While knowing how to survive in the event of an emergency has been — and still is — a distinctly low tech matter, there have been a few technological innovations that can help in times of emergency.
What you learned in grammar school still applies when it comes to your topmost priorities: Food, water, clothing and shelter. Those setting out on foot or snowshoe with the intention of bunking down in the outdoors are more likely to be best prepared for living — and surviving — in the cold.
But after the tragic death by hypothermia of CNET editor James Kim, who spent a week waiting in his car with his wife and two daughters before venturing out to try and find help, even those driving to a ski resort for a weekend getaway would be wise to pack essential survival items and supplies.
Essentials include plenty of bottled water, ready to eat meals, sufficient layers of clothing and blankets, sleeping bags for additional warmth. Because the vehicle is essentially your shelter, a tent isn’t exactly a priority.
Not so obvious helpers
Everyone carries a mobile phone and it would seem like a pretty obvious helper in an emergency — providing you’re not in a rural area, where reception is spotty or non-existent. The two best, not so obvious survival tools is a satellite phone (which can be rented), or a personal locator beacon, which beams a distress call that gets picked up by satellite and alerts rescuers to your exact GPS location.
A GPS device can help keep you stay on course and prevent you from getting lost in the first place, while the low-tech alternative is to pack maps covering your starting point, destination, and everywhere in between.
Whether your whereabouts are known or not, you’ll need to pack other, not so obvious supplies. These include a first aid kit, weatherproof matches or a windproof lighter, a knife, and a flashlight with plenty of batteries or the kind you can crank with your hand to charge up. Long-life candles like those made by Nuwick can provide light, some warmth, and a flame to handle light cooking duties. Lighting a candle in a stuck vehicle isn’t advised, if necessary in an emergency be sure to crack a window for ventilation.
A visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site turned up a useful guide titled “Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety.” It offers concise information on winter safety, plus checklists for creating your own survival kits for both home and automobile. Space Blanket maker MPI Outdoors offers excellent survival tips, and information about wind chill and hypothermia, and what to pack in a survival kit. Or consider buying a ready to go survival kit like those offered by the Nitro-Pak. Stay warm.