You’ve all seen it. Hollywood makes films of a plane crash or shipwreck that cause only one or a few survivors to end up on a deserted island. He or she– the main character– frantically panics at first, maybe even screaming. Then a few months go by, the camera cuts back to him or her, and now this person is an advanced survivalist with a wide variety of skills and gear. They seamlessly kill and eat animals and make impractical but cool looking shelters. Then, he, for the sake of drama, is faced with some dire problem and has to overcome it with only his wits.
Of course, this is just for entertainment purposes and is nothing like REAL survival. Real survival is horrible. This is just the plain and simple truth. Hollywood wouldn’t make much money, if the whole time there was just some city boy struggling to recreate the bow drill that he’d seen on TV one time to get a fire going. They just wouldn’t make money if they showed some surfer girl from California frantically throwing sticks in a big pile to make “shelter”. Similarly, no profit would come from the sad outcome that most unprepared people face in a true survival situation. In real shipwrecks and plane crashes, even the people who initially survive the crash die a few days later from making common mistakes, such as drinking ocean water and pee, misidentifying poisonous plants and snakes, or something else. Survival, in all truthfulness, is never pretty or entertaining.
The truth is that even experienced survivalists, with their survival kits or gear, die sometimes when put through nature. Of course, with that being said, most of the time, basic knowledge and skills or gear can be a huge asset if you ever were lost in the wilderness or, for today’s purposes, the SHTF. So, let’s set up a scenario to get you thinking along the same lines as I am.
Let’s us say that you and your wife get back from work, and you sit down on the couch to watch football while your wife begins to prepare dinner. She kindly asks you to go pick the kids up from school. You unwillingly stand up and begin to leave. She says something like, “Don’t forget to talk to Matt’s teacher when you get there” or “Klay has been having trouble with his asthma recently, so bring him the inhaler from the pharmacy.” You hop in the car and dutifully drive to the pharmacy to pick the inhaler up and then drive to the high school to pick up your two oldest. After that, you go to the local kindergarten and get your youngest. You turn on the radio as you drive back to the house, but then, all of the sudden, the radio shuts off and the car slides to a stop. Sparks start shooting out of your radio, and then the engine catches fire. A semi truck slams into the car adjacent you. Your immediate instinct is to jump out of of the car, but the lock is jammed so you break the window and exit quickly. After you are out of harm’s way, you have time to ask what just happened.
You find out that ALL electricity, almost without exception, is gone. You, without any survival knowledge whatsoever, are forced to find your way home. You have stored food and other preps at home. However, none of it will matter, unless you make it home. In essence, you let your entire family down because you didn’t know what to do and how to survive off the land. The truth is that you could’ve made it home quickly and easily if you had had only some basic navigation skills and some basic hunting, fishing, and trapping know-how, but you didn’t know how. So all of your prepping was futile. One EMP hits, when you don’t have your preps close by, and you die almost instantly.
Obviously, there are various situations where you would need to get home when the SHTF, but what about when you need to get OUT of home. Yes, survivalism does play a key role in almost all realistic bug out plans. For another scenario, let’s consider that you and your family were already home when the SHTF, and you have been waiting out the riots in your house with your preps. You begin to fear that looting may spread into your neighborhood, and just as that thought crosses your mind, a Molotov cocktail flies through your window exploding on impact. You grab what you can and run out the back door with your family. Luckily, you make it into the woods, away from all of the crime and the chaos. Your kids are distraught because the house is burned down.
All you managed to grab was your bug out bag, a small 22. rifle, and some take down arrows . What you do with those can be the difference between life and death. A wise survivalist would know of several uses for each tool and exactly how to use them, but you are not a wise survivalist. On the contrary, you aren’t a survivalist at all. You have no clue what to do; you throw the arrows away and lighten your load by getting rid of some of the gear in your back pack. Unfortunately, you lightened your load a bit too much; a month later all of your kids are dead from starvation, and your wife is dead from exposure. You wish you hadn’t left those take down arrows because you could have used them for a handmade bow, which could have provided you with food without making as much noise as the rifle. You also wish that you hadn’t relied on your own primitive fire-starting skills so much that you had left your lighter at the house so that you could have kept your family warm and protected them with shelter. So, now that you know the why, it’s time to learn the what and how.
What is survivalism and how does it differ from prepping. Survivalism is the skill of Bushcraft, and it holds within its own category things like hunting, trapping, fishing, fire starting, shelter making, water purifying, and more. It differs from prepping, because it is more orientated on living off the land with little or no equipment, while prepping tends to focus on using your gear to keep your lifestyle as happy and healthy as possible during catastrophes. There is a lot of crossover between the two terms, and the reason for that is because they go hand in hand. Prepping can never be realistic unless you have survivalism to supplement it and vice versa. The point I’m trying to make is that you must have survivalism in order to prep. There is just no way around it.
So, now you know you must have, at the very least, some basic survival knowledge. Where do you start? Well, you can begin by reading some books and watching some YouTube videos. Remember, the Internet has almost everything on it. You just need to know where to look. I will supply you with some knowledge, nevertheless.
- Never drink pee! It will dehydrate you more if you do so. The high ammonia and salt presence within the urine will in fact make you sick, despite what some may say. A good way of making urine or salt water potable is called distilling. One method of distilling, commonly used by survivalists, is to make a solar still. Use the Internet to help you figure out what that is and how to make one.
- Do not guess whether plants or insects are edible…ever! Only make well-educated decisions. Making a mistake would almost definitely kill you. Various apps and field manuals have good guides to know exactly what you can and what you can not eat.
- Never expend more energy on food than will be given back by whatever you eat! Don’t spend a lot of strenuous activity to get one coconut, so on and so forth.
- If you have a non-digital watch , then you can find what direction is true north. Point the hour hand at the sun and bisect that with the 12 o’clock mark and the end result is none other than true North. That will massively help you with navigation, if you do not have a compass.
- In order to start a fire, various methods could be used in a survival situation. Learn those methods. When the time comes, choose which one is best for your situation. Some possibilities are: bow drill, fire plow, fire drill, and flint and steel. In general, remember that friction creates heat, and heat creates fire! Therefore, make max friction. Books and TV shows are great for learning all of those different ways to start a fire also.
- Oh, no! You are super thirsty, and the only water in sight is a murky swamp! You dare not drink from that, because various bacteria and poop may be in the water. You have no immediate means of purifying it, so what do you do? The answer is to move four feet away from the edge of the water and dig a hole approximately two feet deep. Remember that water seeks its own level, so naturally the water from the swamp should filter through all of the dirt and sand and end up forming a muddy puddle in the bottom of your dug hole. This process may take a while, but it will be much better than risking it on drinking swamp water. The water that collects may still look dirty, but no bacteria or sediment will have had time to develop, which means pure water!
- Keep your knives  sharp and well oiled, and in general, take good care of all of your survival gear so that when the time comes, they’ll take care of you.
- Remember, also, that you need to put your skills into practice. Everything I’ve just listed are things that can be practiced, and thus, should be practiced.
In conclusion, I’ve shown you why survival is important to prepping, what survival is, how it differs from prepping, and how to become a basic survivalist. Never underestimate the importance of survivalism and keeping your survival knowledge sharpened. I hope that you learned a lot and were entertained. God bless you.