In the survival/emergency preparedness community, there is an inordinate amount of discussion devoted to exactly what kind of gear and how much each would-be survivor needs to live through whichever approaching cataclysm they foresee. While the nuts and bolts of survival gear are certainly important, it is the intangible aspects of attitude, knowledge and skill that truly separate the survivor from the person who just bought a bunch of stuff. Before you start throwing money into a survival kit, you need to start thinking like a survivor.
Perseverance: A survivor must have an attitude of perseverance. If you want to live through a disaster, you must have the willpower to keep going despite hardship and sacrifice. No one wants to find themselves in a survival situation. However, once you are there you must realize that you will have do things that you do not want to do, go places that you do not want to go, deal with bad or broken gear and quite possibly endure pain, exhaustion and other physical ailments. You do this by constantly reminding yourself that every hardship overcome is another step towards the ultimate goal of getting out alive.
Positive Outlook: In a survival situation, discouragement can kill you. Setbacks and small defeats can put you in a dark place. Getting depressed in the middle of a disaster is a quick way to get lethargic and sloppy and either one can lead to a fatal mistake. Finding yourself in a life threatening situation is no place to become a pessimist. Keep your mind on the ultimate goal of getting back to civilization and try to maintain a sense of humor. A good laugh can be just what you need to snap yourself out of a funk and get focused.
Creativity: What you carry on your back is not nearly as important as your ability to think creatively in an emergency. Survival is often about improvising what you need out of what is available. It is your imagination and ability to think unconventionally that will allow you to provide for your needs even if you left your survival kit at home.
Knowledge: Most of us have all sorts of odd facts bouncing around in our heads. If you’re thinking about survival, now is the time to forget which shoes Michael Jordan wore in his last game and start accumulating useful knowledge. What plants in your area have medicinal properties and which ones will make you sick? Did you know that a teaspoon of household bleach will purify 5 gallons of water? Do you know how to shut off the gas main in your home? This is the type of knowledge that will keep you alive when doing so is not an easy task. So dump the useless trivia and start stockpiling some useful facts.
Skills: The skills you carry into a survival situation are quite possibly the most important thing you will carry. If the only skill you really excel at is finding the remote, now would be a good time to expand your resume and you don’t have to go into hock to do it. Many community based organizations offer many useful classes for little or even no money. CPR, first aid, self defense and even emergency preparedness classes are offered at the community level while more advanced classes are offered for a price within the private sector.
If you’re serious about survival, don’t start by buying the biggest survival kit you can afford. Begin by doing a self assessment that looks at your attitude, knowledge and skills and modify accordingly. The things you carry in your head are more important than anything you might carry on your back.