I know I’ve seen videos before that show how to shim a padlock with a fashioned piece of a soda can, but I’ve never seen anything like THIS! With only a few tools (all of which can apparently be purchased online), you can seemingly pick almost any padlock on the market. Unfortunately, this guy didn’t give any recommendations for a quality padlock that doesn’t have this problem, so I’ll have to research this a bit more. In any case, I’m highly disappointed in padlock makers today…
Beyond foraging, one of the only reliable ways to secure food in a lengthy disaster is by growing it yourself.
Small farms are more popular than ever, and that means there are a wide variety of resources available that you can use to start your own. This is good news for preppers and survivalists who are interested in learning how to grow their own food and using that knowledge in a disaster scenario. It’s also a good idea for those who want to become self-sustainable.
However, running a farm — especially full time — is no small undertaking. You’ll need to do some research and planning if you want to learn the skills you need and to keep it operational.
Plan How Farming Will Fit Into Your Life
If you want to quit your job or shift to full-time farm work, you need to know how much it will demand from you. You may have the stamina, but you’ll also be running a small business — or, in the case of a homestead, filling almost 100 percent of your needs. It’s also likely you’ll also be working with animals, in the sun and humidity, and with heavy equipment.
You may be able to hire people to help you. Often, though, you’ll be alone for long periods of time, especially if you plan on homesteading.
If you enjoy working outside with your hands and having a direct connection to the fruits of your labor, then starting your own farm can be a deeply rewarding and fulfilling experience. You’ll take comfort in the fact that your food supply is sustainable, unlike that of most preppers. However, your farm will be a full-time job and a half, and even the most successful homesteaders can struggle.
Even when providing a niche good, small farms also have to compete with agribusiness giants.
There’s ultimately no way to know if running a full-time farm is right for you without diving in. There are online resources you can use to help you figure this out. Be honest with yourself. Ask whether or not you have the right temperament for doing this and a decent idea of what day-to-day operations would look like.
Hobby farming is also an option, but you will need resources to commit to a hobby that is both money- and time-consuming. If you’re in a position where you don’t have to work a day job — for example, you’re a retiree with a pension or a veteran with significant benefits — hobby farming can be a good fit. You won’t have to worry as much about losing your livelihood, and you’re generally risking less by starting your own farm.
If you’re uncertain about how much time you can commit but still want to work outdoors, raising animals and growing crops, you don’t have to jump in right away. Instead, there are a few ways you can test the waters and begin to get a sense of what a farmer’s work looks and feels like.
Build a Farmer’s Skill Set
Research will be key, and there are several books that can get you started. However, research alone won’t be enough to prepare you for the full scope of your farm responsibilities. You’ll need to get hands-on experience and learn from other farmers if you want to run a successful operation.
One way to start is by working or volunteering at local farms. A part-time job as a farmer’s caretaker can get you experience working with the administrative and organizational side of farming. You’ll learn how to keep the books, as well as track essential information about animals, crops and equipment.
If you’re young and have a lot of time to spare, some programs will compensate you for your work even if you don’t have a significant background in agriculture. Others, like work-stay programs, allow you to travel, learn about farming and receive housing for the cost of your labor. With an organization like WWOOF, you can volunteer at and live on an organic farm, paying for room and board with your work.
What you shouldn’t do is go into debt to learn about agriculture. A degree might be a good idea if you’re committed to the field and learn best from a classroom environment with guided work. However, there’s no law that says you need a degree to pursue farming as a career.
If none of the above options appeals, you can still learn skills at home, even if you live in the suburbs or the city. Growing herbs on the windowsill or putting a chicken coop up in the backyard can teach you a lot about animal husbandry and horticulture.
By working with your hands — and with other farmers — you can learn better than you would with research alone. Talking to other homesteaders will help you learn from their experience and begin to develop the knowledge base and resourceful sort of thinking you’ll need to operate a farm on your own.
Nothing can fully prepare you for working on a farm, but you can give yourself the best possible chance with some preparation and research.
