It is highly unlikely that you will ever find yourself in a survival situation; however, having the necessary survival skills in your back pocket will exponentially increase your chances of survival. We can survive days without water in the right settings. But, in some of the most hostile conditions and places on earth, not having a shelter can kill you in just a few hours. So, learning how to build a shelter can save your life because you never know where and when you will be stranded. Also, knowing different types of shelters is necessary because not all shelters can be used in any situation. So, read on to learn how to build a shelter.
How to Build a Shelter
There are several elements to consider when learning how to make a shelter. First is the location; a shelter’;s position must have as many readily available building materials nearby as possible. You do not want your shelter to be a mile from the nearest source of materials. Also, be sure to watch out for dangerous locations such as steep hillsides, flood plains, and dead trees. These can be potentially dangerous and would be a poor place to set up a shelter.
The second element that should be taken into consideration, which is often overlooked, is the shelter’;s size. Often a shelter is built too large, which takes considerably more time, materials, and energy to make. Also, large shelters tend to be less efficient with heat capture because of their large surface area. Because smaller shelters keep in heat better, they are always an easier and smarter choice to construct.
The third and perhaps most important factor in building a shelter is the design you choose to base the shelter off of. Several factors must be taken into consideration when picking a shelter type, such as the environment, weather conditions, available materials, and the number of people that will reside in the shelter.
The types of shelters listed below are built without the aid of manufactured products, such as tarps or ponchos, and are made strictly from materials found in nature.
Types of Shelters
Debris Hut – this shelter is quite simple to make and is probably one of the most efficient shelters for maintaining heat in temperate to cold climates. This shelter is a rough tripod shape, with a long pole (stick) to account for the length of ones body. The ridgepole is supported by a low tree limb, stump, or rock, and should be no higher than two feet at the opening. The next step is to apply large upright sticks to the ridgepole to create a ribbing effect. After this has been completed, lace smaller sticks through the ribs in a perpendicular manner to create webbing. This will allow leaves, grass, and other insulated material to be piled on top without falling into the shelter. Once insulation has been added (roughly three feet thick), apply more sticks on the debris hut to pack it down. This will prevent any insulation from being blown away in poor weather or a storm. This shelter is the one featured in the image above.
Tree-Pit Snow Shelter – this shelter is designed for cold regions and is excellent for areas with heavy snowfall. The snow shelter should be built around a tall, evergreen tree with plenty of branches for overhead cover. The next step is to dig down around the base of the tree, creating a pit. This should be dug until you’;ve reached the ground if the snow is not too deep. Make sure to pack the snow down around and above the shelter to add structural support. Lastly, cut down the surrounding vegetation and place it above and inside the shelter. This added insulation is an improvement to the snow, which is a natural insulator.
Desert Shelter – many know that temperatures in deserts can be extremely hot and almost inhumanly unbearable. However, temperatures in these arid landscapes can fluctuate dramatically and even drop below freezing at night. A shelter built in a desert should be put in the shade, under the cover of a tree; here temperatures are significantly cooler and better your chances for survival. Start by digging a channel 2-3 feet deep into the earth to match the appropriate length of your body. (Sand several feet below the earth will also be significantly cooler than the layer of sand found on the surface). Next, collect sticks and debris to lie across the top of the shelter. This insulation will protect you from the cold at night, and also will help insulate you from the heat during the day.
Knowing how to build a shelter is a skill that everyone should know. Also, knowing the different types of shelters is useful because different shelters are used in different situations. The types of shelters listed above cover three common situations and environments that you can find yourself in if you are placed in a survival situation.
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