Build emergency survival shelters anywhere

Building emergency survival lean-to shelters are a fast and easy way to avoid an onslaught of the elements in unforeseen weather emergencies. It can make the difference between life and death. The roof on this type of emergency survival lean-to shelter can be made of a variety of materials that may be on hand: emergency space blanket, garbage bags or tarps. Large branches, sticks and leaves, found in the surrounding wilderness or natural environment are most commonly used. This simple construction can be fully completed by one person within an hour. Whether used as an emergency, temporary or long-term shelter, the use of emergency survival lean-to shelters have been known throughout history, in many parts of the world and on several types of terrain.

Step 1

Search for a high, well-drained area where rain will quickly run off. Make sure it is out of wind exposure as much as possible. The emergency survival lean-to shelter should have it's back to the prevailing wind direction.

Step 2

Assemble and prepare the materials needed. Two branches 4 feet long; a 6-foot branch for ridge pole; 20 6-foot branches for the roof. Measure and cut the branches and evergreen boughs.

Step 3

Build the front support structure. Dig two holes, 6 inches deep and 5 feet apart. Place the 4-foot vertical branches, one in each hole. Make sure they are plumb; fill in the holes and stabilize the branches. Place the 6-foot horizontal branch perpendicular up to one of the vertical branches and 3 feet from the ground to form a cross. Lash the rope in a cross or x-pattern around both branches to secure them tightly together before tying a knot. Repeat this step on the other vertical branch.

Step 4

Place the roof branches perpendicular and evenly apart on the horizontal front support, angling downward at about a 45 degree angle, into the ground forming the back of the shelter, make sure they are embedded deeply into the ground. Lash each roof branch on the horizontal branch together in an x-pattern, secure the knot. Make sure the framework is sturdy.

Step 5

Cover the roof branches horizontally, starting from the bottom. Layer using evergreen boughs pointing downwards or available tarp-like material. Create a thatched roof so that precipitation will drain downwards off the shingles. Add more layers if necessary to fortify the emergency survival lean-to shelter roof according to impending needs.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife with saw
  • Digging utensil
  • 2 branches 1 inch in diameter, 4 feet long
  • 1 branch 1 inch in diameter, 6 feet long
  • 20 branches 1/2 inch in diameter, 6 feet long
  • 50 evergreen boughs 12 inches wide by 18 inches long
  • 12 feet of rope or strong vines
  • Optional: 6-feet-by-6-feet tarp or emergency space blanket
  • Use what you have, substitute sizes on this list if time is of-the-essence.

Tips and Warnings

  • If there is a barrier to use as the side or front of the lean-to shelter this would be ideal: a felled tree, cliff wall or fence would hasten the construction time .
  • The inside area should be small to conserve warmth and energy.
  • Insulate the ground with ferns, evergreen boughs or emergency space blanket
  • Make sure the shelter frame is sturdy to avoid collapsing during high winds or heavy snowfall.
  • You may be confined for long periods of time in a small space. Have adequate clothing, sanitary items, water and food supplies.