Friday, November 16, 2012

The 5 Stages of Preparedness Part 1: The Immediate Stage

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So, as many of you know, the new season of Doomsday Preppers started this week. I admit that I lost interest last year pretty quick. Mostly because the people either had too much money and no common sense....or the skills to enact their plans. You know, making elaborate plans and constructing incredible shelters to the tune of 10s of thousands of dollars, then going on TV and telling the world. Or, having a great plan to live off the land when you haven't grown so much as a daffodil.  Now, I admit that it gave me some great ideas. But, most of the eye-opening things are at the end of each section, where the "professionals" grade the people.  If you don't know their rating systems, go watch episodes. In fact, you can watch the last episode for free on NatGeo.

On the grading system, they break down the prepper's survivability based on 5 categories like security, for example. Being a competitive soul, I compared myself to these people.

Yet, there was something that was missing. In grading their overall performance, I realized that it was much deeper than that. Some of these people focused on their bug-out-plan, but had no long term goals. Some people had great mid-term plans...such as 3 months of water and food. Some of them had long term plans to survive, but no means to survive near term threats.

So, I started thinking about it and came up with 5 different stages of preparedness. Click on each one to read about my thoughts.

Short Term
Long Term
End Game


I realize that these are fairly generic and if you were to list stages of anything, it would probably include some of these. It's common sense. But, I find that many of the preppers have a handle on 1 or 2, but absolutely NOTHING for the other 3. In many cases, people may have thought about it, maybe prepared a little, but don't have a firm grasp on the whole picture. I am as guilty as anyone. A few of these, many people don't really want to think about, such as End Game. Some people may have a skewed understanding of others, such as the immediate. Perhaps, people may be like I have been and let several of these distinctly different stages run together, such as long term vs end game. Each of these deserves it's own post, so we will start with the immediate.

So, let's dive right in by first defining these time periods.

Immediate- What you will have prepared and planned to survive for 24 hours.
Short Term-What you will have prepared and planned to survive for 72 hours.
Intermediate-What you will have prepared and planned to survive for up to 1 year.
Long Term-What you will have prepared and planned to survive for 1 year to 20 years.
End Game-What you will have prepared and planned to survive for 20+years.

I am not going to go to heavily in depth to each of these stages, as they are heavily dependant on the situation you may be forced into, whether that may be biological, nuclear, or a stock market collapse. I will however, go into some of my thinking and logic on each step, as well as what I have done, have not done, and plan to do. Each of these will get it's own post anyway, and I promise it will be long winded enough, despite keeping it fairly generic.

Immediate- For whatever reason, you are forced into a life and death situation. You must either take flight or hunker down. Regardless, you can't pack. You can't run to the store. You are forced to deal with what you have on-hand. You have just minutes to make this decision. What is your plan and what do you have to enact this plan?

Again, I admit that the different EOTWAWKI scenarios will greatly affect what you do. For example, if you are in a big city and a nuclear attack is gotta run. If it's a biological attack, like a plague, you may be best served to hunker down. However, I admit that there may be some events that might make you question the immediate fight-or-flight decision of the immediate stage when you could calmly step into the short term or maybe even the intermediate stage. for example, what about a slow death of the economy? That's kind of a grey area, isn't it? Why would you need to make immediate plans for a fairly long and drawn out event. Well, anyone with a basic understanding of interest can give you a good reason. My grandad did a good job teaching me that the sooner the money is in the account, the more it grows exponentially over time. It may be only a penny now, but it turns into dollars over time and to wait is just costing you money. In this situation, we are dealing with many variables, but the most important is time. the seconds you save now become days, weeks, even years. I know it may sound funny, but let's just make an example.We all know "the early bird gets the worm", right? In this case, the sooner you enact your plan, the better chance you get out unscathed....bypassing the endless traffic jams, the riots, and possible death, dismemberment and other things we would like to avoid. Having the important bits at your disposal that we will talk about, gas, guns, and other immediate needs before hand will help you avoid an inflated economy where you may not be able to use your worthless money (in the case of the economic meltdown) to buy well as leading right back to the other things we talked about...riots, traffic jams, etc that will take place at your local sporting goods store and gas stations. More importantly, it gives you the ability to obtain the choicest of survival habitats, to defend it, and to prepare for the longer term...all of which you should have thought about already.

Ok, that's a lot of talk just to justify why you should be ready for the immediate in all cases.

