So you feel like living…
You may think I’m crazy, but probably not if you opened this post in the first place. Either way, I believe there is coming a time in the future where we are going to need to be just a little more self reliant than most of us are now. You might call that the apocalypse, or Armageddon, or tribulation, or just some bad times coming, like the current recession. You may see that as a “Mad Max” like scenario, or a Roland Emmeric “2012” or “Day after Tomorrow” movie, or maybe it’s just a “Great Depression” type situation. Either way, the good times may come to an end real soon. We need to learn to be survivors, and learn how to survive the end times.
Let’s be clear – we’re talking about taking control of your own destiny whether you live or die. Right now most of us live with the false belief that someone (mostly the government) will always be there to provide our food, water, shelter, health – we are passive animals in a pen waiting for our daily feeding. It seems impossible to think that the police won’t always be there to protect us, or that you might not always be able to drive down to subway for a sandwich if you get hungry. But even if that time doesn’t come – do you want to be in control of your life, or let others dictate it’s terms? Personally, I couldn’t bear it if I didn’t feel I was prepared to handle any situation that arose – with only my family and friends as help.
Are you prepared mentally or physically? I know it’s not practical to dig yourself a fallout shelter, or pack a year’s worth of food into your apartment. So what can you do? The short answer is – prepare your mind.
Start thinking like a survivor. I did this by consuming literature that had to do with the things I wanted to know and/or learn. There’s a lot out there, but your needs break down into three main things – FOOD, WATER, and SHELTER. Think about this – in an extended survival scenario (6 months to a year), how would you provide for each of those things? If the power went out, how would you heat your home? If there was no more food at the store, how would you feed yourself for that amount of time? If the water in the taps shut off, where would you get your water?
There are plenty of answers to these questions – millions probably – but only YOU know which one will work for you. So you’ve got to learn the options, and you’ve got to start immersing yourself in the ideas and thought process of survival.
A good place to start are the publications and/or books . They have a lot of practical advice and solutions for the things you might need to know how to do, like collecting rainwater, skinning animals, foraging plants, growing gardens from scratch, fishing without a pole…the amount of knowledge out there is endless. I recommend “Mother Earth News” and “Wilderness Way” for starters.
A few things you might consider purchasing…
Train your mind, train your body, train your family. You don’t want to read and study and gain knowledge about how to survive on your own, but not have tried any of the things out yet when the ship goes down. Practice a little. Try making a fire in your backyard without matches. Try hunting a rabbit and skinning it. Practice canning and preserving food in jars instead of always relying on the freezer. That way you make the mistakes now, and can correct them when the situation arises. I remember trying to start a fire with flint and steel for the first time, and I chopped the dickens out of that flint, pretty much ruining it, before I got a good, steady long motion down that produced a lot of sparks. I got the fire lit, but the flint is in pretty bad shape. I’ll know better next time. That’s the kind of mistake you want to make while there still is a next time.
The fact is we aren’t training for a standard scenario – “what do you do when your boat is sinking?” – you can practice specific steps and actions for that. We don’t know what will be in short supply, what we will have and not be able to get…will it be a water shortage, gas shortage, electrical shortage…? Will we have sewer and/or septic usage? Will it be bad enough that looters go around, and we’ll need to protect ourselves from that? If you find that far fetched, go back and review the Katrina disaster. This stuff is already happening in places.
The only way to practice and prepare is to remember the three main tenets of survival – you need shelter, water, and food. How do you get those? That’s what you need to practice.
You might already be a pretty good fisherman. Great – that will help feed you if you’re near a water source. You might be a great hunter, but live in an area where you’d have to drive 50 miles before you saw any deer. That’s not going to help you if all the gas dries up. So start thinking about scenarios where you don’t have any of the luxury, and how would you provide for your three basic needs – FOOD, WATER, and SHELTER. There’s no right or wrong answer, you just have to think about it.
And then execute it, multiple times, with your family. You could be the rock of the family, cool under pressure, but if you have one family member who’s going to freak out that they have to go to the bathroom in a bucket because the sewer is shut down, you’d better start training them now. My family does “no lights” drills, where we live a day with no electricity. We do “stranger grabs you” drills with the kids. We try to get all of our food from the land for a day, and cook it over a fire. We try and make that part of our normal routine. Then it will still seem so when it really matters.
Hatchets are great
Different knives, different uses
Alternate projectile weapons
A few pointers…
1) Start with shelter. Learn how to make fire for yourself in any situation (the key to it is very small, dry tinder). If you can make fire, you can provide warmth and shelter.
2) Next, find a local water source and practice drawing water out and purifying it by boiling, or using a chemical purifier. The other option is setting up a rain catchment system at your house, basically just putting a large barrel at the downspout of your gutters (or wherever the water runs off a lot in one place at your house).
3) Last (because it’s what you can live the longest without) practice scrounging and hunting food for yourself. If you’re not a hunter, practice cultivating vegetables in your backyard with no fertilizer. Then try to preserve whatever food you get for the long haul by canning in a boiling bath canter or a pressure cooker. This can be a tenuous task, so make sure and read all instructions when you do it.
4) Other skills to think about in the future, after you’ve covered the basics, are: outdoor defecation and burying, cooking without spices, working without lights or heat, regulating temperature with clothing, navigating with a compass, preserving seeds for next year’s garden, animal husbandry…the list is endless.
Now get to work!
Remember – it doesn’t matter if the world is going to change or not. Even if things stay the same for the next 100 years, we still should be cultivating a world where the people are strong, self reliant, and capable of handling anything. That is the legacy and skills we need to pass on to our children. So get off the couch and get out there. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your world. And who knows – you might just have some fun doing it along the way!