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In a survival situation, you have to take advantage of every opportunity nature provides. Suppose a crisis scenery catches you in the winter, in a climate similar to Wyoming. You know that the closest town is two days away and you need to spend the night in one of the harshest wintery colds on the planet. As in any critical situations, there are multiple solutions, but you need to keep an eye out for them. Every single stirring of the trees or change in the wind might be an opportunity.
Seek A Place Naturally Sheltered From Wind
Wind chill factor can rob you of heat and dramatically shorten the amount of time for frostbite to kick in. You want to be as far out of the wind as possible. Seek a leeward slope, a rock outcrop, a broad based tree, an area behind trees or bushes that can act as a natural windbreak. If you have a shovel, you can dig into a leeward slope and make it still more sheltered. If there are tree branches, you can make a makeshift shelter. Once you have enough branches and twigs making a roof, you can pile leaves and dirt on top and this will not only keep wind out but trap some of the air warmed from your breath and body heat. Plus, the work will keep you warm.
Light A Fire
It’s no mystery to anyone that fire is the best way to keep warm, and not only that, but it allows you to purify water and other objects, keep wild animals at bay, and cauterize wounds, so a soda can stove might be your best friend. Collecting the wood and chopping it will also generate body heat.
Here’s a tutorial on 23 Ways To Make Fire.
To survive the cold you need to keep your body dry and warm, in that order. Once your body is wet, regardless of the temperature, you lose body heat 20 times as fast. If you are cold and wet, your priority is to get dry, not warm. Dry and cold is better than wet and warm. Remove wet clothing and put on dry clothing underneath, as many layers as you have, then something waterproof on top or any kind of shelter if you have it.
If you have no dry clothes one of the best things to do is stay physically active. Building your shelter, working vigorously, will help.
One strange way to get dry in the middle of the frozen wastes without anything to wipe is to roll around in snow. The thought might frighten you, but snow absorbs water very fast. Even if you catch a cold, you will survive in the long run.
Although it might seem counterintuitive, digging a cave under a snowy hill can prove to be a great shelter. It will take about an hour to dig it, but after you crawl inside, you will have enough warmth to survive the night. It won’t be warm, but it will be bearable. The closed walls will keep you away from blizzard and – importantly – from wind chill factor. Even if it’s too cold to fall asleep, your extremities won’t be freezing. Depending on the type of hill and the thickness of the snow, it may be possible to light up a fire inside, but it is safer to resist the temptation. You never know what’s a few inches away in the ceiling direction, and you wouldn’t want to risk a meltdown on top of you.
Wilderness is home to many animals, and we seldom see them because they keep away from humans. However, you can hunt animals and you may (if you pay attention) even may be able to find animal carcasses – preyed by the higher ranked in the food chain. Even if the meat is rotten and you cannot eat it, don’t think you can’t make use of the animal’s fur. The fur on deer or bear is really thick, and in harsh weather it can prove to be waterproof. It sounds horrible but if it is truly life or death, you should do it.
Using a knife, start skinning the animal with an incision in the center of the gut area. Make sure to pierce just enough to be able to cut the skin away, but not too deep because you will spill its bowels out. Regarding the bad odor, you need to keep telling yourself that your priority is survival, not comfort. You want to keep the fur as clean and dry as you can. It is preferable to use as small a knife as possible. Once you get it a bit going, you will notice that skin separates from the main carcass. Now you have to get your hand in, with the fist down, and then start rolling and push it off to come quicker. After you remove the fur you can use it as shelter, and it can make the difference between life and death at extreme temperatures. Regardless of the comfort civilization has got us used to, remember that the finest clothes are actually made of animal fur.
Should you find yourself in the situation of crossing a body of water in freezing cold in the extreme North, keep in mind the following tip: seal hides provide great protection against freezing water. If the animal can survive swimming in it, so can you. If you can find a dead seal to skin it you are in great luck. It will not keep you warm, but you will not freeze to death.
In a true life-or-death situation, every scrap of heat counts. You are going to have to pee at some point: Your own urine and a plastic bottle or a zip-lock plastic bag could save your life. You can preserve body heat by bottling your own urine and keeping the bottle close to your chest. If you have a cover, may it be a blanket or an animal carcass, it will make a huge difference. If your fingers are numb from the cold, use the bag or the bottle to create a quick-warmer with your own urine. It may not last long, but it will save your extremities from being completely frozen, and it might just be enough to spur you on to the next milestone.
Share Body Heat
Have you ever seen how chickens cosy up together when put into their hut at night? They understand this principle. They all just snuggle up and it keeps them warm and toasty. If you are stranded in the freezing cold with another person, it is vital that you sleep cuddling each other.
If you are stranded with your significant other, the best way just so happens to be sexual intercourse. In extreme situations, social norms need to be put below survival.
If Your Car Breaks Down…
… and you are in a freezing cold place, with no cell phone service – you are going to have to make a decision as to whether to stay in the car or hike to safety. This can be a difficult judgement call. There are stories of people a few minutes out of town who decided to walk and due to extreme cold, froze to death on the way. If you are in wintery climates, be prepared. Stashing extra dry clothes and a bundle of blankets in the car is always a good idea.
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