Guest Post: Matthew Stein Asks "How Prepared Are You?"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Adam Taggart of Peak Prosperity,

During the height of the 'Goldilocks economy' of the mid-1990s, Mat Stein wrote When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency [9], a master compendium of do-it-yourself preparation skills.

Fast-forward to today's Great Recession, drought-stricken, $100+ oil, post-Katrina, post-Fukushima world -- many are realizing the prudence of taking basic precautionary steps to reduce their vulnerability to whatever the future may bring. Whether you're concerned about the fallout from a breakdown of today's weakened global economy, or simply want to be better able to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster if you live in an earthquake/hurricane/flood/wildfire/tornado-prone part of the world, the personal resiliency measures Mat recommends make sense for almost everyone to consider.

In this interview, Mat begins with his universal advice for developing basic preparedness -- a 72-hour kit covering the basics needs for living, an emergency plan for your family, lining up local and out-of-town contacts, etc. -- and discusses specifics on what gear to procure and steps to take in unexpected emergencies. For more protracted periods without access to central services, many more situations are covered in his books [10] and at his website [11].

It's important to note that Mat isn't a doomer bent on fanning fears of a zombie apocalypse (though those concerned about social collapse will find much utility in his work). Like Chris, he believes that our current fossil fuel-driven, hyper-consumptive, and over-leveraged way of life is not sustainable. So before the unsustainable, by definition, stops - it's best to invest now in developing the skills and habits that will serve us in this new future;  one sure to place a higher premium on self-reliance.

On the Rule of Threes

The Rule of Threes give you an indication of, in a crisis time, where your energies really should lie.

The Rule of Threes basically says:

  • If you've got 3 seconds without blood flow, meaning a heart attack or critical injury, then without blood flow to the brain in 3 seconds you pass out.
  • If you have 3 minutes without oxygen flow -- either you aren't breathing or you don't have access to oxygen -- you're out.
  • If you have 3 hours without proper shelter or clothing in extreme weather - extreme heat or extreme cold, you get hypothermic or hyperthermic -- you start to die or lose your ability to think and function.
  • If you have 3 days without water and you have to be physically active and it is fairly hot outside, then people start to die. Water is extremely critical.
  • Most people in America could live at least 3 weeks -- and many of us far longer than that -- without food. You may not be happy. You may not feel good. You might not have a lot of energy. You could do it. 

On the scale of things, that gives you an immediate priority list of what things you must address and deal with. Obviously the life-threatening things have to be dealt with first. 

On the Approach to Developing Resilience

There are three big buckets of preparedness. There is stuff you have. There is stuff you know. There are the skills and things you can do. This is also including your mindset. 

The most important is the skill set, including the mindset. You take that with you wherever you go.


A lot of people have plenty of money. By all means, gather stuff. Gather supplies. Store food. Have some beans, Band-Aids and bullets -- the three B's. Beans means your food and supplies. Band-Aids means medical skills and medical knowledge, medical supplies. Bullets means the ability to protect yourself. Again, that is not really my bag, but it's a necessary evil.


Get the stuff. Even if you are not really great at using some of these things, you can trade. You can barter and you can share. You can team up with people. The lone wolf in a collapse situation will probably not do very well, unless he is super-MacGyver. Someone who is meaner, tougher and better organized will come along and take all his cool stuff away from him. It is really in groups that people will do better. Think medieval times, castles, villages and groups. There was safety in numbers. People have skills and talents. It really takes a village to pull through.


Think about your strengths. Naturally if you can develop all three areas, great. If not, if you are stronger in one, focus on that. If you do not have money, focus on your skill set. If you are likeable and get along well, if you have great skills and talents, then you will probably manage pretty well. Maybe you are older and you are not very strong you cannot do much. If you have good financial reserves, then you can stock up on things. You will be able to team up with a whole bunch of people. They will be thankful and grateful for you, if and when that day comes when that stuff is needed.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Mat Stein (59m:45s):

Click here to read the full transcript

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A Lunatic's picture

He forgot to mention you can only survive 3 months without more QE...............

krispkritter's picture

Benanke? Is that really you? I thought I heard a helicopter overhead....whew...I guess I'll be OK when I take the lawn vacuum out and Hoover up all those FRN's. Clicked my heels three times and said "There's no place like Rome, there's no place like Rome..." that is if Italy pulls this off where Greece can't? /s

Spirit Of Truth's picture

"Bankers make money the old-fashioned way....they print it..."

Dismal Scientist's picture

Meat and drink to ZH readers, this kind of stuff. Doomer porn and no mistake.

