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Are you just beginning to want to learn more about Survival and Prepping?
Excellent, you’re in exactly the right place.
The very first thing you need to think about when trying to plan for the safety and security of yourself and your family is this:
What am I trying to survive?
Do you want to prepare for relatively predictable and frequent events like hurricanes and floods? Or do you want to know to be ready for world-ending catastrophes like nuclear war or global famine. On the other hand, you might simply want to know what to do if you’re stranded in the wilderness with no idea where you are. What situations you want to survive will determine how you prepare.
Another key thing to understand as a beginner is that there are things that will kill you faster and things that will kill you slower. You need to prioritize what your body needs in order to make the best decisions, and the way to do this is to understand what we call the Survival Rule of Threes. Read the article below to learn about this essential survival rule.
Survivalism vs Prepping
Put simply, Survivalism is the set of skills and knowledge that you use to be able to survive in the wilderness. Think Bear Grylls – being able to live through being stranded in the middle of nowhere with limited equipment and supplies. That’s what survivalism is all about.
Prepping is the preparation you do (and the knowledge you build up) in order to be able to survive things like natural or man made disasters like earthquake or nuclear attacks. Think stockpiling food and water for a storm as a basic type of prepping. On the other end of the spectrum, building a nuclear shelter in your home and having multiple years of supplies would count as a very advanced form of prepping. Read the article below to learn the basics behind prepping:
While the two topics are linked, and while many survival experts are well versed in both, survivalism and prepping are distinct topics. Here on Secrets of Survival, we have articles and guides in both categories, but if you’re new to survival thinking, consider which interest you more.
Some kinds of disaster situations call for evacuation. Others will call for staying put in your house and hunkering down. Just take hurricanes for example – with more minor hurricanes, people are often told to stay in their homes to remain safe. With more major hurricanes, where walls and roofs could be torn off or flooding could occur, staying at home could be a death sentence and an evacuation order might be issued. That means in order to be well prepared for a wide range of scenarios, you’ll want to be prepared for both situations where you “bug-in” and “bug-out”.
Bugging in refers to situations where you hunker down and stay in one place. Essentially, the most important part of have a plan to bug-in is having enough of the right supplies to last your through the duration of whatever disaster is occurring. At a basic level, that means covering your standard survival needs – shelter/warmth, water, food, and medicine (when needed).
While food should not be your first priority in a survival situation, in the most common disaster scenarios (e.g hurricanes), your taps will still run and the power will still (more or less) work – so you’ll have shelter and water. That means the main supply you need is food.
Read the article below to help you wrap your head around the basics of stockpiling survival food.
Another thing to think about is HOW you get home from wherever you are. Hurricanes offer plenty of warning, but plenty of other types of disasters happen out of the blue (e.g earthquakes). Even if the best course of action is to hunker down and bug-in at home, you might not BE at home when catastrophe strikes. Think about how much time per day you spend away from home. You might have prepped a lifetime’s worth of supplies at home, but they’ll be useless to you and your family unless you manage to get back home.
That’s why you need a Get Home Bag.
A get home bag is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a bag packed with enough supplies to get you home safely. In a disaster scenario, your might not have access to a car, or roads might be damaged. You might need to avoid population centers because chaos has erupted. A proper get home bag will have enough supplies and gear to allow you to make it 72 hours through a disaster. Imagine you’re at work, disaster strikes, and you need to find your family and then trek your way back home on foot – that’s the situation that a GHB prepares you for. Read the article below if you want to know how to put together a 72 hour get home bag.
Another scenario that you need to be prepared for is if you want to Bug Out. Bugging out in the opposite of bugging-in – it’s what you do if chaos erupts in your town or city and you want to get out of dodge – whether that means getting yourself to a remote cabin, RV, or just getting yourself out of the danger zone. Bugging out is the most appropriate for situations where the danger is coming from other people. Mob mentality is extremely dangerous. Just think about the riots that happen after cities win sports championships, and imagine how much worse they could get in a genuine disaster/crisis. Imagine the looting that happens in an extended blackout, and what would happen if there was a blackout that lasted weeks rather than hours. The danger that masses of people present in disaster situations is why you want to be prepared to bug out when the time is right.
In order to bug out, ideally you have a destination in mind – an RV or cabin or something deep in the countryside that you can go to to ride out the storm – but at a very basic level, to bug out, all you need is enough supplies to remove yourself from the area of danger. That means having a bug out bag packed and ready to go. A bug out bag is the opposite from a get home bag – a get home bag is meant to get you home, a bug out bag is designed to get you away. Practically speaking, they have a good amount of crossover. The key differences are that a bug out bag should be stored at home, and typically a bug out bag will be larger, have more stuff in it, and isn’t necessarily designed to be carried over very long distances. The assumption is that if you’re storing your bug out bag at home, that you have a vehicle to travel with when disaster strikes. Learn how to pack a bug out bag by reading the article below.
There are some important things that you need to take into account as a beginner prepper. Once you have a basic food stockpile, you want to start to guarantee that you also have your other bases covered – while it’s less likely that you’ll run out of water or that your shelter will be compromised, it’s not impossible which means you need:
- A plan to deal with water not being available. That might mean having a stockpile of water along with your stockpile of food. It might mean having survival water filters stored at home, and also knowledge of how to access water nearby, whether that means knowing how to get clean drinking water after an urban disaster or how to find water in the wilderness.
