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So, for the first time in a lifetime, a majority of people all around the world are spending a LOT of time at home. For most of us, the general anxiety and uncertainty about the future combined with isolation are generating a lot of stress.
If you’re feeling the strain (and even if you’re not), this is a perfect opportunity to learn and master some survival skills. Most of us have a list of skills we’ve never had the time to work on, so here’s your chance.
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Below are nine survival skills you can learn at home or in your backyard.
1. Knot Tying
Rookie survivalists tend to take knots for granted — big mistake. Knowing the right knot for the right situation can be a literal lifesaver.
There are knots for tying flat straps together, joining two ropes of different widths, securing buckets or barrels, shortening a rope without cutting it, and so much more.
Most people learn best by watching and doing, so check out this excellent site dedicated to knot know-how, and get knot-savvy.
2. Slingshot Making and Mastering
The slingshot is a highly underrated tool. While you can buy a ready-made one, you can also make your own, assuming you have access to rubber tubing.
Medical rubber tubing is perfect, but you can also use heavy gauge rubber bands, exercise bands, or even bicycle innertubes, cut to size.
Once you’ve made your weapon, set up a target in the yard and practice, practice, practice. Don’t forget to wear eye protection.
3. Flint Knapping
If you’ve ever imagined being lost in the wilderness without a cutting tool, you’ve probably thought about how you might fashion a tool out of stone — just like our ancestors once did. It takes a good bit of practice, but if you’ve got some native stone and a little time on your hand, it’s definitely worth a try.
There are excellent instructions online, starting with this page. However, make sure you wear eye protection and gloves while you experiment with flint knapping.
It is very easy to cut yourself severely on a fresh flake of stone, so don’t underestimate your stone-age cutting surfaces.
4. Drawing Drinking Water
No matter what your backyard looks like, you can use it as a staging ground for creating potable water from thin air. The classic water drawing method is the “solar still,” which requires a 6’ by 6’ sheet of plastic, a cup, and a hole in the earth.
Experimenting with this technique will help you understand just how much water you can create in a day. However, if you have plenty of water that just needs to be purified, you can also experiment with a different sort of solar still.
This DIY system will allow you to convert any water into clean, pure drinking water.
5. Making a Fire Anywhere
Being able to make a fire in any circumstances, wet or dry, is a vital survival skill. Striking flint with steel is a classic method that unsurprisingly takes a lot of practice to get right.
The same goes for starting a fire with friction, which is a lot of work and not guaranteed if you don’t have dry kindling. If you have sunshine and a magnifying glass or another such lens, you can make a fire by light of day, but this won’t help you at night or on an overcast afternoon.
This article is a great starting point for how to start a fire rain or shine. Another prime firemaking skill is knowing how to create a featherstick. As with any other survival skill, practice makes perfect – and who doesn’t love starting fires in the backyard?
6. Foraging for Food
Knowing and finding wild food sources is an essential survival skill. There are a lot of weeds and common plants that are edible, such as nettles and dandelion greens.
Additionally, there is a wide range of forageable foods probably right inside your neighborhood. This simple online guide to seasonal foraging is an easy place to start, but there are many books out there that can help you find your way into the wonderful world of foraging.
Many insects are edible as well, and it’s worth knowing how to identify and prepare them, just in case.
7. Building an Outdoor Shelter
Remember building leaf forts as a kid? This is like the grownup version of that, only with the understanding that if you were lost in the wilderness, a shelter is often the only thing standing between you and hypothermia, which can be deadly.
Of course, building an appropriate shelter is not only fun, it’s fairly easy, too. The most straightforward online guide is designed for a group known for their preparedness: the boy scouts.
8. Basic Emergency First Aid
No set of survival skills is complete without a basic grasp of emergency first aid. If you don’t know how to perform CPR, you can easily learn online, and then practice it until you know the steps by heart.
This page has some great tips on how to set a broken bone, treat a blister, and more. Of course, you should also know how to use plants and objects in a natural environment to treat injuries, bites, and skin irritation.
9. Trapping and Fishing
In a survival scenario, food is one of your top priorities. Learning how to set a snare can provide you with small game for relatively little expended effort. If you happen to live close to a creek, pond, or lake, you can explore some survival fishing techniques as well.
Obviously, catching fish or small game is a huge part of survival in the wild. However, if you choose to practice any of these methods in your yard, don’t leave them set if you have neighbors with cats or dogs that roam onto your property.
Being stuck at home is no reason to stop expanding your survival skill set. From target practice with a slingshot to boning up on wilderness first aid, chances are you’ll feel calmer and more in control of your fate with each new skill you master.
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