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Top 10 Basic Survival Tips for Everyday Folks

No one should ever have to feel like they need to spend their days contemplating the end of the world. Still, in this day and age of unrest, instability, and even climate change, we all need a plan to have a bug-out bag as well as gear that can be ready at a moment's notice in case of flood, loss of electricity, or some other disaster. The fact is that having a simple bug-out bag can be an excellent way to be prepared in case of an emergency. Still, that's not the only basic survival tip that everyday folks should know. Not everyone feels they need to plan for a cataclysmic occurrence, especially when things are going well. But as they say, knowledge is power, so here's to sharing some planning methods that like-minded preppers can add to their strategy. We will point out a few things that will keep you prepared for unexpected situations you may encounter. You never want to be ill-prepared for some of the outdoor hazards waiting for you, and some of these tricks and hacks might just come in handy.

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10. Always Keep a Belt Handy

Fish hanging on Fisherman's belt with fishing rodFish hanging on Fisherman's belt with fishing rod

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I have several of the cheap, stretchy variety of belts that I use for everything from a wader belt to keeping my trail camera around certain trees. In a pinch, belts can serve as tourniquets, slings, or even a way to hang things at the campsite. They have many uses and can be easily rolled and stored in a bug-out bag. Even better, they are cheap and easy to find.

9. The Hand Mirror Option

Hand Mirror with Reflection of Blue Sky

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For hikers, primitive campers, geocachers, or any other quest-driven outdoor-oriented people, having a simple hand mirror to signal for help is a must for your pack. This is another in a long line of smaller items that are easily packed and transported into the field and have easily accessible. Consider it a victory if you only ever use it to look at how long your beard has become!

8. Magnifying Glass

Fire with a magnifying glass

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You should already have a fire-specific kit in your outdoor or bug-out bag, but does it include a magnifying glass? Yes, bring a magnesium fire starter and waterproof matches. But don't forget a magnifying glass that can concentrate light to start a fire and help work on smaller items like eyeglass repair.

7. Water Needs

Mid Adult Woman Exploring Streams in Forest Having Water Filtration Straw With Her.


At any level, clean, reliable water sources make survival a lot easier. It's one of those things you underestimate when you have it at your disposal, pouring out of your faucet any time you want it to. Ensuring you have enough water for yourself and your loved ones is essential to making it through any challenging situation, so equip yourself with the tools and wherewithal to guarantee it.

6. Extra Socks

Drying wet socks on the bonfire during camping. Socks drying on fire. Active rest in forest.

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Yes, the first thing your mom asked you on your way out the door to the campground was if you took extra socks, and she was right. Bringing extra socks is an essential basic survival tip. There are multiple ways that anyone can use a pair of socks in the wilderness. Socks make good field dressing or signal flags. They can mark your trail, become emergency mittens or wash and sieve foraged foods. Use socks as a carry bag, fire starting material, and of course, as a toilet paper alternative. Never underestimate the power of socks.

5. Duct Tape

Duct tape unrolled on white background

If your momma told you to take extra socks, then your daddy told you not to forget the duct tape. We have been using duct tape for everything since its inception. Duct tape repairs clothing, gear, and shoes and can be used as an emergency bandage in a pinch. Some say you can even fix a hole in an aluminum canoe long enough to get to safety.

4. Use a Walking Stick

Senior man hiking while and dog follows him

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Even veteran hikers like to have a walking stick available on the trail. There are many great options for those who don't want to rely on a piece of wood, including versions that fold but are lightweight and have a built-in multi-tool system for additional safety on the trail. The notion of avoiding slips and falls is just as important as wielding a big, blunt object, just in case.

3. Potato Chips

Burning Potato Chip Isolated in Black Background with Copy Space for Texts Writing in Horizontal Orientation.

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This exciting item can not only feed you but start a fire as well. Most dry, starchy chips can be used as tinder to create a life-saving fire, especially with the oils that most brands cook with. And, of course, they might get a little stale, but food - any food - goes down well when you are in a dire situation.

2. Brush Up on Plant I.D.

A dandelion growing in a field.


Though it isn't always enough to fully sustain yourself, you can consume a lot of plant life commonly found just about anywhere, so knowing some basic foraging skills can help out big time. For example, did you know that you can eat nearly every part of a dandelion except for the stem? Knowing what is edible and what could be poisonous or toxic is just as valuable.

1. Whistles Work

survival tools, tools for adventure with pliut and fire making tools

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Here is another in a long line of safety devices that can be easily transported, even around your neck. They can be heard from long distances, whether in the woods or backyard, after a fall or injury. Whistles often come with neck lanyards or a paracord bracelet that you can wear on your wrist.

Remember the most basic of basic survival tips, as well! You can't suck the venom from a snakebite. Dandelions are entirely edible. Moss doesn't always grow on the north side of a tree, and you should swim parallel to the shore if caught in a rip current. Learn how to start a fire in an emergency and always have a backup plan!

Please check out my book "The Hunter's Way" from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage, or on Facebook and YouTube