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I’ve been a survivalist for as long as I can remember. My dad never really “came out” as a prepper, but after a particularly tough period where I remember both him and my mother at home quite a lot (I later learned they were both unemployed), there were always subtle hints around our home. Like the fully stocked pantry that just seemed to grow and grow. The installations of rain water tanks on every property we owned. The accumulation of a garage-full of almost every possible tool or piece of equipment known to man, so we always had the necessary gear on hand to manage whatever project came our way.

Looking back, my dad embodied much of what I believe to be the “core rules” we survivalists need to live by, and I’m fortunate that he passed many of these thoughts and beliefs on to me. I’m doing my best to uphold these for my kids, and I wanted to share them with all of you today, because we can all do to be a little bit better prepared.

Knowledge is key

More important than everything you have accumulated is the knowledge to put it to use. A firearm you’re not confident to shoot isn’t going to be any good as protection. Likewise, a shed full of supplies will do you little good if the roof starts leaking and you can’t fix it. Your job is to become a jack of all trades, and there’s no better time to learn. My dad was a do-it-yourself master, and he spent hours figuring out everything from installing solar systems to tiling bathrooms, fixing cars and was always “fiddling” with one project or another. I learnt a lot from this that has helped me since starting my own family, and there’s never been more information online to learn from. Start accumulating knowledge of your own.

Provide for yourself

No one is going to be looking out for your best interests, so you need to learn how to provide for yourself. We spend summers in the garden and the greenhouse, learning how to grow and care for a wide variety of plants, that all found their way into our kitchen, making jar after jars of salsa, sauces, and always had fresh salads with our meals, straight out of the garden. My dad was also a big fisherman, and took the time to teach me how to rig up a line, where to cast and catch the best fish in the rivers and beaches around our home. We had seafood two or three nights a week growing up, and while I don’t fish as much as I’d like to anymore, I know the value in being able to provide for myself and my family.

Create your community

I always thought my dad was too focused on giving back to the local community, as he was active in many different charity organizations, as well as the church. But what I didn’t realize till I got older was that this was his way of developing friendships and relationships each time we moved. He didn’t have school to make friends, so he did what he could to build support networks wherever we moved. Support networks being friends we could call on to help out with a job around the home, and always seemed to be exchanging what they had with everyone else. When our fence was trashed by a group of kids in the neighborhood, a few phone calls had a local bricklayer and some buddies around the next morning to fix it, completely free. There’s a strength in building a community you can rely on.

Always have a backup

I am fortunate that my upbringing was free from the traumatic events many people have suffered through to get them here today, but in part, I believe it was partly due to my dad’s ability to always have a backup. Camping trips where all I could think about was all the fish we’d catch (like every trip before), and then suddenly we’re rained out. Not only did he have a couple of tins of food ready, he’d packed the tarps we could use to stay dry, a stove to heat them up (it was too wet for a fire), and some emergency sleeping bags to help us stay dry. It was like this for everything, and even while they struggled with unemployment, I know one of the reasons we made it through was dad’s ability to ensure there was always a plan B. In survival, you always need a plan B.

Make the hard calls

Ultimately, the day will come when you need to make a tough decision. But instead of stewing over it, and letting your inaction (and procrastination) decide for you, it’s important you step up and are willing to make the hard calls yourself. My dad was the biggest softie around, but he was also the one who had our dog put down when she was suffering from an inoperable cancer, shifted us to the other side of the country to provide us with a better life, and was always putting the needs of the family above his own. In survival, you need to be willing to make the hard calls, whatever may come, in order to make it successfully through to the other side.

Looking back, I know that I’ve been blessed with the upbringing I have had, and I really believe these five rules are fundamental to being a successful survivalist. Of course, there’s many more you could add to this list, like not bragging about your preps, or never giving a stranger access to your home, but that’s neither here nor there. If you’re following these rules you’re already well on your way to developing a real survival mindset, and that’s what’s going to ensure you make it successfully through whatever it is that comes your way.

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