5 Basic Survival Skills Everyone Should Know

5 Basic Survival Skills Everyone Should Know

The more skills you learn, the more self reliant you are and the higher your chances for survival become. Here we are going to talk about some basic survival skills and teach you how to best utilize them to protect yourself and your loved ones when disaster strikes.

Basic Survival Skills

When you are out on your own without the support net of a functioning society, these are the traits and basic survival skills you need to master in order to succeed.

  1. Maintain a positive mental attitude
  2. Locate and purify/filter water
  3. Seek or build shelter
  4. Obtain and prepare food
  5. Start a fire

Positive Mental Attitude

This is actually more important than any of the others because when you are relying on your ability to wring survival from your surroundings, once you give up hope you are done. There are many astounding stories of people who have survived avalanches, fires, floods, and being stranded for extended periods and surviving thanks to an undying will to survive. They are ordinary people who would simply not admit defeat. Keeping a positive mental attitude will give you the strength to never give up on yourself no matter the situation.

Some ways to instill this mentality are:

  1. Set goals for yourself – These may be daily or even hourly goals such as making it to the next ridge or obtaining a meal from your environs. Make sure your goals are achievable and objective oriented. Every step you complete will be a psychological boost for you and will build confidence in your basic survival ability.
  2. Focus on what you can change for better – If a massive catastrophe has struck, focusing on the unfairness of the resulting situation or the loss that has occurred will not help you. However, focusing on constructing a shelter or staying dry will help tremendously. Concentrating your efforts to make your situation better will help you both in the long and short terms. Ignore the big picture and totally focus on improving your immediate situation.
  3. Keep hydrated and nourished – This will give you the energy to persist in the face of adversity. A continual water and food supply are vitally important. You will not be seeking to feast daily but meeting your basic calorie and hydration needs will be enough to keep you going. 2400-3600 Calories per day is a good amount to aim for. Additionally, if this requirement is squared away it will allow you to focus more on recovery efforts or finding help.
  4. Be outwardly positive – Positivity creates more positivity. Showing fellow survivors that you are with that you have a positive mental attitude will prevent the group from being dragged down under the weight of the disaster. Be the seed that grows into higher morale for your team.


In addition to your own internal vigor, water is the most important resource you will require. Finding it and knowing how to make it fit for consumption are two of of the most crucial basic survival skills you can master.

  • Know how to locate signs of water. This may be looking where plants are growing, where terrain slopes or contours into a natural water trap, or observing animal movements to see where they are discovering their water supply.
  • If you are able to map a route as a component of your bug out plan, identifying likely sources for water along the way will be a massive boon.
  • Fully understand how to treat water to make it fit for ingestion. Drinking contaminated water can be disastrous.
  • Filtration – this consists of passing water through particularly fine membranes to remove particles and some pathogens. Some viruses may still make it through even the finest filters available.
  • Purification – treating water with either chemicals such as iodine or UV light sources. This neutralizes all pathogens but does not purge particles.
  • Boiling – This is a type of purification as it kills all pathogens but does not eliminate particles. Water should be kept at a rolling boil for at least 1 minute to sterilize it.
  • Because of the differing benefits of both filtration and purification it is recommended that you employ both methods to be 100% sure of water safety that a combination of the 2 be performed. The most basic way to do this is to pour water through a cloth and then boil it. However a better performing approach is to pass it through a filter device and then purify it using purification tablets or a steripen. These items should be considered mandatory requirements for any bug our bag.
  • Be able to exploit rainfall if possible. This may include catching it in a poncho or container if available.
  • Fully understand how much water you need – A person can survive 72 hours without water. It is however highly recommended that someone who is active takes in 75% of their weight in ounces daily. So if you weigh 150 lbs then you should be drinking about 113 ounces (3.31 liters) of water per day.


Hiking with your Bug Out Bag loaded with your bug out bag essentials will cause you to burn 400-500 calories in an hour. To keep your body working as an efficient machine it is vital to keep it fueled up. First off, ration what food you have with you. You are concentrating on survival, not feasting.

