I wouldn’t say that it is “never too late” to prepare for potential disaster because, obviously, the numerous economic and social catastrophes of the past have proven otherwise. There simply comes a point in time in which the ignorant and presumptive are indeed officially screwed. I will say that we have not quite come to that point yet here in the U.S., but the window of opportunity for preparation is growing very narrow.
As expected, U.S. stocks are now revealing the underlying instability of our economy, which has been festering for several years. Extreme volatility not seen since 2008/2009 has returned, sometimes with 1000 point fluctuations positive and negative in the span of only a couple days. Current market tremors are beginning to resemble the EKG of a patient suffering a heart attack.
Stocks are a trailing indicator, meaning that when an equities crash finally becomes visible to the mainstream public, it indicates that the economic fundamentals have been broken beyond repair for quite a while. What does this mean for those people who prefer to protect themselves and their families rather than wait to be drowned like lemmings in a deluge? It means they are lucky if they have more than a few months to put their house in order.
The process of crisis preparedness is not as simple as going on a gear-buying bonanza or making a few extra trips to Costco. That is better than nothing; but really, it’s a form of half-assed prepping that creates more of an illusion of survivabilty rather than providing ample security in the event that financial systems malfunction.
Much of what’s listed in this article will include training and infrastructure goals far beyond the usual standards of beans, bullets and Band-Aids.
Market turmoil has only just begun to take shape around the globe; and as I explained in my last article, the situation is only going to become exponentially worse as 2015 bleeds into 2016. I certainly cannot say for certain how long our system will remain “stable,” primarily because our current collapse could easily move faster or slower through the influence of outside or engineered events (a slower progression without any black swan-style triggers would likely end in total breakdown within the span of a couple years, rather than a fast progression ending in the span of a few months). What I can do is give you a conservative timeline for preparedness and offer examples of actions anyone can accomplish within that period. For now, my timeline is limited to six months or less, meaning these preparations should be undertaken with the intent to complete them in half a year. If you get more time than that, thank your lucky stars for the extension.
Find Two Family Members, Two Friends and One Neighbor Of Like Mind
Here is the bottom line: If you are going the route of the lone wolf or secret squirrel isolated from any community, then you are already dead. You might as well hand your food and supplies over to someone else with a better fighting chance. The lone wolf methodology is the worst possible strategy for survival. And if you look at almost every collapse scenario in history from Argentina to Bosnia to the Great Depression, it is always the people with strong community who end up surviving.
Going lone wolf is partially useful only if you have zero moral fortitude and you plan to rob or murder every other person you come across and then run. This is not the smartest idea either because it requires a person to constantly seek out violent contact in order to live day to day. Eventually, the lone wolf’s luck will run out no matter how vicious he is.
I’ve noticed that those people who promote lone wolf survivalism tend to lean toward moral relativism, though they rarely come right out and admit what their real plans are. I’ve also noticed that it is the lone wolves who also often attempt to shame average preppers into isolationism with claims of “OPSEC” (operations security) and warnings of neighbors ready to loot their homes at the first sign of unrest. “Don’t talk to anyone,” they say. “Your only chance is to hide.” One should consider the possibility that the lone wolves prefer that preppers never form groups or communities because that would make their predatory strategy more successful.
Without community, you have no security beyond the hope that people will not find you by chance. You also have limited skill sets to draw from (no one has the knowledge and ability to provide all services and necessities for themselves). And you will have no ability to rebuild or extend your lines of safety, food production, health services, etc. once the opportunity arises. If you cannot find two family members, two friends and one neighbor to work with you in the next six months, then you aren’t trying hard enough; and thus, frankly, you don’t deserve to survive. I’ve heard all the excuses before: “Everyone around me is blissfully ignorant,” “My family is addicted to their cellphones,” “All my friends are Keynesians” and so on. It doesn’t matter. No more excuses. Get it done. If I can do it, you can.
Approach Your Church, Veterans’ Hall Or Other Organization
What do you have to lose? Find an existing organization you belong to and see if you can convince them to pre-stage supplies or hold classes on vital skills. Keep your approach nonpolitical. Make it strictly about preparedness and training. If you can motivate a church or a veterans’ hall or a homeschoolers’ club to actually go beyond their normal parameters and think critically about crisis preparedness, then you may have just saved the lives of dozens if not hundreds or people who would have been oblivious otherwise. Making the effort to approach such groups could be accomplished in weeks, let alone six months.
Learn A Trade Skill
Take the next six months and learn one valuable trade skill, meaning any skill that would allow you to produce a necessity, repair a necessity or teach a necessary knowledge set. If you cannot do this, then you will have no capability to barter in a sustainable way. Remember this: The future belongs to the producers, and only producers will thrive post-collapse.
Commit To Rifle Training At Least Once A Week
Set aside the money and the ammo to practice with your primary rifle every week for the next six months. Yes, training uses up your ammo supply; but you are far better off sending a couple thousand rounds down range to perfect your shooting ability rather than letting that ammo sit in a box doing nothing while your speed and accuracy go nowhere.
