A little story first......
I once woked in a small Central Minnesota town and on one winters night got off work early. I started my car and head the 12 miles home. Next thing I know, the car dies. Anyone that lives out in the "boonies" knows what nights are on a deserted highway, dead, no one around for miles. Well it was 25 degrees out, a decent night for Mid January in Minnesota. I decided to wait a while, for help. Nothing came. Well I started to get cold, so I thought, I'm not to far from home, only a few miles. So I started to walk, the road back. Wrong idea..what I thought was a few miles was actualy 10 miles. I got home 5 hours later then I would've on a normal night at work. All the way home not seeing a singal veichle. When I finaly made it to my folks place, I was living at, my mom was worried. I was litteraly blue, like the Smurfs. My temp was 94.5. Took 8 hours to get back to normal.. We went back for my car later that night, not even a little "inspection" ticket from a officer was on it. Last time an officer patrolled that road was 2 days prior, to this incident. I was one of the few lucky ones to survive an incident like that. And it was only 25 degrees out. Imagine if it was colder. Well I learned my lesson and have invested in a few survial items....and yes I have broken down or gotten stuck since then, but these items have helped me out. So here's my list.
1: A red or orange bandana to tie to your attena as a sign of trouble.
2: Clothing: extra jacket (preferbly bright color, not white), wind pants, wool socks (wool keeps water off the feet, helping keep you warmer), mittens (not gloves, for mittens keep your fingers close to eachother and thus warmer), a stocking hat, face mask, long johns, boots.
3: Sleeping bag or blanket to wrap up in.
4: Food: Something high energy and non-perishable or freezable (IE: nuts, soup) Calories produce energy wich in turn produces heat.
5: Flashlight with extra batteries: Used for light or as a signaling device (for if you can see the rescue parties light, they can see yours)
6: A mini propane camp stove. (used for heat and cooking. Just remember to open your window a crack for fresh oxygen or risk dieing of co2 poisoning) They'll actualy keep a day cab decently warm.
7: A tin cup to melt snow, for drinking water (water helps regulate body temp.)
8: A 100 Ft length of rope. (if you leave your veichle, tie one end of it to your wrist and the other to your veichle, so you can find your way back, cause in a blinding snow storm you can get lost, in just feets)
9: A good book, or puzzle book (IE cosswords, word search). this will help keep your mind occupied, till help comes.
10: First aid kit. Should have one no matter if it's winter or not.
This is a good starter list.
For these are the facts on Hypothermia......
Depending on the outside temp you can start to get get signs of Hypotermia in a few minutes to a few hours. Wind and if your wet does play a big part in this.
The following is a listing of the effects of various drops in body temperature.
one degree drop: speech becomes slurred
two degree drop: fingers become clumsy, numb and weak. Shivering.
three degree drop: feet lose strength and become clumsy.
four degree drop: brain is affected - difficulty thinking clearly.
nine degree drop: muscle rigidity sets in.
fourteen degree drop: loss of consciousness and irregular heartbeat.
twenty-three degree drop: death from heart failure.
Main point retain heat to begin with.
1: Do start to dress and bundle up as soon as you break down. Do not wait till you get chilled, for this defeats the purpose of retaining body heat. This does prolong the onset of Hypothermia up to hours on hours.
2: If you have to take an alternate route for some reason, do let someone know. For if you break down and can't call for help, your dispatch may expect you to be on I-90, and send someone there to look for you and your really on some county highway 10 miles away, freezing to death.
3: Stay with your veichle. It's alot warmer in it then out in the wind and elements. Plus a car or a truck is easier to spot, then a "little' person walking around.
4: Keep as dry as posible. If you get wet, get dry clothes on A.S.A.P.
5: Expect for a long time of being stranded. Posibly a day or 2, maybe more.
6: Most importantly.... DON"T PANIC!!!! For panic leads to "stupid" thinking, and that leads to "stupid" ideas and actions.
7: Seek medical help imediately upon rescue. If medical help is not readily available, slowly raise body temp, with blankets, WARM not hot water. Do not rub frost bitten areas, or apply heat pads.
8: Last but not least...Be Prepared!!!!!!! For you may have the newest Ford Pickup or Kenworth, but as the saying goes, **** Happens"
For that above list of survival items may seem like a pain to lug around, but between freezing to death or possible survival...well take your pick.
Stay safe out there on the highways,
Reverend Matthew "The White Dragon" Koscielski
Proud Driver of America's Trucking Industry
Winter Survival from someone thats been standed
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Thedragon. you brought up the small cook stove I have been thinking of doing this mainly for cooking. I was wondering if you or any one else knows if the small propane cans are the way to go or should I go liquid. I'm worried about the effects on constant elevation changes on those little cans. Probably a stupid question but you never know right?
Also another tip is to keep your fuel level above half in what ever you drive. On the off chance you can keep the engine running you can stay warm.
I do know that the liquid can stink for a while if you spill any on you stove while filling it or if you don't get the valve closed tight enough on the burner. With the cans wou can detach them to prevent this, plus if you run out while broke down, you can easily change it out with out having to pour liquid into the thing and spilling it in you rig.
I would say the best people who would know, work at a sporting store (Cabellas, ETC). Check with them before you by one.
Great starter list thedragon, I could even see this ending up being a sticky, it's the kind of thread that could save someone's life some day!
Speaking of which, I've long had in all my vehicles a "space blanket" (also called emergency blanket I think) which is basically a piece of mylar covered on both sides with a thin film of reflective material. It's rolled tight and takes no space (the box is maybe 4 X 2 X 2 inches) and weighs nothing. Reflectivity is 100% which means that in the situation where you're stranded for more than a few hours in a strong blizzard or any condition with "way below windchills" this is pretty much the ONLY way to retain some body heat when the inside of the vehicle starts going below freezing.
I believe all EMS trucks have those too. They cost just a few bucks.
Those small propane cans are good, I have a coleman stove that I use when I go dall sheep and caribou hunting. The elevation has never effected the cans, I had one ignite but it was due to an attachment not being tightened enough or perhaps it was cross threaded, it didn't explode, but I didn't hesitate to throw it as far as I could into the woods, and I simply waited till I felt it was safe to retrieve it.
One of the survival tips I learned long ago for cold weather is to keep a coffee can and a large diameter candle around for winter emergencies. It is amazing how much heat a simple candle puts out if you light it and set it up inside a coffee can. I also travel with an old snowmobile suit that I never really cared for in my truck, tucked away in a clothing bag, and keep an extra old woolen blanket with me in the truck. I also carry a spare pair of snow boots in the truck with me, so if I get mine wet or I sweat in them too much, I can keep my feet dry.
However, the current truck has a built in diesel fired heater, and it will run all night keeping the truck toasty and not even using a gallon of fuel per night. I just got home after a longer than usual trip, and I ran the heater each night. In 6 days out, I don't think I ever idled the truck more than 10 minutes at any one time.
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