Top Survival Priority: Water or Shelter?
Where should you be setting your priorities in a survival situation?
Survivalist and preppers understand that the essentials must be covered in order to sustain them should there be a catastrophic event. Sure, planning has gone into making a bug out bag and there have been some skills which have been honed in order to achieve this, but which element should be the top of the top? Should you focus on your food or your water as your main priority?
The Easy Answer
Focus on Shelter. This may come as a shock to some people, but the reality of the situation is that you have already acquired your water for the first 5 days. Granted, this will not sustain you for the long run and you will need to find a water source, but if you have done your prepping and planning strategically (meaning that you have not waited until a catastrophic event has occurred) you already have located a sustainable water source.
What would cause you to need to find alternate shelter from your plan?
Your disaster preparedness plan should have a definitive location for your shelter and your water. However, the area can become compromised based upon several factors. These can include:
- Military presence around your location is too strong – There is a theory that the closer you are to danger the safer you will be. This is not true in a catastrophic event. If your shelter is too close to a military base of operations, you will more than likely be found and seized.
- Other Preppers have acquired the spot – Yes, you could fight to the death over the area, but this is really not the way that you want to start out your survival. The only way that I would say that you should duke out the survival spot is if you have erected a structure such as a bunker and another person has tried to occupy it.
- Catastrophic Situations have unpredictably made the area insecure or unyielding – In a catastrophic event you will not be able to predict with certainty how the terrain will be affected. Should you find that the area in your disaster plan is unsuitable, you will need to go to another location.
Shelter should be sought over water as the environment is going to be harsh. As you are looking for an area in which to live, simply finding a spot that has water is not going to be sufficient. You need to ensure that there is a food source, water, a means of getting out quick if needed, tactical advantages, vantage points, the proximity to dangers, egresses, natural lighting, and the condition of the soil (just to name a few). Now, keep in mind that during a catastrophic event, you will be battling against the terrain as well as everyone else to find a spot. The best solution: Find multiple spots prior to an event occurring.
The more difficult answer
Where shelter is a priority and will need to be found in order to keep you from over exertion, dehydration, as well as provide the basic functionality of a shelter, water may be the top priority depending upon the conditions. Should an event occur and the heat index rise to a substantial level you will need to find water and find it quickly. Granted, you will need to find a shelter to keep from getting sunburned and dehydrated, but without water you will die anyway.
You should not spend more than 2 days looking for shelter. If you have to think of water vs shelter and you have a 5 day pack, you need to ensure that you will be able to allot time to finding water. If after the end of 2 days you have not found s sustainable shelter, you will need to just make do with what is available and seek out some sustainable water. You do NOT want to totally deplete your bug out bags water prior to finding a renewable source of water.
It’s all about the location
Finally, when you are thinking about your survival plan consider where your plan is located. Are you depending on wilderness survival? If so, you will need to focus on the shelter first, as water is more abundant in the wilderness (usually). Are you planning for urban survival? Water will be your main priority as there will be plenty of abandon buildings and structures which you can choose to take shelter in. Look for residences with external water heaters as a quick way to gain access to stored and safe water.
Be prepared and you will not have to prioritize
Where you cannot fully plan for the worst situation, you can be prepared to survive. Preppers and survivalist who have a plan and a backup plan or two should have a few locations selected in various locations which provide ample shelter as well as have a natural water source. Bug out bags should be equipped with tarps and water to provide for immediate shelter and water if needed, but these should be understood to be temporary solutions. Bags which have water straws and water filters can maximize the time that a person can look for a shelter or a route to their bug out location. Do not limit yourself to one plan or have your location around one main river (For example: you would not want to have 15 locations picked along the Mississippi River. If the river becomes polluted to the point of not being able to use it you have 15 useless locations). Diversify your locations around several natural water supplies to maximize your potential for one of the locations to be functional in a catastrophic event.
It is in the best interest of the prepper/survivalist to perform checks on their shelter and water locations. Revamp your plan if you find weaknesses in your plan or if the shelter and water desirability change (for example a 4 lane highway is constructed cutting you off from accessing your shelter without compromising your safety). Prepare, plan, re-plan, and you should survive.