4 Problems Faced by Avalanche Rescuers

Rescuing avalanche victims is not an easy job. Let’s understand why it is difficult and risky. 1. Hard Snow After an avalanche caused the havoc, the snow becomes hard, very hard, that cannot be broken easily. Special skills are required to break this hard snow. 2. Poor Communication Network In…

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Survival Skill 6: How to Estimate Wind Speed by Observing Effect of Wind on Trees, Smoke…

Survival Skill 6: How to Estimate Wind Speed by Observing Effect of Wind on Trees, Smoke…

Wind shapes weather. And, if you understand the wind and its effect on the trees, smoke, water bodies, and other objects in an adventure destination, you can plan well and protect yourself. The Beaufort Scale lets you do this without any instrument. Remember the scale developed by Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort and interpret the wind in your next trip. Beaufort in fact has given the names to the wind according to the speed. Here is the scale:


S. No.
Name of Wind
Speed of Wind

Miles per hour (mph)
Kilometer per hour (kph)

Smoke, say from a fire made for cooking or chimney of forest rest house, moves up in straight line.
< 1
< 1

Smoke does not move up in straight line.
Light Air
1 – 3
1 – 5

Leaves rustle.

You can feel the wind on your face.

Light Breeze
4 – 7
6 -11

Small twigs and leaves move.

Thin flags rise and flutter.

Gentle Breeze
8 – 12
12 – 19

Small branches of trees move.

Loose paper sheets and dust rise.

Flags flap.

Moderate Breeze
13 – 18
20 – 29

Small trees laden with leaves sway.

Flags ripple.

Small waves form in lakes.

Fresh Breeze
19 – 24
30 – 39

Big branches of trees sway.

Flags beat.

Wind whistles through telegraph wires.

You cannot keep your umbrella open easily.

Strong Breeze
25 – 31
40 – 50

Whole trees move.

Walking is inconvenient.

Flags extend.

Near Gale / Moderate Gale
32 – 38
51 – 61

Small twigs break off the trees.

Walking against the wind is difficult.

Gale / Fresh Gale
39 – 46
62 – 74

Structural damage to buildings begins.
Strong Gale
47 – 54
75 – 87

Structural damages are considerable.

Trees are uprooted.

Windows break.

Storm / Full Gale
55 – 63
88 – 102

Damage is widespread.
Violent Storm
64 – 75
103 – 121

This wind flows at sea.

Foam and spray reduce visibility drastically.

Sea surface becomes white.

> 75

Survival Skill 5: How to Survive Leeches


Survival Skill 5: How to Survive Leeches

Survival Skill 5: How to Survive Leeches

A touch of mountain monsoons is refreshing. But trekking during monsoon has some downsides too. For example, leeches.  A leech annoys the host but it is not dangerous unless it bites into eyeballs, internal organs, and / or nose.

5-Step Action of Leech

Leech sticks to the skin, injects anesthetic and anticoagulant substances, sucks blood, becomes heavy, and falls. It generally takes about twenty minutes to complete these five actions. It leaves you bleeding because it releases hirudin that prevents clotting.

Because of the anesthetic substance, you will not feel the leech bite and may lose lots of blood loss that could be dangerous.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do not use burning beedis or cigarettes to remove leech. If you do this, leech may vomit infection-causing bacteria from its gut into the bite area on your skin. It may burn your skin as well.
  • Do not pull the leech. Pulling may tear your skin. Bite of leech may remain in the skin.
  • Use your fingernails to push the narrow head of the leech sideways and remove it from the skin.
  • Apply vinegar, salt water, or salt to remove the leech.
  • After removing the leech, clean the wound with soap and water, Detol, Savlon, or any other antiseptic and dress it.
  • Apply cold compresses to treat swelling and pain.
  • If the wound is bleeding, apply constant pressure.

Prevention is better than cure. Is it not? To avoid leeches, take the following steps:

  • Tuck your trousers in your boots so that leeches may not crawl on your body.
  • Watch for leeches crawling on your body. Before they spring into action, brush them off. You may meet leeches in moist swampy places and during monsoon treks in the Himalayas.
  • Do not go into water, especially in the hometowns of leeches.
  • Do not swallow leeches accidently to avoid bowel irritations.
  • Be careful while relieving yourself in leech prone areas.
  • Soak tobacco leaves overnight and spray that water on your shoes and socks to keep leeches at bay. The water may smell.