Also, think in terms of real training methods, including speed drills, movement drills, reloading and malfunction clearing, and, most importantly, team movement and communications drills. Shooting a thousand rounds from a bench at the range is truly a waste of time and money. Train in an environment that matches your expected operational conditions. Make sure you are learning something new all the time and make sure you are actually challenged by the level of difficulty. If you are not getting frustrated, then you are not training correctly.
Create A Local Ham Network - Expand To Long Distance
A 5-watt ham radio can be had for about $40. With the flood of low-cost, Chinese-made radios on the market today, there is simply no excuse not to have one. If you want to get your ham license, then by all means do so and expand the number of available frequencies you can legally use. If you don’t have a license, practice on non-licensed channels such as MURS channels (yes, MURS is only supposed to be operated at 1 watt or less; I won’t tattle on you to the Federal Communications Commission if you use 5 watts).
A 5-watt handheld ham radio can easily achieve 30 miles or more depending on the type of antenna used. With repeaters, hundreds of miles can be covered. With a high frequency (HF) rig, hundreds or sometimes thousands of miles can be covered without the use of repeaters (though HF radios are far more expensive).
During a national disaster, there is no guarantee that normal communications will continue. Phone and Internet connections can be lost through neglect, or they can be deliberately eliminated by government entities. A nation or community without communications is lost. Find friends and family and set up your communications network now. Over time, your network may grow to cover a vast area; but it has to start with a core, and that core is you.
Learn Basic Emergency And Combat Medical Response
We are lucky in my area to have a few people with extensive medical knowledge in our Community Preparedness Team. I have received training in multiple areas of emergency and combat medical response, and I am grateful for access to such people because there is always more to learn in this field. If you do not have people on your team with medical experience, then you will have to seek out such classes where you can.
Local EMT classes are a good start, but these courses are very limited in scope and do not cover treatment as much as they cover the identification of particular problems. Almost no community courses I can think of delve into combat medical response. If you can’t find a private trainer in your area, then you will have to settle for Web videos. Purchase extra supplies such as Israeli or OLAES bandages and practice using them. Learn your CAT tourniquet until you can use it in the dark. My team even shot a Christmas ham and then pumped fake blood through it to simulate a wound for our blood-stopping class.
If you already have solid people with medical training, try focusing in a niche area like dental work. At the very least, learn your trauma-response basics and store your own medical supplies. Do not assume that you will have access to a hospital when you need it.
Store At Least One Year Of Food – Then Store Extra
With your current food stores can you make it at least one year without a grocery supply source? Can you make it through at least one planting and harvest season with 2000 – 3000 available calories per person? Do you have extra food for people you might wish to help?
Imagine you or your community come across an ER surgeon during a crisis situation, but he did not prepare. Are you going to “stick it to him” and let him starve because he didn't see the danger coming, or are you going to want to keep that guy and his skill sets around? Food preparedness is not as straightforward as it seems. You have to think in terms of your own survival, yes, but also in terms of individual aid. During a full spectrum collapse food is the key to everything. This is why governments like ours set up provisions for food confiscation. They know well that food is power. Without extra supply, communities struggle to form because people become hyper-focused on themselves and lose track of the bigger survival picture. Governments understand that if they can offer limited food to the desperate, they can control the desperate. Do what you can to make sure there are no desperate people within your sphere of influence and you remove the establishment's best mode of control.
Plan Your Food Independence In Advance
To survive you must become your own farmer. Period. Do you know how to do this in your particular climate? Have you accounted for pest control and bad weather conditions? Have you extended your growing season with the use of greenhouses? Are you planning your crops realistically? What provides more sustenance, a field of tomatoes or a field of potatoes? A planting box full of lettuce or of carrots? What crops can be stored the longest and are the hardiest against poor conditions? What gives you the best bang for your buck and for your labor?
I realize that the current growing season is almost at an end, but that does not mean you can't spend the next six months planning for the next season. Condition your soil for planting now. Store extra fertilizer and compost. Be ready for pests. Learn the square foot method as well as barrel planting. Take note of the space you have and how you can best use it. Stockpile seeds for several years of planting.
Train Your Mind To Handle Crisis
Panic betrays and fear kills. The preparedness culture is built upon the ideal that one must defeat fear in order to live. How a person goes about removing uncertainty from the mind is really up to the individual. For me, combat training and mixed martial arts is a great tool. If you get used to people trying to hurt you in a ring, it's not quite as surprising or terrifying when it happens in the real world. If you can handle physical and mental trauma in a slightly more controlled environment, then fear is less likely to take hold of you during a surprise disaster.
Six months may be enough time to enter a state of mental preparedness, it may not be, but more than anything else, this is what you should be focusing on. All other survival actions depend on it. Your ability to function personally, your ability to work with others, your ability to act when necessary, all rely on your removal of fear. Take the precious time you have now and ensure you are ready to handle whatever the future throws at you.