Do you feel confident, in control, and prepared?
Warning: This post is different from what I normally write about. However, I need to get this off my chest and share the protocol I created for you.
Before I dive in, let me tell you a little about why I wrote this post.
I’ve always had an affinity for EDC (Everyday Carry) gear, survival products and maybe even the bug out bag or latest tool. Maybe I’ve been influenced by James Bond, Macgyver, or Bear Grylls, but I think I’ve developed a further interest in these topics in the last few years….and that is probably because of COVID-19.
Let me briefly explain.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I realized two truths that I didn’t consider before these events.
Truth #1: The world can change very fast.
Truth #2: Most people have no clue what to do when this happens.
When I first heard of COVID-19, I was going on a 30-day trip to Russia with my family. By the time I came back, things were different. Two months later, It was crazy. Three of my businesses were shut down. I was losing money hand over fist. Everyone was staying home, the shelves at the grocery stores were practically empty. Not due to supply shortages, but rather due to hysteria.
I felt that we were living in a movie or maybe a Sci-fi TV show like Revolution.
Overall, this was interesting to observe and I think this event exposed a vulnerability in our way of life. There are a lot of various scenarios that can cause ruckus. History reveals the fragility of life. Before COVID-19, we knew that things like this could happen. Look at history, the black death plague spread quick and governments had to shut down cities, restrict travel, etc. Anything can happen and happen again and again.
Now that COVID-19 has passed, most people do not even want to think about this topic, but if you are still reading, then I’ll assume you are a survivor. Like me, you feel the urge to be prepared.
Trust me, I’m not building a bunker or anything like that, but just know that even if I was, I wouldn’t tell you. I’m also not going to tell you to go buy dental floss for your bug out bag or forever-shelf-life creamer for your coffee in a post apocalyptic world.
Prepper logic is hilarious.
My thoughts are simply to survive efficiently.
If something bad happens, you will be prepared. If nothing bad happens, then you really don’t lose either. Preparing is a discipline, but it does not have to consume your life.
I’ve had multiple conversations on this topic, so I figured I’d write this post to more accurately explain my thoughts.
I believe that it is wise to understand that there are a lot of things within our control that can help us survive whatever the future may bring. I have broken these down into five different levels of preparation.
Reaching a level 2 preparation will be adequate for most people, but if we must “account for variable change”. If things change, we might need to choose a different strategy. These levels go beyond the 4 traditional phases of emergency management. Which include:
- Mitigation – avoiding the emergency
- Preparedness – preparing for the emergency
- Response – reacting to the emergency
- Recovery – getting back to normal after an emergency
Mitigation is obviously the most prudent. The best way to survive a survival situation is to not find yourself in one. That my friends is a question of probability. An outcome can be favorable or unfavorable.
Probability = Number of favorable outcomes / Total number of outcomes
The problem is that the number of outcomes is very large and difficult to calculate. Also, everyone will have a different degree of what they consider unfavorable and the level that they can act.
If there is a high probability of an unfavorable outcome, the question becomes, “how unfavorable” and is it worth doing something about it or spending money to become prepared for this scenario?
If you are expecting a storm, you might tie down anything that can blow away. That is a form of mitigation. It is unlikely you will move to another area, simply to avoid a storm.
If it is a large storm, you will want the storm to be small because then you wouldn’t have to move, so you may fall into a confirmation bias where you listen to the people that say the storm is going to be small, read the news about the small storm, and convince yourself that it will be a small storm, ignoring all indication that it is a large storm.
You may also fall into a projection bias where you look at the past storms and say for 40 years there have only been small storms, so therefore this storm will be small too.
The truth is that it doesn’t matter what you think. The storm will either be small and pose no risk or big and of ultimate risk.
I think to better understand what could happen, we need to look at risk. In business there are two fundamental risk:
Systemic risk – Which impacts everything (the entire market).
Unsystematic risk – Which is specific to the individual company.
Likewise, there are things that impact us personally and might be avoided with personal discipline, good choices, etc. and then there are things that happen to all of us. (like COVID-19, War, etc.)
We can also break the risk into categories:
- Political/Regulatory Risk
- Financial Risk
- Interest Rate Risk
- Country Risk\
- Social Risk (The impact of changes in social norms, movements, and unrest
- Environmental Risk
- Operational Risk
- Management Risk
- Legal Risk
Before we can prepare, we must assess the variables that will impact us and calculate the probability that they will impact us. We then must plan for what we will do. There is a concept called the empathy-gap, which is related to projection bias. Basically you have two mental states, a cold calculated, logical and rational mental state and a hot, emotional state that has to deal with fear, anxiety, and a heightened sense of stress. Most people can’t predict what they will do in a situation when they are in a different state. For example, if you are starving and you go to the grocery store, you may overbuy food because you estimate you will eat it all. After you eat some food and calm down, you realize that you overestimated your hunger. Likewise, if you are not in a survival situation it is hard to imagine yourself in one and know exactly how you will act.
