Organising your site

Where you choose to set up your shelter depends on the environment, but always take into account the four principles of survival: protection, location, water, and food. Make sure there are no obvious dangers, and that you’re able to signal for rescue if you need to. 

In any environment, it is possible that you will encounter potentially dangerous wild animals. Fortunately, most will avoid confronting you but they will defend themselves by attacking you if provoked, cornered, or surprised, particularly when they have young. If you see a bear, for example, stay calm, make yourself look as big as possible by raising your arms, and walk slowly backward (don’t run). If the bear follows, hold your ground; if it attacks, play dead or fight back. 


It’s important to organize your site, and establish disciplines and routines to ensure camp safety and reduce the risk of accidents. Designate specific areas for storing equipment and firewood, and for cooking, and sleeping and specific routines for activities 


It is vital to assess your campsite for potential dangers, such as animals, unstable rocks or trees, and flooding. 


Look for signs of animals, especially near water. Try to pitch your camp against a rock face so it can only be approached from one direction. Keep a fire going all night. Keep things on hand with which you can make a noise to scare off prowling predators. Don’t camp near standing water where insects, such as mosquitoes, swarm. 


Position the entrance to your shelter at an angle to the wind. Gullies run the risk of flash floods or avalanches; inside river bends are prone to erosion and floods; and a river might burst its banks on an outside bend during a heavy downpour 


These are dead trees that have not yet fallen, but could fall with heavy wind, or the weight of rain or snow. This is the best type of wood for kindling and fire fuel.


These are dangerous branches that have broken off a tree, but haven’t yet fallen. Trees like beech, ash, and yew drop their branches without warning. 


If camping near rocks, check for cracks. Fires below them can cause rockfalls. In the cold, ice sheets can suddenly fall.

Author: Paul

Paul has had an interest in the outdoors since he was a young kid. Walking, tracking and exploring the wilderness around him, from disused overgrown railway lines to the vast wilderness of the UK national parks. Over the last few years Paul has honed his skills into specific areas of bushcraft and survival. He is an expert in map reading, shelter building and knots, traps and fishing.


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