Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Surviving Winter Travel

I've been reading a lot about the Kim family tragedy. Most of what happened to them was not their fault. The road map the Kim's used, labeled the road they were on as a major thoroughfare to the ocean. Many other's found themselves in trouble on the same road as a result of faulty road maps.

At least two other motorists have died in the last 12 years after getting stranded off Bear Camp Road. In 2002, a 60-year-old Arkansas man died three miles from where his Jeep got bogged down in a snowdrift; he was trying to hike to safety. And in 1995, a Montana man died of starvation in his pickup as the vehicle lay stranded in a snowdrift. For as many as nine weeks, authorities said at the time, he had sat in the cab of the truck, checking off the days of the calendar in his day planner and writing stacks of letters to his sons, his fiancee and his boss. Just last spring, a family of six got lost in four feet of snow, also trying to drive to the coast. They sat two weeks until the parents hiked out and all were rescued.

Closing the side roads are one answer, but gates would block access for logging and mining. Bear Camp Road HAD been gated, but someone cut the lock off and opened the gate. I wonder how that person feels NOW? Instead some locals say search and rescue in the area needs beefing up and to be more aggressive. Local resident, Bruce Crawford, said: "I feel personally that these people should have been found, he should never have had to get out of his car and start walking. They said they searched every road. How come he wasn't found? They missed a road."

The private citizen, who found Katie and the girls with his helicopter, knew the history of Bear Camp Road, and felt certain that the Kims were stranded there. Why didn't the "official" search team check that road out first?

In my opinion, the Kim family only made 2 fatal mistakes. Their first mistake was not calling in. My parents drummed this into my head from an early age. Always have someone who will come looking for you, or call the authorities, if you don't show up or call by a designated time! The Kims were stranded for 2 days, before anybody missed them. Starting the search 2 days earlier would probably have saved James Kim's life.

Their second mistake was not being prepared for winter travel. Who would think that they could be stranded, in the snow and cold, for over a week? It could happen to ANY of us in less than a heartbeat. We all need to know how to survive, on our own, in whatever environment we're traveling through. I have no clue how to survive a desert environment, but you can bet your ass that if I'm traveling through the southwest, I WILL know what I'll need to keep my family alive in case of emergency.

The biggest threat to survival in cold weather is hypothermia. Most hypothermia cases develop in air temperatures between 30 and 50 degrees. Water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air. Stay dry = stay alive! Our heads are the greatest source of heat loss in our bodies. Wear a hat!

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia

a. Watch for the "-Umbles" - stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles which show changes in motor coordination and levels of consciousness

b. Mild Hypothermia - core temperature 98.6 - 96 degrees F Shivering - not under voluntary control Can't do complex motor functions (ice climbing or skiing) can still walk & talk Vasoconstriction to periphery

c. Moderate Hypothermia - core temperature 95 - 93 degrees F Dazed consciousness Loss of fine motor coordination - particularly in hands - can't zip up parka, due to restricted peripheral blood flow Slurred speech Violent shivering Irrational behavior - Paradoxical Undressing - person starts to take off clothing, unaware s/he is cold "I don't care attitude" - flattened affect

d. Severe Hypothermia - core temperature 92 - 86 degrees and below (immediately life threatening) Shivering occurs in waves, violent then pause, pauses get longer until shivering finally ceases - because the heat output from burning glycogen in the muscles is not sufficient to counteract the continually dropping core temperature, the body shuts down on shivering to conserve glucose Person falls to the ground, can't walk, curls up into a fetal position to conserve heat Muscle rigidity develops - because peripheral blood flow is reduced and due to lactic acid and CO2 buildup in the muscles Skin is pale Pupils dilate Pulse rate decreases at 90 degrees the body tries to move into hibernation, shutting down all peripheral blood flow and reducing breathing rate and heart rate. at 86 degrees the body is in a state of "metabolic icebox." The person looks dead but is still alive.