Therefore, it is best to prepare, plan, and put yourself in a position to survive.
My argument is that there is a high probability that something good will happen and something bad will happen. Both will happen because life is both good and bad. It’s like everyone is on their own rollercoaster. Some are easy, some are hard, but all go up and down, have a few curves, and maybe a loop or two.
Minimize the bad and focus on the good.
I have the tendency to see the good vs the bad of a situation or place. In many ways, this is helpful. Especially because most danger or risk is exaggerated. If you watch YouTube prepper channels or read any blogs about the topic, you will notice that they spread fear to influence the purchase of their special gear or to even to get more likes, comments (good or bad) to trick the algorithm into giving more attention to their channels.
The tendency to look at only the good is harmful when it is delusional or it causes you to not see reality. If you can objectively see reality without getting depressed, then you can more accurately judge the risk. If there is a high probability that something bad will happen.
How bad can it be?
What is the risk that you face?
It might be hard to calculate, but worth it. Furthermore, risk is harder to calculate with time. Meaning that the further into the future an event is, the more uncertainty there is to predict the probability of the event.
Before COVID, I thought that a big risky event would become apparent and I could make fast decisions before the threat impacted me or my way of life.
However, I now believe that you are either prepared or you are not prepared and when something happens, there will likely not be any time for you to prepare. Therefore, a base level of preparation is needed.
I’ll call this Level 1.
Level 1 preparation is needed because the likelihood of an unfavorable event happening within your lifetime is extremely high.
Level 1 Preparation
This is the base level and depending on where you are in life, you may or may not be able to think about preparation. However, you should consider this level if you do not have a lot of extra money and don’t want to make any big decisions. Like insurance, you hope that you never have to use your preparations. You also may not have to activate a Level 1 plan unless something happens to you or your house. For example, the threat becomes real. At level 1, you are not really prepared to deal with threats so you wait for something to happen that forces you into action.
Remember in school reviewing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Food, Water, Shelter, Safety is all within our basic needs. These are the things that we have preparations for in level 1.
This is where we need to start.
- Health / First Aid
In almost every survival situation, you will need these preparations. A packed pantry is not enough. Now the key is to think about the timeline that you will need each. Obviously, you need “Air” or clean oxygen the fastest. That would be in the Health category. A good gas mask would solve most issues and you might look a little crazy so that might benefit you in the safety department as well. Water, Shelter, Safety are important next steps. Food is also important, but you can go a few days without it.
Maintaining your health is a priority because you never want to be sick in any bad situation. The second question is how much preparation should you make for each item? In my opinion 30-90 days. After that you would need a better long-term solution. In most bad situations you will be most at risk within 90 days because people will be fearful and will do crazy things when they are afraid. Basically, this 30-90 days of preparation keeps you from going into riskier situations. Like going to the grocery store, venturing out into the chaos or having to bargain for the necessities when you need time to create a plan.
What are the items of a level 1 preparation?
Something that has a long shelf life and is easy to make, eat, and transport.
A water purification system would be great. Keeping a rotation of water storage is smart as well. You will also want some type of container to transport water, in case you need to move.
This is made up of 2 parts:
Part 1: You need a plan for where you can go to have shelter if your current shelter is not sufficient. It sounds simple, but you really have to think this through. A lot of people will think the same and that will only escalate problems. So having a solid plan that is well thought out is important.
Part 2: You need a mobile shelter, if you are on the move. Like a tent, sleeping bag, emergency blanket, etc.
Now this is extremely important because what is the use of any preparation if someone who is not prepared steals from you. You need a way to protect yourself and your family. Safety also means protection from animals, natural disasters, location, etc. This will also depend on where you live. If you live in an urban environment, your biggest risk will be from other people. Obviously, you need weapons, but you can also use cameras (if there is still electricity), a guard dog is great, and the list can go on and on. YouTube is a great source of information on protection.
Health / First Aid
You need knowledge. If you are not a doctor, you can’t rely on Google in a bad situation (what if you don’t have electricity or internet). A book would be the best way to reference basic medical and health related problems. You also need supplies. The basics are always important to have and a tourniquet is probably great to add to your basic kit. These preparations should also be portable in case you need to move. Level 1 preparation should include some type of bag or way to transport these preparations in case you have to move or it is advantageous to.
