Adapting to a new world will test everyone’s limits. Managing the transition well means exposing yourself to the things you are likely to experience, as much as you can. The sooner you and your family accept that things have changed and will never return to the way they were before, the better off you will be. This mental acceptance must lead to physical preparatory action so that you can get yourself ready for the inevitable hard times to come.
Most people have heard of the “rule of 3s”: you can go 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. This is of course very generalized. If you actually go 3 full minutes without oxygen, you’re going to need medical attention and possibly have brain damage. If you go 3 days without water, you are going to be dying of thirst and completely useless in terms of activity - dehydration can disorient you and cause body weakness within hours. If you go 3 weeks without food you are likewise going to be extremely sluggish and incapable of doing simple tasks.
In a Severe Threat scenario, where all major public services cease, you are going to have to deal with unclear air due to piles of garbage and dead bodies. If you and your immediate community are smart, you will band together to burn these away from where people live - but the stench may well still permeate the air, and you will have to deal with it when transporting. A 20-pack of N-95 masks costs $17 on Amazon if you want the easy route, but it won’t help the smell much. You need to think about this, and ways to mitigate it and improve the air you’re breathing. With no electricity, people will be cooking using alternative methods. You need to be aware of and mitigate any impacts from that as well in terms of clean air. Cooking on a gas stove inside a structure that is not well-ventilated can cause carbon monoxide, a deadly combination that you cannot smell. Watch for the signs of disorientation and confusion in yourself and others. There are many other scenarios, but these should be enough to get you started thinking in the right direction.
The common refrain is that you need about a gallon of water per person per day. This is very difficult to store adequately for any length of time without expending quite a bit of money. You need to think about ways of collecting it and filtering it. Are there any ponds, rivers, creeks, or lakes in your area? If so, how would you collect, transport, and filter it? Do any of your neighbors have wells? Do you have a way to collect and store that water, or the water sources in your own home (toilets, pipes, water heaters)? Do you know how to open and collect the water from fire hydrants in your neighborhood? Do you know how to filter rainwater in barrels or pools or other containers using sand, rocks, and plastic sheeting? Stackable water containers that are 5 gallons each (light enough to carry) seem like an ideal prep to put in a closet somewhere, able to be grabbed quickly and put in the trunk of your car if you needed to “bug out”, but this method is pretty expensive: about $150 for 30 gallons worth (6 containers at 5 gallons capacity each). And that would only last for one person a month at a rate of 1 gallon a day, it would barely last over a week for 4 people. To get even a single month’s supply stored this way for 4 people would cost $600. That’s just not economical for most people, not to mention it would take up an immense amount of room. If you have the money and the storage capacity, have at it. Most of us will have to look at various alternative methods though. Big 55-gallon drums are an option, and can be bought used sometimes for cheaper than the $150 or so that they are going for these days. You will still need to clean it, elevate it off of the ground, treat the water supply you put in it, have a way to seal/unseal it, and have some kind of spigot/hose attachment. There is plenty more to be said about water, but I think that covers the basics. The last thing I’ll mention is filtration. You need to have a personal filtration method for a liter or two of water at a time as well as a way to filter larger amounts of water. This can be relatively expensive but water is literally the number one priority to any prepping plan. You can get really deep into this subject, but after many years of backpacking and leading backcountry expeditions and actually using these products - and ridiculous hours comparing/contrasting (I’m a gear junkie and I love spreadsheets) - my quick recommendations are these:
Personal use: Sawyer Squeeze ($30) (not the Lifestraw or the Sawyer Mini)
Small Group Use: Katadyn Hiker Pro ($65-90)
Large Group Use: Katadyn Gravity BeFree 10L ($125)
Family Home Use: the Big Berkey ($400-500)
Not only are the previously short-lived shortages in your local grocery stores coming back with a vengeance, inflation is at a 40-year high as well. In 2023 it’s going to get immensely worse. Like everything else, we need to have short-term emergency planning and longer-term adaptation. The first few days of a High or Severe threat level will be confused and panicky. It won’t take long for people to riot, be violent, and loot. Within the first few weeks the reality will settle in for most people and looting and violence won’t be contained to just the stores, which will be stripped bare by then - they will be coming into people’s neighborhoods and homes. After a few months things will have settled into demarcated areas of control, with heavily guarded trading posts. After a few months at most there will come a stage where communities will need to be very proactive about acquiring, growing, breeding, slaughtering, and protecting their longer-term food sources. We need to have food plans for each successive stage.
