Last week she was teaching first year outdoor studies students how to survive by passing on her bush craft skills; this week University of Cumbria lecturer Dr Lisa Fenton has been watching closely the effects of the severe cold spell which has affected much of the UK.
Dr Fenton served an apprenticeship with Ray Mears from 1999-2002 and then established Woodsmoke, a school for wilderness and bushcraft, based in the centre of the Lake District national park.
With drivers stuck in cars for hours and passengers stranded on trains, what advice can this outdoor expert offer to people who find themselves in situations where simple actions can make a real difference?
“First of all – don’t panic! There are steps you can take if you find yourself in a situation where a journey becomes longer than expected,” Dr Fenton said. ““We’re not used to long periods of extreme snow and cold in this country as they have in Scandinavia. People there are much more aware of what they need to do, how to cope, how to dress, what to avoid etc. In this country I think there is little detailed knowledge of the effects real cold can have on your body.”
Preparation is key; make sure the car is full of fuel, take a torch, hot drinks, water (to stay hydrated), a supply of food, spare blankets and shoes. Also stay in the car if you do become stranded, try and stay dry and if you can, huddle together for warmth.
“It’s sensible, really simple measures that will keep you warm – keep an old jumper or sleeping bag in the boot,” Dr Fenton said. “The mindset has to change. The weather is a major factor.”
Use wool – good news for Cumbrian farmers – is Dr Fenton’s advice.
“Wool breathes – the last thing you want to do in a cold environment is sweat,” Dr Fenton says. “If you start sweating then the water next to your body will get cold and damp, and will freeze on the inside of your clothes, and then you’re really in trouble. Bring woolly jumpers, woolly socks, woolly hats, and mittens.”
But also listen to advice from the emergency services; if they’re urging not to travel, don’t.