You may have missed a few brief mentions of an emerging threat in the mainstream news: The face of the sun has gone mostly blank in the past few years, with an extremely low number of sunspots. There have only been sunspots visible on the the sun for 133 days in the past year. The last three solar cycles have become progressively weaker. There is now a legitimate concern that because there have been several very weak solar cycles in succession, that we could tip over into another Grand Solar Minimum (GSM). This potentially developing GSM could be something similar …
We are excited and honored to have been featured on Skilled Survival website with one of our products. They featured our 50BMG Rocket Stove in the “7 best tent stoves to make you a winter camping hero.” Here is the link to the article. Thank you Justin Jackson and his team for the feature.
An avalanche, also called a “snowslide”, is a mass of snow, ice, and debris sliding rapidly down a mountainside, and is a risk to any winter hiker. Just as a snowball rolling down a hill picks up more snow as it goes, an avalanche can achieve significantly more volume and mass as it travels.
Although they rarely make the news, avalanches cause an average of 28 deaths a year. This event may seem like a rare occurrence, but it happens a lot more often than you’d think; certainly more than, say, shark attacks (which get a lot more press).
Snowslides are part and parcel of the winter wilderness experience, and it pays to know what to do if you’re caught in one. If you’re not prepared to deal with issues associated with your environment, then you have made it your enemy. This is not just good advice for skiers or backcountry hikers; anyone driving on mountain roads in winter could get in caught in an avalanche if not prepared.
Avalanches may be caused by simple gravity, a major snowfall, seismic tremors, or human activity. The speed and force of an avalanche may depend on whether the snow is “wet” or “dry powder”. Powder snow avalanches may reach speeds of 190 miles per hour. Wet slides travel slower, but with a great deal of force due to the density of the snowpack.
What Kills An Avalanche Victim?
You might assume that the main cause of death in this circumstance is freezing to death. There are other ways, however, that are more likely to end the life of an avalanche victim:
Trauma: serious injury is not uncommon in an avalanche, and not just due to the weight of the snow. Debris, such as rocks, branches, and even entire trees, can be carried along in the cascade and cause life-ending traumatic wounds.
Suffocation: When buried in the snow, asphyxiation is a major risk. Densely packed snow is like concrete; many victims may find themselves immobilized and unable to dig themselves out of trouble.
Hypothermia: Hypothermia is, surprisingly, the cause of death of only a small percentage of avalanche victims. It’s much more likely that they will perish due to traumatic injury or suffocation before they freeze to death.
Factors involved in deciding your fate include:
- The density of the snowpack
- The presence of air pockets for breathing (or the lack of them)
- The position of the body in the snow (if not upright, you’ll be disoriented)
- Traumatic injuries sustained
- The availability of rescue equipment at the scene
Important Avalanche Survival Basics and Equipment
On any wilderness outing, it makes sense to go prepared. Appropriately warm clothing for the weather is, of course, a basic concern in winter. Food, water, heat packs, spare dry clothing, and a cell phone are just some of the items you should take with you if you’re attempting a mountain hike in January.
Most backcountry expeditions are best attempted in a group. That goes for avalanche country, as well, except for one thing: Space yourselves out far enough so that there’s not too much weight on any one area of snow. If a member of your party is buried in the snow, know that you have to act quickly to find them and dig them out. It’s unlikely that going for help will end in a successful rescue. Therefore, it’s especially important to have some specialized items in avalanche country.
Recommended gear (besides warm clothing) would include:
An avalanche beacon: A device that emits a pulsed radio signal. Everyone in the group carries one. If a member gets buried in an avalanche, the rest of the party picks up the signal from under the snow. The receivers interpret the signal into a display that aids the search.
An avalanche shovel: Lightweight short aluminum shovels that fit inside your backpack and help chop and remove snow and debris on top of a buried hiker. These shovels usually have telescoping shafts. Shovels with D-shaped grips can be used with mittens.
An avalanche probe: Essentially, a stick that helps you pinpoint the exact location of an avalanche victim and see how far down he/she is. 2 meters or more in length, you can use the probe to tell a victim under the snow from the ground; the victim will feel “softer”.
A helmet: Many fatalities occur due to head trauma from rocks and debris flung around by the snow.
Skier’s Air Bags: Relatively new, these brightly colored air bags auto-inflate with a trigger; they work like a lifejacket to keep you buoyant and, therefore, closer to the surface and easier to find.
