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15 September 2011

ECARES News September 2011

Surviving the cold!

While spring time is upon us, that does not necessarily mean that the cold weather is over. In September 2009 three hikers lost their lives when they were caught in a snowstorm on the Swartberg Hiking Trail near Oudshoorn.

Many PEARS members take part in providing communications for outdoor events such as motor rallies, bicycle races, mountain marathons etc. During the events these members are also vulnerable to the weather conditions. More people die of the cold in the outdoors than they do of thirst or other causes.

While busy with outdoor events, we should try to identify objects of shelter even if we don’t think that the weather is going to turn bad. Shelter could be in vehicles, farm houses, sheds, rocky overhangs, caves or large trees. We can also discuss the matter with other members in our team and formulate a plan of action to take, should the necessity arise.

There may be competitors and spectators on the trail, so we need to think about their well being too. With a plan of action, one can prevent a bad situation from becoming a disaster. The ability to make a fire is also important in a cold situation.

Body heat can be preserved by several people huddling together.
Some of the most useful items for cold weather would be:

  • Gloves. 
  • Woollen cap or balaclava.
  • Brightly coloured rain suit.
  • Cigarette lighter and something that burns easily to start a fire. 
  • Survival blanket (space blanket). Additional T shirts.
  • Towel. 
  • Warm jacket with hood.
  • Water resistant boots. 
  • Spare socks - can be worn on the hands of a person who does not have gloves.
  • Municipal refuse bags - can be worn over the upper body by making holes for the head and arms.

The purpose of the above article is to inspire people to read up more about the subject of Outdoor Survival and to have a safe and enjoyable time outdoors.

Andrew ZS2G
ECARES Director