Would you survive if you got lost in the snow?

A person walks through snow
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Whether you're lost on a hiking trail or stranded in your car, do you know what to do when snow has you cornered?

Question 1 of 15

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Hiker in snow
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No matter what the environment, the first thing to do when you realize you’re lost is to S.T.O.P. This stands for:

After you realize you're lost or stuck, but before you make any decisions, STOP where you are, stay calm and sit down. THINK about what resources you have available to you, and if it's safe to travel or if you need to stay put. OBSERVE where you are, including orienting yourself with landmarks and looking at a map if you have one. PLAN your next steps, including if you need to build a shelter, collect water, find food and start a fire.

Question 2 of 15

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walking in snowy landscape
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When lost in the snow, which threat is the quickest killer?

Hypothermia can kill faster than any other threat from the snow. Staying warm and keeping your core body temperature up is your top priority. Building a shelter, starting a fire and keeping moving all help to stave off hypothermia.

Question 3 of 15

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A man bundled in clothes in the middle of a blizzard
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Staying warm is a number one priority, and that means staying:

The key to staying warm is staying dry. If you're busy building a shelter or doing an activity that will cause you to sweat, remove the under layers of your clothing first. This way you have dry clothes on when you're done working. Take special care to keep your socks, gloves and hat dry as well.

Question 4 of 15

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A man blows on his hands to warm them
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Signs of hypothermia include:

All of these symptoms point to mild hypothermia. If you don't get warmer, the problem will worsen into moderate hypothermia, which includes a lack of concentration, confusion, loss of judgment, loss of coordination and slurred speech. If you slip to this point, chances for your survival plummet. So at the first symptoms, do what you can to get your core temperature back up, including moving around, doing jumping jacks, push-ups and other exercises that will make you warmer.

Question 5 of 15

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A snow cave in the mountains
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When digging a snow cave, what should you do to the roof of your structure?

There are a few important steps to digging a snow cave, which will keep you relatively warm and sheltered. One of the most important is using a stick to create a ventilation hole about 2 inches in diameter in the roof to keep air circulating. This is particularly important if you're using a cookstove inside. Suffering carbon monoxide poisoning on top of being cold is no fun.

Question 6 of 15

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Igloo in snow
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Other than a ventilation hole, the most important feature to add to a snow cave is:

The point of a snow cave is to keep you warm. Warm air rises, so having an elevated sleeping platform allows you to be closer to the warm air at the top of the cave. It also keeps you up and away from the draft coming through the entrance.

Question 7 of 15

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A little boy eating snow
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To stay hydrated, you can eat snow.

Eating snow might be the easiest way to get water into your body, but it has disastrous consequences. Eating snow brings down your body's core temperature — the opposite of what you need to do. Always melt snow into water, then drink it. You can turn snow into drinking water by heating it over a fire, by spreading a thin layer on a reflective waterproof surface and letting the sun melt it, or by putting it in a container under your coat (but not directly against your body) and letting your body heat melt it.

Question 8 of 15

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A close-up of car tires in snow
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When you're driving in the snow, one of the most important things to have with you is:

Having plenty of gasoline — either by keeping your tank full by filling up when you pass gas stations or by having a spare canister of gas — is incredibly important when traveling in the snow. Should you get stuck, you need to be able to run the vehicle's engine for 10 minutes or so every hour to heat the car, to melt snow into water, and to keep the battery charged up if you're using the interior lights. Make sure your tailpipe is unobstructed, and crack the rear windows slightly to keep air circulating. Having plenty of gas could make all the difference if you're waiting to be rescued for a long time.

Question 9 of 15

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A car covered in snow
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If your vehicle becomes stranded along the road and you can't call for help, you should:

Always stay with your vehicle. Unless you're very familiar with the area, and there is no hint of bad weather, and it would be easy to walk to get help, never leave your vehicle. It's easier for people to spot a vehicle than a person, so your chances of getting rescued quickly are better if you're with your car. Plus, you'll survive longer with your car than you will walking in the snow with unknown risks.

Question 10 of 15

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The word 'help' written in snow on a card windshield
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If you're stuck in your car in the snow, remember to:

Being stuck in your car in the snow is no fun, and you might have to wait quite awhile before getting help. It is important to keep your blood circulating and your body temperature up. It is also important to keep your spirits up. So while you're sitting in your stranded car, be sure to clap your hands, wave your arms, curl and uncurl your legs, even climb around the vehicle (if it is safe) to keep moving. Meanwhile, keep yourself entertained with songs, jokes or anything else that keeps you cheered up and your stress level as low as possible.

Question 11 of 15

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A handprint in snow
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Signs of mild frostbite include:

You may have frostbite if you experience any of these symptoms. However, if symptoms stay mild and the area is kept warm, the damage can be reversed.

Question 12 of 15

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Hands covered in frost
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If you do show signs of frostbite, you should:

Once it's clear you have frostbite, you want to be gentle with the affected area. Use indirect heat, such as your armpits or thighs, to keep the area warm. Be sure to remove jewelry that might constrict blood flow. It's important not to let the area freeze again, as re-freezing can cause permanent tissue damage. But never rub the area, use direct heat, or risk infection by messing with any blisters.

Question 13 of 15

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An avalanche sweeps down a mountain
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Most avalanches occur:

Avalanches occur during or shortly after heavy rain or snowfall. The snow has built up but not necessarily bonded together. The period of risk is extended to 2 days or more if the weather stays cold. Slopes that are of an angle between 25-45 degrees, or build-ups on the leeward side of mountains or cliffs present the most risk. If traveling to find rescue, keep the risk of avalanche in mind and keep your eye out for signs or circumstances where avalanches may occur.

Question 14 of 15

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A person walking on snow
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To avoid an avalanche, travel on:

If you must travel on a slope where there could be a risk of avalanche, cross either at the base or across the top of the ridge. Or, if you are traveling up, travel directly up and not at an angle. This will help prevent your movements from triggering an avalanche.

Question 15 of 15

Score: 0

A campfire made in snowy terrain
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If you can't find bare ground to build a fire and you have to build it on the snow, you'll want to first:

If snow is too deep to dig into the ground, you can still build a fire. First, create a small platform or "raft" of wood. Then, build your fire on top of this. It will help to keep the fire from sinking through the snow. Green or damp wood is best because it won't burn well and will act as a longer-lasting platform. Replace pieces of the raft as they burn.

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A person walks through snow
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