This article provides a look at the fundamentals of wilderness shelters. Topics covered include determining suitable sites for shelter and hazards of wilderness survival. Basic shelter construction is also covered.
You’ve survived and escaped the disaster zone, but now you find yourself lost and stranded in the wilderness, away from civilization. Now what do you do? You keep your cool and assess your situation, that’s what. Once any immediate problems like injuries or threats have been dealt with, you’ll need to focus on your first priority for survival: acquiring shelter against the elements.
Survey your surroundings to find the best location to place your shelter. Ideal sites are dry, flat areas with good drainage to prevent standing water and accompanying insect swarms. A source of potable water should be reasonably close, as should plenty of dried logs for firewood. There should also be at least some protection against the wind, such as a hill or a copse of trees nearby.
Be aware of your environment and avoid taking shelter too near a river. Heavy rains can lead to flash flooding which can quickly wipe out your tenuous bid for survival. You should also stay out of both low and high ground areas to avoid the damp, cold night air and the wind chill exposure, respectively.
One other important thing to keep in mind when selecting a shelter site is its visibility. In the event that search and rescue teams are looking for you, do your best to make your shelter as easy to spot from both the ground and the air as possible. Signal fires and ground signs are excellent means of attracting the attention of rescuers.
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