This article has been generously contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999 Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management & response. You can follow her regular updates on Preparedness, Homesteading, and a host of other topics at www.readynutrition.com.
Possessing crucial skill sets are a must have when forming a survival group. Individuals bringing a variety of skills binds the group further to create a solid, well-functioning team. That said, like anything regarding preparedness, you do not want to become complacent and believe that just one person should perform a certain set of tasks. Remember, what one man can do, another can do. Your group is only as strong as its weakest link, and training members to perform multiple tasks will make for a more fluid unit, especially during highly stressful situations.
We have seen this type of group training with many emergency organizations who have cross-trained their employees in case one employee has to compensate for the other during a disaster. This helps cut down on dependency on one or two of the stronger members, because each member can pick up where the other has left off in the event the primary responder is incapacitated or has to perform other tasks. This type of training is both efficient and can easily be incorporated into your preparedness plan.
Don’t Fall into Gender Stereotypes
It’s so easy to fall into gender stereotypical jobs. After all, we do what makes us feel most comfortable. However, one of the most dangerous things we can do when learning skills for SHTF-time is to allow ourselves to be tied into stereotypes, for both gender and age. “Why is that so bad?” you may be asking. “I take care of the cooking and the laundry and my husband chops the wood and defends the homestead. And we don’t want the kids to have to worry about these things now.”
That could be a fatal mistake.
What happens if Mom is bedridden for several months with a risky pregnancy? What if Dad breaks his leg and the wood is not chopped, with winter fast approaching? What if Mom and Dad both were stricken with an illness, or even worse, died, leaving the kids on their own?
The fact is, family or group members all need to possess the minimum skills needed to run and protect the homestead. Especially in a post-disaster world, life will be full of risks and danger. Your survival could one day depend on your 12 year-old’s ability to build a fire in the wood stove and keep it going. Mom might have to be able to shoot an intruder bent on robbing the homestead when dad is away hunting.
We must remember to stretch ourselves in order to become better at prepping and living a preparedness lifestyle. It is paramount that we remove those gender and age defined roles and stereotypes so that more than one person has the ability to perform the self-reliant skills that are vital for a family’s survival.
Some essential skills all members of your team must know:
- Acquiring water and making it potable
- Building a fire
- Canning and preserving food
- Chopping wood / Splitting kindling
- Cleaning fish or game
- Climate control (operating the off-grid heating system)
- Cooking off grid
- Doing laundry by hand
- First aid
- Foraging and identifying edible plants
- Home repair (basics like patching a leaking roof or repairing an entry)
- Communications (includes acquisition of news, as well as secure two-way communications between members)
- Sewing / Mending
- Shooting (defense)
- Wilderness survival skills
Familiarity with tools can also help you avoid injury. Becoming comfortable and proficient with things like a crank wringer, an axe or hatchet, a filet knife, or a weapon not only allows you to use them more easily and efficiently, it keeps you safer while you’re using them.
Don’t underestimate your kids either. Give them age-appropriate responsibilities and allow them to help you when you perform the necessary tasks for survival. The more familiar a child is with a certain task, the more confident they will be if ever a day comes when it is necessary for them to perform that task without your supervision. One of the things I’ve recently been working on with my daughter is keeping the fire going in the wood stove. Initially she was very leery of adding a log to the fire, but after a few weeks of it, she is becoming a pro. Teaching children to build a fire is one of the most basic survival skills that everyone must know.
Likewise, kids need to learn to be comfortable and respectful of firearms and other weapons, and this can only come through practice. Take for example the recent case of a 12 year old girl who shot an intruder through her bathroom door when she was home alone and forced to defend herself. One day you may have to depend on your child to save your life by providing backup in the event of an emergency where law enforcement doesn’t exist. Or, perhaps it will be your young adult who will be out hunting for wild game to put food on the table while you engage in other tasks.
Cross-training – it’s not just for the gym! Ensure that your family doesn’t rely too much on any one person by having everyone pitch in to learn the different tasks necessary for survival.
This article has been contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition. Subscribe to Tess’ Get Prepped Weekly Newsletter for more emergency preparedness tips, homesteading ideas, and insights. As a subscriber to her free newsletter you’ll receive the latest updates from her 52 Weeks to Preparedness Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Planning Series. It’s well worth your time, and oh, did we mention it’s totally free?
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