Saturday, January 2, 2016

Disaster Preparedness Part Three: Survival Skills

In the first part of this series, I explored the possible disasters we face here in San Diego. In the second installment, I discussed water, food, and gear. In this post, I'll talk about the skills we need to develop and maintain in order to survive the various disasters we may face. Like I did with developing the supply of water, food, and gear, we'll start with the simple skills and progress to the more complex.

The goal of the list to to create a curriculum of sorts. Given that I grew up in BFE and my dad was an experienced outdoorsman, I'm minimally proficient in almost every skill listed below, and very proficient in about half. The goal, then, is to learn what I do not know, hone the skills that are rusty, and teach the skills to my wife and kids. And it provides lots of family bonding time.

Here's the list!

The Really Simple Shit

  • Escape a house fire
  • Stop, drop, and roll - In the event you set yourself ablaze.
  • Build a fire with a lighter or matches
  • Swim
  • Know how to dress for various activities in various climates
  • Negotiate - Both negotiating prices and bartering.
  • Hide - This includes assessing whether or not to fight, run, or hide based on the situation.
  • Traverse terrain based on conditions - Specific to our geography, this includes urban areas, mountains, and desert.
  • Getting to predetermined meeting places - This is handy given we set up three meeting places depending on where we're located.
  • Situational awareness - Constantly observe the world around you; notice anomalies.
  • Understand basic hydration and nutrition needs - What does our bodies need to stay alive?
  • Drive a car
  • Rough knowledge of our geographic area


  • Assess situations, develop and execute plan of action - This is a step beyond simple situational awareness.
  • Prepare all the food in our stockpile
  • Basic first aid, CPR -This includes assessing injuries and conditions, such as dehydration, shock, hypothermia, poisoning, and heat stroke.
  • Read a road map
  • Foraging for food - This includes both urban environments and in the wilderness.
  • Find water
  • Purify water
  • Use a sling shot
  • Build a fire with a magnifying glass and a 9-volt battery and steel wool
  • Build a smoke signal
  • Use a signalling mirror
  • Setting up a safe campsite, including location
  • Build a simple survival shelter
  • Identify local edible and poisonous plants - Including my favorite for berries: "White and yellow, kill a fellow. Purple and blue, good for you. Red… could be good, could be dead." Also, know the universal edibility test.
  • Grow plants from seeds
  • Change a tire
  • Basic fighting - Enough to fight off an attacker in order to escape.
  • Make money without a job
  • Know Morse code
  • Mending clothing
  • Drive a manual transmission
  • Do basic automobile maintenance
  • Shit and wipe cleanly - For this, of course, I recommend Never Wipe Your Ass With a Squirrel. :-)
  • Fishing, including spearing
  • Basics of reading body language
  • Open cans without a can opener
  • Sharpen a knife
  • Climb a tree
  • Siphoning liquids


    • Use a compass, map, and topographical map to navigate on foot
    • Basic gun safety, shooting
    • Build a solar still
    • Collect water from dew and plants (using a sponge or a transpiration setup)
    • Build a fire with at least two primitive methods
    • Basic car diagnosis and repair
    • Jump start a car
    • Advanced fighting
    • Build and use a solar oven
    • Make a split-tip spear from a branch
    • Trap fish and game
    • Read and predict weather
    • Preserve food via canning drying


    • Gun cleaning and maintenance
    • Cleaning and butchering game
    • Making clothing
    • Track animals
    • Making primitive tools and weapons
    • Fermenting alcohol
    • Pick a lock
    • Re-establish society


    This list is a work in progress. Once we start testing our plans, we may identify weaknesses or other problems that require new skills. If all five members of my family become proficient in all these skills, we'll be an in excellent position to survive and thrive in any disaster situation.

    In the next post, I'll discuss security and the contentious gun issue.


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