Know the Kind of Farm You Want
Do you just want to work on the farm in your spare time, or will this be your full-time job? Do you want to go even further and become totally self-sustainable and go off the grid?
You might be surprised to learn there are many different kinds of operations, even at the family-owned level — like small farms, hobby farms and homesteads. You’ll need to pick one to know what type of land to purchase and what kind of tools and equipment are required.
Homesteads are the easiest kind of farm to take off the grid and will likely appeal to preppers and those interested in becoming self-sustaining. They are relatively isolated and are sometimes built from the ground up — giving you full control over things like water supply and energy generation. These will take probably the most investment — in time, money, labor and resources. Hobby farms, or even smaller-scale gardening operations, are a good option if you are worried about your ability to put in the work.
If agriculture appeals to you but you don’t want to make it your full-time job just yet, you can always invest in a community garden or something small-scale before moving on to starting your own farm.
Buy the Land
When selecting a piece of land or farm, you can afford to wait. Don’t jump at the first opportunity. Keep in mind the crops you want to grow, the animals you want to raise and what kind of conditions you want your farm to withstand. The ideal place might not come along. However, you’ll get closer to what you want and have a better idea of what you can get for your money by spending some time observing the land market.
If you’re selecting land for a homestead, there are some best practices you can follow to ensure you get the best property possible for what you need.
For example, you need to consider the local soil quality. Is it tightly packed and of poor quality? You might not even know if you haven’t had testing done before. Prior to purchase, either test or ask about the quality of the soil. It’s possible to improve it, but it takes time that you may not have if you need to hit the ground running.
Match what you grow to what the land is suited for. Some environments will be a better fit for certain crops and animals. If you have a specific set of vegetables or herbs you want to grow, you should look for a piece of land that will accommodate them.
When buying land, know what you need access to. How close do you want to be the nearest town or hospital? Are you fine with living in the middle of nowhere with no entertainment but what you make for yourself?
You also need to consider local infrastructure, water sources and how you plan on energizing your farm or homestead. The land you pick might be remote enough that you won’t be guaranteed a phone line or internet access. If you need help, how do you plan on getting it?
How rough do you want to live? Be honest with yourself. An outhouse is an option, but so is a septic tank. You will be roughing it for the foreseeable future. When deciding what amenities you really need, be honest with yourself — especially if you choose to homestead.
Small, pre-existing hobby farms will probably need the least amount of planning. If you don’t live there, you don’t have to worry so much about how comfortable it is. That being said, even small-scale operations will require knowledge and planning — nothing is going to be easy to run, and that includes hobby farms.
Lay the Foundation
The most important thing to keep in mind while laying the foundations is that you should avoid debt, especially if you plan on relying on the farm as your primary source of income. Building a profitable operation takes time, and even the most successful ones can struggle to make a profit. The majority of small farms in 2015 had an operating profit margin of less than 10% — one bad season, major injury or accident, and you could end up in the red.
If you’re already in debt when you start, it can be that much harder to recover from plain bad luck.
Financing your farm is an option, however, if you’re confident you can make the most of borrowed money. The USDA offers financial advice and support for beginning farmers that you can take advantage of if you need it.
When making purchasing decisions, you’ll need to focus on what will give you the most bang for your buck. Take, for example, an air compressor. On a farm, it is a tool with an incredible amount of versatility including being used to inflate tires, for painting, for weeding, for septic systems, and more . Because you’ll be familiarizing yourself with a whole new range of equipment, you’ll want to focus on essentials rather than tools that fit one specific use.
As a prepper, some equipment may appeal to you more than other farmers. This is fine — just be aware of how much you’re spending on this machinery compared to more standard equipment that keeps the farm operational.
Apply DIY skills and ethos to how you approach farming. If you plan on really relying on yourself, you’ll want to repair and reuse what you can. Obviously, dangerous or heavy equipment repair should be left to those with expertise. However, you should learn how to do minor fixes yourself. This is especially true if you’ve opted for land that’s far from others, and the only other person who can help with repairs is miles away.
