*A Multi-Level View of Survival*
By: ReadySet
14 December 2007

It was in the years leading up to Y2K that I got really serious about my preps. I did a fair amount of research on how to get ready for the potential event. However, the results of my research were unsatisfactory: Each store had a list of “must have” equipment, and each author had a list of “must do” actions. The “musts” were often conflicting and most appeared poorly thought out. It just didn’t make sense.

This started many months of thinking. Somehow people have been living on this planet for thousands of years without space blankets and spark plugs. When you get down to the basics of the basics, what is really needed?

The Four Requirements for Life: Around 1997, I had the opportunity to attend Tom Brown Jr’s survival school. The emphasis was on the Native American (“primitive”) approach to living for a short time in the wilderness. In this school they taught us that only 4 things are needed to sustain life.
They Are:

The order is very important… Without shelter a person may last only hours in a storm. Without water a person may last only a few days. Fire is needed to purify water. And finally, a person can go without food for a few weeks, making it the lowest priority item of the four. It turns out that these four needs are always being met in normal everyday living. In a sense we are always in a “survival situation”, but seldom think of it that way.

Three Levels of Living:
This simple concept led to another question: How did people from years ago meet their survival requirements without modern technology? I choose three situations to study more closely:

Modern – In the currently “developed” countries, meeting our four basic needs are performed with great ease and convenience: 1800s – One Hundred years ago people did not have electricity, running water and global fresh fruits, but still thrived. (Some people, such as the traditional Amish, still live this way.) Their needs were met slightly differently: Primitive – One Thousand year ago people were still living and thriving using even less technology. Consider the life of the aboriginal people world-wide: The following graphic summarizes the above information:
  Primitive 1800s Modern
Shelter Wicciup, log cabin, etc. Log cabin, House House, Apartment
Water Surface water Well & hand pump,
City Utilities
Fire Fire on Ground Wood Stove
Oil lamp
Natural Gas
Food Hunting & Gathering Family Farm “The Store”

Each of the four requirements can be met on any level described above. Consider, for example, that the electricity to your house goes off for several days. It may be quite possible, even enjoyable, to fire up the wood stove and light the oil lamps. If these items are not available, it may still possible to build a fire in the back yard for some heat and light. For each requirement, you can move left or right across the table above to meet your needs. Don’t think that “down” is the only option; you may live on a farm but still choose to buy your food at “The Store.”

Obviously, each person’s situation is different and may not allow for all possible levels for each requirement. However, with some thought and creativity, many can be made possible with minimal cost.

This approach has given me great comfort over the past few years. After a storm or other disruption, I do a quick mental check: Using any level, do I have access to sufficient Shelter, Water, Fire, and Food? If the answers are “Yes” I know that I will be okay.

All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright © 1996 - 2007 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.