Editors Note: A guest post from Mathew Jamerson.
Like most preppers, I occasionally test out my preps. In this case I pulled my bug out gear together and wore it about the house for a bit, testing to see the weight impact of a few items I had recently added. And… it was a little heavy. Sure, I can change out some stuff and give more thought to what I really NEED in a bug out situation, but this activity got me thinking more broadly too. What is my proportionate response here? In my case I need to travel fair distance to get where I want to go, so I have some particular needs, but beyond that; what am I responding to?
Some of us might think (and I’ve seen other good articles on this here at The Prepper Journal) about ‘what is practical when it comes to prepping?’ Am I ‘tacticool’ or tactical? Do I think owning a Humvee is realistic when I have a family to support? Is a master medic bag, suitable for treating Ebola, really something that I can transport (let alone make use of, given my lack of medical training to utilize such a resource)? And so on.
But I want to talk even more broadly than that.
Every aspect of my prepping plans (and hopefully yours) should include an idea of what is proportionate to us (our individual abilities and limitations) and to what we are responding to (what limitations a particular crisis or crises will impose upon us). A simple example might be: my physical limitations are not necessarily shared by you, so I might be able to carry more (or less) than you on my back if we need to bug out. Something more specific might be: I am not planning for a bio hazard / chemical hazard of some sort (I’ve decided that it is too unlikely in my area vs the additional weight factor), so I don’t have MOPP gear in my bug out bag. Perhaps you do have MOPP gear but, put simply, it’s hard to prepare for every single eventuality all at once, have every base completely covered and carry it with you. One of the things that the National Geographic show got right was it asked each prepper what they were actually preparing for?
Now, apply that thinking more broadly and you’ll see more of what I am talking about.
Say you have a location you are bugging out to and it’s a nice big acreage where you can plant crops, see for large distances etc. Is it proportionate to what you can conceivably secure? Is it proportionate to what you need to survive in a crisis? If you’ve got lots of land you want to utilize then you are most likely going to have to patrol it to keep it secure, which is going to either require lots of time or lots of people to achieve good security. Even with technology assisting you (and tech is not necessarily going to be super reliable long term anyways – a subject for another time) like cameras and sensors, you still may need to respond to that interloper, not to mention the added risk of being a large visible target with notable resources.
I’ve gamed out a few examples in short here so that we can continue to apply this logic down on the line:
- Is my food storage proportionate to what I need to feed myself and can I keep it secure without it spoiling? Am I likely to have to leave it all behind because it’s too much to carry?
You may love preserving food as a hobby and appreciate the security of the idea of lots of food in the pantry but what good will it do you unless you need to bug in? If you live in an inner urban population center (like most of us) then the transferable skill of preserving is the best you might be able to take away with you.
- How likely is it that I will need to defend myself given my relative proximity to others / or where I need to bug out to?
How necessary is that .50 BMG? If you live away from others then you probably won’t encounter many other people. Generally speaking, unless you are Rambo, you should shy away from fights. Firearms are heavy, can be cumbersome and require the additional weight of ammunition. In arming yourself try to maximize the utility of your preparedness. Knives don’t run out of ammunition, can be used in conjunction with other available materials to make a spear, are lighter and are generally more useful than a firearm (not to mention quiet). It is worth asking ‘how likely is it you will encounter others with firearms?’ Whilst no one wants to be the knife wielder at gun fight, not everyone lives in places where everyone has easy access to firearms. To be clear; I am not saying don’t make firearms part of your preparedness, just think about what is a proportionate response to your circumstances.
- Is stealth (a bike or walking) a better option than driving a noisy, large car full of supplies when I need to move?
Thinking about if motorised transport best addresses the proportions of your task is important. Do you need to travel a long distance and / or quickly travel? Again, avoiding conflict and staying out of the lime light is likely to get you much farther than presenting a visible target whilst barging through. In taking the back track you might need to travel farther but it could save you being injured or worse. If you are bugging out, the roads might not be clear enough to get a car of any sort through (especially in a metropolitan area) and you might get boxed in somewhere where there is a disturbance.
- How long is the crisis I am planning for going to last before things get any better?
The amount (and type) of supplies, the necessity of the type of shelter, the distance you want to put between yourself and strife, perhaps even the makeup of your ‘team’; these are just some of the decisions informed by what you think might be the proportions of the catastrophe you are preparing for. You don’t NEED to dig a fallout shelter to protect yourself from a cyclone, for example.
Which leads me, finally, to: think about what you need, not what you like. A bunker lined with entertainment and luxury might be nice but that space would be better utilized by things you need; food and water for example, so your PlayStation might not make the cut. If you keep your preps proportionate to your needs then you’ll find they tend to also be more concealable, more practical, more manageable and more realistic to your budget.
Ask yourself: Is what I have prepared proportionate to my needs and a proportionate response to a given crisis? It would be nice to think we can prepare for anything and everything, all at once, but this is unlikely to be achievable for most of us, so making informed choices about what we can do is going to be a reality and should inform our preps for the future – whatever that future may look like.
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