Antarctica is a 14 million m2 large desert, where wind speed often reaches 200 m/h, air temperature often drops as far as -73° C and the air is as dry as it is in the Sahara Desert. Scientists working in Antarctica live as though they are on a space station. This is how dangerous this place truly is.
National Geographic has compiled a list of tips for survival in Antarctica:
Be prepared for powerful frost; watch out for frostbite
In summer, air temperature under windless conditions can drop as far as -50° C. Wind can cause freezing in a blink of an eye. This is why it is important to wear very warm clothes all the time. Nose, cheeks, ears and chin are the first body parts that feel the cold. Physical activity helps maintain blood circulation, so don’t stand around doing nothing.
If your skin turns white or you feel the wind causing you a stinging feeling, it is likely you’ve been struck by frostbite. To avoid that, you should wear mittens, not groves. Avoid veering tight footwear – it will help maintain normal blood circulation to your extremities.
Wear at least four layers of clothes; polar boots can save your life
Warm, breathing, quickly drying thermal clothes and woollen clothes are the only thing appropriate to wear in Antarctica and other extremely cold places in the world. Clothes should be warm and dry. Moisture freezes over instantaneously in Antarctica. This is why even if a small amount of water gets in your clothes it is a good idea to change clothes as soon as possible. This especially applies to footwear, as toes are especially sensitive to frostbite.
When travelling a group, watch over other members of the group
It is highly important to follow each person’s situation and help out if problems arise. Antarctica is no place for loners.
You will sooner spot white spots on other people than you will on your own body. Listen carefully for stutters in people’s speech. Stuttering is a sign of frostbite. In this case, it is important to warm up the person as soon as possible.
Watch the ice
Winter in Antarctica is so cold that it freezes the ocean. Ice is an important field of study in Antarctica. Nevertheless, it is also extremely dangerous, as whole sections tend to break off and swim away. The colour of the ice can give a hint as to whether or not it is safe to venture forward. White ice is the safest – its thickness is usually 15-30 cm. So-called young ice is grey; its thickness is 10-15 cm. It can support your weight on skis. It is best to avoid walking on such ice. Never step on black ice. This colour means the ice has only recently formed and is therefore unsafe.
Always carry with you a survival kit and communication devices
GPS device, satellite phone and signal rockets can save your life if you get separated from your group. Having a survival bag is also highly important if you want to survive in Antarctica. This bag should contain an emergency tent, water, food and a hot plate.
Eat a lot and drink sufficient amounts of water
Because of the harsh climate in Antarctica, it is very hard to balance consumed and expended calories. To ensure warmth and enough energy for everyday activities, a person has to consume approximately 5,000-6,000 calories a day. Some people have been known to eat eight chocolate bars a day. The air in Antarctica is so dry that the body loses water by just breathing. It is recommended to drink six to eight litres of water a day.
Keep an eye on the weather
Weather in Antarctica is very changeable. A clear, sunny day can become dangerous in a matter of minutes. Wind speed can reach 160 km/h, which is enough to push a small vehicle. In a snowstorm it is impossible to see anything. This is why it is highly important to keep an eye on the weather at all times. If a storm is coming, get busy building a shelter.