Catastrophe has been a Hollywood staple for generations. Movies have come off the production line in an endless stream covering everything from alien invasions to deadly pandemics to nods to nuclear war and natural disasters. Often the plot revolves around how people get by in dire circumstances. How do our heroes survive? How do people handle situations that see their world destroyed and survive to start civilization again?
Many call these events “black swan” events. From a European perspective, all swans were white; being white was part of the definition of being a swan. That was until the late 18th century, when a Dutch explorer came across black swans in Australia. So a “Black Swan” event is something that nobody expected, and most people are not prepared for.
However, survival skills are not only useful after a cataclysm. The unexpected can happen to anyone. You and your family could get lost on a hike. Or severe local weather may mean you have to fend for yourself for a few days. Here are ten survival skills everyone should know.
Related: Top 10 Tips Ever On How You Can Survive A Depression
10 First Aid Basics
Keep your first aid kit in your tote bag or backpack. The clip above offers a comprehensive guide to the essentials to pack. They include:
- Blister treatment
- Medications (over the counter and prescription)
While you won’t be able to cover every eventuality, these items will allow you to deal with immediate emergencies. As part of your preparation, you should ensure that everything is updated regularly; we suggest you check your package every six months.
Also, it’s a good idea to know the basics of first aid. What to do and what not to do can save a life. The basic courses are available on YouTube, and the american red cross offers online and face-to-face courses.
Being prepared with basic first aid knowledge and equipment can help you handle an emergency calmly and efficiently.
9 shelter creation
If you get lost on a day hike or don’t have a tent, it’s worth learning how to make a shelter. This is especially true if you are out in nature. Finding a shelter is usually not an immediate problem in urban areas, as there are often many discarded materials, cardboard boxes for example, out of which a crude temporary shelter can be built.
In the woods, it’s a different matter, and our linked video will help you build a shelter that uses the materials around you to build a shelter. On the mountain, there are different challenges. If you can find a cave that isn’t being used by a bear, great! If you don’t come across a practical cave, you should find a hollow area, figure out where the wind is coming from, and pile up rocks to protect yourself from the wind.
If you have plastic sheeting or a tarp, you can anchor one edge to the top of the stone wall and extend it to the ground, and stack stones on top of it to secure it in place. It doesn’t have to be tall; you just need enough space to lie down at night.
8 building a fire
You should have a fire starter in your grab bag or backpack. This could be a flint, a waterproof matchbox, or a magnifying glass. Better yet, pack all three! Use small pieces of wood, pine needles, or cardboard to act as kindling. Add larger pieces of wood as the fire gets going, and once you have a good fire, add larger pieces to keep the fire going.
If you are in the desert, light your fire downwind from your shelter. Dig a shallow fire pit or surround the fire with rocks. Make sure your fire is clear of surrounding dry brush that could be ignited by a spark.
If you want to use your fire to call for help, try to find an open area away from any trees that might hide or disperse the smoke. Pile wet green grass or brush over the fire to create more smoke.
7 Water, water everywhere
We cannot live long without water, but water is also heavy to carry. You will need fresh water in any survival situation that lasts more than a few days. There are reasonably cheap and effective sterilization kits or tablets on the market that you can buy for your grab bag.
The National Park Service warns against drinking water from a natural source. It may appear clean but still be full of bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Boiling water is a simple way to remove the most harmful contents. But remember that this will take time, don’t wait until you are desperate.
Boiled water tastes flat; you can improve the flavor by pouring it from one container to another and letting it sit for a few hours.
If you are in nature, try to drink water as close to its source as possible. This won’t guarantee it’s fresh, but it may contain fewer contaminants than downstream water, but you’ll still need to purify it.
6 Looking for food
People in difficult circumstances soon find that they are less picky about what they eat. Search online for a guide to edible plants in your region. It is important to note that do not eat mushrooms or berries that you are not absolutely sure about. Some suggest that you check if something is dangerous by rubbing your lips against it or even lightly tasting it. This is not good advice; some plants are so toxic that even a small amount could kill you.
You may be tempted to try fishing or trapping, this is fine if you have the time, but unless you know what you are doing this can be frustrating and time consuming. It may be better to focus on collecting edible plants.
Your grab bag should contain energy bars, food concentrates, and trail mix to supplement your dietary needs.
5 map reading
Learning to read a map goes hand in hand with learning to use a compass. Both are skills that are essential if you’re out in the wild. We’ve gotten used to using apps on our phones to help us with everything, and many people go hiking with just a phone to guide them. This is not sensible. Batteries don’t last forever; Coverage can be spotty, and in a survivorship situation, there may be no coverage at all.
You should have a topographic map of your area: The United States Geological Survey produces excellent topographic maps. A topographic map shows the natural features of the landscape and can help you plan a route through unfamiliar territory.
Make sure your map is covered with a waterproof film or you have a waterproof bag for it; you don’t want it to become a sodden lump in the first storm.
You know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. You may also know other folk wisdom that tells you how to determine which way is north. But these are not a substitute for reading a compass. When used in conjunction with a map, a compass will help you determine how to get to your destination, and of course it’s not dependent on your cell phone.
You can study orienteering through YouTube videos and immediately put your knowledge to the test by devising a course at your local park. In this way, your children can learn to use a compass and have fun at the same time. Like map reading, using a compass is an easy skill to master and allows you to show off your prowess as a lumberjack.
3 Think about it!
You may not realize that having the right mindset is a skill you can learn. Sure, some people are prone to panic and others keep their heads together. There is some truth to this, but you can learn to assess situations and come up with practical solutions.
This type of cost-benefit analysis allows you to weigh the risks associated with various decisions against the benefits they might bring. For example, in a survival situation, what are the risks and benefits of moving on versus staying where you are? This is a skill that you can develop together with your family members. You can make a game of deciding what you would do in a “what if…” situation.
Survival could depend on being able to make practical decisions in different environments. If you approach survival as a practical problem to be solved rather than an insurmountable difficulty, your chances will improve dramatically.
2 survive at home
You should take precautions if you live in an area prone to natural disasters. But no matter where you live, a “Black Swan” event could happen tomorrow. Planning for the unexpected is a skill. It involves assessing potential risks and deciding what you can reasonably do to mitigate any situation.
It is a good idea to keep a supply of essential food, medicine and water for several days. Make sure you have batteries for flashlights and candles. Store everything in a safe and secure space. These preparations don’t need to cost a lot of money, and you can build up your supplies over time. The skill lies in deciding what is essential and what is not.
1 What to pack in your grab bag
Your blind bag should be ready, so you can pick it up and go at any time. Again, the skill lies in proper planning. You don’t want a suitcase that weighs more than you can easily carry, so be reasonable with your luggage. And remember to personalize each bag for individual members of the family, including your adorable furry friends.
One suggestion is that a sudden survival situation will be traumatic for everyone. But young children will find it especially stressful. Make sure you can quickly get a favorite stuffed animal for each of your children. It seems like a small thing, but it can go a long way in reassuring your child.