Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Cold Weather Safety

One of the first things that I will teach scouts when training them about dealing with cold or winter weather camping environments is that of the "COLDER" acronym but most people will say that the acronym that deals with cold weather camping is that of "COLD". According to the Boy Scout Fieldbook it is actually the word "COLDER, which for most of us is the guide that we want to use when teaching and figuring out how to survive the cold weather experience. This acronym directly affects how you should dress and maintain your clothing in a colder weather environment. So here is what each part of the acronym means:
  • C- Clean: Clothing free of grime and dirt insulates better and helps keep your body warmer for a longer period of time. Keeping your body clean also will help you regulate your body more efficiently.
  • O- Overheating: Do not allow your body to overheat but you also do not want your body to be to cold. Build into your clothing system multiple layers that can be taken off and added as needed depending on the environmental conditions you are having to face.
  • L-Layers: Do not just use few bulky layers in your clothing system instead use loose light layers so you can have a greater range of adjustment.
  • D-Dry: The outside layer should be water proof or at least water resistant in order to as much cold away from the body as possible.
  • E-Examine Regularly: Inspect your clothing thoroughly and on a regular basis. It may be better to get a buddy to help you inspect your clothing as necessary. Examining regularly allows you to make sure your body has a stable internal and external environment to deal with.
  • R-Repair quickly: Fix your gear that you have problems with as soon as possible, even if it means only being able to make a temporary repair in the field. Duct tape is a Scout's best friend and can help seal holes, put togther zippers or straps, and provide extra warmth.
Remember the principles of Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace principles need to be examined and thought about when dealing with a cold weather environment. During the winter these principles have a few special considerations to think about. Here are the Leave No Trace principles for use as a reminder:
  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What you Find
  • Minimize Campfire impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be considerate of other Visitors.
These are the two major topics that I focus on for cold weather training with Scouts. Also I usually will spend another night for a training session on what types and styles of clothing and personal gear are most appropriate. Encourage your scouts to ask questions and do not make the question asking environment become intimidating, allow all scouts to get every single question answered they have. If you do not have a answer, then be honest about not having a answer and tell them that you will consult with others and get their question answered. It may not occur at that meeting but it is important to follow through and make sure the question is answer.

Yours in Scouting Service
Mark West
Junior Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 1616

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