  • Eat small portions when you are hungry but do not over do it.
  • Supplement your rations with foraged nourishment from your environs. This means you will need to learn what edible plants are around and how to harvest them.
  • Also learn where these plants grow. Does a particular berry grow around water holes? Does a high calorie plant prefer the shade? Learn these aspects to understand where to look for nutrients. Some plants are only fit to be eaten after cooking or boiling, get to know what you need to do with your local flora to make it palatable. Additionally, learn what is hazardous or poisonous to eat to prevent making yourself sick!
  • Grasp what types of animals inhabit your region. This includes possible predators to avoid and prey to seek out. Understand what environments these animals inhabit. Is there a particular fish that likes eddies and whirlpools? Target these spots to find them. Does an animal in your area like to eat a particular plant? Placing snares in the vicinity of these plants would be advantageous. Also learn how to prepare these animals for cooking. This includes skinning and butchering animals and filleting fish.


A well prepared person will have a method of sheltering themselves from the elements as a part of their survival kit. However, a TOTALLY prepared person will also have learned survival shelter building as one of their basic survival skills. A survival shelter does not need to be complicated or fancy but it should keep rain/snow out, keep heat inside, and be easily cobbled together from local materials.

  • A survival shelter can be constructed from most anything – debris from collapsed buildings, trees and leaves, animal hides, or a tarp or poncho
  • Take into consideration bringing paracord, and a saw or hatchet as these can be your best friends when building a shelter. With these items you can make a survival shelter out of just about anything in very little time.
  • If you do not have paracord, zip ties, duct tape, or another binding material, primitive rope can be improvised from strips of tree bark, small green saplings, branches, and vines.
  • A simple survival shelter could consist of constructing a frame from long rigid materials such as tree branches or 2×4′s and laying a poncho or tarp over it.
  • If you cannot use your poncho or tarp for this, layer brush on to the frame sloping away towards the ground to insulate for warmth and keep moisture out.


Fire can provide many things when in a survival situation and both building and maintaining one are essential basic survival skills. A fire will give a morale boost, provide heat and light, and enable you to purify water and cook food.

The fundamental requirements to build any fire are to give it air, fuel, and an ignition source.

  1. Air – A fire takes in air hungrily and it is essential to build it in a manner that permits air to flow into the combustion. Don’t smother a fire by putting too much fuel onto it.
  2. Fuel – This is what actually burns in a fire and can be sourced from many places. If a branch or stick snaps cleanly it is dry and will burn well. If it bends and splinters it is still green and will smoke and smother a fire.
  3. Ignition Source – this can be a lighter, matches, or a fire starter that you bring with you. You should however learn more primitive means of fire starting as one of your basic survival skills in the event that these items cannot be sourced.
  • A fire is built in successive layers of increasingly larger wood. You start with tinder, which is very small, dry, and catches easily. Various kinds of tinder are tree bark, dryer lint, coconut husk, and pine needles. From tinder you go up to kindling which is generally twigs up to the diameter of your little finger. Next is fuel wood which is in sizes up to your thumb. Continue to add more wood gradually until you have a fire large enough to ignite logs. These logs are what will produce the majority of your coals in a fire pit.
  • Learn how to use a fire to cook food. Coals are a more effective method of cooking food than a naked flame. Coals will produce a more even heat and allow you to regulate the rate at which your food cooks, rather than having some parts seared with the inside raw. A naked flame is however better at boiling water.
  • The most commonly used types of fires are known as a Teepee and a Log Cabin.


There is no doubt that mastering basic survival skills will significantly boost your chances of survival. Putting in some time now to teach yourself these survival skills will make you better prepared and help you provide for yourself and your family when disaster strikes.

About the Author

Chris Ruiz is a lifelong outdoorsman and has been interested in survival tactics and practices for many years.  He currently helps people prepare for unforeseen disasters at The Bug Out Bag Guide.  For more information please visit:

The Bug Out Bag Guide

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Chive Seeds

by preppergal11

Tis the season for gardening and any prepper can tell you that the more food you can grow on your own, the better.

I have a huge clump of chives in my back yard. They come back every year and spread from their roots so I had no idea they had seeds or that I could harvest the seeds to share.

To start, you need to find a clump of chives that has flowered. Select flowers that have mostly dried out.


The tips of the flowers should be white and thin like tissue paper. The next thing I do is separate the flower blooms from the stem, to make them easier to sort.


The dry flowers I set aside for processing and the not so dry flowers I either let air dry for a few days or compost if they are not even close to being ready.

