Just before, during, and especially after a disaster, and after you have procured water, you will need to procure shelter. Here are some options:
- Your home. The ideal place for many people to seek shelter is their own home (granted you want your shelter to be sufficiently protective in the event of say, a tornado. You also want to ensure that your shelter is not in a flood zone or this will make you seek shelter elsewhere during a flooding event).
- Your alternate shelters (such as a boat, RV, cabin, second home, etc).
- Community shelters. Before, during, and after some types of disasters, your community may set up a shelter for those who are in danger of losing or have lost the ability to remain in their own home (not a great option but better than many alternatives). Know where these shelters are ahead of time.
- Sheltering with others. A cost effective means to seek shelter if you can no longer stay in your home is often with others. Neighbors, friends, family can all be alternative sources of shelter if needed (be sure to return the favor if possible).
- Squatting is not the best option—you will probably be breaking the law, incurring the wrath of the property owner, and competing with others for the same space—but it is an option if you have no other source of quick shelter.
- Camping is another source of shelter in an emergency. Even if you aren’t a camper and the spouse thinks staying anywhere less than four stars is roughing it, everyone should own camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc). During the Northridge earthquake I knew quite a few people who, while they didn’t normally seek out the opportunity to go camping, promptly set up their tents in their yards because they feared severe aftershocks if they stayed in their homes.
- Making your own shanty/shelter. While this may be an extreme way to create a shelter in an emergency, this is the way many of the people in third world countries live (example here). Basically you scavenge anything you can that can reasonably be put together to keep you out of the elements.
- “Head for the hills.” Many people think that when TSHTF they will jump in their vehicle and go up to the mountains. Unfortunately many other people have the same idea, doubly unfortunately, there are a number of problems with this plan (have you seen holiday traffic heading for the mountains on a Friday evening? It will be worse than that. Once all of these people do make it to the mountains then what will happen?).
- Live like the homeless. For all of the problems surrounding the homeless, they have the right of it when it comes to emergency shelter. Basically they will seek any place that will keep the rain off of them and can be found sheltering in old culvert pipes, in encampments with others they trust, in abandoned buildings and houses, in make-shift tents or shanties, in caves…you get the idea.
Basically when you are seeking a survival shelter you want the following things:
- Shelter from the elements (keep you out of the rain, sun, cold).
- Shelter than can be secured from intruders (a much more difficult proposition than during normal times).
- Shelter that is small and can be easily heated in cold climates.
- Shelter than can retain heat/cool to some extent (not as important and not as likely but still a consideration).
- Shelter that you own (obviously the legal implications of ownership become less viable right after a major disaster).
- Shelter that can be hidden (always a good security measure).
- Shelter that can be moved, if needed.