Here in the Pacific Northwest, we just had a few days of very springlike weather. The fruit trees started blooming, daffodils poked their heads up and friends and coworkers started gushing about how they could wear t-shirts. And today? Snow. Yeah. The weather does strange things.

We didn’t get a lot of snow, but the temperatures are expected to plummet tonight and possibly coincide with wet roads, leading to black ice. If you’re ever stuck somewhere, like in a broken down car or on a hiking trail, when weather you’re not expecting comes down on you, here are some tips for how to avoid a cold-weather casualty.

Be Prepared
The first tip, and the most important one, is to never underestimate the weather. Don’t go out in just a t-shirt. Pack some extra garb and a blanket in your car. Carry a windbreaker pr jacket with you, no matter how warm you believe it will be.

Gear Up Your Car
My car’s trunk has a military wool blanket in it, a tarp, a folding shovel, a jug of water, and my survival bag. Inside that bag is the following (among others):

  • whistle
  • poncho
  • food
  • fire starting material
  • knife
  • socks
  • hand warmer packets

These are all basic gear that will keep you alive in a snowstorm. Hand warmer packers are .99c or less, so stock up on those and keep them in all of your bags, just so you always have some.

If you live in a snowy place, keep these items on hand:

  • sunglasses (to provide visibility without being snowblinded) – I learned that this is a real thing when I took a trip to Alaska one February a few years ago and did’t take my sunglasses. I didn’t think I’d need them! But I regretted not having them as we drove many miles along highways covered with snow.
  • chapstick – if you’re dehydrated, this will help you avoid dry, cracking lips
  • hat, gloves, scarf, extra pair of wool socks- just keep some backups in your car or bag
  • sunscreen – not what you think of in the snow, but it’s similar to snowblindness in that you actually can get sunburn from too much reflecting UV rays on bright white snow.

Avoid These

Cotton kills! Cotton is not a good choice for clothing of any layer during the winter months. It absorbs moisture and holds on to it, so you can’t dry out or warm up. It also does not hold in heat well, particularly when it is wet. don’t wear flannel, jeans or your Carhartt pants or jackets in the snow.

Avoid exposing your skin. Keep your heat in by covering up your head, hands and feet. Frostbite can happen more quickly than you think when your skin is exposed.




The Northwest where I am is typically not known for harsh, snowy and icy winters. In recent years, though, that has changed and we’ve gotten more snow and ice days, which result in school closures, road closures and businesses closed around the state. I don’t know if it’s global warming or what, but the last few years we’ve gotten severe ice storms that have wiped out power to thousands of people and caused havoc on roadways. Read this post from Rick, our search and rescue guy, on what he has learned from the recent winter storms we’ve had.

I’m all for being cozy inside the house on a stay-at-home snow day, but here’s what I really want to be doing: riding on a Timbersled snow bike. Oh my gosh, look at how fun!


The Timbersled ST 120 has a 120-inch track and a backcountry ski on it. It’s the “do everything and anything you want on snow” bike. Snowshoes and skis are fun and all, but this will get you places you could never get on anything else. Check out the specs on this monster.  How it works is you take your motocross bike or off-road dirt bike and attached a Timbersled system to it. The system incluces a front ski and a rear track system that replace the tires on your bike. You can ride all year. You need to get an Install Kit for your type of motorcycle, and then you’ll living your white powder dreams. Prices start at $5,300.

Timbersled ST 120 Snow Bike

Images from

You need to know the critical steps and  how to avoid risking your own life in the process of rescuing someone from a fall through the ice.

If someone falls through ice and you’re the only one who can save the victim, don’t rush to them. Don’t go near the edge of where they are because chances are you’ll fall through as well.

How to Rescue Someone Who Falls Through Ice

1. Shout to the victim and get help by dialing 911. Hopefully you have a phone and a good cell phone connection.

2. Reach for the victim only if you can do it from shore. If not, extend a jumper cable, rope, ladder, or something that will float to the victim. Note, if the person starts to pull you in, release your grip on the object and start over.

One important tip … if a rope is tossed to the victim, have them tie it around themselves in case they’re too weak by the cold ice to grab a hold of it.

3. If you can, find a light boat to push across the ice to the victim. Be sure it’s pushed to the edge of the hole, get into the boat, and pull the victim over the bow.

A good piece of advice is to attach some rope to the boat so that others can help pull you and the person who fell through the ice to safety.

All other rescue techniques should be performed before attempting to venture on the ice to rescue a victim.

If the situation is too dangerous, call 911 and repeatedly reassure the victim that help is on the way. Encourage them to fight to survive. It’s vital you adhere to these safety techniques so the dire situation doesn’t result in two deaths.

