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
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.
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)
twine(This has come in handy MANY times!)
collapsible camp shovel
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)
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!