A growing selection of people all over the world are experiencing major changes for the worse in many facets of daily life. Future uncertainties have created an extraordinary movement towards survival and preparedness due to massive and continued foreclosures, layoffs and the ever increasing prices of basic commodities. Most experts in preparedness, survival and TEOTWAWKI agree that there is need of practical skills for life after civilization. These experts also agree that “The end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI)” refers to circumstances that can forever alter society and threaten the survival of human beings. Some of these situations include nuclear war, mega volcano eruptions, worldwide pandemics and asteroid impacts, among others. The average person may think these events seem absurd, but they’re among many deadly and devastating disasters that can alter society and our planet well into the future.
You can stock vital tools, equipment and food supplies in the basement before a disaster strikes. However, these are finite resources which will ultimately be depleted or destroyed by the disaster. To do well and survive in such scenarios, a competent individual needs skills, knowledge, experience and a little bit of luck. Some of the more important and practical TEOTWAWKI skills I would recommend focusing on include:
Water Collection and Storage
Having a clean and drinkable supply of water will be your number one concern. Shelter and food are of course vital, but every person in your group will need to consume a minimum of 1-2 liters of water on a daily basis. With no substantial water supply you’ll be lucky to survive more than a week. There are many ways to collect fresh water. Some of the more effective methods include solar stills, rainwater harvesting (which is idiotically illegal in some states, not that anyone would care when the world’s infrastructure falls apart), beach wells and dew traps. If you’re lucky enough to have a river or stream nearby take advantage. Devices like the LifeStraw can be used to drink from any fresh water source and it will remove most harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites commonly found in stagnant water sources.
Snow and ice should never be consumed while frozen. That will quickly lower your core body temperature which in turn can actually lead to dehydration because your body must raise it’s metabolic rate to compensate. You will actually lose more water than you gain by eating snow. It should first be melted and then filtered/boiled/purified before drinking, unless it’s an absolutely critical situation and you have no means of purification.
Hunting, Tracking and Skinning Game
When food supplies are reduced and gardens fall short, us humans will have to become hunters again. Hunting and trapping are superb ways to provide food for the family. If you’re able to provide food for your family and friends it will be easier for them to fulfill their duties without worrying when their next meal will come. Depopulation of small and large game will not occur immediately. You will need to have skills to know the paths animals travel and how to hunt or trap them. It will be vital to obtain game meat to supplement your sources from livestock.
Hunting and trapping will also be a means of protecting your garden and livestock. If raccoons raid your chicken coop or a rabbit eats your plants, then you will have to trap them to reduce crop destruction as well as supplement your proteins. The ability to track and hunt wild game provides many other resources besides meat. If you’re efficient, practically every part of an animal can be used as survival materials. Animal hides can be used for clothing, belts, shoes and other leather based goods. Bones can be used as tools, weapons or ground into bone meal for an excellent fertilizer. Feathers are great for bedding, insulation and making arrows. Sinew can be used for cordage, thread and bowstrings.
Shelter Construction: Emergency and Permanent Structures
It will be vital that you or someone else in your group have basic shelter construction, woodworking and carpentry skills. This will not only allow you to construct emergency and permanent structures, but also fix roofs, build storage, erect fences and maintain the integrity of a building’s structural components. Construction experience will also provide you with a valuable barter service or income (assuming there is even some sort of makeshift economy in place). Advanced construction skills can be more helpful, especially if you will be able to harvest wood from trees and use it to make usable boards and planks. It would be best to assume you will have very few opportunities to use power tools, so stock up on basic hand tools that require no electricity for operation.
Nourishment: Gardening and Foraging for Wild Edibles
The world’s population is rapidly increasing and the demand for food will never cease. In fact, hunger is frequently making headlines in global news. The era of cheap, abundant and affordable food will soon come to an end. When the worst happens food prices always skyrocket and availability falls of the cliff, so you must have the capacity to grow substantial food yields in your garden. You should learn advanced gardening skills and techniques such as hydroponics, a method that allows you to grow larger amounts with less space. You’ll need to know the type of nutrients in each plant as well as the water, sunlight and fertilizer requirements. Learn to grow fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs.