It is essential to keep a hypothermic person adequately hydrated and fueled.

a. Food types
Carbohydrates - 5 calories/gram - quickly released into blood stream for sudden brief heat surge - these are the best to use for quick energy intake especially for mild cases of hypothermia
Proteins - 5 calories/gram - slowly released - heat given off over a longer period
Fats - 9 calories/gram - slowly released but are good because they release heat over a long period, however, it takes more energy to break fats down into glucose - also takes more water to break down fats leading to increased fluid loss

b. Food intake Hot liquids - calories plus heat source Sugars (kindling) GORP - has both carbohydrates (sticks) and protiens/fats (logs)

c. Things to avoid
Alcohol - a vasodilator - increases peripheral heat loss
Caffeine - a diuretic - causes water loss increasing dehydration
Tobacco/nicotine - a vasoconstrictor, increases risk of frostbite

Add Heat
Fire or other external heat source. Body to body contact. Get into a sleeping bag, in dry clothing with a normothermic person in lightweight dry clothing .

Add Fuel & Fluids
Warm Sugar Water - for people in severe hypothermia, the stomach has shut down and will not digest solid food but can absorb water and sugars. Give a dilute mixture of warm water with sugar every 15 minutes. Dilute Jello™ works best since it is part sugar and part protein. This will be absorbed directly into the blood stream providing the necessary calories to allow the person to rewarm themselves. One box of Jello = 500 Kilocalories of heat energy. Do not give full strength Jello even in liquid form, it is too concentrated and will not be absorbed.

Add Heat
Heat can be applied to transfer heat to major arteries - at the neck for the carotid, at the armpits for the brachial, at the groin for the femoral, at the palms of the hands for the arterial arch. Chemical heat packs such as the Heat Wave™ provides 110 degrees F for 6-10 hours. Hot water bottles, warm rocks, towels, compresses For a severely hypothermic person, rescue breathing can increase oxygen and provide internal heat.

What should I do if I get stranded in cold weather?

Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers.

Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area.

Wrap your entire body, including your head, in extra clothing, blankets, or newspapers.

Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems.

Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe—this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer.

Do not eat unmelted snow because it will lower your body temperature.

Keep the vehicle clear of snow, including the top, so it can be spotted from the air. If stranded along a highway this will also keep snowplows from slamming into you.

Know where you are, so you can tell rescue personel on the phone.

Put out something bright or make something to tell people searching for you where you are. Make a flag using what you have, but Do Not Take Off Any Clothes to do so. Some suggestions are paper, money, hair ribbons, a strip from an orange garbage bag, etc. Spell the word "HELP" or "SOS" on the ground using rocks and sticks or make a large arrow with them, pointing to where you are. Do anything to attract attention!

Look Bigger For Searchers. If possible, your waiting place should be near an open space. When you hear someone coming, move to the middle of the clearing and call. Do Not Run in the direction of the noise. If it is an aircraft you heard, lie down so the pilot has a bigger target to look at. Then wave with both your arms and legs, like making an angel in the snow. Stand up immediately after the aircraft has passed, as the ground can be very cold.

If you're stranded in a wooded area, light a fire. This serves 3 purposes; it will prevent panic by keeping you busy, it will signal rescuers, and it keeps you warm. Always carry at least 2 methods of fire-starting with you. I always have a Zippo windproof lighter, strike anywhere kitchen matches, and flares. I also carry a waterproof container with vaseline coated cotton balls. These are a great firestarter.

Practice firemaking at home, so that you're proficient at it. Properly laying a fire is an artform; learn it! I taught both of our kids this life-saving skill before they were teens. Make sure you have plenty of wood before you waste a match. Start small and work your way up to larger bits of wood. Tiny dead pine branches, hanging from the tree, are amazing kindling.

The following items are ALWAYS in our vehicle:

cell phone with car charger (If stranded, charge your phone during the 10 min/hour that the vehicle is running)
flashlight(cold weather wreaks havoc on batteries. We recently bought a crank-up flashlight
first aid kit
small fire extinguisher(some states require this)
tool kit and jack(We also carry a board to put the jack on when changing a tire on soft ground)
pocket knife(In my purse, actually)
zippo lighter and foil wrapped strike anywhere kitchen matches(also in my purse)
small hatchet
twine(This has come in handy MANY times!)
collapsible camp shovel
tow rope
paper towels and toilet paper
brightly colored cloth to put on antenna as a distress signal
tarp(I carry 2-8x10 tarps that I got free with rebate at Menards. These have come in handy in many non-emergency situations. When folded, they take up virtually no space.)
empty bleach jug to carry water(You NEVER know when your radiator will fail! When the temperature is above freezing, we carry this jug full of water, for the dog. We also carry a cool-whip container for a dog dish)

