Learning how to survive in the event of a natural or human-made disaster is a critical skill that can make a huge difference in an emergency.
Having an evacuation bag ready for departure is essential. It should contain everything needed for surviving outdoors. Every member of the family should have their own bag.
The kit should have a tool that cuts like machete or a big knife, a tarpaulin for protection, a foldable water container, a wool blanket if possible and a light aluminum pot.
However, only preparing a survival kit is not enough because individuals will require a set of bush survival skills. Individuals must have the ability to make fire without a lighter, cook food outdoors, protect the group from natural elements and navigate through forests.
Fortunately, a number of the basic survival skills can be practiced in your own backyard.
Backyard survival training
1. How to find, filter and purify water
The ability to find and filter water is one of the most basic skills that enable individuals to survive a catastrophic event. The human body is composed of 65 percent water, a resource that is vital to humans, animals and plants. An individual deprived of water in the wilderness can hardly stay alive for more than three days.
Some of the practical ways to find and collect water include:
- Draw water directly from sources (rivers, ponds) upstream of polluted or potentially risk points.
- Find an underground source
- Put in place rainwater collectors (tank or single container).
- Install fog water recovery nets
It is possible to purify water by letting it sit undisturbed in a container or in its natural state (water point). The large impurities will then settle at the bottom allows users to collect clear water at the top. Alternatively, people can filter the water through using a natural or synthetic filter. It can be a piece of fabric or any fibrous material (paper, coffee filter).
The simplest solution is to boil the water before consumption. If stuck in a hot area, you could take advantage of the sunlight to purify your water. You can place a bottle of water in the sun for six hours to harvest safe drinking water. The use of ultraviolet rays was introduced by an Indian firm, which purified water using UV lamps.
Use water in food
For your daily intake, you should know that there is water in all foods. Fruits, vegetables and dairy products like milk are good sources of water. Meat and fish have a water content of between 65 to 70 percent.
2. Start a fire without lighter
Learning to start a fire without a lighter can help you cope better in the wilderness. Fire is essential for cooking, keeping yourself warm and heating bathing water (during the winter months). You can practice the skills at home as part of the backyard survival training.
For starters, practice on sunny days as the chances of producing a flame are greatly reduced if the work surface and ambient air are wet, humid or when temperatures are low. Collect some branches and grass to form a mass of flammable dry plants that you can use to produce the flames as soon as you get enough ember.
Arrange some large stones around the fire to separate the fire from the surrounding vegetation that could be flammable. Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish the fire at all times. You can also pour sand or earth over embers to smother them. Learn first aid procedures for burn injuries.
The dry vegetation substance on which the embers are formed provides combustible support. Known as tinder, the material can burn slowly without extinguishing. The sparks used to ignite tinder are produced by striking a hard mineral rock called flint against a piece of stone made of iron sulphide, such as pyrite or marcasite.
3. Building a makeshift shelter
A good makeshift shelter provides adequate protection from the inconveniences and dangers of an inhospitable environment. It will prove valuable if help is not forthcoming and you have stay in the area for an extended period. The shelter can take various forms, from the simple shed to a well-insulated cabin.
Several factors will determine the quality of your emergency shelter. This will depend on the tools you use and your intention to build a temporary shelter or a more sustainable shelter.
Without proper tools and construction materials, your efforts will be limited to a rudimentary shelter even if you plan an extended stay. Your skills and the available time will also influence the final result. Thankfully, you can practice erecting a stable shelter in your backyard with kids using basic tools and materials like wood.
4. Foraging for food
In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, you may have to forage for unsavory foods like edible insects, wild animals and plants. Insects can be an easily accessible food source, especially in the tropics. Termites provide good nutritional elements. In the desert, you can find cactus, fruits, fig trees (isolated trees whose leaves are hard as leather). Other options include rodents, hares and snakes, which can be tasty when faced with starvation.
Different types of birds, reptiles and insects are edible; you can set traps to capture them. In areas with ice and snow, you can find all kinds of foods, including plants or animals. However, you have to know where you can find them. Fish is a delicious option that provides a number of essential nutrients.
5. Preparing food in the wilderness
When preparing reptiles, empty them and cook on an open fire with their skin. When the skin starts to crack, remove them from the fire and start boiling. You can practice these skills with the help of children in the backyard.
Drying meat, fish, fruits and vegetable in the sun can preserve the food. Meat can be cut and hung on tree branches.
Cut meat into small cubes and boil. Be careful with pork in the tropics or deserts because wild pigs, moose and deer are often infested with worms. Fish generally do not have sprouts and it is better to poach or bake them wrapped in leaves.