Survival Skill 4: How to Survive Avalanche

Survival Skill 4: How to Survive Avalanche

Survival Skill 4: How to Survive Avalanche

Avalanche knowledge and presence of mind can increase chances of survival. However, it is not possible to get out of the way of an avalanche sprinting at the speed of 60-120 kilometers / hour. If an avalanche has buried you, it is hard to dig yourself out and is just impossible to survive. So prevention is better than cure. For preventing burial under an avalanche, you can learn about avalanche prone areas and avoid them instead of getting caught into speedy somersaulting snow. Here are some more practical tips to survive an avalanche:

  1. Do not hike, climb, snowboard, snowmobile, ski, and / or travel alone, especially in avalanche prone areas.
  2. Avalanches do not come without warnings. So study the terrain for the avalanche signs and take preventive measures.
  3. If you are caught in an avalanche, try to swim in snow and keep yourself on the top of the snow. So that you can be spotted by others and rescued. Or, after the avalanche stops, you can try to dig yourself up.  This is just impossible. But sometimes these tricks work.
  4. In case of partial burial, try to dig yourself up.
  5. While in avalanche prone areas, do not carry heavy things in your pockets and knapsacks. Unwanted heavy things will pull you down to your grave if you are caught in an avalanche. Instead of carrying heavy things, keep some lightweight energy food in the pockets. These foods will keep you alive in case of partial burial. Remember to travel light.


Survival Skill 3: First Aid for Frostbite

Survival Skill 3: First Aid for Frostbite

Survival Skill 3: First Aid for Frostbite

If frostbite falls for you, engage with first aid as fast as you can. Frostbite is a freezing cold injury. If the injury is ignored, the patient may lose the affected part. The frostbite patient, therefore, shall

    • Go to a warm place that is not exposed to the wind. A warm place means a place that has normal room temperature i.e. approximately 17-22 degree Celsius / 64-73 degree Fahrenheit.
    • Stop further body heat loss.
    • Remove wet clothes.
    • Remove clothes, accessories, or anything else that is obstructing blood circulation.
    • Wear dry warm clothes.
    • Not change clothes in the outdoors.
    • Cover the head.
    • Never apply direct heat or hot water.
    • Use warm compresses, clean warm clothes, or blankets for frozen and other parts of the body. Keep the body warm until things become normal or medical advice is sought.
    • Use the warm part of the body to warm the affected part. For example, if the nose is affected, use the warm hands to warm the nose.
    • Not use cigarettes to warm himself/herself.
    • Not rub the affected part.
    • Not stay outdoors.
    • Not apply snow or ice.
    • Not use cold water to unfreeze the affected part.
    • Handle the affected parts gently.
    • Consume warm beverages excluding alcohol.
    • Find professional medical help as soon as possible.


Survival Skill 2: How to Avoid Frostbite

Survival Skill 2: How to Avoid Frostbite

Survival Skill 2: How to Avoid Frostbite


Many of us await white winter every year to play in snow, make snowmen, glide in snow, and trek in snow for fun. But these adventures could be dangerous if some precautions are not taken. Theme of the survival skill 2 is one of the major problems associated with the winter adventures: Frostbite. We have listed several useful steps that you can take to avoid frostbite and enjoy the winter holidays: 

Never Miss Meals

  • Eat adequate amount of nutritious food irrespective of the altitude. Especially, at high altitude many loose appetite. But missing meals will deplete energy that keeps you warm and active. Body heat and uninterrupted blood circulation will protect you against the deadly frostbite. So eat regularly.
  • Hydrate yourself. Consume enough liquids.
  • Do not consume drugs and liquor. 

Cover Yourself Carefully

  • Cover yourself properly to avoid exposure to cold winds and sub-zero temperatures. Wear dry loose clothes that can keep you warm in this temperature. Wear suitable gloves. Cover head and face.
  • Moisture and wind increase loss of body heat during winter. To minimize the impact of moisture and wind, wear well ventilated clothes of insulating fabrics. These clothes will let the perspiration evaporate and provide required warmth.
  • Do not wear wet clothes for long.
  • Do not wear tight clothes, gloves, and boots to ensure proper blood circulation. 

Sleep Under Suitable Shelter

  • Do not sleep in open, especially in high altitude.
  • Retain body heat. Loss of heat facilitates onset of frostbite. 

Examine Extremities

  • Examine your ears, fingers, nose, and toes for the first signs of the frostbite. 

Survival Skill 1: How to See in Dark


Survival Skill 1: How to See in Dark

Survival Skill 1: How to See in Dark


On a moonless night, pitch dark sky and / or your dark tent without any lights are scary.  Because you cannot see anything.

But there is a trick to see in the darkness. Survival Skill 1 elaborates on this.

Your eyes have millions of cones and rods. The cones reside in the small center area of the retina and rods occupy the remaining part. The former work at bright light, whereas the latter work at low light.

Therefore, do not look straight in the place you are trying to see during the low light hours.  For example, while searching for sleeping bag, plates, or anything else in your dimly lit tent, look slightly to the side of the object for better vision. Then light will fall on the rod filled part of the retina.

The same trick will give you a better view of a faint star in the dark sky.

Remember, since the rods do not facilitate color vision, you see everything in grey scale in the night.

Survival Skill 2: How to Avoid Frostbite