Survival in a very cold, winter scenario is in a league of its own, and can require significantly different methods than surviving in a mild or warm environment. When searching the surrounding landscape for a good winter shelter location, find a place where cold air is not sinking and high-winds are not hitting.
If you are lost and want to be rescued, find a location that will have as much visibility to the sky as possible while still providing adequate protection from the elements.
Snow makes great insulation with all of its air space and makes excellent shelter material, and is often abundant in the winter. Digging a hole into the side of a large snow drift makes a great winter survival shelter called a "snow cave". Lay evergreen boughs on the bottom to keep your body off the cold ground and more across the top to create a roof. The snow trench is good for a quickie one-night shelter or something to get you out of a storm fast, but obviously is not ideal for a long-term shelter. Instead of building a fire directly on snow, or even wet ground, which will likely put out any fire you can start, set a layer of green, living wood as a platform for the fire to burn on. A common mistake is to lose items in the snow, either by sinking down into snow or being covered by a light snowfall. Especially if you are active, eating snow can be an excellent method to consume water and can even prevent you from overheating and sweating if you are working hard.
Survival expert and co-host of the reality tv show 'Dual Survival', Cody Lundin, once said, "Cold, strike one.
A common method for improvising snow shoes is by tying branches together to form a kind of platform which you place on the bottom of your foot and tie securely around your foot and ankle.
The hands and the feet are usually the first parts of the body to become affected by frostbite, which is literally the water in your body freezing, killing the flesh.
In addition to snow shoes made for traveling, it may be a good idea to develop something that will provide extra insulation to your feet as well. Often times people don't notice they have frostbite until it's too late, especially on the feet. When snow covers the ground and everything around you looks bright white, snow-blindness becomes a real threat. There is a pretty easy trick to prevent this, you just need to lessen the amount of light that enters the eyes.
Another situation with a vision impairing effect is a "white-out", which is snow and weather that prevents you from seeing landscape features.
There are stories of people traveling toward a mountain in the distance, only to find a few steps later that it was just a small rock. There was one 'Survivorman' episode where Les Stroud was surviving in a very cold, winter environment, and while traveling he had to stop and make camp for the night.
Instead, he constructed a large fire, long as a man, and gathered a massive pile of firewood to keep it raging all night long. This shows it can be done, but obviously this method is not practical for a campsite where you will be residing for multiple days. Heat from a fire quickly dissipates, but a great way to store that heat and transfer it to your body is by warming up earthen material. A good trick to keep you warm while you sleep during the night is to burn a fire on the spot where you will sleep. Be careful when heating rocks next to a fire, they can break and sometimes throw shrapnel if heated too quickly. Surviving in a rough winter environment requires many additional bushcraft techniques that serve to deal with the cold and its effects.
The number one cause of death in the outdoors is not from dehydration, starvation, injury or animal attack.
On the other hand, mountain men have been doing it for many years, and if they can do it, then it shows that with the right knowledge, skills and attitude, not only will you survive in a harsh winter environment, but you may even thrive. ESA astronaut Timothy Peake (left), Russian cosmonaut Sergei Zalyotin and Timothy Kopra of NASA (right) take part in winter survival training near Star City, Russia, on 22 January 2014.Survival training is an important part of all Soyuz mission training.
Unfortunately most employees and their employers do not recognize the need for proper safety training for employees who work outdoors in remote areas in cold weather environments–until the unexpected event or accident happens! It only takes a few hours to die from exposure to cold elements while it takes a few days to die from dehydration.
Your body burns more calories in a cold environment because it must produce heat to stay warm.
The heat that a fire provides is critical to keeping your body warm enough to survive the bitter cold, and good shelter is needed to hold in that heat.
In a serious winter environment you will usually be surrounded by snow or ice, and thus have an infinite supply of drinkable water. If you start to feel your core body temperature drop, you should immediately take action to reverse it. Burning calories provides an internal heat source, fire provides an external heat source, and insulation prevents that heat from escaping. When sweat dries on your skin it leaves a film of salts and electrolytes that pull heat out of the body and causes feelings of serious chills and coldness.
