The Arctic is one of the most unforgiving landscapes on the face of the earth. It is white and seemingly devoid of life. In addition, the temperatures can be cold enough to freeze your skin quickly. Staying alive in the Arctic takes a specific skill set, and here are ten tips to help you in that situation.
- Find shelter immediately. While we would all love to find a hotel wherever we’re going, sometimes that isn’t an option, especially when lost. Building a lean-to or a snow hut can be the difference between life and death. Make sure not to sleep on the ground as you can freeze to death. Instead, build a 12-inch-deep bough bed using evergreen branches and leaves.
- If you don’t have food with you, it can be obtained. The Arctic is home to many animals, such as the snowshoe hare and salmon.
- Should you come down with snow blindness, which is typically a temporary issue caused by the bright sun reflecting off the snow, tape over your goggles, leaving just slits to see through. If you don’t have tape, use cardboard and cut slits to see through the cardboard. If you have neither of these, black eyeliner from a woman’s beauty bag or charcoal mixed with fat rubbed around the eyes can help in extreme situations. This works similar to eye black that football players use.
- Wear several layers of clothing. The layer closest to your body should be thin and ideally silk. Each successive layer should be heavier and sturdier to survive the elements.
- Learn to recognize frostbite. If the fingers, toes, nose, cheeks, ears, or chin are cold and white, this may be frostbite. To avoid frostbite, wear mittens rather than gloves. Do not lace your boots tightly. Wear several layers. Try to get out of the cold as soon as possible into room temperatures if frostbite occurs. Know the first aid treatment for frostbite before access to higher medical care.
- Avoid black ice because it is new and thin. Grey ice is four to six inches thick and may support your weight on skis but should be avoided. White ice is the safest at 6 to 12 inches thick.
- When it’s too cold, don’t go outside, even to relieve yourself. You can make a porta-potty inside of your temporary shelter. Dig a deep hole in the recesses of your lean two or snow Hut, and you’ll have a bathroom. Just cover with snow afterward.
- It is a must to avoid polar bears and deter them from coming to your camp. Having a dog will help alert you to polar bears sooner as they can immediately tell when they are nearby. Also, a dog barking is usually enough to send the bear off on its way. However, you can use loud, bright flares and personal attack alarms without a dog to scare them away.
- No one should go to the Arctic by themselves, so, if possible, have a buddy to watch your back. It also helps when hunting, fishing, and building a shelter.
- Stay hydrated. It may seem counterintuitive when surrounded by water and snow, but the heavy work that moving through the Arctic requires will mean dehydration will happen faster.
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