Clean air, safe water, and edible and nutrient-rich food are essential during survival emergencies, but right behind them is shelter. Severe weather conditions can kill within a few hours if there's no kind of shelter to defend you from the elements and even comfortable climates are dangerous with prolonged exposure. When time is of the essence and survival is crucial, here are some of the most simple yet effective tips for creating survival shelters.

Survival Shelter Tips
  1. Choose your site wisely as possible - There are some basic key elements to keep in mind when choosing a site. The location should be as dry as possible, flat, and not located immediately next to a body of water. You should also avoid being underneath cliffs or anywhere there is a danger of falling rocks or dead limbs. Lastly, there should be a good place for a fire to be built immediately in front of the shelter opening or doorway.
  2. Assess your needs - How many people will you need to shelter? Does it need camo? Is it cold enough that you will need to build a fire inside, or will outside suffice? How much time do you have to prepare? And lastly: is this shelter going to be used only short-term, or are you settling in for the long haul?
  3. Tools - If you have the time now, consider purchasing these must-haves: survival shovel, survival knife, a bushcraft ax, folding saw, and a survival machete. Tip: no survival gear? Alternatives to always have are heavy-duty garbage bags, duct tape, aluminum foil, dental floss, paper clips, tin cans, coffee filters. Rocks and sticks can be used as a means of defense or as a replacement for shovels. Even simple, crumpled-up newspaper can help provide a layer of warmth that makes the difference and staves off hypothermia in cold situations.
Easiest Survival Shelters for Short Term Protection
  • If you're lucky enough to be near a sturdy outcrop, a cave, a natural depression, or a large burrow—don't waste time trying to build a shelter, whether simple or complex. Take what nature's given you to protect yourself from wind, rain, and snow.
  • The tarp shelter - All you need is a plastic tarp and some cordage. Tie each end around a tree. This is a fast, easy-to-build shelter. It's not ideal for protecting against wind, heavy rain, or extreme temperatures and offers no animal protection, but it will do in a pinch and can be set up with very little effort and few supplies.
  • Tarp Tent - Tie cordage between two trees, drape your tarp over it. Use rocks, heavy tree trunks, or more cordage to anchor the two sides of the tarp away from you. Another shelter that is fast and easy to build, a properly set-up tarp tent much better at protecting you from heavy rain than the tarp shelter. However, it will not protect you from animals, high winds, or extreme temperatures.
  • Winter Survival - In the middle of winter, and all building supplies are under snow? Don't panic. Remember, as counter-intuitive as it is, snow has an insulating effect. Dig carefully into a large mound of snow. Gather any debris from the ground you can find like dirt, leaves, twigs, or pine branches and create a mound, using larger sticks to frame it. Clear a hole just big enough for you to crawl in and out. Your body heat will be trapped inside, keeping you warmer through the night. Be sure to insulate yourself from the ground and use leaf litter, newspapers, or any sort of padding to stop you from losing heat to the ground.

When you don't have time to spare, but shelter is critical, we hope these tips will someday help you when you need it most.

TDM Developer