If you spend time in the mountains, would you know what to do if you got caught in an avalanche? Avalanches injure thousands of people—and kill more than 150—each year.

Don’t be a statistic. Learn what you need to do to survive an avalanche.

The following tips will help you build awareness of avalanche safety and help you survive in case you get caught in an avalanche.

1- Be prepared.

Before you head out into the snow, be aware of the snow conditions. Thin snow cover in early winter can become weak and unstable as heavier snowfall comes down on top. This instability increases the chances of an avalanche. If you can avoid it, don’t go out when the avalanche risk is high. Carry an avalanche beacon to help rescuers locate you if you get buried in an avalanche.

2- Travel in a group.

If you’re spending time in the snow, don’t do it alone. Travel with a group of people and make sure they are familiar with avalanche conditions and rescue.

3- Seek shelter.

If you’re caught in an avalanche, seek shelter wherever possible. Avalanches are powerful and send tons of snow quickly down a mountain, covering everything in its path.  Crouch down, turn away from the avalanche and cover your mouth and nose to prevent snow from getting in. Brace yourself against the impact.

4- Stay on top of the snow.

If you are buried in an avalanche, you need to get to the top. Depending on the severity of the avalanche, this may be easier said than done. You need to act quickly to stay on the top of the snow. Move your arms in a backstroke to stay on top of the snow.

5- If you’re buried, create an airway.

“If it comes over you and buries your face, you want to fight, you want to swing, you want to punch.” Sue Anderson of Wasatch Backcountry Rescue states. “You want to fight as hard as you can to stay on top of that snow. When the snow stops, it settles down as hard as concrete. You have about a second to punch to get that airway done.”

6- Remain calm.

This step may seem impossible when you’ve been buried in an avalanche. However, this step is the most important one for your survival. If you panic, you run the risk of making the situation worse.

7- Dig yourself out and call for help.

Your survival depends on your ability to get yourself on top of the snow. Do whatever you can to dig yourself out of the snow and call out for help.

Surviving winter’s worst requires a combination of common sense, adequate preparation, and innovative use of everyday items.

Here are some strategies for surviving the biggest blizzard Old Man Winter can dish out.

What to Buy When  Blizzard is Approaching

  • Buy a variety of items at the store. Think about bottled water, juice, granola bars, nuts, and other packaged foods that last for long periods of time. Don’t waste time with non-essential items.
  • Make a huge dish or two of a food that provides a big dose of calories and carbohydrates, like lasagna or heavy casseroles. Slice them into pieces and place them in the freezer.
  • Buy salt for your sidewalks and driveway. Cat litter is an acceptable substitute if ice-melting products aren’t available.
  • Buy a reliable shovel. Then buy a back up for that one.

What Do Do When The Snow is Piling Up Outside

  • Keep up with the downfall by shoveling and sprinkling salt on your sidewalks and driveway. This makes clean-up easier and keeps you ready for an emergency evacuation.
  • Keep your vehicles clear of snow and ice by tending to them every few hours. Cover car windows and windshields with a large tarp that can be removed to save time.
  • Help out your neighbors. Doing them a favor of clearing their property might pay off if you’re unable to get to your own at some point.

What to Do in the Blizzard’s Aftermath

  • Move snow from critical areas like your driveway, sidewalks and gutters to less important area. Always have a clear route to and from your door.
  • Wear clothing that will protect you from the wet and cold weather but also has room to move. Avoid cotton materials that can get sweaty and keep you cold.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the blizzard’s white out aftermath. Sun reflects off of snow and ice and can cause damage.

With the right preparation and some common sense, you’ll be able to ride out a winter storm and have easy access to everything you need.


Don’t get stranded out in the cold. Winter is here. The cold winds and snow are beautiful but deadly if you’re not prepared. Here’s how to get ready for anything Old Man Winter can throw at you.

The two main places people are at the most are in their homes or cars. You must have the right tools at your disposal in the event of a winter weather emergency. The worst can happen when you least expect it.

Ride out Winter Storms at Home
One of the biggest survival tips is having enough food and supplies. Winter is the time of year to always be prepared in case of a blizzard, ice storm, or other turbulent storms that sweep through.

Be certain to have fully charged cell phones in case electricity goes out. Have functioning chargers and a good stock of batteries on-hand for flashlights and radios. Don’t forget to have smoke detectors in good working order as well. Be certain there’s plenty of water around and that you have an emergency heating source. Lastly, it’s smart to have a fire extinguisher at home.

