by Geoffrey Ingersoll, Business Insider | December 29, 2014
It was an unseasonably and even historically warm Christmas week for much of the US. But we’re only a month into winter, and more intense weather could be just around the corner.
In extreme enough cold — like the conditions that gripped some parts of the US during last year’s “polar vortex” — exposed skin can freeze in only 10 minutes. People also risk hypothermia just by going outside.
Besides desert climates, winter is the worst to endure. The US military has whole courses designed to teach its people how to survive.
Here are a few Winter survival tips and some items the Marine Corps considers essential to combating the cold. They come from the Winter Survival Course Handbook, which draws reference from the UK’s SAS Survival Handbook.
Here’s what the Marines say to take with you if you venture deep into the cold this winter.
1. Water/Food: At least a few gallons of water is advisable in harsh conditions.
2. Fire-starting material: Flint, matches, or a lighter.
3. 550 Cord: This gets its name from the weight it can bear. Good for making shelters, trapping animals, and treating wounds.
5. A metal container: For boiling water. It’s not safe to eat mass amounts of snow off the ground. Must be a non-petrol carrying container. Kill two birds with one stone and carry a can of beans.
6. Tape: Electrical or gorilla duct tape has near-infinite uses.
7. A knife and/or multipurpose tool: Some of these actually contain a flint.
10. A mirror: For signaling. In a pinch, a makeup mirror will suffice.
11. Pocket sewing kit
These items can be packed differently for travel in a car or on foot. Obviously, one for a car can be a bit more robust.
Considering you probably won’t be “caught behind enemy lines,” we can dispense with the war-time survival tips and get right to more generic survival.