10 Essential Skills Necessary For Survival

by Tess Pennington

Although it is important to be prepared for disasters by having the right supplies, many preppers overlook the importance of having the right skills. They are not adequately trained to handle the disaster situations in which they find themselves. Having the proper skills and training will provide an individual with a well diversified knowledge base to help them survive during and after a disaster.

Not all Skills Are Created Equal

It is important to emphasize that some skills are more important than others. Therefore, prioritize your basic needs. That is, what keeps you alive: air, water, food, clothing, shelter. If you have these basic needs, then you can live. For an emergency, ensure that you have a way to treat water, have shelf stable food stored, seasonal clothing and shoes stored and an emergency shelter. Once you have these basic needs covered, then you can move on to other areas of expertise.

The following are pertinent skill sets that can help you survive a long-term emergency. Although there are many skills one can learn, these can save a life.


Outdoor Survival Courses

Most preppers and survivalists are planning to “re-connect” with nature. Learning the necessary outdoor skills will provide a person with fundamental knowledge on how to better survive. The Boy Scouts, as well as some community colleges, offer adult classes. Get creative and search around the Internet. There are some survival courses offered online (some are free courses) that allow a person to learn from the comfort of their home. There are also wilderness courses offered at a variety of facilities such as local colleges, the YMCA, community park and recreation facilities, etc. Additionally, finding books, and e-books on survival skills is another way to gather information on this topic. Better yet – practice going out into nature and living in rugged conditions to get an idea of the supplies required and how to better maintain your basic needs.

Medical 

In a survival situation, medical training is going to be a big one. Due to the increased use of saws, axes and knives, there will be more medical emergencies involving deep lacerated cuts. Knowing how to properly clean wounds, stitch wounds, as well as knowing how to treat infected wounds will be extremely important. Additionally, there will be an increase in burns from being in closer contact to fires. Burns can get infected very quickly, and knowing how to decipher the degree of the burn and how to treat it will be a concern amongst survivalists and preppers. Online courses are offered for basic CPR/First Aid, however, those courses will not give a person the fundamental hands-on training they need. Finding a local Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class that is offered for paramedics and first responders to accidents will better equip a person to handle emergency medical situations.

Hunting Skills

As many are planning to hunt wild game for a food source, they will need skills on how to gut the carcass, skin the fur and properly cut the meat. The “hunter-in-training” will also have to have a proficient knowledge on the different types of hunting tools used to prepare animal carcasses (and these tools come in different sizes based on the animal). The National Hunting Association is a portal that can take a person to their local area hunting association in order to get more information for their specific area. Also, this website offers the hunting guides for all of the states within the USA.

Disaster Training

Disaster training is typically offered by FEMA, the American Red Cross and other disaster organizations. A person who is equipped with knowledge on how to plan for a disaster, how to properly prepare for a disaster, and how to mentally handle the after effects of a disaster will be able to better adapt to the situation more quickly compared to those that are not. The American Red Cross offers extensive courses in disaster safety and training as well as basic First Aid/CPR courses. There are also online courses offered through FEMA.

Gardening Skills

In a long-term survival situation, seeds will mean the difference between life and death. The only problem is, many have lost the necessary skill of gardening because there is a grocery store on every corner of the streets these days. It’s time to get your hands dirty and get back in touch with nature. Learning necessary gardening skills such as companion plants, crop rotations, beneficial insects, natural ways to replenish soil, and knowledge on proper gardening tools will be beneficial. Another relevant knowledge source is understanding the medicinal value of plants and herbs. It is amazing how many uses there are for plants besides spicing up our cooked entrees. Knowledge of natural medicines is another necessity in a survival situation, especially if a family member has a pre-existing condition.

Firearm Certification and Training

There are dozens of firearms courses offered through the National Rifle Association. In a situation where a person needs to defend themselves, 99% of them would want a gun. And, the more a person practices, the better their aim gets. This is one survival skill that a person should be as proficient as possible. Also, practicing gun safety, and educating others about gun safety, especially around children, is essential when a firearm is around.

Canning and Food Preparation

Knowing how to can and preserve foods to eat during the long winter months is vital. Just think of all the delicious jarred goods a person can store up for when their food supply dwindles in the winter. The canning jars can be a bit of an investment. However, canning jars can often be found on www.craigslist.com, at garage sales and even at second hand stores. Canning jars and lids would also make an excellent bartering item.

Amateur Radio Classes

Having a radio is encouraged by many disaster relief organizations. Having knowledge on how to operate a HAM radio will provide a person with an emergency communication source during a time when most communication is down. The National Association of Amateur Radio provides information based on a person’s location and course information on their website.

Sewing Classes

Typically if there is a fabric store, there are sewing classes and sewing events that are offered at the store. Everyone has heard of how their great grandmothers would sew quilts out of material from damaged or worn clothing, but not many of us have this skill anymore. Sewing classes will not only teach a necessary skill, but it will also get the survival mindset in place: make something new out of what you have available. This skill will also steady your hand if you have to give stitches in an emergency.

Candle/Soap making Conventions

Soap and candle making are a lost art form in my opinion. Having a background knowledge of these skills would also be a great bartering skill. Search the Internet and community publications to find these classes.

Contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition.

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years.

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