As you think about honing your survival skills, it’s important to really consider every possible scenario. Today, I want to talk about coping in a blizzard situation when you are stranded, cold, and need a place to hide out until help arrives. This is an essential thing to prepare for if you enjoy hiking or camping in a cold weather area, but it is also a great topic for those that live in areas with extreme cold temperatures.
Blizzards might be the worst-case scenario for survival. The winds are typically over 30 mph, which can drive the temperatures even lower. Visibility is next to zero and the possibility of navigating through the storm is nearly impossible. So how can you survive here? Where can you find shelter?
Dig a Hole
First and foremost, you need to get out of the wind and the elements. This is actually easier to do than you might think. If there is no possibility of finding trees to build around, then your first task is to begin digging a hole. Dig it wide enough and deep enough to hold your body and your gear. The idea here is to go underground to ride out the storm. In an ideal situation you would be able to dig a hole that is roughly 4-5 feet deep and about 3 feet wide. The walls around you will create a wall to protect you from the wind and it will create an instant cover to keep you invisible from predators.
Once the hole has been dug you should use the loose snow to build a berm around your hole. This will not only help block out wind but it will help to hold some heat in closer to you. You could also use the snow to make a canopy over your hole. Whatever you do make sure that you are not in an area that could be submerged in an avalanche. While the idea of burying yourself in snow might seem odd, snow is actually a fairly good insulator and it could help you keep your body temperature up.
Make a Lean To
Now if you are stranded in an area with lots of trees, then your options have just increased tremendously. The first thing you should do is try to locate a fallen tree. If you are able to locate a decent tree, you could use your shelter building skills to build a lean to. The branches from the tree could serve as the frame and you could simply line the tree with additional limbs/sticks. It won’t be the warmest place you have lived, but it will get you out of the direct force of the snow and the wind. You can add some additional insulation by using a tarp or even a trash bag if you have one packed in your gear.
Build an Igloo
Another option for a shelter is to build an igloo. Find a hill of snow and then dig into the hill to form a cave. In many cases this is the quickest way to take shelter in a blizzard. Work quickly to dig in and down. Make sure that the top layer of snow is packed tightly and totally secure. You do not want the cave to collapse on top of you. In most mountainous areas, the igloo is going to be the best option for shelter.
It will be a warmer place to stay as opposed to the lean to.
All of these options will have their flaws and they will all be temporary. But when you are stranded in the middle of a snow storm, you are going to do whatever it takes to just survive and ride it out.
What would you do if you were stranded in a blizzard?