In case you hadn’t heard the media hype, SNOWMAGEDDON IS COMING! Sub-zero temperatures, bitter arctic winds and feet of drifting snow are set to wreak havoc on the nation, stranding people in the cars and homes, pushing the emergency services to the limit…
Or perhaps there’ll be a frost and it’ll get a bit chilly.
Whatever the reality may be, the return of the inevitable annual cold-weather headlines is a clear indication that winter is well on its way! And that in turn means that it’s time to wrap up warm.
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There are blizzards and flight cancellations and it’s all a bit terrible, we know. But it was a White Christmas! Snow ain’t all bad! And if you are experiencing a bit of post-festive depression, you can work off all that turkey with our amazing guide to building an igloo in your back garden.
How to build an igloo
1. Find a large, rectangular plastic box – you’ll use to make your snow bricks.
2. Clear a flat space on the ground and mark out a circle shape, trying to keep it as perfectly round as possible.
3. Make snow blocks by tightly packing snow into your box. Sprinkle a little water on the snow to make it easier to pack it together tightly. Hold the mould and tap the top or sides of it sharply to release the snow block.
4. Form a row of the large blocks around your circle. Make the joints smooth and even.
5. Form a second layer of the large blocks on top of the first, laying each block above of the joint of the ones underneath.
6. Stack additional layers on top, each time moving the bricks in slightly so that the walls will dome inward.
7. Cut a cap brick that is larger than the hole on top of your igloo and set on the roof.
8. One person should get inside the igloo and trim the cap until it fits snugly into the hole.
9. Fill in the cracks and holes with snow and pack it in as tightly as possible. Smooth out the inner dome walls as much as possible.
10. Dig down to make an entrance to the igloo.
11. Strengthen the structure. Drip water over the top of the igloo at night before going to sleep. This will allow the water to freeze and will make the walls stronger. Poke a small hole near the top, and then light a candle inside the igloo and let it burn. The heat from the candle will partially melt the inside of the igloo, and then it will refreeze into ice.
Now the obligatory safety bit!
-It’s best to attempt this with two people, as snow can be heavy.
-Never build a fire inside your igloo, as it is very dangerous due to smoke inhalation and rapidly melting snow.
-Be careful about the air’s oxygen level, as most igloos provide poor ventilation.
Here’s one we made earlier (notice that we forgot to gradually dome our igloo and so made more of a wall. Woops).
Snow-covered Brecon Beacons – photo from The Telegraph.
We don’t like to be all serious here on the Tog Blog, but getting frostbitten fingers is not a fun way to spend an afternoon (as anyone who has seen Vertical Limit will know). We don’t want you dying out on the mountains, because we are nice like that, so please have a read of our handy guide to stuff that can go wrong in the snow.
Reports of more dangerously cold conditions coming across the UK in the next few days have been all over the news. Two weeks ago, ‘Alaskan’ weather in the Brecon Beacons lead to a helicopter performing what mountain rescuers called an ‘incredible bit of flying’ to reach a man stranded with hypothermia on a mountain. They also had to save a member of a mountain rescue team, sent out on foot to help the man, who was also injured.
Now if you’re like us, then the wintery conditions will make you want to do little more than rush out, armed with crampons and an ice axe, for a trek through the snowflakes. However, even experienced walkers with shiny all-weather gear can get into difficulties in treacherous weather – hypothermia and frostbite are real risks that don’t always just affect the inexperienced.
Some of this advice may sound a little obvious, but it makes sense to know the risks and precautions you should take before you set off into a blizzard, especially in case you need to help someone less prepared than you.
-Wear several layers of clothing, and keep dry to prevent loss of body heat – a fall into cold water is the main cause of hypothermia when outdoors. Keep moving your arms and legs to help the blood circulate.
-Watch out for symptoms of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, slow breathing, a weak pulse, memory lapse, drowsiness and loss of feeling in and pale appearance of extremities.
- If you notice these symptoms, get inside as soon as possible and replace wet clothing with warm, dry garments. Hot, sweet drinks and energy bars are a good way to get heat back into the body slowly without shocking the system. In severe cases, hypothermia can lead to unconsciousness – call for medical aid.
-Never go hiking after drinking alcohol – as well as impairing your judgement, you’ll lose vital body heat a lot faster. Never ignore shivering – it’s a sign that you need to warm up fast.
-If extremities appear frostbitten (white or grey in colour, and numb), a condition which often goes hand in hand with hypothermia, get indoors fast and immerse fingers and toes in warm water. Avoid very hot water, fires or radiators as numb extremities can be burned without the patient noticing. If you’re far from home, body heat such as your armpits work well too.