So you’ve built your bug-out bag, stockpiled plenty of food and water for you and your loved ones, and planned your route to safety in case of a disaster. But do you have the advanced skills necessary to survive when things get truly rough?
Most people don’t even think about the the skills they should possesses in case of a major disaster, much less the advanced skills. A Zogby Analytics poll found that only one in three Americans has any plan in case of an emergency and 9 out of 10 of those planned have it all wrong. If you are ready to take your prepper skills to the next level, here’s a look at the things you need to know to go from novice to advanced prepper.
Essential Prepping Skill
Navigate Without GPS
If disaster strikes and you are without a GPS to navigate the safe place you have found, it’s an essential prepping skill that you know how to find your way without technological assistance. Navigation using the sun is complicated since the sun only rises due east on the equinoxes, but Natural Navigation has a good explanation of using the sun based on your longitude to find your way. Navigation at night using the stars is an advanced skill that isn’t too difficult to learn, but can make a world of difference if you are trying to move under the cover of night. Fortunately, finding the North Star is easy to do – simply find the seven stars that comprise the Big Dipper, then follow the pointer stars that make up the outside “lip” of the dipper. Polaris, commonly called the North Star, is about five times the distance between these two stars, which point directly to the North Star. The direction of true north is right below Polaris. Though the Big Dipper seems to spin through the night sky, it always points to the North Star.
Purifying Water Without Boiling
Once you have found water, you need to purify it but circumstances may limit you from boiling it to do so. Solar power can be used to purify water if you leave clean, clear water in a plastic container in direct sunlight for a full day, but brackish water may take too long to become drinkable in such a way. Use an iodine tincture (the active ingredient in many water purification tablets) to kill bacteria and viruses. In a pinch, filtering water through a coffee filter or even a thick T-shirt can be used to get the big stuff out but relying on such methods should be a last ditch effort.
You might have a good truck picked out for when things go downhill, but a truck or SUV can’t get you everywhere you need to go if you are really living off the grid. Learning how to drive a variety of vehicles will be useful, so get comfortable driving everything from a small ATV to a commercial hauler. Start by practicing driving an ATV on your next camping trip. Brush up on your knowledge of driving massive commercial vehicles like an big 18-wheeler rig using online practice tests before putting your skills to use.
Having a steady and reliable source of food is critical if you want to survive in the long run. A good survival garden should include food items that are both easy to maintain and to harvest. Zucchini can be grown as single plants or in clutches atop mounds, and does extremely well with direct sunlight and good drainage. Picking zucchini when they are a half-foot or a foot long actually encourages the plant to grow more fruit, so once it gets going it can produce a lot of food for you. Perennial berries such as blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries and currants do well in moderate weather with cold winters. Berries need adequate water and well-drained soil to thrive, but once they are planted and thriving they will produce edible fruit for you for years. With care and water, you can never worry about food again if you know how to garden.