Stage 1) Everything in your kitchen right now. If/when the electricity goes out long-term you may be able to keep the stuff in your fridges/freezers good for a few days with some pre-planning but you’re going to have to cook/eat it pretty quickly. This is a good time to get with the neighbors and have a community cookout together. Before and after though, you use whatever is on your shelves and in your cabinets. Lights out day 1-2: everything in your fridge, day 2-3: everything in your freezer, day 3-after: everything on shelves/cabinets. Some people will have some small amount of off-grid electricity systems or gas-powered generators that will allow a larger timeframe, but this is the general idea. Most people will have to eat all this stuff before they break into any food stored for emergencies, and have enough that they don’t need to be in town being panicked while people are violently rioting and looting the stores.
Stage 2) You should store extras of most of the shelf-stable things you normally eat in totes somewhere in the home in a cool, dry, dark place like a closet or spare bedroom or under the beds.
Stage 3) This is the long-term food preps, the stuff that’s sealed in food-grade containers in mylar bags that’s good for 20+ years. Pay attention to how it’s packaged, if it’s resealable, and how many calories are in each serving size. Two of the biggest companies out there are PatriotSupply and ReadyWise. There are also immense resources out there on making, sealing, and storing your own, just like these big companies do. It’s more time-consuming, and more costly up front for the materials and equipment, but is overall cheaper in the long run and allows you to continue doing it into the future even if the grid goes down. There are also great resources out there on canning and building root cellars. Even if you don’t do it now, there are books that you can buy showing how it was done pre-industrial civilization that you can implement many months into a major collapse scenario.
You’re also going to have to think about alternative methods of cooking your food. And remember that a lot of the long-term food preps are dehydrated and will need a few cups of water per serving. Propane gas camping stoves are common enough, as are charcoal grills. Eventually you may need to set up something outside over a fire pit with a hanging pot or a raised metal grate when your propane and charcoal are used up. There are even solar ovens you can buy. Lots of options to look into.
First of all, it is extremely rare to find any prepackaged first aid kits that actually have what you need, outside of some targeted applications (gunshot wounds). The best advice is to build it yourself according to what it will be used for, and to have multiple different ones for different applications and locations. IFAKs (individual first aid kids) can be small, and can go on your belt or in your backpack. Group kits can be placed somewhere in the house and in the car. You can make one for tactical applications. The list is endless and the contents will vary depending on function. Don’t just buy a prepackaged kit and think you’re all set. Get some advanced medical training, and not just a basic First Aid course. Think about prescription medications here as well. There are two books that are often-recommended: ‘Where There Is No Doctor’ and ‘Where There Is No Dentist’. I’m sure there are plenty of others as well.
The very basics include gauze and bandaging material, nitrile gloves, a few different types of bandaids, antibiotic ointment, maybe some steri-strips. Add some over-the-counter medications (ibuprofen/acetaminophen), some laxatives and anti-diarrhea meds, a few benadryl tablets, and a pair of EMT shears and you've got yourself a basic first aid kit.
This includes personal protection, home protection, and community protection.
Personal protection can be put into two categories: non-lethal and lethal. For the first, I like pepper spray. The good stuff costs about $20-25 per container. For the second, it has to be firearms. In my perfect minimum scenario I’d like every reasonably mature person over the age of maybe 12 in the family/tribe/group/whatever to have at least one. In a slightly better scenario I’d like every adult to have one pistol and one defensive rifle of some kind. Remember that there are a bunch of secondary and tertiary things you need to add on when purchasing firearms: ammo, magazines, sights/optics, lights, holsters, slings, bags, carriers, locks, etc. It can/will get expensive. Likely around $1,000 per firearm, per person, give or take a little. Go to gun shows, purchase used, try to find deals. The true minimum is a functioning firearm and ammo, without all the accouterments. Get training if at all possible. If you’re going to invest in going this route, which I think is essential for our future, you’re going to need to know how to use it. You can make due, maybe like the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto fighting the Nazis - they ambushed and killed solitary Nazi soldiers in the dark who were pissing or taking a smoke break, slit their throats, and took their firearms to be used against their unit later - but very few of those people made it out alive. Much better to get them now the conventional way and become familiar with them. I won’t make any specific recommendations here; anything is better than nothing. Do your research, get what you can.
