10 Survival Skills to Learn to Keep You Alive When You Bug Out

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No matter how prepared you are for a survival situation at home, if an event occurs that requires you to leave your home to bug out in the outdoors, you will be put under a different kind of pressure.

Survival in the elements is very different than that of being in a familiar place, sheltered from the wind, rain, cold or heat. Outdoors, you’ll become both predator and prey. You will have to fight for your survival more than if you were holed up at your home with a room full of supplies.

It’s important that you prepare yourself for survival skills that require you to bug out in the wilderness, forest, desert, or elsewhere. There are certain skills you will need to work on and master ahead of time so that you’re not struggling in a harsh environment.

There are ten very common survival skills required for bug out situations. Not only will you want to learn these things for yourself, but you’ll want to teach your loved ones the same lessons in case they become separated from you or you become incapacitated.

Staying Hidden or Signaling for Help

Depending on the situation that you are in, you may need to stay hidden in a bug out situation. For example, if there is civil unrest or an invasion of some sort, you won’t want to advertise your whereabouts.

The most important thing you’ll want to remember is to blend in to the background. You will want some sort of camouflage attire as well as the gear that you carry that will match your environment and keep you hidden in plain sight.

If you are on the go, make sure that you are traveling at night when you are less likely to be seen. Teach your family how to move and stay quiet so that a target is not put on your back.

The opposite may also be true. You may need to signal for help in a survival situation. Just as certain colors can help you stay hidden, other colors, such as bright orange, can help you be found by rescuers.

You also want to make sure that you are carrying certain types of gear that will help signal that you are in some type of distress. For example, a whistle is easy and effective for both children and adults to use.

You can also use a mirror or a small fire as well as any other sort of sound to alert the authorities to your location so that you can receive the help that you and your family need in that moment.

Navigating an Environment without Road Signs or Maps

The most effective thing that you can do for navigation means, when you don’t have a map or any road signs to work off of, is to use a compass. These are small and lightweight, and can come in handy when you are bugging out in the outdoors.

If you don’t have a compass, you can always use the sun and the stars to find your way around a location. For example, you can always find north just by looking at the location of the sun.

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The only time this will be more difficult is in the middle of the day when the sun is directly above you. But you should be able to quickly watch the direction it travels to determine which path you are on or need to go.

Because it’s safer to travel at night, you may want to use the stars instead of the sun. You want to locate and also teach your family how to locate the Big Dipper or Little Dipper constellations.

The north star lines up with the Big Dipper, which will help you find the direction you need to go. Many people like to learn how to find a variety of constellations so that they can navigate their way outdoors at night.

Finding Food to Keep Your Energy Levels Up

Even if you are able to take supplies with you in a bug out bag, there’s only so much food you can take on the go. If it lasts more than 72 hours, chances are good that you will have to forage or hunt for food on your own.

You need to spend time ahead of time learning about the safe foods that you can find in your area, or whatever area you plan to go to. You don’t want to accidentally be eating berries o plants that are toxic or poisonous.

Sometimes, there are plants that look almost identical to those that are safe to eat, but which are poisonous, so make sure you know the difference before a bad situation occurs.

There are many foods that you may not know you can eat. For example, while dandelions are a weed that many people try to get rid of in their yard, they are edible and can help keep you alive in a survival situation.

You will also want to learn how to create traps and snares so that you can catch small game to cook over a campsite fire. If there is water nearby, you can also take fishing gear and catch your dinner that way.

Sourcing Safe Water to Keep You Alive

Water is the number one most important supply that you will need in a bug out situation. You will only be able to carry so much with you when you leave your homestead, so it’s important that you know where to locate water ahead of time.

Make sure you take water purification tablets or other gadgets with you so that you can drink from any source that you find. There are harmful parasites, microorganisms, and bacteria present in most water sources in the wild that you want to avoid.

Keep in mind that in a major survival situation, even finding a faucet may not guarantee that you have sourced clean water. If the grid goes down and the water purification plant cannot function properly, then you will have to boil and purify the water that comes out of the tap.

If possible, try to capture rainwater without it being contaminated by anything it touches. If you are unable to purify water or accumulate rainwater, look for a fast flowing water source, such as a stream, where other animals are drinking from the source and surviving.

Common First Aid You Might Need Outdoors

When you are forced to bug out in the wilderness or elsewhere, you may have first aid needs that you wouldn’t necessarily have within your homestead quite as often. For example, bug bites or stings may be prevalent when you are forced to hike and sleep outside.

