The three main factors in determining who lives and who dies WTSHTF are situational awareness, overcoming inertia, and dumb luck. The first two you have some control over. The third is always going to be beyond your control, except for Divine intervention, so don’t worry about it. If you are at mid-span on the Golden Gate Bridge when Al Qaeda sets off a nuke in San Francisco, or “The Big One” hits. In such cases, acceptance of God’s will is all you have to do to prepare.
For those who are lucky enough to not be killed immediately when disaster strikes, how you have trained yourself to handle the first two factors will make all the difference in the world. The first two of these factors are well known and accepted. Believing and accepting what has now become inevitable should motivate the serious survivor. There are three parts to being adequately prepared:
First: Acceptance of the seriousness of the situation. Most of us are already there or you wouldn’t even be reading this. You have to accept the probability that there will be a major crisis befall our nation in the near future.
Second: Initiate Preparations: Having accepted the first premise as a literal fact, you must start as soon as possible to “put away the things of a child” and start behaving as a responsible adult. This means beginning to acquire those supplies that will give you and your family the very best chance of surviving the impending collapse.
They are: Water; Food; Weapons; Medical Supplies; Transportation; Fuel; Shelter; Skills.
Third: A Backup Plan. The third level of preparation is distinct from the first two. If you have already taken care of the first two parts, this will be supplemental to your plan. If not, this will offer your best chance of surviving the crisis. You have to put yourself in the best possible position to to take advantage of what I shall refer to as “the golden hours” which occur at the very beginning of any crisis. The “golden hours” is a concept that has gotten very little, if any, ink in all the survivalist literature, both real and fictional.
Anyone familiar with emergency medicine is aware of the term "the golden hour”. This refers to that first hour following an injury until the initiation of medical treatment. In most cases, the ability to get the patient into a medical facility within the first hour raises the chances of survival exponentially.
The same will be true of those last minute preparations an alert person can make who recognizes the magnitude of the impending crisis in its’ earliest stages. As in most things in life, the majority of the population will not be able to process and accept the severity of the crisis until it is too late to do them any real good. In other words, most people won’t recognize “it” when “it” first happens. And most of those who do get a glimmer will in all probability delay acting, and that delay will most probably be fatal in any real TEOTWAWKI scenario.
Even for those few who do get a sudden dose of clarity, most will also fail absent prior planning.
Why are almost all last minute actions doomed to failure in major crisis situation? Because by the time the average person realizes there is a real crisis, their ability to mitigate the effect will be so severely compromised as to be almost useless to them. e.g. if you need a six month supply of food to survive, it is too late to acquire it once the trucks have stopped running and the markets have been emptied.
Think of it this way: You, having been jolted out of your American Idol reveries, finally decide the national and world situation dictates you order a years worth of freeze dried food for your family. You immediately place your order. You are informed that due to the increased demand, there will be a delay of 60 days in shipping. Being aware that all suppliers are experiencing the same delays, you go ahead, place your order, and hold your breath. You are now at the mercy of fate for at least 60 days. 59 days into your waiting period TSHTF. No food is shipping. No trucks are running. You now find yourself in the worst possible position, appreciating how serious the crisis is, and unable to do anything about it, except for those golden hours I mentioned earlier.
Effective preparation requires forethought and planning, but forethought and planning are not sufficient in and of themselves to keep you alive in most long term crises. Thinking and planning are only a prolog to action. “Think; Plan; Act” needs to become your credo.
The concept of “the golden hours” encompasses at least two aspects of survival preparation. First, as a supplementary action for a person who has already made some preparations, and second, as a last ditch back up plan for those who foolishly waited too long to start their preparations.
There are basically three approaches to preparation from which to chose, and these three approaches will encompass virtually the entire population, whether they want to be there or not:
Approach Number One: Preparations made well in advance of a crisis, which provide the very best chance of survival whatever the crisis might be;
Approach Number Two: Preparations made in the last golden hours at the very beginning of a crisis supplemental to a preexisting survival plan, or as a second best alternative, but only for those who are smart enough to quickly grasp the situation and act decisively thereon;
Approach Number Three: Attempted preparations that are made too late to provide any security to those poor individuals too unaware or slow witted to anticipate and/or recognize the crisis for what it is.