If the wishes of your average ZH reader come true, then I would be prepared to bet that most of them will wish they hadn't...

oddjob's picture

Preparedness is a winning trade, dismal showing on your part.

Hulk's picture

The good side of hyperthermia is that after a while, your brain plays tricks on you, making you think you are burning up. You then remove all your clothes and jump into an icy creek, thus speeding up your demise.

So we got that going for us !!!

MisterMousePotato's picture

I once did exactly that: Jumped into the west branch of the Penobscot River just below Ripogenus Dam (Northern Maine) early in the spring. I was lucky to make it the two feet back to shore. Every muscle in my body instantly went numb, weak, and nonresponsive. Strange and scary feeling, let me tell you.

Calmyourself's picture

Waded into that river one June around the Old town mill with a light pole and bucket of worms..  Pulled out more small mouth than I thought that river held, amazing day, beautiful river..

MisterMousePotato's picture

I seem to recall reading some news a year or so ago about that mill possibly closing down due to pollution issues. Never heard what happened.

A very long time ago I hitchhiked to Bangor from Ripogenus Dam to see the first Star Wars movie. When hitchhiking back after the movie ended at midnight or thereabouts, someone dropped me off just north of Old Town. It was as dark and unpopulated out there on 95 (one lane each direction) as one could imagine. Not a single car for miles, maybe tens or dozens of miles.

So I'm walking along looking up at the stars when, all of a sudden, the stars above me started disappearing. I stop and look closer, and sure enough, the stars in patches are disappearing and reappearing right above me.


I suddenly became aware that I was standing right next to a moose whose antlers were above my head and he was, I guess, looking around.

I screamed and jumped probably 20 feet from a dead standstill.

The moose, in the meantime, had the same epiphany as I, and also leaped 20 feet from a standstill in the other direction.

Scared the crap outta me. Probably the moose, too.

johnQpublic's picture

thats hypothermia there broham

valkir's picture

I am prepared,but i also know this wont help me a lot.72 hours kit-what a bullshit.I survived socializm/capitalizm mantra change in 1990.I survived hyperinflation in 1996.I have my own house with garden,2 wineyards,have my own apartment in big city/with property taxes around 50 $/year/.I have those barbarians relicts in 2 continents,buried in different places.And i am still afraid i am not prepared full.Why?Simple i see the shepple around me,and i am terrifyed.Have a nice week all,bitchez.

newengland's picture


Chill. You've done what you can do. Now find a community, people that like you for you. All will be fine. Have faith in you and them. It's all gonna be ok.

margaris's picture

now help other people prepare.
At this moment It's cheap to buy a years worth of food supply and some big canisters you can fill with water...
Keep on explaining to people why such a buffer is important and can also save you money...

you want to minimize the amount of possible victims around you...

Backspin's picture

Preparing for societal collapse and general mayhem isn't so much the issue as preparing for the ever growing encroachment of the police state.  IMO.


Dr. Engali's picture

Okay fellow Hedgers. I've been thinking about this for a while. I know a lot of you are in the same boat. I have been aware and prepping since 2001 and really started accelerating in 2008. My dilemma is my wife wants to stick her head in the sand and ignore the problems. She is a very smart woman and knows that sometime is terribly wrong but she doesn't go past that. So my question is ... If you had one single movie/ documentary to reccomend she watch what would it be. It has to be something where she can grasp why we are in this trouble and how bad the outcome can be. I am at my wits end with this one do any help would be appreciated.

Hulk's picture

and if that doesn't work, try the Devil and Mrs Jones.

At least you will have fun...

newengland's picture


Ta for the suggestion, but I always have fun with my inside job ;-) My beloved is grr snarly paratrooper. 

I make money. He defends me and mine. 

Hulk's picture

As a plane jumper myself, I have no idea of what you are talking about...

Dr. Engali's picture

Thanks for the recommendations. I appreciate them.

newengland's picture

Dr. E.

You and your wife are good people. Best wishes to you and yours.

Dr. Engali's picture

Thank you all for your recommendations. Some if them I've seen or read, some I haven't. I'll check out what I haven't. I do appreciate all the suggestions.

salvadordaly's picture

If you want shock therapy "The Road". It is extreme, "Nuclear Armigeddon" maybe a worse case scenerio, but that's your call. In my situation, I just explain to mine, that I can not look at at my children when they ask "what are we going to do? and I tell them "I wish I would have,,,,,,,,? Instead I have a plan, maybe not all covered, but I have something to get us by for a certain amount of time. Just "F"ing do it! It's your responsability to take care of your family! Your not CRAZY! Do not feel guilty!