Prepare Your Car for Treacherous Roads
When traveling in your car, you never know when a winter emergency will arise. Sometimes things will be going along just fine until a rapid cold front changes everything in the way of a weather pattern. This makes roads treacherous and unpredictable. If something happens, you’re in the middle of nowhere and on your own. Depending on help isn’t the way to think in a dire situation. This is where self-preservation must kick in.

Having a fully charged cell phone is one of the top survival tips when going out. Call friends and give them an estimated time of arrival so someone has an idea as to when they should hunt you up if you don’t show up when expected. Have a full tank of gas and emergency fuel with you.

Other winter survival tips for cars is to have warm blankets and extra food and water. In case you’re stranded, you want to be cover up and not go hungry.

Preparing for emergencies is what winter survival tips are all about. These valuable tools may save your life.

In honor of the snowfall and chilly temperatures, we ranked our top 5 pieces of essential winter gear. We’re in the the holiday spirit, and we want you to stay warm and dry out there. Before you head out into the winter wilderness make sure you have all of the necessary gear.  Surviving the winter temperatures requires a whole different set of equipment. Anyone from backpackers to preppers to weekend warriors should love this stuff!

Item #5  Backpack with an Avalanche Airbag
Unsteady snow and unpredictable weather can cause avalanches. When buried under the snow, every second counts. If you’re spending a lot of time skiing in the snowy mountains, try out a backpack equipped with an avalanche air bag. These backpacks are perfectly functional, but they also inflate to protect the neck and head during an avalanche. The extra room that a deployed air bag can provide in an avalanche can help you survive. These bags can be repacked and refilled after it’s used.

Item #4 Backpacker’s Coffee and Tea Maker
You’ll need it in the backcountry too, not just the office. Anyone in cold temperatures for long periods of time needs warm liquids and a little pick-me-up. A backpacker’s coffee maker is the perfect piece of gear. They are lightweight, compact, and can be re-used over and over again. You can find coffeemakers in drip or press models. A French press style maker is totally portable and delivers are nice strong brew. A drip style maker can hold the coffee grounds perched above your cup and is great at keeping grounds from the hot joe. Many models work just as well for loose-leaf or bagged tea.

Item #3 Battery Powered Heated Gloves
Gloves that are waterproof and heated are going to go a long way for survival. They are also great for winter sports like ice climbing and snowshoeing. You’re going to need them when the temps drop. Different settings are available, so on a low setting these gloves could last up to 8 hours. When you’re purchasing heated gloves make sure they heat the whole hand, not just the fingers. Rechargeable batteries are available and some models offer the option of charging with a USB hook-up.

Item #2 Four Season Tent
Shelter can’t be overlooked when it comes to survival in the winter weather. A four season tent is just that, shelter that has you covered in all four seasons. These tents often have reinforced walls and extra strudy zippers to keep out anything that Old Man Winter can dish out. A four season tent can fit up to four people or more, including their gear. There are a variety of styles available, but all are created to withstand lots of wet and wind and snow. Look for models that will be easy to set up in whipping winds or while wearing gloves.

And the top ranked winter survival gear is…

Item #1  Backcountry Snowshoes
For the money, snowshoes are a practical and safe winter survival item. Anyone can use them and they don’t require any death defying trips down steep mountains. When it comes to winter survival, snowshoes are essential. Anyone can travel multiple miles each day with a good pair of snowshoes no matter what the weather throws at them. There is a huge variety of styles and price levels. For surviving those long trail backcountry trips, look for sturdier types of snowshoes that can support your weight plus a pack.

These pieces of winter survival gear will really be nice to have when the winter winds bring snow and ice. Stay dry, stay warm, and most importantly, have fun out there.

Skiers love taking on whatever the mountain can dish out. There is nothing better than hitting fresh powder in the backcountry with friends. Canada’s CBC news reported that sales of backcountry ski equipment were up 40 percent at the start of the 2012-13 season and backcountry is no longer a fringe sector.  Ski big, ski fearless, but keep your head on straight. Don’t be the one that needs to be rescued in the backcountry.

Skiing Apparel Crucial to Safety
You have to wear the right gear if you’re spending all day outside in the winter wilderness. The right clothing and equipment will make sure you come home with some legendary tales of skiing the backcountry .

Dress in three layers when carving up the backcountry. A base layer closest to your skin should be form fitting and comfortable. Cotton materials get too wet when you sweat, so choose a wicking and fast drying set of long underwear. The second layer should be clothing items that trap warm air and keep it close to you. Fleece vests or jackets are great options for a second layer. The third layer for skiing is a pair of ski pants and a sturdy ski jacket. They should be waterproof to prevent melting snow from weighing you down. Since skiing requires lots of movement, a ski jacket should fit closely but not restrict movement.

