A shelter can protect you
from the sun, insects, wind, rain, snow, hot or cold temperatures, and enemy observation. It can give you a feeling of well-being.
It can help you maintain your will to survive.
In some areas, your need
for shelter may take precedence over your need for food and possibly even your need for water. For example, prolonged exposure
to cold can cause excessive fatigue and weakness (exhaustion). An exhausted person may develop a "passive" outlook, thereby
losing the will to survive.
The most common error
in making a shelter is to make it too large. A shelter must be large enough to protect you. It must also be small enough to
contain your body heat, especially in cold climates.
SHELTER SITE SELECTION
When you are in a survival situation and realize that shelter is a high priority,
start looking for shelter as soon as possible. As you do so, remember what you will need at the site. Two requisites are--
- It must contain material to make the type of shelter you need.
- It must be large enough and level enough for you to lie down comfortably.
When you consider these requisites, however, you cannot ignore your tactical
situation or your safety. You must also consider whether the site--
- Provides concealment from enemy observation.
- Has camouflaged escape routes.
- Is suitable for signaling, if necessary.
- Provides protection against wild animals and rocks and dead trees that might
- Is free from insects, reptiles, and poisonous plants.
You must also remember the problems that could arise in your environment.
- Avoid flash flood areas in foothills.
- Avoid avalanche or rockslide areas in mountainous terrain.
- Avoid sites near bodies of water that are below the high water mark.
In some areas, the season of the year has a strong bearing on the site you
select. Ideal sites for a shelter differ in winter and summer. During cold winter months you will want a site that will protect
you from the cold and wind, but will have a source of fuel and water. During summer months in the same area you will want
a source of water, but you will want the site to be almost insect free.
When considering shelter site selection, use the word BLISS as a guide.
B - Blend in with the surroundings.
L - Low silhouette.
I - Irregular shape.
S - Small.
S - Secluded location.
TYPES OF SHELTERS
When looking for a shelter site, keep in mind the type of shelter (protection)
you need. However, you must also consider--
- How much time and effort you need to build the shelter.
- If the shelter will adequately protect you from the elements (sun, wind,
- If you have the tools to build it. If not, can you make improvised tools?
- If you have the type and amount of materials needed to build it.
To answer these questions, you need to know how to make various types of
shelters and what materials you need to make them.
It takes only a short time and minimal equipment to build this lean-to (Figure 5-1). You need a poncho, 2 to 3 meters of rope or parachute suspension line, three
stakes about 30 centimeters long, and two trees or two poles 2 to 3 meters apart. Before selecting the trees you will use
or the location of your poles, check the wind direction. Ensure that the back of your lean-to will be into the wind.
To make the lean-to--
- Tie off the hood of the poncho. Pull the drawstring tight, roll the hood
longways, fold it into thirds, and tie it off with the drawstring.
- Cut the rope in half. On one long side of the poncho, tie half of the rope
to the corner grommet. Tie the other half to the other corner grommet.
- Attach a drip stick (about a 10-centimeter stick) to each rope about 2.5
centimeters from the grommet. These drip sticks will keep rainwater from running down the ropes into the lean-to. Tying strings
(about 10 centimeters long) to each grommet along the poncho's top edge will allow the water to run to and down the line without
dripping into the shelter.
- Tie the ropes about waist high on the trees (uprights). Use a round turn
and two half hitches with a quick-release knot.
- Spread the poncho and anchor it to the ground, putting sharpened sticks through
the grommets and into the ground.
If you plan to use the lean-to for more than one night, or you expect rain,
make a center support for the lean-to. Make this support with a line. Attach one end of the line to the poncho hood and the
other end to an overhanging branch. Make sure there is no slack in the line.
Another method is to place a stick upright under the center of the lean-to.
This method, however, will restrict your space and movements in the shelter.
For additional protection from wind and rain, place some brush, your rucksack,
or other equipment at the sides of the lean-to.
To reduce heat loss to the ground, place some type of insulating material,
such as leaves or pine needles, inside your lean-to.
Note: When at rest, you lose as much as 80 percent of your body
heat to the ground.
To increase your security from enemy observation, lower the lean-to's silhouette
by making two changes. First, secure the support lines to the trees at knee height (not at waist height) using two knee-high
sticks in the two center grommets (sides of lean-to). Second, angle the poncho to the ground, securing it with sharpened sticks, as above.
This tent (Figure 5-2) provides a low silhouette. It also protects you from the elements on two sides.
It has, however, less usable space and observation area than a lean-to, decreasing your reaction time to enemy detection.
