Need-to-Know Survival Skills from a Former Navy SEAL

A survival expert and former Navy SEAL explains what you really need to know about survival in modern times


For most, the word survival tends to conjure up thoughts of sparking kindling for fire, learning to build shelter from scratch or figuring out how to source clean water.

No doubt, these types of skills are certainly good to have, but Clint Emerson a retired Navy SEAL and author of 100 DEADLY SKILLS: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation, feels there are others that are far more necessary.

“Those are great skills, but they do not match the skills necessary to survive current threats,” he said.

Exactly what skills do you need then?

Emerson feels our concerns should be focused more on threats like hackers and lone wolf terrorists.  

“Hacking issues leading to identity theft are concerning and will certainly cause a headache or two, but lone wolf attacks are deadly — and everyone, at a minimum, should mentally prepare themselves for such evil when out on the town, sitting in restaurants, transiting via public transportation and so on,” he said.

To find out how to stay protected, we talked with Emerson about everything from worst case scenarios and self-defense techniques to evasion skills and what people should really know about surviving emergency situations.

Here are the skills he said you absolutely need to know.

Run, Hide, Fight


“This is one of the skills in 100 Deadly Skills,” Emerson explained. “A response check-off list of actions to take if caught in the cross fire. If you can run — run away from the threat in a zig-zag pattern. If you can't run, then hide. Hide behind objects that stop bullets (see Identifying Emergency Ballistic Shields). If you find yourself in a place where running or hiding isn't possible — like a train in France — fight and fight as a team if others are around.”

Signature Reduction


Emerson said self-defense should go far beyond the ability to fight an attacker. “Self-defense has expanded beyond gouging out bad guy’s eyes with your thumbs. It should be more holistic to include signature reduction — blending into environments and not standing out,” he explained. “This also applies to your social media and online presence as well. The more you ‘tell’ without talking makes it easier to target you." He also recommended that a self-defense strategy includes the ability to escape. "A razor blade and handcuff key are easily concealed and can free you of most restraints,” Emerson said. In his book, he suggests carrying both items in your waistband at all times. 

Click here to see more need-to-know survival skills.

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