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Category: Winter Storm


Water in Cold Weather Survival Situations

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present another lesson from our Military Pedagogy series.  This discussion, from FM 21-76, the U.S. Army Survival Manual [Approved For Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited] is on Water in Cold Weather Survival Situations.  While written by the Army for Arctic survival, much of the information presented is applicable to any cold weather survival situation. WATER There are many sources of water in the arctic and subarctic.  Your location and the season of the year will determine where and how you obtain water.  Water sources in arctic and subarctic regions are more sanitary than in other regions due to the climatic and environmental conditions.  However, always purify the water before drinking it. During the summer months, the best natural sources of water are freshwater lakes, streams, ponds, rivers, and springs.  Water from ponds or lakes may be slightly stagnant, but still usable.  Running water in streams, rivers, and bubbling springs is usually fresh and suitable for drinking. The brownish surface water found in a tundra during the summer is a good source of water.  However, you may have to filter the water before purifying it.  You can melt freshwater ice and snow for water. Completely melt both before putting them in your mouth.  Trying to melt ice or snow in your mouth takes away body heat and may cause internal cold injuries.  If on or near pack ice in the sea, you can use old sea ice to melt for water.  In time, sea ice loses its salinity.  You can identify this ice by its rounded corners and bluish color. You can use body heat to melt snow.  Place the snow in a water bag and place the bag between your layers of clothing.  This is a slow process, but you can use it on the move or when you have no fire. Note: Do not...

Fire in Cold Weather Survival Situations

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present another lesson from our Military Pedagogy series.  This discussion, from FM 21-76, the U.S. Army Survival Manual [Approved For Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited] is on the importance of fire in cold weather survival situations. FIRE Fire is especially important in cold weather. It not only provides a means to prepare food, but also to get warm and to melt snow or ice for water. It also provides you with a significant psychological boost by making you feel a little more secure in your situation.  Use the techniques described in Chapter 7 to build and light your fire.  If you are in enemy territory, remember that the smoke, smell, and light from your fire may reveal your location.  Light reflects from surrounding trees or rocks, making even indirect light a source of danger.  Smoke tends to go straight up in cold, calm weather, making it a beacon during the day, but helping to conceal the smell at night. In warmer weather, especially in a wooded area, smoke tends to hug the ground, making it less visible in the day, but making its odor spread.  If you are in enemy territory, cut low tree boughs rather than the entire tree for firewood.  Fallen trees are easily seen from the air. All wood will burn, but some types of wood create more smoke than others. For instance, coniferous trees that contain resin and tar create more and darker smoke than deciduous trees. There are few materials to use for fuel in the high mountainous regions of the arctic.  You may find some grasses and moss, but very little. The lower the elevation, the more fuel available.  You may find some scrub willow and small, stunted spruce trees above the tree line.  On sea ice, fuels are seemingly nonexistent.  Driftwood or fats may be the only fuels...

Cold Weather Survival Shelters

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present another lesson from our Military Pedagogy series.  This discussion, from FM 21-76, the U.S. Army Survival Manual [Approved For Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited] is on Cold Weather Survival Shelters.  SHELTERS Your environment and the equipment you carry with you will determine the type of shelter you can build.  You can build shelters in wooded areas, open country, and barren areas.  Wooded areas usually provide the best location, while barren areas have only snow as building material.  Wooded areas provide timber for shelter construction, wood for fire, concealment from observation, and protection from the wind. Note: In extreme cold, do not use metal, such as an aircraft fuselage, for shelter.  The metal will conduct away from the shelter what little heat you can generate. Shelters made from ice or snow usually require tools such as ice axes or saws.  You must also expend much time and energy to build such a shelter.  Be sure to ventilate an enclosed shelter, especially if you intend to build a fire in it.  Always block a shelter’s entrance, if possible, to keep the heat in and the wind out.  Use a rucksack or snow block.  Construct a shelter no larger than needed.  This will reduce the amount of space to heat. A fatal error in cold weather shelter construction is making the shelter so large that it steals body heat rather than saving it.  Keep shelter space small. Never sleep directly on the ground.  Lay down some pine boughs, grass, or other insulating material to keep the ground from absorbing your body heat. Never fall asleep without turning out your stove or lamp.  Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from a fire burning in an unventilated shelter. Carbon monoxide is a great danger.  It is colorless and odorless.  Any time you have an open flame, it may generate carbon...

Medical Aspects of Cold Weather Survival

Andrew’s Note:  Today we present another lesson from our Military Pedagogy series.  This discussion, from FM 21-76, the U.S. Army Survival Manual [Approved For Public Release; Distribution is Unlimited] is on the Medical Aspects of Cold Weather Survival. When you are healthy, your inner core temperature (torso temperature) remains almost constant at 37 degrees C (98.6 degrees F).  Since your limbs and head have less protective body tissue than your torso, their temperatures vary and may not reach core temperature.  Your body has a control system that lets it react to temperature extremes to maintain a temperature balance.  There are three main factors that affect this temperature balance– heat production, heat loss, and evaporation.  The difference between the body’s core temperature and the environment’s temperature governs the heat production rate. Your body can get rid of heat better than it can produce it.  Sweating helps to control the heat balance.  Maximum sweating will get rid of heat about as fast as maximum exertion produces it. Shivering causes the body to produce heat. It also causes fatigue that, in turn, leads to a drop in body temperature.  Air movement around your body affects heat loss.  It has been calculated that a naked man exposed to still air at or about 0 degrees C can maintain a heat balance if he shivers as hard as he can.  However, he can’t shiver forever. It has also been calculated that a man at rest wearing the maximum arctic clothing in a cold environment can keep his internal heat balance during temperatures well below freezing.  To withstand really cold conditions for any length of time, however, he will have to become active or shiver. COLD INJURIES The best way to deal with injuries and sicknesses is to take measures to prevent them from happening in the first place.  Treat any injury or sickness that...

Top 10 Names for Winter Storms, Suggestions for the Weather Channel

You may have read earlier this week that the Weather Channel has decided to begin naming winter storms.  As you may be aware, the National Hurricane Center names tropical storms and hurricanes but this is the first time a private media company in the U.S. will name weather events.  Their thinking is that “a storm with a name is easier to follow, which means fewer surprises and more preparation.”  We thought we’d get a jump on the competition and suggest our Top 10 Names for Winter Storms (really 19 but who’s counting): The Big Chill:  Good name for either a Nor’Easter or Hillary Clinton’s next layover at the home she shares with Bill Frosty:  For obvious reasons S.H.O.E.:  An acronym for Stay Home Or Else.  This would be a good name for any storm that drops snow South of the Mason Dixon line. Vanilla Ice:  Sure to be a quick storm that unexpectedly shows up for another 15 minutes (of fame) every few years Ice-T:  Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time that Ice-T has graced the pages on Prepography.  Check out what Ice (as I presume his friends call him) said in an interview a few months back about not wanting to be the only one without a gun. LL Cool J:  What’s with all the strange rapper’s names?  This would be a good name for the first Canadian cold front of the year.  Incidentally, while double checking the spelling of this actor/rappers name I read how he recently dealt with a home invader. Snow White:  This would be a good name for a storm centered around Whiteface Mountain in New York The Abominable Snow Man:  This one would have to be for a mountain storm of course Storms in December could be named after Santa’s Reindeer:  Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolf and...

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