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How to Become a Survivalist

Be prepared for anything – disasters, worldwide political or economic collapse, even the full-on apocalypse – with these tips.


  • Step 1: Plan ahead Before a disaster occurs, create a plan of action for yourself and your loved ones. Choose a location that you can retreat to easily and spend a few days, if necessary. Map routes out of town in case you need to evacuate. Keep a backpack containing basic necessities at the ready.
  • TIP: Place a fixed-blade knife for cutting, chopping, skinning, and protection in your backpack.
  • Step 2: Keep water handy Store a few gallons of bottled water in your home in case the water supply is compromised, and keep water purification or iodine tablets handy if you have to head for the hills.
  • Step 3: Prepare food Stock enough canned goods to feed everyone in your house for at least 72 hours. Learn how to pickle and preserve food and find out which wild plants are poisonous and which are edible. If you're unsure about a plant, avoid it; stomach ailments are the last thing you want slowing you down.
  • TIP: Learn how to clean and dress fish and animals in case you have an opportunity to hunt your dinner.
  • Step 4: Build a shelter If you have to leave your home, know how to construct a simple shelter to protect yourself from the sun, wind, rain, and snow. If all else fails, retreat to a cave or rocky overhang.
  • TIP: Avoid ravines, narrow valleys, or creek beds, which collect cold air at night and are more likely to harbor insects.
  • Step 5: Start a fire Keep waterproof matches, a lighter, or a fire starter with you at all times. If all else fails, rub a small stick up and down the grain of a larger piece of wood stacked on bits of shredded plant material and blow. Monitor your flame's size carefully: A small fire extinguishes easily while a large one can reveal your hiding place.
  • Step 6: Hone basic skills Since hospitals can be overcrowded during crises, be prepared to make splints and slings, set broken bones, and sterilize wounds and tools. Keep a small sewing kit with you so you can close cuts and repair clothing.
  • Step 7: Defend yourself Train yourself in a few methods of self-defense, including hand-to-hand combat and the use of small arms. Make avoiding an enemy your first priority, as engaging an opponent increases your visibility.
  • : Follow all federal, state, and local firearms laws.
  • Step 8: Work on fitness Prepare your body and mind for days, weeks, or months without standard, modern comforts like cars or cell phones. Train your body to walk considerable distances with little rest, and your mind to retain focus while alone for long periods of time.
  • Step 9: Adapt to changes Be able to adapt, since crises can lead to frequent environmental changes. Remember: A post-apocalyptic world may have drawbacks, but it's better than having no hell-scape to live in at all.
  • FACT: At the end of the Korean War, the U.S. Air Force created the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program to teach pilots how to survive and resist abuse after being captured by the enemy.

You Will Need

  • Disaster plan
  • Secure location
  • Sturdy backpack
  • Fixed-blade knife
  • Bottled water
  • Water purification or iodine tablets
  • Canned goods
  • Matches
  • lighter
  • or fire starter
  • First aid knowledge
  • Sewing kit
  • Self-defense skills

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