8 Skills To Learn Before The Apocalypse

I like to tell myself that in the event of an apocalypse, I would be instrumental to keeping up morale among survivors. What with the massive store of books, movies, and television shows in my brain, I could become the village storyteller; keeping my fellow survivors entertained during the long and trying nights and days. Totally useful, right?

Who am I kidding. If the apocalypse comes — whether it’s from a hoard of zombies or a plague of frogs — I would be almost entirely useless.

There are some things we should all know how to do in order to be of use in this world — post-apocalyptic or not. Here's what any self-respecting Margaret Atwood protagonist should know.

1. How to hot-wire a car

Abandoned vehicles are usually a dime a dozen during times of disaster, so odds are I’ll be able to commandeer one somehow. Whether or not I’ll have the keys is a different story, though, so I’d better be able to get my newly-acquired car to start without 'em. I’ll have to be careful, though: it’s a lot harder to hot-wire modern cars. Wikipedia says I’ll be best off with a model made before 1986.

2. How to ride a motorcycle

Being able to hot-wire a car will only be useful so long as there’s fuel available. The same is true, of course, of being able to ride a motorcycle. However, in the early days of post-apocalyptic survival, transportation will be key. Motorcycles have the ability to travel over terrain some cars might have difficulty with, plus they can zip through cars stalled on the street or highway with much greater ease. And they're wicked cool.

3. How to pick a lock

I’ve recently acquired both a set of lock picks and a practice lock, so with luck, I should have the basics of this skill down pat pretty soon. It’s likely that a lot of supply caches will be hidden behind locked doors, so the easier it is for me to get into them, the better.

4. How to start a fire

How else are we going to keep warm during the deep winter snows or cook what we’ve managed to hunt and gather? The world’s supply of fire-starters isn’t going to last forever, and neither will our stock of matches and lighters.

5. How to knit. Really.

I’m actually working on this one as we speak. The tricky thing about knitting in a post-apocalyptic world would be where you’d be able to get your yarn. But if I can find someone who has the know-how and means to grow cotton or some other plant-based fiber, at least I’d be able to turn said cotton into something that will keep us all warm.

6. Basic carpentry

Being able to build stuff? Probably the most useful skill you can have. And no, IKEA furniture doesn't count.

7. Basic first-aid

How much would it suck to make it through the apocalypse only to succumb to a tiny little cut that got infected? Warning: There's blood in this video, so if you're squeamish, you might want to skip it.

8. Archery

I took archery to fulfill an athletic requirement my freshman year in college. Unexpectedly, I was actually pretty good at it; I hadn’t hitherto demonstrated any sort of remarkable ability when it came to launch small projectiles at smaller targets, so it surprised me. But it’s been ten years since the last time I picked up a bow, so maybe it’s time I embraced my inner Katniss Everdeen.

Eventually, we’re going to run out of bullets. It’s much, much easier to build yourself a bow and some arrows so you can hunt down your dinner/stop some zombies in their tracks.

Image: Gene Page/AMC