Guide: 7 ways to survive if you become stranded outdoors in the winter
02/17/2017 / By D. Samuelson / Comments
Guide: 7 ways to survive if you become stranded outdoors in the winter

If you’re shoveling snow this winter, there’s not much chance you’ll become stranded in a blizzard. But if you’re adventuring with back country hiking, skiing, sledding, snow boarding, snow shoeing, climbing, or merely meandering in the woods, it’s prudent to learn survival techniques. Winter storms can manifest unexpectedly. And, if you’re not prepared, bitterly cold weather and wind can quickly cause hypothermia and frostbite. Knowing a few key survival skills can save your life. (Related: See related stories on survival at

There are three critical issues; staying warm, starting a fire, and creating shelter. Donning layers of clothing, including two hats, will help insulate your body. Having an emergency blanket or bivvy in the backpack can help. suggests that it’s imperative to carry fire starting materials with you. These include waterproof matches, “egg carton squares dipped in wax or Vaseline coated cotton balls.”  A small pruning saw can help cut up the smaller, drier branches from fallen tress to be used as tinder.

But before you build the fire, reports, finding a shelter is imperative. Here’s a guide suggesting seven shelter potentials.

1. Live trees

Pine and cedar tree branches can “create a natural canopy.” This translates into a shelter at the base of these trees, where the ground may be clear. This bare ground is an ideal spot for your fire. Having that pruner will come in handy to remove low hanging branches.


2. Dead Trees

There may be spaces underneath fallen trees that are not only snow free, but also act as a wind barrier. And dead branches for firewood are in abundant supply.

3. Uprooted Trees

Depending on the circumference of the tree, and the root system being exposed, you have a potential shelter that you can snuggle down into. Again, blocking the wind is important for your fire building, and for your overall warmth.

4. Caves

Caves are the ideal shelter, if the terrain you’re in provides these natural protectors. The downside is that other creatures may be using it too. Let’s hope they are friendly.

5. Overhangs and ravines

If you’re in a mountainous or hilly area when the blizzard hits, you may be able to find a cliff overhang to tuck up into. Ravines, depending on the trees that align them, or have fallen into them, could also provide a much needed shelter.

 6. Boulders and Rock Canyons

Shelters will vary depending on the topography of the area you are in. If you are fortunate to be wintering where there are natural rock canyons, they “are often narrow,” which means their shape doesn’t allow much snow and wind to pile in. As in all shelter seeking, the boots you wear and the steps you take should be firm, but cautious. Not being able to see the ground you are traversing adds difficulty. A cane or large branch could come in handy as you move forward.

7. Large rocks and boulders

This type of shelter works best when there is no falling snow, as it provides no overhang or canopy. What a large boulder can do is a be a better reflector of a fire for heat and a block for the cold winds.

If you are caught  in a bitter winter storm in the woods or mountains, it may be more than 24 hours before you can get out. Melted snow is your water. Take a supply of energy bars, nuts, and nutritious hemp seeds. And don’t forget a good map, a compass and a cell phone, says Even without cell service, a tracking signal can be sent.

And that may save your life.



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