The mikebuss Winter Survival Guide

| 29/10/2012 | 0 Comments More

Winter is closing in! We are just coming up on November and already we have had to scrape ice off car windows in the mornings, so Mike Buss, former British Army Soldier and survival expert with 10yrs military experience, surviving in some of the most inhospitable climates in the world  from the Jungle to the Arctic is on hand to give you your winter survival guide.

Mike since leaving the army has also taken on some of the toughest challenges in the world, including running across the Sahara Desert and the Canadian Arctic.

Mike is an arctic survival training instructor and winter mountain leader, so when it comes to looking after yourself in the cold then Mike is your man.

Since the winter arrived and the clocks went forward, temperatures have already started to drop with icey winds and it wont be long before we start seeing below freezing.  The past few years I have witnessed everywhere I go and the reports on the news about stranded people unprepared for the cold in their cars as they break down.

One of the worse hit areas I saw locally with so many unprepared drivers in extreme cold temperatures in the past two years was around the Air Ballon Pub on route to Cheltenham from Cirencester, cars lined up broken down, deep snow, and temperatures dropping to -10degrees C.

Schools closing, boilers breaking down, cars abandoned, old people suffering in their own home.  So lets take the Scout Motto “Be Prepared” And lets beat the winter cold this year.

It was seeing the gridlock of abandoned cars around Brid Lip on way to Cheltenham that urged me to put this article together, drivers were having to leave their cars behind and walk in the freezing cold, unprepared in just suits and thin coats.

Many peoples problem during the winter is their lack of understanding of wind chill factor.  Zero degrees is a temperature all of us in the UK are used to, but with the global climate changing the wind chill factor is becoming worse and bringing temperatures way down to temperatures like -10degrees C and lower.

Below is an example of how cold it can get with the wind chill factor at 6degrees C.

Temperature 6degrees C (A 10kph wind brings it down to 3degrees C)

Temperature 6degrees C (20kph wind brings it down to -2degrees C)

Temperature 6degrees C (30kph wind brings it down to -5degrees C)

Temperature 6degrees C (40kph wind brings it down to -7degrees C)

So when we get to temperatures of zero degrees which we have regularly in our UK winter, this is what happens:

Temperature 0degrees C (A 10kph wind brings it down to -4degrees C)

Temperature 0degrees C (20kph wind brings it down to -10degrees C)

Temperature 0degrees C (30kph wind brings it down to -14degrees C)

Temperature 0degrees C (40kph wind brings it down to -16degrees C)

At Home:  Especially the old are at risk here, but there is steps that we can take

1st: Be a good neigbour, go round regularlly to check on the elderly neighbours.

2nd: Between government and energy providers, there are large discounts available so dont worry about turning up the heat.

3rd: finally over the past year, government initiative to insulate cavity walls and lofts for free has helped people up and down the UK, Ive personally had this done last winter and the heat has improved in the house very noticably.

In the Car:

With such bad weather effecting traffic flow, many cars end up with engines over heating and breaking down, also when the snow and ice hits, many of use are not prepared for such road conditions, driving on normal tyres instead of winter tyres.

So what can you do to protect yourself against the cold?

have around 4ltrs of water in the car, roads are very dirty in the winter and you can quickly run out of water for the windscreen.  Water is also very vital, especially for cars rpone to over heating in heavy traffic.

Regularly check your temperature gauge, if it does start to rise put your heaters on full heat – rather be too hot than break down.

Have a survival kit in your car at all times.



  • Sleeping bag (3season or above)
  • torch with spare batteries and bulb
  • A good first aid kit
  • waterproof jacket (preferably GorTex)
  • Flask (with hot chocolate or coffee)
  • Sturdy Boots (HiTec do a great range of boots)
  • Rations: Kendle Mint Cake/Mars Bars/Flap Jacks
  • Gloves & Scalf
  • Have several loose layers of clothing in a holdal.  Several thin layers are better at trapping air and keeping you warm over one big coat.
  • A feather down Jacket.
  • Mobile Phone – for contact
  • Have plenty of small change, out on the country roads you may have no signal, so a telephone box may be your only means of contact.
  • Survival Tool, such as a Swiss Army Knife, or Gerber Tool
  • Snow Shovel & Tyre Mats
  • Spare wheel and good tool kit
  • matches & lighter
  • Road Map
  • Small Back Pack
  • Anti-Freeze


  • Sat-Nav, great pieces of kit and really coming down in price these days.
  • Stove and boil in the bag food – OK, maybe this may seem a bit extreme in the UK, we arent ever too far from civilisation, but as a cub scout says “Be Prepared” then you will never have to suffer.

Before Setting Off:

It should be your normal weekly routine to check your vehicle and do what we call in the army a First Parade of the vehicle.  Check lights, make sure you have plenty of fuel, check oil levels and anti frees etc.

Hints and Tips On Driving in the Cold:

  • If trapped in heavy snow – stay in the car – use your winter survival kit (See above)
  • stick to regular well used routes you are more likely to be rescued sooner.
  • Take a risk assessment – but often going for help can be too risky.
  • run the engine for heat if you have enough fuel, but dont risk exhust fumes.  Turn engine on for 15mins at a time, turn off and turn back on as you need heat.
  • If you feel drowsy, turn off the engine, slightly open the window and get into your sleeping bag if you are not already in it.
  • Do not go to sleep with the engine on!
  • Only use the heater when needed, once warm, turn it off.



By Mike Buss | Survival Instructor & Winter Mountain Leader.





Category: BLOG

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