View the most recent posts on the forum.


Author Topic: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!  (Read 29457 times)

Offline lonelake

  • Supporter
  • Hauling Sled
  • ****
  • Posts: 409
  • MINNESOTA, Winter Camping Symposium
    • View Profile
    • www.wintercampingsymposium.com
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2010, 07:51:47 am »


Also, REI sells waterproof matches that are like sparklers-they will burn even when wet and will spark on any rough surface. They burn for about a minute.
http://www.rei.com/product/617046

Have you added a firesteel, and a stick of fatwood to that kit yet?
LL
Simplicity in all things is the secret of the wilderness and one of its most valuable lessons. It is what we leave behind that is important. I think the matter of simplicity goes further than just food, equipment, and unnecessary gadgets; it goes into the matter of thoughts and objectives as well. When in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost.
-Sigurd Olson

www.wintercampingsymposium.com
Proudly wearing Empire Wool and Canvas

Offline Pathfinder

  • Hauling Sled
  • ****
  • Posts: 318
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2010, 12:53:19 pm »
Wow!  Excellent thread HOOP!

Canoecountry, you just gave me an idea on what to do with a small water proof Pelican Case I have lying around.

Lots of fantastic ideas in this thread!

Thanks!
Shawn

Offline lonegreeneagle

  • Hauling Sled
  • ****
  • Posts: 323
  • Me at my personal BEST
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2011, 02:18:33 am »
I wasn't going to respond here seeing as how I have gone through the ice and froze my self to the edge of the hole waiting for rescue (which didn't come and i died, went to hell and have still not thawed out because I became a lover of winter camping)
       A few extended problems along with alot of great ideas! Roadside flares? WP White Phosphorous- dangerous gases, uncontrolled burn (ie; spraying sparks when your already shaking) intense heat and now sun/welders burned eyes!
       White fuel for starters are great if you can control a small amount and not spill on yourself or dry clothes and equipment. Butane stoves put out small heat compared to noxious fumes that a frozen person will be huddled over.

       fire is nice, but I think; shelter(minimal), out of wet clothes and into dry clothes and sleeping bag, once dry any movement will promote body heat transfer. Improve postition and then build fire, do not hover on fire! Thaw and dry clothes and equipment, cook food and warm drinks to aid bodily recovery from temp. From this posture establish a continue or go home to medical help decision.
        I have (obviously) a broader opinion but I won't go into it here.
Good luck in any emergency situation that occurs
                         Van
Avid outdoorsman? My son and I snowshoe and winter camp with a four season tent and no stove. When my daughter comes along we drag sleds holding the campfire style tent I made and my military style Yukon stove. We canoe and kayak long trips in the early spring till Thanksgiving. That's my son's and my last float of the canoe season as we celebrate his birthday.  My daughter more than my son loves climbing. My sore neck!
Along with the tent, I've made packs,paddles and the poor man's RV from an 18' boat trailer. It now carries our canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes, camping ger and the TeePee pole

Offline Johan

  • Coming in From the Cold
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2011, 01:47:30 pm »
I live in Sweden and people going through the ice happens all the time here sadly many people never get out from it alive again. I have gone through a few times and done it also on training.

My personal experience is that fire is not the highest priority when falling through the ice. First you need to get up, and after falling into ice cold water your body might be in shock and some people become paralysed in this situation or panic. Without crampons around your neck your chance of getting out is already thinned down. Picture of crampons and how to carry them http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isdubbar

Once out of the ice you need to get your wet clothes off and some dry on otherwise you will soon not be able to do anything and then get something warm to drink. After that you can start making fire or try to get your toboggan or pulka out of the ice.

I always have a small backpack on me with a waterproof line inside (this will also help me keep afloat) and in it are a warm jacket, spare clothes, thermos, and firelight kit. When it come to my firelighting kit I carry a big load of birch bark (easy accessible and easy to refill during the trip) and matches and firesteel. I will also carry a smaller firelighting kit on me and a large one in my pulka.

But the best thing is to practice and get the real experience of going through the ice, and then see what works for you. This clip is from a few years back on survival training were all students got a chance to try this before going out on the ice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8epkUFVGyg

Offline James Huffaker

  • Coming in From the Cold
  • *
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2011, 11:14:10 am »
Morning,

 I gotta say, out alone with just a day pack, with the understanding that you may need to shed the pack to increase your chances of getting yourself out if you fell through the ice, your pretty much left with on body carry.

