Preparedness has become stigmatized in recent years. Many people view prepping as a hobby for the paranoid conspiracy theorists. This is partly due to the “Prepper” caricatures of reality television. As well as the conflation of realistic preparedness with the fanciful dreams of zombie apocalyptic movies and TV shows. *** insert faith statement here***
2020 Year In Review
The year 2020 has been a wild ride. In chronological order, some of the most significant events include:
- Australia experiences brush fires of massive proportions.
- Rumors of wars spread following the killing of Iranian General Soleimani.
- The WHO was made aware of the novel coronavirus (COVID).
- Nearly half the country supported the impeachment of President Trump.
- The UK withdrew from the EU.
- COVID spread across the globe and lead to mass panic and lockdowns in many countries.
- The killing of George Floyd sparked violent riots across the U.S. and abroad.
Some of these events took place outside the U.S. and may seem like an insignificant threat to the socioeconomic status quo (unless you are a reader from one of those countries). However, the spread of COVID and the riots, as well as law-makers and public reaction to these two crises, could have very well been the catalyst for a socioeconomic collapse.
Rise and Fall
While it is much easier to imagine our “First World” comforts as never changing and invincible. The truth is, we live within a finite span of history and there is no guarantee that the comforts provided to us by the complex grid and logistical supply chains of today will be here in the future.
Therefore, preparedness is important for events that could affect the reliability of these “First World” comforts. This does not mean that we need to follow the lead of caricatures featured on survival reality TV shows. However, it is important to take prudent common sense measures to ensure that we and our families are self-reliant, should the grid ever fail.
The purpose of this post is not to provide you with a detailed plan for how to prepare for an emergency. Rather, this post will provide you with important considerations and planning tools.
What to Prepare For
Imagine the baseline normal day-to-day timeline to be the Status Quo timeline (illustrated bellow). Then consider all the possible events (big and small) that could cause our lives or our fragile society as a whole to deviate from that timeline.
Some of these events could be short lived and allow us to get back on the Status Quo timeline in short order. While other major events could permanently derail us from the Status Quo, requiring us to adapt to a whole new reality (sound familiar?).
These “Alternative Timelines” are what we are preparing for. This is no different than purchasing an insurance policy. And just like an insurance policy, it is our hope that we never have to use our emergency preparations.
Given enough time and imagination, we could come up with an endless list of emergency and apocalyptic scenarios. However, I do not want to provide you with an exhaustive list, so I will provide you with various strategies to categorize them.
The above matrix can be used to categories emergency scenarios based on severity and likelihood of occurrence. I find this matrix useful because it is important to consider what you are preparing for, rather than preparing for an ambiguous SHTF scenario. I purposefully did not fill the matrix out because your context may be different than mine.
Scenarios populating the top right square of the Risk Analysis Matrix are events that you believe are more likely to occur with high severity of consequence. These are the events that you really should prepare for. Likelihood should be ranked according to how likely it is compared with other emergency scenarios. Not likelihood compared with ordinary events.
I find the following alliteration to be an easy method for categorizing the various aspects of emergency preparedness: Belief, Brains, Brawns, Beans, Bullets, BandAids, Buddies, Books, Blades, Buggies, and Batteries.
Whether it is a mass socioeconomic collapse, a personal emergency, or a defensive deadly force encounter, it is import to sort out your belief structure first. When I say, belief structure, I am referring to both your relationship with Jesus Christ as well as a general understanding of why you believe what you believe.
You can have all the high speed low drag gear on the market but if you don’t have the training, it won’t do you much good. You need to obtain skills in order increase your odds of survival during an emergency. Some skills can be learned from reading books and watching tutorials, but many require formal training. Be it a massive socioeconomic collapse, evading a mob, or an interpersonal deadly force encounter, it would be advantageous to seek formal training in the following subjects:
- Land navigation
- Wilderness survival
- Water purification
- Vehicle maintenance
- Empty hand combatives (Brazilian Jujitsu)
- Firearms Training
- Force On Force Role Play Training
- HAM Radio
This is a sensitive topic. However, statistically speaking, most Americans are more likely to be a casualty of poor health decisions than of a survival scenario. Plus, the odds are worse if you couple these two.
During a survival scenario, you may need to cover long distances with heavy gear by foot. You and your family’s survival may depend on how efficiently you can do this, or if you can do it.
Fitness is multidimensional and it is important to maintain a well rounded level of athleticism.
Beans include consumables such as food and water. There are many options for food storage. You can can and package food supplies yourself or order pre-packaged food storage from a company.
Try to be realistic when selecting what foods to store. If you and your family are forced to transition from your normal diet to your emergency food supply, this could cause digestive issues.
Bullets includes bullets and firearms. I recommend having common calibers for most of your firearms (first priority). Common calibers would be 9mm for pistols, 5.65/223 for carbines, .22lr, etc. Having a few odd calibers can also be advantageous, but should be a second priority. Some people recommend having a plethora of various calibers in case you find ammunition; however, I would argue that if you find ammunition it would be one of those listed.
