You never know when or where you will need disaster survival skills: You might be miles from home on an outdoor adventure when something goes wrong and you find yourself lost or trapped; you might be resting comfortably at home when a natural disaster strikes and you are suddenly without access to basic amenities. One thing, however, is certain: It’s never too early to begin learning disaster survival skills.
In order to survive in an emergency, you will need to be able to provide food, clean water, warmth, and shelter for yourself and your family or travelling companions. Some basic survival skills include:
1. Knowing how to forage for food. Research edible plants in your local area and in any region you plan to travel to and learn how to prepare them for consumption. You should also teach yourself how to fish and trap or snare animals without using traditional equipment. For example, fish hooks can be improvised using wood or bones and line may be created from repurposed clothing or dental floss. Lures can be made out of feathers and bits of cloth.
2. Being able to locate and purify water so that it is safe to drink. Gaining access to safe fresh water is one of the most important disaster survival skills there is—the human body cannot function for long without proper hydration. Harvesting rainwater is, fortunately, fairly easy in the UK thanks to high levels of rainfall, and rainwater is generally potable. If you are travelling to an area where rainfall is sparse, bring along some specialised purification tablets which can be used to treat ground water; if you run out, filtering and boiling water is often sufficient to make it safe to drink.
3. Being adept at building fires. Your fire-building skills should go beyond the rudimentary knowledge needed to build a standard campfire; you should learn how to build fires in damp environments as well as in dry ones and research materials (e.g. animal dung, dry grass) which can be burned in the absence of firewood. You should also familiarise yourself with atypical tinder sources which can be highly effective in an emergency situation, such as insect repellent, chapstick, deodorant, petroleum jelly, alcohol prep pads, and certain varieties of dry snack foods.
4. Knowing how to perform first aid. In a disaster situation, it’s probable that you or someone around you will become injured, so you should ensure that you have first aid skills. You should know how to properly clean and dress wounds, how to minimise blood loss, how to make splints and slings, and how to perform CPR and treat a person who has gone into shock.
5. Being able to build a basic shelter. Harsh weather conditions can kill people within mere hours of exposure, so it’s essential to have some basic shelter building skills in the event that you find yourself without a tent or other place of lodging. One of the most popular shelter choices in emergency situations is a round tipi-style lodge built from found wood and thatched with leaves or grass; this kind of shelter keeps out the elements while also providing a central area where a fire can be built.