Cold Weather Survival Tips

Cold Weather Survival Tips
Cold weather survival is considered one of the most difficult survival situations. With the elements against you it is easy to get lost or stranded in the wilderness and difficult to get help. However, knowing exactly how to deal with Mother Nature can help you to stay calm and do what it takes to survive in the great outdoors.

Staying Warm

The most crucial aspect of cold weather survival is keeping a high core body temperature. This can be accomplished in several ways; by building a shelter, wearing clothing properly, starting a fire and staying mobile. To build a shelter in the cold you can dig into the snow and cover the opening with branches. It is also possible to create a lean-to by supporting many sticks and branches on trees to create an enclosure. Put on several layers of clothing that allow for a small air gap between the body and the clothing. It is also crucial to keep your clothing dry and move continuously to prevent frostbite in the hands, face and feet.


To be prepared for an emergency situation it is always wise to carry the items needed to start a fire. In a cold weather situation a fire can burn in or near your shelter, and it has many uses. Start the fire using matches, a lighter or a glass face, like a magnifying glass, to amplify the sun's heat. Start by burning tinder like pine needles, pocket lint or dry lichen and move up onto larger items until the fire is blazing. Keep the fire well ventilated for optimal burn length.


Since cold weather survival is dependent on staying hidden in a shelter, signaling becomes important to being found. Leave a clear message written in the terrain with extra clothing, branches or items from the car. Start three fires in a triangle or line to indicate duress. Start a car tire on fire to create a large plume of black smoke. Carry a whistle to help people locate you and to help ward off any hungry creatures that may be lurking.


Finding water is pivotal to any survival situation. Ideally, the freshest water can be found from flowing rivers. However, cold water can cool off the body and it forces the body to work harder using precious energy. Try to heat all water to body temperature, or slightly above, before drinking to raise core body heat. It is also possible to melt snow for water, but do not eat snow directly in times of thirst as this can actually dehydrate you further.


Bugs, mammals, worms, birds, berries, reptiles and other edible plants are all feasible food options for cold weather survival. Bugs and worms are easily found in any location and boast very high protein levels. Since bugs can often be found by digging around your shelter, this is a likely option. If you can trap or shoot a larger animal, this may provide more than one meal. However, to broaden your options, study local edible plants before embarking into the wilderness.

Article Written By Heather Rutherford

Heather Rutherford has enjoyed writing professionally since 2004. Her articles have appeared in,,, and On-the-News. She also works intimately with several small businesses to prepare business plans and other marketing materials. Rutherford is seeking an Associate of Arts in business from North Idaho College.

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