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  • Survival Shelters



    A well made shelter can give you protection from the elements as well as insects and predatory animals. It can also make you comfortable in an otherwise stressful situation, contributing to your well-being, piece of mind, and will to survive.

    In some situations, your need for a shelter may be more important than your need for food and possibly even your need for water. Long-term exposure to cold can cause fatigue and weakness (exhaustion). An exhausted person may develop a "I don't care anymore" outlook, and lose the will to survive.

    The most common error in making a shelter is to make it too large. A shelter must be large enough to protect you. It must also be small enough to contain your body heat, especially in cold climates. Hypothermia is a very real and serious threat facing people who are exposed to the elements in a survival situation.

    In this article you'll read about how to find and construct a functional shelter in survival situations.

    Finding a Suitable Location for your Shelter

    If you are in a survival situation and realize that shelter is a high priority, start looking for shelter as soon as possible. As you do so, remember what you will need at the site. Requisites are--
    It must contain material to make the type of shelter you need.

    It must be large enough and level enough for you to lie down comfortably.

    Is suitable for emergency signaling, if necessary.

    Provides protection against wild animals and rocks and dead trees that might fall.

    Is free from insects, reptiles, and poisonous plants.

    Avoid flash flood areas in foothills.

    Avoid avalanche or rock slide areas in mountainous terrain.

    Avoid sites near bodies of water that are below the high water mark.

    Site needs for a shelter differ in winter and summer. During cold winter months you will need a site that will protect you from the cold and wind, but will have a source of fuel and water. During summer months in the same area you will want a source of water, but you will want the site to be almost insect free.

    Building Your Shelter



    Some things to consider before creating a shelter:
    How much time and effort you need to build the shelter.

    If the shelter will adequately protect you from the elements (sun, wind, rain, snow).

    If you have the tools to build it. If not, can you make improvised tools?

    If you have the type and amount of materials needed to build it.

    To answer these questions, you need to know how to make various types of shelters and what materials you need to make them. So let's take a look at some improvised shelters.




    Poncho/Tarp Lean-To



    It takes only a short time and minimal equipment to build this lean-to.

    You need a poncho, 2 to 3 meters of rope ,parachute suspension line, or vines if those things aren't available. Three stakes about 30 centimeters long, and two trees or two poles 2 to 3 meters apart. Before selecting the trees you will use or the location of your poles, check the wind direction. Ensure that the back of your lean-to will be into the wind.

    * Tie off the hood of the poncho. Pull the drawstring tight, roll the hood longways, fold it into thirds, and tie it off with the drawstring.

    * Cut the rope in half. On one long side of the poncho, tie half of the rope to the corner grommet. Tie the other half to the other corner grommet.

    * Attach a drip stick (about a 10-centimeter stick) to each rope about 2.5 centimeters from the grommet. These drip sticks will keep rainwater from running down the ropes into the lean-to. Tying strings (about 10 centimeters long) to each grommet along the poncho's top edge will allow the water to run to and down the line without dripping into the shelter.

    * Tie the ropes about waist high on the trees (uprights). Use a round turn and two half hitches with a quick-release knot.

    * Spread the poncho and anchor it to the ground, putting sharpened sticks through the grommets and into the ground.

    If you plan to use the lean-to for more than one night, or you expect rain, make a center support for the lean-to. Make this support with a line. Attach one end of the line to the poncho hood and the other end to an overhanging branch. Make sure there is no slack in the line.

    Another method is to place a stick upright under the center of the lean-to. This method, however, will restrict your space and movements in the shelter.
    For additional protection from wind and rain, place some brush, your rucksack, or other equipment at the sides of the lean-to.

    To reduce heat loss to the ground, place some type of insulating material, such as leaves or pine needles, inside your lean-to. Note: When at rest, you lose as much as 80 percent of your body heat to the ground.

    Poncho/Tarp Tent



    This tent (Figure 5-2) provides a low silhouette. It also protects you from the elements on two sides. It has, however, less usable space and observation area than a lean-to, decreasing your reaction time to enemy detection. To make this tent, you need a poncho, two 1.5- to 2.5-meter ropes, six sharpened sticks about 30 centimeters long, and two trees 2 to 3 meters apart.
    To make this shelter:
    * Tie off the poncho hood in the same way as the poncho lean-to.

