KOTA News Extra: Stranded - KOTA Territory News

KOTA News Extra: Stranded


Many people will head to the Big Horn Mountains for winter sports like snowmobiling or cross country skiing. But what do you do if something goes wrong?

A snowmobiler may hit a rough spot and break down. A driver may get stuck on a snow covered road and spotty cell service means one could get stranded for a while.

"It's very rarely that people have to actually spend the night out but it can happen," said U.S. Forest Service natural resource specialist Travis Fack.

If someone is stranded Search and Rescue, the U.S. Forest Service, and other agencies will start looking, and it helps if they know where to search.

"Before you go out, it'd be a good idea to give someone kind of an itinerary where you'll be going for the day and also try not to deviate from your original plan," said Fack.

And fill your backpack with survival gear.

"You're having the right clothing on, typically nothing that's a cotton-base. If you're in the back country, have a shovel, some food, some water," said Fack.

If you are stranded the first thing you want to do is find some fuel and start a fire.

"You can break branches off of trees. If you dig around, kick around, feel for logs, look under the log, you can find material underneath often. I think it's really important to have multiple types of firestarter," said winter patroller Eric Comstock.

Lighters, matches, even steel wool and a nine volt battery can start a fire.

Comstock says years ago he was stranded with his partner after they hit some tough spots on their snowmobiles.

"Basically ran out of sunlight. Temperature plummeted. We were in a situation where really what we needed to do was make a fire," said Comstock.

And not just to stay warm, but also to stay hydrated.

"Snow doesn't pack as much water per volume as real water. You have to melt it. Something we learned was to bring metal containers. And if you actually try to eat snow, the amount of calories you're burning to try to get that little bit of water out of it may not be a good thing because you have to use body heat to melt it in your mouth," said Comstock.

Comstock was rescued well after midnight, but he had a radio to call for help. Most won't have that so it's best to plan ahead as much as possible.

"The weather conditions up here are very dynamic so you want to be prepared." said Fack.

Comstock and Fack both recommend bringing extra clothes in case the layers you're wearing become too wet from sweating.

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