The place you do not want to be is in the third category. Being in the third category will in all probability get you and your family dead in very short order in a TEOTWAWKI crisis.
So what kind of planning will help you take the maximum advantage in the golden hours? Here are a few a examples, and I want to stress these are just my own examples, and how I have addressed potential problems for my own family. You might have totally different priorities, but regardless, the better you can position yourself to take advantage of the golden hours, the better your chances are of surviving.
I have assessed the potential threats to my own families transportation as being a fuel shortage crisis and/or an EMP attack on the U.S.
We have an 1992 GMC 2500 Sierra 4x4 which is our primary G.O.O.D. vehicle. I keep it well-maintained and topped off all the time. (For those of you too young to remember the 1973 gas crisis, you missed what can only be described in the words of our “Dear Leader” as a really good “teachable moment”.) Being well aware of the probability of a major natural disaster (I live in earthquake and wild land fire country) and to the impending economic collapse, I have taken other precautions so as to cover as many bases as possible.
(For those readers who don’t know about electromagnetic pulse (EMP), do a web search. This is something you need to know and understand.)
Being aware of the possibility of an EMP attack on the US, I have acquired spare electronic control units (ECUs)--also known electronic control modules, CPUs, or simply "computers") for all of our vehicles, and secured them in an EMP shielded Faraday cage shielding metal can along with the necessary tools to swap out the units, and printed instructions for doing the job for each specific vehicle. Each vehicle also has a Chilton’s Manual on board.
The easiest way to ascertain the part you need is to call the local dealer parts department, give them your year, make and model, and the VIN, and they will be able to look up your part and give you all the specifics. If you feel the price from the dealer is too high, then get on Ebay and find and order your part from a wrecking yard. Some newer vehicles have more than one computer, but the one you need is the one that controls the engine/fuel/ transmission. I have not ordered the computers that control the cabin heat and gauges as, quite frankly, in a G.O.O.D. situation I really don’t need to know my mpg, mph, etc. I just need the vehicle to start, run, and get me to where I need to go.
The units are stored under the seats of each vehicle in a Faraday cage. The Faraday cage container is made by first wrapping the unit in some kind of non-conducting material: rubber, plastic bubble wrap, anything that is non-conductive. Next, wrap the whole thing in duct tape. Then wrap the whole with two or three layers of aluminum foil, and then another layer of duct tape. It is important that each successive layer completely covers the each prior layer. Then insert the whole into a steel ammo box, along with the instructions and change out tools. If the time comes you need to open and use it, don’t forget to first ground the ammo box and yourself.
A possible alternative solution that I have not elected, at least not yet, is to own and maintain as your principle G.O.O.D. vehicle one which was manufactured before 1986, as those vehicles did not have computers or other electronics that are susceptible to the effects of EMP.
Fuel Crisis Preparation:
For most of us it is impractical (not to mention unsafe) to store large quantities of fuel. We are 300 miles from our retreat location, which is located in another state, and under normal conditions it takes us about six hours to get there. However, keeping in mind the value of the golden hours, I am fully prepared to take advantage of those hours. I did this by acquiring two 55 gallon steel fuel drums from a local distributor, and a 12 volt fuel transfer pump with hose and nozzle from Ebay. I don’t keep the drums full, but rather readily accessible for loading in the truck and a quick trip down to the local all hours gas station.
Those who recognize the crisis for what it is should have enough lead time to make last minute purchases of critical supplies, such as fuel, medicines and food. One problem for most people is they have not positioned themselves to take advantage of those golden hours for immediately acquiring a last minute emergency fuel supply. The additional hours they might have to waste acquiring portable storage containers could easily lose those critical golden hours.
When I see on the 11:00 PM (or whenever) news what I deem sufficient information to make the final call that the crisis is really starting, I will load my drums into the truck and drive to my local CardLock station and fill up. (I just joined a local CardLock station for this very purpose.) If I didn’t already have my drums, I would either have to wait until the next morning to go out and try and acquire some drums or fuel cans, or if it happens during the daytime, go out and try and acquire some before I head to the fuel station. This means that by the time I can get to the gas station it could already be pumped dry, rationed, confiscated or requisitioned by the government for the “common good”.