To make this tent, you need a poncho, two 1.5- to 2.5-meter ropes, six sharpened sticks about 30 centimeters long, and two
trees 2 to 3 meters apart.
To make the tent--
- Tie off the poncho hood in the same way as the poncho lean-to.
- Tie a 1.5- to 2.5-meter rope to the center grommet on each side of the poncho.
- Tie the other ends of these ropes at about knee height to two trees 2 to
3 meters apart and stretch the poncho tight.
- Draw one side of the poncho tight and secure it to the ground pushing sharpened
sticks through the grommets.
- Follow the same procedure on the other side.
If you need a center support, use the same methods as for the poncho lean-to.
Another center support is an A-frame set outside but over the center of the tent (Figure 5-3). Use two 90- to 120-centimeter-long sticks, one with a forked end, to form
the A-frame. Tie the hood's drawstring to the A-frame to support the center of the tent.
Three-Pole Parachute Tepee
If you have a parachute and three poles and the tactical situation allows,
make a parachute tepee. It is easy and takes very little time to make this tepee. It provides protection from the elements
and can act as a signaling device by enhancing a small amount of light from a fire or candle. It is large enough to hold several
people and their equipment and to allow sleeping, cooking, and storing firewood.
You can make this tepee using parts of or a whole personnel main or reserve
parachute canopy. If using a standard personnel parachute, you need three poles 3.5 to 4.5 meters long and about 5 centimeters
To make this tepee (Figure 5-4)--
- Lay the poles on the ground and lash them together at one end.
- Stand the framework up and spread the poles to form a tripod.
- For more support, place additional poles against the tripod. Five or six
additional poles work best, but do not lash them to the tripod.
- Determine the wind direction and locate the entrance 90 degrees or more
from the mean wind direction.
- Lay out the parachute on the "backside" of the tripod and locate the bridle
loop (nylon web loop) at the top (apex) of the canopy.
- Place the bridle loop over the top of a free-standing pole. Then place the
pole back up against the tripod so that the canopy's apex is at the same height as the lashing on the three poles.
- Wrap the canopy around one side of the tripod. The canopy should be of double
thickness, as you are wrapping an entire parachute. You need only wrap half of the tripod, as the remainder of the canopy
will encircle the tripod in the opposite direction.
- Construct the entrance by wrapping the folded edges of the canopy around
two free-standing poles. You can then place the poles side by side to close the tepee's entrance.
- Place all extra canopy underneath the tepee poles and inside to create a
floor for the shelter.
- Leave a 30- to 50-centimeter opening at the top for ventilation if you intend
to have a fire inside the tepee.
One-Pole Parachute Tepee
You need a 14-gore section (normally) of canopy, stakes, a stout center pole,
and inner core and needle to construct this tepee. You cut the suspension lines except for 40- to 45-centimeter lengths at
the canopy's lower lateral band.
To make this tepee (Figure 5-5)--
- Select a shelter site and scribe a circle about 4 meters in diameter on
- Stake the parachute material to the ground using the lines remaining at
the lower lateral band.
- After deciding where to place the shelter door, emplace a stake and tie
the first line (from the lower lateral band) securely to it.
- Stretch the parachute material taut to the next line, emplace a stake on
the scribed line, and tie the line to it.
- Continue the staking process until you have tied all the lines.
- Loosely attach the top of the parachute material to the center pole with
a suspension line you previously cut and, through trial and error, determine the point at which the parachute material will
be pulled tight once the center pole is upright.
- Then securely attach the material to the pole.
- Using a suspension line (or inner core), sew the end gores together leaving
1 or 1.2 meters for a door.
No-Pole Parachute Tepee
You use the same materials, except for the center pole, as for the one-pole
To make this tepee (Figure 5-6)--
- Tie a line to the top of parachute material with a previously cut suspension
- Throw the line over a tree limb, and tie it to the tree trunk.
- Starting at the opposite side from the door, emplace a stake on the scribed
3.5- to 4.3-meter circle.
- Tie the first line on the lower lateral band.
- Continue emplacing the stakes and tying the lines to them.
- After staking down the material, unfasten the line tied to the tree trunk,
tighten the tepee material by pulling on this line, and tie it securely to the tree trunk.
A one-man shelter you can easily make using a parachute requires a tree and
three poles. One pole should be about 4.5 meters long and the other two about 3 meters long.
To make this shelter (Figure 5-7)--
- Secure the 4.5-meter pole to the tree at about waist height.
- Lay the two 3-meter poles on the ground on either side of and in the same
direction as the 4.5-meter pole.
- Lay the folded canopy over the 4.5 meter pole so that about the same amount
of material hangs on both sides.
