Be Prepared Challenge – Organise #2

If you have been joining in on the challenge, you would have read Bec’s post at eat at dixiebelles titled “:: Be Prepared Challenge :: Organise – Step Two :“.  She listed places, areas and ways to store the items you need to be prepared.  I think she covered off everything, so I shall not repeat all of that wonderful information.  Thanks Bec for the great tips.

What I will cover today are skills.  As my son Adam puts it, ‘Skills to pay the bills’, or in this case save your family’s bacon in a dire situation.  By understanding the skills we possess or don’t have, we can better prepare in case TSHTF.  

One big caveat.  I am by no means an expert in this field.  I have however had the benefit of 20 years of military training and service and have gained many life skills during my time in the Royal Australian Navy.  I also served in Darwin, when I experience and survived three cyclones by learning to be prepared.  Also in the few years I have been on my green journey, I have learnt many skills that will benefit in a crisis.  If you want to participate in this task, then great.  If you think I am talking out of my bottom, then skip it, but please at least read what I have to say.

So for this task we will need the following;

  • Thinking Caps,
  • Pencil
  • Large pad
  • Other members of the family
  • A quiet place without the TV blaring in the background

Sit down with afore mentioned family and on your piece of paper draw four columns down the page and title them as follows;  It would look something like this;

No competency
 First Aid
 Preparing food
 Preserving food

Write down everyones skills that you already have or think you need work on that would be useful during a crisis.  For example, I have pre-populated some of mine.  Anyway, you get the general idea.  Do this for every person in the family that is willing to participate.  That way, you will get a rounded view of all the important skills you think you will need during a Natural disasters, political unrest, resource scarcity.  Stick to those three main situations as your scope so to speak.  With the natural disasters, think about those ones that may be possible in your area at least ones that have occurred in the last 50 years.  That should give you a fairly good sample to work from.

So, if you are stuck for skills, here are a few more;
Plan, Organise, Entertain & perform, Plant & cultivate, Treat/Nurse, First Aid, Transport, Compose music, Tend animals, Counsel, Negotiate, Sell, Buy, Teach, Prepare food, Make decisions, Write, Draw, Count, Carpentry abilities, Mechanical abilities, Basic Fire fighting, Navigate, Bush craft, Mend/Sew, Deal with Feelings, Light a fire, Cleaning. 

These are some of the important ones I would consider, but there are probably a few more you can and will think of.  Some may seem a little bit out there like compose music, however if the power is out and everyone is bored, and someone can play a musical instrument, then morale gets instantly lifted!  Just an example, but you know what I mean.  Just try your best, and be honest.  For any skills that you feel you are lacking in, check if another family member has that skill, but remember one skill that you cannot skimp on is First Aid.  If push comes to shove, ensure that everyone knows CPR.  I admit that I still have to take Ben to a course, but I believe that everyone else knows the basics.

So once you find the gaps in your family skill set, or find ones that you believe you absolutely need yourself, seek a way of gaining that skill, either by attending a course i.e CPR/First aid, reading a book about the subject and practising i.e Cooking, or marrying someone who has that skill (the last one is a joke).  It is no use during a crisis discovering that you have a house full of food that you have carefully stockpiled, and no-one knows how to light a fire to cook it.  Further more, there is no use having a few fire extinguishers around the house when no-one knows how to use them.  This is one good skill that I have taught to Ben and Kim.  I bought a cheap fire extinguisher and let them practice against one of our fences, with a cardboard box as a pretend fire.  There is nothing quite like pulling the trigger to give you a bit of experience. 

Same goes for practice.  Once you have learnt a skill, practice it regularly if you think it is important enough.  Skills like cooking food, negotiating, planning and organising take time to develop.  Don’t leave it to the last minute when your kids are screaming for food, or critical decisions need to be made that instant.  Practice, practice, practice.  I sound like a music teacher! 

