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Survivalism: Preparing for impending catastrophes such as natural disasters, political collapse or war by stockpiling food, medical supplies and water.
As recently as 100 years ago, wilderness survival was a well known and well practiced skill. Nowadays only hunters, hikers, general outdoor enthusiasts as well as military and rural residents seem to have survivalist skills. Survival needs can be broken down into some key categories; water, first aid, shelter, food and fire. Having the survival skills to remedy each and every one of these is imperative in real life situations.
Water is referred to as the key to life. It composes well over 50% of the human body. Humans naturally lose a minimum of 2 liters of water per day and without water can live an average of 3-4 days. In extreme survival situations however, water needs can double and even triple based on physical exertion and temperatures. Lack of water causes dehydration which can also lead to dizziness, confusion, headaches and lethargy. A general rule of thumb is; if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Darkening yellow urine leading towards brown is also a very prominent sign of dehydration. Unlike desert survival where water is nearly impossible to find, North America is brimming with water. The problem with water is that it can be contaminated, especially in natural disaster situations making it very risky to drink from an unknown water source. A good item to add to your survival list for home would be a water purifier, ideally small and portable with many uses.
Something that you will hear a lot about in a survival school and on many survivalist websites is the absolute necessity of first aid preparedness. The western world has become relaxed when it comes to treating injuries. We have things like: peroxide, polysporin, bandages and in more serious cases, relatively close and easy access to emergency services. In the event of a backwoods accident, a major earthquake or even worse, a world war, will there be an ambulance to rescue you? Your list of survival items must include at the very minimum a basic first aid kit. It is recommended on many survival blogs to have as much as a whole duffle bag of medical supplies ready to go at all times. In the grand scheme of things the cost vs reward of being able to treat injuries quickly and effectively when no one else will be coming to help is huge. Very basic situations to prep for are: open wounds, headaches/inflammation, burns, breaks, infections, bites(spiders, snakes, wild animals, bee's/wasps etc), poisoning, heat related illness(hypothermia to heat stroke) as well as heart attacks/strokes. It would be recommend to browse survival forums to get an idea on how different people create their own custom first aid kits based on their location.
Anyone into bushcraft will tell you how important getting a proper shelter up quickly is. It can be as simple as a tarp between some trees, a snow cave or a lean to. Going from our modern day households to living in a cave may be far from ideal but it is your survival home. Having somewhere to rest and get out of the elements is very important. It reduces the chance of exposure as well as builds confidence and security which although aren’t vital to life can do wonders for you mentally. Any prepper or survivalist blog will probably mention one of the most important tools you can have when it comes to obtaining shelter; a hatchet. If you are building your survival supply list put this right up at the top. Extremely versatile and durable the hatchet can cut down trees for shelter, provide personal protection and even be used to start fires. Poking around a survival forum or a good survival website will usually turn up great options for compact yet effective hatchets.
One of the simplest wilderness survival tips I can give you is know where you live and know where you are going. Being able to start from scratch and produce an adequate means of shelter is bushcraft survival at its finest. Get familiar with the surrounding forests and hills. Know what kind of trees will have good dead falls to build a shelter under. What about geology? Are caves naturally occurring close by? Its things like these that take no time at all to research but can make survival a lot easier for you when the time comes. Many of the best survival websites have step by step videos and tutorials showing you how to utilize the environment around you to create a functional living space.
Having energy is very important. You need energy to do all the vital daily activities required in a survival situation. The only way to get energy is by consuming food. Now depending on location and time of year finding food can be the easiest part of your day or it can consume the majority of it. Survival sites will tell you its a balance of risk and reward. You use energy is the pursuit of food so expending all your energy to get a handful of berries up the side of a mountain for example would be a poor use of energy. To survive efficiently you have to think of energy as the currency of the wilderness. Everything you do through the course of the day costs energy and the key to successfully surviving is profiting at the days end. One of the most widely covered survival topics is edible foliage. Being able to identify plants that aren’t harmful to humans is a necessity. Things to focus on would be mushrooms, roots or tubers, berries, leaves and even moss/algae. A great addition to any survival list would be a little reference guide to edible flora in your locale.
Perhaps one of the most difficult survival techniques is hunting. Hunting in a survival situation isn’t recommended as it usually imply's going after larger animals which can be dangerous and also very labor intensive. Hunting however has a sub genre; trapping. Trapping is one of the best wilderness survival skills to have under your belt. Rodents(mice, squirrels, rabbits etc) can be found in almost in any location and in any climate. Using very basic things like sticks and rocks you can set traps then go about your day doing other chores/activities instead of actively hunting and using up all your energy. One of the best survival tips in regards to trapping I've heard is: You aren’t the only one surviving. For someone coming from an urban environment to grasp the ins and outs of hunting/trapping, this tip can help a lot. You have to remember all of the animals in the wild are doing exactly what you are doing; gathering food/water and finding shelter. The secret to trapping animals is to use one of their basic survival needs against them. Motivating them to go somewhere that has the promise of food is generally the method that has the best results.
Another great survival skill is fishing. Water makes up approximately 71% of the earth and the majority of water supports some kind of fish population. Now location depending, fishing can be one of the most reliable sources of food. Many survival sites offer collapsible fishing rods which, not vital can be a nice addition to a preppers bag. Watching online tutorials on net making using natural supplies can be a great piece of information to digest as well.
Being able to start a fire in non-perfect survival conditions is an amazing skill to have. Fire can disinfect water, cook meat, dry and warm you as well as deter wild animals. Any basic survival site will recommend having some waterproof matches as well as a back up flint and steel with tinder. Two gadgets that would make things even easier would be a the fire piston or a solar spark lighter. Practicing fire making skills before the need arises is very important. The survival video below shows you how to start a fire with nothing at all.
Key Survival Items
Some the best survival sites will tell you that true survival is being able to jump into the unknown with nothing but the clothes on your back and make it work...well they couldn't be further from the truth! True survival is being ready to survive at a moments notice. Having at minimum a small bag filled with very basic inexpensive items to use when the time arises could, in all honesty be a lifesaver.
I have written a in-depth guide on what items you are going to want to pack into your kit. This guide covers all the natural disasters from hurricanes to flood to earthquakes. I go over the five basic survival needs; water, first aid, shelter, food and fire and lay out what items will greatly increase your chances of fulfilling these needs effectively and efficiently on a daily basis in a real-life survival scenario. I also cover mini survival kits that you can pack for land water and air travel. Additionally I cover an overlooked are of survival prep; your survival clothing list. What pieces of clothing will serve multiple functions both on and off your body.
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