How Basic Can You Get? List #6

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Are you ready for more? Did you work your way through Lists 1-5? This next list should keep you busy and out of trouble for a while!

1.  Learn how to use a compass and a map.

It’s a lot harder than you might think, but it’s a skill that just might make the difference between you or a loved one wandering around in the wilderness, lost, and finding your way back to civilization.

Look for classes at stores like REI or Cabela‘s, state or national parks, or a nearby orienteering club. (The orienteering club near us has trails that start out so super-easy even a literal second grader can follow them.) This video does a pretty job explaining the skill.

2.  Keep everyone in the family informed.

Do your kids know what to do if your home’s smoke alarms ever went off? Have a family meeting and make sure everyone knows these basic rules of home fire safety and where everyone should meet if there ever is a fire.

Depending on the age and maturity level of each child, they should know about preparedness and why the family is focused on being prepared.

3.  Make sure your pets are prepared.

Have pets? Stock up on a month’s worth of extra food for each one. If you buy dry food, be sure to store it in a heavy-duty plastic bin with a tight fitting lid. Rodents, insects, and even the dogs and cats themselves will find a way into this stash. Trust me!

4.  Add to your stash of blankets.

Hit a few garage/estate sales this month and buy some extra blankets. Extra blankets always come in handy! Be sure to keep a couple in the trunk of each car.

5.  Make a mini-survival kit for each kid or grandkid in the family.

Here are some super-easy instructions.

6.  Learn how to tie various knots and know when to use them.

If the only knot you know how to tie involves taking, “the bunny’s tail through the loop,” you could be in big trouble! Learn how to tie rougher, tougher knots, and then make sure you have rope and instructions in each vehicle and with camping equipment. This is a great skill for the whole family to learn. Here’s a great app for your smartphone. By the way, on road trips, this would be a great skill for the kids to practice in the back seat.

7.  Learn a new method for starting a fire.

If you have never tried using a flint, give it a try. If you’ve never experimented with using dryer lint or Vaseline-infused cotton balls as a fire starter, they are both easy and effective.

8.  Buy 5 or more pounds of oats and make at least five new, different recipes with them.

Try different recipes for granola bars, cookies, or hot cereal. Here is a great recipe source. Oats are inexpensive and store well. I store mine in empty, clean 2-liter soda bottles with a 100 cc oxygen absorber.

9.  Always be ready to walk out.

Store a comfortable pair of walking shoes in your car, along with a pair of socks and 2 or 3 pre-cut pieces of moleskin. Additionally, keep a very good, detailed atlas or map in your vehicle with routes marked that will take you to safe places, such as the homes of friends, campgrounds, church, or other safe, friendly locations.

10.  Keep the channels of communication open.

Set aside at least 2 evenings a month for a date night with your significant other. Talk about survival and preparedness, if you like, but more importantly, re-connect with each other. A strong, stable home is a resilient one.

Here are the rest of the articles in this series about how basic can you get:

List 1  List 2   List 3   List 4   List 5


23 thoughts on “How Basic Can You Get? List #6”

  1. Hello all readers,

    I’m asking about number 8. Oats. We buy them. My boys eat em’ raw. Even the old fashioned rolled oats taste like cardboard to me, but the boys really seem to like them raw. We make granola, we make cookies, and oatmeal.

    What I’m trying to do is go beyond those. It seems to me if the only way I eat a good healthy grain is to add lots of fat and sugar then I really haven’t learned to use it. I do put it in breads. What about more savory dishes? I know about using it as a “filler” in ground beef for say meatloaf. But, our family eats ground beef maybe twice a month. I’ve thrown it in soups, but I’ve never been convinced it improves them.

    Give me some ideas.

    1. I’m the same way. I’ve never used oats beyond the simple stuff like meatloaf and cookies. And to just eat a bowl of oatmeal I have to add so much sugar it seems pointless. And I must be the worlds WORST ‘bread from scratch without a machine’ maker, :)so adding oat flour to my bread won’t be the magic bullet for that skill.