- Tuck the excess material under the 3-meter poles, and spread it on the ground
inside to serve as a floor.
- Stake down or put a spreader between the two 3-meter poles at the shelter's
entrance so they will not slide inward.
- Use any excess material to cover the entrance.
The parachute cloth makes this shelter wind resistant, and the shelter is
small enough that it is easily warmed. A candle, used carefully, can keep the inside temperature comfortable. This shelter
is unsatisfactory, however, when snow is falling as even a light snowfall will cave it in.
You can make a hammock using 6 to 8 gores of parachute canopy and two trees
about 4.5 meters apart (Figure 5-8).
If you are in a wooded area and have enough natural materials, you can make
a field-expedient lean-to (Figure 5-9) without the aid of tools or with only a knife. It takes longer to make this
type of shelter than it does to make other types, but it will protect you from the elements.
You will need two trees (or upright poles) about 2 meters apart; one pole
about 2 meters long and 2.5 centimeters in diameter; five to eight poles about 3 meters long and 2.5 centimeters in diameter
for beams; cord or vines for securing the horizontal support to the trees; and other poles, saplings, or vines to crisscross
To make this lean-to--
- Tie the 2-meter pole to the two trees at waist to chest height. This is
the horizontal support. If a standing tree is not available, construct a biped using Y-shaped sticks or two tripods.
- Place one end of the beams (3-meter poles) on one side of the horizontal
support. As with all lean-to type shelters, be sure to place the lean-to's backside into the wind.
- Crisscross saplings or vines on the beams.
- Cover the framework with brush, leaves, pine needles, or grass, starting
at the bottom and working your way up like shingling.
- Place straw, leaves, pine needles, or grass inside the shelter for bedding.
In cold weather, add to your lean-to's comfort by building a fire reflector
wall (Figure 5-9). Drive four 1.5-meter-long stakes into the ground to support the wall. Stack
green logs on top of one another between the support stakes. Form two rows of stacked logs to create an inner space within
the wall that you can fill with dirt. This action not only strengthens the wall but makes it more heat reflective. Bind the
top of the support stakes so that the green logs and dirt will stay in place.
With just a little more effort you can have a drying rack. Cut a few 2-centimeter-diameter
poles (length depends on the distance between the lean-to's horizontal support and the top of the fire reflector wall). Lay
one end of the poles on the lean-to support and the other end on top of the reflector wall. Place and tie into place smaller
sticks across these poles. You now have a place to dry clothes, meat, or fish.
In a marsh or swamp, or any area with standing water or continually wet ground,
the swamp bed (Figure 5-10) keeps you out of the water. When selecting such a site, consider the weather,
wind, tides, and available materials.
To make a swamp bed--
- Look for four trees clustered in a rectangle, or cut four poles (bamboo
is ideal) and drive them firmly into the ground so they form a rectangle. They should be far enough apart and strong enough
to support your height and weight, to include equipment.
- Cut two poles that span the width of the rectangle. They, too, must be strong
enough to support your weight.
- Secure these two poles to the trees (or poles). Be sure they are high enough
above the ground or water to allow for tides and high water.
- Cut additional poles that span the rectangle's length. Lay them across the
two side poles, and secure them.
- Cover the top of the bed frame with broad leaves or grass to form a soft
- Build a fire pad by laying clay, silt, or mud on one comer of the swamp
bed and allow it to dry.
Another shelter designed to get you above and out of the water or wet ground
uses the same rectangular configuration as the swamp bed. You very simply lay sticks and branches lengthwise on the inside
of the trees (or poles) until there is enough material to raise the sleeping surface above the water level.
Do not overlook natural formations that provide shelter. Examples are caves,
rocky crevices, clumps of bushes, small depressions, large rocks on leeward sides of hills, large trees with low-hanging limbs,
and fallen trees with thick branches. However, when selecting a natural formation--
- Stay away from low ground such as ravines, narrow valleys, or creek beds.
Low areas collect the heavy cold air at night and are therefore colder than the surrounding high ground. Thick, brushy, low
ground also harbors more insects.
- Check for poisonous snakes, ticks, mites, scorpions, and stinging ants.
- Look for loose rocks, dead limbs, coconuts, or other natural growth than
could fall on your shelter.
For warmth and ease of construction, this shelter is one of the best. When
shelter is essential to survival, build this shelter.
To make a debris hut (Figure 5-11)--
- Build it by making a tripod with two short stakes and a long ridgepole or
by placing one end of a long ridgepole on top of a sturdy base.
- Secure the ridgepole (pole running the length of the shelter) using the
tripod method or by anchoring it to a tree at about waist height.
