Thursday, March 27, 2014

What are you prepping for?

Most people in the world are preppers, they just don't realize it yet. You might not even recognize them as preppers. They're just preparing for different things than you are, which does not make them wrong or stupid or any of the other disparaging words used to separate people. Just as there is no “one perfect gun”,  there is no one perfect way to prepare.

If someone has a fire extinguisher in their home they're prepping for a fire. He's not some sort of heretic just because he doesn't have a sprinkler system installed, and having a Halon system installed in your house is overkill.
If they have an umbrella under or on their arm, they're prepping for rain. Not having an umbrella available doesn't always mean he's unprepared for rain - soldiers in uniform are generally not allowed to carry umbrellas. Does having car insurance mean you're looking forward to an accident, or is it just a sign that you realize an accident could happen?

There are as many kinds of preppers as there are problems in life. What are you prepping for?

This is not intended to be a “doom and gloom” article, merely a list of some of the things that I see as being worthy of preparing for. Not all preparation has to be for the "End Of The World As We Know It"; if you're ready for the minor things that can go wrong, you won't have to worry as much about them if the big things go wrong. I break preps and disasters down along the lines that I laid out in "Team, Tribe, Town", and grouped by cause. Here's my list of disasters and some generic fields of damage caused by each. As much as I hate using Wikipedia as a source, they have good lists - not perfect, but good. This is a long post, and I have included a lot of links to additional information in order to keep from boring you. If you see a word or phrase in red, it is a link to more information.

Weather and Environment

Blizzard/Ice Storm
Even the folks in the southern states have to put up with the occasional ice storm or snow storm that shuts everything down between 2 days and 2 weeks. There is usually a day or two of warning before a storm. Power outages are common, travel is difficult or impossible, you may not be able to get home (or leave home) for a few days.

Surviving the actual tornado requires finding shelter and waiting it out, but the clean-up and rebuilding will be a challenge, even if you are prepared. Roads will be closed, stores will be destroyed or emptied, electricity will be unreliable for days or weeks, and the rebuilding will take months or years. Tornado warning systems are getting better but they still give less than an hour's notice. There will be a post covering the aftermath of a major tornado here within the next month or so.

More widespread destruction than a tornado, but of the same varieties. Hurricane tracking is fairly well developed, giving a few days warning before making landfall. Hurricanes hit the USA every year, some harder than others. Floods can be sudden or predicted. The only good way to survive either one is to get away from them and stay away until things are back to something close to normal. Rebuilding can take years if it is at all possible (or even allowed).

Varies from minor damage to structures to the “Big One” that could split California off from the continent. Historically one of the more unpredictable disasters, earthquakes can cause damage on a state-wide or region-wide area. Infrastructure is usually hit hard by earthquakes with major damage to roads, pipelines, bridges, gas and electrical lines. Buildings can be damaged to the point of being unsafe to re-enter, so anything inside may not be available to use.

Another of the variable disasters, the results of a volcanic eruption can be as mild as Kilauea, which has been spewing lava for decades, as violent as Mt Vesuvius when it buried Pompeii for centuries, or as cataclysmic as the eruption of the volcano in Idaho which dumped ash over most of the continental US 12 million years ago. Recent eruptions include Mt. St. Helens  in 1980, Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, and Eyjafjallaj√∂kull in 2010. etc. Very unpredictable and with the potential of massive damage, volcanic eruptions can only be run away from. The dust and ash that come afterwards can change global weather patterns by blocking sunlight, burying arable land and killing crops, and killing large numbers of animals (and people) when they inhale the dust. Relocation may be your only option if you're affected by a volcano.

War and unrest

Home invasion is a growing problem. It doesn't really matter what costume they're wearing as they kick in your door, if they were coming to help you with something they'd knock. Anyone who feels the need to break into your house is not your friend. Evelyn has covered this in her series on security.

When large groups of people gather on the street it is generally wise to try to get somewhere else. There are a variety of theories concerning Mob Psychology, but they all focus on why people will do things as part of a mob that they wouldn't do if they were alone. Hint: mobs rarely do good things. Look to the 1992 Rodney King Riots and the 1968 Chicago Riot for examples. More examples here

Local War/ Terrorists
Mumbai, India 2008: It took three days for government forces to eliminate a dozen terrorists with bombs and automatic weapons. 

Boston, MA 2013: Two brothers with home-made bombs disrupted the annual marathon and one avoided police for four days. The police response created more disruption than the initial attack, shutting down public transportation and local businesses and requiring people in a fairly large area to “shelter in place” basically under martial law.

Civil War
There are a wide variety of reasons for civil wars and there are just as many ways to survive them. A lot depends on your involvement in or avoidance of hostilities, which is a personal decision. Only you can decide where you draw your lines.

