South Jersey Caching & Safety: Cold Weather Survival Tips
|Cold Weather Survival Tips|
Short Term Survival
My intent here is to get us all to at least to start thinking about what we would do if stranded while out and about. Most important thing is DO NOT PANIC. Cell phones are also a good item to have with you when exploring the outback of SNJ. The reception is spotty but is getting better all the time.
For now I will just deal with Short term survival. Most of Wharton and other parts of South Jersey are somewhat accessible to civilization in short order. Therefore, rescue should be had in less than 24 hrs, but we should keep some basic survival tips in mind. Another personal rule of thumb is “Go to the woods with at least ˝ a tank of gas, preferably the top half of the tank !”
As Geocachers, we have an important tool that is key to short term survival already in hand, the GPS in an excellent item to have ! Therefore, that base is covered. Next item would be GPS fuel. If you carry rechargeable batteries or use Alkaline Batteries keep at least one change in your warmest pocket ! ! ! Either type will suffer form voltage drop due to temperature. You may even have to change out sets while on an extended walk out, but keep spares in your pocket ! !
Well it seem that recent News headlines reminded me of situations that we may encounter out in Wharton and other less traveled areas in South Jersey. Although we may not be faced with the extreme conditions that were mentioned in the news, we might be faced with some variation of these conditions. Things to keep in mind are :
Number 1 on my list is Shelter. In our situation, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR AUTO ! That is the best shelter for short-term survival. It has heat and is weather proof, 2 good items to be close to when things get bad. Also as mentioned in the news much more visible than a person on foot.
Number 2 on my list for short-term survival is related to #1, staying warm. A wide variety of choices are available to us in this department. I usually have a change of clothing in the back of the car, also I keep an extra coat of some kind, so I have a complete change of clothing on hand. Remember that we are relatively close to civilization and our ‘survival’ will be for the most part incontinent but not life threatening. Again, the auto will be the best place to stay warm and has several options to provide heat. An example would be the cigarette lighter, which will provide enough energy to start a small amount of kindling (pine needles and small twigs) flaming and will be the building block for a larger fire.
Number 3 Hydration. I usually have a gallon of water in the car with the change of clothing. For us carrying water with us will suffice for the short term. Drinking from streams and lakes brings with it a whole host of other issues that are for the most part not Short Term Survival.
Number 4 for the short term FOOD. Yeah sure the Pic is generally close by but…packing a lunch is not a bad idea. Energy bars are also a good idea for a short stay in the woods. Candy bars would be another good item to have in your Caching Bag.
C - Keep clothing clean.
O - Avoid overheating.
L - Wear clothes loose and in layers.
D - Keep clothing dry.
C - Keep clothing clean. This principle is always important for sanitation and comfort. In winter, it is also important from the standpoint of warmth. Clothes matted with dirt and grease lose much of their insulation value. Heat can escape more easily from the body through the clothing's crushed or filled up air pockets.
O - Avoid overheating. When you get too hot, you sweat and your clothing absorbs the moisture. This affects your warmth in two ways: dampness decreases the insulation quality of clothing, and as sweat evaporates, your body cools. Adjust your clothing so that you do not sweat. Do this by partially opening your parka or jacket, by removing an inner layer of clothing, by removing heavy outer mittens, or by throwing back your parka hood or changing to lighter headgear. The head and hands act as efficient heat dissipaters when overheated.
L - Wear your clothing loose and in layers. Wearing tight clothing and footgear restricts blood circulation and invites cold injury. It also decreases the volume of air trapped between the layers, reducing its insulating value. Several layers of lightweight clothing are better than one equally thick layer of clothing, because the layers have dead-air space between them. The dead-air space provides extra insulation. In addition, layers of clothing allow you to take off or add clothing layers to prevent excessive sweating or to increase warmth.
D - Keep clothing dry. In cold temperatures, your inner layers of clothing can become wet from sweat and your outer layer, if not water repellent, can become wet from snow and frost melted by body heat. Wear water repellent outer clothing, if available. It will shed most of the water collected from melting snow and frost. Before entering a heated shelter, brush off the snow and frost. Despite the precautions you take, there will be times when you cannot keep from getting wet. At such times, drying your clothing may become a major problem. On the march, hang your damp mittens and socks on your rucksack. Sometimes in freezing temperatures, the wind and sun will dry this clothing. You can also place damp socks or mittens, unfolded, near your body so that your body heat can dry them. In a campsite, hang damp clothing inside the shelter near the top, using drying lines or improvised racks. You may even be able to dry each item by holding it before an open fire. Dry leather items slowly. If no other means are available for drying your boots, put them between your sleeping bag shell and liner. Your body heat will help to dry the leather.
Useful items to include on your hike are:
1. A map and compass.
2. A large, bright plastic bag will be useful as a shelter, signaling device or in lieu of raingear.
3. A flashlight with extra batteries.
4. Extra water and food.
5. Extra clothing such as raingear, a toque and gloves, a sweater and pants.
6. Sun protection such as sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat and long sleeved clothing.
7. A sharp pocket knife.
8. Waterproof matches, a lighter and/or a flint.
9. Candles and fire starter.
10. A first aid kit.
11. A whistle, flares, a tarp.