Basic survival is rather easy, and humans have managed to prosper for tens of thousands of years with a rather small skill set. Arguably these are the skills everyone should be learning and practicing.
Starting a fire without using a lighter or matches is difficult to do. I also see plenty of people that have issues when they do have a lighter. The key to getting a fire started is to have three groups of materials ready. Start with tinder which is a material that will easily turn a spark into a flame. To get a spark, a ferrocerium rod and steel striker can be used, or upgrade to magnesium block. Use a knife to create small shavings of magnesium inside your tender, and use a steel striker on the ferrocerium rod to get an intense flame. Next start adding kindling, small thin sticks to keep your flame burning. Then add small fuel branches and work your way up to bigger pieces of fuel.
Finding water and purifying it is very important to staying alive. If you are not fortunate to live by a lake river, creek etc., you will want to have plenty of it stored up for drinking, cooking and sanitation. You will also need to be proactive and have systems in place to catch rainfall from the roof of your home or some other method that works for your area. Water is heavy, and walking long distances to a water source and carrying it back will be uncomfortable and it will expose yourself to increased security problems. Use a filter to help remove water pathogens, and boiling it for a couple of minutes will be additional insurance to have safe drinking water.
Raising small livestock
Knowing how to care for and raise chickens and/ or rabbits is another skill that will be important to know. Both of these animals will reproduce quickly, and other than storing feed for them, are easy to care for. If you have garden space available, it could be used to grow things both chickens and rabbits can eat.
Gardening and foraging
It takes time to get your green thumb, as we have had better and better results from our garden each year. We unfortunately have busy lives, and the garden seems to suffer towards the end of summer. Start small and work in additional garden space, and realize you can have a spring, summer and fall garden. Learn to can the extra food you grow, for the winter months. Learn about plants in your area that can be eaten. The yellow flower and green leaves of a Dandelion can be eaten, and is a good source of minerals your body can use. The more sources of food you can grow or find, will extend the life of any food you have stored in your basement.
One of the best benefits of trapping is that these are passive hunting techniques. You set your trap, and while you are working on other projects, your traps are working for you.
Knot tying and Rope making
It took me a long time to figure out why my Dad tied certain knots, when I could tie a knot much faster, then it dawned on me that his knots were much easier to untie… I have a definite appreciation of the basic knots and the best uses for each of them. Visit ProKnot to learn about the different knots. I like their applications on iOS and Android. As far as rope making, unlike our ancestors, we have various kinds of rope available. Knowing how to twist a couple of bundles of long fibers in a clockwise direction, then twist both of them together in a counter clockwise direction will make a rope. The rope you make is much better than the rope you forgot to bring with you.
Security – situational awareness
It will be important to do quick security assessments during a SHTF event. Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. Be careful about running loud generators at night, or lighting up your entire house if every other house is dark. You may want to have a big roaring fire to cook on, or cook something that will send an unwanted invitation to some bad people’s noses. If you are in a subdivision, work with neighbors and help each other with keeping watch, or reporting suspicious behaviors. Have a warning bell that can alert many people to a possible situation.
Lastly I think more people need to know how to sharpen a knife or axe, etc., these tools work so much better when they are sharp.
Please comment on your ideas of skills that will be needed when the SHTF. Our ancestors were obviously very good at surviving without electricity, AC, smartphones and TV. We have become too reliant on modern conveniences.