 In the " day pack" I'd want a shelter, bivi, big synthetic sleeping bag, foam pad, a change of clothes, food, pot, maybe a thermos of tea or coffee or hot Gookinaide, and a failproof method of starting a fire. How about a waterproof tinder bundle of birch bark, fat wood, rubber, PJ cotton balls, ooo steel wool and anything else that you can think of that is flammable, waterproof and won't freeze, in a bundle that has a flammable wick/fuse.
 Vacuum packing helps. I think Wiggies will vacuum pack his bag if you want. But that's in your pack. I read here that yous carry a pack on your toboggans that you wear when your separated form your sleigh, that contains what you would need to survive the conditions IE cold camping. Do you not carry the same pack when you day hike?

 On my person, in my pockets, I carry 2 bics, and a small bag of pj cotton balls, with a small piece of fat wood, some birch bark, a piece of inner tube, a WSI ferro rod embedded in magnesium with an attached piece of hack saw blade, all wrapped in jute.

 How do Zippos work in your kind of cold? I read an article once in which the author recommended wrapping the Zippo with friction tape to increase grippabillity with cold wet hands, and to keep it from freezing to exposed skin. While wrapping, attach a loop of paracord at the base for a dummy cord. Carry spare flints/wick in the base. Wrap in plastic wrap to decrease evaporation, and carry a can of lighter fluid to replenish as necessary. I have a brass waterproof match case with a dummy cord with strike anywheres in it. Could a smaller,yet fully functional waterproof tinder bundle be carried on the person?

I think, I would want to be prepared to survive with just what I could carry on me. So what is the priorities/ possibilities for on person carry that is waterproof and won't freeze? Just some thoughts.

Regards, Jim

ETA; Be careful of the wet fire tinder cubes, I had some early ones that didn't have an expiration date, and failed to light under optimal conditions. I won't trust them.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2011, 11:27:12 am by James Huffaker »

Offline oldboyscout

  • Stoking the Woodstove
  • ***
  • Posts: 171
    • View Profile
    • Earl & Sedor Photographic
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2011, 09:42:30 am »
I'll second the Coghlans firestarters as being excellent.
However you still need good kindling to use them.
I'll suggest carrying the firestarters sold for starting fireplaces i think-the wax and sawdust ones about 1/3 the size of a red brick.  Carry 2.  It will light easily and burn well by itself and light any old kindling while you change out of wet clothes.

Offline ajwilson1978

  • Coming in From the Cold
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2011, 09:33:35 pm »
Thanks to Johan for the great video link and the reminder about ice crampons.

I second the birchbark idea!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 09:36:51 pm by ajwilson1978 »

Offline pake

  • Stoking the Woodstove
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2011, 03:37:11 pm »
Hello All!

I apologize in advance for this lengthy reply, but...

I have been following this thread with great interest since its inception last summer, but have purposely refrained from responding until now. It’s in the twenties below F today, and I’ve just come in from working outside.  HOOP’s original post about his re-evaluation of his thinking with regard to fire making and falling through ice and so forth, has been very interesting. I went through these very same analysis years ago, but without the benefit then of internet based, global idea sharing among peers, the process took much longer and was driven primarily by personal experience. My comments are in no way intended to criticize or belittle any others, but are offered “in addition to.” Most of us here know how to stay warm when its cold and we’re dry. But there are undoubtedly some newcomers here too, and some may be wondering what comes first?

Situation 1
In the late 1980’s I was part of a group winter camping in the north, during which time one member fell victim to a very dangerous incident.  In camp, quite by accident, a two gallon pot of boiling water tipped off the stove, fell onto and drenched from head to toe one of our team, instantly soaking his clothing and raising second degree burns on one side of his body. We were not hot tenting. It was 20 below F. Almost instantly, despite his great agony from the burns, he demanded from the rest of us to help him out of his wet clothing because the pain he was experiencing from the heat loss of his rapidly cooling, wet body was almost as bad.

Situation 2
In 1995, while kayaking in Alaska’s Icy Straits; late summer, air temperature 50-60F, water temperature also 50-60F. During an approximately two to three mile channel crossing, which we had deliberately planned in advance in order to minimize risk from currents, waves, wind and so forth, one of our group of four ‘yaks’ overturned. Although the swells were high, we had almost no trouble helping our friend back into his craft. Once safely there and bailed out, and at this time suffering no more serious injury than a bruised ego, we took a few minutes and considered our next action. We were not quite half way across our intended route. Another five to ten minutes would have put us past the halfway mark and on to the opposite shore. We chose instead to go back to the nearest beach. By the time we got there our friend was barely able to continue to hold his paddle, let alone use it efficiently toward his own locomotion. Our very first order of business was to get him out of his soaked clothing and into a dry change. Then simultaneously, as we stuffed him full of chocolate bars and tea from our thermos, several of us rubbed his now dry, but still cold body, back toward warmth produced through exercise and circulation, while another made a fire where we all eventually re-warmed up our spirits. I wonder often what another ten minutes of warmth stealing wet clothing might have done to him.