- A plan to deal with compromised shelter. While shelter is less of a priority for preppers than for wild survivalists (because in many cases you’ll be at home or have access to other kinds of buildings/RVs/cars for shelter), if your roof gets damaged or your electricity dies in the middle of a winter storm, you want to be prepped to handle that. At a basic level, we recommend that you have enough emergency survival blankets for your family, and if you can put more resources into the safety planning for your family, we’d recommend one of these portable solar generators – a backup power source is never a bad idea if you have the resources.
That covers the bare basics of prepping. We have an entire section about prepping on the site for you to explore, so once your done with all the basics, we definitely recommend you keep coming back to learn more.
While prepping is all about gathering resources and making plans so that you can ride out a disaster, survivalism is mostly about picking up skills and knowledge so you survive even without supplies or equipment – with a particular focus on being able to survive in the outdoors. Below is a starter article on surviving in the wilderness that goes over the very bare basics of what you should know about survivalism.
Before we dive into some of the key survivalist skills, we want to make this point very clear:
Your survival skills should never replace good prepping and planning. In a true survival situation, you want as much survival gear and supplies as possible. Your skills are the backup to your preparation, not a substitute for it.
If the lives of you and your family are really on the line, you want life to be as easy as possible. That means being properly prepared with the appropriate survival tools and supplies.
Many beginners make the mistake of thinking that because they’ve picked up a few survival skills, that planning and preparing is unnecessary. That’s a sure-fire way to put you and your family’s lives in danger when you actually come up against a genuine disaster. Your survival skills will come into play when you’re caught unawares of off guard and need to improvise solutions – but improvisation should never be your first choice.
Now that we’ve made that clear, let’s go over some basic survival skills.
The very first thing we’ll say about survivalism is that there is at least one piece of gear that you should have with you at all times in the wilderness – if you’re caught without one of these, then you’re no kind of survivalist. The item we’re referring to is of course the good old knife. Knives are small enough that there is literally no excuse for you to be caught without one anytime you’re in the wilderness or backcountry. If you don’t have a decent knife, go get one. Every survivalist worth their salt prizes the knife as the most important survival tool, and the one thing that they can’t live without.
The same survival priorities apply when it comes to survivalism and prepping – we should approach any situation with the survival rule of threes in mind. That means we prioritize shelter, then water, then fire. With prepping, if you’re hunkering down at home, then your house is your shelter. You’ll also undoubtedly have some kind of shelter option in your get home bag or bug out bag (e.g a tent or a emergency blanket). So shelter is relatively easy to prepare for.
When it comes to survivalism, if you want to be able to survive in the wilderness with minimal gear or equipment, then your first priority will be shelter and warmth. Cold is the number one killer in the wild, and it doesn’t take particularly cold temperatures for hypothermia to set in (particularly if it is wet) if you don’t have access to a source of heat or shelter.
Once you’ve got shelter figured out, the next priority is water. Obviously in an ideal world you have a survival water filter with you. But if you don’t, it’s a good idea to have a general idea of what you can do to both 1. locate water and 2. make sure it’s safe to drink. The article below covers both topics in detail.
Next up is food – when you think about finding food in the wild, the first thing that comes to mind is probably something like hunting deer or elk. The truth is, your instincts are wrong. Hunting large game is a great recreational activity, but in a true survival situation, your primary focus should be on smaller targets. Hunting larger animals is high risk, high reward – but it requires a large amount of active time and energy spent on food acquisition.
Smaller targets are far more plentiful, and many can be caught in traps and baited – which means you don’t need to actively spend time on the task. In a situation where your life is on the line, you never want to expend energy unnecessarily, so trapping and baiting is far preferable to active hunting.
Another option you have for finding food in the wilderness that is also low risk is foraging. Simply by learning what a few common edible plants look like, you’ll be able to find a decent amount of food that can sustain you even when you’re not getting your hands on any kind of meat.
Another relatively straightforward way to get your hands on food in the wild is fishing. Even if you don’t have fishing gear with you, in a true survival situation, there are no restrictions on what size or species of fish you’re allowed to eat. That means that you have the opportunity to improvise fishing equipment that can yield you a good amount of fish for sustenance. Keep in mind that most fishing regulations exist because fish are too easy to catch – using fishing nets for example, is often forbidden because its too effective, which can easily lead to overfishing. In a life or death situation, you probably don’t care bout overfishing, which means that there are a number of fishing methods available to you that wouldn’t be legal normally.
That pretty much covers all the basic skills to get you started with survivalism – we’ve linked to resources on improvising shelter, finding water, and finding food. While there’s a certainly a lot more to learn, we’ve discussed many of the core skills that will help you live through being stranded or lost in the wilderness with little in the way of gear or equipment.
The articles we’ve linked to here covers the basics of both prepping and survivalism. Regardless of which interests you (or perhaps you want to learn more about both) – the same core ideas drive both. Figure out what human beings need most to live, then treat those things as your priorities, and then move down the list. Once you’ve read all the resources that we’ve linked to on this page, we urge you to continue learning more about survival by exploring more of our site.
On top of our sections about prepping and wilderness survival, we have entire sections dedicated to survival gear, survival skills, and meeting your basic survival needs (food, water, shelter, and health). We also have sections dedicated to the different kind of survival situations you might face – natural disasters, man made disasters, as well as self defense and SHTF (Shit Hits the Fan) scenarios.
We also highly recommend you sign up for the Crisis Newsletter – our survival newsletter that gives you access to many more survival secrets that you might not find on the site.