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9 August, 2001

Safety in the Field

This week I am receiving massive amounts of information. Each new presenter makes me want to spend days learning more... it's all just so interesting!

Below are some pictures of my Antarctic buddy in Field Safety class. He is pictured with Duwain Aamodt and Todd Erickson, United States Air Force Safety Instructors from Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington. These instructors taught us how to survive in difficult weather conditions. I certainly DO NOT expect to need to use any of this information in Antarctica, but it is always important to plan for unexpected situations. We can all benefit from this information because you never know when you might need to use survival skills. This information is helpful for hikers, campers, and anyone who might find themselves in a severe weather situation.

We learned the FIVE BASICS OF SURVIVAL and to be prepare by carrying a survival kit containing such things as wire, compass, flashlight, bandages, and more.

1. Personal Protection - In a cold weather environment this is critical! A. Put on appropriate clothing. Ex. You lose a great deal of heat from your head, so wear a warm hat.

B. Find/Build a shelter - out of branches, moss, snow, tree stumps, or anything else that will help protect you >from wind, cold temperatures, and precipitation.

C. Fire - Know how to start a fire, even with wet or green wood. Use alternative sources of fuel.

D. Equipment - sleeping bag, raft, survival kit, etc.

2. Sustenance - You will need nourishment!

A. Water - Because of the energy loss to the body when snow is melted in your mouth, it is more beneficial to melt it before consuming it.

B. Food - Learn what types of plants and animals you can obtain to sustain you.

3. Health

A. Physical Health - the better your physical condition, the better your chances for survival.

B. Mental Health - stay calm and focused

4. Signaling/Communication/Recovery

Use such signaling devices as a mirror, knife blade, flare gun, fire, strobe light, radio, etc.

5. Travel - Be prepared and know that you may have to move to find help.

Some of this training is not helpful if you are traveling to Antarctica. For example, there are no plants in the middle of Antarctica to eat. Also, dry valley regions and areas away from the ocean do not have any animals you could eat. (Dry valleys only have microscopic nematode worms and other microscopic organisms. But I shouldn't really say "only" because it is amazing to me that ANYTHING exists in these very remote and severe weather regions.) So I will probably receive a different type of safety training when I go to Antarctica called "Happy Camper School". Everyone who travels through McMurdo, a USA station, must attend this school. If you are not familiar with Antarctica and the various research stations, try locating McMurdo in an atlas. Also look for Amundsen-Scott station which is located at the geographic South Pole.

Saturday, August 11th is our last day of orientation. We will have some time to take pictures, so I will post photos of the Arctic and Antarctic teachers for 2002/2003 on that day.

1. We're getting ready to head off to the woods of New Hampshire for = some field safety training.

2. Learning the best ways to start a fire with wet and/or green wood. = Paper birch bark and shavings from branches are helpful.

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