I had been using the PACE system
for years, I just didn’t know that is
what it was called, or that it even had a formal name. I first read about the
PACE acronym over on the
Viking Preparedness site, in a post by Joe. Growing up we joked
that the system
one’s good, two’s better, and three is about right. It is the same
spirit of "two is one and one is none" that the PACE system stresses.
PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency. It is a good solid way to break down your preps to make sure that your survivability is high. It doesn’t have to be a long hard plan, it can be very simple. Ask yourself the question for each major category of survival.
What is your primary source of drinking water? If you are like most of us you turn on the faucet. Okay, your primary source is covered. Most likely all of us have the primary items covered by our “normal” living. You throw a light switch for lights, turn up the furnace for heat, and open the fridge for food. We live with our primary supply system.
The first level of survivability is at the Alternate level. When the power goes out-what next? For some it is 12 volt back up, others light candles, and still others fire up the Coleman lanterns. The totally unprepared sit in the dark and grumble. So what do you do when the power goes out and you can’t draw water from the system?
I can tell you my plan. I had to use it about a year ago when I still lived in town and the city put a No Drinking of Water notice on our block. I got the sealed water cooler bottles I had stored and opened one of them for drinking and cooking. The bottles cost under $4 each and hold 5 gallons of pure drinking water. There is no chemicals added and they store well. I checked with the dealer and found out that if I buy the natural water, same price, it will store well over five years as long as it is kept in a cool and dark place. They said it might store forever but they couldn’t tell me that. I keep four of them stored as my Alternate plan for water as well as several camping jugs, one gallon jugs and a couple cases of bottled water.
If we go into a long term situation and I run out of my stored water I have to fall back to my Contingency plan. I have a filter system that will allow me to make lots of drinking water before I have to change the filter. Either rain water or water from a point well can be cleaned and ready as needed. Another layer of my contingency plan is water tabs to us as well.
My emergency water will come from the stream a quarter mile to the west of my farm. I have a Katadyn filter to use to clear it and make it drinkable. We can also boil water to clean it. I can draw the water from my hot water tank if needed. We also have bleach. Our water back ups are more than just [three] PACE levels because water is so important. Besides, it is not that hard to develop a few good purification methods for water.
Without power we lose the furnace and our heat. We heat with propane so I can drop into the Alternate plan easily and turn on the fire place and the stove to heat our “cocoon” room. If needed, we can live in our kitchen/living room for days on end. While not really part of our PACE plan, it is good to know that we can heat a smaller area and stay comfortable during cold weather. Our contingency plan is to bring in the kerosene heater out of the barn and use it to heat the cocoon room. If we are in a long term grid down situation I can pull the fireplace insert and convert it to a wood burning fireplace in a matter of minutes. We consider that our emergency plan.
I will not speak much about food because if you have read any of the survival blogs you know that you need to store food, canned and packaged, grow a garden, store grains, harvest wild edibles, and plan on hunting and trapping.
I am very fortunate to live at my retreat. I moved back to the family farm less than a year ago. My wife and I had already stored a large amount of our preps in the barn and had planned to bug out to here even if the house was not completed. Our plan was to make as much of the house livable as possible if TSHTF. If that was not possible for us than we would build living quarters in the barn. Unable to do that we would put up a tent and camp out. Now that the house is complete and we are living in it we have revamped out plans to stay in the house and moved the living in the barn to our emergency plan.
Life in General
The PACE system is easy to understand and follow, and gets easier as you do more of it. Pick any aspect of survival you want and work out a PACE plan. Say you want to have weapons in your plan. Okay, primary will be your MBR. Your alternate might be your shotgun or bow and arrow. Contingency, sling shot. Emergency, Atlatl and spear.
Back ups to the back ups are a necessary part of life. You already use them and probably never thought about them as an emergency plan. If your car dies what do you do, call a friend for a ride, take the bus or ride a bike? More than likely you are already PACE-ing yourself. Keep that mindset toward the forefront of your thoughts and your prepping should get easier and deeper. - Wolverine