Winter Survival

How your Body Loses Heat

By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley


Staying warm can be a challenge in the outdoors if you’re not prepared or don’t have the proper knowledge of how the body loses heat. Exposure to the elements is the number two cause of death in a survival situation so this is a subject that should not be taken lightly. Exposure refers to problems caused by temperature. Exposure is not an injury but leads to injuries. Let’s discuss ways the body loses heat. Heat loss occurs in five ways:

RESPIRATION: This is the least preventable. Cold air inhaled into the lungs uses body heat to warm it. Heat is carried away when exhaled accounting for significant heat loss. You can reduce it to some degree by regulating physical activity that causes you to pant and inhale large quantities of cold air. I have found that something as simple as a bandanna worn over the nose and mouth helps warm the air somewhat that is going into your body and coming out of your body.

RADIATION: Blood vessels are constantly transporting heat from the central body to the skin where it radiates into the air. Heat loss through radiation is particularly rapid in the hands, feet, groin, armpits and head where blood vessels lie close to the surface. Adequate clothing and shelter preserves radiated heat.

EVAPORATION: Moisture evaporating from the skin draws heat from the body. Perspiration is the natural process for this. It is very necessary during hot weather but can be deadly during cold weather. Getting wet by other methods such as rain or falling into the water can be even more deadly, but all water has the same effect. Water draws heat away quicker than air. The only preventative is to stay dry. Moisture not only accelerates cooling through evaporation but also destroys the insulative ability of most clothing. Layer your clothing and strip off layers as you heat up or put on as you cool down. Perspiration is moisture. You don’t want to get soaked with perspiration if it can be avoided.

CONVECTION: Body heat can be lost by a breeze blowing across the body. This is a convection current. It quickly sweeps away warmth and chills the body. Windproof clothing and shelter helps prevent this heat loss method. Get out of the wind. Something as simple as digging an impression in snow, insulating the floor of the pit and, if possible, covering overhead to get you out of the wind could save your life. You’ve probably heard of the wind chill factor. For example on a 40 degree F day temperatures may seem comfortable, but couple that with a 20 mph wind and the chill factor is equal to that of a 20 degree F calm air day due to the heat loss created by the wind.

CONDUCTION: This is transfer of heat from one substance to another. Some things conduct heat more rapidly than other things. Metal, water and stone are some of these conductors. Insulation from good heat conductors prevents heat loss from conduction. Immersion in cold water is a very critical danger. 50 degree F air temperature may be comfortable to a person but if a person becomes immersed in only 50 degree F water he will die from loss of body heat in less than 3 hours. In 32 degree F water only 1-1/2 hours! It does take at least one hour, however, for a person’s core temperature to drop below 80 degrees F when a person’s heart stops, even in the coldest water. A person cannot die of hypothermia in 5-10 minutes as some believe. In cases cited where this claim has been made it has usually been from other complications: shock responses, such as hyperventilating, passing out and inhaling water and drowning or becoming stiff and unable to hold on to any life preserving object and drowning. So, at all costs, remain calm and still as possible if you fall into water. Swimming or other physical exertion increases the cooling rate by 35%. (Source: John S. Hayward Ph.D. in biology, U. of Victoria, B.C., Canada)



By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley

First of all don’t wait till it happens. Prepare ahead of time. I am amazed at how people scramble for supplies on the announcement of a winter storm and what do most get from the store? BREAD, MILK AND TOILET PAPER! Yes, that amazing phenomenon that causes people to empty the store shelves of bread, milk and toilet paper. Your planning approach should be two-fold, depending on where you live: Preparing in case you can’t drive anywhere and preparing your vehicle to drive in hazardous conditions. This is not an exhaustive list by no means but this should cover the basics.

To prepare your vehicle for driving in hazardous conditions:

  • Keep maintenance up to date at all times. Oil change, tires, antifreeze, etc.
  • Have tires that can handle driving in snow and ice or chains or both.
  • Kitty litter for putting under tires in case you get stuck
  • Small shovel.
  • Emergency kit to cover all passengers should you have to stay in car for a while, maybe even overnight.
    • Non-perishable foods that can be eaten without cooking and eating. High carb as well as high protein.
    • Road flares for signalling and fire making if needed.
    • Flashlights and batteries.
    • Blankets. Warm wool type blankets as well as the emergency foil blanket.
    • Drinking water.
    • Mess kit.

Supplies to keep in your house:

  • Nonperishable food items that you don’t have to cook.
  • Instant foods you can add hot water to easily.
  • An alternate source of heat. Wood fireplace, propane heater, etc.
  • An alternate way to cook. Camp stove, fireplace, etc.
  • Drinking water.
  • A reliable way to communicate. Wireless phones are OK till power goes out then they don’t work. A land line generally will still work when power is out because it supplies its own power through phone system but it is possible it could be out too. Ham radio or satellite phone is a good choice.
  • Battery powered or self generating radio for listening for weather and emergency.
  • A generator would be a plus but you can survive without one.

Prepping for Winter – The Shelter on Your Back

By Mike Douglas – The Maine Primitive Skills School

Each season brings unique beauty, great bounty and a special set of challenges. Between the time of the maple sap and ice out in Spring, to the insect hatches and movement of fish through our waterways in Summer, to the legendary hunting of Autumn, the three friendlier seasons offer sportsmen the bounty and beauty of the outdoors with risks that are worthy of respect, but often more forgiving than the harsh, often life threatening conditions that come wrapped in the beauty and solitude of our Maine Winter…..

Here are some techniques that might help you enjoy the rugged and pristine beauty that our winter landscape provides and to do so in a fashion that will improve your comfort and minimize your chances of running into real trouble….



Everyone be sure and click nominate for my friend Ron Foster. He is scouting for a book contract. He is a good survival/prepper writer. Great survival prepper fiction with a lot of knowledge to be learned from the pages of his stories. Just click on image for more information and to vote.


Works Great! I have used this method of cooking many times. I learned it from an old friend ‘Mountain’ Mel Deweese.

One of my favorite ways to cooks strips of meat (jerky). Also works great on fresh caught f
















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