By having the necessary containers already on hand, we will be able to beat the rush, and be literally hours ahead of the masses which will by then be approaching a full scale panic mode.
The point is, I have put my family in a position to be able to act quickly and decisively to take advantage of those golden hours at the very beginning of a crisis, thereby increasing my family’s chances of survival. By anticipating a need, I have made a plan and acted upon it. When TSHTF I now have in place not only a plan to make use of those golden hours, but those items needed to fulfill that plan.
Costs? The fuel drums were free from my local fuel oil and lubricants dealer. Mine originally held methanol alcohol. I purchased a nifty little 12 volt fuel pump, complete with hose and nozzle that I can screw into the barrel bung, attach to my truck’s battery and will deliver up to 20 gallons a minute. “Little” is a relative term. The whole pump and hose system weighs in at 39 pounds, but it is smaller than a regular service station fuel pump, and a lot more portable and, since it is being carried in the truck, the extra weight doesn’t bother me.
The cost of the pump was less than $150 on eBay. Don’t have $150 to spare on an emergency fuel pump? Try a simple siphon hose costing a couple of bucks. Every vehicle we own has a 20' section of 3/8" I.D. clear plastic tubing. Why clear plastic tubing? Because I have never acquired a taste for petroleum products. Keep in mind the tubing needs to be small enough in diameter to get past the “unleaded fuel” barrier in the mouth of the filler tube which is now a standard in all modern vehicles.
In addition to the two barrels I also have five 5 gallon red plastic gas cans. Best price I found for these is at Wal-Mart which, while anathema to left wing ideologues, is most often the prepper's best friend. Between the 25 gallon tank in my GMC; the 110 gallons in the drums, and the 25 gallons in the gas cans, I have now provided my family with yet another benefit: options. A military maxim states “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” This is why the more options you can provide yourself, the better off you will be in a crisis.
Medical Crisis Preparation:
What holds true for fuel, also holds true for last minute medical and prescription acquisitions. Have a friendly doctor write you some undated prescriptions for antibiotics and for several months worth of your regular prescriptions can be a lifesaver. If you don’t have a relationship with a physician that would allow you to acquire these, check out the SurvivalBlog archives for an article on veterinary pharmaceutical equivalents.
Remember the golden hours rule. Be prepared to pay cash or write a check for the necessary drugs, as you probably won’t have the luxury of time to negotiate with your insurance company. Wal-Mart and other competing chains offer $10 prescriptions for a 90 day supply. Try and acquire prescriptions for at least 180 days on hand. Tell the pharmacist you are going on a trip out of the country if they question you.
I was discussing survival preparation with my best friend many years ago when he was in medical school, and he commented that very few people understand that civilization is only about one micron thick. The very same germs that killed our great grandparents are still alive and thriving in the dirt just outside our window. The only reason they don’t kill us now is we have magic bullets in the form of antibiotics, vaccines and pain controllers that keep them in check. Take away these and we will die even quicker than our antecedents because as a civilization we have lost so many of our natural immunities.
Our nation functions on a continuous re-supply system for medicines and food. All of this is kept in motion by an increasingly high tech system of computers and coding. It all works because of a myriad of interconnecting symbiotic systems. For example, most pharmacies (including those in hospitals) only keep about a three day supply of drugs on hand for their normal patient load. If anything in the supply chain breaks at any juncture the whole chain grinds to an immediate halt. Overload a hospital with injured disaster victims and the medical supplies will be gone in less than 24 hours. Without resupply, and a steady supply of power from the grid, modern medicine reverts back to the 1800s in just a few days.
The weakest link in our entire social construct is our total dependency on computer driven data, and the computer’s total dependency on an uninterrupted flow of electricity. Shut down the grid for a day, and things get very bad. Shut down the grid for a month, and the result will be catastrophic. Shut down the grid for a year, and the estimates are that, absent outside assistance, 50% to 70% of our population will die from starvation and disease in that first year!
There was an article on the net last week about there being approximately 26 million insulin dependant diabetics in the US. If the supply system stops, absent a backup supply, the majority of these people will die within 90 days. How can they prepare for this situation? A little forethought and preparation can give a diabetic a chance of at least surviving long enough for the restructuring of the supply chain.
