If you find yourself out in the wilderness and in need of shelter you are going to have to focus on a few things before you pick a spot the set up a temporary camp:
- How long am I going to be here?
This is the first one as it affects all the other questions that determine where you will be setting up camp. If you are just passing through and know you will be back on your way tomorrow then being near fresh water is not going to be an issue.
- What are the biggest dangers?
Take a look around and sum up what the biggest dangers you are facing are and deal with those, or rather, manage those the best you can based upon the time you suspect you will be within your location.
Are you looking to be rescued or are you simply just looking to survive or get by until a certain time - a time you know someone will be showing up to meet you or relieve you.
Lets for the sake of argument, the scenario you find yourself in is that you are lost and you (for whatever reason) will need to spend at least two weeks in your current location.
Considerations need to be thought through before setting up camp/a shelter.
How far is a clean water supply?
There is no real way to test if a water is clean enough to drink. Boiling is a good way to make water safe from most natural concerns you can also get water purification pills that can be put in unboiled water and do the same job. If it is an emergency you unfortunately have to take the risk. If it is not an emergency a further scouting of the area might find a better supply. Do not go for the first you find if you are not satisfied.
Is this area safe from wild animals?
If you are worried about wild animals you need to keep a fire burning but most importantly there needs to be a some smoke. The smell of smoke instinctively frightens animals away.
If you have the resources and time you might want to build a fortress of sharp sticks and thorny bushes to encircle yourself.
If you have been eating meat, make sure you get rid of all of the meat and put it up in a safe location away from where you are sleeping. If you plan on butchering anything I would advise you do this far from where you camp as the bits you throw away are some animals favourites.
Is there a risk of flooding from rain?
You need to be sure that you are not setting up your camp in a dip because if it rains, and then doesn't stop for a while, you and your things are going to get wet!