JOYFUL's picture

Last Man on Earth\starring Vincent Price...

used to be available on InternetArchive as free download...but I've had trouble finding it there today when I went to get the url - that's disturbing in itself!* Apparently there's a google version available for download, but I don't do google, so yu're on yur own there... is a yutube version,  but yu no hoo yu toob be too, doncha!

this movie tied up a lot of loose strings for me. I only watched it after I had managed to dekommision the 9\11 psy-op terror from my head(like, 8 years after the fact!) - and only after my own dearly-beluved one had left this dimension...

if yu see this movie with yur wife n kids, and realize the loss factor that Vincent emotizes so professionally in his role, they will know well enuff that yu don't want to be there without them...and do what they have to do to let yu chart the course...

hell man, it be ruff enuff to have to face down zombie hordes on a daily basis, with little more than garlic braids n a bad attitude - doin it all by one's lonesome is a bad situation!

Find that flic, n watch it wit da family!

*"The item is not available due to issues with the item's content.
If you would like to report this problem as an error report, you may do so"  - from Internet Archive -"Error report"...gulp - if I ever thought that any part of my acute n perpetual paranoia was overdone...those fears have been put to rest forever today! IA was one of the last bastions of unfiltered truth...looks like it's been finally laid to rest...and that the zombie apocalyse be real!

mtomato2's picture

"The End Of The Road."

 I finally got my wife to watch it tonight.  She's convinced.

Meatballs's picture

Watched it last night- a few points and a few laughs but glad I didn't pay the $4.99.

A Lunatic's picture

Does she let you plan for and purchase what you feel is necessary for the health and survival of your family? If so, count your blessings and do your best to protect her from the ugly reality of it all. That's why we are men.....

Dr. Engali's picture

She des to a certain extent , but she half thinks I'm nuts. Every time I fill another jug with water and take it downstairs or fill another bucket with rice she just shakes her head.

A Lunatic's picture

If you're  doing it a three in the morning while wearing a ghillie suit and NV goggles there might be an issue.........

Hulk's picture

Its his playing "ride of the Valkyries" at full volume that really gets to her !!!

sunaJ's picture

First rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.


I'm in your same boat.  I agree with the post above:  Let her enjoy the life she has now, since you know she is resisting it, but you are the man that is preparing for the security and safety of your loved ones.  Find a good middle ground, like go camping with her, take up canning, or other skills/activities that are enjoyable yet also help prepare for the Great Reset.

Citxmech's picture

One of the biggest blessings in my life is that my wife is onboard.  For me, the big early eye-openers were:

 New:  The Rodney King Riots and Katrina;

Internet pages:  Olduvai Gorge Theory by R. Duncan (; and all the fantastic 9/11 sites;

Internet movies:  The Crash Course, The Keynes v. Hyak music videos (I and II); and Gold as Money;

Books:  The Long Emergency by Kuntsler; Twilight in the Desert by Simmons; and Resource Wars by Klare

Reports:  The Hirsch Report

Don't know which would resonate best with your wife, but probably the ones that had the biggest impact on me were Gold as Money, The Long Emergency, and the Olduvai Theory.  By the time I saw The Crash Course, I was already well on that page.

Good luck Dr!

Muddy1's picture

Do it when she is not around.  Today when my wife goes to the gym for an hour, and tomorrow when she goes to do her volunteer work for 4 hours I will be stockpiling more.  As for medical supplies, we have a friend who is an EMT.  When they were here for a visit I asked him to look at my medical kit and see if there was more I needed.  I NEVER presented it as  a survivalist medical kit.  His comment, "I need something like this in my own home.  I think you need better scissors and an air splint.  I'll send them to you after I get back home and get to work."  That endorsement by a professional gained some acceptance by my wife of my preparations.  A carefully selected 3rd party can be an asset.  Not to be dishonest, but to avoid stressing her. I presented prepping as, "I believe it is my responsibility to do what I can to provide for my family."  Same as keeping the utilities on, life insurance, car maintenance, etc.  Some days when she needs something to prepare a meal I don't go to the store down the street, I go get it from our store downstairs and quietly give it to her.  She has learned that it is nice to have things on hand and not having to run to the store for something.  She now refers to it as "our store". 


centerline's picture

I have been in the same boat for a long, long time.  Bonified sheeple for family.  What I do is keep poking at the simple stuff that is obviously not right but people just glaze over as if it is normal.  There is just so much of it, it is like shooting ducks in a pond.  The hope is that when the SHTF, the foundation and knowledge will exist within her so the denial stage will be short and we can on with doing whatever is needed for benefit of our family.

