If you live or vacation in a forested area, you could get trapped outside during an emergency weather situation. When getting back to your home or vehicle isn't an option, knowing how to build an emergency shelter could save your life.
Find the Right Location
The best spot for your shelter needs to be the driest area you can find. Build a shelter on high ground if possible. If a cold wind is blowing, choose a spot protected by trees. Never build in the bottom of a ravine or valley where cold air settles.
Structure Your Shelter
There are many different ways to make an emergency shelter, but most follow the same basic set of instructions and begin with the same first step.
The A-Frame Emergency Shelter
Find two fallen branches about four or five feet long and one at least 10 feet long. Take the two shorter ones and prop them together in the shape of the letter "A." Prop the longer stick up at the top of the "A" and tie the branches together where they meet.
Gather more branches and sticks and prop them up against the long one. Pile debris like leaves and twigs on top until it creates a shelter open at the higher end.
The Lean-To Shelter
You can build the lean-to quickly and easily, and it's effective. First, see if you can find a fallen tree, a large rock, or a small overhang.
Start by leaning fallen limbs against the tree, rock, or overhang to create an angled wall. Cover the leaning tree branches and limbs with pine needles, leaves, bark, and whatever other forest debris you can find.
You can also build a lean-to by placing one end of a long branch against the low limb of a tree, then piling leaves and debris on top.
The Fallen Tree Shelter
This structure is one of the simplest emergency shelters. It requires a tree that has snapped in half and has part of the trunk still vertical while the top of the tree has fallen to the ground.
Lean branches, twigs, and sticks on the windward side of the tree to create a wall. If you're able to build a fire on the open end of the shelter, it will help to keep you warm!
The Cocoon Shelter
If you are in a position where you need to take shelter very quickly, you can hurriedly collect debris and leaves and pile them two to three feet high and longer than you are tall. Burrow into the pile as if it were your natural sleeping bag. This will help protect you against heat loss during unexpected weather emergencies.
Making an Emergency Shelter
When you need an emergency shelter, the most important thing to do is stay calm. Remember that making a shelter is not as complicated as many people think. With some large branches and forest debris, you can build one quickly to protect yourself from the elements.