- Prop large sticks along both sides of the ridgepole to create a wedge-shaped
ribbing effect. Ensure the ribbing is wide enough to accommodate your body and steep enough to shed moisture.
- Place finer sticks and brush crosswise on the ribbing. These form a latticework
that will keep the insulating material (grass, pine needles, leaves) from falling through the ribbing into the sleeping area.
- Add light, dry, if possible, soft debris over the ribbing until the insulating
material is at least 1 meter thick--the thicker the better.
- Place a 30-centimeter layer of insulating material inside the shelter.
- At the entrance, pile insulating material that you can drag to you once
inside the shelter to close the entrance or build a door.
- As a final step in constructing this shelter, add shingling material or
branches on top of the debris layer to prevent the insulating material from blowing away in a storm.
Tree-Pit Snow Shelter
If you are in a cold, snow-covered area where evergreen trees grow and you
have a digging tool, you can make a tree-pit shelter (Figure 5-12).
To make this shelter--
- Find a tree with bushy branches that provides overhead cover.
- Dig out the snow around the tree trunk until you reach the depth and diameter
you desire, or until you reach the ground.
- Pack the snow around the top and the inside of the hole to provide support.
- Find and cut other evergreen boughs. Place them over the top of the pit
to give you additional overhead cover. Place evergreen boughs in the bottom of the pit for insulation.
See Chapter 15 for other arctic or cold weather shelters.
Beach Shade Shelter
This shelter protects you from the sun, wind, rain, and heat. It is easy
to make using natural materials.
To make this shelter (Figure 5-13)--
- Find and collect driftwood or other natural material to use as support beams
and as a digging tool.
- Select a site that is above the high water mark.
- Scrape or dig out a trench running north to south so that it receives the
least amount of sunlight. Make the trench long and wide enough for you to lie down comfortably.
- Mound soil on three sides of the trench. The higher the mound, the more
space inside the shelter.
- Lay support beams (driftwood or other natural material) that span the trench
on top of the mound to form the framework for a roof.
- Enlarge the shelter's entrance by digging out more sand in front of it.
- Use natural materials such as grass or leaves to form a bed inside the shelter.
In an arid environment, consider the time, effort, and material needed to
make a shelter. If you have material such as a poncho, canvas, or a parachute, use it along with such terrain features as
rock outcropping, mounds of sand, or a depression between dunes or rocks to make your shelter.
Using rock outcroppings--
- Anchor one end of your poncho (canvas, parachute, or other material) on
the edge of the outcrop using rocks or other weights.
- Extend and anchor the other end of the poncho so it provides the best possible
In a sandy area--
- Build a mound of sand or use the side of a sand dune for one side of the
- Anchor one end of the material on top of the mound using sand or other weights.
- Extend and anchor the other end of the material so it provides the best
Note: If you have enough material, fold it in half and form a 30-centimeter
to 45-centimeter airspace between the two halves. This airspace will reduce the temperature under the shelter.
A belowground shelter (Figure 5-14) can reduce the midday heat as much as 16 to 22 degrees C (30 to 40 degrees
F). Building it, however, requires more time and effort than for other shelters. Since your physical effort will make you
sweat more and increase dehydration, construct it before the heat of the day.
To make this shelter--
- Find a low spot or depression between dunes or rocks. If necessary, dig
a trench 45 to 60 centimeters deep and long and wide enough for you to lie in comfortably.
- Pile the sand you take from the trench to form a mound around three sides.
- On the open end of the trench, dig out more sand so you can get in and out
of your shelter easily.
- Cover the trench with your material.
- Secure the material in place using sand, rocks, or other weights.
If you have extra material, you can further decrease the midday temperature
in the trench by securing the material 30 to 45 centimeters above the other cover. This layering of the material will reduce
the inside temperature 11 to 22 degrees C (20 to 40 degrees F).
Another type of belowground shade shelter is of similar construction, except
all sides are open to air currents and circulation. For maximum protection, you need a minimum of two layers of parachute
material (Figure 5-15). White is the best color to reflect heat; the innermost layer should be of
Water is one of your most urgent needs in a survival situation. You
can' t live long without it, especially in hot areas where you lose water rapidly through perspiration. Even in cold areas,
you need a minimum of 2 liters of water each day to maintain efficiency.
More than three-fourths of your body is composed of fluids. Your body
loses fluid as a result of heat, cold, stress, and exertion. To function effectively, you must replace the fluid your body
loses. So, one of your first goals is to obtain an adequate supply of water.
Almost any environment has water present to some degree. Figure 6-1 lists possible sources of water in various environments. It also provides
information on how to make the water potable.
