Survival Shelter

A tree like this could provide temporary shelter in an emergency.
A tree like this could provide temporary shelter in an emergency.

My interest in natural building spans the full range of construction from simple emergency shelters for disaster victims all the way up to gorgeous homes. Today I thought I’d blog about something a little different. Imagine yourself stranded in the wilderness in an emergency situation. Your knowledge of knots, lashings and pole building could help keep you dry, warm and comfortable or even save your life. Even basic knowledge of these things could prove invaluable someday. You don’t need to be an expert woodsman or survivalist. In this scenario we’re talking about temporary shelter for a few days.

If you live in the mountains, you’ll know how people frequently get lost in the woods or stranded when their car breaks down on a lonely stretch of logging road. Many people succomb to the elements in just a few hours from hypothermia, so it’s imperative to stay warm and dry in these situations and not panic. Quick, easy to build shelter is just what’s needed until you can work out a better plan.

Okay, are you with me so far? (I told you this would be a different kind of blog post.) How would you concoct an emergency shelter for 1-3 days using just a few basic materials? Well, I saw this tree a while back and it inspired me to write this blog post. The steep shape, tree leaves and vines would all help shed water. It should be nice and dry underneath. Some rain might still get through and so I would use a tarp or piece of plastic to help keep the water out. The tarp or plastic could be attached to the tree truck and branches with rope or twine and sloped outward for a makeshift roof. You might have to trim off a few tree branches and clear a comfortable spot on the ground. Next up would be securing firewood, building a firepit and small fire. Then make a cup of tea and have a snack as you gather your thoughts. Even a simple shelter like this would improve your odds of survival by giving you a boost of confidence, allowing you to rest and clearly think through your options as well as keeping you warm and dry.

Search YouTube for lots more ideas on survival shelters. You can add wind breaks, reflector shields to direct more heat toward your body, pine boughs for bedding, raise the bed off the ground, hang pots over the fire, etc. Having camped and hiked in the mountains for many years, I’ve been in at least three survival situations (mostly from sudden severe snowstorms) and can attest to the importance of knowing basic survival techniques.

3 thoughts on “Survival Shelter”

  1. One of the things I learned early was if your in a sopping wet situation is to build your bed OFF the ground using branches as your mattress and your cover. Pine needles was what I’d use if they were in your area. I’m thinking I have nothing but what I’m wearing and my pocket knife. If it’s lightning, stay out from underneath that tree if it’s close. if you can get some small logs together, you can build a wall which will reflect that heat from your fire back towards you to keep you warm and dry. I’d have my fire somewhat protected from the rain. It’s not going to be 100% but, improvise, adapt, overcome. A lean to, you can build pretty easy and the bark works pretty good for tie. IF you’ve got vines, that’s even better. If you found an outcrop then that’s where I’d first check out. It might have soft ground there and that could be to your advantage. There’s so many different scenarios that you first have to consider in building a shelter. I’ve spent more than 3 months out in the bush with no shelter. Just what I built and I came out okay. I “intentionally” spent a year out in the woods but, I did have a tent. I’d go to town once a month to get supplies. I would hunt and fish. I have to admit, I got jumpy from the sounds of cars, people talking etc. There’s a peace there that unless you’ve been there, done that most people just wouldn’t understand. I love my serenity. NOTHING like peace and quiet. I hope this is what you were asking for?!

  2. Our site has just recovered from a major outage. Wow, let’s hope this is not indicative of Pagely’s service (our new host). Sure, glitches happen, but the site was down for quite a few hours. Also, the administration page takes 2-3 times longer to load for me. Oh well, nothing I can do.


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