What if you get stranded somewhere overnight during very cold weather? And what if your clothing is not good enough to help you survive this scenario?
Like our story from last week, about the man stuck in his truck in a snow bank, you can’t always build a shelter or make a fire to get warm. Sometimes the clothes on your back are all that you have as shelter from the cold.
In the event that your clothes do not offer enough insulation, you can use one of the oldest tricks in the book: Stuff your clothing with insulating materials to make the clothing warmer. The goal is to create dead air space around your body so that the elements cannot strip away your body heat so quickly. This can be accomplished by adding materials that can be found in nature, and by creatively using things from modern life.
Natural Insulation **
Maybe you have done this before, or seen it done, but you can fill your shirt and pants with many natural materials to add warmth. The stuff can be alive or dead, but dead is usually a better choice. The materials can also be wet or dry, but if you are already hypothermic, your cold skin may not warm up the wet insulation to a point where it can help you.
Use leaves, grass, moss, ferns, pine needles, bark fibers and weed tops for insulation. Yes, it’s all prickly stuff, especially the pine needles and grass, but a little temporary discomfort is better than freezing.
Your home, office and vehicle can provide abundant insulation to fill your clothing and keep you warm from your own body heat. Packing peanuts, foam, bubble wrap, crumpled balls of paper, wadded-up plastic bags, and bundles of cloth are all good choices. A worst-case option would be fiberglass insulation. This should only be pulled from the walls and added to clothing in a life-or-death scenario. For example, you are lost and your clothing is soaked. You find a building with no heat source, rip the insulation from the walls and wrap it around you. Anyone who has worked with insulation should be laughing right about now, and cringing. Home and building insulation is usually made of fiberglass, which is horribly itchy, and it’s downright dangerous to breathe the fibers. Like I said, that would be a life-or-death option.
The Best Insulation Technique**
The best way to effectively add insulation to your clothing is to start at the bottom and work your way up. Select the loosest clothing you have as an outer layer, so you can fill the layer between your clothes. If you only have one layer of clothing, then you have no choice but to put the insulation in the clothes next to your skin. Tuck your pants into your socks, undo your britches, fill both legs of your pants with insulation on all sides, and then try to get your pants secured again.
Now, turn your attention to your top half. Tuck your shirt into your pants and fill the front, back, and both sleeves with insulation. You’ll look like you belong with Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road, but you should also be warm by the time you are done. A final touch is to pull up a hood, or put on a hat filled with insulation. This get-up is itchy, prickly, crunchy and ridiculous looking, but it might also save your life.