Survival skills are timeless and a lot of them come from many generations before us. But the importance of survival skills seems to fall by the wayside as time goes on. But we recently came across a treasure trove of old survival tips from the New York Public Library. These tips are old but benefits of learning survival skills are endless. So, it might be worthwhile to check these old tips out—one day, they may save your life.
Few Basic Survival Skills Everyone Should Know
1. How To Purify Water In Cistern
Ran out of fresh water to drink? Don’t worry, because you can purify water in a cistern with a very simple trick. All you need to do is add one tablespoon of powdered alum to 16 to 20 gallons of water. Wait for several hours, then you’ve got yourself fresh and pure water! This is among the basic survival skills you need to know. Who knows when this comes handy.
2. How To Detect Escaping Gas
A gas leak is very dangerous. It can blow up your house if not attended to immediately. To detect a gas leak, paint a strong soap solution on the suspected pipe. There is a gas leak when bubbles appear from the escaping point. Once you detect where the escaping point is, fix the problem straight away. An essential survival skill like this might make a difference between life and death.
3. How To Measure With Coins
So you’re out in the wilderness and you need to measure something. But you have no measuring tools. Here’s a basic survival tip for you. Check your pockets for some spare change. A penny, for example, weighs around 2.5 grams and has a 19.05mm diameter. For the complete list of measurement of coins, check this out. This tip is not among the essential survival tips. But might get to use it in a survival situation someday.
4. How To Pick Up Broken Glass
Accidents happen and sometimes, you can’t avoid breaking a glass. To clean up the broken pieces, use a soft damp cloth to ensure the small splinters get picked up, too. Use an old rag so you can throw it away with the broken glass once you’re done. This skill seems too simple but you might need it one day in a survival situation.
5. How To Treat Sprains
If you have a sprain, get some cloth to use for wrapping and a cold water in a jar. Elevate the sprained joint then wrap it with the cloth. Put the cold water in a jar higher than the sprained joint and get a strip of cloth. Place one end of the cloth in the jug while the other rest upon the wrapping of your sprained joint. If you have oil or liniment with you, rub it on the injured joint as the sprain gets better.
6. How To Extract A Splinter
You might get a splinter when creating a survival shelter. Extracting it with your fingers or a pair of tweezers can be painful. But there is an easy way to do this with less pain. All you need is a wide-mouthed bottle filled with hot water. Ensure the hot water is up to nearly the bottle’s brim then press it tightly against the affected part. This creates a suction, pulling down the flesh while the steam of the hot water draws out the splinter. For wilderness survival, you need to know simple skills like this.
7. How To Remove Foreign Particles From The Eye
When you’re out in the wild, you’re most probably faced with strong winds. Then, you might catch a foreign particle in your eye. Remove the foreign particle with castor oil. Put a few drops in the corner of the affected eye. If in case the foreign particle is of lime or mortar, rinse your eye with weak vinegar and water. Make sure to include castor oil and vinegar in your survival kit.
8. How To Treat Bite Of An Animal
Put a ligature between the wound and the rest of the body. Then, cleanse the animal bite well. If you suspect the attacking animal is mad, ensure the place is well sucked. Cauterize it with silver nitrate, after cutting the flesh with a knife. Go to a doctor once you’ve performed the first aid. Don’t pass from learning this tip. This is one of the most important wilderness survival skills.
9. How To Make A Hack Saw Frame
A hacksaw is one of the useful tools you can have. The good news is you can make it with a piece of hardwood cut, saw blade, and a small screw and nut. Make a cut in the area where you will attach the saw blade. Attach the blade with screw and nut in near the handle. As shown in Fig. 2, this metal fitting is for the other end where the top should fit into the slot in your wood frame. This prevents the blade from turning. Tighten the saw by using the nut on A, as shown in the picture.
10. How To Make A Spirit Level
Make your own spirit level with a wooden box and a glass tube. But you must construct the box well. To do this, cork both ends of the glass tube, filled with enough water or spirit (leaving a bubble of air). Seal the tube by using a sealing wax to prevent the spirit inside from evaporating.
11. How To Use Up Coal Dust
Recycling is always a good idea, so why not turn some coal dust into bricks of fuel? Mix a shovel of coal dust to a handful of salt then add water. Stir the mixture until it turns into a stiff paste. Mold the mixture into bricks using an old tin box then let it dry on a shelf. In a survival situation, you can use these coal blocks for shelter.
12. How To Make A Fire Extinguisher
Don’t have a fire extinguisher at home? Make one on your own! As shown in the image, dissolve the salt and sal-ammoniac in water. Put about a quart of the solution in glass bottles. Pour out one of the bottles in the fire to extinguish it.
13. How To Light A Fire Without Wood
You want to light a coal fire but there’s no wood available? No worries! You can use twisted pieces of paper (as shown in the image). A newspaper would be a good choice. Take about two or three sheets and start lighting your coal fire. Knowing this survival skill is helpful if you’re stuck somewhere urban and cold.
14. How To Pull Out Long Nails
Pulling out long nails with a pair of pliers can be tough, but there’s an old trick for doing this without a hitch. Place a small piece of wood under your pincers. Start pulling the long nail and you’ll see how easy it is!
15. How To Cure Chilblains
Suffering from chilblains due to extreme cold? Use a slice of apple and some salt to solve your problem. Dip a slice of apple in common salt then rub it gently on the affected parts. It would be best to use a juicy apple for this trick.
16. How To Light A Match In The Wind
So, you’re out for camping and ready to start a bonfire. But the winds are too strong for you to light a single match. To light a matchstick in the wind, cut thin shavings towards the match head. This way, the shavings will catch the fire and make the flame stronger. A major tip: never forget to pack boxes of matchsticks in your survival kit.
17. How to Secure Loose Hammer and Axe Head
Securing loose hammers and axehead ensures your safety. This tip comes handy when you’re building a survival shelter in the wilderness. Secure a hammer by wedging it in the handle as tight as you can. Then, drill two holes at the top and drive in two screws. An ax head, meanwhile, is secure when tied with wire. To do this, bore a hole through the shaft. Make sure it is right below the head. Put a wire through the hole then over the top. Do this as tight as you can. Then, twist the wire and staple it to keep it secure.
Have you ever wondered what the most important survival skills are? WatchMojo breaks it down for you in this video. Watch it to learn more:
There are more contemporary versions of these old survival tips. But when the situation is dire and we don’t have a lot of resources, we have to go back to basics. This said we need to know at least a couple of timeless survival skills. And thanks to the New York Public Library for letting us remember some of them. We hope you enjoyed this survival guide as much as we did!
What’s the most unexpected event where you were able to use your survival skills? Let us know in the comments!
Up Next: 10 Survival Skills for Kids
Editor’s Note: This post was published on January 30, 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.