For preppers, survival skills are just as important as supplies and gear.
Any bad situation can be easily mitigated if you have survival skills to fall back on. Even if you only have a handful of basic tools in your bugout bag (BOB), knowing the following crucial skills will help increase your chances of survival when SHTF: (h/t to UKPrepper.Life)
1. Building a shelter
A shelter could mean the difference between life and death in an SHTF scenario. The dangers and risks in such a situation could be compounded by rain, snow or even a thick fog if you don’t have a shelter to protect yourself from the harsh elements. Therefore, it’s important that you know how to build a makeshift shelter.
How you build your shelter will depend on the season and the terrain of your surroundings. You could start with a basic lean-to or tarp tent and slowly build up your skills until you’re comfortable building a tepee. If you live in an area with heavy winter snows, you can take advantage of the weather to practice digging a snow cave.
2. Finding and purifying water
Humans can survive for weeks without food but only for a few days without water. As such, you should be well-acquainted with techniques in finding water and purifying it to make it safe to drink.
If you find yourself in hilly terrain, know that the flow of water is always downhill. Look for streams and creeks in the areas where hills meet. Listen for the sound of water cascading over rocks, then just follow that sound. It also helps to look for signs of life, as animals and insects frequent areas with suitable drinking water.
Avoid stagnant water as it is likely chock-full of parasites and bacteria. Your best bet for finding suitable water, be it for washing or drinking, is in places with a flowing stream. Always purify the water before drinking it. The easiest way to do that is by boiling water. You can also use a water filter, purification tablets and bleach.
3. Starting a fire
A fire keeps you warm, wards off predators and provides heat for cooking food and boiling water. Knowing you can start a fire using simple materials can give you the confidence boost that you need to survive for several days in the wilderness. When packing your BOB, make sure you have several fire starters included in your gear. (Related: Firestarting tips: 5 Types of campfires and how to build them.)
4. Hunting and foraging
In a survival situation, you’ll need to know how to find or catch food to keep yourself alive. There are a number of ways to do this, such as hunting and foraging. You can sharpen a long stick and use that to spear small game or fish. You can also make use of traps to catch small critters or forage for edible plants.
Mobile navigation applications or Global Positioning System (GPS) devices are convenient. But it’s better to know how to read a paper map or a compass in case your gadgets or electronic devices run out of battery.
7. First aid
In a survival situation, basic first-aid skills can save your life or a companion’s life if you’re in a remote or secluded area. Learn basic first-aid skills like how to close and disinfect a wound and how to brace a limb.
Make sure your first-aid kit includes essentials like bandages of different sizes and rubbing alcohol.
Disasters and emergencies can strike at any time. Therefore, it’s important to learn essential survival skills and practice them regularly so that you are always ready.