Anyway, at the end of this task, I would expect that you and your family would have a list of skills, you fully understand your competencies, and where you need to seek further information or training.  A good start, but please do follow up and practice or learn those skills you think you need.

To finish off, can I please ask that if you think I have missed any essential skills or have any burning ones you want to add, leave a comment with details.  The more information we all have, the better off we will be at the end of the challenge.  That include websites with list of skills.  Don’t include what to start hoarding i.e food & essentials, as that task is coming up in week 2.

Thanks for participating so far. 


  1. says

    Gavin I just found this thread, just what I needed to get myself going! I have a pantry in the basement that is 1/2 food storage and the rest is misc. dishes, trays, summer stuff for outdoor dining etc. I will work on making it just for food so I can more easily see what I have and need. Organizing the pantry and freezer was already on my to do list for this week so I will catch up with the 2nd challenge-I am loving this-thanks so much and stay dry!
    Karen from CT

  2. says

    Wow, great idea.

    I think about this stuff randomly from time to time but now you’ve mentioned it, I’m keen to actually get it written down and use the results to form a “to learn” plan.

    I think I’ll do two sets of skills: ones needed for a short term emergency; and ones needed if/when TSHTF.

    In related news, the organisation I volunteer with has just offered to pay for me to become a certified first aid – saving me a few hundred £££s on course fees! I wonder if I can get them to pay for anything else on the list! 😉

  3. says

    (Sorry Gavin for replying in our blog comments, I am sure you can answer your own questions!)

    clarecc, I think this is very true and that’s why I added the S to the OAR method, as I think Spreading the Word (helping those not able, building resilience, making it commonplace/ commonsense again) is VERY important! In the last week, I’d like to find out how we can promote it, teach it in schools or at community groups, and yes, a nationwide program set up by the government would be ideal!

  4. Anonymous says

    I really like this challenge and need to review my own preps but what I’d really like to see is a broad campaign that encourages average Australians to make a 72 hour bag – no-prep food, bottled water, copies of precious documents/info and photos, emergency blankets/ponchos, change of undies, light source, fire source, first aid kit (sure there is more). But I have no idea how to get it mainstream that this should be minimum in every household. The job of emergency workers would be easier if people weren’t out of food/water/shelter in the first 24 hours.


  5. says

    Great ideas Wendy! What I am covering is more short term preparedness, although I think longer term stuff is very necessary, that it might be too overwhelming for alot of people to do at the same time. Once they get these shorter term things going, they might naturally look to longer term skills anyways! Gavin covers alot of longer term things on his blog, but perhaps, lile me, is taking it one step at a time! :)

  6. says

    Great list.

    I guess you covered the things I might list under the blanket title “bush craft”, but to be a bit more specific, some skills you might want to consider cultivating include: wild foraging (certainly, we’ll be growing and storing food, but if the emergency lasts for a very long time, it might be necessary to know what wild edibles are in the area, when they are best harvested, and how to use them – this goes for medicinal plants, too); harvesting standing dry firewood (for heating and cooking in case regular seasoned cord wood is used up or unavailable); butchering; hide tanning; making things like “lye” (for soap-making in areas of the world where vegetable oils are not easily found or readily available). Also, how to chop wood. I know that sounds like a no brainer, but there really is an art and a technique to properly cutting and splitting wood (and they aren’t the same thing 😉 for use as heat or for cooking.

    In the short-term, for the average person, those things might not be necessary, but for long-term preparedness planning, cultivating some of the lost homesteading arts that made our ancestors so resilient and so self-sufficient should be on the agenda ;).

  7. says

    Great idea Gavin. I am a Registered Nurse (and am also learning about herbal/ backyard medicine), but often think, what if I am the one who comes down sick?? Maybe my husband did First Aid it in the Reserves or Surf Club, but that was a LONG time ago now!! Thanks for the reminder…

    I think volunteering in your community can be a great way to gain skills, build resilience, and find out who has skills that your family don’t have! Think SES, CFU etc.

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