When people talk about off grid, it can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. When I refer to off grid, I’m referring to when there’s no electricity, no running water, no natural gas; no modern conveniences.
Here are the top 10 skills that everyone needs to learn before any type of emergency, disaster or extreme SHTF situation.
1. Laundry – Even in a SHTF situation, we still need to keep up with hygiene which means washing our clothes. Many of us rely on a washing machine and dryer to do all the work, but when electricity fails, at the very least, how will you do the laundry? You can get a washboard and go down to your local stream, if that’s available to you, and dry them on a clothes line. You can wash them in buckets and dry them on a clothes line. You can even get something like this non-electric mini washing machine. Whatever you choose, make sure you understand how to go about the process at least once or twice long before SHTF.
2. Cooking without electricity – If you have no electricity and no gas, how will you be cooking or baking? How was it done long before electricity was invented? They used wood stoves, rocks, sticks, pit ovens, etc. Fire is one of the top options when it comes to cooking or baking. Make sure to have plenty of fire wood available or be ready to chop some. If you happen to have a BBQ, you can cook and bake with your BBQ. If you happen to have a fire pit, you already have a solid start to a cooking setup. What about cooking with a dutch oven and coals? Absolutely! You may even want to consider a solar oven if you live in a region with a lot of great sun. You may also want to consider using your camp stove and store extra propane (be sure to always use propane outdoors).
3. Sewing – Let’s face it, how many people do you know that know how to sew? Or better yet, know how to sew by hand? There are still sewing machines that don’t use electricity and you’re welcome to invest in one if that’s something you feel you’ll need. Having a sewing machine will definitely make life a lot easier. However, knowing how to sew by hand is a valuable skill. This skill can extend to sewing leather items which is invaluable as you can make so many goods with leather. Sewing will allow you to not only fix clothes, but also make clothes.
4. Foraging/gardening/hunting/trapping/fishing – You don’t want to wait until your food storage runs out before you figure out a plan to feed your household. Knowing how to forage for food is absolutely a skill and needs to be practiced. Knowing how to identify plants is not as easy as it sounds, there are a lot of poisonous plants or plants that just simply aren’t meant to be eaten. You can also forage for bugs, but you’ll need to know which ones are good to eat and how best to prepare them. Same goes with hunting small and large game. How will you be hunting the game? Rifle? Bow? Traps? Slingshot? Knowing and practicing your hunting skills is important. Same goes with fishing; it’s not as easy as people make it look. Gardening is also very much a skill. You need to know how to plant, when to plant, when to harvest, how are you going to take care of the garden, etc.
5. Fixing/making things – How many things in your home do you know how to fix with manual tools? What about your car? Have a good set of manual tools in your home and your car and make sure you understand how to use them and when to use them. Would you know how to make a solar panel or wind turbine? These things take material but they can easily be found if someone knows where to look or acquires them ahead of time. Knowing how to make things out of nothing is a great skill to have.
6. Finding and purifying water – If water is no longer flowing from your tap, how will you be getting your water? Many preppers will already have a good supply of bottled water, but once that starts to run out, you’ll need to find a source of water. Having a rain barrel bucket is a great way to gather water that falls from the sky. Outside of that, knowing where your local streams, rivers, lakes or any other sources of water will be needed to gather water. Once you gather the water, you’ll need to purify it, even rain water. How will you be purifying it?
7. Making food from scratch – Truth be told, how many of us cook our meals completely from scratch? I’m talking about making your own pasta, making your own pasta sauce and processing your own meat? Not many of us. It’s a good idea to know how to make things from absolute scratch. That can include grinding your own flour, making your own yeast, etc. We won’t have the resources to simply go to the store and pick up a box of pasta, we’d need to know how to actually make it. Making food from scratch is actually quite easy, though sometimes a little more time consuming, but if it’s gotta be done, it’s gotta be done.
8. Preserving food – Since there won’t be any electricity, how will you be preserving the meat that you process or the garden that you harvest? Do you know how to smoke meat? Do you know how to can vegetables and fruits? You can smoke meat over a fire and can foods with your BBQ. Knowing how to do these things well before hand is a good idea so that you already have the supplies needed, as well as the knowledge of what it’s going to take to get the job done.
9. Fire making – Fire making is absolutely a skill and must be practiced often. Not only knowing how to make a fire, but knowing how to make your own fire starters, or how to find fire starters out in the wild is imperative. Making a fire isn’t as easy as it seems, especially friction fire. Start by practicing to make a fire with a match/lighter. Then make a fire with ferro rod/steel. Then try to make a fire with flint/steel. Then try to make a fire with a bow drill. The more fires you make, the more you’ll realize that every single fire is different and unique and they won’t all start the same, nor will they keep the same. Practice as often as you can.
10. Communication – Communication is more than just needing a way to get a hold of someone. Do you know how to talk to people in a rational and calm way? Do you know how to talk to kids (different than talking to an adult)? Do you know sign language or morse code? Do you know how to communicate without talking at all? In addition, getting your HAM license now and having a means to charge your HAM radio (solar) in an off grid scenario could be an extremely useful skill.
There are a lot of skills we should be learning before something bad happens and this only scratches the surface.
What are some other off grid skills?