    * Tie a 1.5- to 2.5-meter rope to the center grommet on each side of the poncho.

    * Tie the other ends of these ropes at about knee height to two trees 2 to 3 meters apart and stretch the poncho tight.

    * Draw one side of the poncho tight and secure it to the ground pushing sharpened sticks through the grommets.

    * Follow the same procedure on the other side.

    If you need a center support, use the same methods as for the poncho lean-to. Another center support is an A-frame set outside but over the center of the tent (Figure 5-3). Use two 90- to 120-centimeter-long sticks, one with a forked end, to form the A-frame. Tie the hood's drawstring to the A-frame to support the center of the tent.


    Natural Shelters

    Do not overlook natural formations that provide shelter. Examples are caves, rocky crevices, clumps of bushes, small depressions, large rocks on leeward sides of hills, large trees with low-hanging limbs, and fallen trees with thick branches. However, when selecting a natural formation--

    * Stay away from low ground such as ravines, narrow valleys, or creek beds. Low areas collect the heavy cold air at night and are therefore colder than the surrounding high ground. Thick, brushy, low ground also harbors more insects.

    * Check for poisonous snakes, ticks, mites, scorpions, and stinging ants.

    * Look for loose rocks, dead limbs, or other natural growth than could fall on your shelter.


    Field-Expedient Lean-To





    If you are in a wooded area and have enough natural materials, you can make a field-expedient lean-to (Figure 5-9) without the aid of tools or with only a knife. It takes longer to make this type of shelter than it does to make other types, but it will protect you from the elements.

    You will need two trees (or upright poles) about 2 meters apart; one pole about 2 meters long and 2.5 centimeters in diameter; five to eight poles about 3 meters long and 2.5 centimeters in diameter for beams; cord or vines for securing the horizontal support to the trees; and other poles, saplings, or vines to crisscross the beams.

    To make this lean-to--

    * Tie the 2-meter pole to the two trees at waist to chest height. This is the horizontal support. If a standing tree is not available, construct a biped using Y-shaped sticks or two tripods.

    * Place one end of the beams (3-meter poles) on one side of the horizontal support. As with all lean-to type shelters, be sure to place the lean-to's backside into the wind.

    * Crisscross saplings or vines on the beams.

    * Cover the framework with brush, leaves, pine needles, or grass, starting at the bottom and working your way up like shingling.

    * Place straw, leaves, pine needles, or grass inside the shelter for bedding.

    In cold weather, add to your lean-to's comfort by building a fire reflector wall (Figure 5-9). Drive four 1.5-meter-long stakes into the ground to support the wall. Stack green logs on top of one another between the support stakes. Form two rows of stacked logs to create an inner space within the wall that you can fill with dirt. This action not only strengthens the wall but makes it more heat reflective. Bind the top of the support stakes so that the green logs and dirt will stay in place.

    With just a little more effort you can have a drying rack. Cut a few 2-centimeter-diameter poles (length depends on the distance between the lean-to's horizontal support and the top of the fire reflector wall). Lay one end of the poles on the lean-to support and the other end on top of the reflector wall. Place and tie into place smaller sticks across these poles. You now have a place to dry clothes, meat, or fish.


    Swamp Bed



    In a marsh or swamp, or any area with standing water or continually wet ground, the swamp bed (Figure 5-10) keeps you out of the water. When selecting such a site, consider the weather, wind, tides, and available materials.

    To make a swamp bed--

    * Look for four trees clustered in a rectangle, or cut four poles (bamboo is ideal) and drive them firmly into the ground so they form a rectangle. They should be far enough apart and strong enough to support your height and weight, to include equipment.

    * Cut two poles that span the width of the rectangle. They, too, must be strong enough to support your weight.

    * Secure these two poles to the trees (or poles). Be sure they are high enough above the ground or water to allow for tides and high water.

    * Cut additional poles that span the rectangle's length. Lay them across the two side poles, and secure them.

    * Cover the top of the bed frame with broad leaves or grass to form a soft sleeping surface.

    A swamp bed can be built inside of an existing shelter if size permits.

