How To Keep Your Head During An Emergency

afrankelSurvival, Survival Gear

All things being equal, you can go weeks without food, days without water, minutes without air, but only seconds without sense.

Life is a survival situation. Every day you must make a decision to get out of bed and keep going – some days are easier than others. Taking a deep breath and really thinking about what you are doing applies to everything in life, especially survival.

The single most important thing you can do in a survival situation is to take a deep breath and keep a clear head. Action without thought is a recipe for disaster.

Knee-jerk Prepping

Disasters, especially the dramatic ones with lots of news coverage, send people to the stores buying up everything they can get their hands on. Mostly, this is done with little thought, lots of haste, and almost no understanding of the issue or the solutions.

At the time of writing this, panicked people are reacting to a disaster thousands of miles away from them, in Japan. They are buying gas masks that will do absolutely nothing for them should radiation waft their way, chemical suits that are more likely to cause the owners heat stroke than prevent radiation sickness, and taking iodine tablets for no reason.

Knee-jerk Survivalists are the most likely to fall back asleep after the threat of a disaster has passed. The dramatic forces them out of their normalcy bias, and their heads out of the sand. Those who simply react, forever stay in a cycle of hyper-sensitivity and complete unawareness.

If you are focusing on a single crisis, you are working yourself into a lather, and that is never beneficial. Although not as sexy as preparing for aliens to attack, or an asteroid to smash into Earth, preparing at a slow methodical pace is infinitely more likely to be time well spent.

Prepare For The Most Likely

A couple of years ago I emailed Neil asking his thoughts on a special piece of medical gear called a Mark I Kit. Mark I Kits are highly regulated, auto-inject syringes for very extreme cases of biological attacks. Thankfully, Neil pointed out that the chances of an event requiring such a kit were so small it was not worth the cost and trouble of obtaining one. It kept me from spending a lot of money and breaking a few federal laws on something I completely didn’t need.

New preppers often start off worrying about the most extreme, and fretting over whether they are prepared for every possible catastrophe. Instead, follow the Disaster Matrix and work your way up. The Disaster Matrix is the inverse relationship between the size of devastation, and the likelihood of that event occurring. Simply put, the larger and scarier the catastrophe, the less likely it is to happen.

Stand up and draw an imaginary circle around your feet, making a 2’ diameter circle. This is where the most likely disaster is going to occur – your life. Prepare in such a way that you are ready to face life’s most likely issues: job loss, illness, a death in the family, and natural disasters. In addition to acquiring skills, I recommend storing some items in preparation for likely occurrences.

Practical Storage:

  • Food and Water
  • Medical Supplies that are within your understanding
  • Personal Hygiene Items
  • Consumables (The things you use on a regular basis).

A personal motto of mine is, “Only buy what you know how to use.” The exception to this is if I need a particular item, I’ll learn how to use it. Take suture kits for example. To learn how to use one effectively, I would actually have to buy one. If I was not going to actively be practicing in the immediate future, there would be no reason for me to purchase them.

I have a bad habit of buying a ton of books, then never reading them. It doesn’t matter if it is PUA, Survival, or any of the hundred other topics that tickle my fancy – seriously I have too many interests. It’s not that I lose interest, it’s that I simply end up with too many books and forget about them. The same applies to survival gear. Obtain one thing at a time, learn how to use it, and then move on to the next.

Why not just buy it all, have it, and learn when you learn? If you genuinely have the funds to do this, then sure. However, prepping should not mean going into debt acquiring tons of survival stuff. Part of your preps should be getting to the point of zero debt. The only way to do that is by responsibly purchasing your gear.

Finally, focus on skill rather than gear. You can always lose or break gear, but as long as your head is firmly attached to your body and it is filled with knowledge, you can work your way through nearly any situation.


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