Level 2 Preparation
Now this is a different level of preparation. I call this the “Smart Level” because it is reactive to a stimulus, but that stimulus can be a distant event or threat that becomes probable. If planned correctly, I think this is the level that the majority should aim for. For this level of preparation you have two options: Fight or Flight. There are plans and preparations for both, but you don’t necessarily want to change your way of life until you need to. A lot of people fall into this category and benefit from Level 2 preparations. In Level 1 a packed pantry and first aid kit practically gets you there. In Level 2, you must have a plan, better preparations and be ready to act because at this level, you are willing to move.
I see a lot of people that live in what I would call a high risk location, but since it is hard and expensive to move, they buy guns and ammo for the fight (a fight that is bound to happen given their location.) These preppers are still at level 1. Another example would be a prepper that has a perfectly curated “go bag” and a plan to escape, but they drive a compact car and don’t have any money or a real place to go to. On one hand, they have the desire to be prepared and want to be 1 step ahead, but on the other hand, they are making costly mistakes. Basically, they are at level 1.
Level 2 is about being Mobile & Dangerous.
Preparing at this level means that you believe a threat will go beyond the shortage of your basic 90 day supplies and you now would need better security.
The biggest factor in security is location. Any bad event happens in a specific place and at a specific time. It is not going to happen at all times and in all places. Therefore being at the right place at the right time is key. Which means that you might need to move. Having a plan to move is extremely important, but that is not all. We also need a plan to stay and fight because moving also has risks. The question that you will need to ask yourself is:
What is the risk of staying where I am?
What is the risk of moving to a new location?
Unfortunately, you can’t pre-ask these questions because you don’t know the variables at play. Hence the reason you would need a plan for both. I could write a book on moving locations and fighting, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll list a few thoughts for both and then you will need to create your own plan.
Moving is about speed and reaction time to the threat. The longer you wait to move, the more risk you will have in moving. Roads can be blocked, gas stations may not work, and you don’t know what you will find on your journey if you wait. Moving quick will likely be more normal as people are adjusting to the events.
The mountains are better than a beach for many reasons.
Communities are better than isolation, but large communities will be dangerous. If you have a small community, each person can play a role. For example for an economic collapse with the threat of violence, some people in your community can stand guard all night. This is also why hunkering down in a house with a gun by yourself is dangerous. At some point, you will have to sleep, get supplies and let your guard down.
Hiding is better than standing out. If you watch YouTube and see some prepper talk about having electricity when all the lights go out, just know that this line of thinking is flawed. You will not want to have your lights on when all the lights are off. I’d rather have solar power for my battery powered night vision goggles.
Daytime moving and Nighttime moving will need different plans and gear.
Communication is important to inform your plan to move. In a bad situation, whether it is economic collapse, natural disaster, etc. There are going to be some places that are better than others. Therefore, understanding where to go and when to go is probably going to be communicated in specific channels (possibly radio), so it’s important to have a communication plan.
Guns, Ammo, Swords, Tomahawks, Knives, Bats, and any other weapon that you can carry is better than not having a weapon.
Intimidation and bluffing might actually save you from having to fight. A big dog is always great. Dog’s can’t be reasoned with like humans and they will not respond to hostage situations, or threats with a gun, etc. A dog may or may not attack based on the dog’s own preference, which is unreliable and makes messing with an unknown dog a risk for any attacker. In a desperate situation, anything can happen, but if you have a big dog or multiple dogs, then you might not have the same risk as a neighbor with no dogs. Dogs can also be a good alert system (especially when you need to fall asleep)
Don’t overestimate your weapons capabilities. I saw a video of a prepper that thought his tomahawk was better than a gun, silent and more deadly. That is nonsense. If you throw the tomahawk and miss, then you are without a weapon and you probably just gave the enemy your weapon. If you have a gun or ammo, it doesn’t mean you will be safe. Roughly 7% of the population is veterans (trained to shoot guns) and over 30% claim to have a gun (which means that they probably know how to shoot it)
Two people are better than one and especially if both have guns. More than 2 people would be a small group or gang, which would be dangerous in a bad situation, economic collapse, pandemic, or any other crazy survival situation.
Even if you have a massive store of ammo, it doesn’t mean that you are safe. One shot can disarm you and then the enemy can take all your ammo and use it on the next guy.
Martial arts is good for close combat, but not to be relied on.
The choice to stay and fight is choosing to kill or be killed because if you actually have to fight it will likely not end well and you will have to deal with that mentally.
Ultimately, I think your plan on what to do has to be developed after you determine what will come next. Will you move for 1-2 months and then things will go back to normal and you can safely return? Will you stay and fight for a few days and then establish a stronghold in your community? Are you threatened by a world of crazy or just one crazy family? Depending on the survival situation and what would come next, would determine the best path. To sum up Level 2, you need preparations for your mobility and security.
