10 Survival Skills to Learn in 2013Brian Neville
You may be looking to military books for survival training but if that’s your sole source of information you’re likely missing out on tried-and-true, gadget-free survival skills that can carry you through a long-term emergency. One of the best sources for information is history – in fact, you might be able to learn as much from an archaeologist as an Army Ranger. Here are 10 survival skills to consider learning this year:
Start, control and use fire – If you’ve got a Firesteel you may feel like you’ve got everything you need to start and use a fire. However, starting a fire is just the beginning. You’ll want to learn how to start different kinds of fires (cooking, heating, signaling) from different kinds of materials, how to keep them burning in different situations as well as how to control fire for safety. If you’re using fire for heating and cooking in a shelter, you’ll want to learn how to keep it going and how to throttle it up or down as needed. With this in mind, consider keeping a supply of WiseFire on hand.
Make functional pottery – Vessels that hold water and food are incredibly important when it comes to a long-term plan. Functional pottery is exceedingly simple if you know where to look for clay (geological areas called “clay veins”), how to shape it and how to fire it so it’s waterproof and can be used for cooking. Some good tips can be found here and here.
Weaving – Eventually, machine made fabrics are going to wear out. Learn how to find or collect natural fiber, prepare it and how to weave it into baskets for storage or portage, blankets and basic clothing. Learn how to weave a basket from willow here and how to make a loom and weave a blanket here.
Cooking over an open fire – How hard can it be, right? If you haven’t tried cooking over an open fire you don’t yet know the joys of burned food or raw food or food that turns out to be dangerous because it wasn’t cooked to the right temperature or for the right amount of time. Cooking over an open fire means learning about safety and control.
Make a cutting blade – Fortunately, this is an area where archaeological evidence is broad enough and recent enough to reconstruct effective techniques for making stone cutting tools. Blades can be used for weaponry, sure, but blades are necessary for building shelters, first aid and in textile projects. A good tutorial can be seen here.
Grow plants – If you don’t have a green thumb, this is the year to get one. You don’t need to learn to grow orchids or cultivate entire fields of corn, you need to learn about soil, water, seeds and sun. Start with a small garden or a tomato plant and get to know the lifecycle of a plant.
Purify water – We all love our portable water filters but even the best have a finite number of uses. Eventually, you’ll need to know how to find the best water source and how to purify water for drinking and cooking. Learn about sand filters, boiling techniques and rain collection.
Make a shelter – Depending on your situation, you may need a shelter for sleeping, protection from the elements or maybe even hiding. There are as many ways to build a shelter as there are situations – learn basic construction techniques for sturdy shelters that will keep you warm or cool, and basic camouflage techniques so that your shelter keeps your whereabouts secret if necessary. Pay attention to advice about the best locations for shelters and consider how your chosen spot may change depending on weather.
Store food and water – once you’ve mastered gardening, gathering and even fishing or hunting, you’ll need a way to store food and water safely so you don’t spend every waking moment going through all the steps necessary to feed yourself. If you get sick from spoiled food or tainted water, everything you’ve learned to this point may not mean much. Learn about safe vessels for storage, storage temperatures and natural “cellars” and preservation techniques.
First aid and hygiene – Another lesson we learned from history is that poor basic hygiene causes disease very quickly. Brush up on basic biology of organisms and how to keep yourself and your shelter site clean. Then brush up on basic first aid for burns, breaks, bites and illness.
Start learning about the history of survival skills and you’ll likely be able to combine your new knowledge with modern techniques and your own abilities, interests and supplies for a more holistic view of staying prepared