Gathering and foraging for wild edibles is also an important survival skill for TEOTWAWKI. A survivalist should know which naturally-occurring plants are nutritional and have medicinal value. You should also be able to distinguish the edible plants and berries from those that are poisonous.
Basic First Aid and Medical Care
Most people take medical practitioners for granted. For people interested in survival and preparedness, they should already know or learn the TEOTWAWKI skill of basic first aid and medical care. This skill will enable you to suture wounds, perform basic first aid and CPR, set bones and choose medications and herbs to treat certain ailments. Those who neglect natural medicines may experience challenges since pharmacies and drugs may not be available when you need them or they will be prohibitively expensive. Any prescription drugs you may require will have to be stocked up as best you can. This will be a huge challenge, but there are ways. Long-term will be much more of a problem. Months down the road your supply will run out and all other sources will be picked clean. Hopefully you can obtain or create some form of natural alternative.
You should take first responder classes to learn critical skills that are needed to stabilize a sick person when hospitals are inaccessible. Although hands-on training is the best for a TEOTWAWKI scenario, learning advanced skills in combat first aid is also important. You will most certainly find yourself having to deal with severe wounds that would normally require attention from a medical professional. Doctors will be in very high demand so if you have any friends or relatives in the medical field they would be a great addition to your group.
Sewing and Mending Clothing
Using a thread and needle to mend or sew your own clothing is a very old skill that has become extremely rare in the modern world. Not long after a planet altering disaster strikes it will be very difficult for people to simply go out and obtain new shoes or clothing. It will also be difficult to get sewing and mending services any time you rip a pair of jeans. Clothes will have to last much longer than many are accustom to and that is the duty of a simple needle and thread.
Clothing will no longer be fashionable or trendy. It will have to be durable, warm, camouflaging (standing out is the last thing you want) and 100% practical. Not only that, but children will quickly outgrow their clothes and you will need someone capable of sewing and putting together complete sets of outfits. Hand me downs will be more important than ever before. This also overlaps into emergency medical care should you ever have to quickly stitch up a wound on your own.
Security and Self-Defense
Law enforcement is usually just minutes away in our current world. However, in a “TEOTWAWKI” scenario, response from local authorities and emergency responders will most likely be nonexistent. Security and self-defense skills will prove to be life saving since you will need to keep guard when your family is sleeping or stay busy to secure them against looters, criminals and other unsavory characters who wouldn’t be hesitant to harm others with no one to stand in their way. Everyone physically capable needs to learn a few self-defense skills along with the efficient use of shotguns, pistols, rifles and melee weapons.
In a long-term disaster you’ll not only need a firearm, but also the knowledge and ingenuity to repair it. There’s a possibility repair parts will not be readily available and competent gunsmiths a no show. This means you’ll need the TEOTWAWKI skill of servicing and repairing your own firearms. Guerrilla Gunsmithing is a good read on this subject.
Modern Society is Vulnerable
The preceding are what I consider the most basic and necessary skills required to survive in a world completely off the grid without easy access to the tools, information, food, water and facilities that society in general takes for granted without ever giving a second thought.
What would you do if one morning all the modern conveniences in your life just disappeared? Proper planning and preparedness will tilt the odds in your favor after any type of disaster, be it nuclear war, worldwide pandemic, asteroid impact, mega volcano eruption, martial law, economic collapse or widespread famine, among many others. Yes, some of those events may seem extremely unlikely, but world altering disasters have happened before and they will happen again. Possibly in your lifetime.
This list of TEOTWAWKI skills is not exhaustive by any means. There’s countless abilities to consider and no one person can possibly be a expert in them all. I can’t think of many more frightening situations than being completely alone when the SHTF. That’s why your family, friends, people you trust and your local community will be the most important resource of all.