I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to be doing during an emergency is reading an instruction manual. All the gear in the world—and I know, there’s some pretty sweet gear out there—is not going to build that shelter or clean that water by itself. As crucial as stocking up on the right supplies is, we also need to be actively building a base of survival skills to call on in a crisis. We can’t all be Bear Grylls, but the following list and resources offers a good place to start.
So here is a list of the top Five Survival Skills (or How to Make an Emergency Less Scary) that all new and experienced preppers should know.
Pop quiz: Which of the following will kill you fastest?
- Lack of food
- Lack of heat
- Lack of water
You guessed it—water should be your #1 concern in a disaster. Storing water will help you at home; purifying water will help you when you’re not close to a clean supply. However, purifying water can also help you at home as well. If officials issue a boil order or you’re concerned about the safety of your at home water supply you’ll want to purify your water. Check out our Insight Article, “Water Filtration and Purification” to learn more. But everyone should know the basics of water collection for survival. Howstuffworks.com has a handy-dandy tutorial about collecting water for survival.
What do dry grass, garbage sacks, and a fallen tree have in common? They could all keep you from freezing. Knowing how to raise your ultra-light, four-man, double-walled tent in under six minutes won’t help you if you’re caught in the outdoors without it. You’ll need to know how to build a backup shelter out of natural resources if you don’t have that fancy tent on hand. Our Insight article, “Emergency Shelter” tells you how to construct 10+ emergency shelters with little or no gear. Learn just one, and you’re better prepared than you were yesterday.
By all means, keep torches, lighters, and waterproof matches handy. And you’re one step ahead of the game if you’ve been collecting dryer lint or newspaper for tinder. But could you get a flame going without all that on hand? Been a while since Scout camp? Brush up on your fire starter skills by watching one of seven video tutorials from the guys at (wait for it…) http://howtostartafirewithoutmatches.com/.
4. First aid
We recently devoted a whole blog series to beefing up your first aid skills (check out August 2013 in our archives). Don’t know where to start? Learn the Heimlich maneuver.
This is kind of a cheat category. Being able to eat during an emergency includes a variety of survival skills from hunting and foraging to gardening and canning—and frankly, you’d be doing great if you knew a little about each of those skills. You can become a gardening expert by browsing the “gardening tag” on our blog. You can also develop your food preservation skills by checking out the “canning section” of our blog as well.
But let’s assume the worst. If you were stranded in the woods, miles from your stockpile of freeze-dried entrees and canned peaches, what could you do? Check out these list of forage-friendly eats from the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Green, and discovery.com. Before you start foraging in your neck of the woods, get a plan guide and get familiar with local plant life.
These are good starting points to begin developing your survival skills. Pick one thing to learn, get really good at it, and then pick a new thing. Before you know it, you’ll be leading treks across Mongolia and hosting your own reality series.