For many kids in Minnesota, building a snow fort is one of the joys of winter -- but warmer weather brings a risk of sudden collapse, and one boy is warning other children how dangerous and scary that can be.
"I was trying to clean out the inside and get it all emptied out," Steven Morse told Fox 9 News. "I had been using my hand to do that and I went in head-first."
At 12 years old, Steven Morse said his perspective on playing in the snow has changed. That's because he was tunneling into the pile of snow near his parent's driveway when he became trapped for nearly a full hour.
"I closed my eyes and I was praying to God that I would survive," he remembered. "The next thing I know, I'm in the ER room and I'm just like, 'How did I get here?'"
It took Morse's father and brother to dig him out because nearly two feet of snow fell down on top of him, burying the boy from his hips to his head.
"I tried wiggling my way out but I couldn't," Morse explained. "I just tried moving, getting more air in there."
Morse said he tried to get onto his back and saw a light that gave him home that air was getting through the snow that was holding him down.
"I was scared for my life," he admitted. "I was yelling for help and no one was out there. So, I tried kicking it so it would go down, so I could move it off -- but it was no use. That's when I went on my back and closed my eyes."
Once Morse's family realized they were in trouble, his mother called 911 as the rescue digging began. The boy was unresponsive and was tense, soaking wet, and cold to the touch. By the time EMTs arrived, Morse was already inside the house.
Doctors say Morse's instinct to stay calm and turn to his side to get the weight of the snow off of his chest helped him stay alive. Now, Morse is warning other children that beautiful snow can also be dangerous.
"Don't make a roof," he urged. "That's only causing a hazard that is big and most likely horrible for you because it can collapse in and it's dangerous."
Warmer temperatures are adding to the risks of snow fort and snow tunnels. Parents are advised to keep close watch since there is only about as much time to save a child buried under snow as there is to save a child that is drowning in water.
"It can be one minute that everything is going good as far as playing inside, digging that tunnel," Lakeville Fire Chief Mike Meyer said. "Next thing you know, that thing can be on top just like that."
SNOW FORTS: Beware cave-ins as temperatures rise
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