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Polar Bear Safety

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I attended my first Polar Bear as a assistant leader with my 1st yr son. We had a pretty cold night (-4 ish) and in the morning there were about 5 scouts who were in some distress - either lethargic or cold extremities.


It all worked out, but some of the comments in the earlier thread made me wonder. There were no bedchecks at night and in the morning, the scouts with the trouble were identified more by chance than by anything else. It seems that a quick fall-in with an inspection - to make sure everyone is properly dressed with dry clothes would help us positively identify scouts who were in trouble.


I was wondering what extra supervision or inspections other troops use at a polar bear.



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While we do not have the same cold weather issues of those in other parts of the country, we still do have below freezing on occasion at our winter camps, and of course snow days too.


All camps and trips in cold weather should have prep and planning, including a thorough review of hypothermia symptoms, and what to do. This includes trying to make everyone aware that keeping an eye on their buddies and others is important as well. Too often, the victim has little or no awareness he has a problem. And of course adults need, as noted, to assure boys are not ignoring wet clothes and are hydrating properly.


No one should be sleeping alone in severely cold weather, as they need to have others there in case they have problems. These are the times when crowded tents may be better, due to body heat accumulation; and it is a good idea to have voice contact with a nearby tent. Of course, make sure they DO NOT go to bed with damp clothes, even though they may get cold briefly while changing. And, a beanie or other warm head covering, along with dry socks are a must, as well as proper insulation beneath their bag AND tent.


One other thing that helps, is to try and make sure they all urinated before bed if at all possible, as that can be a real problem in the middle of the night if it is really cold out.


Prepare, use common sense, and have fun.

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Yeh might check out this packet done by some venturers in your state:




A friend referred me to that a few years ago and I've given it to a few younger troops in these parts who were doin' their first winter campout. Yeh should also have your troop youth or adult leaders look into Okpik trainin', which I'm sure is available over there in Michigan as well.




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