Submissions     Contact     Advertise     Donate     BlogRoll     Subscribe                         

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

7 Prepper Skills you need to develop now

When I first began prepping, I only focused on certain areas . I was already quite proficient skill wise with firearms, as they are apart of my career path. I also have a lot of experience at things like fire building. This was acquired from my years in Boy Scouts and also during my time as an outdoor survival instructor.

Over the years, I began to study water collection, and different methods for water purification. I decided to go deeper into water collection/purification. I knew that if we ever hit a massive SHTF scenario, my prepper group would be depending upon me for clean drinking water.

Those were the skills that I focused on. And the prepping articles I have written over the past several years reflect that. Because there were others in my prep group who knew about things like gardening, canning, etc I did not worry about learning those skills. I figured we would each focus on the areas of our expertise.

Unfortunately, in true 2020 fashion, things radically changed with my preps and my group. My prep group changed in ways I never anticipated or would have expected. In the course of a year, some of the people in our group with the skills in things like gardening, canning, food storage, etc. were no longer there. Now suddenly there were holes in my prepping plans.

I realized my shortcomings, and I decided to learn from my mistake. Instead of concentrating on the skills I already knew, I began to look at the prepping skills I need to develop. I sat down and looked at which skills that I would need as a prepper and that I could learn in the next few months. Then I came up with my top seven skills that all preppers should know. I have included some references for each skill to help you get started.

First Aid/Trauma

I listed this skill first, as in my opinion this could be one of the most valuable skills you can learn. Possessing this skill can save your life, or someone else’s life be it in a grid down scenario or just in every day life.

I have mentioned in other articles about getting physical, classroom training for first aid. This is something I feel strongly about, as I believe that a “hands on approach” will be so much more valuable than watching a video or reading a book. That’s not to say that you should not do that as well. But I feel that you can only go so far online or with just a book. I recommend finding a first aid class with a group like the Red Cross. I’d spend a little money to enroll. To help find first aid classes near you, please click this link.

Don’t make the mistake of buying a $25 first aid kit at Wal-Mart and thinking you are all set. Those are great for “boo-boos”. But for serious injuries, they won’t cut it. In addition to purchasing a first-aid kit, I would also grab a trauma kit. The one linked here is a great start for more serious injuries.

Another book I own is the Survival Medicine Handbook. Written by a doctor and his wife who is a nurse (and well known preppers themselves) this is another great resource when it comes to medical preparedness. (See pic on left)I would also download the PDF (for free) and print off the book “Where There is no Doctor“. This is an amazing resource for long term medical care when you, as the title says, have no doctor. I keep this book, along with all of my medical preps in a wheeled bag. Because there is a lot of gear and supplies in this bag, the wheels make it easier to transport quickly.

For more on other medical books you should consider, please check out Medical Books you Should Own and Read.


Trash goes in the trash can, which goes to the curb on trash day. Easy enough right? Well what happens if the grid goes down, and now you have trash building up? What if the sewer system goes down and the toilets don’t work? It’s not something that most people think about. But it is something that could cause massive problems in a grid down scenario.

I break sanitation down into 3 categories:

  • Personal Hygiene
  • Getting rid of human waste
  • Getting rid of trash and garbage

I’d like to think that due to Covid, everyone now has a passing knowledge of things like washing hands after using the restroom, washing hands before you eat, not coughing or sneezing into your hands, etc. If the grid goes down, you will have more than enough to worry about. Having good personal sanitation habits now is one less thing you will need to think about when it all goes to hell.

Getting rid of human waste, if you are on a septic system, won’t be a problem as long as you have water available to flush. But if you are on a city sewer system, then once the sewer system goes down, you will have to have other means to get rid of human excrement. Here is a great video to help you along. (Not me in the video.)

Cat hole

Getting rid of trash in a long-term SHTF will take a little work and effort. First, you are now going to have to start sorting your garbage into 4 categories.

  • plant & animal matter/biodegradable. This can and should be composted
  • paper products
  • plastics and metals (these will need to flattened or crushed to reduce bulk)
  • sanitary items (diapers, feminine hygiene products etc.)

