*THE Message about Preparedness*
11 February 2007
Do you have a vague plan to pack a "Bug Out Bag" and "Head for the Hills"? It Just Doesn't Work!
A person that "Bugs out" with No Pre-Stocked place to go is called a "Refugee"
Don't become a Refugee with a "3 Day Bug Out Bag" on your back.
I get a Lot of e-mail daily, much of the e-mail is telling me what people have learned by reading our site, and what they think they know about Preparedness from reading other survival sites... I think some have gotten some wrong basic ideas. I think people are missing The Main Message they should have picked up about Preparedness in general... it's an important Message, and it obviously needs to be conveyed in plain language... This is information from many people that have spent a lot of time and money actually doing this stuff in real life... often during disasters.
So I thought I'd spell it out, while also answering the question I am asked the most, "Where Do I Start"?....
No Matter what else you learn here, Start with this:"ALL Disaster Victims Crave The Same Few Basics" It is a proven fact that during and after a disaster of any type, people crave "Routine", "Familiarity" and "Normalcy" at a basic, subconscious, level. It is a need in all humans. Just as small Children may carry a security blanket or stuffed animal for comfort; Adults mentally carry security blankets also, except our comforting items are things like "Waking up in our own bed", "Starting the day in our own bathroom", "Our favorite watch or rings", "Sitting down to our favorite meals at our own table in our own home", etc. You see the point. For some people, "routine" is as simple as "flipping a light-switch to have light". A person deprived of any normal routine is already under an enormous amount of stress well before any outside stressors are added. However, by the same token, People that can find ways to maintain some of their "Normal Routines and Comforts" during and after a disaster can often withstand incredible amounts of external stress without buckling. As you make your survival preparations, you should keep this fact firmly in mind, first and foremost. This is a survival need more important than any other.
"Store What You Normally Eat" ("and eat what you normally store")... Not "Storage food you haven't tried"... Your family may not like it, or it may tear up your/their stomach - Do you know for sure that your storage food won't? Try it! "An On-Going Disaster" is not the time or place to start making radical changes to your Diet or Lifestyle if it can be avoided. There are Many articles here on how to store everyday foods, the shelf life of canned foods (Most properly stored canned foods have an indefinite shelf life), and information on cans and other packaging, etc, etc. You know what your family normally uses around your house in a month, and it's not hard to find out which items on the menu can be stored "Longer Term"... Make a list of those items that store well and simply buy a little more of it each week with the intention of saving it in case you suddenly find that you can't get the foods your family normally likes to eat for some reason. We're literally only talking about a few extra dollars spent each week at the grocery store, yet you'll find that you quickly build up a very comfortable amount of extra food that you already know your family will eat during a time when they're craving that "Routine" and "Normalcy" that we touched on above. Put the new stuff in the back of the pantry, and eat from the front of the pantry, then you always have a reserve of "Normal ol Food"... doesn't matter if it's a hurricane or a lay off, you'll eat the same as you do right now.
"If You Leave Home Without A Place To Go, You Are a Refugee". 'Bug Out Bags' and 'Heading For The Hills To Live Off The Land' are popular ideas that don't work... We have many articles about Why it doesn't work, but forget "Hunting and Trapping and 'Living like a Mountain Man in a Remote Area'". There's really no such thing as "Remote Areas" in the Lower 48 States... Africa, Asia, the Steps of Russia, etc, are Truly remote areas, and they were Always hit by waves of smallpox and other plagues carried only by humans ("Humans" are everywhere)! Nothing in the Lower 48 is "really remote", it's a false sense of security if that's all you are depending on. "Living in the Country in a small self-sustaining community is better".. but it's not the "End all Answer" and you can't stop there. It's better than living in the city, certainly, but it's not a protection by itself, it simply gives you an edge If You Prepare Further. Remember, when city people get scared, they blindly "Head for the hills/country".. right to where You are.
If You Think You May Be Forced Out Of Your Home, Have A Pre-prepared Back-up Retreat Area To Go To... and I don't mean some vague plan to "Do something on some land you know about"... What, specifically, is your plan? Some "Preparedness Gurus" are happily preparing you (and millions of others) to head toward State Parks and other wooded areas with a bag of junk on your back. The roads will be jammed with people trying this. Within a few days, the land will be stripped bare, and the whole area will be a stinking mess (Not to mention the thieving and such that will be going on). Anyone that's ever camped in a state park camping area knows there's not so much as a burnable twig left to be found during peak camping periods.
If you aren't Living a Preparedness lifestyle right now (and even if you live in the suburbs or city right now you can still live a "Preparedness Lifestyle") then you Need to have a well stocked retreat of some sort and Solid plans to get there in an emergency... leave Nothing to chance.. always be able to say, "If this fails, then I will _____ as a back-up"... Actually practice your plans so you'll be confident that you can really get to safety in a genuine emergency.
