Planning and placing your shelter
When it comes time to planning and placing your shelter for a time of crisis, there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself. Among them are:
- Are you alone, in good physical shape or traveling with teenagers or other healthy, adult companions?
- Do you have the responsibility of caring for infants, small children, frail seniors or physically/mentally challenged dependents?
- Are you or anyone in your party injured?
- Is the weather fair, foul, blazing hot or freezing cold, or is everything around you drenched to the bone? Is rain or snow still pouring down?
- Are you accidentally lost in the mountains, deserts, swamps or foreign jungles, or are you caught up in a high-population, devastated urban/suburban location?
The answers to those questions will tell you a lot about what kind, size and how sturdy your shelter(s) must be. Next, you must determine which materials you have at your disposal.
In nice weather you can sleep under the stars, only insulating your bedding space from the cool earth (by at least six inches). When days are hot and nights are below 65 degrees, a “hard structured shelter” is advised. When the temperatures are below freezing having a strong, tight shelter is often more important than your first fire, although fire is your next most important project.
When in swamps or jungles, having an above-ground bed shelter is critical in keeping flesh-eating bugs, spiders, snakes or predators away while you sleep.
Whatever the situation, having a strong roof and side walls protects you from the hot sun, the cold, a sudden deluge of rain/snow and helps hold smoke from your fire inside at night to keep mosquitoes, snakes and even large predators from joining you for a nightly nap.
In hot deserts you need a large, airy shelter that shields you from the blazing sun. Yet it must have enough airflow to help keep you cool. Digging a grave-like pit to rest in helps keep you much cooler. The deeper you dig, the higher your awning and the cooler it will be.
During urban disasters there should be literally “tons” of shelter-making debris available to you. Partially damaged homes or buildings are great free-standing shelters. Just make sure everything above you is solid and won’t fall on you in your sleep.
I’ll write more about this subject in the coming months.