In this day and age, it’s easy to take modern conveniences for granted. We’ve become so accustomed to power technology and the ease of urban living that we have neglected the skills vital to our ancestors’ survival.
Unfortunately, these essential survival know-hows has been forgotten by many modern people. This has left many of us ill-equipped to deal with commonplace survival situations. Without the necessary survival know-how, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
To help combat this, I’ve compiled a list of essential survival skills that modern people should relearn and practice to stay safe in any survival situation.
How To Start A Fire Without Matches
Without fire, you’re as good as dead in any survival situation. So knowing how to start a fire, even without matches, is essential.
A fire can be created using various methods, but the best and most effective is the bow drill method.
To start a fire using the bow drill method, you only need the following:
- A flat piece of wood
- A spindle or a straight stick
- Another thin stick for the bow
- Some string (paracord or shoelace are ideal)
- Tinder (e.g., dry leaves, shaved bark, pine needles, etc.)
Now that you have all the necessary items, here is how to do it:
- Cut the spindle to about 12 inches (30 cm), then sharpen one end.
- Cut a v-shaped notch on a flat piece of wood and place your tinder underneath it.
- Tie the thin stick to the spindle at one end, and loop the string around it.
- Place the spindle into the notch of the wood, then start rotating the spindle by pressing down on it and using the bow stick to turn it.
- Once you’ve generated a bit of friction and heat, you’ll start to see smoke. At this point, add more fuel so that it catches fire.
Identifying Edible Plants In The Wild
Knowing which plants are edible and safe to eat can be a lifesaver in any survival situation. Learn here how to tell apart edible plants and their poisonous lookalikes.
A universal plant edibility test is one good way to identify edible plants correctly. However, this test is unsuitable for wild mushrooms, so you should avoid those when making use of this test.
To do the universal plant edibility test, you should:
- Look for common poisonous traits such as fine hairs, spikes, waxy leaves, and milky or discolored sap.
- Separate the plant into its different parts: roots, leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits.
- Smell each part separately to check for a strong or unpleasant odor.
- Place a small part of the plant on your skin (elbow or outer lip) and wait 15 minutes to check for any irritation or allergic reaction.
- Taste each part of the plant separately, and spit out any with a strong taste or bitter aftertaste.
- Chew the plant and wait another 15 minutes to see any reaction. If not, swallow the plant and wait 8 hours for any adverse reactions. This is the only way to be sure whether it’s safe to eat.
Catching Small Prey With Traps
Nothing uplifts your spirit more than the smell of meat cooking over the fire.
Related: Is It Safe To Eat Roadkill?
One of the most common and effective ways to catch small prey is by setting up traps. Making a snare is one of the simplest ways to do this.
All you need is the following:
- A trigger mechanism such as a bent stick
- An anchor point (such as a log or tree).
- Wire cutters
Once you’ve gathered these items, here is how to make a snare:
- Cut the wire into three pieces of equal length and ensure they are long enough to form a noose around the animal when set in place.
- Create a loop with one piece of wire by grasping each end in one hand and twisting it together to create a lasso-like shape.
- Attach the looped wire to a trigger mechanism such as a bent stick or spring-loaded holder. Ensure the trigger system is secure enough to hold the wire once it is set up.
- Securely attach the other two pieces of wire to an anchor point, such as a log or tree, at eye level from where you plan on setting the trap. Ensure these wires are securely tied or fixed and are not easy for an animal to break free from.
- Place the noose over an area where you believe animals may pass through, and then carefully set up the trigger system so that when an animal passes through, it will trip and release the noose around its body – trapping it in place.
Building Basic Shelters With Natural Materials
You likely never built a shelter for survival without spending time in the military or the scouts.
But doing it with natural materials can be a lifesaver in any survival situation. It’ll keep you dry and warm, allowing you to get the rest you need to keep going.
The most basic shelter is a debris hut, which can be made with little more than sticks and leaves. This shelter can be built in about 1 to 3 hours and is perfect for short-term protection.
Here’s how to build one:
- Find a spot that is well-drained and sheltered from the wind.
