10 Basic Survival Skills That Could Save Your Life
It can feel overwhelming to be prepared for every single situation, but there are basic survival skills which are imperative to learn for any given scenario.
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There are an endless number of possible survival scenarios in which you might find yourself, one day.
It can feel overwhelming and impossible to be prepared for every single eventuality, but fortunately there are some common themes and basic survival skills which are imperative to learn for any given scenario.
This article is the first in our survival skills series, and will give an overview of 10 basic survival skills which you really should be familiar with to equip you in life.
You’d be surprised how many of them crop up throughout your life too; not just in an end-of-days survival of the fittest scenario!
For more in-depth survival skill advice, check out the other articles in our series:
Before you go any further on your prepping journey, familiarize yourself with these basic survival skills that everybody should know.
Know Your Survival Tools
This might not be the number one tip that you were expecting, but it is all too common for people to splash out on expensive survival gear and never learn how to use it properly – rendering it useless when SHTF!
There is no use buying a super technical backpack, army knife with 100 different uses or several lengths of paracord if you don’t know how to use them quickly and efficiently in a survival scenario.
If you don’t have the money to purchase expensive gear then don’t worry – just use what you already have and are familiar with as it will be far more use to you in a real-world survival situation.
If you do purchase new prepper gear, take the time to get to know how to use it. Assemble it, disassemble it, pack it, unpack it, test it and push it to its limits on a practice survival run.
This small amount of foresight will pay off no end if you do ever have to use it in an emergency.
Basic medical first aid will appear in every survival skills article you will read.
Things can turn serious very quickly, and it is likely that you will have no access to hospital, doctors or even another human being if you find yourself in an emergency medical situation.
A lot of people buy a first aid kit and think that medical preparation ends there, but again you need to know how and when to use every piece of that first aid kit – without having to think about it.
It can be difficult to prepare for this (and we don’t advise giving yourself an open wound to practice sewing it up!) but at the very least you should run practice tests for the most common medical injuries.
If time and budget allow, then you can even find a Wilderness First Aid course or equivalent running in your area.
These will give you real-world practice of emergency medical scenarios and are taught by trained professionals.
Read our home survival kit list for an idea of some First Aid essentials: Home Survival Kit
Check out this video about first aid mistakes, made by Bright Side.
Physical Fitness Prepping
Another thing people also overlook in their prepping is their own level of physical fitness. You can’t simply buy this at a preppers’ store!
One of the first things to be affected when SHTF is motorized transport. Public transport ceases, and cars or motorbikes mark you as a target and are best avoided.
You have to be prepared to walk for many miles, perhaps to get you home to your house and stockpile, or out into the wilderness if your town becomes too hostile.
You might even find yourself in a scenario where you have to run for your life – with your heavy pack on – and this can be quite an alien feeling for the body unless you have trained for it.
Adrenaline will only get you so far, it is much better to be aware of your physical limits and know how to pace yourself.
Running, hill walking and swimming are the best forms of cardio preparation you can do, and none of them require purchasing expensive survival gear!
Check out this full body workout without equipment, created by BullyJuice.
Sourcing Survival Food and Water
You may not have enough food or water stored at home to outlast a disaster, or you may be forced out of your home and have to start looking for resources elsewhere.
Hunting isn’t for everyone, and you may not live in an area where it is possible to practice this and become a seasoned hunter in advance.
However, there are other ways to find food which don’t involve game hunting.
Anyone can learn a basic snare, and this may help you catch small rodents like mice, squirrels or even rabbits depending on where you live (nobody said survival food is the most appetizing!)
Another great source of food is foraging, and even urban zones are plentiful in greenery, berries and fungi that are suitable to eat.
Become familiar with these survival skills in advance so that you know exactly what to do when SHTF.
Water is essential for the human body, and should be your first priority in a survival situation.
Harvesting precipitation such as rainwater, dew and snow can be an excellent way of obtaining fresh, potable water. Most water from other sources, however, needs to be purified before it is safe to drink.
Lakes, rivers, streams and ponds all contain water but can also contain harmful bacteria.
Locate your nearest natural water sources immediately, and learn about water purification here: How to Purify Water
Stay Prepared For Any Emergency!
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Making a Fire
The ability to make a fire using only a few basic tools and resources is invaluable. Even if you are hauled-up at home, you cannot count on gas or electricity for heat.
The good news is that firewood is easy to come by, and the sooner you start storing and seasoning the wood – the better!
Dry wood makes the most efficient fires, whereas wet wood will be hard to light and produce a lot of smoke (which is sometimes beneficial if sending a smoke signal.)
If you’re on-the-go or out in the wilderness, it is possible to light a fire without matches, a lighter or other non-renewable source; you need only a little know-how and practice.
Technology cannot be relied upon in many disaster scenarios.
An EMP might wipe out all devices, you may not be able to charge phones or satellite devices with electricity if power is cut off, or devices may be bugged or tracked by prying eyes whom you do not want to attract!
It is much safer to move away from relying on technology and get back to basic manual skills – navigation being one of the most important.
If you live in an urban area, familiarize yourself with your surroundings as much as possible. Start looking at all those spaces others might overlook – water sources, back alleys, hiding spots, alternative ways out of town & so on.
For navigation in the wild, learn how to properly read a topographical map and its key features. Practice using a compass, taking bearings and using natural landmarks to guide your route.
Don’t forget to use the sky to your advantage! The sun, moon and stars can all be used as handy navigational points, but it requires some dedication to get used to navigating this way.
As previously mentioned, technology cannot be relied upon once SHTF.
Cell phone networks will either be totally jammed as everyone panicked, or will cease to function at all.
Fortunately, you can still communicate with family members and tune in to emergency broadcasts using radio communication.
Radio waves have a long wavelength and can therefore travel longer distances across the earth before being absorbed or dissipated.
It is how humans used to communicate before we had cell phones, 4G and the internet!
It is not difficult to pick up basic radio comms skills, you only need a little background physics knowledge and familiarity with a handheld radio to be able to manipulate the frequencies and tune them how you like.
If you’re up for an extra challenge, you could even learn how to build a simple radio transmitter and receiver, in case you find yourself having to make them in an emergency or if yours breaks.
Basic manual skills such as plumbing, electricity and carpentry never go amiss in a survival scenario too.
Whether it is crafting a shelter in the forest, fixing up a dilapidated building to be habitable for your family, or repairing your own infrastructure after a natural disaster – there is a lot of handy knowledge which goes a long way.
Familiarity with motorized vehicles is also a good skill to have.
Although cars should not be relied upon, you may need to make a quick getaway some day! Learning how to hot-wire or recognize and fix basic engine problems may get you out of a tight spot or two.