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

In December of 2016, a rash of winter weather swept across Oregon, bringing thick bouts of freezing rain and snow to Lane County. The ice piled onto roads, trees and power lines causing massive power outages and hazardous road conditions. Tens of thousands of people were without lights or heating and many didn’t have a way to leave their homes with trees and wires blocking off roads.

Search and Rescue operations center.

To help out, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office set up a special call center to service people who were going days and in some cases a week without any power or access to essentials. Search and Rescue members and reserve deputies were tasked with helping people who were low on supplies or weren’t able to safely restock. We would also clear debris from the roads we traveled on to make them passable.

Partially blocked roads following the storm















There are several things I gained from what I saw on these assignments that are pertinent for everyone.

  • Three days of supplies is a MINIMUM
    • You could be without power for days if not weeks depending on the type of area that you live in and what kind of disaster has hit. Consider your need for heating, power, food, water, electronics and medical supplies. You should have a secondary source of heat for your home in case of cold conditions outside. Otherwise, make sure you have warm clothing to help you stay comfortable. You will also need food and water for an extended period of time. You can often buy dry packaged meals and non perishable items wholesale.
  • Keep important phone numbers close.
    • Who you gonna call? Not the Ghost Busters. Have numbers for Police/Fire dispatch, utility companies and close friends and family written down and easily accessible.
  • Follow your local news sources and government social media and web pages.
    • When disaster strikes, these sources will list the locations of shelters and other hubs for people who need assistance. Knowing where these are can help when your home runs out of supplies, or if you can’t return home when a disaster cuts off means of transportation.
  • Have a means to clear your area.
    • Severe weather means falling trees and other debris. Several of the roads I traveled while making supply drops had branches or trees completely or partially blocking the way and needed a chainsaw to clear out. Of course, many people will think that public works crews will get rid of the problem. But in a disaster, emergency and utility crews will have a prioritized task list in their response, and your personal property may not be high on the list. Also, are responsible for clearing debris from your personal property. You may need to help your neighborhood by clearing out your street to help you and your neighbors travel. You never know how long it will be before crews are able to start servicing your area. A shovel should be the start of your list of tools along with a handsaw. If you live in an area with large trees, a chainsaw and extra fuel should also be a consideration.
  • Have a plan for your family.
    • Schools will often be closed or delayed after severe weather. What are your kids going to do if they don’t have class and the power is out? There’s a chance that you will still need to go to work if school is cancelled.
  • Prep your vehicle
    • Your car needs to be ready for the weather. Make sure you have the tires you need to get through the rough seasons. An ice scraper should be within reach to clear your windshield and windows. You should also have a go bag with supplies to make it home if you’re vehicle is rendered in operable. You should also keep a blanket in case you’re snowed in but don’t want to leave the protection of your car.
    • In snow, keep chains and a bag of cat litter or grave; in your car at all times even when you think you won’t need it.
The Search and Rescue truck

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.

A day hike nearly turned deadly for an Idaho man who fell down an icy slope on Indian Mountain in Southeast Idaho.

According the the Idaho State Journal, the hiker has been identified as Gary Fitzgerald Jr. He was hiking alone on March 2 when he fell about 200 feet down the icy slope. He says his backpack helped slow him down as he fell down the slope.

“My backpack is what actually stopped me from going all the way down,” Fitzgerald said.

He sustained knee and shoulder injuries during the fall.

“I had a lot of pain in my knee and I was just trying to figure out what to do next,” he said.

Thankfully, he was within cell phone range and was able to call 911.

However, he was trapped on the slope for nearly five hours before rescuers were able to get to him. Meanwhile, the temperature was dropping quickly and Fitzgerald did what he could to stay alive.

“I knew it was going to take a while for them to get to me,” Fitzgerald stated. “I hunkered down by a bush and did what I could to make a small fire.”

Due to the rugged terrain, the Portneuf Medical Center helicopter was unable to land on the ridge. The pilot circled around and made the decision to land below Fitzgerald.

Members of the Search and Rescue team used 4-wheelers to get close to Fitzgerald, but they still had to hike for half an hour to reach him. It was close to 9 p.m. when the rescuers finally got to him. According to the Idaho State Journal, the rescuers used a stretcher and ropes to lower Fitzgerald to the waiting helicopter.