- Use an 8-foot stick and poke it into the ground at a 45-degree angle. Stack other sticks against the first one, forming a triangle.
- Cover the sticks with 4 inches of debris to form a waterproof layer.
- Ensure the bottom of your shelter is dug out slightly so rainwater can drain away.
- Ensure the entrance is facing away from the wind for extra protection.
- Place a fire near the entrance to keep warm and cook food.
- Line the inside with soft materials such as grass for padding.
Foraging For Water Sources
You never know when you might find yourself stranded in the wilderness, miles away from civilization.
We can’t survive more than a few days without a water source.
This is why foraging for water sources is an invaluable skill.
When looking for sources of water in the wild, keep an eye out for:
- Puddles and other water-filled depressions in the ground: These are usually found in low-lying areas and can be filled by rain or groundwater seeping up from the earth’s surface.
- Snow and ice: If it’s cold enough, you can melt snow or scrape the top layer of ice from a lake or river to get fresh drinking water. Never directly consume untreated snow or ice; it will drop your core temperature.
- Dew on plants: If lucky, the morning dew on plants can be collected.
- Rainwater: Set up a tarp to capture and funnel rainwater into a container during the rainy season. This water can then be purified before drinking.
- Animal tracks: Following animal tracks in the wilderness will almost always lead you to water sources.
Once you find a water source, purify the water with some form of filtration or boiling. Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute to eliminate bacteria and other contaminants.
Navigating By The Stars
Navigation has been a crucial skill for millennia and remains so today. Whether you’re lost in the wild or sailing on the open sea, knowing how to use the stars and other landmarks can get you back on track.
As long as you know the constellations, the stars are a great way to find your direction.
Using a compass or GPS device can help too, but these do not always work.
So if you want to use the stars for navigation, here’s a quick guide:
- Find the North Star, also known as Polaris, by following an imaginary line that extends from the two stars at the end of the Big Dipper’s bowl.
- Once you locate Polaris, you can determine your direction by observing other stars in the sky.
- The two stars that form the front of the Big Dipper’s bowl point towards Polaris, indicating the direction of north.
- By observing the position and movement of other constellations, such as Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, you can determine your general direction and estimate the time of night.
First-Aid In Case Of An Emergency
Imagine hiking in the woods and suddenly twisting your ankle or cutting yourself with a sharp rock. What do you do? The answer is first-aid.
Learn here about the 10 medical supplies you need to stockpile before it’s too late and how to manage most health situations when help is not on the way.
Knowing how to treat minor injuries, as well as life-threatening ones, can be a lifesaver in any situation.
Here are some essential first-aid tips you should know:
- For sprains and strains: Tear off a cloth, wrap it around the injured area, and tie it securely. This will provide some support to the injured body part.
- For bleeding: Apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth until the bleeding stops. Hold the wound above the heart level if possible.
- For burns: Flush the affected area with cool water for at least 20 minutes. This will reduce the pain and help prevent further damage to the skin.
- For fractures: Splint the affected area with tree branches and position the fractured limb comfortably. Apply firm pressure on the splinted area to prevent further movement of the affected body part.
- For hypothermia: If you or someone else suffers from hypothermia, move them to a warm and sheltered area. Wrap them up in blankets or clothes, and give them warm drinks and food until their body temperature returns to normal.
Dealing With Wildlife You May Encounter
Wild animals are a common sight in many parts of the world. Some can be dangerous, so knowing how to deal with them is essential. Here are some tips:
- Avoid sudden movements when dealing with animals, as this can frighten them and cause them to attack.
- If you encounter a predator like a bear or a mountain lion, stand your ground and make yourself look as large as possible.
- Don’t try to run away, and don’t make direct eye contact, as this could trigger an attack.
- Make noises to alert other animals of your presence. This can help you avoid any potential conflicts.
- Don’t let the animal feel trapped. If the animal feels cornered, it could become aggressive.
Knowing the essential survival skills mentioned above can help you stay alive.
Whether you find yourself lost in a deserted forest or stuck in a snowstorm, having these skills can be a lifesaver. So, practice them often and stay safe.
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