Extreme heat or cold can be deadly. Even moderate weather situations like rain, snow, wind, etc. can cause illness, dehydration, disorientation, and more.
In an emergency situation, getting out of harsh elements and adjusting your climate as much as possible can be life saving. The seasons, geographical regions and weather patterns create a lot of variables for this topic. In this article we'll go over general best practices and and how to deal with the most common situations. You'll need to look at your situation and adjust your gear and skills to accommodate.
Experience: Snow Caving Gone Wrong
A few years ago we took a Boy Scout troop on a snow caving outing. We trained for weeks before. We had an experienced caver share the best techniques, gear, clothing, etc. It was so cool. The boys felt very prepared.
We asked around and a former Scout Master had the perfect location for deep snow and access. We set off all outfitted and ready. The boys pulled snow sleds with their gear. We had checked them before we left and they all looked ready.
We arrived at the destination and they jumped right in, literally. Within an hour or two they had carved out fantastic caves. Each one was unique and showed some personality. As they were trained, they changed out of their wet, sweaty clothes into a second set. They started to cook dinner and the evening continued like many before.
We all decided to turn in and got all cozy in our new homes. I was just about to doze off when, "Hey, can you guys hear me?" Turns out you can't hear anything outside when inside a cave, even a yelling person. However, the voice came from the doorway and instantly I was wide awake.
"I can't do this." I shined my light on the face and it was one of the leaders. Turns out he hadn't been able to attend our trainings and had never gone caving before. He was wet and his cave was more like a tunnel. He had climbed into a wet sleeping bag and wiggled into the tunnel. He was cold, couldn't breathe well and was a bit clausterphobic. Yikes!!!
We decided a few of us would hike out to get him to safety. We made sure he was warm enough and began our hike around midnight. As we climbed out of the valley we started to heat up. We didn't want to sweat so we shed some layers. The steam lifted off our base layers.
On our way out, a snow groomer (we were close to a ski resort) saw us on the road. I can only imagine their thoughts when they saw the three of us hiking in the middle of the night without coats and dragging sleds full of gear. They stopped and asked if we were OK. We knew we were only a half mile from the parking lot and we were good. They let us go.
Next morning we learned they hadn't been comfortable with our situation and called in to have someone check on us. We were faster than expected and got to the truck and took off. When the party they called couldn't find us they called search and rescue. They drove around for some time until they found our other Scouters and asked. They told them where our truck was parked and if it was gone we were fine.
The cold is no joke. The leader who realized he was unprepared knew it. We knew it also and decided to hike him out. The resort people and search and rescue knew it too. You don't mess around with extreme elements.
[products] snow shoes, shovel, gloves, boots, etc.
right module: priorities
Experience: Jogging on a Vegas Summer Day
We lived in Las Vegas for a few years. During the spring I'd jog on a route near our home.
Well, the summer months came along and I still went on my outings. I'd hydrate well before and just as I left the house I'd pour water over my head. By the time I was half way around my route I'd be dry and even though I'd sweat it'd evaporate immediately.
One day I got a late start and didn't pay attention. A mile into the route I could feel my body shutting down. My mind couldn't think straight, my limbs didn't want to move normally, and I felt like I might pass out. I knew it was heat stroke.
I found a tree for shade and laid down immediately. I could feel my system coming back online but I didn't rush it. I decided to walk home.
Turns out once the body gets to a certain temperature it can't produce sweat, which wouldn't help anyway. It gets really spooky at that temperature.
right module: stages to the right