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Grant’s Getaways: Staying safe in snow

Grant's Getaways: Staying safe in snow
Written by Publishing Team

Grant is visiting snow country in Oregon this week to join experts who offer tips and tactics for staying safe in the snow and how to make the most of bad situations.

Portland, OR. While Oregon is blessed with a mild climate most of the year, winters can turn from sublime to very dangerous.

Jim Peters is a survival supporter – a search and rescue volunteer for nearly 25 years – who said the folks who found him had one thing in common. They forgot to ask “what if”?

“What if I twist my ankle? What if I have to stay outside all night? What if I need shelter or a way to make a warm fire? Do I know how to do that in the cold?”

Peters added that the answers require preparing for the worst that Mother Nature has to offer, even if it’s just a day of family fun in the snow.

RELATED: Grant’s Getaways: Artist Captures Breathtaking Wildlife Scenes in Eastern Oregon

For example, do you know how to look for simple shelter? Peters acted quickly when I put him to the test. He surveyed trees, specifically tree wells created by deep snow.

“Over there, look at that little natural cave over there,” he said, pointing to a nearby spruce with its branches bent by the weight of the fresh snow. “You can crawl right there and you can rest there the way it is.”

A tree with low bent boughs keeps out snow from above and can protect you from winds that drain energy, Peters said.

“Plus, there are a lot of needles here on the floor. Really thick and spongy. Excellent for sleeping and I wouldn’t sleep in the snow!”

He pulled a lightweight piece of cloth from inside his daypack, opened it and laid it on the floor.

“This will keep me from getting wet and if there’s a bit of wind coming in here, that will help prevent it as well.”

Peters said the right clothes are essential to staying warm, too. I insist you never wear cotton because it won’t wick away moisture, but you should rely on a polypropylene or other synthetic base layer.

“It has a wicking feature around it that pulls moisture away from the skin and into your insulating layer which is why I use thicker fleece.”

Peters wears a waterproof wrap over the fleece because it also keeps out the wind. He added that you should not forget the hat! If your head is bare, up to half of your body heat can escape.

“Keeping your ears covered is just as important as your fingers and toes because when one catches a cold, it starts to affect your attitude. You want to have a positive mental attitude.”

Attitude means attention to preparation and this equals energy conservation.

Peters said, “You don’t want to spend a lot of time building something that takes a lot of effort and effort. You want to save your energy as much as possible. Find something that Mother Nature has already started. That’s the way to go.”

Sharon Ward is another search volunteer who partners with rescue dogs to find people who get lost in the great outdoors.

She said that when people head to Snow Country, anything can happen.

“We often get someone who’s out for a fun day in the woods and it’s snowing a foot or two and they can’t drive. They’re stuck!”

And when the sun goes down, the stumbles take on a whole new dimension.

“If it’s dark, there are many dangers,” Ward said. “You could fall into a stream, or fall off a ledge. We’ve had people walk straight out of the hills at night, so at night it’s very dangerous to travel in the woods.”

Take a firm believer in carrying the necessities to help you get through a night or two; Pack things away in your rig like water in a lightweight, shatter-resistant plastic or aluminum container.

She added that you should carry food, even if it is simple such as nuts, raisins or other foods rich in energy.

Don’t forget to whistle for help, a flashlight or flashlight with spare batteries, a knife and some heat source.

“Always bring hand warmers in the winter,” Ward said. “It’s cool and inexpensive and you can even put it in your shoes or gloves to keep you warm.”

Always carry a small first aid kit and keep everything in a small daypack or fan pack stowed away in the car. If you leave the car for a walk, you can take your basic needs with you.

If you do these little things, you’ll be well on your way to saving your time if circumstances change and you get into trouble.

Search and rescue experts agree that it’s the little things added together that make the biggest difference in your ability to survive an unexpected turn of events.

You should also check the weather and make sure of the forecast. Leave a note with someone, a friend or family member, stating where you are going and when you expect to return. Pack some survival essentials and keep them in your car in either a daypack or fanny pack.

All of this might just help you in case of an emergency in Oregon’s great outdoors.

Be sure to follow my Oregon adventures on the new Grant’s Getaways Podcast. Each part is a storytelling session where I tell behind-the-scenes stories from four decades of travel and television reporting.

You can also learn more about many of my favorite travels and adventures in Oregon in the Grant’s Getaways book series, including:

“Grants Getaways I” Photography by Steve Terrell

“Grant’s Getaways II” Photography by Steve Terrell

“Grant’s Getaways: 101 Oregon Adventures,” Photo by Jeff Castner

“Grant Vacations: A Guide to Watching Oregon’s Wildlife,” Photograph by Jeff Castner

“Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids” Photography by Jeff Castner

The group offers hundreds of outdoor activities throughout Oregon and promises to engage a child of any age.

My next book, “Grant’s Getaways: Other 101 Oregon Adventures,” will be out in November.

He watches: Grant’s Getaways YouTube Playlist

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