By Billie and Robert Nicholson

We all know that as a family we need to have a designated place to meet in case of fire. We also know to change the batteries in our smoke alarm. We now know we need a bug-out-bag stocked with necessities like water, food, maps, etc., if we have to leave our home immediately. We even know to keep our vehicle’s fuel tank at least half full.Two cute kids hiking in forest

Things we often take for granted include the BIG THREE: a properly functioning body can generally live 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.

Survival skills are important to know no matter your age. Start early with your children and grandchildren teaching them how to call for help if something unusual should happen. Here are some safety skills each member can learn.

  • Call 911 for emergency assistance
  • Stay away from broken electric wires
  • Heimlich maneuver in the case of choking
  • Basic first aid, stopping bleeding, etc.
  • How to answer the door when home alone, and keeping the door locked when unattended
  • Install and train every capable household member in the use of a fire extinguisher
  • In bear country, keep pepper spray or wasp spray by each exterior door

The list of home security enhancements can be as basic or as comprehensive as needed. One important thing to teach all family members is how to maintain situational awareness. This skill will help each of them avoid many dangerous situations. Children and seniors can learn how to become aware of the people and events around them by playing games. For example, when driving, ask others to give you directions. Ask them to describe what someone in the room looks like, including details of hair color and length, clothing, piercings or tattoos. Teach them to make eye contact when meeting strangers and to walk looking ahead, not with their eyes down in a cellphone or tablet.

Paying attention to their surroundings can be especially important in a situation when a person is lost. A lost person quickly becomes a scared person. Teach your family members to stop and sit as soon as they realize they are lost. Assure them that you will be searching for them and if they stop moving around, it will be easier to find them. When they venture outdoors, have them carry a small backpack containing some simple items like a whistle, a bright bandana, a snack bar or piece of fruit, and a bottle of water. These items could go a long way in helping them get found and in sustaining them if the search time is extended.

Practicing survival skills frequently will make each family member more comfortable in the case of an emergency. They will know what to do automatically. Be safe.

Billie and Robert Nicholson welcome your questions or comments. They can be reached at

BillieandRobert@RustyBuggy.com