How to prepare for extreme cold when you visit North Dakota
When it gets really cold, there are certain things you should know.
1. When they mention “wind chill” on the news, it means that it is a certain temperature, but when it is windy, it just seems to be colder, do not trust the wind chill number
2. Watch the temperature, as it shows on the thermometer, that is your real number to use
3. If you don’t have a simple thermometer, get one
4. Many of the people in Standing Rock have never been to North Dakota
5. In the news lately, they have said sub-zero when they meant sub-freezing temperatures. There is a big difference
6. The temperature can be acceptable during the day, but can get terribly cold at night
7. If you get stuck in sub-zero temperatures, your car usually won’t start, and if this happens, it may not start for 2 or 3 weeks. Your car needs almost pure antifreeze, and Mobil-1 synthetic oil, or you will get stuck. And buy a new battery from Walmart. And buy a cheap thermometer.
8. In northern Wisconsin (Poplar), where I grew up, during the first week of January, we would usually have the temperature “on the thermometer” go to 50 degrees below zero at night, and warm up to 20 below zero during the day
9. There is a BIG difference between -20 and -50. At -20, you have a big problem, at -50 you cannot breathe and must cover your mouth with your hands to breathe. You can tell if it is -50 because the snow crackles beneath your feet, and you can hear things from a great distance.
10. At -50degrees, if you are outside, you will probably die. In Superior Wisconsin, someone would drive to town for some reason, and if they ran into the ditch, they would find their frozen body on the side of the road in the morning.
11. At -50 degrees, just stay home and do not go outside, just stay inside and try to keep warm. You might need to stay inside for 2 or 3 weeks (called cabin fever)
12. You might try sitting in your car with the heater on, but that really doesn’t work. If you have a problem, drive south.
13. One thing that works is a professional down sleeping bag (not polyester). You have to zip it up to the top.
14. If you make a big mistake, and your body starts freezing, your fingers are the first to go. If you get frost bitten fingers or toes, you will be in pain forever. If they freeze, they must be removed.
15. Respect the cold, and you might make it.
16. The last time I was driving through North Dakota I94, it was snowing at night with a howling wind, and the snow drifts were causing my car to slow down to where I was almost stopped. I luckily then turned south, and I made it.
17. Solution: Get an atomic clock, with a temperature readout for inside and outside temperature. That way you don’t need to go outside to see if it is cold
18. Solution: Zippo hand warmer. When I was hunting, I would be way out in the woods, and I would get real cold. I would use a hand warmer to keep my hands warm
19. Solution: If you go there, use a down coat, not a polyester coat. The coat should be a long one to cover your knees.
20. Solution: Take a down blanket comforter (not a “down alternative” comforter)
21. Solution: Make some nice hot tea, and have an insulated mug
22. Solution: Make a friend.
If you are at Standing Rock at this time, it would be a great idea to get out while you can. You can always come back next spring. People who don’t know will say they will stay as long as it takes. But they will be leaving soon. The Indians know how to live where it is very, very cold.