HOW TO SURVIVE A night in the snow
Winter can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful. If you enjoy venturing out into the snowy
wilderness or going off piste, know what it takes to survive a night in the cold.
1 Do everything you can to get home, or at least to shelter. Call for help, walk to the nearest road
and flag down a ride, or invite yourself into the nearest house.
2 Just in case you get stranded, every skier,
winter walker and even car driver should
consider carrying a basic snow-survival kit
containing: chemical heat packs; a 30cm x
30cm (1ft x 1ft) piece of foam pad for insulation,
two heavy-duty bin liners and a lighter.
3 Before you set out, check your gloves fit. If
they are too tight they can restrict blood flow.
To check, raise your arms and swing them as
hard as you can towards the floor. If the mitts
don’t fly off, they’re too snug.
4 Cut up your car seat. Foam torn from the
seats and stuffed into your clothing will create
insulation. Stay in the car – it offers great
protection from the elements.
5 Put on the bin liners. You can reduce the
effects of the wind and minimise moisture
transfer by wearing one bag next to your skin
and the other outside all your other layers.
6 Stay hydrated. If you’re low on water,
begin melting snow immediately. Do this by
constantly adding about one-third snow to
two-thirds existing water, and keeping it close
to your body. Once it melts, drink off about a
third of the water and repeat.
7 Build a fire. It may be tough to start a fire
in winter conditions but in a survival situation
you should try to burn anything you have that’s
flammable to keep warm, including fence posts
or natural dead wood that’s been kept covered
and dry by a blanket of snow.
8 Make a bed and lie on it. Use any branches
you can find – the more foliage the better –
to create a mattress that is 25cm (10in) thick.
Then insert several thinner 25cm- (10in-) long
sprigs into your mattress vertically so it will
maintain maximum height when you sit or
lie on it.
9 Leave snow caves to the experts (and polar bears). You have to expend a lot of energy to make
one, so you’re better off saving your breath. If you do build one, make it small.
10 Cuddle up, if you can. If you’re stranded
with a partner, hunker down for the night
back-to-back. It not only offers the best heat
transfer, you can also sense if the other person
11 Stay awake. Your metabolic rate drops
considerably when you’re sleeping. Do isometric
exercises such as pressing your back into your
partner’s. Star jumps (jumping jacks) help get
the blood flowing to your hands and feet.