Introduction: Surviving a Snow State of Emergency
Before Christmas we had an Ice storm cutting hydro to half the province leaving people in the dark for as much as two weeks. Then an artic vortex making the temperature outside minus 46 degrees Celsius that is minus 50 Fahrenheit, this created the perfect conditions for Frost Quakes, (Earth Quakes caused by the frost in the ground expanding). On top of all of this we have received twice the snow we get in a year and winter is not over yet.
The small town I live in is dead center of Dufferin County and Dufferin County is in a state of emergency. What that means is simple, if you get lost stranded or your car breaks down and you call for help. Don’t hold your breath, no one is coming and you are on your own.
Each night just to get out of the house I help my friend Gorge make his deliveries to his clientele across the county, he drives and I pack the orders and last night was no different. By morning a snow storm had moved in, it wasn’t long and we had our fifth breakdown this winter. This time the wiper motor went and George could not see to drive.
These three rules can make the difference between life and death.
Step 1: The Emergency Kit
Rule 1. Always carry an Emergency Kit.
Since I rarely travel more than a two day walking distance from home I travel with an emergency survival kit, in it I have everything I need to survive in the wilderness including enough food and water to last a couple days. Virtually a bug-out bag I change the contents seasonally to meet the special needs for different times of the year. I have extra gloves and a balaclava in the winter or sheets of plastic in the summer to guard from the rain.
Carrying bag 6 x 10 x 12 inches
Bottles of water 2
Candies in a watertight container
Pump up flashlights 2
First aid kit
2 day supply of meds
2 Watertight containers loaded with:
A short aluminum tube
Step 2: Snow Shelters Kill
Cars are not the best shelters ether they can become covered with snow invisible to other vehicles they can be struck on the side of the road. They can be air tight if the windows are shut, this happens easily if you break down do to an electrical problem, and they are not very good at keeping the cold out.
Rule 2. Do not get under the snow.
Snow kills not just drunken snowmobilers smacking into telephone poles or cars, and not just skiers and tobogganers flying into trees or off cliffs.
Every year there is a lot of snowfall the papers headlines say this, “Nine-year-old boy killed by collapsed snow.”
Getting out of the wind during a cold snap can increase the temperature you are exposed to by ten or more degrees, a lot of survivalists may tell you a snow shelter is a good way to get out of the wind, however build it wrong and you are a dead man.
Snow is heavy if it collapses on you it will trap and crush you, suffocating you, or killing you by hypothermia, (Freezing you).
Snow tunnels are like a bottle even if they don’t collapse on you there is no way for fresh air to get in and you suffocate. By the time you notice the symptoms of asphyxia it can be too late you may only experience one of these symptoms:
• Difficulty and/ or noisy breathing, which may ultimately lead to cessation
• Rapid pulse
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• Cyanosis of the face
• Swollen veins on the head and neck
• Slowly losing consciousness
A proper snow shelter is an open top trench in the side of a snow drift or a two sided snow wall into the wind, if you need a roof make it out of evergreen branches not snow.
Step 3: The Buddy System
Rule 3. Use the Buddy System.
The buddy system works I have used it and it has helped me out of trouble more than once so use it.
Not all intersections are like this but the snowbanks are so high while driving you can’t see to enter an intersection safely, this is when your buddy gets out of the car and signals when it is safe to enter the intersection.
That was not the only way we used the buddy system when the wiper motor went George could not see to drive so I became the wiper motor.
Using two pieces of looped strapping to make future repairs easier I tied the straps to the wiper blade and the shoelaces from my kit. I ran one shoelace high and through the driver’s window, the other shoelace low under the mirror and in the passenger window. When I pulled one shoe lace it lifted the wiper blade up cleaning the windshield and when I pulled the other shoelace it pulled the wiper blade down cleaning the windshield so George could drive.
Here we used two of the three rules of survival.