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Choosing Your Survival Shelter

By on February 19, 2016

Choosing Your Survival Shelter

If disaster strikes, your family may have to survive outside of your home for an extended period of time. For some families, this means simply moving into their second house until things improve. For single-house families, a survival shelter is the only option. Shelters can range from a simple camping tent to a professionally constructed luxurious underground bunker. Your shelter’s characteristics will depend on your resources, skills, and family dynamics. When choosing the right shelter for you, be sure ask yourself the following questions:

What are my family dynamics?

How many people are included in your survival plan? Do any of them have special needs? Will they have designated responsibilities (a great way to develop high-quality ‘specialists’ in your network – they can continuously practice a single skill-set). Remember: your survival shelter must, feed, house, and enable a relatively civilized lifestyle for all of your family members. Plan accordingly.

What is my resource base?

We all have different resources at our disposal. Understanding your resource inventory will help you determine which shelter is best for your family. Your resources can be broken into 4 main categories: Knowledge, Location, Transportation, and Budget

1. Knowledge – Can you walk into the woods with basic tools and build a shelter from natural elements? If not, then you’ll need a pre-constructed survival shelter (see below). Try to minimize the number of DIY tasks that you’ll have to teach yourself post-disaster, especially high-priority items such as shelter.

2. Location – Do you own (or have access to) land in isolated areas? If so, you can begin planning and building your survival shelter now. If you’re not quite ready to start construction, then you can at least identify and/or prepare an area of land with strategic characteristics (natural water source, desirable tree cover, proximity to roadways, etc.) Preparation can be as simple as leaving some weather-resistant raw materials (cinder blocks, etc.) and tools to construct basic necessities if/when necessary.

3. Transportation – One of your biggest concerns during a disaster will be transit. Are the roadways passable? Will there be looters? Will there be checkpoints? Is gasoline attainable? You won’t be able to control any of those factors, and there’s a good chance you won’t have any way of finding out until you encounter them face-to-face. Your vehicles’ size, performance, terrain capabilities, and fuel capacity should enable you to reach your survival shelter (or reasonable walking distance) as safely as possible. If not, you might need to reconsider your survival shelter’s location so that safe arrival is probable for you and your family.

4. Budget: By now, You should have a basic idea of how much it will cost for food and water for your entire family for your target survival plan duration. Subtract that total from your preparedness budget, and the remainder is your current shelter budget.

How long will you prepare to stay in your shelter?

This one is completely your decision, and there’s no “right answer” to this question. But this is the most important factor in deciding which survival shelter is right for you. Most authorities recommend planning a survival shelter that will sustain your family for 3 to 14 days. Some families prepare to live in their for much longer. Regardless of what length of time you decide to plan for, be sure that your shelter has enough storage space (inside or close by) to stock an appropriate inventory of supplies.

Once you have assessed your family’s situation, you will be able to strategically select the right survival shelter. There are two main methods of out-of-home survival, and they involve different types of shelters:

Types of Survival Shelters

1. Camping Shelter a.k.a. “Roughing It” or “Bugging Out”

Tents + Tarps: A quality tent will protect you from precipitation and animals, but offers minimal protection from the temperature (remember: most tents are almost impossible to heat). 3 or 4 Season tents are the ideal. Although tarps do little more that provide cover/shade, they will complement your survival campsite tremendously. They can be used to cover supply and eating areas, and provide a clean surface for organizing your inventory. The “Bug-Out” method is highly mobile, and quick/easy to set up.

Caution: Although it may sound romantic, “Roughing it” with a tent and other camping methods will be EXTREMELY limiting to your everyday life. More importantly, this method requires a much higher knowledge base to sustain over an extended period of time. This method will quickly become uncomfortable for many individuals (even those who are well prepared). For this reason, pre-constructed shelters (Storm Shelters and Bunkers) are recommended.

2. Shelters & Bunkers

Storm shelters designs vary (size, material, above/below ground, etc.), but all are designed for short term use. Their primary purpose is to protection from a violent storm, not sustenance. While luxury options are available, most will consist of a sitting area for the family and a small storage area. Most do NOT have plumbing or electricity. With the right inventory, the average storm shelter has space to comfortably provide for your family for about a week.

While more expensive, bunkers are designed specifically for domestic use. This means that they will have more storage space and include sleeping arrangements. Bunkers range in size (from single studio-apartment style units to multi-family units with multiple rooms) and luxury (hot water, electricity, Wi-Fi, you name it). Many companies also offer financing. A simple online search will give you an idea of what your budget will allow you. Ordering survival shelter plans (even if you don’t build your bunker yourself) is a great way to get “the lay of the land,” and help you understand what all is involved with the process.

So what’s right for you?

Selecting the right survival shelter will probably be a multi-step process for your family. Budget, timing, and probable disaster types will constantly affect your shelter plan. It is recommended that you develop a “Bug-Out” plan and acquire a shelter/bunker option as well. Be sure to do your research before you make any large purchases. Many communities have communities have shelters as well; be sure find out about any/all options that are available in your area.

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One Comment

  1. PrepperHelper

    March 14, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    North Face makes some serious tents for cold weather, used on expeditions in the Himalayas, etc. Quick and easy to set up and break down. Not cheap.

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