For most of the western world shelter is taken for granted. The majority of us live in a house that someone else built, that is well insulated, temperature controlled and electrically lit; it keeps off the rain and sun's rays while keeping out the wind and wild animals. On a typical day locking the doors will keep you safe; and while a stormy day may be more of an inconvenience you find yourself safe and comfy inside your abode even if the power goes off for an hour or two. But what if there is a REAL EMERGENCY? Would you know how to stay in your own dwelling if a major disaster hit your area? What if you had to evacuate? Do you have a place to go? If not or if that place is a distance away, do you know how to build a shelter in the wilderness? Do you know when to stay put or when to bug out? Thinking about these situations now, preparing plans for both sheltering in place and evacuating are extremely important.
On Friday we discussed sheltering in place. In simplest terms, sheltering in place means remaining in the building that you are already in to avoid any issues or uncertainties outside. Staying inside while a thunderstorm is raging is a form of sheltering in place. Most folks are prepared with flashlights and a battery powered radio should the electricity go out during such a storm. But what if a more severe storm hits, a tornado or hurricane, are you prepared to keep you and your family safe and comfortable during the event and possibly for days afterwards, perhaps without assistance or access to modern amenities? Do you know how to fortify your home against a man made calamity such as a chemical weapon's attack?
Maintaining the bare minimum of three days worth of supplies for each resident of your household can keep you comfortable in the event of a weather emergency. Having a week to two weeks worth of supplies is a better idea; this can ensure your comfort and care should a more devastating incident take place (think Hurricane Sandy), where help is spread thin and supplies are difficult to obtain. Having a cache of supplies on hand and knowing how to prepare your dwelling against a chemical spill or attack takes more time and experience but preparing now can ensure your well-being should the need arise. Living only an hour away from one of the nation's chemical weapons arsenals, we learned long ago how to seal our home to minimize exposure to any contaminants.
You should be aware of the most likely issues in your area and should have at least a basic knowledge of how and where to seek shelter when necessary. HERE is a very basic outline for making a shelter in place plan and HERE is a brochure specifically dealing with sheltering in place after a chemical incident.
To most folks, especially those who have never thought about let alone actually had to survive in the wilderness, shelter seems to rank extremely low on priorities; this can be extremely detrimental in an actual survival situation. Many westerners often prioritize food over shelter when asked about wilderness survival without realizing that you can actually go weeks without food (if need be) but only hours (in harsh environmental conditions) without proper shelter. Shelter is paramount to safety and well-being.
If you have prepared a bug out bag or 72 hour kit you may have a tent or at least a tarp or poncho available to provide shelter. Of course a tent makes for ease of erecting shelter but, especially in a survival situation, one may not always be available. Tarps and ponchos take up much less space in a backpack and can be used to make many and various types of shelters.
Tarpology - Setting Up Your Tarp In Different Configurations
Tarp Shelters - An Inroduction