Winter camping is both exhilarating and dangerous. Nature has a unique beauty during the coldest months of the year, including pristine mounds of snow, frosted trees that look as if they belong in a fairy tale, and frozen waterfalls reflecting rainbows of color.
Venturing into the wilderness to camp in this the serene setting can be one of the most amazing experiences a outdoors person will ever have, yet the danger when doing so is glaringly real.
If set on a winter camping excursion, one must anticipate and prepare for all potential dangers. Weather plays a huge role in winter camping, and some of the safety issues it causes may be obvious, yet others are not.
Read this post for important cold weather tips to have a safe camping trip.
#1 Drink water!
Since it’s cold, a camper may not drink as much water as he or she should. Remember, even if you do not sweat profusely, you still lose water to evaporation. Yes, you CAN become dehydrated in the winter. Because of this, make it a habit to drink more water than you think you need.
#2 Wear sunglasses
Snowblindness can happen. If one spends a long period of time outdoors in the winter without the proper eye protection, UV rays can actually burn the corneas of each eye. To stop snowblindness in its tracks, wear sunglasses made specifically for blocking harmful UV rays.
#3 Avoid Avalanche Terrain
Those that camp in mountainous areas must consider the risk of an avalanche occurring. Imagine thousands of pounds of snow barreling down towards you at speeds up to 80 MPH. Scary thought, right? It should scare you! Avalanches kill people by snapping their necks and/or by suffocating them.
There are several ways to avoid avalanche prone terrain. First, always consult with local officials if venturing into an area you are unfamiliar with; they can assist you with finding a safe route. Next, always steer clear of slopes with steep angles – 30 – 45 degrees. Also, avoid areas where the snow looks cracked or sounds hollow. Finally, if an avalanche has happened recently in a specific spot…stay away.
Since avalanches kill a large number of Americans each year, anyone who wishes to go camping in the winter should be up to speed concerning avalanche survival tips. Click here for more information on the tools needed.
#4 Dress Appropriately
This section contains information that may seem obvious, but it is crucial to dress correctly to avoid frost bite and hypothermia while camping in the winter. Wear multiple layers, head gear, gloves, quality boots, a proper jacket that breaks the wind, and the like.
In addition to wearing warm enough clothing and boots, one must keep dry at all costs. This involves changing out of any items that become wet, so take extra socks and mittens along. Follow this link for more tips on dressing for cold weather.
I can certainly understand why many feel compelled to camp in the winter, and I hope they understand that over preparation is always preferable to under preparation.
(Photo courtesy of Elvis Santana)