Forrest PaletteThe Path to Preparedness

What does Emergency Preparedness mean to you? Does it mean being responsibly armed? Knowing how to change a flat? Having a first aid kit in your car? Or full-on stockpiling of ammo, food, and water? It can be overwhelming to think of all the things you might need to be prepared for in your life, so in this blog series we will break it down into manageable steps. Set yourself on the path to gain the confidence and tools to handle anything that comes your way.

 Topic: Basic Life Skills Checklist

My first and most important step on my personal journey to preparedness was acknowledging that bad things happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime, for no reason. I can remain blind to that, be caught completely off guard, and then hope someone else will help me. Or I can take accountability for myself and my family and gain the skills I need to deal with whatever life might throw our way.

There are some core skills everyone should learn. Here’s a checklist to help you get started.


Changing a Flat – flat tires don’t wait until you’re on a well-lit road in broad daylight across the street from a mechanic. Know how to quickly change a tire by yourself so you can get back on the road and back to safety.

Jumpstarting a Dead Battery – just like flat tires, dead batteries don’t wait for a convenient time. Know how to use jumper cables and get the engine started again. Consider going one step further and keeping a charged jump box in your trunk, so you don’t even have to find another car to hook up to.

Driving a Manual Transmission – can you think of an emergency situation where you might have to drive a car that isn’t yours? Where someone’s life might depend on getting somewhere quickly? Be able to drive any type of vehicle that is available to you.

Escaping the Trunk of a Car – American cars made after 2002 have a trunk release lever. Do you know how to find it? What if you’re in the trunk of an older car, what do you do? Does your teenaged daughter know what to do?

Using a Chain Saw – what if a powerful storm drops a tree across your driveway, blocking your path to supplies or medical assistance? What if you need a pile of wood at hand to build fires for cooking or warmth? That old gas-powered chain saw in the garage makes such tasks quick and easy, if you know how to safety start it and use it.

Swimming – we’re not talking about Olympic skills here, we’re talking about staying alive. At a bare minimum, learn how to remain calm and tread water.

Finding North – it doesn’t take much to get lost, even in a populated area. Knowing what direction you’re facing and what direction you need to go can certainly save time and aggravation. In a more serious situation, like being lost in the woods, it can save your life.

Reading a Map – imagine a world without Google Maps or Waze – what if you had to unfold a paper map and figure it out? Could you? If you’re Gen X or older you probably can. But can your kids? Have they ever even SEEN a paper map?

Basic First Aid – this includes being able to stop bleeding, splint a broken bone, administer CPR, perform the Heimlich Maneuver, and other basic life saving skills. Classes are readily available in most communities – check with your local Park District.

Starting a Fire Without Matches – if you saw the movie Castaway, you already know one way. Have you ever tried it? Do you know how many other ways there are?

Here are some resources to learn more and help you prepare:

“Portable Jump Starter” search results on Amazon: Portable Jump Starter

Escaping From a Trunk: Escape from a Trunk -

Chainsaw Basics: Chainsaw Basics - YouTube

Compass Skills and Map Reading:

Finding North:

No Matches? No Problem! 9 ways to start a fire