Even if you make it through the first weeks and months of starting your farm without much trouble, continue to monitor how you approach farming. Pay attention to what works and what seems inefficient. You can’t be afraid of radically re-evaluating where you stand and what your operation needs to succeed. This may take a major shift of priorities, but it will be necessary for the success of you and your homestead.
Starting a Successful Small Farm
If you want to survive in the event of a disaster, a farm is one of the most reliable ways to secure a steady source of food. A homestead can help you make sure you’re not dependent on the grid for water and electricity.
The resources available to small farmers are better now than they’ve ever been before. If you’re interested in homesteading, the market is accommodating and you’ll be in good company.
Running a farm will take both skill and grit. More than a million small farms in the U.S. are run successfully by all sorts of people. It will take some hard work and planning, but if your dream is to start your own farm, it’s up to you to make it a reality.
[Note: This was a guest post.]
This is a neat training prop for simulating wound packing from TrueClot.com. Their training kits, for example, are the perfect option to practice with to simulate a realistic environment, but don’t look too hard at their pricing (must purchase from a different website) because it WILL give you sticker shock!
If, however, you have a group of people willing to pitch in or maybe you’re running a class then it’s not so bad. In any case, this wound packing trainer is very realistic according to SkinnyMedic who is someone I trust with this type of information…
My latest book, The Get Home Bag and Compact EDC Kit: How to Assemble a Complete Bag with Better Gear for Half the Price of Other Bags, is now available on Amazon.
It’s a book I never planned on writing but, to be honest, I’m glad I did because now I believe my wife has a better emergency bag for her day to day activities, one that she’ll use to get home safely if she ever had to.
I’d say the idea works much better than a bug out bag for running errands around town or going to work, for example. In her case, she can keep the bug out bag at home for evacuation purposes, yet still have a quality bag to rely on when she’s away.
Ultimately, a get home bag is similar to a bug out bag in that it contains a variety of gear and supplies you can make use of during an emergency. The difference is that a get home bag is solely intended to get you home after a disaster strikes which is something that most preppers, in my opinion, don’t fully consider. As such, it’s not quite packed full of gear like a bug out bag would be. This, however, makes a get home bag a great option for EDC purposes because it’s relatively lightweight and compact unlike most bug out bags.
Plus, inside the book you’ll also discover how to create a compact EDC kit–one that can be tossed into another bag, if you prefer–as well as how to make a pocket survival kit that you can keep on your person, just like your wallet or phone.
If you tend to run errands around town regularly and typically don’t travel very far from home (odds are you really don’t) then a get home bag may be just the thing you didn’t know you were looking for, lol.
The best news is that I show you how to put together a solid get home bag with quality gear and save hundreds of dollars doing so. If you want to take your preparedness to another level OR if you’re just getting started and don’t want to risk spending several hundred dollars on a bug out bag, get this book… you’ll be glad you did.
Have a wonderful rest of the day, Damian
You want you and your family to be ready for the worst-case scenario. If you’re prepping logically, you know that there’s no one single situation you’re prepping for. You do not and cannot know what will happen with certainty or for how long you will need to be prepared for or what sort of conditions you might endure. What you can do is cover your bases and prepare for the most likely scenarios:
- Natural disasters
- Industrial accidents
- Economic collapse
- Nuclear or terrorist attack
- EMP or grid failure
Each of these disaster scenarios will require a different response. But in any of these situations there will be some commonalities. For example, clean water may be hard to access. Supply chains will break down — including the ones that deliver food, medicine and other essentials. Damaged infrastructure may render travel difficult or impossible. Communication may be limited to radio only. And you probably won’t have any electricity or gas — no lights and no heat.
These are the problems you’ll need to prep for!
You’ll need supplies, storage, and the ability to outfit your home to survive a situation it wasn’t designed for: a total breakdown of the basic services you and your family depend on to live.
Before You Start: Planning and Advice
Before you start prepping your home, you need to have the answers to these basic questions:
- How many people am I prepping for?
- How will I communicate with them in a disaster?
- Do any of us have special needs (medication, food allergies, etc.)?
- If I’m not home, how will I get home (from work, the store, etc.)?