When you pull apart the flower, inside you will find a dark green to black ball, this is where you will find the seeds. Cut this apart, it should divide into three parts, leaving you with some sacks covered in a thin green film.


In each of these sacks is two chive seeds, gently remove the green film to reveal two small black seeds. Set the seeds aside to dry (I put mine on a paper plate away from any breeze) and then store. Chive seeds can be finicky and may only last a year even under optimal storage, so be sure to share with your friends.


Bee Plants

I believe it was Albert Einstein who said that without bees, the human species would go extinct within four years.

Honeybees are so essential to our entire food supply and they’re dying off in scary numbers. Between colony collapse and sheer lack of food, our honeybees are disappearing. In my city, we can’t own bees without a whole lot of paper work and fees and inspections etc, etc, so I decided to dedicate part of my garden to bee friendly plants.

Since I live in Canada, I can be somewhat limited to what plants will live here. This year the weather has been especially all over the place (to the point where several people I know had their furnaces on last night, almost a full week into June) and I’ve only seen two honeybees in my yard. But here’s a quick list of what I’ve planted that my local bees seem to love.

Lavender – I have several lavender plants that I use for my soap business but even when I harvest, I leave several stalks that are constantly visited by our bees.

Bee balm – (monarda) produces amazing spiky flowers and is always surrounded by bees.

Strawberries – although I don’t grow these specifically for the bees, the flowers bloom fairly early and give the bees something to pollinate before the other plants show up.

Clover – I have a small piece of the property that isn’t maintained and it is crawling with clover. Anytime I pull up clover from any other part of the lawn, I throw it there to help seed it. I’m sure we’ve all heard of clover honey?

Lilac – although this plant belongs to one of the neighbors and not me, I stay away from it because its surrounded by bees while in bloom.


Most of these plants are fairly hardy regardless of where you are in North America, so consider placing some of them on your land. We all need bees. Please try to avoid commercial insecticides as well and try a natural alternative such as companion planting, soapy water or manual pest removal.

The story of the Honeybee…..well sort of…..

by DW

When it comes to raising honeybees, there’s plenty of buzz out there. Before you get started, be sure that you are ready to handle the task.

Know The Laws

Be sure to check with your local laws. Your county or municipality may have restrictions on beekeeping, such as how many hives you may have (which can serve to provide a means for controlling bee diseases). There may even be an ordinance prohibiting beekeeping. In many sates, there is a regulation that requires beekeepers to register their apiary locations and pay a small annual registration fee.

Beyond the laws, it’s important to make sure that your neighbors are comfortable with and not seriously opposed to your keeping bees in the community. Find out if anyone has serious allergy issues—so serious that they would need to visit a medical facility if stung.

The Bee’s Path

We use the term “beeline” for a reason. Bees will take the quickest path from their food source to the hive. Sometimes, this results in disturbing humans or animals and pets. Also, bees defecate in flight on their way to food and water. This can stain car finishes and leave colored spots on everything below. If the bees will be flying across a pathway where people walk, consider installing fencing or tall plantings near the hives to encourage the bees to gain altitude quickly.

Location, Location, Location

Bees don’t like to be too hot or too cold. We’ll talk about building a hive in another post, but be sure to face the hive toward open country and where the entrance will receive plenty of sunlight.

Also, place your hives in a sheltered area. Try to avoid hilltops, as they tend to be windy. Also, avoid low spots that hold cold air for longer periods. Be sure that your hive area doesn’t have flooding issues so that you can always access the apiary.

As well as sunlight, bees need water every day of the year. Is water accessible?

Bees also need nectar and pollen. Will you have to feed the bees to ensure their survival? This brings us to food sources . . .

Know Your Flowers

Bees make their honey from nectar. This can be found in plants such as white clover, asters, dandelions, maple trees, citrus trees, etc. After some time, you will come to recognize when the heavy nectar flows occur and when the nectar flow is scarce. Be sure to use this information when calculating the honey output that you will receive at the end of the year.

Before owning bees, make sure that you provide them with a safe, natural habitat. Pesticides on flowers are a major cause of death for honeybees. Be sure that no large areas around you are being treated with commercial insecticides. If a worker bee is not killed on site by the poison, it is possible for her to bring it back to the hive, killing the other bees and even the queen.

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