Surviving in extremely cold temperatures takes a lot of skill and knowledge. Do you know the types of clothing you should be wearing? How to effectively trap heat for survival? Learning the answers to these types of questions could be crucial to your survival. Here are some pointers:
Keeping your body at the right temperature and dry is essential to survival in extreme temperatures. Because of the lack of fat insulation on areas like the head, neck, wrist and ankles, over 45% of the body’s heat is lost through these areas. One way to keep these areas warm is to wear loose-fitting clothing that allow proper blood circulation. Another way is to make sure clean clothing adequately covers these areas. If your clothing is contaminated with dirt and debris, it will not insulate as well.
Just as you should cover these areas to stay warm, they should be the first areas you remove clothing from in the case of overheating due to physical exertion. Overheating leads to sweat, which will cause your body to cool down even more, something that should be avoided at all costs in cold weather. Preventing clothes from getting wet in an environment with snow and frost can be difficult, but it can be done. If possible, wear water repellent clothing only, to prevent cooling down your body when melting snow or frost contacts your outer layers. In the case that your clothing does get damp, try wringing out any excess water, and then drying the clothing using direct sunlight or wind.
Protecting yourself from the elements is much easier with a properly built shelter. Metals, which act as conductors instead of insulators, should not be used because this material will not keep heat trapped inside. If you plan on having a fire inside the shelter, be sure to create a way for the area to ventilate so you don’t breathe in too much smoke. A snow cave shelter, made from snow drifts, is always a safe choice because of the availability of snow in extreme cold temperatures. Remember, because it is easier to warm smaller spaces, never build a shelter larger than necessary.
Fire provides a number of benefits in cold temperatures outside of just staying warm. Use fire to safely cook food or melt snow and ice for drinking water. Keep the fire lit at all times to provide your shelter with light, and boost your spirit. In the case that your clothes manage to get wet, hang them around a fire for a quick dry. For the most efficient burn, try using pine trees to start a fire and then switch to hardwoods for slower, longer burns with less smoke. In the worst case scenario, objects can also be burned, but remember to avoid breathing in smoke, especially with burning plastic.
There are a number of serious health issues that can occur if proper survival techniques are not followed in the extreme cold. Frostbite, which usually occurs in extremities and exposed areas like hands, feet and the face, happens when these body parts freeze. Trench Foot occurs after a prolonged period of exposure to wet, cold conditions. Although Trench Foot starts off as a tingling or numbing sensation, it will eventually worsen into foot swelling and a change in skin color, making it difficult to walk or put pressure on the foot. Even though you may associate thirst with hot temperatures, dehydration is a serious concern for survival in cold weather as well. Drink water as you would in any temperature, and keep an eye on your urine. The darker the urine, the more dehydrated your body has become. Snow blindness, a condition that develops due to the reflection of the sun off of the snow, can occur after continued exposure to snow. Always wear sunglasses or shield eyes if possible. Of course, hypothermia is always a concern in extremely cold temperatures. This condition may be deadly if body temperatures drop to around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, so staying warm and dry is vital for survival.
Remember, with this knowledge in mind and adequate planning and equipment, you could easily survive any extreme cold weather situation.