News of the recent Ebola case in Texas has a lot of people on edge. You may have felt the urgency yourself as you read the news and monitor the progress being made, or not made in controlling this virus. Events like this are what preppers for years have been planning for and if you are new to prepping you may fear that you are behind the eight ball at a crucial time.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think anyone should be panicked about the events in West Africa or Texas, but I do think they are something to pay attention to. On the other hand, I don’t recommend doing nothing if you have serious holes in your preps. Events like the Ebola outbreak do two things. The first is that they motivate preppers again and they bring new people into our sphere of influence as more people try to learn all they can, search for prepping checklists, or research how to find the right bug out bag and so much more. The second thing that something like this latest Ebola news does is remind us that there are real threats out there in the world. Ebola is a virus that kills people. Viruses can spread to other people so it stands to reason more people can die or will die from Ebola. This isn’t science fiction or conspiracy, it’s just a fact that the people in Africa at least are living on a daily basis.
But regardless of whether you are just now getting into prepping or you have been prepping for years, there is more to survival than having a stocked pantry, bountiful garden, or a well with a hand water pump on your property. Simply having supplies isn’t the true yardstick you need to be comparing yourself to if you realistically want to know how prepared you are for this or any other crisis that may happen. Supplies can be taken away, they can be flung across the county or washed down the river. What matters most of all is your mental capacity to see you through difficulty. Your will to live and survive no matter what the odds will do more for you than any survival knife. Your determination and confidence that you will succeed will be more valuable than a box of MRE’s or freeze dried food.
Without being trained in survival though, how can the average person get this type of mindset? Do you need to have survived through a big earthquake or tsunami in order to have what it takes? Should you sign up for intensive wilderness immersion courses that teach you the things you need to know? Possibly and I am not discounting any training like that, but the average person can increase their survival endurance skills by much simpler means. Some people are born with the will to survive and other people need some practice.
Pull the plug
Have you ever imagined what your day would be like without electricity? If you have lived through any power disruption you know. Out of habit, I will flip on light switches and nothing happens. I will press buttons, open doors to use appliances and it takes a second to realize that nothing is working in each instance. I still go to the wrong silverware drawer in our kitchen even though my wife changed that years ago so maybe its just me. Dealing without power or electronic devices is a huge hurdle for some people to overcome. In a life or death situation, the absence of power is disorientating so what can you do now to develop experience in living without the convenience we are all so used to?
You could go a weekend without power and this is frequently recommended. Simply flip the main breaker on Friday night and put all of the cell phones, tablets and e-readers in the closet. Bonus points for shutting off the water also.
This exercise will allow you to adapt to living without electricity as you see how to light your way, possibly use stored water or perhaps go and get water to live on, cook and bathe for the weekend. For a lot of people this is a huge eye opener that can highlight holes in their preparedness plan.
Practice makes perfect
Is your plan to bug out to the woods if Ebola breaks out or some other form of societal collapse? Have you meticulously gathered the contents of your Bug Out Bag and have it ready to go in the back of your car? Have you ever put it on and walked 20 miles through the woods or even down the road with it on your back? Have you tried to live for 72 hours off the supplies in your Bug Out bag to see if you have the right equipment and more importantly the experience with what works and what doesn’t. Another aspect of prepping is the knowledge and experience of what to do with these supplies you have stored. You don’t want your first experience building and lighting a fire with your Swedish fire steel to be when it is raining, dark and you are scared. Your ability to safely collect and filter water will give you confidence. The ability to navigate without the benefit of roads or GPS possibly will also give you invaluable exposure to the aspects of your plan that could fail.
Activities like backpacking are the perfect test scenario for bugging out. You strap that behemoth you have been building for months with all of the gear you have read about on bug out bag checklists and see what it’s like living in the woods for 3 days. There will be so much you learn about both your physical ability, the weight and utility of your bug out bag as well as whether or not the items you have worked or were necessary in the first place. After my first backpacking adventure with my family, I knew that I needed to drop at least 20 pounds from my pack if I had any hope of running through the night away from disaster in it.
Develop a can-do attitude
One of the main elements of survival is the belief that you will make it through; that you can overcome whatever obstacles you face. This is not something that comes naturally to everyone so it helps to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and see how you fare. Just take something as relatively simple as being too hot or too cold. When winter comes do you run inside the second you get cold? This is probably because you aren’t dressed for the weather. What if you couldn’t go inside? Would you sit there, shivering and complaining?
In a disaster, expect things to be uncomfortable. Expect to suffer a little bit and try this out when you are perfectly safe. Stay outside in inclement weather all day and do physical things. You will learn that you won’t die and that you can make it through situations where you’d rather be back indoors. Spend the night out in the woods by yourself, set up your tent, build a fire and think big things. You learn that you aren’t helpless and that you can do things for yourself. Even if you already have a healthy dose of this experiences like this build your endurance. They mentally reinforce you will the knowledge that you can do things on your own.
Train to build up your body strength
Nobody ever said survival was easy. You could expect to be hungry, tired and to work more than you do on any normal day. To have the best chance at survival you need to be in excellent physical shape. Does that mean you need to be carved up like one of the models on the fitness magazines? Not at all, but you do need to be able to carry yourself around all day without pain or discomfort regardless of your age. Can you walk around all day, possibly with a pack or do you have a hundred pounds or so to lose? Can you pick yourself off the ground when you fall? If not, how do you expect to survive out in the wilderness with that bug out bag that’s too heavy on your back? Some people want to give up rather than put the effort into survival but even if you have every prepping supply in the world, you have to be in shape.
Everyone who doesn’t have a physical handicap can get in better shape for $0. If you are overweight, start off walking. Walking is a great exercise that is free, doesn’t require a membership and you don’t need fancy clothes or equipment for it. Start off slow and build your way up. Maybe you could even begin running one day. Personally I think everyone who is seriously considering any bug out on foot scenario should be able to run 2 miles without stopping. Can you run at all? Can you run with your bug out bag?
Mastering your own body strength is something that anyone can do with time and will give you a huge amount of endurance. If you can walk all day without stopping, run a few miles three times a week, knock out a few dozen push ups and sit-ups daily you will be in so much better shape than the person who watches TV for 4 hours or sits in front of that computer all day. Strength will keep you healthy, it will prevent injuries and will help you last longer, go the extra mile when you might need to in order to save your life.
I wrote recently about the will to live and I believe that is at the heart of every prepper out there. I know it is my goal and I want to take as many people along with me as possible. Do you have what it takes to endure?