Useful Skills in a Post-Disaster World

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Surviving a disaster usually isn’t all that hard. Leaving pandemics out of it, if you look at the number of people who actually die from disasters, the number is extremely low. But surviving the aftermath of those disasters is much more difficult. Not only that, but the longer it takes for things to get back to normal, the harder it is to survive. Some situations are so grave, that survival means we totally change the way that we live. These events are referred to as “TEOTWAWKI” events (the end of the world as we know them).

A TEOTWAWKI event isn’t the end of the world; the world is just different after the event, than it was before it. Hurricane Katrina was such an event for many people living in New Orleans and the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be one as well.

But the type of TEOTWAWKI events we are concerned about involve the loss of the power grid, our infrastructure and our supply chains. Should those things be lost, then life as we know it would truly change, going back to a much simpler form of life, but without the training and tools to live in such a time. Those who have the skills to live and thrive during such a time will have a distinct advantage; not only for themselves, but to barter with others and be an asset for their community.

So, what sorts of skills will we need in such a time?

  • Gardening & Farming – People will need to eat, no matter what. Without the ability to get food through our massive and massively complex supply chain, the only food that will be available is what’s locally grown. Even if you can only grow enough for your family, that takes some of the burden off the community.
  • Animal Husbandry – For the same reason as gardening.
  • Butchering & Tanning – To turn those animals into usable food and their hides into leather for shoes and other things.
  • Medical – With the breakdown of much of our infrastructure, hospitals will probably close down. While many doctors will still be doing what they can to help people, there will be a problem getting to them. For many things, local medics will be the choice of preference.
  • Midwifery – Long before our modern medical profession, there were midwives; women trained in helping other women in childbirth. This ancient profession will grow in importance, as other medical options are lost.
  • Herbal Medicine –The roots of modern pharmaceutical medicine are in herbal medicine. When those factories close down and pharmacies run out of stock, it will be important to know where to find medicines in nature.
  • Blacksmithing – The old time blacksmith could make pretty much anything out of metal. While this doesn’t mean that they can do everything we use today, they can still do a lot. The blacksmith is able to make tools we’ll need, turning scrap metal into useful things. Other metalworking skills, like machining, smelting and extruding will be useful as well for rebuilding society.
  • Carpentry – The work of carpenters has changed through the years, building homes, making furniture and even making wagons, but it’s all still working with wood, one of our most abundant renewable resources and one that is easy to harvest.
  • General Repairs – Without factories churning out new products, the ability to repair things we already have will become even more important.
  • Mechanics – If we have cars to use in a post-disaster world, it will be because mechanics find some way of making them work.
  • Sewing – While there will be lots of used clothing sitting around, our clothing won’t fit right, as we lose weight. Being able to take it in or take it apart to make children’s clothes will be an invaluable skill.
  • Counseling – Whether pastoral counseling or psychological counseling, there will be a lot of people who will need help dealing with the situation.