This is an important safety reminder to all of us. Ice conditions are presently unpredictable and unstable, so please help to get the word out.
Happy new year to everyone and thank you for your ongoing commitment to our SAR team!
Please have your winter gear, crampons, snowshoes, helmet, etc… ready to go.
SAFETY IS EVERYONES RESPONSIBILITY
For additional information see NH Fish & Game’s website, Stay Safe on the Ice.
Scott asked me to send out a safety/winter reminder to all UVWRT members.
So far, it looks like we’re going to have a good old fashioned winter . . . lets be ready!
Here are a few things to consider as you update your packs and gear for winter conditions. First, you will likely need to upsize your winter pack to accommodate the extra bulk of the gear required to spend 24 hours out in the elements.
1. Foot gear – winter boots or double boots with high gaiters are a must. Micro-spike type traction devices are necessary for cold and icy conditions. Full crampons and snowshoes may also be required. Be sure foot traction devices are sharp and not worn out or broken. Try them on, adjust them, and use them before you need them on a call.
2. Clothing – (no cotton) dress for warmth, in layers so you can regulate your temperature and prevent overheating during exertion. Remember the mechanics of heat loss: convection, conduction, radiation, evaporation and respiration. So, layer up, eat high caloric food, hydrate, and keep moving to generate and maintain warmth. Always carry or wear gloves, mittens, face mask, hat, balaclava and especially goggles when going above tree-line. No exposed skin! Remember, you loose over 40% of your heat from the head, neck and shoulder area. Carry spare gear for yourself or your patient if needed.
3. Other items to pack in the winter sleeping bag and bivy bag/sack, foam pad or cold weather pad, tarp/space blanket, stove. I carry an emergency tube tent. Each team entering the woods should have a stove and an emergency shelter. Chemical hand and toe warmers can make a big difference. Heat packs are great when needed for patient or team member.
4. Check your medical/survival kit to be sure matches and fire starters are in good operational condition. Winter days are short, so carry a couple of headlamps, flash lights and spare batteries. Lithium batteries are light weight and last 5 times longer in your headlamp or GPS, even in the cold!
5. Replace your hydration bladder with insulated wide mouth water bottles, and consider carrying a thermos of hot water.
6. Most importantly, build your confidence by practicing outdoor survival skills, and using your equipment. For example, build a fire in the snow on a windy day. Set up your tent or tarp in the dark with mittens on . . .
7. Other items to bring along: helmet, harness, ice axe, ski poles, dehydrated hot meal for four.
Remember, you are an asset to our team effort. Don’t become a liability.
Be prepared, be safe, and thank you for your ongoing commitment to our team!
Documents and Other Resources
- How To Stay Warm and Safe in the Backcountry (PPT)
- How To Stay Warm and Safe in the Backcountry (PDF)
How to Recognize and Treat the First Signs of Hypothermia in the Backcountry
AMC Outdoors, Nov. 25, 2019
AMC’s medical advisor, Dr. Tom Trimarco, discusses what to do if you encounter someone showing signs of hypothermia in the backcountry.
Search and Rescue in N.H.: Pushing the Limits
NH Public Radio THE EXCHANGE, Nov. 4, 2019
In addition to hikers on N.H.’s many trails, there are also a growing number of trail runners, backcountry skiers, bikers and climbers. As adventurers in New Hampshire’s backcountry press at limits previously untested or left alone, this trend is joined by modern technology in presenting a new series of challenges for rescuers and for society in general.