During the winter I add the following items:
windshield scraper with brush
coffee can filled with salt
coffee can filled with clay cat litter
large pillar candle(can be burned in one of the coffee cans as a source of heat. The other coffee can, can be used to melt snow over a fire or the candle)
sleeping bag
high-calorie foods that will survive freezing temps (protein bars, nuts, beef jerky, etc.) Jello will now be part of my kit! Hershey bars, hot chocolate mix or dry milk...be creative.
Each vehicle has a spare hat and gloves on the back seat.
Chemical hand warmer packets(After reading articles on hypothermia, I added these to my list. They're compact, last forever, and are quite cheap during end-of-winter sales)
Space blankets for each person(Very compact and cost as little as $1)

Whenever we go ANYWHERE in the winter, I demand that everybody has a warm jacket, hat, mittens, and boots with them. In the case of style-conscious teens; you don't have to wear these items, but you WILL have them in the vehicle with you!

There's a lot more information out there on this subject. The more you learn, the safer you will be!


At 12/12/2006 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I'd make a boy scout joke, but this really isn't a laughing matter. I really need to add some things to my car - I currently have... CDs! And those funky cable thingies in case the battery dies.

At 12/12/2006 10:31 PM, Blogger Nancy Drew said...

Lifesaver of a post, tshsmom! I'm printing this one!

At 12/12/2006 11:48 PM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Thank you tshsmom - you are correct. I have been meaning to get a bunch of stuff together for survival situations and haven't done it yet. So important!

At 12/13/2006 1:40 AM, Blogger SME said...

Last year I would've said this post wasn't all that necessary, but I can't BELIEVE how many people are getting lost and/or snowbound in their vehicles this year. It's crazy!

At 12/13/2006 6:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I agree even here on the highways. Its terrible. J has seen so many stranded empty cars its not funny. Either by people getting picked up or stranded because there cars failed to go any further.

I see we need to get some stuff for our road trip in March. We alwys bring his work cell phone with us and a WI phone book where if we run into trouble he can call Pomps Tire service anywhere. What I think we need to do is find out exactly where these places are and get numbers to call. But I do agree very excellent post mom. LOL!!!

Well I will end my comment here. Yes very good again. I cant print this because our printer isnt working right now but I might come back in later and write down a few things.

At 12/13/2006 8:50 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I'm with European... I felt like cracking a joke about survival gear for a trip to the big city, but I can't just yet [saving it up in my head for later].

Really the thing that pisses me off the most about the whole tragedy is that vandal who opened the gate. Seriously - I wish they could catch the bastard.

Nice post. Stuff I never would have thought of. If we ever do road trip, I'll have to make sure to make my checklist... ;)

At 12/13/2006 10:08 AM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

Thanks! I always thought I was over-prepared, now I know better. Your post provided a great deal of info I didn't already know. Thanks again for posting it.

At 12/13/2006 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

work here in western Canada, A mere 7 kilometers in the city, I always dress like I'm going to have to walk that distance and never rely 100% on my Korean car.-40 C windchill just a few weeks ago. When I walk through the city parks. (bigger than NY central park) I not only dress for the occasion, but I bring along a first aid kit, matches, knife, kinder, water, blow whistle...no cell phone) and I leave note to sme where I'm travelling. Okay in the city may seem odd to most, and Ive never had a real emergency for myself, but I have come to help and aid of others in the city's river valley. Last summer on a warm night a young man got lost after the Canada day fireworks and was found dead days later. A brilliant "A" student, but not prepared to deal with the outdoor elements in the city parks.

At 12/13/2006 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vancouver Voyeur said...
Thanks! I always thought I was over-prepared, now I know better.

Especially in western BC this winter, I hear that you've had some awful weather there lately...

At 12/13/2006 2:45 PM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

Scrubs and Shines, I'm not actually in Vancouver, BC (though I wish I were). I'm a voyeur of the city I love. I actually live on the eastern U.S. seaboard. Boring! :-)

At 12/13/2006 3:19 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Euro, remember, the Kims lived in CA too. When you leave town, pack appropriately. If YOU were missing, I'd have to bring my 4x4 packed with emergency supplies, to join in the search!

ND, YOU, young lady, need to keep a warm winter jacket in your car! You don't have to wear it, just have it available.

Monica, I had a feeling that you were the prepared type. ;)
I didn't take this stuff too seriously...until I had KIDS. Their safety is all that matters.