Situation 3
October, 1999. A solo canoe trip. Late afternoon, nearly sundown, air temperature 45F, nights have been below freezing with a skin of ice on quiet bays in the mornings, near shore the water temperature was mid 30’sF. Ready to be through paddling for the day, I approached my intended campsite, which did not include a gradual slab to beach the canoe of the kind that is so common in the north. This site had a small vertical ledge surrounding the landing. Normally, an easy step up would put you on solid footing. Looking back I made several careless mistakes. At any rate, I stood slowly in the canoe, began to steady myself with my paddle braced against the rocks, and for reasons that I still can’t justify nor recommend, leaned over the thwart to pick up my pack and throw it ashore. You can see this coming, right? Before I knew it I flipped the boat, sending me and my gear topsy turvey. Once again, at this point the only real damage was a bruised ego. But I was alone. And I was completely soaked head to toe in ice cold water, but I was standing, and climbing out onto dry ground, began cursing myself for my foolishness. I knew experientially by now that dry clothes were of paramount importance, but I didn’t have many. Retrieving my pack, I watched in dismay as water poured out as I hoisted it ashore. But I also knew experientially that I didn’t have a lot of time. On the spot in the receding daylight I was becoming numb at an alarming rate. I stripped off every article of clothing. Jacket, pants shirt, undies, socks, boots, everything. Stark naked I began to squeegee off with my Pac-Towel, which I have now come to consider an essential piece of survival gear useful for many purposes, and almost instantly began to slow down the rate of heat loss. I felt better. Next, I pulled out my sleeping bag, which in those days was the only thing I carried in a real dry bag. It looked to be OK. Then I set up my tent. I knew from experience that I could do it in under three minutes. So now, with a standing tent and a dry sleeping bag, I felt that I had a situation that I could manage. By now I had worked up a little body heat, and once again still buck naked, I began to get a fire going. It must have been a sight! A grey haired guy scrambling around naked, setting up a tent, and gathering stuff in the brush to make heat. “Sasquatch becomes civilized.”

Fire is important. Dry clothes are essential. Air is a good insulator. Water is an excellent conductor. Water conducts body heat away 25-30 times faster than through dry air.

Since that time so long ago  I have rethought my own packing system, for clothes, gear, everything. Everything in my main pack is in a dry bag of some sort. And since then I always, always, always keep one dry layer in my day pack. It’s not that hard and takes up no room. Summer or winter, my day pack now has a dry bag liner in which among other things I keep a pair of merino wool long johns and a pair of socks. Wet clothes will kill you.

Thanks for the thread HOOP! Lots of good info on fire too.
Respectfully,

pake

Offline canoecountry

  • Supporter
  • Hauling Sled
  • ****
  • Posts: 356
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2011, 04:30:39 pm »
Wow Pake, I don't even know what to say other than thanks for putting your experiences into writing, truely eye opening. I am glad that in all three senarios everybody was fine.

CC


Offline Ted

  • Supporter
  • Hauling Sled
  • ****
  • Posts: 300
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2011, 05:05:08 pm »
Really Good stuff.
I'm mostly an armchair quarterback when it comes to survival so my plans and gear are basically "what-ifs" based on research.

What is really illuminating are the first-hand experiences shared here. I now have two important changes to make to my survival gear. Many thanks and still hoping that I'll never need them!

Cheers Ted
http://www.parkerclan.ca
To the Silent Places

Offline kgd

  • Warming Up
  • **
  • Posts: 92
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2011, 05:15:48 pm »
Very enlightening set of experiences Pake, thank you for putting the time in to share your experiences with us.