What To Do As The Avalanche Starts
83% of avalanches in recreational settings are triggered by the victim. To survive, quick thinking and rapid action will be needed:
Yell: Let everyone in your group know that you’re in trouble. At the very start of the slide, wave your arms and shout as loud as you can to alert as many people as possible to your location.
Move. If you started the avalanche, you may notice a crevice forming in the snow. Jump uphill of it quickly and you might not get carried off. If this isn’t an option, run sideways as fast as you can away from the center of the event, which is where the snow will be moving fastest and with the most force.
Get Lighter. Heavier objects sink in snow, so jettison unnecessary heavy equipment so that you’ll be closer to the surface. Throwing off something light isn’t a bad idea either: A loose glove or hat on top of the snow could signal rescuers to your general location and save precious time. Deploy your avalanche air bag if you have one.
Hug a tree (or rock). If the avalanche is relatively small, you could grab the nearest immobile object and hold on for dear life. In a very large avalanche, trees and rocks may not be safe anchors; trees can be uprooted by the force of the snowslide.
Swim! To survive an avalanche, the key is to stay as close to the top of the snow as possible. Increase your surface area by spreading your legs (feet downhill) and raising your hands. While in this position, swing your arms while trying to stay on your back (it’s easier to breathe if face up), similar to swimming backstroke. With any luck, this strategy will keep you towards the surface of the snow.
What To Do If You’re Buried In The Snow
You did your best, but still got completely buried in the snow. You’ve got maybe 15-30 minutes, on average, before you suffocate. Snow may be porous, but warm breath melts the snow which then refreezes as solid ice. This makes breathing difficult.
As the snow slows: The larger the air pocket you have, the longer you’ll survive. As the snowslide slows to a stop, put one arm in front of your face in such a way as to form a space that will give you the most air. If possible, raise the other arm straight up toward the avalanche surface. Your glove might signal your location to rescuers. Expand your chest by inhaling deeply so that you have more room to breathe once the snow has settled.
Once buried: Once you are completely buried, the snowpack may be so dense as to prevent you from moving. Stay calm, in order to use up less oxygen. If you’re not sure which way is up, spit. The spit will go towards the ground due to gravity. If you can move, work to make a bigger air pocket in the direction of the surface.
You’ll only have a second or two to act to avoid most avalanches. Rapid action, and some basic rescue equipment, may prevent you from being the harsh winter’s latest victim.
Original post seen on https://www.doomandbloom.net.
11 Survival Essentials For Winter Driving And To Have In Your Car
Emergencies can happen any time – that’s why having a stash of these 11 survival essentials for winter driving in your car is very important. These items could save you from a miserable, possibly even life threatening experience on the road.
Pay attention to the local weather forecast or if traveling watch the Weather Channel and keep track of your planned route.
If bad weather is expected ask yourself this question, Is this trip really essential? Life or death essential? Consider rescheduling your trip.
1. Water. Store the water bottles inside a box or a bag so it will take a longer time to freeze.
2. Food. When picking out which type of food to store, look for MREs or other items which are high in protein like survival bars and jerky. This will provide you the needed energy if you have to hike to somewhere.
3. Fire starters. Any type of fire starter will do but if you opt to use matches, make sure to bring the waterproof variety.
4. Blankets. If you’re stuck on the side of the road in the winter, you need to stay warm.
5. Flares or reflective triangle. So that you or your vehicle are less likely to get hit at the side of the road in the dark.
6. Shovel. If you’re in a region where you car could get stuck in deep snow it would always be a good idea to bring a shovel whenever you decide to drive during winter.
7. Gloves. Always keep your hands warm with a good pair of gloves. You will need your hands to be in their best condition if you expect to be doing work out in the cold.
8. Light. Keep a good flashlight handy and make sure the batteries are charged or fresh.
9. First aid kit. Accidents happen, and you can’t just stand by and be helpless. Having a first aid kit will permit you to help yourself or your passengers before medical aid arrives.
10. Communications. You need to have a device with you to allow you to call for help in case you get stuck somewhere. So keep your cell phone or ham radio charged always and in the vehicle with you.
11. Spare tire, jack and tire iron. This is applicable ALL the time. Always have a spare and tools in the car in case of a flat tire.