Home protection means both “hardening” your home against intruders as well as developing a safety plan with whoever lives there for different contingencies. Like all categories of prepping, you can get really detailed here and spend a ton of money. The minimum idea is to make your living space difficult for someone to access. This is obviously going to look different depending on how and where you live. For me this means something to jam the doors with and wood, hammer, and nails to bar entry through the windows. You can go way beyond this, but that is a good minimum.
Community protection is a whole different category unto itself. Basically you’re going to need to meet with your neighbors and come up with group solutions to a range of potential problems/threats. From internal neighborhood matters to people trying to come in, from garbage collection to food distribution, from dealing with water procurement to gardening. Your community will become the local government, the local police and firemen, and every other job that needs doing. All the systems we rely on today will have to become smaller localized versions, and it’s up to us and our neighbors to do it. We’ll need to delegate tasks to different groups, we will need to have communication methods other than computers and cell phones, and we will need to have clearly defined group goals and cooperate on how to achieve them.
Brainstorming scenario sessions with your family are a great evening-time discussion activity. Make it a Q&A, or have index cards with various topics on them. Try to visualize and talk out the best responses to various scenarios you may have to deal with. Do practice drills for everything you come up with during these brainstorming sessions. Deal with the things you think you’ll have to deal with in a High or Severe threat level for a period of time - whether that’s 10 minutes, a day, or a weekend.
Think about your vices and comfort items and what you can use as alternatives and/or how you can respond without them. For me that’s cigarettes, for my mother-in-law that’s coffee, for my wife it’s coke, and for my daughter it’s her tablet. We need to be mentally prepared to deal without these things, and find ways of managing the inevitable stress when we don’t have them.
Go for a day without your phone or computer. Go for a day without electricity in your house. Do it for an entire weekend. Most people will balk, hard, but do it for even longer. You will learn through experience how you react, how you can adapt, and what alternatives exist for your daily comfort zone activities that may not be there in an emergency. If we’re not prepared to do even something so simple as that while we still have the ability to turn it all back on the next day then we already know that we’re not going to fare well when we have no choice about it.
Start small and build your way up. Get used to different things. Do mini-drills. Turn your phone off and walk a few miles together with your family around your neighborhood, taking note of everything that could be useful during a grid-down scenario; and when you get back home, talk about it. Take out all your physical preps and organize them all, together. Go on a car camping trip to a local KOA campground. Don’t eat anything out of your fridge/freezer for a day and use alternative cooking methods. All of these things will help, and have different degrees of pre-planning, delegation, and cooperation required. Plan out how you will react to different situations that will come up so that everyone knows what their role will be, what’s expected of them, and how they can best help. Develop rally points to meet up at under various circumstances, as well as code words or phrases so everyone knows how to respond.
The list of things to do is endless, but we have to actually do them and do them together with our tribe in a spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance. These are the primary people you will be relying on under life and death circumstances in a High or Severe threat scenario.
The future is going to be far different than the past. The next decade is going to look vastly different than the last decade. This blog is about the transition.
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Physical Preps and Tools
Prepping Priorities - Physical & Psychological
2022 US Threat Assessment Part II
2022 US Threat Assessment Part I
GONE Bag: Get Out Now Emergency
Tactical Gear Considerations
Interview with Derrick Jensen
2020: A Marker For Collapse
Firearms And Our Future
Thermodynamic Failure: Phase 2
Firearms and Defense
Explaining Peak Oil
The Significance of Renewables
What Will The Future Look Like?
What Do The Experts Say?
Hope is Complex and Fragile
Personal Change Does Not Equal Social Change
Why Genesis 1:28 Doesn't Apply
It's Not About Running Out of Oil