Practical Preparation and the Survival Spectrum

There is a spectrum of self-reliance and preparedness examples in our world today. On one hand, there are people who feel it is unnecessary or even foolish to put resources such as time and money into such endeavors. On the other hand, some folks spend tremendous fortunes on building survival retreats, acquiring firearms, and training at weekend survival camps in preparation for the apocalypse. What is the rational, reasonable middle ground based on the trends in our world?

Whatever the future holds, we can make some basic assumptions that the world in twenty years will look nothing like the world today. Twenty years ago the United States was emerging from a long Cold War. Companies still had pensions. Cell phones were toys of the rich and powerful. Televisions and home phones were analog. Electric cars were only found on golf courses. Many home televisions only had four basic channels (or maybe this was just a Midwestern thing).

It does not take a crystal ball to see that we can expect national and even global stress in several areas: electrical power, severe weather, food, and water. As populations grow, we can expect to see shortfalls in electricity despite our best conservation efforts. Yesterday’s extreme weather is now the new normal. In many states, we will see drought conditions that affect crops, tax water reserves, and create a recipe for wildfires. Globally, fresh water reserves will continue to decline in many desperate areas. Other states will find water plentiful from harsh winters, but could create the conditions for flooding along waterways. Severe weather will continue to impact the aging power grid with downed lines that affect large regions from wind, ice, and snow. 

On the Survival Spectrum, as we discussed in the first podcast, the individual needs to conduct a risk assessment for themselves and their family. This assessment should take into account geography, weather patterns, historical data, special needs, education/training, unique threats, and personal budget. This risk assessment should help differentiate possibilities from probabilities. Although entertaining, most low frequency and high magnitude events are best left for Hollywood.  Many of the basic skills and preparations for a two week disruption in basic services would serve the individual and their family well regardless of where the event falls on the Survival Spectrum. 

Survival Spectrum

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Although we do enjoy the mental exercise that extreme survival scenarios can encourage, the most important concept is Practical Preparation. Although researching basic hygiene topics and attending a free first aid or CPR class from the Red Cross may seem boring, these are the skills that will serve you most effectively in a disaster. Your investment will also cost practically nothing. When it comes to you and your family, leave the Hollywood/Rambo garbage for the movie theater. Instead, teach your family how to turn off your utilities in an emergency and start using the checklists found here.

Matt S
Matt is a former infantry officer in the US Army with a degree in systems engineering from West Point. He currently works as an engineering consultant integrating hardware and software into new applications. He is a graduate of Airborne School, Air Assault School, and SERE-High Risk (Level C) at JFKSWCS.
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