Building Emergency Survival Shelters – Part 1
When ever you plan to stay overnight in the wilderness you generally carry a sleeping bag, pad and tent with you. But if you are not planning on spending the night what should you carry? There are several lightweight alternatives that could help save your life in an emergency situation. An 8′ x 10′ to 12′ tarp can be converted into a good emergency shelter. Another alternative is a tube tent that can be set up quickly between two trees.
The first thing you need to do is select a good site between two trees. If trees or branches are not available you might have a walking stick or pole that can be used to hold up one end of the tent. Make sure you carry a few tent stakes to fasten your lines to. Here are a few do’s and don’ts when you are choosing a good site.
– Never set up a tent over an ant nest or any animal burrow.
– Don’t set up your tent in a riverbank or gully as a flash flood could wipe you out.
– Never set up below the high water mark on a shoreline.
– Don’t set up your camp on top of a hill or on a ridge line as these areas can be more prone to lightning strikes.
– Don’t attach your tent to the tallest trees in the forest or a single tree as these are also prone to lightning strikes. Choose to attach your tent to smaller trees amongst taller trees as these will be safer.
– Don’t attach your tent under dead branches or onto dead trees as these could break off during the night and fall onto your tent.
– Don’t set up your shelter near a dead tree that is within falling distance of your shelter.
– Always set up your shelter during daylight hours so you can see what is around you and you can avoid these potential problems.
Remember lightning is not your friend. Figure out the general direction the wind will blow from, or the windward side. Look at the surrounding grass, and which direction it is laying down, that tells you the general direction the wind blows from. You will place the fold of the shelter toward the windward side. You might find a small hollow that can protect you from the wind, but it should have some slope to the ground because you don’t want it to fill up with water during the night. Make sure there are no rocks on the ground where you plan on sleeping. There is nothing worse than laying on a rock all night. You may also want to dig a shallow hole for your hips to be more comfortable. If it is cold you might want to gather up a pile of leaves or grasses that can act as an insulating layer between you and the ground. The deeper the pile the warmer you will be. There are two styles of survival shelter you might want to construct. One is shaped more like a triangular tube, the other is open on one side to get the heat from a fire. Don’t put the fire too close because most tarp’s are flammable.