Not to be confused with failing to prepare, this statement may cause some head scratching. Stick with me here to see what I mean.
Your completed bug out bags are ready by the door. Food is stored for the long term and secured. You have water filters, gear, and gadgets out the wazoo. Sitting in your home, you feel pretty good about all you have accomplished. You should! You invested a lot of time, energy, organizing, research, and money so you and your family can make it through unforeseen circumstances.
You can handle economic collapse, EMP, solar flares, even natural disasters common to your area. You read books on handling the call for martial law, protecting yourself and preps from looters, gangs, or hungry neighbors. You have done everything you can think of. So why would you fail?
The #1 reason all your preparedness could be in vain
You may have all the gadgets and hoarded supplies to live off grid for years, but unless you have the skills and practice to use them or even start a fire, you will likely fail. There is more to building a fire than simply stacking wood and using a lighter. There is more to purifying water than knowing to filter and boil it to make it safe for consumption.
How about your fancy first aid kit? It may be rated for an EMT, but unless you know how to use the stuff inside, it is almost worthless. You could make things worse by not knowing how to use your gear or assess a chaotic situation with calm logic.
These things take time. Skills are not learned overnight and becoming familiar, let alone proficient, with a piece of equipment or gear takes more than one use.
Before you get overwhelmed by the prospect of learning everything needed to really survive a SHTF or disaster situation, these four (4) skills cover the most basic of human needs so you survive to fight another day. A human needs shelter, water, food, and warmth to survive. Once you pick one of the four skills, YouTube and the internet can help you get started.
You may have the most expensive, sturdy tent that money can buy. Do you know how to put it up? Can you read the ground to see where water may flow in a downpour? What if you do not even have a tarp to use? Can you use the material around you (or in the woods) to build a shelter?
Learning how to set up your tent and several ways of making serviceable, if crude, shelter is important. This skill alone will make you will much more confident no matter where you are. Take a few minutes to watch a few videos and then practice the skills. Better yet, make it a fun family event. The kids help you build a ‘natural fort’ they can play in.
Starting a Fire
This one seems like a no-brainer to most people today. In our marvelous modern age, there are so many ways to start a fire that people have forgotten you can actually rub sticks together to start one. No one wants to use that method of course, but there is still an art to starting a sustainable fire. A cooking fire is different than a fire for heat, which is still different than banking a fire so it will not go out at night.
It takes practice to understand how a fire burns and what it needs. I remember my little brother on a camping trip when he was 8 or 9. Mom let him start the fire. He piled layers of paper and kindling into the fire pit and used a lighter to get it going. Within minutes, the fire was out and there was only a small burned area in the middle.
What went wrong? He had everything he needed, right? Wrong. He did not have the skills to properly stack the kindling and tinder so it would breathe right; he did not have the skills to ‘read’ the fire because he hadn’t been allowed to do it very often. It takes practice, plain and simple.
It amazes me how many people think either filtering or boiling water make it safe. You must do both to be absolutely certain the water is safe. The Rule of Threes tells us you cannot live without water more than 3 days, but that is climate dependent. Being in the desert requires more water than surviving in the Pacific Northwest.
Do you know the best sources for water? Do you have the skills to actually use your filter and then boil the water? Do you know how long to boil for? What if you do not have a working water filter, do you know how to make one? Learn a basic technique, then go practice!
You have 3 months’ worth of MREs all set and secured. You have dehydrated goodies besides and bags of rice, beans, sugar, and flour in Mylar bags. Great! Do you know how to use those staples once the MREs are gone? Can you cook with just those items? On top of that, do you know how to cook over a fire?
Personally, I researched recipes that use very basic ingredients but still taste good, and are nutritious and filling. The only way to ensure “tastes good” for your family is, you guessed it, to actually make and eat them.
Warmth ties into the others. Fire and shelter help keep you going. Staying warm and dry is vitally important for both your physical and your mental health. With all the blankets, sleeping bags, and clothing available to keep you warm, do you know how to keep warm without them – without a sleeping bag? Shelter and fire placement will help with that.
All of the above is to help get you thinking about the bigger picture in manageable chunks. As you work through the list, you may find that some of the gadgets and gear you have is redundant and that can be a good thing. Having back ups and back up plans are absolutely vital. Being prepared is a backup plan in itself!
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.