Any temporary shelter setup to protect people from hazardous elements can be called an emergency shelter. Emergency shelters are provided to people who have lost their homes or places where they lived due to a natural calamity, war or disease. In some cities and towns there are permanent emergency shelters. These are managed by private organizations and are used by people who may have lost their home in a fire or any other disaster.
Any construction that is erected to provide people temporary shelter can be termed as an emergency shelter. The most common type of emergency shelter used is tents. International organizations keep stock of tents and send them wherever emergency shelters are required. Schools, colleges, churches, and halls have also been used as emergency shelters. During the Second World War, tube train stations were used as emergency shelters.
An emergency shelter can be made from a variety of material. In a jungle or wooded area, branches are cut and placed in the ground and leaves are spread over the top as a roof. This may be one of the crudest forms of an emergency shelter that can be constructed.
If people have to live for an extended period in an emergency-shelter, then prefabricated homes may be constructed. A prefabricated home can be assembled fast and provides better relief against the elements than a tent. An emergency shelter can also be built using empty bags filled with local soil and placed in a circle. Poles are placed across the top, and are covered with a tarp or plastic sheet.
Earth mixed with straw and water is then plastered onto the tarp. The door and windows may be made by using salvaged doors and windows or placing a scrap wooden beam across the opening and hanging a scrap sheet of cloth, tarp or any other material. These types of emergency-shelters were constructed in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake.
An emergency-shelter has to be constructed from the material available at the emergency site. The emergency-shelter has to be safe, protective and cheap to construct. Women and children suffer the most in an emergency and require immediate shelter. Therefore, before any relief can arrive in an emergency, the materials available at the emergency site must be used to make emergency-shelters.
You cannot expect people to sit out in thunderstorms, hurricanes, cyclones and wait for the aid to arrive. Fallen trees, branches, salvaged materials from collapsed homes and buildings have been used to make emergency-shelters. People have been using their common sense and available materials to setup emergency shelters.
There are a variety of emergency-shelters that have been made during an emergency across the world. China has had massive earthquakes and floods and the government has had to provide emergency shelters to people. The United States witnessed a devastating hurricane that left thousands of people homeless. There again the government and aid agencies moved in to provide emergency shelters. No single standard of emergency shelter is there that is constructed. You have to build an emergency shelter with whatever material is available.