Band-Aids include any medical supplies as well as medications. Effective use of some medical supplies will require prior training (or Brains).
It is certainly true that there is strength in numbers. During a survival scenario, having a support network could be the difference between life and death. I get the impression that some individuals are under the assumption that they could survive on their own or alone with their family. Depending on the severity of the incident, this may be possible. However, during a grid down scenario lasting weeks, months, or years, this is an unwise decision.
Consider the following. Let us assume a catastrophic grid down scenario occurred. The power grid, sewer, logistical, and local government are inoperable. This embodies the stereotypical SHTF scenario that most “Preppers” fantasize about.
During this scenario, one crucial factor to consider is physical security. Security would need to be maintained 24 hours per day. The number of individuals pulling security at any one time would largely depend on the geometry of your location.
Suppose you needed four security positions, each covering the cardinal directions (N,S,E,W). You would also need a radio watch to monitor radio traffic from each position. You could place a single watch (guard) at each security position, but this would be unwise and it would be more tactical sound to place two at each position.
Therefore, at any time you would need at nine members of your group on duty for security. You would also need a relief element. Then you would also need enough members to gather and prepare food, sanatize water, take care of children, fix equipment, etc. This could necessitate an upwards of 20, 30, 40, or more group members needed.
My point is that it is important to factor this in when considering your preparedness planning.
During a worst case, grid down scenario, you would not have the luxury of Google and maybe not the ability to use any electronics. Therefore, it is important to consider what information you may want to have in hard copy format. Examples include:
- Survival reference guides
- Maps and atlases
- How To Survive TEOTWAWKI
Blades include any type of tool. I know, when we think of blades, most of us think of knives, but knives are also tools and I needed another word that followed the alliteration.
Again, not the common term for a vehicle, but it follows the pattern.
Batteries include actual batteries as well as any types of electronics, energy generating equipment, or anything that stores energy. This also include communications equipment, such as HAM radios.
*Side note, you have no idea how long it took me to come up with a list of ten applicable words that all start with the same letter.
When to Prepare
When to Execute
This may be one of the most challenging decisions to make, next to the decision of where to go. Some scenarios may provide you with unquestionable evidence that you need to execute your plan right then. While other scenarios may unfold slowly and gradually, never giving you that clear tipping point.
The latter scenarios are much more challenging because if you wait too long, you could miss your opportunity and risk the safety of you and your family. However, if you act too soon, this may present complications with your employer or incur unnecessary financial burdens.
Where Will You Be
The pie-chart below is an example of how much time is spent at common locations throughout the day. This is just an example and will vary depending on the person.
You can use something like this to assist with your planning process. It is important to consider the likelihood of where you might be, should a crisis occur, so that you can plan accordingly.
Where Will You Go
Where you decide to go during a critical incident will depend on what has occurred, where it has occurred, and how long it will last. Some scenarios will require you to completely relocate. These might be natural disasters or localized civil unrest. Some scenarios may necessitate you remaining in place, or “Bugging In”.
It is up to you to determine what would constitute a relocation or a shelter in place. Have predetermined primary, secondary, and tertiary routes as well as how long it would take to travel each one by vehicle and by foot.
Who To Include
When considering who to include, it is important to think of people who take responsibility for their own preparedness. I’m not saying that they need to embody characters from the show Doomsday Preppers, but you probably want someone who shares your values. Consider people who have skills that would make them an asset. To be clear here, I am not suggesting you seek out strategic relationships based on extrinsic motives.
Who Not To Include
The guy who doesn’t prepare and says things like, “I’ll just come to your house if things get bad” is probably not someone you want to include. I will not go into exhaustive detail of who not to include, because that is up to you and the group. Just ensure that the group understands to maintain some level of operational security. Conversations on social media or in the break room at work may threaten the security of the group. Threaten them not only during a survival scenario, but revealing the details of preparations could make an appealing target to criminals.
Before COVID, this advice may have sounded paranoid and delusional (it may still to some). However, consider the panic and hysteria that followed the shortage of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other commodities. You do not want to highlight your house as a cache of supplies. You may decide to share and donate some of your supplies, but this can be done while still maintaining discretion.
Roles and Responsibilities
Another benefit to coordinating with a good sized group of like-minded individuals is that you each can delegate responsibilities. Some members may have technical knowledge on amateur radios, others may be good at farming, some may have firearms and Mil/LE experience, a few might have medical training, while others may be good at maintaining and repairing equipment. Interdependence within the group enables the group as a whole to be independent.
Take It Slow
Don’t overwhelm yourself and try to cram years of preparation into a few weeks or months. Pick one thing you can do this week that would put you and your family in a better spot, should something happen. Maybe it is purchasing some food storage, maybe it is taking a course, or maybe it is just sitting down with your family to pray about and discuss emergency plans. There is no sense in going into massive debt trying to buy as many preparations as you can, and I advise that you not do this.
The important thing is to take consistent steps, as small as they might be, towards general preparedness and self reliance.
The following links are additional resources. Some are works of fiction, but they provide great examples of realistic scenarios and important considerations when preparing.
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