Winter Survival: Emergency Snow Shelter


( – According to the rules of three for survival, the first matter that should consume your focus is finding shelter. This is because, in as little as three hours, exposure to the elements can be fatal.

If you get lost in the woods while hunting and can’t find the base camp, or simply get hit by an unexpected snowstorm, you’ll need to establish a shelter in a hurry. In this scenario, the snow that could lead to hypothermia is the same thing that will save your life.

In this video, Big Woodsman shows how to build a now quinzee for survival:

The goal of creating a quinzee is to build a dome of snow big enough to fit in once you hollow it out. The snow will act as an insulator once you are inside, trapping your body heat to keep you warm. The key to creating an effective quinzee is sintering — disturbing and packing the snow so that it freezes together. Sintering causes the snow to set and harden, creating the perfect material for building.

To begin this process, pile up enough snow to form a dome large enough to lie down in, with at least a foot of extra snow in all directions. In the video, a snow shovel is used for this process. However, in a survival situation, you may have to do this with pieces of bark or your hands.

Now it’s time to wait, allowing the sintering process to take hold — at least two hours. During this time, locate sticks roughly 12 inches in length to use as depth gauges while hollowing out the quinzee in the next step. This will guide you as you hollow out the interior so that you don’t accidentally dig through to the outside.

Once the mound has had a chance to freeze together into a solid form, insert the sticks through the top and around the edges. Push them all the way into the snow — you’ll want at least a foot of snow in all directions from the hole you dig out to hold the structure together. Now, begin to hollow out the mound, large enough to allow you to fit in snugly while laying down.

If there is another person with you, the quinzee can be made large enough to fit them, too. As an added bonus, the shared body heat will help both of you stay warm.

Building a quinzee can be a lot of work, which in turn can make you sweat. If possible, change into dry clothing when you’re done building. Sweat can greatly increase the odds of developing hypothermia.

Without shelter, you are exposed to wind, rain, snow, and extreme temperatures. Knowing how to create a safe and dry environment to escape nature’s wrath is vital to survival.

For more information on how to build survival shelters, click here.

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