Note: If you do not have a canteen, a cup, a can, or other
type of container, improvise one from plastic or water-resistant cloth. Shape the plastic or cloth into a bowl by pleating
it. Use pins or other suitable items--even your hands--to hold the pleats.
If you do not have a reliable source to replenish your water supply,
stay alert for ways in which your environment can help you.
Do not substitute the fluids listed in Figure 6-2 for water.
Heavy dew can provide water. Tie rags or tufts of fine grass around your
ankles and walk through dew-covered grass before sunrise. As the rags or grass tufts absorb the dew, wring the water into
a container. Repeat the process until you have a supply of water or until the dew is gone. Australian natives sometimes mop
up as much as a liter an hour this way.
Bees or ants going into a hole in a tree may point to a water-filled
hole. Siphon the water with plastic tubing or scoop it up with an improvised dipper. You can also stuff cloth in the hole
to absorb the water and then wring it from the cloth.
Water sometimes gathers in tree crotches or rock crevices. Use the
above procedures to get the water. In arid areas, bird droppings around a crack in the
rocks may indicate water in or near the crack.
Green bamboo thickets are an excellent source of fresh water. Water
from green bamboo is clear and odorless. To get the water, bend a green bamboo stalk, tie it down, and cut off the top (Figure 6-3). The water will drip freely during the night. Old, cracked bamboo may
Purify the water before drinking it.
Wherever you find banana or plantain trees, you can get water. Cut
down the tree, leaving about a 30-centimeter stump, and scoop out the center of the stump so that the hollow is bowl-shaped.
Water from the roots will immediately start to fill the hollow. The first three fillings of water will be bitter, but succeeding
fillings will be palatable. The stump (Figure 6-4) will supply water for up to four days. Be sure to cover it to keep
Some tropical vines can give you water. Cut a notch in the vine as
high as you can reach, then cut the vine off close to the ground. Catch the dropping liquid in a container or in your mouth
Do not drink the liquid if it is sticky, milky, or bitter tasting.
The milk from green (unripe) coconuts is a good thirst quencher. However,
the milk from mature coconuts contains an oil that acts as a laxative. Drink in moderation only.
In the American tropics you may find large trees whose branches support
air plants. These air plants may hold a considerable amount of rainwater in their overlapping, thickly growing leaves. Strain
the water through a cloth to remove insects and debris.
You can get water from plants with moist pulpy centers. Cut off a
section of the plant and squeeze or smash the pulp so that the moisture runs out. Catch the liquid in a container.
Plant roots may provide water. Dig or pry the roots out of the ground,
cut them into short pieces, and smash the pulp so that the moisture runs out. Catch the liquid in a container.
Fleshy leaves, stems, or stalks, such as bamboo, contain water. Cut
or notch the stalks at the base of a joint to drain out the liquid.
The following trees can also provide water:
Palms, such as the buri, coconut, sugar, rattan, and nips, contain liquid. Bruise a lower frond and pull it down so the tree
will "bleed" at the injury.
Traveler's tree. Found in Madagascar, this tree has a cuplike sheath at the base of its leaves in which water collects.
Umbrella tree. The leaf bases and roots of this tree of western tropical Africa can provide water.
Baobab tree. This tree of the sandy plains of northern Australia and Africa collects water in its bottlelike trunk during the wet
season. Frequently, you can find clear, fresh water in these trees after weeks of dry weather.
Do not keep the sap from plants longer than 24 hours. It begins fermenting,
becoming dangerous as a water source.
You can use stills in various areas of the world. They draw moisture
from the ground and from plant material. You need certain materials to build a still, and you need time to let it collect
the water. It takes about 24 hours to get 0.5 to 1 liter of water.
To make the aboveground still, you need a sunny slope on which to
place the still, a clear plastic bag, green leafy vegetation, and a small rock (Figure 6-6).
To make the still--
- Fill the bag with air by turning the opening into the breeze or by
"scooping" air into the bag.
- Fill the plastic bag half to three-fourths full of green leafy vegetation.
Be sure to remove all hard sticks or sharp spines that might puncture the bag.
Do not use poisonous vegetation. It will provide poisonous liquid.
- Place a small rock or similar item in the bag.
- Close the bag and tie the mouth securely as close to the end of the
bag as possible to keep the maximum amount of air space. If you have a piece of tubing, a small straw, or a hollow reed, insert
one end in the mouth of the bag before you tie it securely. Then tie off or plug the tubing so that air will not escape. This
tubing will allow you to drain out condensed water without untying the bag.