      1. Try using honey or agave instead of sugar. Also adding fresh or frozen fruit to it helps naturally sweeten it and you can have mulitple flavors of oatmeal then.

    2. Mike M.,
      Oatmeal has medicinal purposes. I keep a jar, ground to a fine powder, to use on insect bites, hives and rashes. It’s called colloidal oatmeal in this form. Simply add enough water to make a paste and apply. If you’re concerned about contaminates, use distilled water.

      Colloidal oatmeal can also be added to a warm bath if the rash is more wide spread or to treat extreme dry skin.

    3. Oatmeal is a standard breakfast food in my home. At night I put a cup of oatmeal a handful of dried fruit bits a tablespoon of butter two tablespoons of dark brown sugar and some spice with three cups or more of water on the woodstove. I stir and check if I need to add more water when I feed the fire in the middle of the night. Fresh hot healthy breakfast to start the day with and I dont have to get up early to make it.
      I do not eat loads of grains but oatmeal rice and home grown and ground flint corn are my favorites.

  2. freesoulsurvivalist

    Good list! For number 7, we have a type of tree in our area that even when its green, you can peel off the bark and start a fire with it like paper. I think its called paper birch, but I’m not completely sure. By the way, I do have a bog at where I offer my point of view on prepping and survivalism among other things. I live as I prepare, you’re welcome to join me!

    1. do some research on what type of birch tree you have. They can be a gold mine of natural emergency food and medicines. One of the ‘skills’ I decided to learn last summer was all about edible wild plants and trees and their other uses. I have a nice binder full of pics and info now, including pics of plants that arent safe.

  3. While camping this summer we required our oldest son to start a fire using only his knife, fire steel, and a piece of fat wood. (We purchased several of the GodbSpark Armageddons from FireSteel. Excellent fire starters!)

    1. He whittled about 1/3 of the fat wood into small shavings.
    2. Piled the shavings.
    3. Struck his fire steel until the shavings ignited.
    4. Placed the remaining fat wood on top.
    5. Continued to build the fire with gathered kindling and logs.

    The entire process took less than 4 minutes.

    We’ve also practice igniting our Vaseline infused cotton balls with our fire steel. They usually ignite after the second or third strike of sparks. VERY IMPRESSIVE!

  4. #10 is extremely important. We discuss it at different times and we make time to just be together. I have a strong marriage and I want to keep it that way.

  5. Just found these list and read through them all! I love this blog!!!
    Hubby currently works out of state m-f so dates are difficult for us since he doesn’t get enough time with our 4 kids as it is. We settle for having dates at home most of the time. We talk every night on the phone when he is away which has strengthened our marriage a lot. It’s amazing what physical distance does for a relationship when 3/4 of the time your only way to connect is a 10 minute phone call.

    On another note… How long will the dry goods keep for stored in soda bottles with oxygen absorbers? We are getting ready for a huge move (state to state and new job) and I had to use most of what we had stored up because we can’t afford the cost of hauling it 500+ miles. I packed enough food for a 2 week supply but I plan to immediately rebuild our food storage when we move in. I am starting over so I am looking for the longest lasting and most space accomodating methods I can find. Soda bottles seem like they would be more difficult to store and rotate in an organized space saving manor. Our new place will have a basement but the area has issues with black mold and the basements are generally not safe for storage. I don’t think I would want to keep food down there. It’s a small house as well only 3 bedrooms an we have 4 kids. No pantry just eat in kitchen. So whatever I choose to use for my food storage will more than likely at some point be visible to guests and I don’t want it to look like I am prepping for the apocalypse or look sloppy. I also won’t have the budget to invest in nice rotating shelves or even DIY them for quite a while. The move will deplete our savings (not much to start with).
    Any suggestions?
    Also do you have a post on emergency heating in home when electric & wood burning of any sort is not an option? I plan to make several of the paint can, toilet paper and alcohol heaters as thus far they seem to be the safest option. Snow is a serious issue there as well. We get inches here they get feet there. I want to make sure I can keep my family warm as well as cook for them if we get snowed in with no power for days.