From his website- “Selco survived one year in a city surrounded by the enemy army and cut off from the rest of the world. He has been through hell during the Balkan wars 1992 – 1995. Learn what it took him to stay alive.”

The “Arab Spring”, Venezuela, Ukraine, Syria, and all of the other uprisings in recent history have been covered in more ways than any that happened before the internet was invented. A smart person learns from his own mistakes, a wise person learns from the mistakes of others.

Global War
WWII was the most destructive war in history. Entire cities were demolished, millions of people were displaced from their homes, and tens of millions died. Like any other war, if you see it coming the best bet is to get out of the way. If you have any relatives still alive that lived through WWII, talk to them. Get first-hand accounts of how they made it through those tough times.

Nuclear War
Unless you are directly under a nuclear blast or in the path of the resulting fallout, a limited nuclear war would be survivable. A total exchange of every nuke on the planet, however,  would likely lead to the end of all human life. This is a very complicated subject and deserves a post of its own.


Local outbreaks
Cholera and Typhoid Fever are both spread by drinking contaminated water, so figure out how to clean your water supply. Rabies in wild animals is a problem that can spread to domestic animals. Measles has recently been reintroduced to the continental USA after being nearly wiped out by massive immunization decades ago. Mumps and "polio-like symptoms" are  also popping up in the news.

Influenza kills people every year and mutates so often that our bodies have a hard time fighting it off. There are a variety of diseases that are specific to regions due to climate and the vectors (the means of spreading the disease) available. There's not very much malaria in Alaska. If you're travelling out of your normal region it would be wise to check with your doctor for any immunizations that would prevent the diseases endemic to the area you're going.

Bubonic Plague, the Black Death, was spread by fleas on rats and killed millions. It is still present in rodent populations, so make sure pest control has a spot on your checklist of preps. A sudden breakdown of modern methods of travel may prevent the rapid spread of diseases, but it also prevents the development of immunity to those same diseases.

The Spanish Flu  was a strain of influenza that swept through Europe a century ago. American soldiers returning from WWI brought it back home to a population that had no resistance. It swept through America, killing young and old alike. The pandemic killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people worldwide, rivaling the death count of the World Wars. Be careful when making contact with other groups post-SHTF.
“Captain Trips,” from the Stephen King novel The Stand, was a genetically engineered/weaponized disease with a 90% mortality rate, a rating which is possible to create in a modern lab. Biological warfare is right up there with nuclear warfare - not much you can do to prepare for it if you're targeted.


Ever had your car towed? If it happens two days before payday and you don't have a buffer in the bank account, it's going to hurt. Do you have a fall-back method of getting to work or will your boss be understanding and give you a few days off to get things settled?

Losing a job, a major illness or injury in the family, or identity theft have a way of wiping out all of your savings. I've seen cancer wipe out the savings and assets of extended families, and there's only so much you can do to prepare for things like that. Insurance can help if you can afford it.

I'm old and live in farm country. I recall the Savings and Loan systemic failure in the early 1980's. Small towns throughout the Midwest dried up as the banks were taken over by the government and loans were called due. Families that had farmed the same ground for over a century had to sell everything and found themselves looking for jobs in town. The closing of a coal mine, steel plant, cotton mill, or other large industry will have similar effects in the towns and cities that rely upon them.

I'm not a financial expert. Go read Zero Hedge, The Big Picture, or any of the other finance sites out there for information on how things can fall apart. Be aware that things can and do fail on a national and international scale. Currency failures, hyper-inflation, bank bail-out and “bail-in” programs all have the potential to cause cascading problems and are worth watching.


EMP attack/Solar Flare
Electro-Magnetic Pulse is a phenomenon created bydetonating a nuclear warhead a specific distance above the Earth. Solar Flares are a natural eruption/ejection of  material from the surface of the Sun. When it happens to hit the Earth, the effects are similar to those of an EMP strike (as happened in 1859 and 1989). This is one of the scary ones for me. There are things you can do to prepare for local survival, but the global impact would be enormous. Basically, if it has wires in or on it, it will be fried. No electricity drops us back to circa 1830.

Asteroid Strike
If a sizable asteroid/meteor hits the Earth, there's a roughly 70% chance that it will hit water, sending massive amounts of water into the atmosphere. Since water vapor is the predominate "greenhouse gas" in our atmosphere, this would seriously effect our climate for years. If it hits land, the people in that area are screwed and the people downwind of them will have it almost as bad.

Zombie Outbreak
A "meme" in the prepper community is that if you're prepared for a zombie apocalypse, you're prepared for anything. This may be true if it is a Class one or Two outbreak, but a Class Three or Four means we're all in it deep. Definition of the different classes here: Outbreak

Don't Worry, All Is Not Lost

You'll notice that every example I've used has a historical background (except for the last few). I did that to remind you that others have survived bad times and society/civilization has eventually recovered. If they can live through it, there's no reason why you can't. 

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