You’ll be much better off using skiing equipment that fits you correctly. Buy backcountry gear at a store that has staff that will help you find the right equipment in the right size. Ask them about freeride gear that can adapt to any type of skiing. Sometimes you really have to spend the extra money to rent any gear that you need instead of borrowing someone else’s equipment.

The Best Way to Stay Safe While Skiing in the Backcountry
There is no way around it; Skiing alone can be very dangerous. Snow, cold wind, and injury are all things that can ruin a day on the mountain. Take a friend out into the backcountry and you’ll both enjoy the fresh powder even more.

Someone else should know where you’ll be skiing and what runs you’re taking. If something happens, they will know where to find you and bring help. Stay in touch with a set of outdoor walkie-talkies while you’re in the backcountry with a group. Getting separated in the wilderness can mean serious problems and you don’t want your friends risking their necks to search for you.

New skiers always want to go big. Be smart. Definitely know what types of slopes and runs you belong on. A backcountry run that scares you probably isn’t a good choice. Live to challenge another day. A green circle, blue square, black diamond will indicate the skill levels required to safely enjoy the slope. Test yourself, but do it with a skilled partner who knows what they’re doing.

Take breaks to catch your breath and get some food. Because of the colder winter temperatures, many skiers can’t tell they are sweating and tired. Take time between each run to stay hydrated with water or sports drink and fueled up with food that serves up big calories.

Cold Weather Survival
If you want to check out the wilderness and push the limits of the mountain, there is no better way than backcountry skiing. The runs are fast and the skies are clear but even then skiers can overlook crucial danger signs.

Know the signs of a possible avalanche. IF you’re buried in an avalanche, you have no more than 5 minutes before serious danger sets in. Recent avalanches in the area, recent heavy snow or rain, and windblown snow drifts could mean that an avalanche may happen in the area. Avoid trails or runs that seem like they have unsteady snow.

Slow speech, slurred words, sleepiness, and unstable emotions could be signs of Hypothermia. This can happen because of extended exposure to the cold. If this happens, get the person indoors if possible.  Restore warmth slowly. Remove any wet clothing and replace it with blankets and dry clothes. Give the person warm liquids to increase their body temperature.

Skiing is the best way to soak up all that fresh snowfall. Keep pushing limits and crushing snow. The mountain awaits.

The winter season brings challenges for travel as well as weather that can wreak havoc. There are survival strategies that are unique to the ice, snow, and freezing temperatures. Ice storms can cause power outages that can last for days, traveling on roadways is a hazardous gamble, and unpredictable weather patterns require quick responses.

With all of the chaos that winter can bring, you can’t be over-prepared for emergency survival. Holidays mean that many people do lots of traveling in their cars and trucks. The nasty weather also means that many people choose to drive to places in their communities where they would normally walk or bike in more pleasant weather. Your car is the first place to equip when it comes to preparing for winter survival.

Items You Can’t Live Without
First things first, you’ll need to have a shovel in your car. Removing snow and ice from under wheels can be a crucial first step in removing your car from a precarious situation. Models of foldable shovels are out there to save space in your car, so there’s no excuse. After you’ve done your best to dig out of the snow, you’ll need a few blankets or sleeping bags on hand to stay warm. Running your vehicle too much not only uses up valuable gas, but can be hazardous if your exhaust is trapped in the snow as well. Be sure you can stay warm and still only run your car’s heat for maybe ten minutes per hour.

Staying warm requires body energy and heat, and that doesn’t happen without water and food. Good snacks to consider are items that aren’t perishable and will stay in your car for the winter without spoiling. Candy bars and protein energy bars are compact sources of quick energy that will be useful. Having clean water on hand is an undeniable need for winter survival.

Stay Alive with These Strategies
As you drive, keep your approximate location in mind. Note road signs you pass and know what direction you’re headed. If a call to 911 or to family needs to be made, it will help a lot to be able to give them your location. Don’t drive blind, know where you are at all times or at least how you there.

Along the same lines, if you’re headed out on the road in the winter be sure to let someone know where you’re going and about what route you’ll be taking. If someone hasn’t heard from you in a while or has been expecting you and you haven’t shown up, they’ll know when you left and may be able to find you on your route.

When you’re stranded in the car and waiting for help to arrive, keep in mind your warmth and safety. Avoid exerting yourself too much if you’re trying to dig your car out or walking for help. Winter weather is unpredictable and you don’t want to get caught too far from your vehicle. Take frequent breaks if you are trying to dig out or repair your car to prevent too much sweat or dehydration.

Keep these strategies in mind when you travel this winter and increase your odds of arriving at those holiday parties safe and warm. Preparing doesn’t require too much effort and can have big payoffs in case of a winter emergency.