A Shelter For Every Emergency

emergency_shelterMost people who understand the need for preparedness have at least heard about the, “Rule of 3’s” –

  • You can live for 3 minutes without air
  • You can live for 3 hours without shelter
  • You can live 3 days without water
  • You can live 3 weeks without food

The first time reading the list, many people may scratch their head and ask, “Three hours without shelter, and I’m dead?  What?!”

Yep.  If you find yourself in an environment where the temperature drops below 50 degrees – like at night – OR where you are subjected to temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, you are at risk of death by hyperthermia or hypothermia.

Hyperthermia (usually called Heat Stroke) –

Heat stroke occurs when thermoregulation is overwhelmed by a combination of excessive metabolic production of heat (exertion), excessive environmental heat, and insufficient or impaired heat loss, resulting in an abnormally high body temperature. In severe cases, temperatures can exceed 40 °C (104 °F). Heat stroke may be non-exertional (classic) or exertional.


Hypothermia is a potentially dangerous drop in body temperature, usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. The risk of cold exposure increases as the winter months arrive. But if you’re exposed to cold temperatures on a spring hike or capsized on a summer sail, you can also be at risk of hypothermia.

During exposure to cold temperatures, most heat loss — up to 90% — escapes through your skin; the rest, you exhale from your lungs. Heat loss through the skin happens primarily through radiation and speeds up when skin is exposed to wind or moisture.

The long and the short of it is, you become unable to control your body’s core temperature, and you die.

You MUST know how to protect your body from the environment.  The very young and the very old – which is starting to include some of us Baby Boomers – can more quickly become victims to the environment.

Victimhood is not what we’re about here at BoomerPreps.  Life and independence is our core principle.

Obviously, the best solution is to know you’re going to be out in a harsh environment, and bring the shelter with you.  A tent, an RV or camper… hell, a motel room!  But that’s not always how things evolve.

Sometimes, you find yourself in a bad situation, and you need to act immediately with less than optimal gear.

Here are some ideas and techniques to understand and adopt to help keep you alive in various situations.

With shelter, a key ingredient is insulation – the more you have, the more likely you’ll come out alive.  Consider two extremes:  Eskimos in Alaska and Pueblo Indians in the deserts of the American southwest.  One group used thick blocks of ice, and the other used thick blocks of adobe bricks.  Both had the same goal:  Insulation against the elements.

If I could make one suggestion to everyone, it would be to have a tarp with all of your preparedness gear – Bug Out Bags, Get Home Bags, Evacuation kits, Shelter-In-Place kits.  They are inexpensive, and easy to convert into shelter in virtually every environment – from out in nature to urban survival situations.

First up is a quick-and-dirty tarp shelter.  It uses an inexpensive 8 x 10 foot tarp that will run you around ten dollars.  Although this video is done during the winter months, this is a great example for a shelter that can be used in the summer to provide shade from the heat as well.

This next video is a wonderful example of how to make a shelter from a simple tarp.  What is nice about this type of tarp shelter is that you don’t need to be in a forested area with trees close enough to run a ridgeline for your shelter.  A long pole is all you need to get this shelter up.

No trees?  No tarp?  No problem.

This is a great example of adapting to your situation and taking advantage of the resources at hand.  Survival and emergency preparedness is as much about “thinking on your feet” as it is about having the right gear with you.

As they allude to in the video, this type of natural shelter would not keep you dry in a driving rain.  As with all natural shelters, the more “stuff” you are able to pile on the shelter, the greater the likelihood you will keep dry.  More is better!


Here we learn how to make a Plow Point Shelter – another very basic shelter to get you out of the elements.  This video gives a very good demonstration on how to make a very quick ridgeline for the shelter.  Good info.

Something else to consider:  If you’re able, in the winter, you’d want the opening of this shelter facing towards the south, so you can take advantage of all of the solar radiation to help keep you warm.  In the summer, just the opposite – face the opening to the north, to keep your shelter cooler.

Wind direction could “over rule” this option, though.  You never want the opening of your shelter facing the direction of the wind.  You don’t want your shelter to turn into a kite and blow away!

Finally, a great example of a Debris Hut.  This one is being made in a forested area, but the concept is similar to the earlier video on making a shelter in the desert:  Use the resources around you, and save your life.

Note how he places the boughs when covering the framework.  He places them so that the foliage on the boughs will naturally drain water from the shelter.  The almost act like shingles on your roof.

Adapting to your situation is what surviving is all about.  Think, prepare and act.  It’ll keep you alive!




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