Making a temporary camp (bivouac)
- Select a site out of the wind. Use trees, logs or rocks as wind breaks.
- Build the best shelter you can. Dig into the snow at the base of a tree or rocks. Use skis, poles and branches to roof the shelter before covering it with snow. Do not get wet in the process. If necessary, remove some clothing or gloves to keep them dry while building your shelter.
- Make your location visible to searchers. Stand a pair of skis crossed in the snow and attach a bright object to them.
- In the shelter, insulate yourself from the snow with branches, skis, poles or packs.
- If you can, light a fire on a platform of small logs. Aim to stay dry and huddle together for warmth.
- Wait for assistance to come to you.
For ambulance, police and fire emergencies, call ‘000’ or contact your local ski patrol.
Helping the search party
It is best to remain in one place. As aircraft and helicopters are now frequently used in searches, think of how you can best help them to see you.
The best place for your survival camp is on the edge of a clearing where you can easily move out from the shelter to attract attention. A smoky fire is a good location marker. Also, display brightly coloured clothing and tents.
Wait for rescue. If you have made meeting arrangements with others, as you should, the Ski Patrol and other rescuers will know where to look and rescue will be close at hand.
Helicopters may be called in to rescue you in extreme circumstances. Keep well clear of the helicopter’s landing area and await instructions from the pilot. Never approach helicopters from the rear.
Avoiding emergency situations
Emergencies are often the result of poor planning and/or foolhardy behaviour. If you do find yourself in difficulties, stop and think.
Knowledge of your own capabilities is an important safety factor. Individual skills and fitness levels vary greatly. What is quite safe for one person to attempt may be foolhardy for someone else.