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.
Related: 5 Survival Shelters Every Prepper Should Know
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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Sharpening tools, physical durability.
North star to left you are facing East.
North star is 5 lengths from the lip and bottom star and is the first star in the ladle of the Little Dipper. Use the Southern cross South of the Equator.
BEST IF SUN IS OUT place a stick in the ground, mark the end of the sticks shadow. Wait 15 min. Now mark the new end of the sticks shadow. Mark a straight line between the two end shadow marks. This makes a perfect East to West line
The Earth rotates from West to East so the shadow moves East to West. The Sun will perpendicular to this line.
You need a pivot other than your hand ( a thunder heaf). Hollow a small bowl shaped hole in a hand size piece of wood, fill it with green plants fur lube. Never use wood with pitch. Spendl is best with Basswool (Linden) and the base board with the notch Red Elm is best. BOTH MUST BE AS DRY AS POSSIBLE
Good article to spark interest in outdoor survival.
It is good to have outdoor skill set to be in nature, beyond the camping mode. After the camping mode comes the daily survival routines depending on ones own mental stability to survive. What happens after your small supply of toilet is gone, then what?
Some things in the SHTF condition, may never be replaced. Until the social and supply chains are re-established to somewhat normal conditions again.
Bug out mode is a temporary condition. Eventually we still have to resupply our equipment. Torn clothing needs to be repaired, finding replacement for ammo used.
Major repairs will not be made outdoors, unless we lug around a sewing machine. Which needs electricity.
Probably from historic view we will be dealing with the old general store as a base for resupply when things get stable. Bartering will become a stable form of currency, bit coin, smartphones will be a joke, an after thought. Skills and food will become kings of the culture.
Even the historic mountain men of the old west had some trade with flatlanders to resupply. Like flour, sugar, fish hooks, tobacco, clothing. The Native Americans did trade with other people or cultures.
So we can be totally self sufficient to a point. Hollyweed movies show the romantic part of the old west. But not always the true struggles our ancestors really had in that era.
Outdoor skills are a great foundation to start.
Some people have a restored treadle or hand crank sewing machine. Yep, me! A good choice for preppers. And a smart phone loaded with vital survival articles and books along with a solar charger is an amazing resource. Not a joke. Great for keeping children or special needs people calm so they aren’t a hinderance in an emergency.
If that is cloud based phone storage, there will be no means to access these articles. Reality: start printing and binding articles. Books will matter again. I wouldn’t waste any time on keeping anything essential on a cell phone as a tool because a potential EMP strike or power spike could instantly render it inoperable. It is NOT DURABLE STORAGE.
Since one never knows where adventure might lead, it’s good to know that the Southern Cross constellation is frequently used for navigation in the Southern Hemisphere similarly to the North Star Polaris in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Cross points to the Southern Celestial Pole where as the North Star points to the Northern Celestial Pole.
Not to forget, if we have pets, dogs & cats, maybe a couple farm animals that come along. We also need additional skills to provide their shelter, food & water too. As the feed stores may not exist for the short to medium terms of outdoor survival.
Bob2 – Watch “Tales from the Green Valley” a series on YouTube. Life back in the day, on the farm in the 17th. Century without electricity.
If you are facing west the north star will be on your right, facing east it will be on your left. The tail of the kite in the south sky will point south also,
First order bartering will certainly occur. Yet the complexities of second order and, worse yet, third order become nearly insurmountable. Those fancy sentences mean when you have something I want and I have something you want, we can bargain. However, if we don’t have those dual desires and want something else? Then we need a method other than barter. People are clever. We will find an item that can be easily transferred of value to take the place of money.
I already have the “Lost Ways #1. Why do I need Vol. #2 ?
more survival skills and methods basically
Fred – Because you want to continue your educations and build upon your skill set. Life is full of choices. Make a good one here.
Well, almost right about the Big Dipper pointing to the North Star. It’s the outside two stars of the cup of the Big Dipper that point to Polaris, which is at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper.
Maybe that’s the goal of this article, to cause readers to seek more infomation on their own. Appreciate the writer’s nudge in that direction. Certainly needed for the bushcraft topics brought up here.
Hmmm… The Big Dipper’s handle does NOT point to the North Star. The two stars on the end of the cup FARTHEST from the handle point to the North Star. Thanks for the article.
And as I stated earlier the facing of East and west is backwards in the article. Stand directly over a compass, turn left to face west, north is to the right. Turn right to face east, north is to the left. So many lost arts in society today, teach every youth we know is our responsibility….
Kids cannot read or navigate by MAPS or charts. GPS will NOT be accessible, except by hardened electronics that were shielded from EMP. Compass, sextant, ability to estimate distance, use of triangulation will essential navigation skills…along with knowledge of tides.
I noticed that too. How can the writer make such a basic mistake. What else could be wrong. Normally enjoy the articles, but this mistake is crazy.
Good article. Having skills is great but in todays world some folks are simply too lazy to employ them. They will wait for someone to come to their rescue. Maybe desperation will spur some into action.
You might as well just have linked to another article about first aid, shelter building, fire starting and building a snare trap. Not enough info included to actually accomplish the tasks.
Thank You Woody, Tony G., That statement gave me a headache. I was trying to figure out if the prez had screwed that up too.
He also didn’t add the part about making an indent in the palm wood (or top piece of wood) to hold the turning shaft on the bow fire tools to press down with.
Curious you have used the stars for direction. Even with a tiny bit of cloud the big dipper may not be visible and at night as well. No I’d much rather rely on the various methods using the sun. A much more reliable indicator.i.e a watch, shadow of two sticks etc
Knowing how to do this so that you can teach others will be really important when the time comes.
I believe there is a mistake in the article when it comes to the stars and the Big Dipper. If the North star is in front of you, your direction is North, if the north star is on your Right then your direction is West and if the North Star is on your Left your direction is East.
Correction here. If the North star is to your right, you are facing West. If it is to your left, then you are facing east.