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Life is often about measuring ourselves against a standard. The standard changes with the situation but there is always some metaphorical yardstick we are trying to use to gauge our progress for our efforts. Consciously or maybe subconsciously we keep looking back to that yardstick, checking to see how we stand. In some cases it is easy to see how you are doing. If you want to diet and lose weight, you have the ability to look at yourself in the mirror, maybe your clothes fit more loosely, and then obviously there is that dreaded bathroom scale. If you never get on the scale, you might think you are doing better than you actually are on your diet. The problem comes when you do step on the scales and find that you are much further away from your goals than you thought. It might not be good to do this the day after Super bowl Sunday…
With Prepping, I think we should also do a similar exercise at least once a year where we pause for a moment and take stock of where we are and how much further we need to go. With a clear understanding of where you are at currently in contrast with your prepping goals, it is easier to identify any problems before they are too late to fix. You don’t want to get invited to a pool party at the end of the world and realize you are still 15 pounds overweight and your bathing suit has a big moth-eaten hole in the butt.
I wrote an article last year titled “How Will I Know When the SHTF” where I brought up this concept of the Arc of Preparedness. For me, the journey most of us are on towards being more prepared doesn’t have a final destination, but I think there is a less prepared and a more prepared side with a healthy middle in between. Ideally, we would be as close to the more prepared side as possible, but without measuring your progress on that continuum occasional, how would you really know where you stand? The last thing we want to happen is some SHTF event and you realize with horror that some vital aspect of preparation you thought you had covered, is not going to be able to save you or worse missing completely.
Like anything else we measure on an arc I will start with least prepared and end with what I think is the maximum level of preparedness we need to realistically worry about achieving. Obviously, nobody is expected to have capabilities akin to a Global seed vault like they have in Norway, but for the average family I think something a good bit less than that is a reasonable level of preparedness. Knowing again that I consider prepping a journey with no destination. You can be very squared away, but I don’t believe anyone will be able to prepare for everything under the sun for the rest of their lives.
I think the minimum level for being remotely “prepared” would be one week of supplies to feed, clothe, shelter and protect you and whoever is in your care. This should assume that all utilities are off, no emergency services are working and you have to rely on only what you have at your present location. Could you live for a week if the grid went down? What if you had to leave your home? If you aren’t even to this point yet, you might want to read our How to start Prepping article.
Just as a point of clarification, I am not talking about extremes here which some commenters like to throw out as an argument. If a nuclear bomb goes off in your neighborhood, I don’t expect you to be able to live for a week. I am not talking about the military or someone else dropping a bomb on your house or an F5 tornado barging through the front door. The example I will use is a global disruption in power. This in itself doesn’t kill everyone, at least not at first, but for all intents and purposes, it is the end of our world as we know it.
Low-Medium preparedness using the same scenario above is the ability to take care of your family for one month. This means you have at least a month of food and water stored and can survive without power to heat or cool your home. Stocking away an extra month worth of food and water for your family is nothing to sneeze at and would keep you safe for 99% of all disasters.
Medium level of preparedness would be 3 months. All of the supplies above to keep your family alive for this duration. Of course with a longer duration of TEOTWAWKI, we have to assume mass civil unrest and possible violence in your town or neighborhood. At this point I don’t believe you would be safe on your own and hopefully have banded together with like-minded individuals, perhaps your neighbors for shared safety.
Medium High in my opinion is the ability to take care of your family for 6-9 months, assuming you haven’t been forced from your home. This level means you have acquired or identified a pretty large amount of prepping supplies. After this amount of time, the country may be very different. Martial law may have been declared and confiscations of supplies, or forced relocations or forced labor may have taken place in some areas.
I think anything over one year could constitute a high level of preparedness. This would allow you to feed your family while you work on setting up a sustainable food alternative. Assumes you have some backup power for the duration.
More than one year or the ability to care for larger groups of people. There are some who have many years of stored food, water, underground bunkers and all of the necessary things you would need to weather the apocalypse in style. I can’t say I wouldn’t do this too, if I won Powerball, but until that happens, this side of the arc is probably unobtainable for most of us. This could also include people completely self-reliant with food, gardens, power and a warehouse of supplies, although that is no small feat either and like Powerball is not possible for most preppers.
Most of us, going back to that earlier analogy have a feel for how we are doing. We know if we are losing weight or in this context, how prepared we are. I think it is good to measure yourself though because you might be surprised. Do you have a ton of freeze-dried food stored in the shed? When is the last time you checked that out? Is it still good? What about your water supply? Have you measured how much you have? How is your garden doing and more importantly, how much food are you able to put up each year from the harvest? Have you considered that amount if you are eating solely on what is produced? Will that be enough?
Training is a component I didn’t even cover because that is a little harder to measure. You can take a first aid course, but that doesn’t mean you won’t crack under pressure or the individual you are treating will be worse than your skills can handle. Patients die every day even in the care of doctors with all the modern conveniences you have. What about self-defense? Do you have weapons? Are you training with them? How much ammo do you have?
Measuring where you are on the Arc of Preparedness is highly subjective I know, but the practice of taking stock each year might help you avoid disaster down the road. Knowing what you have will help you focus on what is needed and at the same time, reassure you of the bases you do have covered.
So, where are you on your own personal Arc of Preparedness?
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