Ideally you will also want to be near food sources such as animals and wild edibles if possible.
Make a fire that is visible to low-flying air traffic and have a large pile of green vegetation ready to throw on the fire to create thick smoke if you notice signs of rescue coming such as helicopter noise.


It can be built up into walls easily and then a thick layer of evergreen branches laid on top for a roof. If a pile of snow large enough to dig a snow cave into is not present, it may be possible to build one or at least increase the size of a smaller one by piling snow into a mound, then digging a small cavity into the side. If the snow is at least a foot deep, you can simply dig a trench down into it for which the human body can lay in. A good trick to avoid this is to stand items up, such as an axe, instead of laying them in the snow. Simply having some food in your stomach can be the difference between feeling cold and feeling warm. The cells of the human body need to thermoregulate by shrinking and expanding, and this requires water. One may even have to remind himself to drink water instead of relying on signs of cravings.
Food on the other hand can become very difficult as both plants and animals are hibernating through the winter. Simply let some pine needles steep in a pot of hot water for a few minutes and you have a tasty beverage that also provides Vitamin C and boosts the immune system, in a climate where the immune system is already at a disadvantage. While it is best to melt and warm the snow in a pot on a fire, it is much better to eat the snow than to get dehydrated.
Mold or fungus can begin to grow on the top of snow, especially in the spring season when it starts to warm up. A night of clear skies will be colder than a night overcast with clouds, because the clouds hold in the warmth from the day. This way you can maintain a consistent body temperature by adding and removing layers at will. It keeps 80% of its insulation value even when soaking wet, and is generally inflammable so you can get real close to a fire without concern of sparks setting you ablaze.
There are essentially infinite ways to make snow shoes and will depend on what resources you have to work with. Fingers and toes are especially susceptible, and often parts of the face like the cheeks and ears are some of the first to be hit with frostbite.
This can be done by wrapping any extra insulative material you have around your feet or shoes.
The snow reflects sunlight so well that it can cause sunburns in the eyes and serious vision impairment which can last for several days, and in severe cases cause permanent damage.
Grab some fabric, preferably black or dark colored, and cut two small slits to see out of, then secure over your eyes. In a white-out it is usually best to take shelter and bed-down instead of attempting to travel without any bearings. He said the trick to this winter survival technique is that once you think you have enough firewood to last the whole night, gather 5 times more.
Sometimes, at the end of the day when you're losing daylight fast and you just need something to hold you over til morning, it may be the better option when you must choose between either fire OR shelter.
Dense earthy matter like stone and metal store heat for hours, and will transfer that heat to the human body if placed close enough. Keep a rotation going with some rocks in the fire and some on your person so you have a continuous supply.
You do not drop bushcrafting methods from milder environments and you gain a whole assortment of new ones. OSHA has specific safety training recommendations for employees who work in cold environments in remote areas; are you complying? You need more firewood to stay warm, which forces you to spend more time in the cold gathering it. While you can usually get by alright without a decent shelter or even no shelter in mild environments, having a solid shelter that blocks wind and precipitation and holds in warmth is essential to surviving the cold. While you can survive several weeks without food in a warmer climate, you will need significantly more in a cold climate in order to keep your core body temperature cooking. In a well-insulated shelter, such as an igloo, even a very small fire can provide a lot of heat. In a mild winter scenario there may not be much snow or ice around, in which case water jumps up the priority list again.
Be it exercising, making and getting near a fire, "cuddling" with someone, drinking warm water, or just getting out of the wind and huddling in a ball.
If you have already sweated, rinse it off with water or rub snow all over your body if you have to.
With snow on the ground water is usually not a concern, but if it is then a good shelter location will always have a water source nearby.
