I wish I had a photographic memory, but unfortunately there’s no way I can remember all the information and instructions I’ve read over the years dealing with self-reliance topics.
That’s why it’s so important to actually practice some of your skills in real life whenever you have the opportunity. That camping trip down at the beach, or in a state forest, can give you the opportunity to practice fire-making skills, cooking over a campfire or even how to gather and treat water for safe drinking.
But there are myriad topics that aren’t practical for me to read and try to memorize. That’s why I love having my reference books, like the Dare to Prepare book that I talked about in Building Your Resource Library. This book contains (among tons of other info) pages of charts telling you what the real expiration date is for all kinds of foods and medicines (hint: it’s not the one stamped on the product). I certainly don’t need to memorize that type of information – yet it’s handy to have it in my library.
Or perhaps I need to jog my memory on the specifics of performing a function I did long ago, but have forgotten the details. One read through of the instructions and I will clearly remember.
Reference books, like When all Hell Breaks Loose are great to have on hand in an urban disaster emergency. Not only do you have step-by-step instructions for how to handle a situation you may not familiar with, but it helps calms your racing mind to have something in your hands giving you a clear indication of what to do next. Staying level-headed and not going into panic mode is the first step to survival in an emergency situation.
I’ve done a lot of research for my novels and as I’ve discussed before, Tom Brown’s Field Guide: Wilderness Survival is still a favorite book for me. But another one that I’ve found to be great is the SAS Survival Handbook: for any climate in any situation – by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman. Mr. Wiseman spent 26 years in the SAS (Special Air Service), an elite unit in the British Army. This book has about every conceivable situation you can think of for survival scenarios. There are illustrations for wild, edible plants and animals, shelters, and all types of other information. If you’re a writer, it’s a valuable resource. And who knows, maybe writing about survival will spark an interest in learning about it yourself—that’s what happened to me!
Whether you’re a writer or not, or have no interest in the topic of self-reliance, I hope you’ll still consider having a few of these books on hand in your home. You never know when they might come in handy.