I only experienced bad hypothermia once while I was a teenager (about 25 years ago).  We tipped a canoe in late November near Sudbury Ontario.  It was cold then, near freezing and we had a couple of flurries but nothing that was sticking.  I had on a set of coveralls, like the cardharts but some no name brand that was warm, a similar jacket and set of rubber hunting boots with the felt pack.  I remember sinking to the bottom like a rock with the only saving grace that where we tipped was shallow.  Standing on my tippi toes I could bring my nose out of the water.  Two of us went down like that and dragged ourselves and canoe back to shore.  We had tipped right at launch so it wasn't a far distance to get to the car, but we reloaded the canoe onto the car while it was running in order to get the heat up.  I recall on the way 15 minute ride back to the cottage my feet went completely numb and I started to get the shakes.  This was all while in the car with the heater going on.   At the cabin, we built a fire and my buddy and I just wrapped ourselves with blankets next to the fire.  It took the entire night to re-warm.

I wasn't mentally or experientially prepared at the time that happened to me.  I am only glad it happened at a point where we were able to get back to home base relatively quickly.  I agree with Pake about the drybags especially when near or around water.  Not a bad idea to have a dry bag on the sled either.

As to fire packs, my need it now fire consists of a bundle of coglans (12) fire sticks, fire gel (in a marked handsanitizer bottle), REI Stormproof matches in a waterproof container and lighter.  I carry a firesteel always on my knife sheath, but using it with bitter cold hands can be a real challenge.  I find matches, and the thick REI ones are very easy to negotiate, under lack of coordination.  The idea is to slather the fire gell onto the coghlan sticks to at least get a handwarming fire and then supplement that with fuel on site.  I think a 'need it now' fire kit really should include some time of accelerant and fuel (or kindling at least) as opposed to just an ignition source.  

Offline HOOP

  • Administrator
  • Living Large At -40
  • *****
  • Posts: 2030
    • View Profile
    • My YouTube Channel
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2011, 08:32:39 pm »
Good stuff.  This thread is accumulating good info.

Re gel fire starter:  be careful.  If it is alcohol based, it may not ignite or burn well in deep cold.   Maybe test it in your freezer at home. 

Pake:  I always have my sleeping bag dry-bagged, and I always bring a bivy, and I always have a spare set of clothing dry bagged, and a rain shell set.  My dry bagged stuff included dry mitts so I can save my hands, since I will need dexterity to survive.  I also have gortex socks and dry socks, so I can still use my wet frozen boots with dry feet.  My nightmare is if my sled goes through as well and I can't retrieve it.  Then I am wearing what I have on and its all about quick big fire or die.

If I have my sled, then I can pull out the bag and bivy, strip down, get inside right in the snow because my bivy will keep me dry, and re-warm.   Then I have my second set of clothes and rain shell for wind protection, and I can wring out my outer wool layers and wear them.  Then I can get a big fire going, and make camp, or move to make camp. 

I have an external pouch bag made up that I can clip on my day pack, or if my day pack is on my sled, I can slide it on my belt or sash so that it is on me.   I am still developing it, so when I get it sorted out I will photograph it and post the contents, and maybe make a Youtube video of it as well. 
My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Wintertrekker

"I firmly believe that far from hurting the planet, the growing knowledge of Bushcraft is helping our natural world. When we employ bushcraft skills, it may seem as though we are consuming natural resources.  But of course, the more we learn about the trees, the plants, the animals around us, the more we respect them. The more we respect them, the more we cherish them, the more we nurture and take care of them. That is the underlying principle of Bushcraft.

Offline pake

  • Stoking the Woodstove
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2011, 09:14:37 am »
HOOP!

how'r ya doin? It's been awhile.

And I hear you about having all the stuff, albeit packed in bags on the sled. I was running into similar kinds of things on my summer trips too. ie, the water purifier wasn't nearby when I needed it, or my camera was on one end of a long portage and I was on the other when I would almost certainly see something like a fisher or a waterfall or whatever..., or on a miler port it would be sunny on the first lap and pouring rain by the middle of the second. You get the idea.

So after many years, many trips, many seasons and a few close calls, I realized that for me, I needed to rethink things. And I soon quit thinking about survival, which had always seemed to center around how much stuff can you cram into an Altoids tin? I started thinking, "what is essential? Then, what is convenient? Heck, what is just fun to always have near me?" That caused me to start thinking about how I would carry the stuff.

It took awhile but I searched for and finally found what works well for me. Nobody else should do this.  ;)  Summer or winter, canoe or sled, my main gear and clothing are where we all put those things......and finally they are all in waterproof sacks.

My essentials, my convenients, my just for fun stuff is in a small day pack type backpack, or, as my beautiful bride M chooses to call it, "The Man Purse", and that always rides on my back. On a winter pull, it's on my back. On a summer port it's probably on my chest cuz the big load is on my back. At the end of the port it'll get taken back across with me, unless I'm 100% certain there is no compelling reason to do so.

