Dream Time and Surviving Winter Surprises

This has long been my favorite part of winter—Mid-Winter Dream Time.  Last weekend, I spent wandered around the Washington Sportsmen’s Show and Sport Fishing Boat Show at the fairgrounds in Puyallup.  Next weekend, I will drop in on the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show in Portland, gathering scuttlebutt about our wild interests and catching up with my friends from Safari Afrika.  In two weeks, we will all gather under the SunDome for the Central Washington Sportsmen Show—our annual local celebration of photos and all things wild in Paradise.  These events allay our anxieties as we await the prime fishing and hunting of our new year.  They also help us transform our dreams to reality.

The Washington Sportsmen’s Show in Puyallup was loaded, of course.  The Heads ‘n Horns Competition is big.  The fishing, hunting and care of wildlife seminars were full of eager learners.  Kids were lined up to fish, shoot, tie flies and get overwhelmed with outdoor possibilities.  The pros demonstrating magic on the “Steelhead River” showed us all a thing or two we had never considered.  I could say the same thing about the Camp Cooking demos.  The new event this year was the Fast-Draw Competition.  With old-West pistols, wax bullets and fancy timers, greenhorns lined up to shoot against the best.  I was struck by the quick hands of even new shooters—and then surprised by how far they were off the times of the pros who managed the shooting.  The whole tent was filled with fun and laughter and very serious safety.  Of course, one of my first stops is old friend and survival pro Peter Kummerfeldt in the Toyota Outdoors corner.

You probably recall that Peter was once son Tim’s survival instructor at the Air Force Academy.  These days, he’s a hot-shot speaker and consultant, worth every moment you can get with him.  He’s always refining his simple, take-along survival wisdom, kits, and books.  The seminars he has been doing over the last decade and more have been credited with helping dozens of people save their backsides.  His message is simple: “Use your brain wisely.  Be prepared and a night outdoors may be inconvenient rather than life threatening.”  A great deal of Peter’s teaching and writing is focused on what he calls “the psychology of survival.”

Given our very mild early winter in the high country—and the sudden heavy snow, cold, and traffic issues of our now-returning winter—I thought you might like a quick review of Peter’s “Spending a Night in Your Vehicle” handout.

Preparation.  Interestingly, Peter will tell you that those who simply accept that the unforeseen can happen are the most likely to prepare in advance for it.  Peter has a long list of emergency supplies, many of which are probably already in your car or with you—like your cell phone, tow strap, ice scraper, battery cables, knife, flashlight and batteries, a book, a shovel, kitty litter and your spare with a jack.  The next list is somewhat abbreviated for your consideration; it will likely cause you to think of other important items to carry.   Pack blankets and/or a sleeping bag, water, several dehydrated meals, peanut butter and/or high carb foods, toilet paper, a first aid kit, additional warm clothing, winter footwear, waterproof matches, emergency candles, duct tape and space blankets.  Now, keep that together where you can reach it and make sure you have enough for everyone who will be in the car.

Psychology.  If you get stuck, or trapped, don’t panic.  Take inventory of your supplies and stay with your rig—it is your best shelter and a big signal device.  Stay where you are—with all you need to be safe and comfortable.  Let the rescuers come to you.

Your vehicle as a shelter.  Think about how you will stay warm in the vehicle.  Quickly put on your warmest clothes.  Get into the blankets and/or the sleeping bag, with your feet off the floor (which cools quickly) and your head away from cold glass.  Run the engine, if possible, for up to ten minutes on the hour or less on the half hour—paying attention to venting a window on the lee (downwind) side to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  The candle(s) will provide heat, too, with venting.  Use the space blanket and duct tape to enclose the smaller area you are occupying.  If you get out, dress to the max.

Signaling.  Call 911.  When the snow stops—in daylight—clean off the top of the car so that it can be seen better.  Use the mirror for signaling, and tie something to the antenna or a tree nearby.  Do whatever you can to draw attention to your situation.

Appreciate yourself for preparing—and stay with your dry, safe vehicle.

While you are preparing, get more details, and take a look at the other ways Peter can help you and yours stay safe.  Check out www.outdoorsafe.com.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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