'Living Off The Land' Your family of 4 will need a Minimum of 24 to 36 Deer each year just to survive at starvation levels. The Wildlife Control Commission estimates that there are 15 million white tail deer in the US today. That seems like a lot until you consider there are 307 million people in the US. Do the math, then develop a food storage plan (or use one of ours). In the Rubicon Area we have the facts straight from the experts. The experts may not be giving you the facts that you wanted to hear, but they're true and accurate, and knowing the facts means *you* survive when others around you may not!
Almost Every Prep Item You Have Should Be Used In Your Everyday Life. Then during a disaster, you are already used to using the item, and it's part of your normal routine that you don't have to change... Nor do you have to try to figure out an unfamiliar piece of equipment while in a stressful situation... this frees up Time, this allows you to Think. Never buy a prep item and simply pack it away un-tried and un-tested... Use It.
Don't be afraid to use technology! Technology can be a "Force Multiplier". A modern Security System with Night Vision Capable Cameras can watch your home and yard without needing sleep, or food, or extra beds, or exposing you to the dangers of "patrolling". Modern Systems are VERY reliable and only use tiny amounts of power. A small Alternate Power System can save you huge amounts of time and work in a disaster. It allows you to use power tools, it allows you to have light by just flipping a switch rather than hunting for lighters and candles in the dark. You can store a LOT of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs in the same space as a month's worth of candles or oil lamps. There's also no need to try to barter for more candles, more oil, more wicks, replacement lamp globes, etc. Our modern economy is no longer set up to supply candles or lamp oil in quantity to rural areas without modern transportation... where do these items come from, in quantity, when Walmart closes? Most of the Candles, Lamps, Oil, etc, that you may currently be storing for use in a disaster, are probably imported! When you use up your supply, they're just gone; your community probably doesn't have enough bees, or other resources, to supply even one single new candle to each house that will quickly need more. Do your best to avoid items in your Survival planning that are "used up" during use. Compact Fluorescent Bulbs don't light the curtains on fire, or burn down houses; they provide much more light, and they do it for many years at a time.
Don't handicap yourself when it comes to survival in a disaster by suddenly trying to live like a pioneer, stick with what you know... It's not hard.
We've been through Many disasters as a Group... Each time, again and again, the items I listed at the beginning of this proved themselves to be "Common to all disasters".. It's not so much the disaster itself that causes us the most problems (Like being smacked by a metal trash-can that the wind carried along), Rather the problems that affect us most are the disruptions to our normal way of life caused by said wind cutting power, cutting access to food and water, etc. We're used to having all that stuff delivered to us constantly without us even having to think about it. The wind can stop blowing very suddenly, but it takes a lot longer to clear roads, rebuild damaged buildings, restore public utilities, get trucks in, get shelves restocked, etc, so we can finally get some food on the table to feed the family. I've Seen angry mothers standing in front of grocery stores, holding babies, with a cell phone tower cutting the heavily damaged store nearly in half... I saw this sight once after spending hours cutting a small path through blown-down trees that went on as far as I could see ahead... I cleared enough fallen timber to get my 4-Wheel Drive Truck into a swampy field so I could make headway getting to my destination to help friends begin to dig out after hurricane Isabel... I wisely did not tell the angry ladies that FEMA's Transfer Trucks wouldn't be there any time soon. It still amazes me that these angry indignant people knew a Major Hurricane was headed right toward them, and yet they didn't bother to pick up a single extra gallon of milk in the 2 days before the wind began to blow! I see something like this during every single disaster relief effort I'm involved with; it's as common as the blown-down tree branches!
If We can supply those disrupted services/things ourselves, the impact of the disaster, and the bigger problems of dealing with the Aftermath of the disaster, is Greatly reduced.. During Hugo I could still flip a light switch to get light, even with the roofs of damaged houses blowing by outside. Just being able to flip those switches to get light when I had to go from one room to another was an incredible comfort! During the next power outage, notice how many times you turn on light switches just from sheer habit; and also notice that you pause for a moment, perplexed, every single time the light doesn't come on, as if you really expected it to work! It's my opinion that not nearly enough credit is given to the inventors of Batteries and Inverters!
There.. Short, and to the point... It's what we've taught right here for over 15 years. Your Home should be stocked as your retreat if at all possible. You should also have a realistic back-up retreat plan if there's any way you can (IE: "Planning to stay with like-minded relatives or friends, and having some extra food and supplies stored with them for that purpose")... You also need a Sure Fired, Tested way to get there Fast... everything else is just details and additional info to help you maintain as much Routine and comfort as possible... these Basic truisms, and much more to flesh out the facts above, can be found in the Thousands of articles on our site... but the above should be your bedrock... not "Overloaded Bags of Untested Survival Junk, or 15 year old mystery MRE Entrees, or heading for the wilderness with a Refugee Bag strapped to your back". It's not as cool as assault rifles and drums of ammo and cammo paint, but it's Much more realistic and workable, not to mention Tested and Proven to work through Many disasters... Learning from experienced friends is better than "Something everyone knows because they saw it on TV" (it HAS to be real, it was on a TV show! ;).
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