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We here at Casual Preppers compiled a list of 12 skills we felt would be the most useful in a SHTF scenario. We understand there are tons of skills out there to be learned and we ourselves are trying to hone as many of them as we can, but we felt there are a select few that are essential to survival at your home, bug out location, or whatever location you may be left with to manage and survive. Let us get to it.
Skill # 1 - Fire starting
This is something every prepper/survivalist should know. We have a lot of gadgets to help start fires and the more you have the better off you will be. But make sure you know how to use them all, some can be trickier than expected. We also recommend learning primitive ways to start a fire such as Flint & Steel, Fire plow, Hand drill, Bow drill Pump drill, Fire piston. Also a good thing to keep in mind is what woods in your area will give off the least amount of smoke to keep yourself hidden. Some of these include ash, oak, beech, birch and hickory and maple. There are hundreds of uses for fires, so make sure you know how to make one in the first place.
Skill # 2 - First Aid
So you have built your ultimate first aid kit that has all the tools to be able to reattach a severed head or limb. But have you actually used any of the tools before? Doesn’t make much sense to pack around all that equipment if you are unfamiliar with it or how to use it. Developing basic skills of suturing, or even printing a PDF on how to do it and stashing it in your kit will be much more valuable than the tools themselves. Also do not put aside the basics such as, Basic Life Support, CPR, storing medicines, natural medicines and remedies, and shock treatment (keep feet up, warm blankets, etc). Also bandaging a wound and controlling the bleeding is only part of wound management. Know how to clean and prep a wound.
Skill # 3 - Navigation
Navigation I believe is thrown by the wayside too often. We have so many different devices and different technology that we rarely use a map or a compass anymore. Unfortunately there is a very good chance GPS, digital maps and direction will not be useful. Learn to use a compass, know how to read different types of maps (topographical maps), know your area and areas nearby you may be forced into, know how to read the sun, and spend some time learning the basics of star navigation. This knowledge will be invaluable to you and others.
Skill # 4 - Cooking
Cooking is a very important skill to learn. You will have limited supplies and you best know how to make the most of them. Wasting fluids to cook or making mistakes cooking will prove very costly. We discussed in our podcast different methods of cooking using the environment. Rocks are extremely useful for cooking. They absorb heat and can be used as ovens, frying pans, steaming food underneath them or boiling. Learn to use these methods and make the most of your fire and fuel. Learn the foods you have and how to skillfully prepare them to last longer or stretch further.
Skill # 5 - Hunting/Fishing/Trapping
A great food storage will be awesome to have, but it can’t last forever. You will have to know how to obtain food in your environment. Know the animals in your area and how to prepare them to eat. Know what weapons to use and how to use those weapons. Guns are not always the best option as ammo is sparse and the noise can prove dangerous. Learn to use a bow, a spear, and a fishing pole. Trapping can be an excellent way to hunt without expending a lot of energy. Buy some books or learn from an expert now. You will not regret investing time in this area.
Skill # 6 Self Defense
First, try to not engage in battle any chance you see another human or animal. You will either die then, later from your injuries, or become disabled, and survival will be a bit harder. But, you need to know how to defend yourself and your group or family. If you feel inclined or have the time to take a Jiu Jitsu class, definitely do it. But for most of us lazies, or as I would like to say us “I’m too busy” types, learn key points to deliver your blows. Aim for the eyes, temples, throat, groin, stomach, nose, and ribs. There are no rules, ok maybe prison rules, but just make sure when you decide there is no choice left but to fight, fight like a savage. Just go ape s*&# and make sure the attacker knows not to try it again. Many weapons can be made from the environment (rocks, clubs, rock clubs) make use of these if you don’t have a gun. If you have a gun and are a good aim, well, enough said.
Skill # 7 Communications
We advise everyone to learn every language. No, when things collapse there will still need to be a need for communication. Cell phones are likely not going to be the primary means of communicating any more. Could they still work, yes, so don’t abandon them completely. Traffic on cell phones during an event will be extremely high and this alone will cause issues, but if you can get through once to family or friends, it will be worth it. After that, you may need to use other means of communication. Landline phones may still work as they might still operate without power. Hopefully you have a corded phone to use on a phone line. We highly suggest getting a few emergency radios. Either crank, or solar powered, or both. Emergency information and weather will be broadcast over the air and this information will be useful. CB, Two-way radios, and HAM radios are other means of communication that you should know how to use. HAM you will need a license to broadcast but you can operate without one. There is a lot to learn with the HAM radio so best start now, but it will most likely be the mainstay of communication when things fall apart. Make sure at least one of your radios is protected from EMPs. We will talk more on this later.
Skill # 8 Mechanics
Engine mechanics takes years of study. We wanted to put mechanics in here to basically advise the prepper to know how to do basic maintenance on a small engine or car engine. If you can’t change spark plugs, belts, oil or even know what fuel to burn in an engine, you’ll probably not get too far unless you know a mechanic, which we all hope we do. Generators will be used for maintaining power and they need maintenance. Your bug out vehicle will need some TLC as often as you can. Also, your skill with mechanics can make life a lot easier wherever you may be living. Pulley systems, and other uses of motors, take some skill and will make things much more convenient. Store books on these subjects at least if you don’t have the time to learn the skills.
Skill # 9 Water
Water keeps you alive above all else. You need to know how to store it, use it sparingly, treat it, obtain it, and everything you could possibly learn about water. Your supply will not last forever and you will need to know how to obtain it and make it safe for drinking. You need much more than you think. It is needed for drinking, cleaning, planting and cooking. Learn how to reuse it and not waste it. There are many ways to purify water (filters, chlorination, homemade filters, boiling), know them all. A family of four needs 270 gallons for 3 months at the very least. That is a lot to store now. So do your research on water, as everything will literally depend on it.
Skill # 10 Carpentry
I hope I know or have a good carpenter in my network of preppers. Their knowledge will be extremely useful to a group. Don’t plan on having a master of each skill in your group though. You will need to know some carpentry skills if you plan to survive. The building of your shelter will require skill to keep it standing and safe from the elements. Knowing how to build aqueduct systems for gardening, fences, pens for animals (hamster farm), bridges, portable ladders, and plant boxes etc. will make life much more pleasurable and easy to live in. Learn how to prepare and shape wood you have chopped down to be used for building. Not everything works nicely with round logs.
Skill # 11 Gardening
If you are unsuccessful at hunting, well there are always vegetables. Actually you will need to know how to grow things as well, meat alone isn’t good for you, so they say. Being a successful gardener will award you a lot more food and nutrition over and over, if you are skillful. Heirloom seeds can be used and harvested again and again. Learn what plants your body needs. Learn what grows best in the area you plan to stay in. Learn how to grow indoors. Hydroponics could be very useful if you have a large water supply nearby. Learn medicinal plants that can be useful. Having a green thumb will make you invaluable to yourself and your group.
Skill # 12 – Security
Now that you have settled into a place after all hell has broken loose, you need to know how to defend it. Building a .50 cal. turret on top of your house is unlikely, but I am sure there are some that may have that. You need to set your standoff space, which is the visible distance between your home and a perimeter of some sort that you keep protected. Have good visibility from your location, yet keep yourself hidden as much as possible. Building a high fence to deter animals and or people is important. It will also give you more time to stop an intruder that will have to get over or through the fence. Store some motion detectors, barbed wire etc. Plan to build a prison if you must. Make sure you have researched defense weapons to use (pepper spray, stun gun, guns, crossbow etc.) Teach your loved ones to safely use these weapons of defense, because more than likely, most won’t be prepared and unfortunately some will want to take from others. Be prepared, but not psychotic.