Most needs are the same — every person needs food, water and shelter. But you can only prep well if you know who you’re prepping for, what they need and how you will get yourself (and your family, if necessary) home when things go sideways.
The Basics: What You Need to Survive
Once you’ve answered the questions above, you should start by stockpiling essentials, starting with…
Water is the most basic of basics — a person can’t live more than four days without water, at most. And that’s assuming that person was in great health and fully hydrated when they stopped getting the water they need.
You should have at least two weeks worth of clean, drinkable water for every member of the household. A good rule of thumb is to store one gallon per person per day, or 14 gallons per person to start. Children, nursing mothers and the sick will need more water than a healthy adult.
Your water should be stored in UV-safe food-safe plastic containers and away from extreme temperatures — indoors and in a temperature-controlled room is best. If you don’t have room in your pantry, or don’t have a pantry, you may have to get creative with your storage. An underground cellar or outdoors shed are both possible options.
Water can theoretically be stored, under the right conditions, forever. If you want to be on the safe side, FEMA recommends that non-commercially bottled water be replaced every six months.
Water filtration is less important at home than it is in a Bug-Out Bag or travel bag. But if you are planning on drawing water from a well or natural water source, like a river, lake or stream, after your water stores have run dry then water filtration is a must. (You should be storing water even if you have a well or nearby water source you want to draw from.)
If you have access to fuel or power, boiling is the most effective form of water filtration when it comes to bacteria, viruses and parasites. The next best form of water filtration is iodine, which is available in tablet and liquid form. Water filters are the least effective form of water filtration — they are, however, the most portable, convenient and reliable and will filter out inorganic particles like silt and dust (boiling and iodine will not). When shopping for filters, highly-reviewed products marketed to hikers are a good bet.
Check the size rating for a filter before you buy it — a good filter will have a size rating of less than one micron. High-qualities ones will have even smaller size ratings. Water filters designed for home tap water are often designed to only filter out inorganic material and can have a size rating of five or more microns.
[Editor’s note: I actually recommend more water per person–up to five gallons per day–but that’s hard to do. Regarding water filters, it’s hard to beat a Big Berkey filter when it comes to survival water filters.]
After water, food is the next most important component of your stores. As with water, you want two weeks worth of food for every member of the household to start. Calorie needs will vary from person to person. 3,000 calories per person per day will be more than enough in most cases, but it’s better to be overstocked than not.
Your stores should be non-perishable, nutritious and calorie-dense. Most prepping guides will recommend ready-to-eat MREs and highly transportable calorie bars. But because you’re prepping your home, you’ll have a lot more space to work with and won’t have to worry about weight.
When buying survival food, ask yourself if it’s worth the space it will take up. How long will it feed you and your family? Can it be easily resealed if opened?
Tins, cans and jars are also worth considering, but they will need to be replaced regularly and usually take up more space than survival food. Tins and cans also can’t be resealed once opened, and refrigerating leftovers may not be possible. The bigger a can is, the more you’ll have to eat — otherwise, the food in that can is no longer edible: a waste of space and resources.
Survival food is often sold in a drum or bucket with a resealable lid. This won’t make the food inside last forever, but it will buy you the most time before that food spoils.
Generally speaking, the less moisture is in a product, the longer it will last on your shelves. Dried beans, oats and powdered milk can last decades. Pasta, dry cheese and properly-stored grains also store for extremely long periods of time. Commercially-canned food will last anywhere between two to five years.
Home-preserved food will generally last the least amount of time. Home-canned food should be eaten within a year. Food that you jar yourself may only last a few months or weeks, even with proper storage.
Foraging can be used to supplement your diet, but shouldn’t be relied upon for food, especially if you’re not intimately familiar with local flora. (As the old mycologist’s saying goes: you can eat any mushroom, once.)
[Editor’s note: I actually explain precisely which pantry foods you’re going to want to stockpile in my book on the topic.]
Light and Heat
Candles, portable lanterns, and headlamps are all good additions to your supply cache. Battery-powered flashlights are okay in the short-term, but it’s a better idea to keep one or more mechanically powered flashlights — flashlights powered by hand cranks or shaking — on hand.
