This is a very sensitive time for the world— from the news of the pandemic to the shutting down of most public buildings and businesses, people are panicked, out of work (or working from home), and learning to cope with the situation as it evolves.
Although we still don’t know what the next few months are going to look like, we do know that the economic repercussions are going to be huge on a global scale.
If your city is already under a mandatory quarantine ordinance or it’s speculated that it may be happening soon, I encourage you to consider developing or enhancing the following skills. These will not only benefit you now, but they will become invaluable for your future.
It’s never too late to start learning something new, and while some of these require more time to master than others, being stuck at home may present you with some unexpected ‘free time’ to explore these useful skills. Utilize your time wisely. 🙂
Practical skills to know if you're on lockdown
1. Water sourcing - Water is essential for the survival of all living things. Having a stockpile of several gallons of water is amazing, but depending on the length of a lockdown or emergency, your supply may eventually run short. Knowing where to find water, as well as how to safely filter and purify it will become necessary if shortages are wide-spread. Consider the possibility that there may not be workers to maintain water treatment plants. Do not count on finding an abundance of water bottles at the grocery store, nor running your faucet to get an endless supply of H2O. Instead, you can look into getting rain catchment systems or digging a well, if your property and city ordinances allow for it. If not, you’ll have to think outside the box because this will certainly require some skills and creativity! As a tip, learn to ration your existing water supply!
2. Finding food - If you’ve stepped foot inside a grocery store recently (I’m talking March 2020), you’re probably in awe of how the shelves look: they’re practically empty! This is because the moment a disaster or state of emergency is declared, people rush to the supermarket to stock up on food and other supplies. People panic-shop, so if you arrived at the store a little too late, you may have to leave empty-handed. You need food to live, so feeding yourself and your loved ones without the help of your grocer is an important skill to have. Finding food can be broken into different categories. Surely, learning all these skills would require time, so pick one to begin with.
- Foraging - Learning how to identify edible plants in your area is one of the most useful skills you can have. Don’t believe me? Watch the story of Chris McCandless in the movie ‘Into the Wild’ and let me know if you change your mind.
- Hunting and fishing - While this skill definitely takes time to learn as well as the ability to freely go into the wilderness, you can read and watch videos that teach about how to trap, fish, and hunt, as well as how to field dress your kill.
- Note that each state and county has different laws on foraging, hunting, and fishing so it’s imperative that you check in with your local ordinances prior.
3. Growing your own food - There’s truly nothing tastier than homegrown fruits, veggies, and herbs. Begin by learning which things grow best in your region and move towards starting a garden. If you live in the city, learn about urban gardening. If you live in the countryside, you may have the ability to build a greenhouse. Harvesting seeds is another thing to consider unless you prefer to buy them. Another cool growing option for small plants and herbs is aquaponics and hydroponics. It takes time to make it work successfully, but it doesn’t require a lot of space— on a small scale, you can start with a fish tank.
4. Food preservation - Having access to fresh food is great but unfortunately, it can spoil quickly. Knowing how to preserve food without refrigeration by using methods like canning, freeze-drying, sun-drying, and dehydrating are invaluable skills you should learn. There are plenty of online articles, videos, and books to help you get started.
5. Cooking at home - Cooking surely requires skills. Oftentimes it’s not as easy as following a recipe, believe me! Being on lockdown will give you more time to explore or enhance your skills in the kitchen. Since most restaurants may be shut down, consider buying ingredients over take-out food. Learn how to make homemade pasta, cook hearty meals, and bake bread from scratch. If you’re already a good cook, you can try mastering the skill of cooking over hot coals, a campfire (substitute the campfire for your wood-burning fireplace), or try a sun oven.
6. Animal husbandry - Of course, this would be applicable to those who have a large enough property to raise farm animals on them, but it truly is a skill you should consider learning if given the opportunity. You should learn how to raise chickens, rabbits, goats, pigs, and/or livestock, especially since they require special food to meet their nutritional needs for optimal health. There are many things you can learn to process, such as milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and harvesting the animal itself (humanely). In a scenario where the grocery stores run out of meat or dairy products for a long time, you could capitalize on the goods produced by your farm animals to earn an income.
