Shelter: Heating Without Indoor Fire

Shelter is one of the three main staples of survival. However, sometimes shelter alone won’t keep you alive. In colder climates temperatures regularly get below freezing, and we humans need an outside source of heat. In some cases, fire isn’t always an option.

A survival shelter built from the ground up is likely going to be composed of leaves, sticks and wood, all of which can catch fire. Having a fire inside your shelter can pose other dangers beyond the threat of burning the place down. For example, if your shelter isn’t ventilated properly, you’re going to get a buildup of smoke, which can be fatal.

Smokeless Heat

Having the ability to heat your shelter without building a fire inside is much safer. To accomplish this, take three rocks; bigger is often better as long as you can lift them with a forked branch. Place the rocks in a fire outside the shelter and let them sit for an hour or so. After they’ve heated through, remove the rocks from the fire using a forked branch and bring them into your shelter. They’ll be extremely hot, so don’t touch them with your hands or any other part of your body.

Using your forked branch, place two rocks on the ground to act as a platform for the third; stacking them will help the heat last longer. To keep a steady source of heat, have three other rocks already in the fire while the first three cool down. Don’t use rocks from rivers, creeks, ponds, lakes or other bodies of water; waterlogged rocks may explode in the fire.

An Alternative

There’s another, safer way you can use rocks to heat your shelter. First, find a rock, about the size of a bowling ball, and then dig a hole that fits the shape of the rock. Find a second rock that’s flat and about the same width. Place the first rock in the fire, again for about an hour, then take it out using a forked branch or shovel.

Carry the rock to the pit you dug inside your shelter and drop it in. Place the flat rock, which wasn’t in the fire, on top of the hot rock; you can dig out around the pit to make the flat rock sit flush with the ground to avoid tripping. To keep the heat going, you can follow the same procedure as the previous method, placing another rock in the fire while the first cools down and repeating the process as needed.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a survivalist or your plane crashed in the middle of an Alaskan forest, being able to build and heat shelter is crucial. Sometimes getting there is half the battle, however. To see how to survive a plane crash, check out this article.

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