Emergency Survival Shelter
The importance of a shelter can't be overstated. Even in non-freezing climates, a shelter that protects you from rain and allows you to rest can be the difference between life and death. A shelter's importance increases the longer you are in a survival situation as the physical and emotional strains take a stronger and stronger toll on your mind and body.
There are two other articles on building tree-based shelters and snow-based shelters, but the following describes general principles that you should understand as they apply to any form of shelter you use.
Guidelines for Selecting a Shelter Location
Your site should have the following characteristics:
- Close to your signal and recovery site.
- Close to sources of food and water.
- Large and level so that you can lie down comfortably.
- Surrounded by enough materials so that construction doesn't require you to forage at great distances.
The ideal site will have a southern exposure if you're north of the equator and a northern exposure if you're south of it. These exposures maximize the optimal light and heat from the sun throughout the day. Build your shelter so that the entrance faces east which will result in the early-morning sun exposure.
Building a shelter will be hard enough that you shouldn't also have to worry about surrounding hazards. Keep the following in mind when selecting a site.
- Avoid avalanche slopes.
- Avoid drainage and dry riverbeds with a potential for flash floods.
- If near bodies of water, stay above tide marks.
- Avoid rock formations that might collapse.
- Avoid dead trees that might blow down and overhanging dead limbs.
- Avoid animals and their trails.
Wilderness Survival by Gregory J. Davenport