Level 3 Preparation
This level is all about being proactive to probable outcomes. Unlike level 1 and level 2, which are reactive…. Level 3 preparation means that you have already prepared for an event long before it happens and won’t need to desperately react. For example, let’s assume that the threat is the eruption of an island volcano. You live on the island and could get trapped or be without resources for weeks, while you wait to get rescued. Level 1 would give you the ability to sustain. Level 2 will likely help you get away from danger and fight off unprepared islanders who are trying to steal your provisions. Level 3 would be moving off the island before it erupts. Obviously it is more expensive. Life altering. However, can you really sleep well at night next to an active volcano?
My thought is to visit the volcano if you love the island so much. Spend some time there if you want, but live on another island. At least your home, family, and pets won’t be at risk. To prepare at level 3, you must understand the risk. This is the biggest factor of your preparation, which means you need to read, learn, and keep informed. You must be able to calculate the risk. What is the risk the volcano will erupt? What areas would it affect if it does? Where will the gas and lava flow?
What is the plan?
This example is straightforward. A harder pill to swallow is a risk assessment of:
- Financial collapse
- Currency devaluation
- Passports Canceled or Travel Restrictions
- Government Overreach
- Civil Unrest
- Poverty, Unemployment, Hardship
- Cultural Collapse
- Religious Oppression, Repression and Suppression
Level 3 preparation is for those that are able (financially and mentally) to be proactive. It is definitely a proactive decision and not something that can be taken lightly. Level 3 is also for those that have little tolerance for unfavorable outcomes, subjugation or hostility. Level 3 is for those that truly value freedom, stability and luxury.
When measuring risk, there is the risk that something bad will happen or there will be an unfavorable outcome. There is also the risk that things will get a little uncomfortable before it gets “bad”. If you do not have the ability or will to act when things get uncomfortable, then you might wait until it progresses into something far worse. However, if you act fast because you won’t tolerate the overshadowing of injustice, then it is likely you will be well prepared and far removed from the risk of an unfavorable outcome. Level 3 is not just planning for if something bad happens, but noticing the changes and environment that could result in a movement towards something bad happening and then proactively working towards removing all risk. If the world changes too fast and you can’t predict fast enough, then you still have level 2 and level 1 preparations in place.
Level 3 preparation may or may not include:
Owning multiple currencies in case of currency devaluation. Precious metals or valuable things to barter might also be good.
Owning multiple homes in case you need to move.
Holding multiple passports in case travel is restricted based on the country you live in.
Speaking multiple languages in case you need to build a life in another country.
Learning to fish, hunt, and live off grid in case you need to for long periods of time. Purchasing farmable land might also be helpful.
Building a community before things get bad in case you need to assemble.
Buying a boat and plane….and learning to pilot them in case you need to travel long distances.
All of these things take money and some might be big investments, which is why Level 3 isn’t for everyone. However, it could be inexpensive. For example, if you feel that where you live is getting bad and you are unsure what will happen in the next few years. If you feel like you are at risk, then moving to a better location might not be so expensive. You may even have a better quality of life.
Level 4 Preparation
I desire a level 3 or level 4 preparation. Unrealistic for most people, level 4 is for the moderately rich. At the base level people at this level will naturally live in a safer environment. Triple gated communities, private schools, diversified investments, professional survival training and possibly armored vehicles for the basic trip to the city. At this level, security is usually already a part of your life and in your thoughts. To take this a step further, I would add 3-4 homes in different parts of the world.
- Home 1: A major developed country, gated, private community
- Home 2: A country most people can’t find on a map
- Home 3: A second developed country, gated, private community or one that blends into the average middle class homes.
- Home 4: An off-grid far from civilization home.
Having diversity allows for you to choose the best home for each situation. Level 4 preparation should also include a powerful network of friends, allies, and communication channels. This will help you react properly. If you don’t want the extra homes, you could have businesses or rental properties that you can go to and if you don’t have the funds for investments, you can simply learn a new place. Make friends, learn the area and make a plan for what you would do if you have to go there in a pinch.
Level 5 Preparation
I see this level as crazy for most people, but it is nice to have if you can afford it. This level is when you pay for bunkers, private islands, etc. I once went to a billionaires bunker and it was also used in business, which means it was probably a tax write off. If you have the extra money, then why not.
Private security consultants design the plans for survival and are welcomed as a part of the tight knit community that will help a level 5 preparer survive. Full medical equipment for emergencies, entertainment, etc.
I won’t write too much of this because for most people, this level of preparation is crazy. For those that can afford this level, they typically don’t care about it near as much as those at level.
I personally don’t care so much to be at level 5, but might justify it, if I have the funds and the world gets crazier. You never know what you will do if you have the extra cash at this level.
Thanks for reading my rant. I know it was a long post, but I hope you found some value or at least some entertainment from these thoughts.