Wooly Worms and the National Weather say it will be a miserable winter. Last night we had a touch of winter breath with wind chills to –19F at my farm in Floyd. This article is to advise and suggest to new folk in the area about preparing for winter as well as being prepared to help others in time of need.
Having been through Winter Survival School in the High Sierras with the USMC I have often advocated how important it is for people to understand basic emergency procedures for living in the bush and creating warm, safe environments. This implies that learning to build snow shelters, building campfires, proper layering of clothing and hiking out, plus first aid, signaling and finding food, is imperative.
I reflect back on a few years, maybe it was 95/96 winter and unprepared and unknowledgeable hunters died from exposure. Automobiles over the side of the mountain have often caught people unawares and trapped in their cars. Ice storms cave in house roofs and start fires. All this has happened in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Emergency preparedness is a step to survival. Have you thought of this?
Our first danger is the roads. Ice and snowstorms can blow up in minutes, you are on a back road with no traffic and you have slid into a ditch. Cell phones do not work in these valleys.
Most unprepared people who try to hike out of a storm lose their way, get cold and sit down and go to sleep-permanently. The rule is to stay with the car, as it will be located before your frozen body is. DO NOT depend on the car heater providing heat. The car may not start. You may pump carbon monoxide inside, because of car damage and you will die.
Are you dressed for the weather, or are you in the latest Italian fashion? Even if you dress in warm office clothing you need some survival clothing carried in the car in your: EMERGENCY BAG.
This is similar to what Californian’s call a BUG OUT KIT for the big quake; though this is tailored for our winters. A 3-day, yes, 3-day campers supply. Extra warm clothing for each expected passenger. I recommend an –30F-insulated coveralls. Felt lined boots with 6 pair of wool sox, which you change daily, two pair layered. A warm pull over wool face covering head warmer is next. This makes you look like a terrorist-or a ski instructor. Warm insulated gloves are also a necessity. If you can get all this in Blaze Orange color, all the better to be seen. This clothing list is adequate as a basic to keep you warm and eliminates all the questionable clothing choices to sit under a snow load in the hinterlands of Floyd.
Putting Teens in sleeping bags keeps them quieter. Taking a deck of cards, or their video games with them helps. Keep extra diaper bag supplies with you-diapers run out quickly. I have seen a host of 12VDC battery operated cooking heaters for heating water from www.JCWhitney.com and www.campmor.com . These are great for heating formula. Also there are small sterno-stoves for heating up some cans of stew-soups; which are better than beans. Do not forget a can opener, insulated cups and plates. Focus on warmth. A basic first aid kit and your graduation from a Red Cross First Aid Course would be a major consideration.
I assume the car battery is dead. That means no radio. Several small inexpensive survival radios are available that use batteries, have a crank charger and sometimes solar panels. They may pass time as well keep you abreast of more snow and road clearing. Some may be had as emergency CB radios.
The goal is to stay with the car. You will be found soon enough.
Our second danger is the home. Xmas time is the more frequent time for home fires. Do not use real candles, especially with cats and klutzy people. There are inexpensive battery candles that look very nice. Always have several fire extinguishers on hand in every room that has a heater-wood stove- etc. My Xmas present each year is a fire extinguisher. Purchase some fire snuffers for your wood stove, or fireplace. If you hear a roar like a missile going off, you have a chimney fire going at 3000F that melts bricks. Throw the snuffers in the stove, close the lid and call 911. Have a PLAN for marching everyone out of the house-actually drill them so they know what to do.
Have an EMERGENCY BAG outside the house where you can get everyone into warm gear. If you have a greenhouse, use it -that’s warm. In the far north they call this a cache, and every cabin has a cache built like a tree house so the bears do not get in it.
If you are in close distance to a neighbor go to them. If you are living in the bush, have a good PLAN, an EMERGENCY BAG, and wait for the 911 people. By the same token you need to establish good relations with neighbors and be able to reciprocate in the event they need your help.
Be Prepared. The Boy Scout Motto and if you become an adult leader in the Boy Scouts /Girl Scouts, and especially an Explorer program you will learn much about survival.
If you do not have a big warm wood stove, which is the best heat, you are probably dependent upon electricity. When the ice pulls the lines down like in 95/96 and the state was shut down for 3 weeks you are going to have a cold house. For emergency room heating for you and pets is a “Buddy Heater”, is ideal for the home. It runs on small propane bottles and is available everywhere and is currently at www.sportsmansguide.com on sale. I bought one for Diane as she is a cold foot bunny and requires extra heat.
Propane log inserts for the fireplace are romantic and practical. Check with CLARK GAS and OIL in Floyd and Stuart. Visit their showroom and see the real old time kitchen stove that is modernized with propane. I use a lot of propane with instant on water heating, propane generator, kitchen range and of course my expanding empire of chicken brooder-outside cookers. Propane gives off no toxic fumes, just water vapor, and is safe if you have birds. If you have no electricity-propane keeps on burning. Nice for outages and convenience.
See my previous article on “Let there be Light” which mentions candles, and kerosene. I will write more on this as reader interest dictates.
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COPYRIGHT 2008, Back2theLand, Mark Steel