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How to Build a Shelter

Updated on January 9, 2018

Build a shelter in any place and in any situation taking advantage of what the surrounding environment offers

Building a survival shelter is a top priority if faced with a survival situation in hostile weather conditions or unpredictable weather conditions.
A good shelter must protect you from the elements and be comfortable to rest and sleep. Most people can not survive unless protected from adverse weather conditions.

An essential rule that underlies survival is building a shelter and lighting a fire before sunset. When you have done these two things you can move away to look for water and nourishment.

The construction of a makeshift shelter depends very much on the availability of the surrounding environment and on the person’s capacities.

Depending on where you are, there are essential guidelines to follow to quickly improvise a simple and successful shelter.

A safe and dignified home allows us to rest better and then rest our body and our psyche. Having the ability to rest not less than several hours to regain strength is vital as far as survival is concerned, allowing you to think better and put yourself in a positive state of mind.

Rules to follow for the construction of a shelter

  • Always choose a safe region, detecting conceivable and unexpected hazards.
  • Prefer a shelter behind a rock or a rise so you can keep an eye on only one road.
  • Stay away from sloping roofs or land in danger of falling rocks.
  • On the off chance that you are a victim of misfortune, use the wreck as a safe house or use its parts to produce one. Focus on the tanks if they are touched or in danger of fire.
  • If you wait for help, always try to build the shelter in an area clearly visible to emergency teams and keep a fire lit or more fires to be glimpsed more.
  • Before it becomes dark, it is important to store a stock of firewood and keep it near the shelter with a specific purpose to sustain the fire by waking up at regular intervals.
  • Keeping the flames burning near the shelter and also marking the position and warming up in cold atmospheres will keep untamed creatures away.
  • Keep in mind that at night the equator arrives suddenly and in the mountains it gets dark early. In the desert the evenings are exceptionally frozen, due to the strong temperature range that passes between day and night.
  • In case you go to a campsite, always carry a sleeping bag and a waterproof sheet.
  • In survival equipment there should be an aluminum isothermal cover (aluminum crisis cover). This aluminum material is useful for a thousand purposes: it is waterproof, it protects from rain, wind, humidity and snow, it also protects from the ice and protects from the sun because it reflects it, its reflection can be precious to postpone the heat of the fire and make reports, in addition folded, occupies almost no space.
  • If you find a natural shelter (cave, cave, crevice, protrusion of a rock, under a tree a thick foliage, etc.) or artificial (mountain shelter, mine, abandoned vehicle, shack etc.) take advantage of it do not bother to build one.

Refuge area

If you can choose a soil that is well dry, well drained with little difference in height, at a convenient distance for water and wood to be collected, which has construction materials for the shelter and provides protection against strong winds.
If you're lost and someone is looking for you, make sure the shelter area is easy to see and find by search and rescue teams.

Not suitable for the shelter:

  • An area too close to water has many insects
  • Rivers pose a constant threat to security.
  • Heavy rains in the nearby hills can create possible floods. Avoid dry rivers.
  • Avoid rough terrain, dead trees or any natural element that can collapse on your shelter.

In the lowlands such as ditches, gorges and very narrow valleys can be very humid, collecting heavy cold air at night and therefore with a lower temperature than the surrounding air. On the other hand, the mountain tops are exposed to strong winds.
The best area for the shelter is halfway possibly on the south side.

Before starting to build your shelter, check for insects and reptiles such as ticks, scorpions, poisonous snakes ...

Check that there is no object on your shelter that can collapse like dry branches, rocks and other natural elements.

This type of shelter is among the easiest to build and the best to retain heat.
Start by taking measurements by lying on the ground and sufficiently marking the size of your body. Construct a tripod with two poles of the same length and a longer one, fixing them firmly to the ground.

Once the supporting structure has been fixed, it is advisable to start with the bed (at least 20 cm) to isolate itself from the ground. The easiest method is to create a dense network of branches, then cover it with dry material such as dry leaves or conifers.

Place a thick line of sticks on both sides of the pole, which is sloping enough to allow the water to slide away quickly. As a last step in the construction of this shelter, add an abundant layer of insulating material, stopping it with other branches so that in case of strong wind, do not fly off the insulating wall. With a reflector in front of the entrance you are sure to stay warm.

How to do

  1. Lie down on the ground so as to take the measures for the shelter then start building the structure: tied together two poles of the same length (they will be the entrance of the shelter) so as to form an inverted V, plant them on the ground and position yourself on a pole longer, about a couple of meters 8depends from your height), the pole must rest on the two V-poles with one end and with the other on the ground. Now reinforce the structure by placing other poles tying them with rope or vines to the central pole and sticking them to the ground.
  2. Cover now the structure with smaller branches and with leaves in order to isolate yourself well from the outside.
  3. Avoid sleeping in direct contact with the ground but create inside a bed about twenty centimeters from the ground with branches and dry leaves. Try to make the structure as stable as possible to avoid accidents in the event of wind, also do not build it under dangerous or dry branches.
  4. Keep the fire close to you both to warm up and to keep animals and insects away.

Shelter with reflector fire

© 2018 Antonino


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    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 

      2 years ago from Maryland, United States of America

      This is a very interesting article. I don't see enough survival topics covered!


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