Start by draining any liquids from your trash into a cat hole. (See pic on right.) Do NOT pour the liquids into the compost, as this could hurt the composting process. The trash that you can burn, i.e. the paper, etc you should do so. I would recommend against burning these in your fireplace, as some of this trash could contain chemicals that could be harmful to you in released in the air in a confined space.

For the remaining garbage like metal and plastic products and sanitary items, you’ll want to store these for as long as you can in doubled-up trash bags that are in a covered (preferably air-tight) container. If the grid is going to be down for a long time, you will need to bury these. And that is assuming that these items cannot be recycled or used for other projects. For example, plastic jugs could be used for planting crops, herbs, and medicinal plants, or for toting things. The more items you can recycle, the less you have to bury!

When you go to bury your trash, you’ll want to dig a trench or hole that is deep enough so that at least 1.5 feet (1/2 m) of compacted dirt will cover the trash (to prevent insects from breeding or animals digging it up). Also, be sure to keep this pit at least 100 feet from a water source (especially in the case of the sanitary products).

Keep in mind that if you are in a city or suburban setting, burning and burying trash could alert others that you might have items that they need for their survival. So if you can safely do this away from your area, you might want to set up plans to do so. For more on OpSec, please click the link.


Anyone can pop something into a microwave. Most of us can follow a recipe. It isn’t hard to preheat the oven to 450′, mix your ingredients, and put it in the oven. And I am fairly handy around a grill, be it charcoal or propane. But what happens if suddenly you have to cook over an open flame? Or use a solar oven? If fuel sources are low, are you familiar with a thermal oven? The cooking skills required for cooking “off-grid” are different than cooking in a controlled environment on a stove top in your kitchen.

Years ago, I did a review on a Go Sun solar oven. (Click the link to read it.) While the solar oven performed wonderfully, on two different occasions I under estimated the time needed to cook, and had to rely on a conventional oven to finish. In a grid down scenario, this probably won’t be an option. My inexperience with solar ovens could have been a problem in a bad situation.

As I said, cooking with open flames, or using hot coals to cook something is not the same as cooking with a conventional oven or stove top. Add in the possibility that you may be preparing foods you are not familiar cooking, and a lack of cooking skills could become a huge issue. So I would start practicing now. I’d also have some campfire recipes ready to go. I have a Solar Cooking cookbook and recommend getting one. The one I linked to not only has great recipes, but also instructions for making your own solar oven.

If you have a limited supply of fuel sources, you might want to invest in a rocket stove. These are great for cooking while using very little fuel and producing no smoke. I own this one, and have written a bit about off-grid cooking. You can read more about it by clicking here.

Firearms Training

Standing 5 yards away, shooting at a paper target is great for a beginner. But I promise you from experience, it is not the same as a real life or death situation. How well can you shoot on the move? How well can you draw and shoot from a seated position? (Such as your car?) Do you practice drawing when your pistol is concealed? Do you practice target acquisition and sight alignment? What about trigger control? Have you run malfunction drills? What about this with your rifle or shotgun?

This is a skill that takes time to master, and go can rusty over time if you do not practice. As of the time of this article being written, we are experiencing a severe ammo shortage. Even if you can find ammo, it is currently so expensive as to be out of a lot of folks’ price range. But that does not mean you cannot practice. I have mentioned the Laser Light Training Cartridge. It now has an app you can use on your phone to see where your hits are landing. This is a great device to help you develop your sight alignment, trigger control, etc. They come in all the standard caliber sizes.

I have written extensively about firearms training throughout this site. So I do not want to do a complete rehash. I have many links listed below to help you along. Be sure to check them out.

8 things to look for when buying a firearm

7 rules for carrying a firearm for EDC

9 training tips for firearms to survive a deadly encounter

What you need to know about firearm accessories

5 Gun myths dispelled

As always, I recommend going to firearms training courses. These can be pricey, and you typically have to provide your own ammo. But if you have the means and ability to go this route, I highly recommend it. A budget rifle or pistol with solid training will be so much more effective than a high end firearm with no training.

Water Collection/Purification

Should the grid go down and the water to your faucets stop flowing, do you know where to locate water in a big city? In a suburb? Do you know how to set up a rain catchment system? (Here is a very intricate one I’d love to have.) And if you can procure water, do you know several different methods to ensure that the water is safe to drink? For more on water purification methods, please click here.

