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Survival Shelters

Although there are differing opinions, survival shelters can be divided into three basic types: primitive shelters (also sometimes referred to as natural shelters); temporary shelters; and permanent shelters. Having a shelter, being able to construct a shelter, or being able to locate shelter for you and your family is going to be essential to your family’s survival!

Primitive shelters are generally considered to be shelters that you construct from the materials (e.g., branches, leaves, rocks) around you.  Sometimes their construction is supplemented with materials that you might be carrying with you (e.g., garbage bags, cord) but they primarily consist of materials that you locate in the area where you find yourself.  Many survival books contain information on constructing primitive survival shelters.

Temporary shelters are “manmade” shelters, and a type of shelter that most of us have used numerous times and are quite familiar with.  These temporary shelters are usually divided into two main groups: tent shelters and semi-permanent shelters.

Over the last 50-60 years tremendous advances have been made in the design and construction of tents.  Tents now come in many different sizes, shapes, colors, and materials.  They are now lighter, more compact, come complete with floors, can have separate rooms, and are much easier to set up and take down.  Click here to see our list of recommended tents.

Semi-permanent shelters are also temporary shelters but are larger, much more durable, and far more comfortable to live in than a tent.  However, semi-permanent shelters also weigh a lot more, come in multiple pieces, and take much longer to put together and disassemble.  These shelters are designed to be used when a person or family will be staying in the same place for at least several months.  The time to locate the spot where you intend to place the semi-permanent shelter and actually assemble it is before the disaster or crisis actually happens. Click here for more information on semi-permanent structures.

The final type of shelter is the permanent shelter.  Permanent shelters, just as the name implies, are designed and built for permanence and are constructed to stay in one place (i.e., not be moved).  The best example of a permanent shelter is the house or apartment where we live.   However, any stationary building will normally qualify as a permanent shelter.

Disaster and crisis circumstances will for the most part decide whether or not you will be able to stay in your own home or apartment.  Unfortunately, these are events that you and I will have little control over.  Your best option is to hope that you and your family will be able to stay where you are living now.  But, you also need to be prepared to move yourself and your family to another location and to either take a shelter (e.g., a tent) with you or have a shelter (e.g., semi-permanent shelter or a permanent shelter) already waiting for you to stay in.

Survival Shelters are essential items of survival gear in most parts of the country.  Not having a proper shelter in an extremely cold, hot,  or wet weather can easily result in death or illness.


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