In a situation where you are forced to leave home and camp in the outdoors because of a disaster event, there can be additional obstacles that come up if you run into snow conditions. If you packed the essential gear in your survival kit for winter weather, there will still be skills you need to learn to take on challenges like building a campfire in the snow.
Understand that it’s going to be much harder to get the most out of your fire pit when you camping in an area covered in snow where everything is not only cold, but slushy and damp. How will wet twigs and branches burn in such an environment?
There are techniques you can use to overcome this situation, but first there are some recommended tools and other items you’ll need to have, and where to find them:
A light-weight sleeping bag- Don’t go cheap on this purchase or you’ll regret it if the temperatures go under 0°- get one with a rating of 0°C/30°F or lower considering the environment you may end up in.
- A high quality compass- a no brainer!
- A high quality knife that comes with a sheath- Look online for a Becker Bk2.. a great outdoor knife!
- Folding pocket hand saw – you’ll find these at most stores that carry garden equipment.
- You’ll need fint preferably with a forged-steel striker- to be used in conjuntion with….Charcloth-found online or stores like Calebella’s- used as tinder for starting fires.
- Light-weight Campware kit with 2 pans, plate, spoon & fork- Military grade Army mess kits are good.
- Small hatchet – A 1 pounder will do, this is big enough to split wood but not to heavy for your pack.
- Rain poncho- preferably military grade which can be converted into a tarp as a shelter system.
- Small first aid kit with essentials.
- Emergency mylar blanket- you should have one of these in your 1st aid kit already.
Making A Campfire When Snowbound
Naturally it’s not going to be as easy as in dry conditions to find burnable wood since live and fallen trees are covered with snow.
Using your pocket folding saw, find a nearby tree or brush with branches upward of 3 inches in diameter, and cutoff several limbs. These branches are likely to be moist just under the barks surface, but go ahead and cut them into 12 to 18 inch segments. Next use your hatchet to slice and peel off the outer wet layer and you should find an inner core that is much dryer. Ideally you want to end up with a couple dozen of these segmented logs.
These segments will serve as the larger logs to be used for firewood, but leave 4 to 5 of them for cutting into smaller kindle and tinder pieces. Using your knife, shear off slices of shaved wood to be used as meduim size kindle, and cut about half of these into even smaller slices to be used for the small sized kindle.
Now with your knife you will want to make the strands of tinder pieces by slicing very narrow ribbons that you ball up into a pile to be placed under the smallest sticks of kindle you’ve already cut. If you brought twine in your pack, you can use this instead as jute material. Just unravel the strands into smaller individual strand fibers, and roll these up into a kinder bundle.
At this point, you need to clear an area of snow for your fire pit. If possible locate as many medium sized rocks as you can to be used as the rim of the pit. Scrap out about 5 inches of dirt for your basin.
To start up the fire you’ll place the small sized kindle in cross-piece fashion and put the tinder ball under it. Use your waterproof matches to light the tinder and as the material starts to smojuke and then flame, gingerly blow on it to increase the flames. Start adding more smaller sticks in tepee style as the fire builds but be careful not to smother it. As the fire builds you increase the kindle sizes until you’re ready to add the larger logs.
Now you have a fire that you need to take care of. You don’t want it to go out so hopefully you gathered plenty of wood in the beginning. If you DID NOT bring matches you can start the fire using the flint and striker I recommended earlier. I’ll go over how to use that in this post.
It may be that you are simple stranded at home during a winter storm. Bad weather causes power outages, and possibly not being able to leave home. Each year, people die during the winter due to not being properly prepared for a disaster.
The first thing that should be in every home survival kit is information. Most people forget this step, but it can be extremely important to know where critical elements of your home are. For example, where is your water shutoff valve? Where is the natural gas shutoff valve? Where is the circuit breaker, and which circuits correspond to which areas? Even if you know all of this information by heart, it is very important to have it written down in a known emergency location so that anyone in your home can quickly find out how to prevent a disaster.