In an ideal situation, your house is outfitted with a wood-stove or fireplace that can provide heat even without gas or electricity. In any case, survival blankets can be a good backup strategy.
For cooking and boiling water, a propane burner or cooking stove can be nice to have.
For long-term survival, you might consider gas generators or other power sources to keep your lights on and your house heated. We’ll cover power generation later in the article.
First Aid and Sanitation
There are a lot of guides out there on how to build your own first aid kit. But outfitting your house for survival will go beyond a good first aid kit. You need to be prepared for any and every medical emergency. Here are some medical supplies that you should always have on hand:
- Bandages, gauze, medical tape
- Antibiotic ointments
- Cold packs
- Common over-the-counter medicines, like antihistamines and ibuprofen
- Medications for you and your family members
- A cool and dry place to store these medications
- Cleaning supplies and disinfectants, soap
- Feminine hygiene products
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good start that goes beyond most off-the-shelf first aid kits. You may need to tweak it to fit your own needs — some medications need more than a cool and dry place, and you’ll need to be prepared for any health conditions you or your family members have.
Remember that the plumbing in your house will probably not be functional. In addition to your survival stores, you should have extra water for hygiene and first aid.
Anything that makes your life a little easier. What tools to buy will depend on your own personal situation and preferences. Shovels, axes, fire-starters, sewing kits, pliers and wrenches can all be extraordinarily useful. Assume that any repairs you’ll need, you’ll have to make yourself. If you have something in your house that could be saved with basic maintenance, keeping the tools for the job on hand can save your life. Rifles and ammunition are also a good idea in general, but can also augment your food stores if you’re somewhere you can hunt.
[Editor’s note: You might want to ensure you have a toolbox designed to recover from disaster; it’s something most preppers don’t think about!]
Advanced Home Prepping
Supplies are the foundation of your home prepping, but you don’t have to stop there. You can make changes to your home that will increase your chances of survival.
Shelving, Storage and Organization
You may quickly run into problems with storage, especially if you live somewhere where space is at a premium. Maximizing the space you have (or, in a pinch, creating additional storage) will be essential if you want to have enough food, water and essentials to last.
Start by optimizing the space you’re currently using. If anything can be moved around or re-grouped to give yourself a little extra space, do it. Get creative with your storage and use any extra space you have around your home to store essentials. The area under the hanging clothes in your closet and space under your bed are both possible.
If you need to, you can construct additional shelving — to keep vertical storage space from going un-utilized — or extra storage space, like a shed.
To maximize the security of your shelving and storage, you should work with tamper-resistant screws. In a disaster scenario, physical security is one of the few security measures you can take against those who might try to break into your stores. While you can’t keep an eye on your storage 24/7, you can make any theft extremely difficult. High-quality locks and sturdy materials are also good ways to prevent looting or theft.
[Editor’s note: This is another topic I explain how to properly deal with in my book on prepping in small spaces.]
Most medications and medical supplies only need a cool, dry place to stay stable. Some medications, like insulin, need to be refrigerated when stored for long periods. Be prepared with emergency generators, or other refrigeration solutions
Keeping the Lights On
Power isn’t necessary for long-term survival — but it will make every other aspect of survival much, much easier.
Home generators are the first place most prepping guides go to. Readily available, these run on propane, diesel or gasoline. A diesel engine can even be converted to run on bio-diesel, which can be manufactured at home, or waste vegetable oil — but this conversion will require special modifications to your generator and will decrease the lifespan of the generator’s fuel filters.
One obvious downside of these generators is that you will need to make room for both fuel stores — which will be hard to replenish in an emergency scenario — and the generator itself.
There are other options. Solar power, once considered a highly unreliable source of energy generation, is now a fairly reliable source of home power. Solar power is also just about the only practical way to take your home off of the grid without being dependent on resources — like gasoline — which may be hard or impossible to get in a disaster scenario. (A home generator, while not great for long-term survival, is good as a backup.)