- Place the bag, mouth downhill, on a slope in full sunlight. Position
the mouth of the bag slightly higher than the low point in the bag.
- Settle the bag in place so that the rock works itself into the low
point in the bag.
To get the condensed water from the still, loosen the tie around the
bag's mouth and tip the bag so that the water collected around the rock will drain out. Then retie the mouth securely and
reposition the still to allow further condensation.
Change the vegetation in the bag after extracting most of the water
from it. This will ensure maximum output of water.
To make a belowground still, you need a digging tool, a container,
a clear plastic sheet, a drinking tube, and a rock (Figure 6-7).
Select a site where you believe the soil will contain moisture (such
as a dry stream bed or a low spot where rainwater has collected). The soil at this site should be easy to dig, and sunlight
must hit the site most of the day.
To construct the still--
- Dig a bowl-shaped hole about 1 meter across and 60 centimeters deep.
- Dig a sump in the center of the hole. The sump's depth and perimeter
will depend on the size of the container that you have to place in it. The bottom of the sump should allow the container to
- Anchor the tubing to the container's bottom by forming a loose overhand
knot in the tubing.
- Place the container upright in the sump.
- Extend the unanchored end of the tubing up, over, and beyond the
lip of the hole.
- Place the plastic sheet over the hole, covering its edges with soil
to hold it in place.
- Place a rock in the center of the plastic sheet.
- Lower the plastic sheet into the hole until it is about 40 centimeters
below ground level. It now forms an inverted cone with the rock at its apex. Make sure that the cone's apex is directly over
your container. Also make sure the plastic cone does not touch the sides of the hole because the earth will absorb the condensed
- Put more soil on the edges of the plastic to hold it securely in
place and to prevent the loss of moisture.
- Plug the tube when not in use so that the moisture will not evaporate.
You can drink water without disturbing the still by using the tube
as a straw.
You may want to use plants in the hole as a moisture source. If so,
dig out additional soil from the sides of the hole to form a slope on which to place the plants. Then proceed as above.
If polluted water is your only moisture source, dig a small trough
outside the hole about 25 centimeters from the still's lip (Figure 6-8). Dig the trough about 25 centimeters deep and 8 centimeters wide. Pour
the polluted water in the trough. Be sure you do not spill any polluted water around the rim of the hole where the plastic
sheet touches the soil. The trough holds the polluted water and the soil filters it as the still draws it. The water then
condenses on the plastic and drains into the container. This process works extremely well when your only water source is salt
You will need at least three stills to meet your individual daily
water intake needs.
Rainwater collected in clean containers or in plants is usually safe
for drinking. However, purify water from lakes, ponds, swamps, springs, or streams, especially the water near human settlements
or in the tropics.
When possible, purify all water you got from vegetation or from the
ground by using iodine or chlorine, or by boiling.
Purify water by--
- Using water purification tablets. (Follow the directions provided.)
- Placing 5 drops of 2 percent tincture of iodine in a canteen full
of clear water. If the canteen is full of cloudy or cold water, use 10 drops. (Let the canteen of water stand for 30 minutes
- Boiling water for 1 minute at sea level, adding 1 minute for each
additional 300 meters above sea level, or boil for 10 minutes no matter where you are.
By drinking nonpotable water you may contract diseases or swallow
organisms that can harm you. Examples of such diseases or organisms are--
Severe, prolonged diarrhea with bloody stools, fever, and weakness.
Cholera and typhoid. You may be susceptible to these diseases regardless of inoculations.
Flukes. Stagnant, polluted water--especially in tropical areas--often contains blood flukes. If you swallow flukes, they will
bore into the bloodstream, live as parasites, and cause disease.
Leeches. If you swallow a leech, it can hook onto the throat passage or inside the nose. It will suck blood, create a wound,
and move to another area. Each bleeding wound may become infected.
WATER FILTRATION DEVICES
If the water you find is also muddy, stagnant, and foul smelling,
you can clear the water--
- By placing it in a container and letting it stand for 12 hours.
- By pouring it through a filtering system.
Note: These procedures only clear the water and make it more
palatable. You will have to purify it.
To make a filtering system, place several centimeters or layers of
filtering material such as sand, crushed rock, charcoal, or cloth in bamboo, a hollow log, or an article of clothing (Figure 6-9).
Remove the odor from water by adding charcoal from your fire. Let
the water stand for 45 minutes before drinking it.
In many survival situations, the ability to start a fire can make
the difference between living and dying. Fire can fulfill many needs. It can provide warmth and comfort. It not only cooks
and preserves food, it also provides warmth in the form of heated food that saves calories our body normally uses to produce
body heat. You can use fire to purify water, sterilize bandages, signal for rescue, and provide protection from animals. It
can be a psychological boost by providing peace of mind and companionship. You can also use fire to produce tools and weapons.
