Before you begin your trip, be sure to charge the batteries in your cell phone. The cell phone should be kept warm, in an inside coat pocket, to help preserve the battery life. Cell phones often do not work in the remote areas around Kuparuk, so do not rely on a cell phone as your only communication device. Nowadays nearly everyone has a cell phone and the varieties are growing. Maybe your phone won’t get a signal, but maybe your buddy’s will.
GPS (Global Positioning System)
A GPS unit can be extremely helpful during your trip. A GPS unit gives your exact location, which may be relayed to emergency personnel in the event that communication is established. A GPS runs on batteries, normally different than your cell phone’s, so be sure to check them before you ride, bring some spares with you and keep them warm. It is helpful to review how the unit works before you ride so you are familiar with it. Just having a GPS unit isn’t going to do you any good unless you know how to use it. Always get a waypoint on your truck before taking off.
Lights and Flares
You should never head out onto a trail without a flashlight in your emergency kit. A strobe light may also be helpful in an emergency situation. Even in the arctic there can be a lot of lights on the horizon from distant villages, remote exploratory drill sites or camps. The strobe affect of your light may cause it to stand out among the steady lights making it easier to find you. With flashlights and strobes running on batteries, always check the batteries for life before you ride, bring extra ones with you, and keep them warm in an inside pocket.
Flares or “pop-ups” can be taken along on your trip for emergency situations. Be sure to follow the instructions to avoid making your emergency worse.
Compass and Maps
A compass is a critical item to have on your trip. It can be used as a back-up to your GPS unit if the battery runs out. When reading a compass, do not hold it near metal objects. Your compass reading will be incorrect and could send you off in the wrong direction. Be sure you become familiar and comfortable using the compass before you ride.
A topographic map is helpful because it shows the landscapes in three dimensions to help you along the way. Once again, familiarizing yourself with what you have with you is all-important. Do you know how to read a map? Do you know what contour lines depict? Do you know the different lines showing different varieties of road? Spend a little time learning how to read a map if you’re unsure.
A small shovel can be helpful if you become stuck or stranded. Many shovels are small enough to store on your sled or to easily carry in a backpack. Always carry a shovel when riding in avalanche-prone areas. If you don’t have a shovel and need one, improvise. The top to the Emergency Kit could work. The side cover to your snowmachine might work. Get your imagination working.
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