How Do You Make A Outdoor Shelter From Scratch In An Emergency?

How do you make a outdoor shelters from scratch? Knowing this can help you be prepared for any weather condition, and is a tool of necessity if you are an outdoor recreational enthusiast.

Knowing how to construct an emergency shelter can help you be prepared for any weather condition and is a tool of necessity if you are a recreational enthusiast or avid outdoor sportsman.

Emergency shelters can be built out of a wide variety of materials. Assuming you do not have a tent, you can build a shelter out of any waterproof material like a tarp, plastic garbage bags or pine boughs.

In a cold environment approximately 70% of your body heat loss will be downward. No-matter what type of emergency shelter you make remember that having a insulating layer between your body and the ground will keep you warmer and more comfortable.


To make an A-frame tent you should start by stretching a rope between two mature trees. You could also wedge a sturdy branch or stick between the trees if you do not have a rope. Next, fold the tarp of plastic in half lengthwise and place the fold over the pole or rope. Anchor the tarp to the ground with heavy rocks making sure you do not rip your plastic on any jagged edges.


The best place to build a lean-to is on the downwind side of a cliff. Avoid gullies where pockets of cold air will collect.

A double lean-to can be created by using tree boughs, weeds, bushes and sticks. Find a sturdy low hanging tree limb to serve as the main ridgepole if you do not have a sturdy rope. Layer the sticks and boughs to provide a thick cover that can keep out the wind and offer weather protection as well. Fill the chinks with packed snow. Your entrance should be kept small and low to keep the warm air from escaping. You can build a windbreak to go in front of your entrance with sticks and boughs too.

If you have skis available, you can use the ski poles to from the framework of your emergency shelter. Interlock the straps of the poles and plant them in the snow hanging the ski's between the crossed poles. You can drape a tarp of pine boughs over your tent framework ad pack snow around the base to keep snow from shifting inside.


A snow cave is an excellent emergency shelter to build if you are stranded in very deep snow. If the snow is not deep however, you will waste more of your energy by trying to pile the snow to a workable depth than it is worth. The best place to make a snow cave shelter is out of a snow-bank or hillside. You will need to dig out your cavern keeping the entrance small and low to the ground but large enough that you can crawl in and out easily. Even a four foot entrance can aid you in shoveling snow out of the cave and your doorway can be narrowed later. If you have a small shovel this process will not take long but in an emergency you can use a snowshoe, piece of rounded bark a cup or even a hub cap from your vehicle.

Form a sleeping bench by constructing a raised platform of snow a foot or more high and as long enough to hold the person who will be sleeping on it. As the snow is piled up and smoothed out, it will harden and retain the shape of the bench. The snow will set-up in about 20 minutes and be hard enough to lay on without the formation crumbling under a persons weight.

The ceiling should have a round arch that is stronger than a flat ceiling. Before the 20 minute hardening, you will want to smooth out any bumps you have in your ceiling or sleeping bench. If there are any bumps or peaks left in the ceiling it could provide a place for condensation to collect and drip onto your sleeping area.

You can pile pine boughs under your sleeping bench by pointing the broken ends towards the foot of the bed. The boughs or better yet, hay or straw can create an insulating layer between you and the snow.

You can add a ventilation shaft by pushing a stick into the edge or your ceiling at an angel. Although some survival experts argue that a ventilation shaft is not required because most snow is porous enough to allow sufficient air inside. I suggest that you make one if you will be using candles or a small fire to provide light or additional warmth.


In an emergency situation there are several common health dangers that can be caused by a combination of wind and cold. The first stage is frostbite. Frostbite or frostnip is white patches of superficially frozen skin that usually becomes evident on fingertips, ears, nose and chin. Treat frostbite by warming the area immediately.

Hypothermia occurs when the body is unable to maintain its normal body temperature. Early symptoms include loss of coordination, lethargy and intense shivering. If you suspect someone in your group is suffering from Hypothermia build a fire, have them drink hot liquids or bundle them up with the body warmth of other campers. Keep the victim awake and as alert as possible.

Snow blindness can also find victims if campers do not have on sunglasses or goggles. Symptoms include a gritty feeling in your eyes and loss of some vision or swelling of the eyelids. Keeping the victims eyes covered in darkness is the only cure. Make a makeshift blindfold for your victim if necessary.

© High Speed Ventures 2011