Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blizzard Survival

Winter Storms

Winter is almost here, so it’s time to make sure that you have the basics for winter survival in your home and car, and more importantly, it’s time to make sure that you understand something about winter storms and how to survive them.

The Schoolchildren’s Blizzard of 1888

On January 12, 1888, arctic air hurled down from Canada and smashed across the Plains from Montana to Texas.  It had been unseasonably warm the day before, and temperatures rapidly dropped by more than 40 degrees in many areas.  Some locations reported drops of almost 100 degrees in less than 24 hours.  

The blizzard also brought heavy snows and sustained high winds.  Visibility was reduced to zero.  The blizzard hit just as teachers, many of them newly arrived from back East, were letting their students out for the day.  Unfamiliar with the power of these storms, many of the teachers let their students leave for home, with tragic consequences.  In total, 235 people died in the Schoolchildren’s Blizzard, many of them school kids on their way home and the parents who went out to search for them.

Although there were many tragic deaths, there were also numerous examples of how to survive a winter storm.  One teacher who understood what was happening kept his 17 students at the school overnight, where they rode out the storm in safety, burning stockpiled firewood to keep warm.  The parents waited until the next morning when the storm died back to travel to the school and pick up the children.  These people were all experienced plainsmen, who understood that to be caught out in the open in a blizzard is a really good way to die in a hurry.  

Blizzard Survival Tips

 The wind and cold can drop your core body temperature to levels of dead quickly, so if you are caught outside in a winter storm, go to shelter immediately.  Remember, shelter is a relative term.  If you can’t get inside a building with a nice fire and hot chocolate, improvise and improve your situation the best you can.  Trees make an excellent windbreak.  If the snow is deep, dig down into it and get in the hole.  A snow cave can make an excellent shelter to ride out the storm in.

  If you are stuck in your car, stay in it until the storm passes.  If you still have fuel, run the car occasionally to aid a little heat.  While running the engine, bring your windows down a couple of inches to allow fresh air in, so you don’t kill yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Keeping the tailpipe clear of snow if you are able is a really good preventative measure to keep carbon monoxide levels from reaching dead.

Those are a few tips and suggestions for winter storm survival.  We’re really interested in what Rally Nation has to say on the subject, so please jump in with your winter storm survival tips and preparedness ideas.   


  1. After you find a shelter/windbreak, poncho/woobie/blanket plus candle lantern underneath will keep your core temp up.

    1. Excellent points. A great way to start your survival and preparedness journey is to get a good used Army poncho, poncho liner, and wool blanket. It's old school, but I'm a big believer in the old school. Thanks for the great comment.