Winter will present a number of challenges for both you and your car so always be prepared for the cold. Before setting out, check your vehicle’s hoses, belts, spark plugs, fluid levels, tires, filters, etc. to make sure that everything is working well. Practice extra control when driving on an icy road and if you do skid, stay calm. Keep it together if ever you find yourself in a situation where you are stranded and make use of the essential tools in your trunk.
Currently enjoying the first real Winter storm of the season up here in Canada and I must say I really like it. Got me thinking about those things relating to Winter survival that are either not really talked about or, worse yet, ignored. I am assuming you do not have a massive solar array and geothermal power. I am also assuming you live in the snow belt meaning two to five months of Winter and arctic temperatures.
It is Snowing. A lot!
Here at work I just opened our Storm accommodation plan so staff can sleep overnight rather than risk life, limb, and fenders trying to get home as 20cm of snow falls (8 inches). They have the option to sleep in warm, dry, secure location and get a free meal voucher. Awesome deal but in SHTF when it snows hard it gets complex. Stay or go? I’d stay put until the obvious storm front has passed me by as I really will have no idea if the snow is stopping in an hour or going to keep dropping the next three days.
This means in the Winter season you always need to have a Winter bug in kit on you at all times you know you cannot easily get back to home base. You should always have a compass on you in SHTF as fog, rain, and snow can easily get you lost real fast even close to home base. This is my minimum gear I’d have on me if venturing any distance in the Winter season in Southern Ontario away from the home base.
- Emergency bivvy bag. Many makes of these are available. Get an expensive one you can reuse. In SHTF you cannot reorder from Amazon easily.
- Emergency stove and fuel. The goal here is to boil water for hot drinks and food and to get a bit of heat. I’d use my BioLite but a basic rocket stove made from an old number 10 tin can would work great. Carry fuel and ignition. Snow means getting a new supply might be impossible. The BioLite Wood Burning Campstove is expensive and heavy but really awesome on fuel usage and heat. It also charges a good light source (get the orange one not the blue version)
- The clothes I’d be wearing would be Winter proofed. Look up and learn how to dress for Arctic temperatures. I’d have extra gloves, hat, socks, and leg/arm thermal wrapped in the pack as well.
- Metal water container that can be used to boil water. Some emergency filters won’t work so well in minus temperatures however hard you suck on the ice!
- Emergency shovel. Dig a hole and then a ditch around the base so water will run away from you. Consider covering it to make a snow cave. Know how to do this safely.
- Those high calorie life boat rations, MREs, and wise food would also be great in this situation. I’d want 5000 Cal minimum but 10000 Cal would be safer. Candies and a couple of boil in the bag meals will help with variety.
- A couple of Mylar survival blankets and a 6 by 10 piece of transparent plastic sheet. The better the survival shelter, the warmer you will be.
- 50 feet of paracord.
- Decent amount of duct tape
- Folding saw and a knife in case fuel is available
- Flash light that works without solar or batteries. Hand crank or squeeze (I use the BioLite for this one).
- Sun glasses
- Sun screen. I never use it except in the Winter. So easy to burn your face
At this point you are probably rolling your eyes but this kit is for my local conditions not for yours! Deep snow is a killer up here and will be much worse in SHTF. Mostly I won’t venture more than 2 miles from home base and this is my minimum carry is for extend trips beyond 10 miles in December through March. It would be a lot smaller for local sojourns. If you can safely get back to home base then get back to it. If unsure bug in and make camp until it is safe to walk home. What did I miss? What should I not carry? Let me know in the comments and why of course. I excluded snow shoes as I’d have them on if it had already snowed but would not carry them if it had not. I can make a pair using the folding saw, knife, and paracord if I had to.
Winter Storm in SHTF from your cozy bug in or bug out location
If you have prepped right and have been lucky then you should have adequate calories and comfort to survive the storm. If not then you are SOL. However these are some of my ideas that might be overlooked by some in SHTF.
I have loads of it but it will run out. The supply I have will be withdrawn from circulation after the first four weeks of SHTF. I will tell my girlfriend she has to let go of the past and embrace the now. Likely she will leave me at this point and I will have doubled my supply of white rice! The paper toilet paper will be strictly only for use if sick or in deep Winter (and her birthday. I’m not heartless). I have pre-cut a large supply of linen toilet ‘paper’ from old jeans and shirts. In the warmer months that is what is used to wipe and polish. In deep Winter the ability not to have to wash the toilet rags will be an awesome asset (pun intended) and avoid a real problem in arctic temperatures.
