desert, you can make a debris hut just about anywhere to weather the winter cold.

Gather much more debris than you think - the walls of the debris hut should be arm deep and the hut should only be big enough to wriggle into (foot first). Maintain the hut by adding debris (can't really "fluff it up". Plug the door and sleep cozy.

You can modify the hut or improve the shelter for year-round living.

Periodically smudge out the hut with smoke to keep insects from infesting.

The 2' walls for 20 degrees (F) cited in the page is incorrect, though - you want them 3.5' thick for 30 degrees, 4.5' for 0 degrees, 5.5' for -40.

by: Shaykh Idris

One mar point: I agree with all of the above: keep out of the wind: the lee side of anything is going to be warmer than the windward. A windbreak is the first thing to build, and one a little way out from your tent or shelter can make a world of difference.

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