Lessons From Dateline’s “Against All Odds” (& Cold Weather Survival)

2 Jun

The TV show Dateline featured a survival story “Against All Odds” about a couple that got stranded in their vehicle during a winter storm.

I bet most preppers who watch a survival story like this immediately see several lessons that can be taken away. Many of the lessons are well known. As preppers we’d already have taken steps to be better prepared if we found ourselves in this situation.

Here is the episode on Youtube (it was posted as a six part series):

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


Part 4:


Part 5:


Part 6


Spoiler Alert: Watch the videos before continuing.

Without further ado, here’s what I took away from this:

1) If you take a road trip, tell somebody where you’re going. Let them know when you’ll return. If you change your plans, call them so they’re not worried. Select a reliable person who cares about you. A good choice: Your mother. A bad choice: Your ex-wife who’s living with her new boyfriend in California.

2) Don’t trespass into areas you don’t belong. In the story, the couple bypassed a road closed sign because the guy wanted to test the off-road capabilities of his vehicle. If a road is closed, it’s closed for a reason.

3) Be prepared. If you’re traveling in isolated country in Winter, assemble a basic winter survival kit for your vehicle. If you’re traveling in desert conditions, assemble appropriate gear.

Keeping warm in severe winter cold comes down to having adequate clothing. You can take this as far as you want. There are people who make expeditions to arctic regions who need to function continuously in horrible cold, ten days forty-five below actual temperature sort of cold.

At a minimum, you should have:

a) A warm jacket or parka
b) Snow pants (or full snowsuit, if you prefer)
c) Warm gloves
d) Warm hat and neck and face protection
e) Insulated boots and good wool socks

People photographing the Northern Lights, sled dog racers, and extreme North climbers must rely on the best clothing.  In the arctic or up a mountain, you can’t just build a fire. There isn’t fuel, and if you somehow managed to start a fire, the wind would blow it out.

You actually have a great heater: Yourself. Your body will shiver and generate heat to warm you. Adequate clothing will keep this heat from being lost. You’ll also need plenty of high-calorie food: You’ll burn far more calories as your metabolism heats up.

Younger children, smaller people, and the elderly are at the greatest risk of not being able to generate adequate heat. As an emergency heat source, you can carry chemical hand warmer packets to defrost your toes.

One point about clothing was made clear: The young lady was terrified of drizzle, because she knew her clothing wasn’t waterproof. In the arctic where it never drops below freezing, waterproofing isn’t the same concern as it is in most environments. Since most of us face freezing rain that can soak our clothing, we need an outer waterproof layer.

If you want to learn more about extreme cold weather clothing, who better to learn from than Norwegians?

4) Learn a bit about basic survival in your environment. This is closely related to point 3 above. Your supplies and knowledge interweave. In the story, the young lady decides she must seek help. The snow is so thick, she can’t walk. She can only crawl.

Almost nobody carries snowshoes in their car’s winter survival kit. That would be excessive for most of us. But if you learned a bit about winter survival, you’d at least have some ideas about how to improvise a pair yourself.

5) Pay attention to weather reports. Storms can come up fast. Tornadoes are especially sudden. Other storms like hurricanes are predicted very early. It’s good to know what’s in the forecast.

6) Ask: “What If?” In the story, the guy wants to test drive his Jeep off road. What if it gets stuck or breaks down? What are the possible consequences of something going wrong? Am I prepared if this thing happens? What options do I have? Start a conversation with yourself.

7) Spoiler Alert. You never know what skills you’ll need to survive. You never know what factors might conspire to save you. The lady wouldn’t have been able to crawl to safety through the deep snow. But, by miracle, her brother was searching for her in the right area. His truck wouldn’t make progress up the road. But he saw a dump truck and, as luck would have it, he had driven tanks in the military, and the keys were in it. He was able to find her.

Whenever you watch or read a survival story, make up your own short bullet point list of important lessons that can be taken away from the story. Learn from the experiences of others. I bet many of you already do this.

Charlie Palmer -author, The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

There is a great article about hurricane preparedness at ifithitsthefan.blogspot.com

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