Over the last few years there have been quite a few shows about preparing for disaster from every possible threat to specific natural occurrences. Some have been about fear mongering and some have been public safety announcements.
There have been numerous survival shows for entertainment value and arguments across the spectrum of who was right, wrong, and which technique is the best.
By and large most of them miss the point. They hit the basics well enough but the one thing that is missing is they mostly focus on the individual or a best a small group of people who are related to each other.
That is where they go wrong. Survival may be an individual event with a live or die pass fail at the end but true survival is about a team effort. No one person or even one small group has all the skills necessary to survive.
If you are intending on making up a plan for surviving a disaster the first thing you need to do it know your neighbors and make a group. No one can do it all. Sleep alone will put you at risk unless you have someone who is watching your back.
If you look at Hurricane Katrina and the Earthquake in Haiti or Japan, the first thing people did was look out for themselves and their immediate family. This is instinctive. However in Japan, groups of community started to form and that assisted in proving support with greater speed to those in the affected area.
So here is my plan and take it for what it is worth.
1. Get to know your neighbors. I mean get to know them, invite them over, form a relationship and understand who they are and their background. If it hits the fan, they are your first threats or first aid. You need to know who is going to be a threat and who will come running to help you. Forget nice. Forget anything but survival. Stress changes people and you need to know who is around you.
A community can weather a disaster much better than an individual family regardless of skill. You don’t even have to specifically talk about planning anything, just get to know each other and find out who you can trust. This simple step may even help your small group keep from coming unglued when disaster strikes because each of them knows they are not on their own. Barbaric behavior comes into play when there are not consequences and people are seen as prey instead of neighbors.
Every group as to have a leader and it may not be you. To a point, community decisions can work but only to a point. After that point is reached, the leader needs to make decisions and the group needs to support them. Division in the group is what will cause the failure of the group.
2. The majority of Americans live in small towns or cities and then the large population areas. You may very well be in a major population area. The next thing you need to decide is if you are going or staying and the circumstance will decide but you need a plan. Getting to the countryside is great but not if you never make it because the roads are clogged.
Unless you know what is happening ahead of time, you may be stuck where you are. That is going to leave you with some choices. What is your access to water? In some apartments there is a tank on the top floor that gravity feeds down. This gives you water even when the power is out but once that runs dry, no more water and water is heavy. You will spend much of your day just getting water to drink much less anything else. And dehydration will kill you faster than anything else not involving other humans.
Second problem with water is sanitation. Thanks to our civilized lifestyle, we have water treatment plants and so forth. If you are in an apartment after the water runs out, you have three main choices. You can move, you can haul water to fill the toilet for flushing, or you can pick a place and fill it with your waste and run all kinds of health risks.
You have to maintain your water intake or you will weaken and die long before you run out of food. But our modern civilization leaves us with few options for natural resources because of pollution. You have to filter the water you drink and you can do that in a variety of ways, some worse than others but all requiring resources. I won’t go into water purification techniques.
3. Power. Our society runs on electricity. Take that away and you have no communication, no convenience, and it becomes harder to prepare food unless you have an outdoor grill. You need to prepare now to understand what to do without electricity. We did it for thousands of years but now everything is reliant upon it. Experiment on what to do without it. Fire might be easy but if you are in an apartment, how do you intend to have a fire?
Toxic smoke from household items could very well poison what you are trying to cook and you as well. How do you vent the smoke? Unless you think about these things in advance or are a fast thinker, you will have a problem and there is very little you can do about it later but take your chances.
4. Learn to be a scavenger. Most of us cannot afford to buy a bunch of stuff that we will not use in order to be ready for ‘the end’. You don’t need more than a few days and you should have that already because there is going to be panic and there is going to be opportunity. If Mother Nature does not make you move, fire or riot does not force you out, stay put for as long as you can. Panic is going to kill more than violence.
Once the major events have moved on, everything around you is up for grabs. See what you can get. This is also where having a community comes in handy. More people to searching mean you have access to more resources. It also creates a greater drain on what you do have but those are tradeoffs.
Understand the difference between ‘expired’ and ‘best use by’ dates. There are some items that are still good, just lest potent, after they reach a certain date. Others become fouled, spoiled, or even dangerous. Botulism is deadly and spoiled food can kill quickly so beware.
You can eat dog and cat food. There are Americans who do that now because they cannot afford anything else. Don’t turn your nose up at nutrition. You may even eat Fluffy because that is one more mouth to feed and water.
5. Do not be the threat that everyone decides to remove. The longer you stand, the more notice in the surround area you will get. Groups need to be welcoming but not too welcoming. It is a balance. Overall you will increase your survivability if you let people in. If you use force too much, you may become the target to take out. That is fine if you have enough force to deal with it. But you might invite trouble.
The corollary is that you may also attract too many who cannot survive on their own and who will only become a drain on your resources. This is where ruthlessness and humanity collide and you need to decide where you stand. Will you turn away a family with a bunch of kids? Those kids are nothing but a drain when they are young but they might be valuable later. Do you push them out or let them in. That choice will make the difference for them it could also make the end for your group of you let them in. Compassion is a luxury of civilization and make no mistake about it, attempting to save more than you can, will kill you.
6. Fortifications and isolation. Establishing a well-fortified location is great providing that you can do three things. You need water, a wall that will not burn, and enough people to actually guard it. Walls, fences, ditches, even rivers only slow down attackers. They do not stop attackers. You can have the greatest wall in the world and it gains you nothing if you cannot adequately defend it. Just ask the Chinese. The Great Wall turned out to be a waste of lives and bricks.
Having a wall or fence to control livestock or set boundaries is fine. Just don’t get the idea that a wall is anything more than a barrier for a short amount of time. Don’t spend resources you don’t have building a fort you cannot guard. Murphy’s Law: if you make it too tough to get in, you cannot get out.
The bottom line is to use some common sense and don’t break the bank trying to prepare for the disaster that may never come. Think of simple things that get you by.
© 2014 The Havok Journal
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