Even with a home power solution, you’ll still want to keep emergency supplies like candles, fire starters and kindling and water filters on hand. But if you can keep your home powered, you can make do with less.
Other Home Upgrades
If you have water and food to spare, storage isn’t a problem and you’re not worried about power, you can start considering other home upgrades. Dig a well. Build a shed, basement or bunker. Upgrade your insulation and switch to energy-efficient windows — both of these will help your house retain heat and make it easier to keep warm.
Prepare to Bug-Out
When prepping to survive at home, you need to prepare for a situation where your home is either not accessible or no longer suitable for survival. Once you’re mostly prepped for a bug-in situation, you should begin putting together a bug-out bag in addition to your get-home bag.
Your bug-out bag should be designed for survival without guaranteed shelter. Building a bug-out bag requires just as much planning as prepping your home, and is too big of a topic for this article. You can start by packing a bag with the basics: food, water and something to keep you warm and sheltered.
[Editor’s note: Have I mentioned I’ve got a book on that?]
Prepping Best Practices
Don’t treat this article as a to-do list. To prep well, you’ll need to cover all of your bases enough before you start moving onto advanced preparations. Focus on the most essential of the essentials first — food, water, shelter and first aid — before you start worrying about home upgrades.
It won’t be easy, but it is possible to prep your house for disaster. Take advantage of the space you have and store your emergency supplies well, and you’ll greatly increase you and your family’s chances of survival.
[Editor’s Note: This was a guest post.]
I recently released the second edition of my 28 Powerful Home Security Solutions book on Amazon and I’m rather proud of the updates.
In fact, I added quite a bit, including additional photos and checklists, advice on how to survive a home invasion, plus more than a dozen extra security tips! I also expanded on several original topics as well.
I think you’re going to enjoy the book, even if you’ve read the first edition.
You can get the Kindle version here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XYDP3BC
And the paperback here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1693618788
Important: I ask that you take a moment to review the book on Amazon when finished reading since ratings dramatically affect a book’s reach and popularity.
With that in mind, if you would be willing to review the book on Amazon I’d be happy to send you a copy electronically. Offer expires at the end of this month. Please email me: damian (at) rethinksurvival (dot) com, if interested.
Thank you for your time, Damian
This is the final mention about this amazing offer because your chance to grab the Off the Grid Super Stack ends at midnight (EST) on Tuesday, 9/17/19.
If you haven’t decided yet, I’d say there are two simple questions you need to answer:
Question 1: Do you have the time, energy and wisdom to figure everything out by yourself?
Question 2: Can you afford the thousands of dollars it would cost to purchase all of the books, courses and top tier resources contained in the Off the Grid Super Stack?
If the answer to both questions is ‘yes’, then go ahead and ignore this email. It’s not for you.
If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’ to either of the above questions, then keep reading:
Obviously, the Off the Grid Super Stack will give you an instant head start on your preparedness, homesteading and off the grid goals.
Literally thousands of people just like you have flourished because of the guidance and expertise they’ve found in the books and courses provided in this stack…
And many of these individuals have spent THOUSANDS more than you will when you purchase the stack today.
All you have to do is take action right now to get access to the over $700 + worth of cutting edge content included in the stack.
At midnight on Tuesday, this offer goes away.
And when it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
In one year’s time, where will you be when you decide that today is the day you commit to getting started on your preparedness goals?
Far better off than you are today, that’s for sure.
Take care, Damian
P.S. Are you still on the fence? Don’t worry, the guys over at Infostack have incredible integrity and offer a 60-day refund guarantee. So, you’ll have plenty of time to go through all the info and decide later whether it’s ultimately wonderful or not (in my opinion, the deal most certainly is)…
But if you don’t grab it now, the deal is gone for good.
As a parent, ensuring your children are safe from harm is a top priority in life. While it’s important to educate and prepare yourself for emergencies or impeding danger, your kids may not always be with you and rely on your survival instincts. Would they have the knowledge and skills to get by on their own if they were faced with a dangerous situation in the wilderness? If the answer is no, then it’s in your children’s best interest to teach them some basic survival skills.
