I’ve been looking at the silver lining in this crisis, and while it’s not been fun at all to remain stuck at home, it has given us something back. Time. We’re not commuting to and from our jobs, we’re not heading out to eat and spend time with friends, and judging by the amount of Netflix everyone is watching, I guarantee we’re all bored.
But instead of tuning into another mind-numbing bit of television, my advice is to use this time as a gift. To sharpen a few of the survival skills you will need in a true SHTF event, so you’re better prepared to survive no matter what. And with that in mind, here’s a few bits of knowledge that are worth developing while you’re in lockdown at home.
Learn to pick a lock
No matter where you go, almost everything of value is going to be behind a locked door. If you know how to pick a basic tumbler lock, you’ll have quick access to supplies, shelter and even safety that’s unavailable to everyone else. All you need to do is buy a lock picking kit and start practicing on an old lock. It does take a bit of a knack, but once you’re doing it reliably it’s a key bit of knowledge you can rely on for life.
Learn to weave a basket
Weaving is a skill that has been used for centuries, as you can pull together natural ingredients like the reeds or vines from your yard to create baskets and traps to help you if you’re living off the land. Fish and crab traps are a very effective way of catching a meal, one that doesn’t require you to do anything more than “set and forget” it. Plus, being able to carry everything home that you’ve been foraging for is a good bonus too.
Learn to garden
People always tell me I have a green thumb, but I can tell you this. It wasn’t something I was born with. I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors, and over the years I’ve experimented and grown more than my fair share of different crops, vegetables and fruit trees. There was a lot of learning involved, but as we come into the peak growing season now would be the perfect time to get started on a garden of your own.
Learn to forage
But more than just growing it, you need to learn how to forage in your local area. Being able to quickly identify the edible plants is key, so take a guidebook and put this time to good use. Everything that you can forage for your family to eat will help keep them satisfied, healthy and happier as they go through a crisis event. Plus, you don’t want to risk picking the wrong plants to eat, right?
Learn to hunt
I’ll admit, when I first started hunting and fishing I thought it would be far easier than it turned out to be. With time, I like to think I have improved, but you need to invest the time now to learn. If you can get out and go hunting, do it. If not, take this time to study not only the books that teach you how, but practice the different traps and techniques to use. Like rigging up your fishing line, or setting a snare. You can do this now, in front of the television.
Learn to start a fire
One thing that constantly amazes me is how few people are confident in starting a fire in all conditions. Sure, with a lighter and fire-starters it can be easy, but how about if you’re working with damp material, or only have a flint and steel? You need to practice key skills like this in all different types of weather, so you’re confident and can rely on them when you really need to get a fire going in the wild.
Learn to cook over a fire
Camping often gets romanticized, but few people are actually comfortable with what living in the outdoors actually requires. Once you’ve got your fire going don’t let it go to waste. Learn how to prepare and cook a meal over the open flames, whether you’re roasting a fresh kill or simply baking some bread in the coals. Knowing how to cook over a fire is a key skill you will need when you’re bugging out and on the road.
Learn to make light
Without power you’re going to find it difficult to see at night, but you do have options should you find yourself stuck at home without a flashlight. The trick is knowing what can be used to make a candle. Of course, actual candles are a great item for your survival stockpile, but you should also know how to make oil lanterns, out of items that are probably already just sitting in your pantry. When the lights go out you’ll be happy you know this.
Learn to preserve food
Any prepper worth their salt already has months and months’ worth of stockpiled food, but instead of wasting your money on pre-made packs now would be the perfect time to start preserving your own. We’ve made everything from jams and dehydrated fruit, to smoked deer jerky and even pickled fish. I’m still debatable about the last one, but I will admit, it turned out to be far tastier than I ever imagined it would.
Learn to make clothes
Once the stores shut down you will need to be responsible for your own clothing. We started with the simplest of repairs, hemming a pair of jeans, or sewing up a split seam before investing in a second-hand sewing machine to use. There’s a huge variety of patterns and instructions available online to make it easy to follow, and I’ve been making simple clothing for my kids ever since. It saves so much money, you would not believe.
Just because we’re all in lockdown, it doesn’t give you an excuse to stop learning. So put this time that you’ve been given to good use, and use it to develop a little more prepping knowledge of your own. And you never know, what you’re spending your time to learn now, may just keep you alive once the SHTF.