The whole plan keys on two points: 1.) Having sufficient insulin stored away to keep a diabetic alive for an extended period of time; and 2.) having a way to keep the insulin refrigerated and usable for an extended period of time.
For example: Humilin N, a common OTC insulin, has a three year shelf life if kept properly refrigerated. Humilin N comes in 100 Unit vials. One vial lasts a diabetic X number of days, depending on dosage. A diabetic can easily calculate how many vials they will need for whatever period of time they wish to prepare, up to 3 years, under refrigeration.
So, what is the most effective way to maintain refrigeration in the event of a grid collapse? Propane refrigerators.
Because we have two family members who are insulin dependent, we have prepared as follows:
Our RV, which is stored on site at our retreat, has a propane/electric refrigerator already installed. Additionally, and in my own penchant for redundancy in all things survival oriented, I acquired a full-size propane refrigerator for our retreat, through Craigslist
For those unfamiliar with propane refrigerators, let me say they are probably the most energy efficient appliance ever built. Energy companies don’t want people to know just how cheap it is to run a propane refrigerator. The amount of propane necessary to keep a full size refrigerator cold is about the same as a pilot light. We have a 500 gallon tank at the retreat and are adding another one this summer. With that much propane we can run the fridge for many years.
Note: If you are thinking about using your RV fridge as your backup insulin storage, remember to acquire the necessary fittings and hoses to fill your RV tank and also to attach it to larger external tank(s).
Another Note: Why is propane the preferred fuel for making long term preparations? Because, unlike gas and diesel, it doesn’t get old and it requires no treatment to stay usable. As long as the tank holds pressure, the propane is good. Additionally, when used to power a generator, there is no residue to foul and damage the filter and diaphragm which stay clean, extending the life of the power plant.
The existing current national disaster plan calls for the requisition, by force if necessary, of all existing food and drug stocks from outlying, lightly populated, rural areas, for transport to and use in more densely populated (read “voting bloc”) urban areas. This policy will, however, take a few days to implement. Once again, an alert and informed person will have golden hours they can use to their advantage. Make a list of your local all night pharmacies, markets and fuel stations. Then, make lists of what you need at each location, print them out and keep them handy. Use the golden hours to fill out your list.
Food Supply Crisis Preparation:
In times of disaster or emergency the demand for everything in our culture will spike, exhausting local existing supplies in less than a day. Our markets resupply daily. If the resupply stops, even for a few days, the effect of the resulting shortages will magnify. The time to go to the store is before the crisis hits or immediately upon recognizing it for what it is. Don’t delay! These are the golden hours. Go and shop immediately! Once the reality sinks in to the general public, stores will be cleaned out in a matter of hours.
I have prepared a shopping list I distribute to friends and family for either just before or just after a national emergency occurs or is announced. Once the truth sinks in to the general population, there will be a run on the stores. Re-supply to the stores will be either unlikely or irregular. If you have failed to prepare adequately before now, this may be your one and only chance to provision your family for an extended period of time.
I won’t bore you with my own list, but I will say that we have given it quite a bit of thought as to quantities and types of food we will acquire, and they are all easy to prepare, non-perishable foods needing no refrigeration. I have even gone one step further to prepare my family to take advantage of the golden hours. My wife and I regularly mentally map what foods are where in our local markets to assist us in making the best use of time in the stores.
When TSHTF, while I am down at the Card-Lock filling the fuel drums in the truck, my wife will be at the closest market filling the shopping carts. After the fueling is completed, I will meet her there to help finish up the shopping and loading the purchases in the SUV and to provide additional security. Hopefully it will not be needed as all of the foregoing last minute preparations should be taking place well before the masses even realize the severity of the crisis, in those “golden hours” which are the focus of this article.
Last minute preparations are not a panacea for a previous lackadaisical approach to preparation. But people should realize that even this late in the game there are still options to see them through a major, extended crisis. The sooner you start serious preparations the better chance you have of surviving what is most certainly headed out way.
The real key to your family’s personal survival is recognizing the true nature of the crisis before too many others do. Even a few hours lead time on the majority of the population can mean the difference, literally, between life and death. Those few hours are, truly, the golden hours.