10 Emergency Shelter Types for Any Crisis Scenario

primitive survival shelter in forest  slective focus

We’ll explore 10 different types of survival shelters that can be used in various emergency situations, including above-ground shelters like tarp, lean-to, A-frame, and debris hut shelters, underground options like root cellar, storm, and bunker shelters, as well as natural shelters like caves and rock shelters.

Types of Above-Ground Shelters

Tarp Shelter

Portland, Oregon, USA-May 26, 2016: Homeless campsite in a field near the Springwater Corridor pedestrian walkway in Southeast Portland, Oregon. The homeless population has become more visible as housing in Portland becomes less affordable.

A tarp shelter is a simple and lightweight option for emergency shelter. All you need is a large tarp, some rope or cord, and a few stakes or poles to set it up.

Tarps can be used to create a variety of shelter configurations, including lean-tos, A-frames, and more.

Lean-To Shelter

Lean-to shelter in the forest

A lean-to shelter is another easy and efficient option for emergency shelters. All you need is a sturdy branch or pole to use as the ridgepole, and some smaller branches or saplings to use as the frame.

Cover the frame with leaves, grass, or other natural materials to create a waterproof and wind-resistant shelter.

A-Frame Shelter

An A-frame shelter is similar to a lean-to shelter but is constructed with two ridgepoles instead of one.

This creates a triangular shape that provides more headroom and space. A-frame shelters can be covered with tarps, leaves, or other materials to create a sturdy and weather-resistant shelter.

Debris Hut Shelter

A debris hut shelter is a more substantial shelter that is made from natural materials like sticks, leaves, and grass.

To construct a debris hut, start by creating a framework out of sturdy branches or saplings.

Cover the frame with a layer of leaves or other natural materials, and then add a layer of smaller sticks or twigs on top.

Continue adding layers of natural materials until the shelter is thick enough to provide insulation and protection from the elements.

Tree-Pod Shelter

A tree-pod shelter is a unique and innovative type of shelter that is suspended from a tree. The shelter is made from a waterproof fabric or tarp that is draped over a frame made from poles or branches.

The frame is then suspended from the tree with ropes or cords, creating a cozy and secure shelter that is off the ground and protected from wildlife.

Types of Underground Shelters

Root Cellar Shelter

A root cellar shelter is a type of underground shelter that is designed to store food and supplies. However, with some modifications, it can also be used as an emergency shelter.

To create a root cellar shelter, start by excavating a hole in the ground and building a sturdy frame out of wood or concrete.

Cover the frame with a layer of soil, and then add a layer of insulation like straw or hay.

Finally, cover the insulation with another layer of soil to create a waterproof and secure shelter.

Storm Shelter

A storm shelter is a type of underground bunker that is designed to protect against severe weather like hurricanes and tornadoes.

Storm shelters are typically made from concrete or steel and are reinforced to withstand strong winds and flying debris.

They are often installed in the ground near a house or other structure, but can also be freestanding.

Bunker Shelter

A bunker shelter is a more substantial type of underground shelter that is designed to protect against a variety of threats, including nuclear radiation and chemical warfare.

Bunker shelters are typically made from reinforced concrete or steel and are equipped with air filtration systems, backup power, and other features to ensure survival in a worst-case scenario.

Types of Natural Shelters

Cave Shelter

The hospital cave of Cat Ba Island in Vietnam

A cave shelter is a natural shelter that is formed by a cave or rock formation. Caves provide natural protection from the elements and can also be used to store supplies and equipment.

However, it’s important to note that caves can be dangerous and should only be used as a shelter if you have experience and knowledge of the area.

Rock Shelter

The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site in central India that spans the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, as well as the historic period. It exhibits the earliest traces of human life in India and evidence of Stone Age starting at the site in Acheulian times.

A rock shelter is another type of natural shelter that is formed by a rock overhang or cliff.

Rock shelters provide protection from the elements and can also be used to build a fire for warmth and cooking.

However, like caves, rock shelters can be dangerous and should only be used if you have experience and knowledge of the area.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.