What Do I Prepare For?
Being prepared for an uncertain future is much more than just having a little extra food and water stored. There are so many possible trigger points in today’s world that preparedness needs to become a mindset and not just a something to check off your to-do list. When one embraces the need to make preparedness a life-long process and not just an event, then one truly becomes an asset rather than a liability. I’m afraid far too many are relying on the government or others to rescue them in times of need. It may be helpful to take the time to consider possible events that one could face in the next five years.
Natural Disasters (weather related)
Heavy thunder storms
Severe winter weather
Extreme high heat
Natural Disasters (non-weather related)
War (conventional, biological, chemical or nuclear)
Toxic material emission or spill (from a train, semi-truck or nearby plant)
Riot or other civil disorder
Nuclear plant melt down or other nuclear disaster
Government action against you
Stock market crash
Plague or disease outbreak
Mugging, robbery or other criminal attack
Death in family
Home destroyed by fire
Random acts of violence
This is certainly not a definitive list of possible events that could create a need to rely on your preps, but it’s a good starting point. As you consider these possibilities, you may also want to consider the underlying purpose for your preps – that of basic survival. If your preps will not provide the essentials of basic survival, you will want to re-think your priorities.
When it comes to survival, it can be reduced to “The Rule of Three”. You may be military, firefighter, law enforcement, rescue worker or just plain folk with an inordinate amount of common sense. Regardless, it never hurts to revisit the basics. And all of the basics can be summed up in ”The Rule of Three” which says, absent sudden death (such as an accident) or terminal illness, your survival is generally contingent upon you not exceeding:
3 minutes without breathing (drowning, asphyxiation)
3 hours without shelter in an extreme environment (exposure)
3 days without water (dehydration)
3 weeks without food (starvation)
Most preppers‘ are stocking food. You will note that starvation is the slowest form of death among the Rule of Three. You would likely have three weeks before you starve. Your level of physical exertion has an impact on the body‘s caloric requirements. Personally, I might survive starvation for five or six weeks as I‘m carrying a lot of extra weight (just in case!). Don‘t call me over weight, call me prepped! Keep in mind, your survival strategy must consider the likelihood of you being separated from your food supply in an emergency. When that happens, stay calm, focus on any immediate threats or hazards and remember that you have three weeks to implement Food Plan B or Plan C. You do have a Food Plan B and Plan C, don‘t you?
Dehydration occurs much more quickly than starvation. As such, water supply is much more critical to address in an emergency. Consider that in a temperate climate and without exertion, the human body requires approximately 2.5 liters of fluids per day. In extreme heat this requirement goes up significantly. Diarrhea can lead to rapid, catastrophic dehydration as well. Given that water is far bulkier to store and/or transport than food, and that dehydration is potentially a far more pressing concern than starvation, your ability to procure water in an emergency should supplant food in your ranking of survival priorities. Stated simply, water is far more important than food. What is your home-base plan for water? What is your mobile plan for water?
Exposure occurs far more rapidly than dehydration. Hot or cold, you could find yourself unable to function in less than three hours. Immersion in cold water, such as breaking through ice, could reduce your time to act down to mere minutes. So what‘s your shelter strategy when you‘re away from home-base? In the north, temperatures can fall to minus 40 F in the winter. If you have an accident on a slick road late at night in such conditions, you will likely not be waking up ever again unless you have prepared for such an eventuality. Exposure kills in hours, or less. Countering exposure is your number two priority for survival in any emergency situation. Yet most preppers are not thinking about exposure while stocking their pantries. Prepare for exposure.
Asphyxiation kills in three minutes. This is the emergency situation that gives you the least amount of time to react for your survival. This is your Priority One survival issue. An interior fire is the most common cause of asphyxiation. Do you have a home escape plan in the event of a fire? If not, make one – it might save your life. Unless you‘ve been in a burning building, I guarantee that you cannot imagine how blinding the smoke is nor how quickly a structure can become fully engulfed. If you have children, periodic rehearsal of the escape plan is mandatory. In the unthinkable event of a fire, panic is inevitable. Rehearsal helps to moderate the flight reaction, which might otherwise lead to death.
While fire is a common cause, there are other causes of asphyxiation worth your consideration such as carbon monoxide poisoning – usually from a combustion source in the home. This has also occurred in vehicles stranded in snowstorms. Vehicles were left running so the heaters would work and accumulating snow shrouded the tailpipe resulting in vehicle exhaust entering the passenger compartment.
Other poisonous fumes can cause asphyxiation as well. Tanker trucks, rail cars, chemical and other industrial plants often have hazardous materials that, in an emergency situation, could cause you grave bodily harm if exposed.
Take some time with your family and review “The Rule of Three” as it might relate to a variety of emergency situations. Assuring our families have the understanding and skills necessary to survive life threatening occurrences will provide peace of mind that we’ve done what matters most as we continue with our life-long process of being prepared.