An excerpt from The Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook
Also, tips on how to prepare for an impending blizzard
Whether it’s a winter emergency or a winter camping trip, the biggest trick to staying warm and safe is bringing the right gear. Carry this kind of gear into the field, and you’ll thank me for it later.
- Sleeping bags rated to temperatures colder than you expect to encounter – The temperature rating on sleeping bags is generally viewed as a “survival rating” rather than the lowest temperature where you’d be comfortable. 20 below bags are a common element in my camp, where the lowest temperature we’ll see is zero.
- Appropriate boots and outerwear – Frostbitten parts will end your fun in a hurry. Make certain that your clothing and footwear selections can handle the cold you’ll be facing.
- Thick sleeping pads – Nothing sucks the body heat away like conduction. Lying on snow or frozen soil will be miserable and potentially dangerous. In addition to an Arctic worthy sleeping bag, bring a sleeping pad that is up to the task.
- Camp stove – This little gizmo can be responsible for some of the best foods and drinks of your camp out. Hot chocolate, tea and coffee can be brewed on a whim with a good camp stove.
- Winter-worthy tents – Though a tent won’t exactly keep you warm, a durable tent can keep you out of the wind, snow, ice, and rain if nature decides to challenge your excursion.
Prepare For a Blizzard
Before you get cut off from the world by a giant wall of ice and snow, check to make sure you have everything you need to hunker down for a few days. Stock up on milk, bread and toilet paper before the storm. If the power goes out – the milk can still be drunk, the bread can make no-cook meals such as sandwiches, and the toilet paper has a dozens of applications (besides the intended usage). But that’s not all you’ll need. Stock these crucial items while you can, before the blizzard hits.
- Back-up heat source – One of the most critical items on the list is an emergency heating option. Grab a kerosene or propane heater designed for indoor use. Propane heaters built for indoor use are clearly labeled on the packaging. Many also have added safety features.
- No-cook foods – If the power goes out, feed your troops with foods that don’t require cooking.
- Weather radio – Get a small radio with the NOAA weather bands and alert tones, to let you know if the storm takes a turn for the worse.
- Activities – Stash a few treats, books, games and other things to pass the time before the storm, and look like a hero when your family is going stir crazy.
- Medicines and toiletries – Make sure that you’ve refilled any prescription medications and stocked up on over-the-counter meds that you commonly use. Ensure that the ladies of the house have an adequate supply of feminine hygiene products.
These tips, and many more survival skills, are available in MacWelch’s three New York Times Bestselling books:
And if that’s not enough, you can:
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And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.