Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What to do if caught in snowstorm on a hike

Never send someone for help if caught in
a snowstorm. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Getting stranded in a snowstorm means at best you’ll only have days to live unless soon rescued, especially if hiking with children. Hypothermia, frostbite, lack of water due to it freezing and the inability to forage for food or to find tinder and branches to make a fire all make survival extremely difficult.

If you’ve planned your trip correctly, you shouldn’t be in the wilds when a snowstorm is forecast. Mountain weather is highly changeable, however, and it’s quite possible in late spring and early autumn for one to surprise you at a high elevation. As soon as you see any signs of clouding over, feel a significant drop in temperature, or notice high winds or snowflakes, immediately descend to a lower elevation.

If walking is no longer viable – snow can hide the trail and bring visibility to zero – immediately construct a shelter to diminish the affect of wind and wet snow. Huddle together for warmth. Do not eat snow or suck on ice as it will lower your core body temperature. Immediately call for help, and don’t send anyone for help as they easily can get lost in the snowstorm.

Read more about day hiking with children in the guidebook Hikes with Tykes.