If you got stranded in the woods and had to build an emergency shelter, would you know what to do or even how to get started? You could get caught in a rainstorm, a snow storm, or even in rocky or uneven terrain, and would need to find a way to protect yourself from the elements. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, or be something professional, it just has to keep you sheltered. Here are some tips to find the best location for your survival shelter.
You Need Water Nearby
While you don’t want to build your shelter right beside a river, creek or pond, you do want to choose a location that is only a short walk from a water source. If you don’t have another choice than to build right next to a body of water, do elevate your shelter as best you can to keep water from seeping in at night. It’s probably not a bad idea to keep trash bags or a lightweight plastic tarp in your bug out or camping gear to lay down first as a barrier between you and potentially wet ground.
Look for Natural Hideouts
Caves and trees make great natural shelters from the elements, however, you should use some caution when selecting one of these natural sites. First, make sure no other inhabitants, like bears or snakes, are taking up residence there. The last thing you want is to be an unwelcome guest in their house! Caves work great because they are usually dry and they are sturdy. There’s little risk of them collapsing, in most cases. Make your resting place closer to the entrance than toward the back and you’ll be able to get plenty of fresh air and still be sheltered. Taking shelter underneath (or even in) an large tree is another viable natural option. The branches provide shade and can keep most of the rain off of you. If you build a fire close to a tree, do try to make it far enough away that you don’t risk catching the branches or the roots on fire. That could be a disaster! You can also use fallen limbs or branches as poles for a makeshift tent.
Look for Potential Predators
Sleeping and taking shelter out in the elements can be full of potential hazards. Of course, wild animals are one of them, and you should definitely be on your guard against those. If you are in a group, you can take shifts keeping watch for them, especially at night. If you’re on your own, don’t leave food out, or do anything that could potentially attract them. Another natural predators are plants like poison oak or poison ivy. Know what it looks like and how to recognize it.
Pick Your Direction
When you are building your shelter, you want to also consider the direction you are facing. It could mean you will wake up at dawn with the sun streaming in, or depending on conditions, you could be downstream from a creek that could easily flood. Pay attention to the current wind direction, too, as that could affect whether your shelter can stay in place. Also placing your shelter in the midst of trees could be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it will help keep the rain off, but a curse should limbs start falling on the shelter in the middle of the night.
These are just some helpful hints to consider as you choose a spot to take shelter. Do you have any other tricks you use to find the best way to take cover in the elements?