Fitzgerald was airlifted to the Portneuf Medical Center, where he was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Rescuers say he would have likely frozen to death if he didn’t have cell phone reception.

The situation could have turned out much differently for Fitzgerald, and he is lucky to be alive.

His story serves as a reminder that it is important to be prepared for the unexpected, even if you’re just going on a short day hike.

Before you head out on a hike, familiarize yourself with the area. It is easy to get disoriented in the wilderness, especially if you take a tumble down a slope and you’re unable to find your way back to the trail. Carry a GPS, map and/or compass to help you get your bearings if you get lost.

Let your friends or family members know where you’re planning to hike and how long you’ll be gone. Pack a survival kit that includes a knife, fire-starting tools, an emergency blanket, a first aid kit and a signal mirror. These basic supplies will provide the tools necessary to help you survive if you’re faced with unexpected circumstances.

Photo credit: skoeber via / CC BY-NC-SA

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.


Concealed carry becomes a little more strategic during the winter season. All spring, summer, and fall season was a far simpler when you wore less clothing and were ready for anything in the event you needed to rapidly reach for your weapon.

The Distraction of Winter Weather
Cumbersome clothing and weather becomes a slight obstacle in defending yourself during winter. Using umbrellas, being covered in hoods, and wrapping yourself up tightly while dashing from a building to your car quickly compromises your alertness to danger. This is all the result of sleet, rain, ice, and snow.

When you’re trying to keep yourself balanced on ice or avoiding stepping into water puddles, you’re mind is as much on trying to get from point A to B as it is for your protection.

Maintain a sense of peripheral vision at all times. With hoods and other articles of winter gear that blocks your view, it puts you in a vulnerable position.

Plan Ahead for Cold Weather
How many times do you catch yourself putting your hands in your coat pockets? This is another thing working against you in event that someone confronts you unexpectedly. While it’s normal to place your hands in your pockets in freezing temperatures, it’s not a safe thing to do carrying concealed. You need your hands free to draw your handgun quickly.

You may want to consider getting gloves that aren’t too bulky when it comes to retrieving your firearm and being ready to shoot. Note that you must be efficient in wearing the exact same gloves you’ve mastered shooting before getting to this point.

Practice Makes Perfect
If you haven’t practiced drawing your gun with all the additional clothing on for winter before the season began, you may want to start immediately. Over the summer, you probably had on just a t-shirt. You’d lift your shirt to expose the firearm then draw it from the holster.

Now a winter jacket is added to the mix and your draw will change somewhat. For instance, if the jacket is unzipped, the motion is to sweep it to the side and away from your gun before lifting up your shirt to access it. This is an additional step, which means practicing during the winter months is vital.

Taking these preventative steps will help you a lot in the safety department. The takeaway is to not get distracted with winter clothing blocking your view and know how to maneuver within your attire safely to draw a firearm.

Preparing for unexpected power outages during winter is important so you’ll be better prepared for those long, cold hours of going without the modern conveniences we’ve all grown accustomed to.

What should you do to better equip yourself in the event that your electricity suddenly goes out?

Stock your home with essentials throughout the whole winter because it’s not just power outages that are likely to happen this time of year. Ice storms, heavy winds, or blizzards emerge as well.

It’s a good idea to have what you need when these circumstances arise. The main things you need to have around is extra food and water. Think of items you can eat that doesn’t require heating, like peanut butter, nuts, granola bars, chips, etc.

Fill at least a few 1 gallon containers full of water so that you have this to keep you and your family hydrated.

Have several flashlights and batteries on hand. Candles pose the threat of fire and aren’t the best source of extra supplies for emergency preparedness. Part of survival is having things that will last …  and candles won’t last that long.

If you don’t have a battery-powered radio, purchase one. When access to a television isn’t an option, a small radio that will keep you informed is a good alternative. You can be apprised of any warnings, evacuation orders, or status updates on power outages.

Lastly, to prepare for an unexpected power outage, buy a car cell phone charger. It’s vital to keep phone fully charged. The phone can be charged by using the cigarette lighter or auxiliary plug in your car as a supplement source of power. Another good tip is to consider having an alternate landline phone for your home, which tends to be unaffected during power outages.

Follow these main tips in emergency preparedness and you’ll be far more comfortable while waiting for the electricity to come back on!

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.