A lot of discussion about survival, preparedness, and TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) focuses on what items to squirrel away in the basement pending some catastrophe. It’s a good idea—having a well-stocked larder and some vital tools and equipment socked away is a fine way to prepare.
And those are finite resources that will, eventually, be depleted, if they’re not outright destroyed by what catastrophe precipitates their need. I want to focus today on skills.
As the saying goes: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Having supplies is nice, and it is far better to know how to make your own.
An oft used quote in the preparedness community comes from Robert Henlein’s Time Enough for Love where he writes:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
That’s a good start.
In order to do well in scenarios bandied about in the preparedness community, a competent man or woman needs to know much more. Here then is my list of the Top Ten Skills to Survive The End Of The World As We Know It.
- Medical Skills—Everyone interested in preparedness should already know CPR and basic first aid. If you don’t, the Red Cross offers classes that are free or discounted. Yet basic CPR and first aid are just the beginning. You should also take advanced first responder classes as time and finances allow. Even better are some of the survival medicine classes which offer critical skills needed to stabilize a trauma victim when access to a hospital is days or weeks away. Hands-on training is always the best, although if you’re unable to find a class near you it’s possible to learn many advanced skills for combat first aid such as treating gunshot wounds and other trauma. Don’t neglect natural medicines, as pharmacies may not always be there when you need them and, even if they are, the drugs you need may be unavailable or prohibitively expensive. Most drugs are found naturally and can be used successfully in a number of situations.
- Advanced Gardening, Irrigation, and Farming—The world population is continuously growing, and the demand for food never ceases. Indeed, world hunger is making headlines with more and more frequency. It seems inevitable that the era when we could to walk into a supermarket and find cheap, affordable, and abundant food is coming to an end. It then becomes imperative that the competent man (or woman) should be able to successfully grow food on a small lot. Advanced gardening techniques such as hydroponics allow an enormous amount of food to be grown in a very small area. Hydroponics does require a significant investment in equipment, and electrical power is usually required as well, so other gardening and even farming techniques are necessary to produce crops from arable land. Other farming skills such as animal husbandry will come in handy for raising small animals such as chickens, goats, sheep and other livestock. You should also learn basic care and first aid for small farm animals.
- Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping—Hunting, fishing and trapping are all excellent ways to put protein on the table. Contrary to what many in the preparedness community say, the woods will not instantly be depopulated of small and medium game, nor the lakes and streams devoid of fish. Knowing how to hunt, fish, and trap using snares, dead-falls, trotlines, gill-nets, and other techniques can be an incredibly effective way to keep meat on the menu.
- Food Processing, Preservation, and Storage—It’s harvest time in the garden, and you’ve got a freshly killed deer; now what? Knowing how to properly process wild game is a vitally important skill that many lack. What’s more, safe preservation and storage are critically important. Failing to properly preserve your food can be deadly, as bacteria, parasites, and fungus infest anything that has been poorly preserved. Learn how to dry fruits and meats, how to salt and smoke meats, proper pickling techniques, and how to jar and can food with and without a pressure cooker. Food storage is just as important as food processing. It’s not difficult to learn either. In just a few hours you can learn how to safely keep food for long-term storage.
- Self Defense and Firearms Use—When seconds count, the police are just minutes away. It’s foreseeable that this response time will only get worse in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. Learn the basics of self-defense and the effective use of a pistol, rifle, and shotgun. We carry a variety of books and DVDs that can help you learn the basics of self-defense and firearm use.
- Gunsmithing—If you own a firearm, you need spare parts and the skills and knowledge to repair it. There is no guarantee that parts will be available in the future, and there may not be any competent gunsmiths available. This means that you must have the skills and know-how to service your own firearms and repair them should they become inoperable.
- Business, Accounting, and Bartering—Just because the end of the world has happened doesn’t mean that the rules of business, accounting, and bartering have changed. A gold-backed currency may no longer exist, and other currencies will quickly replace it.It may be fuel, it may be ammo, it could even be buttons or clamshells, and knowing basic business, accounting, and bartering skills will allow you to function well no matter what the economy is like.
- Basic Electronics and Wiring—The electrical grid may be down, and that doesn’t mean that electricity isn’t still around. Wind and solar power are becoming more and more available, and of course, there are always fuel-powered generators. If you’re prepared, you probably have deep cycle batteries and a solar or generator setup already. Did you know the small amount of power generated from your setup is more than enough to kill a man? Knowing basic electronics and wiring isn’t just useful to provide electricity and power for your home; is critical from a safety standpoint.
- Basic Carpentry—Basic carpentry is an essential skill everyone should know. Having a basic skill-set in carpentry will allow you to not only repair broken furniture and cabinetry, but you can also repair minor structural components of your home. This valuable skill can also provide you with an additional means of income as you become more proficient. Advanced carpentry can be even more useful if you learn how to take harvested wood from trees and finish it into usable planks and boards.
- Auto Mechanics—I singled out auto mechanics for our last skill, not because I think that there will be a need for auto mechanics in the future: I include them because it the skills of a capable auto mechanic are useful in a number of other areas. Auto mechanics is a complex field involving plumbing, electrical work, internal combustion, as well as basic mechanics. Learning how to wrench on your own engine also teaches you how to work with machine parts and tools with strict tolerances.
This list is by no means comprehensive, and it does give a brief idea of the basic skills and knowledge needed to be self-sufficient in a world where easy access to food, tools, and repair facilities is not available.
Have a few ideas that you feel should be included? Let us know in the comment section!