The Weather Network says it is -20 right now, but feels like it is – 28. That is cccccoooollllllddd.
I’ll always pass on tips that are helpful, on the survival side of life.
Here is a trick I learned as a boy. I came from a poor family so sometimes we didn’t have the best of footwear. I had boots with holes in them. So when there was slush from salt, my socks would get wet and my feet would get cold. So, as kids we would put our feet into bread bags to keep our feet dry. But there was an unexpected result. The bread bags actually kept our feet warmer itself.
So there is a cheap way to keep your feet warmer. You might not be able to fit a 3rd pair of socks on, but you can get a plastic bag to fit over the second pair in your boot.
Likely everyone knows, layers, layers, layers is the rule. But a layer with air pockets is better than a layer of a flat shirt. The tight layer on the outside will trap the warmth in the pockets.
That is what house insulation is about, layers and layers of air being trapped. Insulation is measured with an R value, which R is short for resistance to loss. That is a loss of heat or cold. That is why layers matter, trapping layers of air.
Cold is primarily lost through the back of your neck and from you chest and stomach. These are the place vulnerable to heat loss. At the back of you neck the blood is near the surface as your body supplies your vital brain with lots of blood. Wear a scarf in extreme cold. I wear a scarf that wraps my neck and is spread across my chest and stomach for another layer of insulation. If you were caught off guard in the forest the tips of pine or cedar will help you with more insulation. Open your coat, put the branches in place and zip it up. You could use newspaper to the same effect.
Make sure you have something insulating on your head, preferably a hood of a jacket.
For men, don’t put lumpy objects in the upper inside pockets of your jacket. The cold could make your nipples go erect which could cause them to rub on your shirt that is being pressed against it, causing an irritation. With an already difficult situation, you can avoid an added discomfort. Women will usually be wearing a bra that will prevent the situation.
When it is cold, you see your breath every time you exhale. That is heat with moisture escaping from you. A scarf across your face will work like a heat exchanger where not all your breath and all the heat is being lost. This is not to say that if one layer is good so 10 is perfect. We still need an exchange of oxygen. One layer, or two across your face is best.
Wool is warmer than cotton, but it is itchy, so a wool blend might be the trick. Or you can put a layer of cotton below the wool. Cotton is good to wick sweat away from the body anyways. Down is better than feather, but neither is good when they get wet. That is when wool is the best, in wet conditions. In wet, down goes flat. See the part on insulation and air pockets.
One piece outfits are superior to 2 piece because your body heat is shared around your core. One piece outfits don’t have to be tight at the waist to pinch in the warmth.
Make sure you have had a sufficient amount of water, you need your body to transport blood freely around your body.
Make sure you have enough calories in your diet. Fasting on cold days will make you colder.
Hot, spicy food will help you stay warm. Cayenne pepper makes your heart pump harder and moves blood to your extremities to get the excess heat away from the core. Doesn’t you face get red and your body hot when you eat s very hot pepper? I have read that Cayenne in your socks will keep your feet warmer. I have never tried it because I have also gotten Cayenne my eye. A big Ouch. When removing your socks you have to control that the Cayenne doesn’t get all over. You don’t want it in your eye.
Make sure you don’t sweat. If you were in the forest and you sweat you could be in trouble. Sweat will make your body temperature plummet. So when wearing your layers make sure the outer layers unbutton. As you start over heating open your coat at the front. If you are walking your body is working and you produce your own heat, so you may need to open your coat and maybe the outer layer to keep comfortable.
And heaven forbid that you are hiking miles from the City and you step on ice and break through. If deep, immediately you have to ignore the cold to keep your senses and swim for where you broke through. I only broke through ice to my chest, but I realize how disorienting it is. It is very very shocking. You have to keep your wits about you. When I broke through to my chest, I was 10. I immediately put my arms out to stop me from going deeper. The air was – 25 degrees, and I was near the back of our 75 acre parcel of land. There were drifts to my chest to deal with on the return home. But thankfully my instincts kicked in and I rolled in the snow. That is what likely saved my life. You see, snow is an insulator. If you are in a snow cave the temperature will not be far from freezing point, subtract heat loss though the opening. So when I rolled in the snow, the snow stuck to the water on my clothes, so my body only had to deal with freezing point and not – 25 degrees of the air.
If you were hiking and a blizzard came up unexpectedly dig into a snow drift. In avalanches people die from suffocation, and not so much by exposure.
I have been out in blizzards and you have to know what direction you are from where you need to go. The forest from my boyhood farm was to the north of the farmhouse, so if caught in a blizzard I would follow the direction shown to me by the moss on the trees. Moss grows thickest on the North side of the trees, so needing to go south I would keep an eye that I was always walking in the direction of the thickest moss. That is going south.
I’m not sure if there is anything I’ve forgotten. Others will also have good suggestions. I encourage anyone to add to this information.
Remember, don’t dare panic. You have to keep your wits about you, your life might depend upon it. I took my 3 oldest children up info the mountains of Alberta when they were from 4 to 8 years. A snow storm came up suddenly, it was May, but that is May in the mountains. That forced us to hunker down up there. You don’t come down a mountain that is icy. We were up there until conditions improved 3 days later. To panic would have been life threatening.