7 Essential Skills for Preppers
During the height of one recent flu season in Arizona, emergency rooms became so overwhelmed with patients that some hospitals had to turn people away.
Incoming patients were met at the door by paramedics and redirected to other hospitals, which were also quickly becoming filled to capacity.
Can you imagine if it was you and your loved one who were so sick you needed emergency care, yet were turned away by your own local hospital?
Well, it’s happening.
Even in the course of a normal cold and flu season, hospitals can barely keep up. That’s why we are preparing now for a real emergency – a pandemic outbreak, a natural disaster, or a bioterror attack. We want to share with you here and now some of the top steps you can take so you’re protected, too.
During any sort of breakdown, you’re going to be very much on your own. And that means being ready to meet your basic needs and deal with emergencies without help from the grocery store, the power company, or 9-1-1.
We’ll review some essential, practical skills that savvy preppers are mastering. These are the types of skills that you won’t often be called on to use during normal times, but in a disaster or breakdown, they can make all the difference.
7 Must-Have Skills That Could Save Your Life
Starting a Fire: Try on this scenario for size. You have two weeks of fuel on hand to run your vehicles and your camp stove. So cooking your food is easy… except the power is down for more than two weeks. No problem. With a little wood and a few rocks, you can build a campfire ring in your backyard, put one of your oven racks over it, and cook whatever you need. But, do you have fire starters on hand, and do you know how to build a fire that will actually catch?
We urge you to stock up on waterproof matches and cheap disposable lights. But you still need to know how to quickly and efficiently build a fire.
Start with a layer of easy burning material at the bottom like dried moss and pine needles or crumpled up paper. Place some small kindling over that in a crisscross pattern – you want plenty of air circulation for your fire to burn well. Then place three or four larger logs over the kindling, also in a crisscross pattern. Use a match or flint and steel to light the quick-burning material at the base.
Treating a Wound: Injuries happen. During a natural disaster or a time of social chaos, they’re even more likely. During social disruptions of any kind, an emergency room is the last place you want to be. They’ll be overwhelmed. At best, you’ll spend hours waiting for treatment. At worst, you’ll pick up an infection while you’re there. So, you need to know how to treat a basic wound, and how to recognize when it is beyond your capabilities.
The two main things about treating a wound are stopping the bleeding and keeping it clean. To stop bleeding, put pressure on the wound. Use gauze, clean towels, or clean clothes to apply direct pressure to the wound. If those items aren’t available, use the cleanest material on hand.
Place it over the wound and then apply direct pressure. Keep applying pressure for 15 minutes. If blood seeps through the gauze or cloth you’re using, add a new layer rather than removing what you have. Don’t let up on the pressure or check the wound until 15 minutes have passed. Most wounds will stop bleeding by that time. If not, you’ll need to brave an emergency room.
Once the bleeding is under control, you need to clean the wound. Wash your hands thoroughly and wear medical gloves if you’ve got them. Remove any debris from the injury – use tweezers for the small stuff. Then wash the wound under running water for at least five minutes. You can use a mild soap to clean it while under running water; Dawn dishwashing soap is perfect. Betadine is another great topical antiseptic to add to your prepper supplies. Apply a light layer of antibiotic ointment and bandage the wound with clean gauze. Change the bandage regularly.
Treating Infection: If a wound shows signs of infection, the best thing to do is get the assistance of a doctor. But if, for whatever reason, a doctor’s care is not available, there are a few things you can do that will help fight minor infections.
Both honey and bentonite clay can help leech toxins from a wound and fight infection. If you notice an injury is getting red and swollen and is producing yellow-green pus, you need to begin treating it for infection. Soaking it in warm salt water can help draw out the infection and draw healing antibodies into the area. Clean it regularly and apply honey, clay, or more antibiotic ointment. If the infection gets worse or if you notice red streaks emanating from the wound, a doctor’s care is imperative.
Finding Your Way: In the event that the transportation system breaks down, you’ll need to be able to get around without your usual means. Around your hometown, it’s pretty easy to find your way on foot or by bike, but what happens if you’re somewhere unfamiliar when the stuff hits the fan? Would you be able to make your way home?
Learning basic orienteering skills can help you navigate even in unfamiliar territory. Check your local outdoor supply stores to see if they offer orienteering classes. Kill two birds with one stone – get your daily exercise by walking between your home and places you’ll likely need to get to in an emergency, such as a natural water supply.
Handling a Knife: There’s a saying among survivalists. “A knifeless man is a lifeless man.” Invest in a good fixed blade knife with a four to six inch blade. It can come in handy in numerous situations – including cutting kindling for a fire or cutting away clothing from a wound – but only if you’re able to use it safely. Once you buy a knife, practice with it so you know how to handle it without cutting yourself or someone else!
Gathering Your Dinner: In an extended breakdown, you may find your food supplies running short. (If you’ve set up a six-month reserve like I’ve recommended, that’s highly unlikely.) If that happens, one of the most useful things you can know is what edible (and medicinal) plants grow in your area. Obviously, edible plants differ from region to region, but most libraries and bookstores stock books on local botany. Invest in one and spend a little time getting to know a few of the local plants. Chances are you’ll never need this knowledge, but if ever you do, you’ll be glad you have it.
Fending Off an Attack: During a disruption, personal attacks are higher. You’re more likely to be mugged, assaulted, or robbed. Two things can help protect you: learning to be aware of your environment and developing some self-defense skills.
Let us underscore that in any attack, your main objective should be to escape to safety. Consider taking a self-defense class that focuses on breaking holds and quickly incapacitating an attacker so you can run. Any good self-defense class should also focus on learning to recognize red flags that will help you avoid bad situations in the first place. You also need to consider arming yourself, including learning to use your firearms safely. The mere sound of chambering a shell into a shotgun will send most intruders running for their lives without you ever having to fire a shot!
These essential skills aren’t difficult or costly to master, and in any sort of breakdown, they can be lifesavers. Each one is just one more step toward being ready for anything.