  6. Be careful about buying blankets from garage sales. Bedbugs have become a huge problem and are difficult to get rid of. Just something to consider.


  7. Mike the Gardener

    My dad would get me and my two brothers together when we were younger and go over an evacuation plan on how to get out of the house in the event of a fire (or some other disaster). He would go room by room to make sure you knew how to escape and then go over where we would meet once outside so that we knew we were all safe and accounted for.

    I now try and do that with my two kids. A life lesson that will go a long way.

  8. Son of Liberty

    I really like #10. The main thing which will give your life meaning and value when things go south will be your relationships. Our toys will be insignificant, our consumer goods will be worthless, our tangible stores will be necessary, but our relationships will make life worth living.That’s one reason a ‘community’ will be an invaluable asset — not just for the security they bring to us due to their various skills, trades, and services — but we are created for relationships; close, personal, intimate relationships. Spouse, family, extended family, trusted associates — and of course the relationship with your maker — will be what gives our lives value, meaning, and purpose during the future which awaits us.


  9. New to the site, and just discovered these lists…very simple ways to get read for whatever! Thank you @survivalmom !

  10. cynthia rickards

    I would like to have a download for the fill-in charts at the end of the chapters. I tried printing out of the book but they are small and messy looking.

  11. For bedding items, I agree about getting used ones that might be contaminated with bedbugs. We have discount stores here where you can get named brand bedding that is seconds, which means the stitching may be a little crooked, or it may just be a close out where they changed the packaging or a discontinued line. So you can get new stuff for a discounted price. I know it isn’t as cheap as a tag sale but if you factor in the cost of getting rid of bedbugs, you are ahead of the game. They have a lot of household items there too like pots and pans and kitchen utensils. Also a lot of discounted food. They even have pool items, so you can buy a pouch of pool shock to disinfect drinking water for like a dollar, where the pool place is selling it for three. They also have really cheap tarps and plastic sheeting and tools and bungee cord and log splitters. They also have a lot of discounted gardening supplies and tools. The one around here on the East Coast is called Ocean State Job Lots. I’m sure people in other parts of the country have their own local versions. Let’s here about your local versions.

  12. A recipe my mom made often near payday when cupboards looked thin was to make a large pot of rolled oats for breakfast. After breakfast she would fry up some onions and add to the remaining oatmeal & pack it in a greased loaf pan. She would refrigerate this until just before supper. Then she would turn it out on a board covered in cornmeal & slice it. She’d coat each slice with the cornmeal & fry until each side was crispy. We loved it as kids. Kind of like the potato patties you get in fast food restaurants only healthier.

  13. Toirdhealbheach Beucail

    I eat oatmeal with yogurt almost every day, for either breakfast or snack. The yogurt helps moisten the oats and depending on what kind of yogurt we have (mine is typically low fat vanilla) you can have whatever flavor you want as healthy as you want.

  14. Fire starting without matches or a lighter is a fun challenge. Hubs and I have tried many ways, including the ones listed above. Another great way is quickly rubbing the terminals of a 9-volt battery against fine steel wool to throw sparks onto tinder- EASY PEASY. The hardest way we found to get an actual flame going in the cold weather is using a magnifying glass- it took a long time and lots of experimenting.

  15. Hey don’t knock the bunny’s tail goes thru the hole, that is how I learned to tie a bowline a million years ago as a scout. Yes, knots are very important everyone should know how to tie the following; Bowline, Clove Hitch, Taut Line Hitch Square Knot, Sheet Bend, 2 Half Hitches and how to whip the ends of a rope to keep it fro unraveling.. Happy Trails

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