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The more articles and prepping books I read and the YouTube Videos I watch I find a very obvious question that I don’t think people are asking themselves. The more I start to question if these people have anything valuable to say or worthwhile to show. What is this huge imposing question? Are these preppers being honest with themselves?
Now I realize in the Survival lifestyle there is a lot of ways to break it down. From bugging in or out, which kind of food storage to have, how to defend yourself, which weapons to own the lists can go on and on. But the word Survive itself is where I think people are completely missing the point. Survival! It’s not a TV show, it’s not a video game, there are no restarts and no second chances. You do or die, make the right call or fail, eat or starve. It’s not glamorous it’s not pretty and if it happens to you, it won’t be the Hollywood version you have seen on movies. With these thoughts in mind, I have compiled a selected few topics I think people should reevaluate in their lives and make and give yourself a prepping reality check.
Why are you prepping anyway?
First and foremost what in the hell are you prepping for and why? Do you live in area prone to floods or hurricane alley? Is your home in a place that has regularly harsh winters or some other kind of recurring natural disasters? If so, then you have an easy to envision goal to strive for. When part of your normal life could be that you’re snowed in and can’t get out for two months, its nice to have food, water and heat that you can provide for yourself. If you live in flood zones its nice to have sand bags handy that are all ready filled and ready to go and other natural methods of water diversion. But then I read of people who prepare for this TEOTWAWKI and I take a step back and wonder what that means to them.
For my wife, the end of the world as we know it is a world without Facebook. To a guy at work it’s no TV and no way to charge his vape batteries. To others it’s a nuclear holocaust as is portrayed in the Fallout video games. Before you start prepping, you need to have a vision of something realistic that you are preparing for. I find it easy to think of a certain problem, for example how will I stay warm, and go forth from there. Find a simple problem and then find several different ways to fix that particular problem. Keep your problems small and you can tackle them more easily. Don’t start with how to heat your house, focus instead on how am I going to stay warm – how am I going to keep my safe room warm? Because honestly you don’t need your whole house to be warm. You don’t even need your room to be warm, all you need is your body to be warm to survive.
Once you start breaking basic problems down you’ll see that you are a lot better off and better prepared to face your challenges. This is also great for somebody who is just starting out in prepping or maybe have been doing it for a while but feels like they are missing something or there is a giant hole in their supplies. Focus on the little things because you start adding a bunch of little things up and they become a very big thing. Would it be cool to have NBC gear and gas masks for Nuclear Fallout, to have full body armor and a diverse array of weaponry at your disposal? Sure it would be but that’s all it would be, cool. For most people, it would not be practical. When you’re wearing all that cool gear starving or dying from dehydration you will wish you would have used that money to prepare for something that could have been used not something tacticool.
Your supplies won’t last forever.
Second, realize that everything you hoard will run out, it’s not a lifeline, it’s a buffer. There is no way the average person has enough room and space, let alone money to stockpile roughly 50 years of food and water nor have the ability to move it around if needed. The most common responses I get from people when asked what they’ll do in an emergency is, ‘we have rice and beans well be fine’, or ‘we’ll just garden we won’t need the grocery store’. The problem with these people is that they don’t consider the amount of water for rice and beans or the amount of time food takes to grow.
The one, single, solitary thing that will keep you alive are skills. Having a stockpile is great and I myself am working on creating one, but you must have the skills and the materials to replenish that stockpile before it’s all gone. Many people who garden, rarely stockpile plain empty canning jars and lids or know of or have the skills to persevere garden harvests from spoiling. Folks who plan to hunt either haven’t done it in a while or only know how to use a firearm. They’ve never used or considered a bow, traps, snares or other methods. They are just planning on being able to go hunt and survive. They don’t consider how skilled (and lucky) you have to be to even see game, let alone how much competition from other people trying to survive they will encounter.
Another huge problem with stockpiling is people become targets to looters. Chances are someone has seen you unloading your massive amounts of beans and rice at one point or another. Or someone you know is aware of that root cellar you have outside. When you have so much crap that you can’t easily hide it, others are going to look at you as their lifeline or their target. Last note on stockpiling is stop stockpiling crap. Will a hundred empty peanut butter jars be helpful, probably not as much as you think because there going to be so many other empty peanut butter jars out there. Will a hundred cheap flashlights from the dollar store be the cure-all for lights? Good reliable gear is not cheap. I am not saying you have to spend a million dollars to have decent gear as a lot of it is way over priced but have something that’s quality built not just crap. You will appreciate it one day.
How much is too much?
Good reliable gear brings us into our third topic, don’t be a gear whore. Is having some back up gear nice to have, yes, but don’t we all get that momentary high from getting new things? All that gear you have stocked away is great but do you know how to use it? What good does it do you to have an AR and all the ammo in the world if you don’t know how to shoot it? Can you properly tear it down, clean and lube it? What usefulness does a fully loaded medic bag do if you don’t even know basic wound care, CPR or even what’s in the bag?
I find a lot of people will buy these “ultimate anything bags” and throw em in the corner and think they are good to go without ever really knowing what’s in them. They have never used any of the supplies before, hell sometimes they haven’t even unwrapped some of the components inside. The best way for gear to assist you is if you have the skills to use it properly. You want a sure-fire way of knowing what gear you need for a 72 hour bag? Throw in some minor stuff and go survive out of it for 72 hours. Try and build a shelter by testing out that weirdo from YouTube’s latest and greatest shelter design. Try and build a solar still and see how much water you get. Live in an urban environment? Pack a bag and try to leave the city. See how fast and how far you can get each day on foot. Find safe places to hole up for the night.
