What You Don’t Know Might Kill You

Dear Reader,

Obviously, being prepared for a natural disaster or other emergency situation is critical to ensuring that you and your family survive it.

There are countless anecdotes of someone who attends a first-aid class and a few weeks later is able to save a life thanks to what they learned. Recent history has shown us that we can’t count on our government to bail us out in a crisis — and we can’t depend on others to save us, either.

Stocking up on gear and supplies is important, absolutely. But you also need to know how to use your survival tools, and you should be well-versed in certain basic skill sets, because they will greatly increase your chances of survival.

As I said, in a natural disaster or other emergency, you are pretty much on your own. You can’t always depend on local police or fire personnel to come save the day.

So as you’re preparing for an emergency — purchasing supplies and gear — you should also consider taking classes in one or more of the following skill sets:


During a natural disaster or other emergency, people may be injured and require immediate medical care. Unfortunately, it might not be possible to get help to them or take them to a hospital, which is why learning basic medical care is so critical. Check with the local Red Cross or community college to see if they offer first-aid courses. Our resident special operations physician Omar Hamada recommends looking for the following in a pre-hospital trauma care course:

  • Learning CPR
  • Learning how to do basic airway management
  • Learning how to control bleeding and support circulation
  • Other practical things to learn include managing the spine and long bone injuries (this should cover minimizing movement to decrease pain and soft tissue/vascular/neural injury, inline traction and splinting) and how to handle electrocution and drowning.


Whether society devolves into chaos or some criminal breaks into your house in the middle of the night, you should have a way to defend yourself and your family. And in some situations, you may have to hunt for food to stay alive. Even if you only own one firearm, you should be well trained to use it. Visit the shooting range frequently and practice dry-firing daily at home. If you are new to guns or don’t own one, see if the local shooting range offers classes for beginners. I assure you, regardless of your current comfort level with guns, you will want a firearm during a survival situation.


While I strongly recommend having a bug-out location, the fact is you may not always be able to get there — if the road is washed out or your mode of transportation is disabled, for instance. It is important to have a backup plan if you’re forced to flee your home, and your plan should include the possibility of having to build a shelter in the woods. I recommend looking for wilderness training courses at your local nature school, outdoor center or community college. If you ever have to leave your home and survive in the elements, building a shelter is key to your survival.


During an emergency, most modern communications (cellphones, email and social media) are likely to be disrupted or rendered ineffective. For this reason, it is critical that you have another way you can communicate with others, such as a two-way or ham radio. To operate a ham radio, you need to be licensed. You can take ham radio courses online that will give you the necessary skills to communicate when cellphones and internet connections aren’t working.

Quite simply, these four skill sets could save your life in a survival situation. No matter how much gear you own or how many supplies you have stored, items can’t replace the skills and knowledge that will truly help you survive in an emergency.

If you have questions regarding any of these four areas — or any other survival topic — send them to SPYfeedback@LFB.org. I am here to help you be as prepared as you can be to protect yourself and your loved ones when disaster strikes.

So don’t delay. Send in your spy and survival questions to SPYfeedback@LFB.org today.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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