If you want to survive a disaster, you need to be prepared. But there's a whole lot more to survival than having a basement full of supplies. Of course, keeping a stockpile is a good idea, but there's more to it. If you're stripped of your gear, your supplies, your home and your options, there's only one person you can rely on. You.

Knowing these fundamental survival skills is important. Perhaps you get lost when you're evacuating to your bug out. Or you're in an accident and stranded far from help. These skills will keep you alive and safe when you're all alone. So, pay attention, and learn them all.

In short, there's a few key priorities to attend to, in this order.

  • Get safe. Evacuate that burning building or run from the shooter.
  • Get fixed up. Check for any injuries and fix these up so you're on your feet.
  • Get protection. Find something to defend yourself with.

Then you can get started on your other needs. But the real trick is staying positive. If you're upbeat and tackling every challenge that comes your way with a good attitude, you're going to be much better off. And much more able to survive.

Learn to build a shelter

The elements are one of your biggest risks. Especially cold and wet weather. Without protection from the wind, rain and snow, you're going to be in big trouble. You need shelter. If you can find a cave or a natural hollow, great. If not, you need to know how to use the natural resources in your area to build a survival shelter. Find a dry, flat area that's well-removed from any flowing water, and start construction. A lean-to is my go-to. Use straight saplings for the frame, and make sure to pack in plenty of insulation in the walls and floor.

Learn to find and purify water

I know you can survive for up to 72 hours without water but let me tell you from experience. The second day you wake up parched and thirsty is no fun. You've got a headache, and it's a struggle to even move. You need to know where to find water in your local environment, and you need a means to purify it. Just because it looks clear and clean, it doesn't mean it is. Having purification tablets on you isn't always possible, and neither is boiling it. As an alternative, I'd recommend learning how to build your own charcoal water filter. It's a fun project.

Learn to start a fire

In addition to keeping you warm, boiling your water, and keeping any wild animals at bay, having a fire to get you through the night is a comfort that makes survival that much easier. Without a fire-starting kit like our endless lighter, getting a flame is a challenge, but not impossible. Practice traditional methods of fire-starting, like a hand drill, bow saw, or even a bamboo saw. Oh, and improvisation is good too. You can spark a flame from a car battery, or even use your glasses and the sun. Practice now, so you can get a fire going when you really need it.

Learn to signal for help

If you're in an accident and there's people looking for you, knowing how to send a survival signal is important. The trick here is to remember the rule of threes. When signaling for help, three of anything is a good indicator. Three smoky fires in your campsite. Three black stripes on the top of your white car. Three blasts from your whistle. Three white shirts strung up in a tree like a flagpole. Get creative, so your rescuers can find you.

Learn where to find food

This is important if you're stranded for more than a couple of days. As your body needs more than just water to keep functioning, and without food you're not going to have the energy to survive. Familiarize yourself with the edible plants in your area, so you know what to avoid in a crisis. I'd also recommend learning traditional hunting methods, like making grass nets for crawdads, fish traps and more. Of course, this will highly depend on what's in your area, but in my experience, you're going to have much more success in a stream than you will trying to catch a larger animal without any gear.

Learn how to navigate and find your way home

Ultimately, in a SHTF situation there may not be anyone coming to help. You need to find your way and make it back to civilization (or your bug out location) yourself. Getting lost is frightening, especially without the GPS in your phone or a map and a compass. But there's other ways of finding your way. You can use your watch and the sun. Follow the stars at night. All it takes is a little knowledge, and you'll be back on track in no time.

The trouble with a crisis is you never know what's going to happen. You need to be prepared for anything but there's more to it than buying things. If you truly want to survive whatever comes your way, you need to be acquiring skills, knowledge and expertise. These are the only tools that cannot be taken from you, and will ensure you're able to keep fighting back, no matter what.

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