Urban Survival Skills

By on May 7, 2014

Everybody should know basic survival skills. Building a fire. Keeping warm and dry when outdoors. Finding and/or catching food. Those are the basic, bedrock survival skills that everybody needs, regardless of setting.

I’m going to assume you already know those things, and talk about what happens next. Let’s say you find yourself faced with a disaster. Maybe even a disaster of Biblical proportions. If and when that happens, in the first few days, you’ll rely heavily on the skills above, but after that? Well, after that you’re going to stop living moment to moment and start planning for a more settled future. What follows then, will be the skills you’ll need to focus on to get you to the next level, and make no mistake, your long term survival will absolutely depend on your ability to move away from the basics. One final note:

Given that most of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, we’re going to approach the subject of the survival skills you’ll need to thrive in the long run from the perspective of you in a post-emergency urban area. Here’s your top three:

1) Knowledge of Electricity.

You need to understand how it works and a working knowledge of at least three different means of making electricity. Whether that’s how to build an external combustion engine (Stirling), how to make Bio-Diesel, how to set up a solar panel array and feed the electricity into a battery backup system, how to build a functioning windmill, or install a zero-head microhydro power system, you absolutely need to understand how to turn the lights back on, because the moment you do that, you can build civilization back from the ground up if you have to. This is the absolutely essential first step though.

2) Basic Carpentry Skills.

It doesn’t matter if what you build looks like the south end of a north bound horse. It doesn’t even really matter if it’s made at true, right angles. All that really matters is that it’s solid, durable and watertight, because invariably, we’re talking about either building a shelter from scratch, or shoring up a damaged shelter, post-emergency. Beyond that, we’re talking about building pens and fences to contain domesticated animals, and to keep undesirables out. None of this requires years and years of advanced carpentry experience, but it does require a good working knowledge. Best way to get that knowledge for free? Join Habitat for Humanity and help build someone a house. The skills you learn over the life of that project will stay with you forever. Best free education you’ll ever get!

3) Basic Computer Networking and Repair.

Again, you don’t have to have the know-how to reinvent the internet, all you need to know how to do is to get two or more computers talking to each other, and maybe how to swap out an ailing cooling fan. If you can do that, you can not only have unlimited access to virtually information, you can use this basic system to power other, more advanced tools. In short order, you could use these very basic skills to assemble a rudimentary Fab-Lab, with a 3d printer and a milling machine at their core, and use this setup to build almost any piece of infrastructure you and your family might need. As far as survival skills go, this one’s often overlooked, but can make or break you in terms of moving from mere subsistence to a point where you’re actually thriving.

You might be surprised that my list of critical survival skills did not include anything about farming or growing food. That’s actually by design. If you’ve got the basic, bedrock survival skills covered, then you know enough to get by as a farmer, and the rest…the more advanced agronomy related skills, you can pick up from the computers you get running! Make sure that when you’re preparing for what lies ahead, you don’t neglect technology related skills. You do so at your peril!

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