Winter is now decaying into spring across most of the United States, and with it comes a new season of disasters and survival situations to contend with. Last month if we ventured into the wilds we were prepared, hopefully, to survive an extended period of time in the frozen wilderness. If we got lost or injured, cold would be our greatest enemy. Fire making skills would have been an absolute essential, with or without shelter making ability. The time is at hand where the temperatures will be higher during the day, but still cold enough to kill an unsuspecting adventurer during the night and hypothermia is still a 24-7 companion.

That’s why it is so important to pay attention to the weather reports, and dress in layers according to those reports. It is still advisable to wear thermal underwear in most of the northern tier states. It is easy to control your temperature by shedding layers of over clothing such as a vest or jacket, so why take chances on freezing by not utilizing your thermals? A hat is still required, and the warmer the better. I like my old wool Filson’s cap with the earflaps. Makes me look like an old geezer, but who cares? While I’m toasty warm the young guys are freezing in their ball caps.

Another thing to watch for this time of year is the ice. Many lakes are thawing early, even in Maine. Up in Lake Auburn, the ice has made a new ice-out day record. Beat the old one by a week from what I read and hear. Ice fishing may be a lot of fun, but it’s easy to fall through the ice unexpectedly. This is an even greater danger if you are in a vehicle. Even a four wheeler or a snowmobile is heavy enough to drag you under in no time at all. While many victims are able to free themselves to be rescued, more people don’t, and succumb to the cold. Stay away from ice with a vehicle for your own good at this time of the year. And be extra careful while on foot. If you have to walk over ice, carry a long pole sideways to spread your weight and keep you from going under should the ice break.

Another spring time preparedness problem is the muddy roads. ATVs and 4-wheelers love to go mudding, and by getting too far back on the tote road you could be a long time getting out if you get stuck or worse yet, break an axle. Make sure you’ve got plenty of tools and equipment to get your rig out of the mud, and try not to go alone. Two can get a vehicle back on the road faster than one, unless of course you’ve brought a case of long necks for lunch. In that case, don’t bother crying about it because you probably deserve what you get. But either way, make sure you’ve got the tools and equipment to get the job done right.

Also make sure you have a first aid kit and plenty of food and water for you excursion off the beaten path. A good flashlight and some extra batteries are essential as well. Communications can be a tricky thing when you are away from civilization too. Just because your cell phone works great on the ride to the trailhead, it doesn’t mean it will work once you get into the woods. Let somebody know where you are going and when you plan to get back. That way, if you’re late for beddy-by time someone can send for the cavalry to bail you out. Nothing more embarrassing than not being able to take care of your own screw ups is there?

As the temps warm up a little more and the sun starts the plants a greening we’ll need to watch out for poison ivy, oak and sumac, so make sure you pay attention to where you are walking. Bring some calamine or other ointment just in case you do step where you shouldn’t. And while we’re on the subject of poison, make certain you have a good first aid kit when you head out, along with plenty of drinking water.

I know, I already said bring a first aid kit. But it is that important that it justifies mentioning it twice. Accidents happen when you least expect them, and when you are involved in outdoor activity far from home, you may need more than a Band-Aid to get you by until either help arrives or you can get to doc’s place to get fixed up. And bring bug repellant too. It’s still early, but a surprise one day heat wave can be enough to get some of those pesky blood loving insects some life.

Emergency preparedness planning isn’t just about getting ready for hurricane season. It is about being ready to survive any coming calamity, no matter how trivial it may seem in the bigger picture. Make your plan, and then carry put your plan. Develop and deploy, just like the military does when they go into a conflict. Next time I’ll get into a new formula I’ve develop for preparedness planning, called AADD and Survive!

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