Of course, my wife won't do the 2+2 thing at all right now.  Refuses actually.  Uses every excuse in the book to avoid educating herself.  Instead is glued 24/7 for various devices that are connected to Facebook, email, texting, etc.

I could probably write an essay about why I think she does all this.  And how I think she is a pretty good example of how most people are.  Most of it is not thier fault.  This has been done to them.

I am not claiming any sort of superiority here either.  Just maybe I sensed something wrong about 10-15 years ago and could not shake the feeling.  The last 5 years or so has been a real wake up call and motivated me to start asking real questions.  I did not like what I found out.  Nor can I put the genie back in the bottle.

The trick is to live for today and also me mindful of what is likely coming.  Tough to do.  Especially when you feel that in the present you are not on the same path as your family.

While I don't expect anything to change, some of these movie suggestions look pretty good to me.  I might try this approach.  It would be helpful if she knew how dangerous a situation we are likely up against.


Savvy's picture

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still

-Ogden Nash


You won't convince her. Do what you need to and keep the harmony in your house. easier that way.

margaris's picture

Exactly. Or try and improve your cooking skills. You shouldn't stock up on fast food and prepared foods, but on simple cooking ingredients.
Surprise your wife with appetizing creations that taste good and are also very cheap. Your wife will admire that you cook for her... and if you keep cooking on a daily basis you will really save a lot of money and she might start cooking herself...

krispkritter's picture

Read the Deep Winter trilogy. Read Patriots.  Read Lucifer's Hammer. Watch 2012. Any number of scenarios can threaten family/personal security. Katrina wasn't enough of a wakeup? Youtube has dozens of decent examples of what happens during a FRN default or an EMP event. Or consider gross mismanagement by .Gov or just plain de-funding of .Gov offices with control over your resources...scary all around...


aerojet's picture

I'm not saying any of this is wrong, but I would suggest that you are reading a listening to a pretty one-sided, self-selecting type of literature.

Urban Redneck's picture

READING only gets one so far. 

Unfortunately there is no substitute for the knowledge gained through the experience of DOING something.  

Consider something as simple as tying as tying one`s shoes... If you had never done tied your shoes and then read a pamplet describing the process...

krispkritter's picture

Read Lucifer's Hammer when I was in my teens.  Read Patriots while it was still online a number of years ago, same with Deep Winter. Read 'One Second After' much more recently. As is usually the case, an interest in a topic does tend to draw ones attention to further reading on the subject but it doesn't mean that's all I read/watch. I also read ZH and a ton of economic articles on the web most of which are negative now but there's not a lot of positives out there that I see. I have certainly altered my thinking after years of digesting the above titles and current economic news but that's simply opened my thinking up to the possibility of what events might happen. And that should prevent me from looking like Tyler's 'Deer in the Headlights' if one should occur because it's already entered my consciousness and therefore will not be a shock to me. I appreciate the heads up though and will post back if I start buying copies of  'The Catcher in the Rye' uncontrollably and wallpapering with aluminum foil... ;)

VinnyTheBlade's picture

Try and find a video called "After Armageddon" which aired on History Channel a few years ago. I believe it is available on iTunes. If she likes to read fiction, then have her read "One Seond After" or "Lights Out". Both are based on life after an EMP, but the preparedness principles one should aspire to are demonstrated nicely in both, and can easily be extrapolated to life after the "Economic Armageddon" we are bound to experience soon.

Mr. Lucky's picture

The Carrington Event from 1859 was very real.

au_bayitch's picture

Dr. E, Have you tried using here interests and hobbies to your advantage. If she enjoys cooking, suggest canning, smoking meat, or making jerky. If her interest outdoors activities, camping, off-road biking, fishing. You can use the opportunity for test your equipment and skills. Indoors lady, maybe sewing, buy her items for your planning. Take whatever her interest is and use it towards your prepping. Forcing the issue just causes issues....and less sex....with her.

rhinoblitzing's picture

Rollover - 1981 w Jane Fonda...

Dr. Engali's picture

Rollover... An oldie but a goodie. I forgot about that particular movie. Thanks for the reminder.

DavosSherman's picture

Does she have money in paper (401K, IRA...)?

If so, just wait until this week when she loses her ass.  She'll be all ears, big ears.

It is NOT that she doesn't want to listen or doesn't listen to you.  It is she doesn't want to let go of the minimal amount of good she has in her life and fill it with "bad" right now, which will spoil the good.  We all know the problem with that "logic".