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Tom Brown Gives Winter Survival Tips
CNN Morning News
January 16, 1998; Friday 9:30 am Eastern Time
GUESTS: Tom Brown, Bill Hemmer, Daryn Kagan

HIGHLIGHT: Tom Brown runs the wilderness survival company Tracker Incorporated, and he is also the author of "Tom Brown's Field Guide to City & Urban Survival." Brown explains how to stay safe and warm when faced with bitter winter storm.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Another winter storm is dumping snow and freezing rain on the Northeast, where some areas have yet to recover from last week's ice storm. The latest blast of winter is dumping fresh snow from Massachusetts to Maine. Tens of thousand of people in the Northeast and Canada are still without electricity because of the earlier ice storm.

HEMMER: And with those storms comes the question: How can you stay safe and warm when a bitter winter storm knocks out the power in your home?

Joining us from New York with a few tips that could save your life is Tom Brown. He runs Tracker Incorporated, that's a wilderness survival company, and he is also the author of "Tom Brown's Field Guide to City & Urban Survival.

Tom, good morning to you.


HEMMER: Great. Let's invoke the Boy Scouts here. Be prepared is the best first advice. Let's start in the home. How do you do it?

BROWN: That's what I believe in. You know, if you live in a disaster-prone area -- whether it is earthquake, tornado, snow, whatever -- I believe that in your house you should have some kind of a survival kit -- water put away, flashlights, candles, kerosene lamps, that kind of thing, food. Anything you can find that you never touch; you replace the cans every six months, the water ever six months, but never touch it until you need it.

HEMMER: Tell us what is in front of you there, Tom.

BROWN: Well, this is the things that people have at home, and they wonder how am I going to stay warm in the house. And these are just simple devices. A simple coffee can like this with a candle inside and a few holes punched in it, and you can cook over top of it. It takes a lot longer than the gas stove. An old stand-by: a big can, a roll of toilet paper, some alcohol, fill it up, light it -- and primitive propane stove, so to speak.

HEMMER: What kind of temperatures can you get off a fire like that?

BROWN: Actually, this will warm a place up -- like one room up -- quite substantially about 10 to 15 degrees. But what I believe in is to build some kind of a shelter within a shelter inside your house.

HEMMER: Explain that.

BROWN: You find a room in your house that is southern-facing or southwestern-faced, and you build a mattress shelter like you built a fort when you were a kid. You put a mattress on the bottom, ones on the side, one on the top, every blanket. Put your family in there. If it is 15 degrees on that room outside, with four people in that master shelter, it will probably be about 70 degree.

HEMMER: Is that so? Did not know that. Generate some heat there.

What if you are outside the home. Say you are stranded in your car. Certainly blankets in the trunk are a great thing, but if you don't have it and you don't have enough clothing, what do you do?

BROWN: I tell you, you can't replace a human life, but you certainly can replace car seats. The secret to insulation is simply dead space. I would go to the extent of even ripping up the upholstery in the car, stuffing it into your garments to create that dead air space. For instance, there is enough padding in the seats of the car to take two people in normal clothing down to 20 below zero.

HEMMER: Also, in the '90s, we have cell phones that are used quite widely there. Recommendation there?

BROWN: Yes, it's a good survival tool.

HEMMER: And the other thing you talk about is mental attitude. How key is that?

BROWN: Oh, if somebody asked me the most important skill in survival, I would have to say mental attitude, because mental attitude is going to make or break you in a survival situation. When I tell people, hey, you are out of heat, you are in a disaster, what are you going to talk about to your kids and grand kids 20 years from now, what you did shopping Thursday night or the disaster that you survived? Have fun.

HEMMER: Tom Brown, listen, thanks for talking, and you stay warm and stay safe. And we appreciate the tips there. Have a good weekend.

BROWN: Thank you.

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