If we were to make a list right here of all the survival skills one should learn for critical disasters, we’d fill up the entire space for this article just by enumerating them. They’re so many that it would take you a lifetime to learn them (and you’d probably have to quit your job, too).
I wanted to write something on the skills that are most important for you and your family to learn. In fact, if you can get each family member to focus on one category of skills, you’ll be in a much better position to survive because you’ll each be specialized in something as opposed to all having superficial knowledge about everything.
#1. Fitness and Bugging Out Skills
Though most preppers expect to bug in, I think getting in shape is one of the most important things you can do. When things go downhill, it’s survival of the fittest out there and it won’t matter whether you bug in our out.
Either you or your family member can be the fitness coach and you can all work out at home if you don’t want to pay for gym memberships. Don’t forget that there are plenty of ways to get a good workout for free including walking, jogging, hiking, working the garden or the field and doing bodyweight exercises.
If you’re a woman over 50, Web MD has a pretty good article to get you started. The more we age, the more careful we must be with exercising. Hint: stretching and warming up will improve your flexibility and reduce chances of injury.
#2. First-Aid Skills
There are plenty of resources out there, particularly on YouTube, but the very best way is to take a first aid course. Videos are good but you simply cannot rely on them if you don’t practice. Plus, doing what they do on YouTube without first going through the course is dangerous. Always consult a specialist before attempting anything and never take survival medicine lightly.
#3. Homesteading Skills
Homesteading is so vast that, if you decided to learn most of the skills related to it, you’ll find you’ll have little time to learn anything else. Consider these for starters:
- gardening (indoor and outdoor)
- harvesting rainwater
- cooking in your back-yard using various types of ovens or even on an open fire
- making a complex water filtration and purification system
- fixing, maintaining and improving your home
- making and fixing clothes
- installing and maintaining solar panels, wind turbines, water mills and other forms of generating electricity
- foraging for wild edibles in your area
- making your home bullet-proof against burglars and home invasions
- using a HAM radio
- stockpiling food, water, gear (and keeping an inventory)
- rotating your stockpile
- taking care of animals
…and on and on and on.
Notice these didn’t really go up high on my list. Sure, it’s useful to know how to make shelter or light a fire using the bow drill method but, if you’ve done a good job at prepping, the lighters, the tinder, the fire starters, the tents, tarps and ponchos you stockpile will make everything a lot easier for you.
Still, if you want to cross the line from prepper to survivalist, here’s a few skills you should consider learning:
- starting a fire using the bow drill method
- gathering wood for the fire (preferably using either a tarp or Paracord to bring as much as possible with one load
- filtering water (if your LifeStraw or Sawyer Mini fails you, use a plastic bottle along with cloth, charcoal and sand to filter it)
- making shelter out of wood and moss or even snow quinzhees
- tying various rope knots
- reading topographic maps
- knowing what to do when you’re lost
- …and on and on.
Suggested article: How to make a shelter from a tarp – 15 easy designs
#5. Critical Thinking
I think that one of the things most people lack, even the ones who prep, is critical thinking. They tend to be biased towards things, people and situations and, no matter what arguments you bring, it’s nearly impossible to change their minds.
In survival situations, most people are going to run around in disbelief. Contradicting information will pop up every minute. It is then when you need to keep it together and use your critical thinking to know what to do.
Should you bug in or out? Where are all your family members? Can you go get them? Should you answer the phone or the door, knowing your friend or neighbor is in trouble, but doing it will put your own life in danger?
I strongly suggest you develop your critical thinking today. Visualize yourself in the middle of disastrous situations and imagine what you would do. Train your mind now to avoid it freezing when you need it most.
Where to start: this fantastic free guide on the Marine Corps University website. Another great place is – you guessed it – YouTube. You can find plenty of footage with people in trouble. Simply visualize yourself in their place and ask yourself:
What would I do?
Final Word: What to Start With?
All of the categories listed above are very important but you have to start somewhere. Before you figure out what to tackle first, ask yourself:
- Do I live in the city, suburbs, small town or on a farm?
- How many people are in my survival team and how many acquaintances are in my survival network?
- What are your strengths? How about your weaknesses?
- Which of these skills are you interested or passionate about? Which of them are you already practicing at some level?
For example, if you live in the city, I suggest you focus on getting in shape because you’ll most likely bug out if something happens. You’re going to need strength, agility and flexibility to get out of the urban jungle.
The trick is to focus on one at a time until you become reasonably good. The other trick is to not get sucked into it and turn it into a passion because you’ve got a lot more skills to learn after that.
Now, if your family’s on board with this, what you should do is help each of them find their own skills that they enjoy and/or are good at. This way you’ll each study one aspect of survival on your own and then teach it to each-other!
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