Like I said, mainly this has become a change in MY thinking in answer to my question, "What do I want to have right with me?" The contents of the bag change with the trip or the season, but they are always waterproof. If I go through the ice, that bag goes with me, and assuming I can get out, it's gonna be there with me. In winter it contains the previously mentioned long johns, socks, beanie, as well as my fire making kit and insulated water bottle. It's actually lighter in the winter. In summer it would include my rain gear and a fleece. The reasons for my choices in the summer have as much to do with where and how I place packs in the boat, but the man purse is always within arms reach. Last summer when M and I went to Vail, I used it in the Ritzy downtown shopping center (sans all the survival stuff of course) as a shopping bag. M said, "Ooh pake, you look so Cosmopolitan...."  ;D

Like I said, it has has solved for me some of the problems that we have talked about. In the winter the man purse weighs next to nothing. That small amount gives me peace of mind. By the way, this whole line of thinking was also an extension of what my sons and I were doing in another area of interest, black powder shooting. There, you typically carry some of the same kids of things, and stick them into a leather possibles bag.

Same idea, different bag......

respectfully

pake

Offline pake

  • Stoking the Woodstove
  • ***
  • Posts: 142
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2011, 10:58:31 am »
HOOP and others,

Hi again. I don’t want to, nor do I mean to hijack this important thread. HOOP, I’ve got the notion that you and I are very nearly thinking along the same lines.  I know that early on in your original post you laid out various scenarios and asked the question, “but could I do it?” That is exactly the kind of thinking that brought me to do several things. We’ve already talked about how we like to carry stuff. I believe that each one needs to figure that one out and be comfortable with it. Your second very important point that still IMO needs more discussion, or at least some thought relates to the fire systems. There have been lots of very good examples put forth here. Whether or not the proponents of these ideas are competent, I cannot say. My own experience proved to me that I wasn’t. For example, like you said regarding Bic type lighters, I too have a terrible time trying to even spin the wheel in cool weather. My arthritic thumbs simply refuse to be able to work those things. When its cold, forget it, so my system needed to address that acknowlegement.

No amount of reading makes one proficient. No amount of dialog or discussion, disagreement or strongly held opinions. Don’t get me wrong. These things are all good first steps. But, I think you know what I am going to say…..practice makes you proficient. Lots of it.

After you think you’ve got it figured out, try it another way. Once you’re proficient in warm weather, switch to cold weather. Fuels act differently in cold weather. When you’re proficient in dry climes, go to wet conditions, and so forth. You will soon find out where you are deficient. I teach a few of these kinds of things from time to time. Every kid and most adults want to feel independent. It’s part of who we are I guess. But think about it. Being independent means by default that you are In Dependence  of the most limiting element of the whole situation, and that is you!

Any body who wants to know how they’ll do making an emergency winter fire, for example, might try this little exercise.
•   Fill up the bath tub with very hot water.
•   Step out onto the back porch and ask your wife to pour a pail of water on you paying particular attention to your head, legs and hands.
•   Step out into the yard, lie down and make a few snow angels.
•   Get up and plunge both arms into the nearest snow drift, at least to elbow depth. Hold them there for at least a minute cuz that’s the minimum time you’ll be in the water before you get out.
•   Get up and find your fire making stuff, wherever and whatever it is.
•   Try to do it.
•   Get up one last time. Go in the house. Try to avoid your wife’s look of wonder and amazement. Get in that tub of hot water and re-think things.

respectfully

pake

Offline planB

  • Coming in From the Cold
  • *
  • Posts: 32
    • View Profile
Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2011, 11:47:59 am »
With regards to Situation 2 I have experienced a similar situation.
The surprise to me now was how quickly I made the transition from:
1) I think I’m OK
2) A bit of trouble here
3) Hey, I’m in real trouble
4) I can’t think and my muscles don’t work
5) Its too late

Fortunately I only made it to step four but the transition was a matter of minutes. From step one to step four took less than ten minutes. I was in trouble before I realized it. Part of the problem was denial and self reassurance.  If repeatedly told myself I was OK then I would be? Wrong! Certainly panic is not helpful but neither is self deception, as comforting as it my be.

In hindsight I realized this was the sort of situation I needed to think about and plan for in advance. Then if the situation occurs I must recognize the situation and then adhere to the plan. When the circumstance arises execute the plan regardless of how you feel. Even though I may think I’m at step one, I am in reality probably at step three.

Wintertrekking.com and these discussions are a more vital component to winter safety than a whole catalog of gear.