So, what are we talking about? While you should have a plan for all these stages, you have to survive the immediate threat. That means have a 24 hour plan. Once you get through that first 24 hours, then you go enact the rest. So, first 24 hours. Assume the worst. You have 10 minutes to get out of your current location and get going, then you have to survive along the way to get to your safe place. Now, before you wave your hand and say "I got this" consider that your Best case scenario means your are already at home with your family, grab your bug out bag, hop in your vehicle and go to that safe place (though your house may be your safe place). But, the best case scenario doesn't always happen, does it? This is a tough thing to deal with...because as much as we all would like to think so, we won't be home with our bug-out-bag handy. There are several situations, so lets think about 4: Long distance return, short distance return,  adapt, and best case.

Long Distance: So, just to start off...we must have some hard talk before we get into the meat and potatoes. Like we said, you may not be at your house watching CNN when it, whatever it is, happens. You could be on vacation or business, hundreds or thousands of miles from your family. The point is, you could be as far from your base of operations, as far removed from your plan, as could be humanly possible. At this point, you must make some hard choices. First and foremost, you decide if you will fight the odds and try and make it or lay down and accept defeat. Since I'm not this way, and neither are you, this is a bogus choice. So, on to the next choice. Are you are going back for your family or not. Then, you decide if you are going to do it right now or at a safe leisure. Next choice is how you will go about accumulating the things you need to get back. You can either try to join the stream of everyone else trying to survive and be cordial and hope for the best, or get what Josey Wales called "plum mad dog mean" and do what needs to be done. I won't go into what that may be for you...but I know what it means to me. It means to get back to my family and get on with the other 4 stages By. Any. Means. Necessary. Right. Now. Now, the other option that we just talked about, a safe leisurely return, is by far the superior approach. You wait the crazeys out. Get to a very secluded place, get in the shadows. Lock the doors. Wait it out. You get there when you get there with a lot less stress and danger. That requires your family to be fairly self sustaining. In this case, there is really only one question:
  1. Does your family know what to do without you for the long term?
And that's a tough question to answer. Of course, the plan it always to get back with them, so the next sections should pose questions to you that will ensure you are reunited.

If this is the case, you being a long distance from your support structure, then you have to do what you have to do. Me, personally, every time I fly out on business, I do think about these things. Now, I don't write a game plan or anything, but I do consider where the nearest sporting goods shop is. I do consider how I would get back to where I need to go. I do watch the news. But that's about as in-depth as it gets. Why? Because I still have to get through that first 24 hours, and those few quick decisions are all I need to be worried about initially. Now what? You collect the pieces to your puzzle. Obvious amount these pieces are transportation and protection. This should be done ASAP as everyone else will be trying to do the same. You can't be nice about getting it. And once you do, you better be mad dog mean about keeping it. Luckily, most people in this country are fairly passive and a solid "NO!" will usually suffice. But if they give you a sideways look....know what to do.

Short Distance: Let's consider a slightly less extreme case. You are at work when it happens. Work is between 15 and 30 miles from home. Here are the over arching questions, but not just limited to these:
  1. Does your family know when to squat and when to bug out?
  2. Do you and your family have a rendezvous point? Have you thought about WHY this is your rendezvous point? Have you considered the issues associated with getting there? You don't want to be going through downtown to do it.
  3. What about getting the kids?
  4. Do the kids, if they are old enough, have an idea of what they should do if something should happen to both of you?
  5. You may be able to protect yourself and your family. But, if you are at work when it happens, can your significant other (assuming a woman)? Does she have a firearm on her? Can she use it? Will she? It does no good to have it and not know when and how to use it.
  6. Do you have time limits for the rendezvous point before moving on? Do you have a good idea of where they will be for any length of time?
  7. Do you and your family know what items to grab if they have a few minutes? Sure, the BOB is great. What about other items worth of carrying? What items simply can't be left?
Adapt: Many of you don't have families to worry about or you have made up your mind that you won't try and return to them. If that's the case, your road to survival may not include crossing God's Green Earth. Your road to salvation is seemingly a lot easier, in so much as it has infinite possibilities. Due to that, I won't spend much time on it. But, it's all about that first 24 hours. It goes back to what I had talked about earlier. Can you survive the first 24 hours and buy yourself a chance to adapt and overcome? Do you know what you would need to survive in this area? Can you get the physical items you need? Do you have the skill set? For example, if you have lived in the South East your entire life and have never lit a fire for warmth, can you survive in Alaska for 24 hours? That's a simple example of what I am talking about. It's a very basic need you would have and a skill you must possess to endure. But do you have it? If not, venturing further into a list of needed skills for the future should expose some glaring problems and clearly tell you that you should not be seeking to adapt and should use your 24 hours more wisely. Regardless, you will need to Find transportation whether it's a cab, truck, or snowmobile. You will need the basic necessities to survive where you are, whether that's protection and/or clothing. Get to a warmer client.

