Delta Survivalist – Shelter (View our Shelter Products Here)
Of the four survival essentials, water, fire, food and shelter, the shelter is usually the last thing someone suddenly finding themselves lost or just having survived a disaster will began to plan. You will have many other thoughts, fears and plans running through your head. Unless nightfall is beginning, the weather is really bad or you realize it may be days before help arrives one may give little thought to shelter. However, in many locations the weather can change quickly and the nightfall can mean much lower temperatures. Wind, rain, cold and snow can cause a drop in body temperature that will cause hyperemia. Unrelenting sun and high heat temperatures can raise the body temperature, burn your skin severely and cause heatstroke. Even on cold sunny days you can still suffer sunburn. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause death by causing a rapid loss of body fluids. Neither heatstroke nor hyperemia are things you want to add to your distress. Both of these conditions can come on slowly so that you may not realize what is happening. Learn the signs. You still have your mind, use it. A careful assessment of the survival situation that you now find yourself will allow you to prioritize in what order you manage your four essentials. Find cover as quickly as possible and take into account your health and that of other people with you. Check any tools that you may have with you such as knives, hatchet, machete, pocket saws, tarps, ropes, etc. Shelter can often become a matter of urgency.
Building a shelter can become a strenuous activity, but it is not one that you can afford to overlook. The lack of shelter can cause death long before the need for food or water. Never build a shelter if you can find one that nature built. It is most important to build or find shelter before darkness falls or exhaustion sets in. Fallen trees can easily be improved with logs and tree branches to block the wind and rain. The most important thing to remember is to insulate yourself from the ground and protect yourself from the weather. Heat radiates to cold. In this case, lying on the cold ground will cause your body heat to warm the ground and your body temperature will fall. Gather straw, grass, fresh leafy tree branches and pine needles to make a bed to raise you up off the ground. If you have a tarp, rope and a space blanket (emergency pocket blanket) or pocket tent it could take only minutes to assemble your shelter. Lacking that look for large fallen trees, trees that have leafy branches near or touching the ground. Many pine trees or large Cedar bushes will do nicely. Look for caves, overhangs and natural walls or cliffs that can block the wind. Look for any dry spots in an otherwise wet or damp forest. Inspect them to make sure they are stable, safe from collapsing and are not home to animals that are meaner than you.
The terrain, weather, personal circumstances, whether you are alone or with others, the physical condition of the weakest of the group, your survival skills, the tools and supplies you have at your disposal will to a large extent determine where you will build your shelter and what form it takes. Choose a site that will provide as much natural coverage from the wind as possible. Angle the shelter so that the entrance is always facing away from the wind. A hillside is usually warmer than at the bottom of a valley, even though it may be windier. Build the shelter as near as possible to a water source, although look for signs that it may flood when it rains in lowlands. In coastal areas keep tide waters in mind and in mountainous areas beware of falling rock, landslides or avalanches. If in a forest look around for fallen trees that may indicate you are in an area of loose soil. This is a dangerous area in a high wind. However a single fallen tree in a forest may provide ready-made shelter. Stay close to sources of building materials and firewood, especially firewood.
When ready-made natural shelter is unavailable a shelter can be made a combination of materials possessed by the survivor and found natural materials. A tarp, plastic sheeting, sacks, canvas and blankets carried or found by the survivor can all be used as windproof shelter. The most common natural materials include sticks, tree limbs, foliage turf and stones or rocks.
Stones or rocks can be useful and abundant where the ground is too hard to dig and foliage is scarce. Dirt and mud can be used to cover the spaces left in the stones to make a windproof shelter. The dirt may wash away in a heavy rain.
Turf can be used for constructing a shelter in grassy areas where trees and shrubs are scarce. Many countries still used turf as roofing material.
Foliage makes an excellent, long lasting waterproof shelter. Use large leafed foliage if possible, however any foliage laid in layers that allow the water to flow in a downward direction is good. Make a framework of sticks and tree limbs in a crisscross pattern to lay the foliage on.
Below are pictures of different shelters made from tarps or plastic sheeting. They can easily be made from tree limbs and foliage also.
Can you think of any others? Let us know.
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