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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Four Shelter Building Tips Every Army Ranger Knows

Lost in the woods, and you know only one thing: quality shelter is the difference between life and death. This is obvious in the winter, when the temperature drops below freezing and ice clings to trees. However, it's equally important for survival in the other seasons. Once the sun goes down and the heat drops, hypothermia is a very real risk on all but the warmest of nights.
The purpose of a shelter is to protect you from the elements and to hold as much heat as possible. Here are four shelter building tips that could be key to your survival:

Tip 1: Assess Your Situation without Panicking

Army Rangers know that fear leads to mistakes. Your first step is to calm yourself. Unless you have a life-threatening wound, you'll have some time to deal with your situation. First, you'll want to take stock of what supplies you brought with you. Ideally, you'll have food, water, a knife, rope, gloves, and some method of starting a fire. Remember, preparedness is key – you should never venture into the wilderness without proper supplies.
After calming yourself and checking your supplies, you need to determine if there's a storm coming, and if not, how much time you have before night. Shelter is your first priority – but if there is no storm and you have a lot of time before night, you can scout the area for a better location.

Tip 2: Location, Location, Location

High ground is essential. You need to avoid valleys and ravines. If it rains, you might experience a flash flood, also cold air collects in lower areas. Areas with thick brush are more likely to have insects. While it's good to have water within walking distance, you want to build your shelter away from the water. Rivers may rise during a rainstorm. If you build your shelter on a slope, you'll need to check above it for loose rock that may fall on you. Avoid building beneath dead trees for the same reason – dry branches are prone to breaking.

Tip 3: Use What Nature Gives You

When you build a shelter for survival, your goal is to stop heat loss. While high winds and precipitation can both hurt, nature will also help you. Large trees can provide shade and block both wind and rain. Empty caves prevent the wind from blasting you. Rocks, branches, leaves, dirt, and snow can all be used to help create various types of shelters. In fact, making a shelter out of branches isn’t difficult at all. Simply gather sturdy materials—a combination long thick sticks, medium branches, and small pine branches work best. Build the frame by pushing the long sturdy branches into the ground and build the walls by adding layers of medium sized branches around the frame. When an Army Ranger looks at nature, they don't see fallen branches and rocks, they see supplies for a shelter.

Tip 4: Build a Fire Wall

Your survival may depend on your ability to build a fire. To ensure your survival, you'll also want to build a fire wall. A fire wall is something that can be made out of snow, wood, or rock, and is designed to block wind from hitting your fire or your shelter. A firewall is usually a couple of feet tall. If you have any reflective material, you can place it on the wall to reflect the heat of the fire and create a warmer environment.
Knowing how to build an adequate shelter can greatly increase your chances of survival. Warmth and protection are the main things to worry about when trying to build a shelter and by using these tips and tricks from an experienced Army Ranger can protect you from life or death situations when it comes to surviving in the wilderness.

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