Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Surviving survivalism

A Google search for survival sites and blogs, and a quick perusal of some of the hits found, is enough to make one think it's all too much to bother with, and that would be a shame. Much of the information is well intentioned, but it's written for others of like mind. The average Joe who has other interests in life than preparing for a total, irreversible societal meltdown will find most of the information not only over-the-top, but also overwhelming.

The reason for this is that practically every survivalist is seemingly looking to prepare for a complete societal collapse. In this scenario, only the strong and prepared survive and the rest get to fight each other over the scraps, a fate they deserve because they weren't prescient enough to lay in the necessities of life. Yes, this can happen in certain areas under extremely rare circumstances (Hurrican Katrina comes to mind), but there are two things to keep in mind: it's not happening everywhere at once, and it's temporary. A person, a family, or a group may have to be prepared to help themselves for a few days in a row, maybe even 2 to 3 weeks in succession, but having month upon month of supplies stocked away seems to be overkill, unless one plans on feeding his unprepared neighbors, which brings me to my next point.

Based on what I've learned from the various plights of others, the most successful survivors did not try to go it alone. They banded together with their neighbors and worked in concert to survive. They pooled resources, including knowledge and skills, and made the best of a bad situation. Show me a person who thinks they can do it all in the face of a natural or man-made catastrophe and I'll show you a person who has watched too many Hollywood fantasies and read too many TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) books.

Now, does the above mean I think survivalists are all wet? Not at all. Like everything else in life, one needs to adapt broad information to their own situation. The point where I and most survivalists part company is in the depth and detail of preparation and, as indicated above, in the siege-mentality mindset. What follows are MY guidelines on the basic needs in case of disaster. One should plan on having enough of these items for 2 to 4 weeks.

  1. Food: mostly canned goods that can be eaten cold if need be

  2. Water

  3. Medications

  4. Sanitary items: toilet paper, soap, wet wipes, toothbrush

  5. Alternative cooking source: fireplace, camp stove, barbecue grill

  6. Alternative light source: candles, flashlights, lanterns

  7. Battery-powered radio

  8. Alternative heat source: fireplace, a tent heater that can be safely used indoors, etc.

  9. Diversions: a deck of cards, books, a journal, etc.

  10. Firearm(s): a shotgun is king here, as evidenced by the Hurricane Katrina stories I've read, closely followed by a handgun

Many of these items you may already own; others you may have to acquire. The best way to stock up on the consumables you might need is a little at a time. Each time you go shopping, throw a few extras into your basket and put them into the basement or a closet. In short order, you'll have what you and yours need.

One area where I think survivalists go WAY overboard is in the area of firearms and ammunition. No, I can't tell you what type, how many you'll need, or how much ammo you should store, but I can make an educated guess. Some survival websites sound as if they are preparing for an onslaught of wave after wave of flesh-eating zombies, and advise that thousands of rounds of ammunition should be on hand for umpteen firearms. Look, if you've got that many people trying to get to you who aren't deterred by a few rounds fired in their direction, having enough ammo and guns for a platoon isn't likely to help you. Having a shotgun or two, and maybe a handgun or two as backup, as well as 100 rounds for each, is all you are ever likely to need for the amount of time you're going to be in dire straits. Learn how to use these tools and you'll be well served in case TSHTF (The Sh** Hits The Fan) and you have to provide for your and your neighbor's security because social order has been tempoararily interrupted.

I guess that's about it for this subject. Being prepared for the unexpected, within reason, does not mark one as paranoid, but as a wise person who knows things don't always go as wished. Hey, you're not expecting a fire, but you have a fire extinguisher in your house, right? The same type of thinking goes for that spare tire you're carrying in your car (as opposed to the one around your waist). Don't completely blow off what survivalists say; they do have some good points. But don't worry if you don't have a cabin in the hills, an AR-15- or AK-47-type rifle, a generator, and several thousand dollars worth of MREs. The few preps I outlined on my list will see you through practically any temporary crises this country will ever face.

Take care.


theotherryan said...

Those points are sound. I know that I can get a bit gun centric at times. It is worth noting that there is a logistical and philosophical difference between planning for a short term (72 hour-4 week) localized SHTF disaster and a full on TEOTWAWKI. As rawles put it if u are planning for a TEOTWAWKI the rest is covered.

Being prepared for a short term SHTF will be sufficient for almost all situations.

fallout11 said...

Great post, Dal357, and well reasoned.

riverwalker said...

Basic preparedness is always a good thing. Planning on going it on your own - not good!