Travel to and from communities within the YK Delta is an essential part of life, whether you’re on your way to see relatives, going to sports tournaments, grocery shopping, hunting, camping, or traveling for medical appointments.
It’s important to remember that elders, in their wisdom, share the importance of knowledge of landmarks, traditional trails, and having deep respect for and understanding the weather. Before you set out on your journey, check the weather forecast, talk to your family and friends about your plans, and use the following tips in the event that you lose your way during an unexpected blizzard.
When you’re lost or breakdown:
Stay calm. Panicking can make things worse. Take deep breaths and remember, you can handle this.
Remember the wisdom shared by elders: When you’re towing a sled, tip it to one side with the bottom of the sled facing the wind. It’s crucial to have a stick or something long and narrow, as the snow will start to drift around and over you as you’re sitting inside the sled, sheltered from the direct wind. Use the stick to carve a hole out of the drifted snow once in a while to see if the storm has passed – it should be bright with the sunlight flooding through the hole if the storm has blown through.
If you’re not towing a sled, find a safe spot. Look for a place to wait out the storm. A sheltered area, like some trees, can protect you from the harsh weather.
Make yourself visible. Use bright colors to make yourself more visible. This helps rescuers find you. Put something colorful on your snowmachine or yourself.
Stay warm. Use what you can for heat. Wear your warmest clothes and cover up with anything you have. If you can, start a fire.
Be careful with your energy. Stay put unless it’s unsafe. Walking around in a storm can make you more lost and uses a lot of energy.
Eat snacks and drink water. Eat a little to keep your energy up and drink water to stay hydrated, but be careful not to use all your supplies at once.
Signal for help. Use a whistle or make large shapes in the snow to signal for help. Three loud blasts are a universal call for help.
Be smart with your snowmachine: Use your snowmachine wisely to conserve fuel, but keep it ready for warmth if needed.
When hypothermia begins to set it: Elders say you’ll start to have hallucinations of warm fires or people who give you warm clothing while telling you to remove the clothing you have on first. They always instructed to stay put, because searchers will be on the lookout for your snowmachine or sled.
Don’t lose hope. Believe that rescuers are searching for you. Stay positive and trust that help will come.
Once you’re home safe: Once you’re safe, think about what you learned. This experience can help you be better prepared in the future.
Remember! Adventure is fun, but safety is key. File a trip plan, bring emergency gear, and use technology like GPS and satellite messengers to stay safe. Always, let someone know your travel plans before you embark on your journey. Stay safe and enjoy your travels!