Fire can cause problems, as well. The enemy can detect the smoke
and light it produces. It can cause forest fires or destroy essential equipment. Fire can also cause burns carbon monoxide
poisoning when used in shelters.
Remember weigh your need for fire against your need to avoid enemy
BASIC FIRE PRINCIPLES
To build a fire, it helps to understand the basic principles of
a fire. Fuel (in a nongaseous state) does not burn directly. When you apply heat to a fuel, it produces a gas. This gas, combined
with oxygen in the air, burns.
Understanding the concept of the fire triangle is very important in
correctly constructing and maintaining a fire. The three sides of the triangle represent air, heat, and fuel.
If you remove any of these, the fire will go out. The correct ratio of these components is very important for a fire to burn
at its greatest capability. The only way to learn this ratio is to practice.
SITE SELECTION AND PREPARATION
You will have to decide what site and arrangement to use. Before building
a fire consider--
- The area (terrain and climate) in which you are operating.
- The materials and tools available.
- Time: how much time you have?
- Need: why you need a fire?
- Security: how close is the enemy?
Look for a dry spot that--
- Is protected from the wind.
- Is suitably placed in relation to your shelter (if any).
- Will concentrate the heat in the direction you desire.
- Has a supply of wood or other fuel available. (See Figure 7-4 for types of material you can use.)
If you are in a wooded or brush-covered area, clear the brush and
scrape the surface soil from the spot you have selected. Clear a circle at least 1 meter in diameter so there is little chance
of the fire spreading.
If time allows, construct a fire wall using logs or rocks. This wall
will help to reflector direct the heat where you want it (Figure 7-1). It will also reduce flying sparks and cut down on the amount of wind
blowing into the fire. However, you will need enough wind to keep the fire burning.
Do not use wet or porous rocks as they may explode when heated.
In some situations, you may find that an underground fireplace will
best meet your needs. It conceals the fire and serves well for cooking food. To make an underground fireplace or Dakota fire
hole (Figure 7-2)--
- Dig a hole in the ground.
- On the upwind side of this hole, poke or dig a large connecting hole
- Build your fire in the hole as illustrated.
If you are in a snow-covered area, use green logs to make a dry base
for your fire (Figure 7-3). Trees with wrist-sized trunks are easily broken in extreme cold. Cut
or break several green logs and lay them side by side on top of the snow. Add one or two more layers. Lay the top layer of
logs opposite those below it.
FIRE MATERIAL SELECTION
You need three types of materials (Figure 7-4) to build a fire--tinder, kindling, and fuel.
Tinder is dry material that ignites with little heat--a spark starts
a fire. The tinder must be absolutely dry to be sure just a spark will ignite it. If you only have a device that generates
sparks, charred cloth will be almost essential. It holds a spark for long periods, allowing you to put tinder on the hot area
to generate a small flame. You can make charred cloth by heating cotton cloth until it turns black, but does not burn. Once
it is black, you must keep it in an airtight container to keep it dry. Prepare this cloth well in advance of any survival
situation. Add it to your individual survival kit.
Kindling is readily combustible material that you add to the burning
tinder. Again, this material should be absolutely dry to ensure rapid burning. Kindling increases the fire's temperature so
that it will ignite less combustible material.
Fuel is less combustible material that burns slowly and steadily once
HOW TO BUILD A FIRE
There are several methods for laying a fire, each of which has advantages.
The situation you find yourself in will determine which fire to use.
To make this fire (Figure 7-5), arrange the tinder and a few sticks of kindling in the shape of a
tepee or cone. Light the center. As the tepee burns, the outside logs will fall inward, feeding the fire. This type of fire
burns well even with wet wood.
To lay this fire (Figure 7-5), push a green stick into the ground at a 30-degree angle. Point the
end of the stick in the direction of the wind. Place some tinder deep under this lean-to stick. Lean pieces of kindling against
the lean-to stick. Light the tinder. As the kindling catches fire from the tinder, add more kindling.
To use this method (Figure 7-5), scratch a cross about 30 centimeters in size in the ground. Dig the
cross 7.5 centimeters deep. Put a large wad of tinder in the middle of the cross. Build a kindling pyramid above the tinder.
The shallow ditch allows air to sweep under the tinder to provide a draft.
To lay this fire (Figure 7-5), place two small logs or branches parallel on the ground. Place a solid
layer of small logs across the parallel logs. Add three or four more layers of logs or branches, each layer smaller than and
at a right angle to the layer below it. Make a starter fire on top of the pyramid. As the starter fire burns, it will ignite
the logs below it. This gives you a fire that burns downward, requiring no attention during the night.