Even if you don’t already have a lot of knowledge about wilderness survival skills, that’s OK. This is the perfect opportunity to learn together and bond. On your next camping trip or hike, you can make the process fun for everyone by teaching and practicing together. Here are some of the best ways to educate your children about survival while involving the whole family.
Best Approaches to Teaching Survival to Kids
- Involve and educate them: To keep your children interested in all the important survival information you’re teaching them, make sure to involve them in the entire process. You can let them help you create a survival kit as you explain what items are included along with their purpose. Educate your kids on the various environments they could face in the wild, and use engaging pictures or videos to support your points.
- Answer their questions: Depending on the situation or environment, your children may need further explanation if they don’t understand a particular survival procedure. Be sure to leave time for their questions to create a dialogue that will help them feel more included and informed. You can even use this as an opportunity to let your kids do more research to understand the parts of survival they have an interest in. Just make sure you’re monitoring and guiding them to reputable wilderness survival sources.
- Make it interactive: Some children understand information better when they can have a hands-on or visual experience. A great way to use this tactic is to talk about various survival scenarios on your next family camping trip or make a game out of it by testing them in a controlled environment. You can take a hike and teach your kids what to do if they ever get separated from the group or even construct an emergency shelter together at your campsite. By doing so, they will see firsthand how important it is to know survival skills if they ever find themselves in a similar situation.
No matter which type of teaching your children enjoy the most, you should ensure they learn the most basic survival skills to stay safe in the wilderness.
Basic Survival Skills Your Children Should Know
There is an immense amount of information on wilderness survival available to teach your kids. Ensuring they know about the following basic survival tactics will give them a foundation to grow from and learn more.
1. Situational Awareness
One of the most essential survival skills to know, but also one of the most challenging ones to teach, is situational awareness. The key to surviving a wildlife emergency is understanding the situation you are in and knowing how to react. You can explain to your children how to stay calm and level-headed in any circumstance by helping them develop their natural survival instincts. However, it’s important to reassure your kids that fear is the natural reaction in an emergency, and it’s perfectly normal to feel that way.
Teaching your children to make use of all their senses, know their exits and look for alert signals can help them become more aware of their surroundings and understand their situation. Tell them that panicking can lead to making rash decisions. Remaining calm and staying put if it’s safe would be best and could help them get rescued.
For certain situations, you can even help them recognize the signs of danger by roleplaying. As an example, have your kids pretend they are lost or stranded in the woods. Make sure they stay where they are, telling them to find a nearby tree or rock to “befriend” that they can name and talk to so they keep calm until help arrives. This is a great way to practice staying calm and in one spot until relief comes.
Since it’s not always possible to leave and find help, it’s important to teach your children how to signal for aid if they are stuck somewhere. Sometimes, yelling can waste precious energy, and it’s possible people nearby won’t be able to hear the victim anyway.
The best way to ensure your children can signal for help is to equip them with a whistle. They should blow it three times to indicate they need help. You can practice with your kids by teaching them the international emergency whistle signal of three short blows. Have them practice this pattern as loud as they can and then have them wait until they hear your response. If your kids hear other calls or whistle blasts, have them repeat the exercise until they make contact with the searcher. Doing so will help your children learn the best signaling practices while getting the entire family involved.
Your children can also carry a mirror or other reflective item they can use to signal passing helicopters and planes. Another way your kids can signal for help is by starting a fire. Depending on the situation and the materials your kids have at their disposal, this can be an extremely helpful survival tactic. Fire has a variety of uses other than for signaling.
[Editor’s note: Breaking branches is another great way to draw attention.]
3. Starting a Fire
Not only can fire be used to attract attention, but it’s also one of the most vital survival skills due to its versatility. Knowing how to start a fire is essential to wilderness survival because it provides warmth and is a way to purify water and cook food. Teach your kids the basics of starting a fire. Show them how to find spots away from the wind, where to find kindling or tinder, and how to keep the fire burning. Fire safety knowledge is a vital part of this skill. Although the majority of children know not to play with fire, they may not know other fire safety tips.
