Five Minute Shelter

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Setting up a shelter is important to surviving in the wilderness.

Bushcraft First Aid: A Field Guide to Wilderness Emergency Care by Dave Canterbury and Jason A. Hunt (Adams Media, 2017) prepares readers for the outdoors with first-aid and survival tips. In this section, the authors detail how to prepare a temporary shelter to protect yourself from the elements.  

Besides fire, a well-constructed shelter is essential for survival in the wild. It can take just a few hours of exposure for the body to begin exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia (too cold) or hyperthermia (too hot) — and it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to risk sunburn or frostbite. It’s essential to know how to quickly create some sort of shelter. Not only will you be shielded from snow or rain, you can also control — to some extent — the temperature inside, which is important when treating injuries such as frostbite.

An important item in your pack in this regard is an All-Weather Emergency Blanket or SOL Emergency Blanket. Using a rope, create a ridgeline between two trees. The rope should be at waist height. Then attach the front corners of the blanket to the rope and secure the rear corners on the ground. Now you have a lean-to in which you can move the patient. Make sure to place the reflective side of the blanket down to maximize heat retention.

Since in most circumstances it will be important to keep the patient warm, build a fire one large step directly in front of the shelter (make sure the flames don’t come in contact with the blanket). Construct a reflecting wall from rocks or logs behind the fire. If your object is to get the patient into a cooler environment, turn the reflective side of the blanket outward.

More From Bushcraft First Aid:

Boil Water In Five Minutes
Five Minute Fire

Excerpted from Bushcraft First Aid: A Field Guide to Wilderness Emergency Care by Dave Canterbury and Jason A. Hunt. Used by permission of the publisher, Adams Media, a division of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.