When people think about survival skills, they usually think about stocking up on food or equipment. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in survival situations without knowing how to use the products they bought or how to be strategic. Having survival skills can come in handy in everyday situations, but they ultimately give you peace of mind. Whenever a disaster strikes, whether by nature or mankind, you want a feeling of calm over you, knowing you can handle it.
Trying to build a fire might be frustrating if you’ve never practiced starting one before. It may feel safe to have a machete on hand to build a shelter, but knowing the skills involved in putting a sturdy shelter together is a different story.
I thought about this a couple of months ago when we purchased new kitchen appliances. When it came time for installation, there were issues with the dishwasher and microwave. I was pretty disappointed with how inconvenienced I was – I’ve been teaching preparedness for years and suddenly I was annoyed that I couldn’t nuke a meal in the microwave! I’ve really gone off track since moving to this new home. I love our home, but I feel like I have regressed terribly when it comes to self-sufficiency and preparedness.
Clearly, it’s time for me to get my $h!t together.
The following are eight things you can do to develop your survival skills, and you should involve your family in this as well. A family cannot be supported by just one person having all of the skills needed.
1. Practice Cooking without Electricity
Stocking up on survival food is a wonderful accomplishment. You’re on the right track if you’ve saved canned goods and nonperishable foods or invested in shelf-stable survival supplies that will last you for 10 to 30 years.
However, that’s not enough. We’re used to looking up recipes on-the-go, cooking in the oven or on the stove, or simply heating something up in the microwave. Many people would struggle to cook without these conveniences.
Practicing skills like starting a fire and cooking over one is crucial. You might also get a solar cooker and practice cooking in it. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, teach your loved ones how to tell if something is safe.
Other skills you might want to learn include dehydrating meats into jerky or canning your own fruits and vegetables without a stove and pressure cooker. It’s also a smart idea to practice cooking in different weather conditions.
2. Test Your Fire-Starting Abilities
There is a common misconception that starting a fire is easy. Get some wood, put some kindling under it, and light a match. However, it’s not quite that simple. It is even harder when you don’t have the right wood pieces, kindling, or matches.
It’s important to know how to start a fire in the snow, how to start a fire with wet gear, and how to start a fire with flint and steel instead of matches.
In addition, safety must be taken into account. It is important for your kids and spouse to know how to safely start and extinguish a fire. A bug-out situation is the last place you want to start a wildfire, putting yourself at even more risk.
3. Build a Shelter with and Without Gear
Some people are adept at putting up tents, while others find it difficult. When you are in a desperate situation, this can be a problem. Eventually, most people can figure it out if they give it enough time.
You run into problems when you do not have a shelter at all. There may come a time when you will have to create your own shelter from whatever is surrounding you.
If you want to build one, you should choose a dry place where you can remain camouflaged and dry. Choose the kind of shelter you will build, like a snow shelter, a tree limb shelter, or a brush shelter. This can be a fun activity for your family that also teaches critical skills should the need arise.
4. Learn and Practice First Aid Skills
The best thing you can do is practice using a first aid kit. In spite of the fact that you cannot actually cause an injury to learn how to administer first aid, you can still practice.
Take each item out of the kit and research how to use it. Whether or not there is a gadget for it, you can research common problems and find out how to solve them.
You might learn how to perform CPR or the Heimlich maneuver. It is just as important (if not more so) to know how to assess and treat someone’s injury.
5. Get Your Family Used to Rotating Supplies
Rotating your supplies is a great way to learn how to use many of your products. Make sure that you replace them after you have used them. Keeping track of the quantity of items and their expiration dates is an important part of staying safe.
Any time someone uses a product, they should cook it or use it as they would in an emergency situation if the grid went down. If they want to use a can of green beans, let them practice cooking over a Sterno can stove at least once to familiarize them with the process.
6. Find Out Your Growing Zone and Learn How to Garden
Grocery stores will have bare shelves very quickly if the food supply chain suddenly collapses. I just read an article about foods that may not be available in grocery stores in 2023, and bread was top on the list. Think about what foods you eat every day. Can you grow any of these foods?
Growing a garden and feeding your family in a week or even a few weeks is not something you can expect to happen overnight. Planting seeds, growing them to harvest and learning the process takes time.
It is common for beginners to struggle with growing a garden because their soil isn’t right, they don’t know how to keep pests away, and they fail to make sure their plants are properly watered and given enough sunlight, so it is imperative that you learn and practice now.
7. Study Multiple Uses for the Same Products
Your survival gear contains many products that can be used in multiple ways. Invest some time in learning about this now. For example, you can use duct tape to repair tarps, sleeping bags, and bug-out bags.
You can use it to build a shelter or as a belt. It can even be used for first aid, such as suturing wounds. Using duct tape might be a great alternative if you run out of gauze and bandages.
Another item with many uses is paracord. You can use these paracord bracelets to help you fish and hunt, start a fire, or build a shelter in a survival situation – but only if you know what you’re doing.
8. Sign Up for Classes That Can Help You
You can also learn and improve your survival skills by taking classes. There are schools that offer survival training, and there are also individual skill-based classes available.
First aid and camping classes and wilderness medicine classes are available. Foraging in nature can be learned by hiring a guide to accompany you in your area.
Security and self-defense classes are also available. You may be able to learn via video or ebooks online. However, you can also attend in-person classes to gain even more knowledge locally.
Survival Skills – Slow and Steady
Just like you can’t grow a garden overnight, you can’t learn everything about being self-sufficient in a day or even a month. This is why it’s important to practice. As you become more confident in your abilities, start adding more. Soon you’ll be an expert! More importantly, you’ll be about to take care of your family in any situation.