As I stated in part 1, real world practice beats newly acquired knowledge every time. To be truly prepared for a survival situation, one needs to have practiced practical knowledge of the various skills that are required. In part 1, we covered setting up a test, various sources for power, and sanitation. Let’s move forward to one of the most critical resources we have– water.
Water, One of the Most Critical Needs
One of the most critical needs is going to be water. Are you storing water? Do you have enough? Use the grid down weekend to determine how much you will need for everyone over the course of a weekend. Then extrapolate that for how long you plan to stay in place, to determine how much your plan should require to be stored.
Filtration or Purification System and Spare Filters
Do you have plans for a replenishable water source? If you plan to use a local creek, stream, or even river, are you really prepared for a true extended grid down crisis when everybody dumps their wastes into the water, contaminating it for everyone downstream? Hopefully, you have some method of filtration or purification on hand. Have you put it to use yet? When your family’s water source is dependent upon your gravity feed filter system, finding it out it doesn’t go together properly or leaks is not ideal.
What about spare filters for when these get clogged? Most water filters are only good for a year after exposure to water, so getting a new set every year and running a few gallons of water through the old set is a good way to practice.
Do you plan to run a still? Put it together and produce the water needed during your grid down weekend practice.
Skills That Can Be Practiced On a Regular Basis
While a grid down practice weekend will provide some good lessons as well as hands-on practical skills for survival situations, some skills can be practiced on a regular basis. Do you plan to bug out by vehicle? Do you know basic maintenance on this vehicle? Can you change your own tire in the event of a flat? Now is the time to pick up these skills.
Find a local community class or clinic on auto maintenance, or take a class in vehicle maintenance at the Community College. Watch online videos on your particular vehicle, and then go out and change your own oil, rotate tires, and keep your vehicle in prime condition for the long haul to stay prepared to bug out. While you will likely not need to know how to change a head gasket, at least be able to check and keep full all the fluids under the hood.
Bicycle Maintenance and Repair
If you plan to pedal your way out on a bicycle, do you have spare tire tubes? Do you know how to replace said tire tube? If you do not have these skills for bicycle maintenance and repair, be prepared to finish the bug out on foot.
Communication skills can and should be built up before a crisis. Get an amateur radio license, and put together a base station now. Participate in field days, and take some time out to regularly communicate with others across the country or even better overseas. Verify your antenna setup and potential reach prior to a time when this knowledge will prove critical to calling in help or getting a read on the situation, once the commercial broadcast stations go dark.
Medical First Aid Training
There still remain two major areas of survival and preparedness that a simple camping trip or grid down weekend will hopefully not provide practice– medical and defense. Very few of us have friends good enough to go out and break a leg so we can practice splinting or jam a stick or rod into their chest for penetrating wound care experience. These skills will require formal training classes. Of all the skills required for survival, medical care is the most practical.
Throughout our lifetimes, we have seen far more cuts and auto accidents than hurricanes, mugger attacks, or nuclear apocalypses. A good starting point is a First Aid course. Obtain and maintain certification from an organization such as the Red Cross. They even have an online option, where after finishing the online portion at your own pace, you finish with an in-person hands-on session to ensure you have the practical skills.
Trauma Care Training
Going beyond basic first aid training can be accomplished with several Trauma Care courses offered by multiple national traveling organizations. Search for trauma care courses in your area, and attend. After these classes, you should practice regularly.
Buy a basic roll of gauze  and a pool noodle to practice packing wounds. Get a practice tourniquet  and extra pressure bandages . Then, put in time using them on yourself, others, and even the pool noodle. While you are at it, get an extra SAM splint , and play around regularly with splinting various limbs to simulate broken bones and stay ready for a crisis. If you want to get really serious about emergency care, take some EMT classes at the local community college or join a local CERT unit for training and practice in emergency procedures.
Self Defense, Martial Arts
Perhaps the most perishable skills are those required for self defense. You will need to regularly practice to maintain these skills. Join and attend classes at a local martial arts school. Physical activity is never a bad thing, and classes in martial arts can be a fun and productive way to obtain and maintain a level of fitness that will make survival much easier.
All the preparation in the world is wasted if you can’t make it up a flight of stairs or just the thought of lifting an axe overhead causes heart palpitations. A grid-down world is going to involve a lot of physical activity, just to survive. Being more coordinated and in tune with your body will help prevent injuries in a survival situation.
While these physical benefits alone are a good selling point for martial arts training in a survival situation, the skill developed for personal defense will be invaluable when the rule of law goes out the window and your loved one’s lives depend on you keeping the evil at heart from commandeering your supplies.
Even if one’s defensive preparedness plans call for the use of projectile weapons like firearms, crossbows , or bow and arrow , hand-to-hand skills will still be of great benefit during the draw-load-malfunction clearance period of a defensive action. Martial arts training will supplement the use of weapons and further train one to react in a crisis.
Firearms are not a magic tool that will scare away all threats to survival. They will require training and regular practice. Those that are allowed should regularly carry their firearms to maintain the ability to react to a crisis when required. To gain the knowledge and skills required to effectively and safely use a firearm, participate in various defensive courses. Gain basic knowledge from a local introductory or concealed carry course, and follow up with advanced defensive courses.
Several national training organizations offer classes for those who have never held a gun all the way up to advanced practitioners using airsoft or marking systems in safe force on force scenarios. Once you have the basic course work completed, practice regularly at a local range and even get involved in IDPA or IPSC competitions with a local club or range. When it comes to defensive firearms use, the more exposure and “stress inoculation” one can get the more likely they are to be successful during a critical incident.
Internet Information, Good and Bad
The Internet is full of very useful and good information on every aspect of survival and preparedness, but there is just as much bad information out there as well. The only way to separate the good from the bad is to put these skills into practice and see what really works for you and your situation. Keep learning new skills, try them out, and keep the skills you have tuned up by regular practice. Hit the dojo, go to the range, take the family camping, or even go all in and declare a grid down weekend to keep you and your family truly prepared.
Practice your survival skills in the best of times. Then, you will be ready for the worst of times.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part two of a two part entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest . The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator  from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses , excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper . These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees  in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product  from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses .
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4  Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit  from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of  Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack , a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners , donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections , a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances , and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord  (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail  us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.