For me this will be wood. I plan worse case and SHTF forever. You need about 5 cords of wood to get through the Winter here but around my bug in home I can collect wood for sure 10 months of the year so this can be reduced. At my bug out cottage that drops to about 8-9 months of the year. Sure I can hack down standing dead trees but realistically how many of them will be close to me abode after a few months? Wood gathering and storing will be a continual endeavor all year-long. Collect birch and ignition materials will also be a yearlong activity. However if I can avoid chopping and processing wood when it is below minus 10C then I absolutely will. Sure that makes for great looking prepper videos but to me it means they did not prep smart.
Exercise in SHTF should be avoided and exercise in arctic temperatures should only be done in a life or death situation. Like the bears your plan should be to basically sleep through the worst of the Winter. Using wood from one or two years ago that has been stacked properly is a great idea but think for a moment. In SHTF you will probably use your entire stock of wood in the first year if you neglect to add to the supply each and every day. Like toilet paper you never, ever can store enough wood but try.
Fuel for me means wood. I do not expect gasoline or propane to be widely available in SHTF and do not construct my preps around anything that cannot be found or used 5 years down from the SHTF event(s). Wet wood needs to dry before use. Cold wood needs to be warmed before use as does kindling. You can, with effort, work around this but why even try? Your bug in or bug out place needs to be able to accommodate a large supply of wood and ignition material inside the place. Going outside in a storm is the last thing you will want to do and having an ample inside store means not opening the door and pre-warmed and dry wood. Have lots of mouse and rat traps as the critters love wood piles. In the Spring store wood at least 30 feet from your shelter. Have a wheelbarrow to help move wood and water around when there is no snow.
If safe to drink then snow can easily be melted provided you have lots of wood available. Remember to add unfrozen water to the pan and add snow slowly in small amounts and stir. If can and will burn if you just dump it into the hot pan. You need to use a window or an additional chimney to direct the steam outside your shelter. Water vapor gets everywhere and moisture can kill you in SHTF. Bang a few empty cans together and use aluminum foil to funnel the rising steam into the cans. Have it open through a window and use bubble wrap and duct tape to seal. Block the inside end with cloth when not creating steam.
You should have a lot of treated water stored year round but remember to move it inside the warm room before freezing starts to occur.
Home is where the hearth is
One room is your home in the deep Winter. Heat that one room and use plastic sheets and Mylar to reflect heat back into the room and trap heat in the room. Bubble wrap should have been hoarded for all the windows before SHTF. Hand plastic sheets on both sides of all the doors and avoid using them as much as possible. Stack soil and wood around the outsides of that inner room to add insulation but make sure it is in trash bags and is dry.
Set up a tent inside this room to sleep in but, as with the plastic sheets make sure there is zero risk of a fire or a melting happening. Have several fire extinguishers and a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inside this room as well. If you cannot set up adequate ventilation do not use anything other than the fireplace to cook in. I’m using the BioLite as well as the fireplace but with the additional ventilation system for steam described above.
Plan how to gather more fuel and food in the warmer months. Figure out how to preserve that food for the next Winter. Keep mentally busy as Winter is not a great time to wander around outside when snow is on the ground. It takes far too much energy to do so and has a lot of risks.
Have a suitably angled roof for your worst case snow fall activity. Sure you can go up a ladder and sweep it off but I can tell you a lot of elderly males get spinal injuries each and every year in Ontario from doing that. Have your roof renewed more frequently than you need as roofers will be in short supply in SHTF.
Winter SHTF is not all suffering, eh?
Can you skate and do you have frozen rivers and lakes near you? For most of Ontario’s history travel in the Winter was easier than in the Summer and this will happen again a few years into SHTF as the bridges fall and the roads fail. Good time to go out and meet the neighbors. Winter is a wonderland and a great time to think about ice fishing.
Keep a supply of pre SHTF goodies hidden away and some tinsel. December 25th or as near as you guess the date to be wrap up some presents using newspaper and eat some decent food. Sing carols and make merry. This birthday and special day celebration is what makes suffering through SHTF worth while. Never neglect to think about how to make yourself happy in SHTF even if most days it will be as awful as the weather is right now.