Survivalists sometimes are a solitary bunch of people. Many don’t mind being alone or, even, being sort of like hermits in their quest for self-sufficiency and independence. With that in mind, along with the benefits of being in nature and not dependent on municipal utilities, it’s not uncommon for survivalists to decide to move to more rural areas of the country, many of which are in colder climates, such as Alaska or North Dakota.
Living in a colder area has it’s own unique challenges, one of which is the higher possibility of falling through ice into freezing water. Why would this happen? Possibly because a person is trying to get fresh water or because they have gone ice fishing. Regardless of the reason, though, handling this type of fall is knowledge that is useful to have if you live or plan on moving to a colder climate.
Joe Alton has a few bits of advice which make a lot of sense for preparing for this situation:
- Keep a change of clothes handy that is kept in a waterproof container
- Have a firestarter that works when wet
- Have blankets
- Look for the clearer blue areas of ice (thinner ice tends to be darker)
- If you fall in, try to stay calm and slow down your breathing to prevent panic
Alton continues his advice for what to do if you fall in:
Start by holding your breath and getting your head out of the water. Once you’ve done so, inhale deeply and bend backward. Turn your body in the direction of where you came from; you know the ice was strong enough to hold you there. Tread water and quickly get rid of any heavy objects that are weighing you down. Keep your clothing on, though. It has air pockets between the layers that are helping you stay buoyant.
Now, try to position your body as horizontally as possible and lift up out of the ice using your hands and arms. Keep your arms spread in front of you to help distribute the strain on the ice. Kick with your feet to gain some forward momentum. At the same time, try to get more of your body out of the water. The more of your body that’s out of the water, the better. Cold water drains body heat much faster than cold air. Allow a few seconds to let water drain from your clothes; it’ll make you lighter.
Some of the ice may crack but keep moving forward. An ice pick would help gain a handhold (another good reason to have one handy in icy conditions).
Lift a leg onto the ice and then lift and roll out onto the firmer surface. Do not stand up! Keep rolling in the direction that you were walking before you fell through. This will spread your weight out, instead of concentrating it on your feet. Then crawl away until you are sure that you’re safe.
Start working to get warm immediately by removing wet clothes and getting out of the wind. Extra clothes from your or a party member’s backpack should be put on immediately.
Alton also recommends working with someone else instead of trying to make a go of it alone. There truly can be safety in numbers.
Have you survived a fall through ice into freezing water? Tell us below how you survived it.