7. First aid and basic medical skills - Accidents can happen whether you’re quarantined in your home or not. Be sure to have some training in emergency medical response. You can start with basic first aid, move your way up to an intermediate level, and if you want to continue improving this skill, train to become a nurse or paramedic. I highly recommend learning first aid if you have children and elderly parents, neighbors, and/or friends. There are many online courses and YouTube videos on this topic
8. Natural and holistic medicine - When you’re on lockdown, you should have enough medical supplies to last you a month. But consider what can happen if the lockdown lasts longer than that, or if pharmaceutical companies are unable to produce a specific type of medicine for an undetermined period of time. For these reasons, you should learn about herbal medicine and which natural items can effectively substitute the pharmaceutical alternative.
9. Home and personal hygiene - Your hygiene should become a priority in your household, but doing this requires a multitude of skills. In the event of a supply shortage, you should learn how to make your own soap, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent, and other cleaning supplies. It’s also very important to learn how to properly dispose of waste. Consider that there may not be workers to maintain the sewer treatment plants, so you may want to think about learning the techniques of composting toilets or get a septic system if your home/ property has the capacity for that.
10. Heating (Making a fire) - It’s important to know how to start a fire, whether that’s in a bonfire pit or the fireplace. Fire might become your only source of heat or alternative cooking and water purification option. Learn to cut wood with a chainsaw, chop it with an ax, and weather/ season it properly for the best results when you need it.
Lockdown must-haves checklist
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11. Energy conservation - While not a skill entirely, learning how to not rely fully on electricity is crucial for many reasons. You should consider the possibility that there may not be workers available to maintain the power plants— after all, they may be on lockdown too! If that happens, you better be prepared to handle the situation with all the limitations and challenges that will undoubtedly arise. Best case scenario, if the power remains fully functional, your electric bill will be significantly reduced thereby helping to maintain your budget. It’s a win-win. I’m not saying you should live without power at all, but learn to ration and reduce the use of it. You can also look into alternative renewable power sources, such as solar, wind, or hydro.
12. Physical strength and endurance - Being healthy and in shape is critical during an emergency scenario. Sure, if you’re on lockdown, you may not have the ability to go to a gym but you can do workouts at home to improve your body’s efficiency. If you have exercise equipment at home, schedule 30 to 60 minutes daily to do cardio, weight lifting, or strength training. If you don’t have any equipment, YouTube is a great place to find workout videos.
13. Self-defense - This skill goes hand in hand with the previous one. During uncertain times, people behave much differently than they would under normal circumstances. This is why it’s important to know how to defend yourself and your loved ones without the use of weapons. I highly recommend looking into a self-defense class, Krav Maga or any other style of martial arts. Learning the techniques of self-defense would require having a partner to practice with. If you’re learning solo, you can look into kickboxing or karate and work on kicks and punches. Protecting yourself also includes protecting your loved ones and the safety of your home. This means that you should learn how to fortify your home if it becomes necessary.
14. Target accuracy and marksmanship - Whether mastering the skill of aiming at the bull’s eye of a target means shooting guns, arrows, or darts, it’s a good idea to practice these skills regardless. If you’re using a firearm, you should also learn basic gunsmithing, how to properly clean them, and of course how (and under which circumstances) to use them.
15. Bushcraft and tactical skills - Learning primitive skills like how to navigate with and without the use of a compass, how to build a shelter with natural materials, and how to survive off the land will become practical in a bug-out scenario. For those who live in urban settings, consider that after a long period of time in quarantine and with limited access to food and supplies, people may become angry, irritable, and possibly aggressive in trying to provide for themselves and their loved ones. If your home no longer becomes safe to reside in and you have a designated bug out location, having bushcraft and tactical skills may be lifesaving for you.
