A recent posting on Facebook pointed out that thirty percent of college freshmen didn’t know how to boil an egg, 52% of American teens can’t change a tire, and 70% had no idea how to sew on a button.
A quick online search found a 1933 Harper’s magazine article titled “Skills Every Man Should Know.” Eighty years later the list is a bit out-dated, listing items such as, How to Dance, How to Drink (yep you heard it right), How to Swim, Ride a Horse and the list goes on. Certain European countries historically required driver’s license applicants to demonstrate their ability to change a tire and clean spark plugs. Most countries no longer require these skills with the wane of 2-cycle engines and modern tire quality upgrades.
I have a friend who calls the handyman to hang a picture in his office. I don’t necessarily advocate that every person be proficient in handyman skills depending on their individual situation. If you live in the city, you might not need to have chainsaw skills, nor have developed the ability to do your own fix-it jobs around the house, but in the event of a disaster, Y.O.Y.O. (You’re on your own.) It will be difficult to hire someone to screw plywood over your busted window, or to repair your fractured plumbing. You get the picture.
I recall some years ago, we were in a caravan headed to Mexico to help some folks. One of the vehicles lost the lights to their cargo trailer. I handed my son a screwdriver, knife and a roll of electrical tape. He got right on it. The car’s owner asked, “How did you learn to do that?” I looked at him with a look of, “doesn’t everyone know this?” No, not everyone does. Some think these skills are beneath them. Some think these things are too difficult to learn, and yet some think they will just magically learn this stuff when the time comes.
So if there’s a chance you might need a chainsaw, get one and learn to use it. How about a battery powered drill for screwing that plywood over your window? Some basic PVC plumbing pieces and a can of glue will make you a hero when the pipes break.
First aid skills are always in need during a disaster. What you know may save a life, maybe even your own or that of a family member. Now’s a great time to upgrade your knowledge. Check out the training available on www.redcross.org. Take a look at your first aid kit, make sure it’s well-stocked.
If you lack skills, then it is important you connect with your neighbors and combine your resources. I’m willing to bet there’s someone in your neighborhood that has the skills you may lack. Mapping your neighborhood will not only help you get acquainted, but will combine the skills and knowledge of your neighbors in the event of a disaster. If you want more information on Mapping Your Neighborhood, contact me by email and I will forward information to you.
As always, send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns may be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is a retired Postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and other online booksellers.