There are several other ways to lay a fire that are quite effective.
Your situation and the material available in the area may make another method more suitable.
HOW TO LIGHT A FIRE
Always light your fire from the upwind side. Make sure to lay your tinder,
kindling, and fuel so that your fire will burn as long as you need it. Igniters provide the initial heat required to start
the tinder burning. They fall into two categories: modern methods and primitive methods.
Modem igniters use modem devices--items we normally think of to start
Make sure these matches are waterproof. Also, store them in a waterproof
container along with a dependable striker pad.
Use this method (Figure 7-6) only on bright, sunny days. The lens can come from binoculars, camera,
telescopic sights, or magnifying glasses. Angle the lens to concentrate the sun's rays on the tinder. Hold the lens over the
same spot until the tinder begins to smolder. Gently blow or fan the tinder into flame, and apply it to the fire lay.
Place a flat, dry leaf under your tinder with a portion exposed. Place
the tip of the metal match on the dry leaf, holding the metal match in one hand and a knife in the other. Scrape your knife
against the metal match to produce sparks. The sparks will hit the tinder. When the tinder starts to smolder, proceed as above.
Use a battery to generate a spark. Use of this method depends on the
type of battery available. Attach a wire to each terminal. Touch the ends of the bare wires together next to the tinder so
the sparks will ignite it.
Often, you will have ammunition with your equipment. If so, carefully
extract the bullet from the shell casing, and use the gunpowder as tinder. A spark will ignite the powder. Be extremely careful
when extracting the bullet from the case.
Primitive igniters are those attributed to our early ancestors.
Flint and Steel
The direct spark method is the easiest of the primitive methods to
use. The flint and steel method is the most reliable of the direct spark methods. Strike a flint or other hard, sharp-edged
rock edge with a piece of carbon steel (stainless steel will not produce a good spark). This method requires a loose-jointed
wrist and practice. When a spark has caught in the tinder, blow on it. The spark will spread and burst into flames.
The fire-plow (Figure 7-7) is a friction method of ignition. You rub a hardwood shaft against
a softer wood base. To use this method, cut a straight groove in the base and plow the blunt tip of the shaft up and down
the groove. The plowing action of the shaft pushes out small particles of wood fibers. Then, as you apply more pressure on
each stroke, the friction ignites the wood particles.
Bow and Drill
The technique of starting a fire with a bow and drill (Figure 7-8) is simple, but you must exert much effort and be persistent to produce
a fire. You need the following items to use this method:
- Socket. The socket is an easily grasped stone or piece of hardwood or bone with a slight depression in one side. Use it to
hold the drill in place and to apply downward pressure.
The drill should be a straight, seasoned hardwood stick about 2 centimeters in diameter and 25 centimeters long. The top end
is round and the low end blunt (to produce more friction).
- Fire board. Its size is up to you. A seasoned softwood board about 2.5 centimeters thick and 10 centimeters wide is preferable.
Cut a depression about 2 centimeters from the edge on one side of the board. On the underside, make a V-shaped cut from the
edge of the board to the depression.
The bow is a resilient, green stick about 2.5 centimeters in diameter and a string. The type of wood is not important. The
bowstring can be any type of cordage. You tie the bowstring from one end of the bow to the other, without any slack.
To use the bow and drill, first prepare the fire lay. Then place a
bundle of tinder under the V-shaped cut in the fire board. Place one foot on the fire board. Loop the bowstring over the drill
and place the drill in the precut depression on the fire board. Place the socket, held in one hand, on the top of the drill
to hold it in position. Press down on the drill and saw the bow back and forth to twirl the drill (Figure 7-8). Once you have established a smooth motion, apply more downward pressure
and work the bow faster. This action will grind hot black powder into the tinder, causing a spark to catch. Blow on the tinder
until it ignites.
Note: Primitive fire-building methods
are exhaustive and require practice to ensure success.
Use nonaromatic seasoned hardwood for fuel, if possible.
Collect kindling and tinder along the trail.
Add insect repellent to the tinder.
Keep the firewood dry.
Dry damp firewood near the fire.
Bank the fire to keep the coals alive overnight.
Carry lighted punk, when possible.
Be sure the fire is out before leaving camp.
Do not select wood lying on the ground. It may appear to
be dry but generally doesn't provide enough friction.
FOR LIKE MINDED PATRIOTS
WHO WANT TO SURVIVE ANY AND ALL SITUATIONS THAT THEY MAY FACE.