“What if?” Series Presents Building Survival Skills



“What-if?”, the worrisome words, arrive in the conscious spinning topics in our minds, from safety and financial security to loved ones and pet health.  Asking, “What can I do?” leads to a proactive decision to invest time in the ultimate insurance policy—valuable life skills offering security, shelter, food, water, and medical care! In any emergency, from extreme weather to a personal disaster, you have the power to take charge of your fate by making plans and taking action!  

Our reliance on pre-made or manufactured items becomes apparent when suddenly the products we need most are no longer available. We think about all the televised shows of backwoodsmen and survivalists who built shelters, made charcoal and other items necessary for daily living.  Start practicing any number of survival skills, whether it’s in your backyard or on a weekend camping and hiking trip with friends.  Every opportunity to experience life in the great outdoors will aid in an emergency.  

Building a Fire 

Fire is integral to all survival situations.  It’s a requirement for warmth, cooking, food preservation, water purification, and light.  

  • Build your fire pit in a dry location, protected from the wind.  In the right location, close to a rock wall or, using a reflector, your fire can radiate warmth to your shelter.  
  • Gather dry wood in various thicknesses and configurations, such as fine wood shavings, birch bark, dead pine needles, and lint from your pockets.  Always keep cotton balls, petroleum jelly, matches, or a magnesium fire starter on hand, an especially useful solution during damp conditions. 
  • Determine your favorite lodging arrangement; perhaps the teepee, a platform, or log cabin.  Any design will accommodate the end result.  

Having Potable Water 

Maintaining healthy body functions requires the body to consume, at a minimum, a half-gallon of water daily.  When out in nature, look for free-flowing water sources.  Stagnant pools contain greater quantities of bacteria.  All outside water requires a purification process through boiling, water filtration, or water purification tablets. 

Building a Shelter

Without a tent, tarp, or garbage bag, the alternative is building a shelter from the materials in nature.  

  • Think logically to avoid locations too near dead trees, a hill top, within a ravine, or close to water! You’ll want to avoid unexpected debris, high winds, or flooding. 
  • Constructing a shelter takes methodical considerations and time. Never rush or take shortcuts.  
  • Highly recommended for its simplicity and excellent protection is an A-Frame shelter.  Dirt, pine boughs and leaves can serve as insulation and bedding, if needed. 

Practicing Archery 

The art of using a compound bow and arrow is not just for adults.  Children, too, should practice.  The skills of maintaining silence, hitting the mark through aim and release, or sending a line over a tree branch are vital. In an emergency, you may need a defensive or offensive tactic, or a means to catch food in the wild.   Without a fishing pole, a strong string attached to an arrow can procure a fish from a pond. Just remember, the flaming arrow was one of the first war tactics; a beacon of light to signal or warn of danger. 

Knowing Basic First Aid 

Most first aid kits have essential components, such as band-aids, gauze, tape, alcohol wipes, and ointments.  Beyond a good supply of items, you need to practice using them.  The ability to take action may help a family member, friend, or stranger in a severe or life-threatening emergency. 

    • Cleaning and Dressing Wounds: Most kits lack instruction or information to correctly handle deep cuts and bleeds. Bring the family together and start watching videos on topics, such as applying pressure, stopping a severe bleed, and using dressings for gashes or cuts. The long-term value is hands-on training.  Family members will recall lessons and take action when the moment arrives! 
    • CPR:  Seventy percent of Americans do not know how to perform CPR; yet, 90% of all cardiac arrests occur at home.  Whether you watch a video, practice on a doll, or take a class, the ability to perform CPR on an adult and child is a life-saving skill. 
  • The Heimlich Maneuver:  Choking is a serious matter! Every second boosts the chance of survival.  Videos and group training can help you become a first responder! 

Weekly or monthly, take the opportunity to practice survival skills.  Extend this list to include foraging, long-term food storage, tying knots, self-defense, making and setting small traps.  Every opportunity will allow you to feel more confident about the future! 

Next Month:  What Are Space Blankets?


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