Best Case: So far I have been conveying that your survival doesn't start with walking out the front door with your supplies. It may be a long tumultuous journey. It may require you to do things that you may not want to do. But you can't hesitate. The decision much be made already. And that's why having a plan in place is more important than the items. Ok. Pep talk over. What if you ARE sitting in your recliner at your own home, watchingng CNN when it happens? First decision is squat or run. Do you get in the basement or do you hop in the car?  For me and my family, almost every scenario is the same. We have lots of family land spread across north Alabama and central Tennessee (though, the truest survivalist in me points out that your land would do just fine, if need be), so I wouldn't even hesitate. It's grab the bag and run. It simply isn't worth leaving to chance, though I admit that getting on the road opens up a lot of chance. But it's chances I am willing to take because the ball is in my court and there are far more pros than cons to sticking around the old 'hood. In my opinion seclusion is the best medicine. People in dire situations aren't to be trusted. So, I grab my bag and my wife and  kids and I hop in the car. What do I take, if I had, so 90 seconds?

The good news is, I am poor and don't have anything to pack big or the contents of my pantry. Here is what I would get:
  1. Tactical vest. It's already preloaded with AR-15 and pistol mags, Camelbak, flashlight, compact .45 pistol, bandoleer of shotgun shells, etc.
  2. My AR15 and tactical shotgun
  3. Our file folder with all of our important documents
  4. Bug-Out-Bag

However, one of the things I have struggled with lately is my bug out bag. It's heavy. Really heavy. To the point that I wouldn't be able to make a  run for it if I had to. Even though I just said we would be in the car, you have to realize that you may have to ditch it, for a multitude of reasons. Out of gas. Traffic. Maybe it was hit with an EMP and disabled from the get go. What if you have to carry a child? So, there would be no point in having all the stuff anyway.  In fact, I am quite positive that I would be cashed within 15 minutes or less of trying to get out of Dodge. That's not even considering my tactical vest with it's ammo or my weapons. For all of it's weight, most of it is in items that I wouldn't need for that first 24 hours. Maybe not even the first 72 hours. Which led me to think that perhaps I should be dividing it into different bags. I sat down and thought about what I would need for that first 24 hours. The list was surprisingly short.
  1. Camelbak of water
  2. Ability to start a fire
  3. Personal protection
  4. First aid/surgeons kit
  5. Appropriate clothing
And that was it. The rest of the contents, which you can read about in another post, are in that bag. This is simply the stripper model of the BOB. I can hump a great distance with it, even with the tactical vest, weapons, and hauling a kid. After all, after the 24 hours, I could/should be able to find the rest of what we need or get to a place where I already have the items I need.

One item that I need, and that every prepper should have, is all terrain transportation. Ideally, a 4x4 truck with off roading capability and a dirt bike/4 wheeler in the back. Think about the ability it gives you. Roads clogged? Kick it into 4 wheel. 4 Wheel Truck stuck? Load up on the 4 wheeler. There really is nowhere you can't go with this type of transportation. Also, the truck greatly enhances your ability to carry things. I regret ever selling my Z71. I sold it because I never used it. Now I would love to have it back. Keep it fueled. Keep the battery charged. Heck, keep your stuff in the truck! Makes it a lot easier to get going!

What's my plan? Again, that really depends. Different threats mean different things. I will say, as I said earlier, than 90% of the time, I am headed North. Again, the important thing is to make a decisive and education choice before hand and go with it at the earliest sign of trouble. It's a simple plan. Maybe over simplistic. But, I am very fortunate. I live in a very temperate climate. I live in a very rural area. Transportation isn't really an issue. The masses aren't an issue. I have no qualms about doing whatever I need to do. Grab family. Grab bag and files. Go north and don't let anything stop me for any reason. Last thing I want is to be trapped with the mass of humanity. Get to our safe place. There I can worry about the short term.

I am sure many of you are wanting more substance to each of these cases. What about this? What about that? Fact is, I could ramble on for days and days on each of these. The pros and cons would cover a very large chalkboard. What should you take from this?

  1. Have a plan for each scenario
  2. Know what very basic things you need and have them ready
  3. Avoid people at all costs
  4. Enact this plan at the earliest moment
This isn't the end-all be-all document on the immediate stage. I could tell you about a list of skills that would be great for the immediate stage, such as hotwiring cars. I could talk about situational awareness. the point is, there are some very basic ideas and questions you have to be able to answer before moving on. This is just a taste of those. Anyway! Let's get on it!