Shelter from the Elements
Keeping out of the wind, cold, and wet weather is another important part
of winter survival. Learn how to find or make shelter in all conditions. Three
are listed below, and will provide relief from the elements.
Lean-To Use your saw, cord, and space blankets to
construct a lean-to type of shelter with logs and pine branches. Use pine boughs
to thatch the roof and make a bed. Do not sit or lay on the snow as you will get
wet and lose too much heat through conduction. Put one space blanket on the
under side of the roof to reflect heat back to you. Use the other space blanket
on or under the pine boughs for a bed. Face the opening of the lean-to away from
the wind. Build your fire in front of the lean-to, but far enough away so your
shelter doesn't catch fire (keep the fire small). You can use a space blanket
alone for a roof although it may not hold up in a strong wind without
reinforcing it with the sheet of plastic.
Snow Cave It is not advised to build a snow cave
if you soak your clothes in the process. The temperature in a snow cave is
between 26 and 28 degrees F., and will raise several degrees from body heat in
several hours. If you have good waterproof clothes and the weather is extreme, a
snow cave is a good shelter. Start digging into a snowdrift (away from avalanche
danger) in a slightly upward direction for 2-3 feet, then make a sharp right or
left hand turn and continue for another 18 inches or so. The upward direction
and turn will help keep cold air and wind out. Start making the cave, just large
enough to sit or lay in comfortably without touching the sides. Keep the roof
domed so that any moisture will run down the sides rather than dripping on you.
Make a vent hole out the side of the cave and in a downward direction for fresh
air. A candle may be used for light and heat but any more heat than 1 or 2
candles starts melting too much snow. If you start seeing blue-green snow on the
roof when you are digging, this means you are 8-12 inches from the surface and
should not take any more snow from the roof. If you are hoping to be found by a
search party, leave some kind of signal outside the cave that clearly lets them
know you are there.
Natural Shelters The fastest type of shelter is
to improve upon natural shelters such as fallen trees, a group of close growing
pines, or the tree well formed under a large pine tree. Use some of the methods
listed above to improve upon these natural shelters using the least amount of
energy for the best shelter against current conditions.