SME, I don't worry about you anymore. SS is ALWAYS prepared for emergencies!

Tweets, I'll be checking your trunk when you get here! Your daughter's lives could depend on your preparations. There's also a lot of areas, between here and there, where cell phones don't work.

Laura, it actually can be useful to be knowledgeable about the cities we plan to visit.
My boss talked to a friend that lives in NYC, before her visit there. The friend gave her a LOT of useful tips.
I'm looking forward to reading your "Chicago Survival Guide". I LOVE your humor!

VV, I found a few things I didn't know either, like the jello thing. I kind of went overboard with the info, but you never know who this might help.

SS, when we go camping together, I don't think there's any emergency that you and I couldn't handle. You and I are ALWAYS prepared!! Just another thing I love about you! Besides, you're impressed with my fire-making skills. ;)
BTW, I also have the flint and steel you gave me in my purse. That makes 4 fire-starting methods that I carry!
Just curious, how did that kid in the park die? They say that most hypothermia deaths occur between 50F-60F.

At 12/13/2006 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok. I will have snow pants and coats and blankets in the trunk. And a few other items. But with us staying at a motel J migh accidently bring everything in. LOL!!!! I will just have to wait and see about that one but I will make a list of supplies we need though to put away just incase. We came home with B when she was six months old and we got stranded up there at his mothers house for one night after we left my moms house. It sucks but we had to stay an extra night because it started snowing and we couldnt leave town. But hopefully by March we wont have to worry to much about the deep snow like now or January.

At 12/13/2006 4:37 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Tweets, our luck we'll get ALL our snow in March! We're sure not getting it now. :(
You guys played it smart by staying with J's mom. The best survival skill is not getting into a bad situation to start with. Always check the forecast!

At 12/14/2006 4:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cont. Story on missing Edmonton man last summer:

This web Site has the whole story.

The Folk Festival, not Canada day I thought first was when the young lad disappeared in the Edmonton River Valley. The story is bazaar although the police don't believe foul play...

Body of missing student found: family
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 | 2:31 PM MT
CBC News
Family members have confirmed that a body discovered Tuesday morning in Edmonton's North Saskatchewan River is that of a university student missing for nine days.

Robert Barrington Leigh, 20, disappeared Aug. 13 while visiting family in Edmonton.

At 12/14/2006 4:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


This story has a better ending, Baby was found frozen outside Edmonton home.

At 12/14/2006 4:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Try this one, last address I sent was missing parts.

At 12/14/2006 4:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 12/14/2006 4:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cant get the right address in the comments, So heres a cut and paste of the story...

Frozen toddler's recovery a 'miracle': doctors
Last Updated: Sunday, March 11, 2001 | 12:13 PM ET
CBC News
After an anxious weekend spent watching her come back to life, doctors in Edmonton now think a 13-month-old girl found frozen outside does not have brain damage.
But they won't know for several weeks if severe frostbite will force them to amputate limbs. The child remains in serious but stable condition.

"I think to be fair I'm using the miracle word now," said Dr. Allan De Caen, a pediatric intensive care specialist at Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital.

Dr. Allan De Caen

"It's not as if she's not going to have things that have to be dealt with and problems down the road, but this is an outcome we were all praying for and I think we've got it," he told a news conference on Sunday.

Girl wandered outside

The child, whose name has not been released, slipped into the backyard alone wearing only a diaper sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning. It was –20 C.

Continue Article

The back of the house

She ended up collapsing on the snow-covered lawn before being found by distraught family and friends.

The mother, who had been sleeping with the girl and a two-year-old sister in a bed at a friend's house, woke up and noticed the youngest child missing. It took about 45 minutes to find the toddler's body.

She was clinically dead, with no pulse and her toes frozen together. Her internal body temperature was 16 C, less than half of the body's normal level of 37 C.

Very few children have ever survived under those conditions, according to physicians.

Paramedics failed to revive her on the way to the hospital. It took a team of doctors and nurses about 90 minutes to get the child's heart beating again.

Saturday night, physicians said the girl was very lucky to be alive. But as her body slowly warmed, they were concerned about possible swelling around the brain. There was also worry over the risk of infection.

FROM FEB. 24, 2001: Frozen Alberta toddler clears first hurdle

On Sunday, doctors said the girl was recovering remarkably well. She does not appear to have any permanent brain damage, and the odds of losing her legs to frostbite appear greatly reduced.