There is a reason why highly skilled military operatives go through so many mock training courses, because that is the only way you’ll know how you will react in that situation. You train over and over and then reflect back on the experience. It builds muscle memory. Do you really need that 400-dollar ultra light tent or is a tarp that much better to use? Sure flint and steel are a good idea but should I have some matches to use too? Only by going out and trying out your gear will you know if it fits your plan of action and if it actually works for you. Most of you will probably be pretty disappointed.
What shape are you in?
Now lets talk about physical fitness levels. I work on my feet for 8-10 hours a day -eat like a typical mid twenty year old and weigh 150 pounds. Can I throw on an extra 20-pound bag and walk for 15 miles a day, then sleep on the cold ground and eat crappy food and walk another 15 miles the next day? The answer is no, and if you asked yourself that question, your answers still probably the same. Everyone has the crazy idea of running to the mountains and living like the old school mountain men. The problem is that most mountains are a few hours if you are lucky in a vehicle and a few weeks by foot. Can you make that distance?
I’m not saying that you need to spend 8 hours a day in a gym working out getting ready for SHTF but a few hours a week is probably not a bad idea for anyone. Getting to know your body’s physical limits is a good idea but pushing them is even better. Once you think you know how much you can take, it allows you to start breaking down those mental barriers that are preventing you from achieving more.
A part of overall fitness is physical health as well. This is especially important to those of you who are dependent on medications to survive. I am not talking about medications to just make life a little easier or lower risks of certain types of things but to physically stay alive. In a survival situation there is no drug stores, no pharmacy and there will be no way to renew that medication. If your health is dependent on these medications, in the short-term you die. Everything you have stockpiled will be of no help to you. I’m sorry but the laws of nature and natural selection are what a survival situation really comes down to. The strong survive and reproduce. The weak die off and the ones who have bad traits die off. There is no way around this problem. Now for those who take a blood pressure medicine to prevent risk of heart attack. You’ll probably die of a heart attack once your meds run out and you’re in a high stress situation. But you can still go on, still fight and survive because you are not dependent upon your meds to stay breathing. For those people who are in that category you need to seriously reevaluate your plans and your expectations as you’ll have the hardest and shortest of times.
It’s time for some to have a reality check
Last I want to talk about some people’s grand plans and ideas they have to survive a SHTF scenario. I’ll break this up into two sections bugging in and out.
Lets start with bugging out. A 72 hour bag, bug out bag is supposed to get you to a well supplied location within a 72 hour walking distance. It’s not meant to live out of for the rest of your life. It’s not meant to stock your bug out location. Its to get you from your home to your bug out location or some other safer location. People over complicate the hell out of a bug out bag. Light and fast should be the motto when building a bug out bag.
A lot of people will argue against this idea and try to pack as much prepping supplies as they can carry. If that’s you, then you don’t have a 72 hour bag you have a INCH bag (I’m Never Coming Home) bag were you will need extra things to survive because you do not have a survival stash location. Your plan is that you are heading out the door and you will be forced to survive with everything on your back. Another question I hear frequently is ‘what if your location isn’t 72 hours away – what if its five or six days away?’ Well then you need to have a resupply location in between your home and your location, a temporary bug out location if you will that some people call a cache. A survial cache is a place that you have another fully loaded 72-hour bag ready to go, or at least additional items to resupply what you have used already. If at all possible, this cache location is also a place where you can rest for a little while and regain some strength and stamina. People might wonder why this is necessary and the answer to that is weight. If you have a resupply location, you can carry only the items you need to get you to that point. You don’t have to add-on the extra 3 days worth of water and food. Instead of having a 60-pound pack you can now have a nice 25 pound pack that you’ll be able to travel a lot faster with. Obviously stashing a pack takes some planning and thought process but its much easier on the back if the mind does all the work. Seriously reconsider what your bug out plan is I realize that sometimes 72 hours away isn’t far enough distance away from a problem so plan ahead of time.
Now lets cover bugging in. I like bugging in because it doesn’t involve as much walking plus there are softer beds to be slept in. But the thing with bugging in is security from a number of aspects. First, when you are on the road in a survival situation, you’re a target. Some loser will think he can come and take what you have and you will need to be ready to take a life if it’s required unless you want to jeopardize your safety or your supplies.
The Second risk is a theft situation, you and your supplies need to be locked up tight from anyone trying to break in which means a better built door and windows to start with. Whatever it takes to keep people locked out. Third is a smoked out situation, in the old days people would die from being trapped in a house because looters or a mob burned it down and they were trapped inside. The solution isn’t to have a secret escape route out of the house its to have a fire-proof house. They make metal roofs and concrete siding all of which are fireproof and if enough money is spent on windows not even small arms fire can get through them. Bunkers are nice but unpractical as the cost of construction and they pose their own set of problems with airflow and sanitation. Consider the construction of your house to determine the safety of your house, remember the home is your castle and that’s what needs defending and they sure didn’t build em out of wood back in the day. Maybe go back through the house and analyze how you would survive your firefight or a Molotov cocktail incident.
To conclude I just want to bring reality back to people. I myself get caught up with having a huge stockpile of stuff. The best gear I can afford in my BOB, and planning for a highly unlikely scenario when there’s a more probable one to plan and prepare for. I want people to be able to take away something positive from this article that will help improve their chances of life in a terrible situation. It’s easy to get caught up in all the hype and the latest and greatest survival gear but ultimately it comes down to you and your skills, mental ability and your planning that will let you see another day. If you take the time to go back through your check lists and evaluate with an honest heart, how well you have things together and have prepared I promise, you wont regret it.