Believe it or not, but it has been my experience that mild weather is more dangerous to the outdoorsman than cold bitter weather. The reason is due to the thinking of the human mind. You see we all do it, even I do it, and I should know better; we are all less cautious as the weather warms after a cold spell. We have become accustomed to the biting cold and to the chilling wind, a day comes that is above freezing, no wind and some warm sunshine…we forget it’s winter!!
Even with our winter survival training our minds play tricks with us and lull us into complacency, we talk ourselves into being less prepared, thinking we don’t need the extra jacket or hat, or we don’t need the survival kit, since it’s so warm and comfortable.
You know what always happens with me is that I am out there, and some clouds come by, a little wind kicks up and in 30 minutes, it’s downright cold again. I am learning (I still mess up sometimes) to just be prepared always. I reward myself by the good feeling I have when nice weather turns foul, and I simply add the jacket or hat I brought along or dive into the survival kit to start a fire and heat up a cup of noodles or chocolate, and sit back watching the storm blow in, in comfort, now that’s the best feeling of all.
The other area of concern in this mild type of winter weather is staying dry. When the snow is a bit soggy it can be tough to stay dry. A taboo is wearing cotton clothing, once it starts to get damp, it’s like a sponge and if the weather turns you can be in real trouble. Synthetic materials are better. Most clothing you find will be waterproof, which also is not the best. This type of clothing is fine for skiing or snowmobiling, but can be a real problem if you are snowshoeing or camping out in the snow.
Getting wet is the problem, it doesn’t matter what the source is. As your body functions, like all living things it gives off moisture, if your clothing is waterproof, where is that moisture going to go to? It is trapped inside the clothing, unless it is well ventilated. So you see that wetness is a danger and it can come from the outside or from the inside, it’s just as bad either way.
Have you seen a blacksmith at work? He heats the steel up till it’s red hot and pounds it and shapes it, and when done he dips it in a bucket of water and in 30 seconds it’s cool enough to hold in your hand. Well the same thing happens with your body, it is warm, nearly 100 degrees F, wet clothing will drain away the bodies heat just like the bucket of water cools the hot steel.
Be carefull not to get wet from the outside, this really is more easily done than keeping dry on the inside. The best thing to do when you notice you are beginning to get warm is, remove your hat, unzip your coat, remove your gloves, whatever it takes to cool down. Some times you will find you need to stop and rest for 5 minutes. Do whatever it takes, but try your best to stay dry, and you will be safer and much more comfortable outside in the winter.
Check out our Quick-Tip survival video on the subject click here
Till next time – Perry Peacock