    Another shelter designed to get you above and out of the water or wet ground uses the same rectangular configuration as the swamp bed. You very simply lay sticks and branches lengthwise on the inside of the trees (or poles) until there is enough material to raise the sleeping surface above the water level.



    Debris Hut


    Part 1 of 2

    Part 2 of 2
    videos by: www.primitiveskills.com


    For warmth and ease of construction, this shelter is one of the best. When shelter is essential to survival, build this shelter.



    To make a debris hut (Figure 5-11)--

    * Build it by making a tripod with two short stakes and a long ridgepole or by placing one end of a long ridgepole on top of a sturdy base.

    * Secure the ridgepole (pole running the length of the shelter) using the tripod method or by anchoring it to a tree at about waist height.

    * Prop large sticks along both sides of the ridgepole to create a wedge-shaped ribbing effect. Ensure the ribbing is wide enough to accommodate your body and steep enough to shed moisture.

    * Place finer sticks and brush crosswise on the ribbing. These form a latticework that will keep the insulating material (grass, pine needles, leaves) from falling through the ribbing into the sleeping area. You can also pack the outside of the hut with snow if available.

    * Add light, dry, if possible, soft debris over the ribbing until the insulating material is at least 1 meter thick--the thicker the better.

    * Place a 30-centimeter layer of insulating material inside the shelter.

    * At the entrance, pile insulating material that you can drag to you once inside the shelter to close the entrance or build a door.

    * As a final step in constructing this shelter, add shingling material or branches on top of the debris layer to prevent the insulating material from blowing away in a storm.

    Tree-Pit Snow Shelter



    If you are in a cold, snow-covered area where evergreen trees grow and you have a digging tool, you can make a tree-pit shelter (Figure 5-12).
    To make this shelter--

    * Find a tree with bushy branches that provides overhead cover.

    * Dig out the snow around the tree trunk until you reach the depth and diameter you desire, or until you reach the ground.

    * Pack the snow around the top and the inside of the hole to provide support.

    * Find and cut other evergreen boughs. Place them over the top of the pit to give you additional overhead cover. Place evergreen boughs in the bottom of the pit for insulation.


    Snow Trench



    This is perhaps the simplest of the wilderness survival shelters made of snow. You just scrape a trench a couple feet deep in the snow, big enough to lay down in,and then you cover the top (leave a small opening to climb into). Some tips:

    - As with other snow shelters, it is important to provide yourself a way to stay off the snow, whether this is a mattress of dry grass, evergreen boughs, leaves or whatever is available.

    - If the snow is crusty you might be able to stomp out rectangular blocks that can then be lifted into place to form a roof over the trench.

    - Build a better shelter when daylight or better weather comes. This is one of the easiest wilderness survival shelters to build, but not one of the most comfortable.

    Rock Over-Hangs



    Overhanging rocks and rock ledges can keep the rain or snow off of you. They are also a good start for a better shelter. Lean small trees or sticks against them to create a windbreak and more enclosed space. This then is like a cross between a cave and a lean-to. Some tips:
    - Make sure the over-hang is solid, you don't want it to collapse on you.

    - Note where the underside of the rock is stained to see where rainwater will drip (sometimes it flows to the underside of the rock), to avoid spots where you might get wet.

    - Insulate yourself from the ground.


    Caves



    Caves that are deep and wet are not the best shelters. On the other hand, in some areas there are many dry holes and rooms in sandstone cliffs. These are commonly called "shelter caves" and they live up to their name. Some tips:
    -Use extreme caution when exploring a cave for shelter purposes, they're dark, they may contain hidden pit-falls and many other dangers.

    - Avoid caves with rodent nests and droppings. These are usually from pack rats and can carry disease.

    - Avoid caves with streams running in them, as the water volume can change while you sleep, possibly endangering you.

    - Be sure that there is adequate ventilation if you plan to have a fire for warmth.

    There you have it, how to find and build shelters in a survival situation. There are lots of different ways to provide yourself with shelter that I haven't listed, so take some time to read up on more ways to stay sheltered in an emergency. Stay safe out there.


    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/chp5.php
    http://www.the-ultralight-site.com/w...-shelters.html

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