You will need to make fire and to choose the right type of fire construction. Shelter is necessary to give shade, to repel wind, rain and to keep warmth. Sleep and adequate rest are essential and the time and the effort you put into making your shelter comfortable will make them easier to get. If you are a victim of a plane crash or a vehicle that has let you down, it may provide a shelter or materials which one can be built, but if there is a fire or the threat of fuel tanks exploding, wait until it has burned out before attempting salvage.
You may have to make do with any natural shelter that you can find for the night or until you can fully assess the situation. In this case, virtually any protection from wind, rain & cold will be welcome. If movement down a slope seems risky, traversing even a short way along the contour may bring you out of the wind. If no cave or crevice is available to give shelter, make use of any hollow in the ground. Add to its height, if you can, by stacking rocks or snow, but make sure that any structure is stable & use a back-pack, if you have one, to increase the windshield before settling down on the leeward side.
For a long-term camp you should find a secure site with convenient access to your major needs. Look for these when selecting your campsite:
In MOUNTAIN REGIONS streams can become torrents in minutes, rising as much as 5m (17ft) in an hour! Even on plains keep out of old watercourses, no matter how dry they are. Heavy rainstorms in nearby hills can easily send water rushing down them in flash floods with no warning. Choose ground that is reasonably flat and free or rocks and insure that you have space to lay out signals and that you can be easily spotted by rescue parties. Check above your head for bees or hornets' nests and for dead wood in trees that could come crashing down in the next storm or high wind. Keep away from solitary trees, which attract lightning, and in forest areas keep to the edges where you can see what is going on around you.
Don't wait until it's dark. Make or find a shelter while there is light. You must get out of the rain, wind, and snow before Hypothermia sets in. Make more permanent shelter when permitted. Insulate floor of shelter as deeply as you can with brush, leaves, and grass- anything to keep you off the cold ground.
Dig tunnel into snow if no other shelter is available. Use stick to keep air vent open. In deep snow, base of trees can provide shelter. Use your imagination, improvise but keep shelter simple and small, conserve energy. You will get cold faster if you lay on the bare ground, make a bed of something. Be careful about staying near steep slopes or cliffs. Slides and avalanches are a danger.
The following are essential for shelter:
All shelters must be ventilated for evaporation. Fires give off carbon monoxide. Heat up stones, wrap them well, and insert them in your sleeping bag. Old trapper trick: Dig a rectangular hole, fill it with hot coals, then cover up with earth and lay a blanket over it.
Mosquitoes seem to hate the smell of Basilic.
A heavy grove of big evergreen itself affords considerable shelter. From sudden shower you can keep dry by just lingering under a spruce or pine. There is usually sufficient small growth in such a forest to break off and angle in lean-to form against a protective log or trunk. Build a lean-to with whatever is available. All you need is a cross bar between two supports. Lean branches densely against the cross bar to make the shelter. If you have enough plastic groundsheet material, fold it so that it doubles as groundsheet and a roof. Then pile on branches and leaves/snow.
At very low temperatures snow will be solid. You need some kind of implement to cut into it or make blocks from it. If you have tools to cut blocks of snow, you can build a complete snow house or use it for walls around another shelter.
Snow or rock caves will be easily recognizable but not so obvious are the spaces left beneath the spreading boughs of conifers in the northern forests when the snow has already built up around them. A medium-sized tree may have a space right around the trunk or a large one may have pockets in the snow beneath a branch. Try digging under any tree with spreading branches on the Lee side. Even soft snow can be built into a windbreak. Those with equipment can cut blocks. Anchor a ground sheet or poncho along the top with another course of blocks; use others to secure the bottom edge. Use more snow blocks to close the sides.
Snow trench -- Mark out an area the size of a sleeping bag including head support and cut out blocks the whole width of the trench. Dig down to a depth of at least 60cm (2ft). Along the top of the sides of the trench, cut a ledge about 15cm (6in) wide and the same deep. Rest the snow bricks on each side of the ledge and lean them in against each other to form a roof. Put equipment below your sleeping bag so that you are not in direct contact with the snow beneath. Block the windward end with another block or piled up snow. At the other end downwind have a removable block as a door or dig an entrance. Fill any gaps with snow. It is most effective when built on a slight slope; the cold air will collect in the entrance leaving warmer air in the sleeping place.
Snow Cave -- Dig into a drift snow to make a comfortable shelter. Make use of the fact that hot air rises and heavier, cold air sinks. Create 3 levels inside: build a fire on the highest, sleep on the center one and keep off the lower level which will trap the cold. Drive a hole through the roof to let out smoke and make another hole to unsure that you have adequate ventilation. Use a block of snow as a door and keep it loose fitting and on the inside, so that it will not freeze up and jam. Smooth the inside surfaces to discourage melt drips and make a channel around the internal perimeter to keep them away from you and your equipment. Dripping comes from the inside heat. Make sure that the inside dome walls are well smoothed use the back of your mittens or mukluks to do this job not your hand. If the inner walls start to glaze with ice and drip, you are overheating. Placing a piece of snow on the source can stop small drips in igloos.
An igloo takes time to construct but centuries of use by the Eskimo demonstrate its efficiency. Build the main shelter first then dig out an entrance or build an entry tunnel which is big enough to crawl along. You could bend the tunnel or build a windbreak. Mark out a circle on the ground about 4m (13 1/2ft) in diameter and tramp it down to consolidate the floor as you proceed with the rest of the building. Stack one layer of blocks on another and, as when laying bricks, center new blocks over the previous vertical joint. Build up more layers but place each only halfway over the lower tier, so that the igloo tapers in or becomes dome shaped. Shape out the entrance arch as you proceed. Seal the top with a flat block. Make ventilation holes near the top and near the bottom but not on the side of the prevailing wind or so low that snow rapidly builds up and blocks it. Fill any other gaps with snow. Smooth off all the inside to remove any drip-points. This will allow any condensation to run down the wall instead of dripping off.
INSIDE THE IGLOO:
Build a sleeping level higher than the floor or dig down when building to create a lower cold level that can be used for storage. Cut an entrance way through the lower course of blocks or dig a tunnel beneath them. The central hole can be used as an entrance if you are too exhausted to complete the structure.
IMPROVISED KOOLIK: (Invented by "AL" KOOLIK?)
You can improvise a fat lamp out of any flat pan, such as a ration can. If you have fat to burn, all that is required is a piece of heavy cotton, linen cloth or absorbent cotton for a wick and a slopping ramp to support it. You can burn lubricating oil in a fat lamp but the flame will smoke more readily and the wick will have to be trimmed more carefully to keep the flame below the smoking point. When the level of the oil drops, the flame may follow down the wick causing further smoking.
A simple damper made of sheet metal will prevent this and will permit closer control of the flame. A few drops of aircraft fuel used with caution will aid in lighting the wick. NEVER try to burn a volatile fuel in the koolik, you would be far too successful and might find yourself in trouble.
Remember that a little animal fat in lubricating oil makes a good improvement in the flame. Body heat is derived from food intake, so eat your entire ration and supplement with fish whenever possible. Eat fat rather than burn them if the supply is low. A diet of meat is good for you. The explorer Stefenson lived for a full year on meat alone to prove this point. You MUST eat flesh, fat, liver and every edible part, to ensure that you don't suffer from dietetic deficiencies.
Remember FAT is ESSENTIAL in Arctic survival don't waist it.
If there are several people in the hole, the temperature will rise even further, this seems the only explanation that in case of avalanche death is due more often to suffocation then exposure.
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