16. Home repairs - Having a basic knowledge of how to fix the plumbing, electricity, or other issues will save you money and ensure the repairs get done in a timely fashion— that is, considering you’re home full-time under the period of a lockdown, and the person you would have normally hired to the work can’t come to your house either. In any case, YouTube and Google are great places to find tutorials on how to fix things. Another solution would be to follow the instructions of a manual if you have one.
17. Small engine mechanics - Just like learning how to repair things around the house, you may have to learn to fix small appliances and machinery. In the future, you could use your skills as a source of revenue to sustain your family.
18. Basic carpentry - Carpentry can become a great skill to learn for a couple of reasons. For one, it can help distract you from your day-to-day boredom of being stuck at home. Learning how to carve wood using hand tools is both a skill and an art. This hobby can be improved with time and dedication. Secondly, woodworking and carpentry are two occupations that will never go out of style. You may be able to find work in this industry or even sell your projects for profit.
19. Sewing - Every person should know at least the basics of sewing, from installing a button to fixing a hole on your clothes. Sewing also helps improve hand-eye coordination and it helps to distract you from the boredom you may be facing while you’re on lockdown. Cross-stitching, crocheting, and other similar projects may be fun for your kids to learn as well.
20. Communication skills - Having the means to stay in touch with the outside world is necessary during any situation, but more importantly during a lockdown. If the power grid or the internet fails for any reason, you will have to resort to other means of staying in touch with your loved ones and the news. Learn how to communicate without the internet or mobile phones here! I encourage you to obtain your HAM radio license— while you’re quarantined, you’ll have plenty of time to study about it and pass your test, plus your license will be effective for the next 10 years so it will be beneficial for a long time
21. Situational awareness - Being aware of the developing situation can help you gauge what your next steps will look like. Is it better to stay put and see how the situation evolves? Or is it best to bug out? [Note that bugging out requires you to have a planned location that is already stocked with sufficient supplies.] One way to develop observational skills is to look at the world’s history. This is not the first time that our world has experienced a pandemic. By learning how people behaved in the past, and how society returned to normal after some time, you may be able to determine what the best course of action is for you and your family. Be vigilant and observant, and stay in the know of the current situation as it unfolds. Don’t be naive and don’t take everything the media says as fact. Learning to disseminate the truth from lies, especially in the media, is surely a skill we should all have!
22. New hobbies (like making toilet paper origami) - If you’re one of the people who stockpiled a year’s worth of toilet paper in the last month, this is a skill you can surely look into developing! [Obviously that was a joke!! Humor is a necessary factor for surviving social distancing and isolation, so if you didn’t find the humor in my joke, go look up some memes.] For those who live alone, quarantining may become lonely and can even drive some people crazy. For those who live with roommates or their families, being enclosed with the same people 24/7 can also become a struggle, especially if you’re not used to it. In either case, it’s important to learn which activities can help you combat boredom. Some options include learning a new language or instrument, working on artistic projects, taking online courses in a subject of interest, or catching up on books that have been sitting on your shelf.
Learning the above-mentioned skills does not just apply to being quarantined in the same way that being on lockdown does not only apply to global pandemics.
Imagine if the government were to issue a state of emergency post-disaster that causes your city to be locked down under martial law.
At the moment, the entire world is going through a similar ‘shut-down procedure’, but in the future, it might just be narrowed down to one country, one state, or one city. We are not immune to man-made or natural disasters.
Let this experience be a learning opportunity for you and your loved ones, so that you may thrive during any uncertain future events.
Are there any other useful skills that weren’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!
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Ah yes #s 20 and 21…two skills that you can only train people for to a certain extent. Some people will always excel at these two because of their innate makeup. I have trained soldiers and watched others train other soldiers, and know firsthand that some folks are simply NEVER going to get proficient with these two. And proficiency with defensive and offensive tactics (and marksmanship) takes A LOT of practice.