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If You Find Yourself Stranded In Cold Weather

stranded in the cold

There can be several circumstances under which you might find yourself stranded when the weather is cold.  Although most people might consider that this would apply to winter weather, it can also have an application to when the weather is simply very cool, in the 40s or 50s, especially if a wind is blowing.  Hypothermia does not need sub-freezing temperatures to have an impact, losing bodily heat is quite possible, and just as dangerous when the temperature is above freezing, especially if you are wet.  Knowing how to prevent heat loss and keep yourself alive when it’s cold is important whether you are going to work or hiking in the wilderness.

Hazardous Winter Weather

As most of us must travel to and from work or school on a daily basis, it is all too easy to become stranded during a winter snow storm.  Not only can a heavy fall of snow cause your car to bog down, but even a light snow can make roads slippery and increase your chance of sliding into a ditch or other off road spot.  Your car can also simply break down.  Blizzards can compound the danger with their very cold temperatures, high winds, and extreme snowfall.  If you do find yourself stranded in your vehicle, you should stay where you are – you will be found either by state patrol or road plows, generally in a matter of hours.  People die because they leave their car to look for help, become lost, and freeze to death.

Hopefully, you will have a winter survival kit in the car with some energy food, blankets, arm clothing, and something to drink (this last should be brought along every time you use your car, as leaving it in the vehicle will probably result in its freezing otherwise). Water is the best bet of staying hydrated and is also very handy in many situations to keep your car well maintained. If you have a cell phone, you will be able to call out for help.  You can help to stay warm by turning on the car and running the heater for 15 minutes in every hour, keeping the window cracked.  Make sure show is not clogging up the exhaust pipe.  Do not go to sleep unless there is another person in the car to keep watch.

Cold Weather In The Wilderness

Camping or hiking in the wilderness is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and observe nature.  Unfortunately, the weather can be very changeable, and if you are presented with an unexpected spate of bad weather, even if the temperature is above freezing, you could find yourself in trouble.  If you have no tent or emergency tent along, make a shelter out of the materials at hand – anything to get out of the cold and wet.  Look for a fallen log that can be modified with branches into a shelter of a low, horizontal branch that can be used as the foundation for a brush tent.  Make sure you place dry grass or pine branches on the ground, as otherwise your body heat will be leached out.  A fire can be built in front of the shelter (not so close as to prevent your leaving easily) to provide heat.  Building a low wall of stones on the far side of the fire will reflect more heat back to you.