How to survive outdoors in cold weather

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March 5, 2013, 5:48 pm
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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Boston) - When Nicholas Joy went missing Sunday on Maine's Sugarloaf Mountain, concerns grew as day turned into night and one night turned into two.
 
"Thinking two days in Maine even with the relatively warm temperatures, this is more likely than not going to become a body recovery," said Mass General Hospital Chief of Wilderness Medicine Dr. Stuart Harris.
 
Dr. Harris says there were grave concerns for frostbite and other ailments.
 
"The chief ones you would be expecting would be hypothermia where the whole body gets sufficiently cold that you start not to think clearly and ultimately start not to be able to move or to function to be able to protect your core temperature," said Dr. Harris.
 
But Joy reportedly learned some crucial skills that may have saved his life by watching survivalist shows on TV.
DCR Deputy Chief Park Ranger Chris Williams says one of the most important things Joy took away from that was that shelter was key in braving the elements.
He reportedly made a snow hut like this one with branches and bows to block the wind and insulate him from the ground.
 
Williams said, "Anything works, the smaller the better, so your body doesn't have to heat that much space."
 
And Williams says Joy was smart to find a stream to drink from instead of trying to eat snow for hydration.
 
"You can get water from snow, but if you've ever melted it, you know it takes a lot of snow to provide a little bit of water and your body would actually end up using up a lot of its energy resources to do that melting for you," said Williams.
 
Beyond that, Stefanie Brochu with the Appalachian Mountain Club in Boston says preparation is key.
 
"You could be out longer than you expect, so having some good food and water, having a light source, a head lamp, it's also really important to have the right clothing, warm clothes like fleece here would be very important, as well as a water-proof layer, we've got a jacket here and some rain pants as well," Brochu said.
 
There are of course some things Joy could have done differently - like not veering out of bounds, and experts say he probably would have been found faster if he had a cell phone, or at the very least a trail map. But the key is he worked with what he had and made the best of it.

Tags: maine, massachusetts, Sugarloaf, ski, Alysha Palumbo, Medford, Survival
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