Winter Survival – Shelter

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 36,924
    Wilderness expert Tim MacWelch of Earth Connection School of Wilderness Survival and Ancient Skills discusses winter survival tips including how to build a shelter.

    Hi! I am Tim MacWelch of Earth Connection School of Wilderness Survival and Ancient Skills near Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is our video clip series on Winter Survival Tips. In this clip, we are going to talk about preventing hypothermia with shelter.

    So, this shelter behind me is one that's very simply built from materials in the woods, all you need is your own two hands and a couple hours of time, we call this a leaf hut and this hut is a framework of sticks with leaves on top of it for water proofing and insulation and leaves inside of it for insulation and bedding. This types of shelters can keep a person warm in subfreezing temperatures with just simply the clothes on their own bags. Now this maybe a little extreme for most people's tastes, you may want to have a tent and a sleeping bag, a pad to sleep on and maybe a few other items for wanting comfort in your winter outdoor adventures, even the hot water bottle put inside of a sock, thrown down into the bottom of your sleeping bag can make very cozy night in subfreezing temperatures. But let's say we do not have all those nice things like tents and sleeping bags, we are stuck out in a survival emergency. We have to built a shelter, this is the type of shelter that I recommend that you built. Let me show you the basic framework on how to make this.

    So, here's how we build this leaf hut. We are going to take a little bit of rope that, hopefully, we have in our survival equipment or bag pack or a vehicle, we will tie two strong sticks together to make the supports, this is sort of like a cross with two very short legs and two very long legs. We want this about as high as our belt, this is a good average. Taller folks will want a taller shelter because of their height that will make the shelter longer and shorter folks don't need such a big shelter so they can make this smaller so that will be right for each person. So, we will take these two supports and also one long pole. We are basically making a tripod with two short legs and one long leg.

    We will want to face this east or southeast because the majority of the wind is going to blow from the west and we don't want it blowing right in our door. We want to check out our supports and our main pole so we should push on a little bit and make sure it's strong. You want to check the area that you are setting up your shelter in by looking up to make sure nothing is going to fall on your shelter and also checking the ground to make sure that there is no sharp rocks, poison ivy or other hazards underneath of your shelter. So once we have set up our frame, we will begin placing sticks down the side of the shelter. So we want to get a bundle of sticks, preferably an arm loaded a time, so we don't have to make as many trips and we can put them on the shelter wherever they fit best. We don't want them sticking up too tall because that will create a void in the roof and that will be a place where water can leak in and heat can escape out. And we will cover both sides of the shelter with these sticks, heap leaves, pine needles, ferns, any kind of vegetation we can find, heap this on top of the shelter and also fill it on the inside. We want to fill it with leaves, three different times, each time separated by us crawling in feet first, laying down and mashing our leaves down. We also want to consider marking the shelter. If we are in a survival situation, perhaps, we are incapacitated or simply a sleep inside the shelter. If our search party who is looking for us walks right by this snow covered pile of leaves, they may not even notice it and if we were inside asleep, we won't notice that they walked right by us. So we could consider carrying something brightly colored with us, every trip every time and it could be a useful item like this bandana. Just a simple bandana can be used for hundreds of different purposes in the great outdoors. And it also makes an excellent signal flag to hang up on a stick or branch above our shelter. This would signal rescuers to come and look at this site and it will also help us find our shelter again, should it get dark or should we experience bad weather.

    Next, we are going to talk about preventing dehydration and staying hydrated in the winter weather.