Generally, after building a fire, you should ensure it is completely out before you leave . Ask your child if they know this, and if not, teach them a few ways they can put out the fire they created.
In addition to starting a fire, constructing a shelter is another critical survival skill your children can use to protect themselves from the elements. Teach your kids that retaining body heat is a necessary part of survival. They can do so by creating a refuge out of layers of leaves, tarps or tree branches, or even staying in caves or hollow trees while they wait for help.
As important as it is to build a shelter, it’s even more vital to ensure your children know they should not hide. Concealing themselves within a makeshift shelter could lead to searchers not finding them in the wilderness. Kids should be taught that if they create a refuge for themselves, they need to leave a highly visible marker of their presence. It should be in the open and easily visible to searchers.
Self-defense comes in many forms, whether it’s learning about gun safety and use, exploring different types of martial arts or knowing what to do when faced with a wild animal. Basic knowledge can give your children confidence when faced with a dangerous situation and the comfort that they know how to protect themselves.
As they gain more understanding about shooting or using knives, they can use these skills to hunt for food in the wild. Depending on your area, you and your children can enroll in hunter-trapper education classes together to start conversations about firearm handling and safety.
In general, humans can survive up to three weeks without food. However, it’s impossible to go more than a few days without water, because the human body can only tolerate a 1-2% loss before problems arise. Your children should be able to find both food and water so they can replenish their energy in emergencies. As you hike and camp together, teach your kids how to find natural water sources like streams or creeks and purify what they’ve discovered.
That said, your children might not always be able to get a fire started to heat the water or find something to boil it in. Regardless, it’s better that your child is alive and ill from contaminated water than dying of dehydration. If possible, teach your kids how to recognize which streams are likely cleaner, or even what to do if it rains so they can collect the rainwater for drinking or cleaning.
Foraging for food is another necessary survival skill for your kids to know. Having local edible plant foraging skills can be incredibly helpful for your children, as some of them even have medicinal properties. However, it can be difficult for children to discern one plant from another when caught in an emergency. Eating wild plants and berries might not be wise if they aren’t sure it is safe to consume.
The same goes for wild animals, as they could carry different diseases or be generally unsafe to capture and cook. You can find a reputable foraging guide online that describes the differences between safe and poisonous foods to educate yourself and your children on the best practices.
8. Insulating Clothing
Another essential wilderness survival tip is insulating your clothes to prevent hypothermia in cold-weather areas or during a snowstorm or rainstorm. Since children are smaller in size it puts them at a higher risk of cooling off too much, especially when exposed to the elements. Instructing your kids on how to create insulation in their clothes can make all the difference when they’re in an emergency. When they feel cold, they should find vegetation they can stuff in their clothing to provide extra layers.
To make this lesson more interactive, make a game out of it by telling your kids they’re going to turn themselves into a scarecrow or stuffed animal. Have your children tuck their pants into their shoes and shirt into their pants for maximum insulation. Then, they can fill both articles of clothing with the leaves. Even if they’re wearing a summer outfit, they can still stuff their shirt to keep their torso warm.
9. First Aid
Knowing conventional first aid treatments can come in handy if your kids are injured or develop a health problem during an emergency. Teach your children what to do when faced with insect stings, blisters, cuts and scrapes, altitude illness and other medical issues they may encounter in the wild.
When your family creates a first aid kit, make sure to include bandages, scissors, gauze, alcohol pads, rubber gloves, cotton balls and cotton swabs. As you gather the materials, teach your kids about each item’s purpose and how they can use them. That way, if your children should ever need to treat a wound or other health problem, they already have a basic knowledge of common first-aid practices.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Although it’s scary imagining your children in a dangerous situation, it’s best to help them develop skills so they are prepared for any situation. In generations past, kids learned these skills in their everyday lives. Take the extra step and practice these exercises with your children in pretend scenarios so they have the same level of survival knowledge.
If your children face a life or death experience in the wild, you can have some peace of mind knowing they at least know the basics you taught them. These are skills that will last a lifetime, and someday, they may teach their own children too!
[Note: This was a guest post.]
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