Ideally, you will have a first aid kit that can help you address these issues. But if not, you may need to learn how to deal with them without things like Benadryl, tweezers, or ointment.

Another thing that may occur is a broken bone or sprain, such as if you step the wrong way while hiking and sprain your ankle. You may also find that you suffer from things such as splinters when building shelter or gathering wood for a fire.

Having to cook your own food, or start a fire for warmth, you may have someone who suffers from a minor burn. And of course, stress is increased in bug out situations, so something more harrowing may occur, such as strain on the heart.

Surviving Extreme Weather When Bugging Out

If you are bugging out for a short amount of time, chances are you can easily prepare for the supplies you will need to handle a little bit of rain, cold, or heat. The problem arises when 72 hours grows into weeks, if not months or even years.
 You will need to know how to survive the weather events in your area. You may have extreme shifts in weather, such as in Texas where it can be 80 degrees during the day, yet dip down into the 40s or 50s at night.

Make sure that you and your loved ones have layers of clothing that can adjust for any type of weather temperature. You want to ensure that no one suffers from heatstroke or frostbite.

Know how to build a shelter in different kinds of weather, including snow and rain. Learn how to keep your supplies dry and waterproof so that you can continue to make fire to keep warm and cook with.

Keep in mind that sometimes the temperature may not seem very harrowing. However, when you factor in the wind gusts, it can make it seem much colder than it really is. Certain materials will stand up against the wind better than others, so prepare for that if you are in a windy area.

Making Fire to Cook and Keep Warm

It is imperative that you take some sort of fire-starting equipment with you if you are going to be bugging out for any amount of time. However, things happen sometimes, and you may be forced to leave without your bug out bag or your fire-starting equipment may end up lost or misplaced.

If this happens, you need to know how to start a fire using wood and nothing more than determination. You will have to know how to gather some tinder to start the fire with, how to cut a notch in your fireboard, and how to spin the wood to start a fire using friction alone.

You want to make sure that yourself and every member of your family are aware of all of the fire safety rules so that the fire does not grow out of control and end up catching your surroundings on fire.

Make sure you know all of the little tips about keeping a fire thriving, such as making sure it has plenty of oxygen, knowing when to put more wood on the fire, which type of wood will burn longer, and more.

Keeping Your Mindset Strong in Survival Situations

When you are in a survival bug out situation, your mental state will be tested time and time again. Whether you are dealing with your own emotions, or trying to handle the tears of your children who are breaking down over the situation, you have to be strong enough to get through it.

There will be some people who encounter major situations like this and simply want to give up. But you want to have a strong mindset that contributes to your will to live. Remind yourself that people have been through this and worse and emerged through it all to find a normal life again.

Be sure and celebrate the little wins that you have during this uphill battle. You want to toughen your mental state, but also visualize a future that you’ll want to work towards. You will need to have a handle on all of your emotions, whether it is fear, anger, or something else.

Building Shelter Outside

You have to know how to build shelter for your survival. Not only can this protect you from the natural elements, such as cold or hot weather, rain or wind, but it can also keep you safe from bugs, insects, rodents, and larger predators.

It’s always best to have something on hand, such as a tent or tarp that you can use as your shelter. But again, there are times when you will not be able to take that with you, and you will have to build shelter from scratch.

Learn how to build shelter in your area based off of the common trees, leaves, and other items you find locally. You want to know how to build a floor to trap in warmth, and walls that will keep out the elements and predators.

Your shelter should also provide some sort of camouflage for you to stay hidden in a chaotic survival situation. If you are in extreme cold and snow, you can still build an outdoor survival shelter that will keep you warm.

Self Defense from Predators

Shelter alone is not going to be enough to protect you from some predators. For example, if you are in an area that has large wild cats or bears, or even destructive pigs, you may be in danger regardless of whether or not you are inside of a tent.

You need to make sure that you have some sort of self-defense measures on hand to protect yourself from both people and animals that may intend to do you harm. Ideally, you will be able to carry a firearm or knife, but if not, you need to learn self-defense measures ahead of time that will help you protect yourself and your family.

You can use a large tree branch as a weapon if you need it. A rock can also be thrown or used to strike a predator. You can set traps that are not used for food purposes, but instead to alert you whenever something or someone is drawing near to your campsite.