Being able to collect and purify water is not overly hard. But it does take a little prior planning and forethought. Two days into SHTF is not the time to figure out how to make it work. This is something you should have plans for right now.

Just because you can safely ingest small amounts doesn’t mean it is healthy in larger quantities! Nothing short of distilling that water will remove those chemicals. (No, boiling won’t work.)And for those of you who say “I’m good, I have a swimming pool”, well, I would recommend NOT using pool water for long term drinking purposes. Many of the chemicals such as algaecides that are used to keep the water clear are not safe for general human consumption.

In addition, sunlight denatures the chlorine. Even covered with a tarp or pool cover, within a week or two your pool’s chlorine levels will be at or close to 0 ppm. And while you might have spare chlorine on hand to continue to mix, if you have no electric power to run the pumps, filtration, and agitation, then its effectiveness will be diminished because it is not dispersed adequately throughout the pool.

And finally, what is your water plan if you are forced to leave your residence and thereby leave your pool? In essence, within just a short time, water within pools could and should be considered questionable. The risks skyrocket if it is not a pool that you personally treated. How much time/effort did your neighbor or the guy down the street put into keeping his pool up? Which chemicals did they use?

If in your search for water in a city, I’m not saying to completely skip a swimming pool. But you have to be aware of the potential hazards with swimming pools. And I’d definitely have multiple ways to purifying any water you take from it.

What happens if you have to bug out? Obviously your pool isn’t going with you. So if your pool is your long term water solution, think again. Or at least have backup water plans as well. For more on long-term water plans, please click this link.

If you’d like to know more about drilling a water well in your backyard, here is a great place to start. And if you plan to collect rainwater, this handy little calculator can tell you how much you will need to collect.

Gardening/Small Animal Husbandry

I will admit, gardening is a skill I do not have much knowledge on. However, my family raised rabbits and chickens when I was a kid. So I do have some knowledge about animal husbandry. Unfortunately, I’m a bit rusty there. But at least I know the basics. I just need a refresher.

Being able to grow your own food, whether to become completely self-sufficient, or to supplement your food storage, is a skill that will be invaluable should you find yourself in a long-term SHTF situation. Even now when things are good, being able to supplement your store bought food with home grown produce will save you money, and will help you learn and expand this skill now while things are calm.

I promise you, there is more to gardening than just putting seeds in the ground. Horticulture is a skill that takes time, patience, and practice to learn and hone. If you can, start now.

Even if you live in an apartment, you can still grow crops on your balcony, windows etc. So there is no excuse for not starting now. Here is a book (pictured on the left) I recommend if you are new to this. The Backyard Homestead is a great guide to grow and preserve a sustainable garden; raise animals for meat, eggs, and dairy; and beekeeping for beginners. And it shows you how to do all of this on 1/4 acre.

I recently purchased the book, The Backyard Homestead, and have been reading it. I highly recommend it.

Fire Building

There is a lot more to fire building than just striking a match. And even if you get the fire started, you need to keep it going. For long-term situations, keeping a fire going while conserving your fuel source is extremely important. This skill is not terribly hard to learn. But I would recommend getting some practice in now.

Hopefully, you have multiple ways of starting a fire. And you should have a decent supply of wood/fuel source for your fire. As I mentioned before, I personally recommend a rocket stove. You can make your own rocket stove if you prefer to go that route.

Learning how to make a fire in various weather conditions is not terribly hard. But it is certainly something you should be familiar with BEFORE all hell breaks loose. So start learning (and practicing) now. Below is a great video on building different types of camp fires. (Not me in the video.)


I thought long and hard about including physical fitness as a skill. In some ways, I think learning how to get yourself into shape and staying in shape does require knowledge and know how. I would encourage you to start getting into shape if you are not already doing so. Surviving in a grid-down situation is a lot more physically and mentally challenging than most folks realize. For more on prepper physical fitness, please click this link.

By developing your survival skills now, you will help instill the right mindset to be mentally prepared for disaster. By getting yourself into good physical shape, (or at least improve yourself physically from where you are now), you will help yourself to be physically ready for whatever life might throw at you.

Are there other prepper skills that we might have overlooked or not listed here? Let us know in the comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment