As we’ve talked about before, shelter should be your foremost concern in almost every survival situation. Many would overlook this in the desert and opt to search for water. Since finding additional water might not be likely, or even possible, your survival is going to hinge on your ability to reduce your need to sweat and ability to conserve the water you do have. For this reason, daytime shelter in the desert is one of the most important factors. This is how to build one of the most effective shelters for protection from the heat using tarps.
Look for an area with ground loose enough that you can dig a depression large enough to lay in, and about 12 inches deep.
Next, using rocks or sticks (in the desert rocks or earth are going to be more highly available because of a lack of vegetation) at the corners, secure a tarp over the depression. This tarp should be approximately 12 inches above ground level.
Next, the most important factor is to add an additional layer of protection. Stretch another tarp over the first one, or fold your tarp back over (this will allow you to save your tarp, but it will not allow for hot air to circulate as easily and will therefore reduce your protection from the heat) to create a second layer. This second layer should be 12 to 20 inches above your first tarp. If you used rocks to secure your first layer, make a pile of rocks under the first layer at all corners, then you can make a smaller pile on top, and finally a smaller pile on top of the second layer.
Variations of this shelter have been used with success for centuries. This shelter can over you 20 degrees of protection which could easily be the difference between uncomfortable and heat stroke. This will allow you to safely rest during the day and use the cool of the night to construct a signal for rescue, look for water and food, or cover ground to get out.
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