It’s a new year and a new chance to improve your survival skills. Here are ten skills every disaster prepper should keep well honed.
1. A Positive, Practical Attitude! It may sound corny, but positive thinking really can make the difference in an emergency situation. Panic is your enemy. There are many rules that survivalists use to stay focused in tough moments. For instance the “Rule of 3s” states that a person can live for 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without body temperature regulation (shelter), 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. This makes it easy to see that shelter is a must-have in an emergency situation. Another rule: SPEAR, short for Stop, Plan, Execute, Assess, and Re-evaluate. This rule of thumb can help you stay confident and focused in the face of a survival situation.
2. Building a Fire. A survivalist should be able to build a fire with matches or butane lighter. More advanced survival experts should be able to use flint and steel, bow-drill, fire saw, and other friction-based methods. Practice lighting a fire when it’s windy or rainy, to make sure you can also do this in the wild.
3. Identifying Edible Native Plants. If you’re stuck in the wilderness for an extended period, knowledge of local flora could save your life. Many edibles, such as cattails and oak acorns, are common across North America. A dedicated survivalist sets aside time to study edible plants as well as deadly look alike species.
4. Collecting Water. Survivalists should know how to collect potable water, even in desert environs. Can you build a solar sill or rain catch? If not, brush up so that you can obtain water even in dire circumstances.
5. Signaling Methods. From flashing a mirror to building a smoky signal fire to creating ground-to-air messages, the survivalist has many different signaling methods at his or her disposal. Check your knowledge and toolkit to make sure you’re prepared to catch rescuers’ attention, should you become lost on your next outdoor adventure.
6. Cartography and Orientation. If you’re a backcountry enthusiast, you know the importance of finding your way in the landscape. A savvy survivalist should be able to determine his or her current location using terrain features, a compass, and a map.
7. Building Shelter. Most wilderness survival courses prioritize shelter building as a top survival skill. As a minimum, the survivalist should carry a tarp and ropes, which may be configured into several different types of quick field shelters.
8. Purifying Water. In many natural settings, free-flowing water is bountiful, but tainted with gut-wrenching bacteria. To survive an emergency, people need about a gallon of water per day. Study how to purify water using filtering pumps and iodine tablets, and make sure that your purifying gear is in good shape going into the backpacking season.
9. First Aid Response. Snakebites, broken bones, intense indigestion—all of these maladies and many more are possible in a survival situation. Smart survivalists educate themselves on how to deal with food poisoning, how to stop bleeding, how to handle shock, and many other common first aid situations. Hypothermia and hyperthermia are survival first aid subtopics that demand their own attention.
10. Catching Your Dinner. The hunter or fisherman is infinitely better equipped for survival than the greenhorn. Strong survival skills include the ability to build and setting traps, catch fish, and take down game. And you’ll need to be able to clean, cook, and preserve what you catch in the wild as well.
These skills aren’t just for the outdoor enthusiast; they’re also for those who hope to survive natural disasters.