It should be comfortable enough to spend a night in, and should be set up to have a fire, if only a very small one, either inside or at the entrance. Make it about 7 feet long, 3 feet wide, and deep enough to fully submerge you below the surface of the snow and lay comfortably in. Always make some kind of insulated bed using plant matter such as leaves, pine needles, or grass, or lay down extra gear you have. This can potentially be a method for digging a hole in the snow, for example to create a shelter space. Hang things on branches, or lay down a sheet of some kind and set your items on top of that, instead of directly on the snow.


It is often a good idea to eat at night instead of the day in order to get that extra warmth through the cold nights.
Otherwise, you can be sitting right next to a fire with a lot of clothes on and still feel cold if you're dehydrated.
There will still be some animals around such as deer and turkeys, and some edible plants such as berries. There will likely be an abundance of trees in most winter environments and thus an infinite supply of bitter, hard-to-gather "food". Windy, strike three - you're out!" It is essential to remember that it is not just the low temperature that is the concern in cold winter environments, but also wetness and windiness are just as important and sometimes more important factors to the threat of hypothermia and death from exposure than just the temperature. We all know how much colder the "wind chill factor" makes it feel; that can literally mean the difference between life and death. This comes into play a lot as physical labor demands, swinging temperatures, and precipitation will cause you to add and remove clothes on a regular basis. Compare this to cotton which has great insulation value when dry, but becomes almost useless when wet and is also highly flammable. Basically, anything that will spread the weight of your footprint over a larger area will work. Wiggle your toes often to ensure frostbite is not beginning to set in, this also gets the blood flowing and burns calories in the toes which warms them. You may need to sacrifice some clothing from other parts of the body, such as the legs, to ensure frostbite doesn't touch you.
Don't be someone who takes off their shoes one evening to the horrifying discovery of a foot half-blackened. Right before you go to sleep, scrape the fire aside with a large stick and lay down some insulation such as pine needles and sleep on that, or you can sleep directly on the warm ground which is normally a big no-no in cold scenarios. Any water in the rock will make it significantly more likely to explode when heated and send dangerous pieces flying that could take out an eye. This shows how harsh and difficult it can be to survive, let alone thrive, in a cold winter environment.
This course is designed for employees who must face these conditions as part of their job duties.
The number one cause of death in the outdoors is not dehydration or starvation, it is simply exposure to the cold elements.
You can mediate this need for food by conserving what heat you already have with proper clothing, shelter, and a good fire. If more heat is produced than is allowed to escape, then in a short time your shelter should be quite cozy. If one of the sides of this "body heat triangle" is lacking, for example there is no fire, this will need to be compensated for by strengthening the other sides of the triangle, for example adding extra insulation. Rain precipitation is usually more of a problem than snow because it gets you wet, while you can often stay quite dry in a heavily snowed environment if it's very cold.
A milder technique is to just squeeze or flex all of the muscles in your body at once, hold for about a second then relax for about a second, and repeat indefinitely until warmed up. Though barely palatable, it does provide nutrients and can potentially sustain a person indefinitely. When you try to melt snow in a pot it can often create air space in the bottom of the pot preventing the snow from melting and causing the pot to overheat, burn and warp. As soon as you start to feel hot, remove layers until you feel comfortable, and as soon as you start to feel cold, add layers.
This prevents you from sinking into the snow, which makes travel far more laborious and time-consuming.
They learn essential safety skills like the recognition, prevention and treatment of frostbite, hypothermia, and other cold weather injuries.
There is less daylight which means less time to get things done and more time lounging in the cold dark shelter.
Rules like these become common sense once you've spent some time in a cold, winter environment. Staying warm in the winter does not need to be much more complicated than this, though other factors can play a role. Some common sense practices like these will prevent a potential disaster such as losing fire-starting equipment. To avoid it, simply scrape off the top few inches of the snow and get the fresh snow that has been buried.
These are in-depth safety skills that are not taught in any basic or advanced first aid type of class anywhere! In addition, the skills necessary to quickly locate or improvise effective shelters to survive an unexpected emergency are taught by instructors who have over 40 years experience in handling these situations. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of this safety training until your company has an accident!



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