“A man in the cold is not necessarily a cold man.”– Mike Tipton.
Tyson S. was a 30-year-old man from Utah who moved to a remote part of Alaska.
He had been living alone after purchasing his cabin. His nearest neighbor was over 20 miles away.
Beautiful mountains, rivers, and lakes separated Tyson from civilization.
Yet, one mistake almost cost him his life.
Tyson told police that his cabin had a very old stove. One evening, he put a big piece of cardboard in the stove to start a fire.
But, the stove sent a spark up the chimney, which landed on the roof.
A few hours later, Tyson noticed something dripping from the roof of his cabin.
He went outside to investigate and realized the entire roof was on fire.
Tyson was only wearing boots with no socks, long johns, and a wool sweater.
He ran back inside his cabin and grabbed his coat, sleeping bag, and rifle. He rushed back outside and watched as the whole cabin burned.
Next, he heard explosions as the fire reached his propane tank.
After the fire burned out Tyson salvaged what he could.
He found some cans of food and calculated that he had enough to survive about 30 days.
He slept in a snow cave for the first few nights before making a shelter out of tarps and wood.
Tyson decided if someone was going to find him it would most likely be his air service.
So, he created a path from his home to the nearby lake where the plane was likely to land.
Next, he stamped out S.O.S in the snow.
He added ashes to make it black so it would be easier to see from the air. Each time it snowed he would remake the S.O.S.
For over 20 days Tyson survived in subzero temperatures. He had made a makeshift shelter and was eating canned food.
Eventually, an Alaska State Police helicopter spotted his S.O.S.
Tyson is lucky to be alive.
He says he had no survival training but he knew how to adapt and improvise.
Considering the cold weather the U.S. has experienced this winter, here are a few ways to help you stay warm when it matters most.
You never want to let the cold take over your body. When you are out in the elements one of the keys to survival is to keep moving.
If you notice your fingers are getting cold start to use them. If your toes are freezing start wiggling them to keep the blood flowing.
Don’t sit down or stop to rest because you may not get moving again.
When we are cold our bodies reduce blood flow through a process called vasoconstriction.
Your hands and feet will likely get cold before the rest of your body as it tries to keep its core temperature.
Our brains are much better at adapting to the cold than dealing with being too hot.
This is because when our bodies are in survival mode they try to keep organs functioning, including the brain.
Feed your body:
The U.S. military says that soldiers operating in cold weather should consume between 4,500 to 6,000 calories a day.
A constant calorie intake is important for staying warm.
So, if you are out in the cold it is best to eat small amounts throughout the day. You should eat snacks between meals.
In addition, you should have 3.5 to 5 quarts of water.
When you think of cold weather you likely don’t think about getting dehydrated.
But, in subzero temperatures, there is usually little moisture in the air.
And when humans exhale, they lose fluid from their lungs. This is why you can see your breath in the air on a cold night.
The cold can also affect the sensation of water loss and thirst.
So many people don’t drink anywhere close to enough water when they are out in the cold.
Remember, if you are doing any sort of activity in the cold weather drink water – even if you aren’t thirsty – to stay hydrated.
Cover your body:
In cold weather, there are three keys to your clothing.
You want clothes that will insulate, ventilate, and protect you from the wind.
The way to achieve this is by layering your clothing.
U.S. soldiers who are assigned to cold weather operations are issued a system of clothing that includes:
A lightweight undershirt and underwear, mid-weight shirt and underwear, fleece jacket, wind jacket, soft-shell jacket and trousers, extreme cold/wet-weather jacket and trousers, and extreme cold-weather parka and trousers.
Managing your body heat is critical to cold weather survival.
You need to know when to remove clothing or add more layers.
If you are doing any sort of activity in the cold you need to ventilate your body by reducing insulation.
Surviving when you are cut off from any sort of help is difficult under normal conditions.
But cold weather adds a whole other element that you should be prepared for.