"Basically, the approach right now is one of wait and see," De Caen said. "There is no intervention that is required" right now. The girl is being given morphine to help cope with the pain.

She's in a hospital crib full of stuffed animals. Although her limbs are bandaged, the girl does not have tubes in her body.

"I think she is very much aware of what is happening around her," De Caen told reporters. "She's making eye contact. I think she's acting like a normal one-year-old."

Edmonton police have already said no charges will be laid in the case, which investigators described as a "tremendously sad accident."

At 12/14/2006 6:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SS that is so sad. You know with two young children of my own that makes me cautious of they are up alone before J and I get out of bed on weekends. K is really good but we have gotten in the habit of bringing B to bed with us at about 7 am if we hear her up with K instead of letting her stay up alone if we want an extra hour of sleep.

It has to be years from now that I remember this one. It was on Rescue 911. The television series. This little girl wandered out of the house into the snow. It was terrible but she lived. I mean kids can do anytbing. But it depends on what you teach them. I mean really come on. Everytime we go someplace new I put a chain on the door like when we stay at a motel just incase. Or when we did stay at my parents house those few times I always brought a pack in play or something. I never slept with my children at some ones house because of the fear of them going outside by themselves.

But anyway this really makes a person really look at what happens when kids are left alone or parents sleep to deeply and dont know there kids are up and what they are up to or alchol induced sleep. or what ever. I have nothing wrong with some one going out and having a beer but when you have kids you have to know when to stop.
Sorry preaching arent I??!!!! Didnt mean to. You all know what I mean though. Thanks again SS for sharing this tragic but miraculous story with us. tweets.

At 12/14/2006 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very ill-prepared for any kind of road trip emergency. I'll have to take another look at your list. Thanks!

At 12/14/2006 6:20 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Notta, most people, who live in warmer climes, don't think of preparing for winter travel. I hope I can make a difference with this post! ;)

At 12/14/2006 9:35 PM, Blogger Gardenia said...

Well said! Remember too, always start out with a full tank of gas.

This was so, so terribly sad! And my mother doesn't want to move to a warm climate because of hurricanes...sheesh!

Out here the cell phone is useless outside of town. I hate driving in winter weather, hate it, it's so dangerous. I've been rear-ended in whiteouts, stuck after siding off the road, etc. etc. So I try very hard not to go anywhere in the winter if the weather report is bad. I did drive 125 miles to the airport once to make it home for Christmas - there were five highway deaths that day. It's a very serious, serious thing - thanks for the post!

The other day I was driving to another town - we were having 75 mph winds - no snow, but the wind was actually blowing the earth up and it was like a whiteout only brown - a dirtout! For about 40-50 miles. When I got home I couldn't breathe - yuck!

Well, going to pack. Will probably catch up with you in Florida unless it gets really hectic - if so, here's a MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!

At 12/15/2006 5:34 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

A very worthwhile post, TSHS. Coming from the mountains of BC, I particularly understand the need for such preparations before taking a road trip. I am not familiar with this Kim story, however; sounds nasty. You could give similar advice to cross country and back country skiers, too, though it always pisses me off that some people ignore signs and ski where they shouldn't, necessitating search parties and dramatic rescues.

At 12/15/2006 5:58 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

D, I can't believe that I forgot that one! Thanks! When traveling in the winter, we top off the tank whenever we can. If I'm stranded, I want that tank FULL!
We don't travel when the weather is bad either, unless it's a dire emergency.
Try to keep us posted while you're home. But if you can't, have a JOYOUS CHRISTMAS!!

Thanks WC, I MISSED you!!
Those idiot thrill-seekers piss me off too! Here, in the States, they've started charging them for their rescues.
Around here, we have idiots that like to see how far they can drive their snowmobiles over OPEN WATER! Then our rescue squad has to risk their lives to pull them out of the water.

At 12/19/2006 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was telling J about what we were talking about here and I told him you were going to check our trunk when we came home in March and he started laughing but I made a few good points to him and he stopped laughing alright. He agreed with me with everything I told him on your list. Sme is suppose to send me e-mail to help enable annonymous comments and stuff until beta gets straightened out. Love N.

At 12/19/2006 4:29 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Good for you Tweets! I'm proud of both of you.
Keeping those precious little girls safe is well worth hauling around a few extra items.


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