How to Survive an Arctic Winter

Many Arctic survivalists work for oil corporations on the North Slope of Alaska. They may alternate rugged outdoor ventures with good clothing, maybe with iron filing seven-hour hand warmers stuck in shirt pockets or in a boot etc with indoor recovery periods of hot tubs, custard creme pie and better grade international coffee. The first rule of Arctic survival is to afford a good job, and also to shop at Cabella’s on-line and order a pair of 100 below zero insulated boots.

Be mission oriented and get tasks accomplished. Do not lollygag about. Do not get drunk and freeze something. Keep adequate food and fuel supplies where you can get them. 

Bails of hay have been used for building super-insulated housing in some parts of America. There is barely growing in the Delta Junction Alaska farming district-so hay growing and a hay bail for home building industry could perhaps be started there if there isn’t one already. 

 Insulation and heat sources are the things to remember-and always keep exposed skin covered up. A mountain once pointed out that the end of my nose was freezing, so I covered that up when I returned outside the store to resume hitch-hiking down the Alaska Highway once January to wait at minus 45 degrees for a ride. If compelled to add extra layers of insulation such as needed to keep feet from freezing you can tie a shirt or two around your boots.Many southerners don’t value the extra insulation or improvise it well enough to keep that internal body heat from leaking out into the cold, cold space.

 Even at minus 20 degrees below zero farhenheit or less one’s ears will freeze fairly readily and then later defrost when indoors. It feels liike firing crackers exploding in your hands except its your ears.  That ear defreezing is painful for a few minutes and then later skin will peel off if they weren’t too badly damaged.

Cold weather if managed properly does not need to be bad. Human beings are thermodynamic engines themselves and they operate comfortably within a fairly narrow body temperature range around 98.6 degrees plus or minus a degree or two. Internal  body heat created by burning those food calories keep us warm. In very cold temperatures a full stomach is much better than an empty one.

Keep in mind that time in cold temperatures is more critical generally than in moderately warm temperatures. One needs to solve freezing problems fairly quickly. Exposed flesh may freeze instantly. if there is wind below zero it is extremely dangerous because the wind chill factor may reach 100 below zero and so forth. In cold temperatures always get out of the wind, and use planning when you can.

 Plan ahead. Plan redundancy. Plan for cold extended cold weather exposure even if driving a car. If crossing thin ice thrust your arms out to your sides to maybe stop you from falling all the way through into water-then flip you feet up onto the ice and roll up and out of the water to get up and resume walking before your clothing freezes in a non walking position. Keep a shovel in your car to make room below the engine so it won’t freeze to the snow if you go into the ditch

Batteries fail in minutes in flashlights-use rechargables and keep them in a shirt or coat pocket until used. Have a spare butane light for fires. If you leave traveled areas and go off road plan how to make contact with others if you become injured. Where specially warm socks and long underwear because extremities freeze-not just feet and hands but also higher up. Always keep your head covered.

 If planning extended  winter camping it might be useful to building to selecting a camp site ahead of time and excavating a little below ground as the summer sun warms up surface permafrost. If finding frozen ground build a fire on the spot, and melt the ground ice enough to excavate a little. It might be useful to build a geodesic dome with one inch steel pipe, Instructions are available on the Internet. Put the dome-hut together, cover it with netting and throw moss on top so its very thick-leave a section or two for an entrance. Put blue one inch foam insulation on the floor so you don’t sleep on the ground. url for a do-it-yourself steel dome frame

 The Army has a cold weather system for soldiers such that a sleeping bag and clothing allow an individual to just sleep on the ground. It is possible to buy a couple of sleeping bags and place one inside the other for some extra warmth. It is useful to have high quality winter clothing with a very good insulated hood to go over a warm full face mask balaclava hat. The kind of time that one plans to spend outdoors in anticipated extreme weather determines what kind of supplies one must have.

 Rodents can be a plague for winter food caches. Animals may rifle your tent-its good to have a more solid shelter if possible. It can be difficult to keep water from freezing. Even heating coffee with propane-the winter wonder fuel-can be done more efficiently if you cut an aluminum lid out to place over an open steel coffee cup. Fundamentally only drink warm beverages because cold ones drop your body temperature too quickly requiring rewarming.

I believe that Fairbanks Alaska is somewhere around 65 north latitude. North of that lay the Arctic which is colder than the common winter low of Fairbanks of minus 45 farhenheit. It is more  cold farther north, and in Siberia and around Novaya Zemlya it can reach 90 below even yet in the global warming era, although a common low in the Verhoyansk region is minus 60. Planning and experience go a long way in making the outdoor experience enjoyable. One can see the mammals with their white winter fur or feathers, or recover without strain from heat exhaustion brought from the south perhaps.

 In the cities you may encounter black ice walking on sidewalks-it is nearly clear or invisible and it has caused so many to fall suddenly as their feet go out and they flop backwards onto the ground. After some practice leaving your feet in contact with the ground when they suddenly slip forward you will no longer fall so fast-for the right response is to react as if you are skiing with your feet just moving ahead with the slip. Believe it or not that becomes second nature after a while (maybe years I don’t remember) so you don’t even need to think about it but instead use the right balancing posture.

 These are a few ideas I have about cold weather prepairedness incusive of temperatures such as I encountered three winters in the North Star Borough. Arctic survival is relatively simple for the prosperous, and more challenging for the poor.