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Youth practice winter survival

Skills taught at workshop at Nature Center

January 1, 2013
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

What would you do if you were stranded alone in the woods in the middle winter?

That's something that seven area youth found out about firsthand Friday in a winter survival workshop at the Emmet County Nature Center. Conducting the workshop was Jenna Pollock, and participating were Theresa and Austin Hammond, Mikenzie and Jacob Olson, Cole Anderson, Scarlett Rose and Allison Martyr.

When Pollock asked the kids what they would do if they were lost in the wood in winter, there were plenty of answers, including:

Article Photos

Austin and Theresa Hammond carried bark for their shelter as part of a winter survival workshop at the Emmet County Nature Center last Friday.
EDN photos by Michael Tidemann

n Find a place out of the wind.

n Find stocks.

n Get food and water.

n Look for a trail.

n Find materials to build a fire.

Pollock said it's probably best if a person stays put if he's lost, then find shelter, fuel, stay hydrated, don't eat a lot since it takes calories to digest food and don't work up a sweat building a shelter.

It's a good idea too to use everything. That granola bar wrapper? Well, it can be used to start a fire. Sticks could be fuel, shelter or even food. Trees are actually the first place people will look when someone's lost.

Pollock said a survival pack could include a first-aid kit including bandages and alcohol wipes. Also handy would be cotton balls that could be dipped in petroleum jelly to start a fire. And never travel alone, but rather in groups of three, she said.

A metal canteen could be used to heat water and also, since it's reflective, to signal for help. Steel wool can be frayed and placed against a nine volt battery to make sparks to start a fire.

A garbage bag can be used for a windbreak or to carry materials. It could also be filled with snow that could be heated or it could be used to signal for help. And if you have a gun, three shots could be fired into the ground to signal for distress.

A piece of string could be used to make a snare trap or to tie up sticks to make a tipi. And matches in a plastic box could be a lifesaver. Another good thing to have would be a multitool knife. The number-one rule, of course, is to tell others before you leave.

When you build a shelter, it should be on high ground, out of waterways and with protection from the sun. Shelter materials could include snow, sticks, evergreen boughs or leaves - and it shouldn't be any mansion either. The smaller it is, the less energy it will take to build it and the easier it will contain your body heat.

Other possible shelters could be underneath a rock or any cave-like features. If a person's in a swamp bed, sticks should be used to built above wet ground. And a firepit should be built nearby for heat - but not so close that it could catch a shelter on fire.

After their briefing session, the kids went out and built their shelters, gathering sticks and piling them against fallen tree boughs.

The shelter voted the best was Theresa and Austin Hammond's bark hut.



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