Remembering the classic Rule of Three, brings us to our final topic in our Spring Survival Series. It is said that a human can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours without shelter and three minutes without oxygen. Many find it hard to believe the ‘three hours without shelter’, perhaps because they have never been wet, standing in gale force winds, in freezing temperatures.
Maintaining a functional body temperature is critical for human survival. While we have developed phenomenal clothing to help protect us from the elements, high energy and easily portable food to sustain our energy requirements, and effective water purifying and/or carrying strategies, we still may need to seek shelter from environmental elements such as wind, sun or precipitation.
The wind is highly effective at robbing heat. The wind chill factor is evidence of the role wind plays in how humans perceive temperature in the presence of wind. Adding the factor of wetness, either from sweat or an unexpected dip in the lake, and you may quickly find yourself cold on a warm day. Shelter from the wind in a form of a wind block may look like another human, a rock formation, or dense brush.
Most of us have experienced the saving grace of shelter on a hot summer day when we go stand in the shade and immediately feel the relief from the sun’s radiation. Thankfully in Northeastern Nevada where the relative humidity is low, the temperature between a sunny spot and a shady spot can vary greatly! Finding shade not only lowers the ambient (surrounding air) temperature, it minimizes the physical effects of direct exposure to the sun, sunburn.
While the shady side of your car or trailer is an obvious shelter, the landscape of Nevada may prove difficult for finding it elsewhere. In some areas, the lack of vegetation taller than a foot is a real issue. Carrying a small tarp and parachute cord in your backpack may help alleviate this. Often we think shelters need to be tall but remember you can also lay under a shelter. Depending on how long you need utilize your shelter, you may need to have an adaptable shelter. Be sure to not use all your resources on one iteration as the shelter may need to be relocated or shifted to accommodate the location change of the sun or the direction of the wind.
It is also important to remember that a shelter does not necessarily need to be a structure. For example, wrapping yourself in your sleeping bag is a form of a shelter. Being aware of how much warmth the ground draws from our bodies is also important. The process of buffering your body from the ground by sitting on your backpack when resting on a cold day, is another form of seeking shelter. Likewise, if conditions become desperate enough, your backpack may also be utilized as material from which to fashion a structure. Being creative in the use of available materials is encouraged when shelter is required for survival.
Get outside and explore nature! Enjoy the dynamic conditions of spring in the mountains and on your local streets. It is wise to think about shelter alternatives and be prepared to create a shelter so you are not caught unprepared, your life may depend on it.