May 29, 2017

Redundancy and the Five Basic Human Needs

I have covered the five basic human needs before, but today I’m going to take another approach. Before I go further, I need to say that every time I write about the five basic human needs, there is a comment or an email about Maslo’s hierarchy of needs. Maslo’s list is a bit touchy-feely for me. He lists things like self-actualization and self-esteem, which doesn’t really apply to survival. It might be great for a “How to Feel Complete in Life”, but I’m talking about the needs to keep you breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. I am also going to give some tips on adding redundancy on each of the needs.

What are the five basic human needs?


Water is probably the most important of the five basic needs. That is until it’s not (more on that later). The rules of three say that the average human can last three days without water. This is a very general statement, and not very accurate. I don’t tolerate the heat very well…at all. When I was in the Navy, doing fairly hard labor, often in the direct sun on the Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf, it was easily 115 degrees. I was drinking probably 2+ gallons of water a day, easily. We had a squadron wide meeting in a very hot room and I had not been able to get a drink beforehand. Half-way through the meeting, I passed out due to dehydration. I was sweating more than I was taking in. My point in this little story is that a gallon a day might be fine on a cooler day, with less intense labor going on. If the temperatures are warmer and there are moderate to high levels of activity, one gallon might not be enough.
Water Redundancy

A rule of thumb I have heard on water storage is that you should store one gallon of water per person per day. The average family of four who wanted to have enough water stored to last them one week would need to store 28 gallons of water. That is either one big drum or a lot of water bottles. That’s only for one week! That’s why I believe one of the more important preps is a good water filter and knowledge of nearby water sources; natural bodies of water, swimming pools, hot tubs, marshes, anything with cattails has some moisture to support it. This would be one of my last options, but it is there.

For even more redundancy, have multiple ways of filtering and purifying water; boiling, purification tablets, iodine, bleach, UV purifiers and on and on.


The rule of three says we can go without eating for three weeks. We’re told Jesus went 40 days, but then we’re told that He was attended to by angels, so I’m not sure if He would recommend trying 40 days without food.

Most of us eat three meals a day with snacks in between. For now, let’s drop the snacks. The family of four consumes 84 meals in one week. That is a lot of planning and expense! I think that’s one of the reasons beans and rice are a popular staple in various prepper pantries.

Food Redundancy

By this I do not mean just how much food you have stored away. I also mean the types of food you have stocked. I think having a mix of commercially canned, home canned, frozen, dehydrated and freeze dried food is a good idea. Heck, even MRE’s have a place! You don’t know how things will unfold. Having a variety of ways to eat and cook food is a good idea.

I also mean the knowledge of how to grow it, raise it, hunt it, clean it and how to process and store it. What happens when your food stores are empty? Knowing how to replace them is a very good idea.


This is an easy one! For most of us, this is our home. Sure, I think knowing how to make a primitive shelter is a good idea, but it seems much more practical to know how to secure your home inside and out. Have you thought about what you would do if a severe storm broke out many of your windows? What about if things really fall apart and you need to fortify your home against intruders? Have a means to defend it! More on this later.

Shelter Redundancy

The obvious redundancy plan is bugging out. For those newer to the site, I think that in 95% of situations, staying home and battening down is a far better plan than bugging out. However, that five percent could be very dangerous if you do not bug out. For that reason, have a bug out plan. I give some tips on building multiple bug out plans, even if you do not own a bug out location, in an article called Challenging Bug Out Myths.

Your shelter redundancy could mean a tent, an RV or a relative, etc. Just have a plan, or a few of them!


By “energy”, I not only mean electrical power, but any type of power source that provides us the energy to cook, warm or light our shelter.

Energy Redundancy

I think this is another aspect where we need to have as much redundancy as possible. If the grid went down, how many ways do you have to cook or boil water?

Redundancy can come in the form of a variety of fuel sources, including propane, gasoline, diesel fuel, wood, kerosene, flashlights, batteries, crank lights and radios.


I usually put security on the bottom of this list because the other needs are fact. They WILL be necessary. You will need to drink. You will need to eat. You will need shelter from the weather. You will need a means to see and to cook. Earlier, I said that water is the most important of the needs, “until it’s not”. A violent or potentially violent encounter is, in that moment in time, the most important human need.

It is my firm belief that no one has the right to put their hands on you in a violent manner, or with the intent or threat of violence. When they do, they have lost their right to avoid a trip to the ER or worse.

I am not a violent man. I can count the number of violent altercations I’ve encountered on one hand and have fingers to spare. However, If Joe Dirtbag attempts to use violence, I will be a threat to my enemy and will use as much force as necessary to stop the threat. I hope you will do the same.

Redundancy in Security

I know people who only carry a gun for their self-defense and don’t see a need for anything else. Here is the fault with that logic; their solution to every possible encounter is to answer it with deadly force. For this reason, I have trained in martial arts, will frequently carry concealed and during those times, carry a knife and pepper spray as well. I have an asp (baton) that I carry sometimes as well.

Some might ask if I expecting confrontation and the answer to that is “no”. I’ll wager that, if asked, the vast majority of victims of violent crime would say “no” as well. Because there is always a chance that I could be the victim of violent crime and because all threats are not equal, I have redundancy in my self-defense plan.

Someone shooting in a public place is not the same threat as a large snarling dog is. An obviously drunk, 100 pound person, screaming angrily and making threats is not the same threat as an ex-boyfriend of a co-worker who comes to the office and starts beating her.

Could they all escalate to deadly force? Sure, but there is a very good chance that all but one could be stopped with pepper spray or some form of physical combative.


One of the prepper mottos is, “Two is one. One is none”. I think that applies to the basic human needs too. Meeting those needs on one front will see you prepared, but not nearly as much if you approach things from many fronts and add in redundancy as often as possible.

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  1. Susan Isenberg says:

    This is probably my all time favorite article. Truth in every line.

  2. Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

    I agree with you on the touchy-feely Maslo’s hierarchy, but it does apply in a grid-down scenario–you never get close to self actualization when you are struggling to survive.

    I am sorry about your passing out due to dehydration. I remember watching a steeplechase in which a large horse lost 24 pounds in 15 minutes. This was a loss of water due to the exertion.

    I believe that I will be bugging in during a grid-down event. I am no longer young and I have some serious structural damage; this prevents me from planning to build a shelter in the woods. I do have a tent, tarps, etc., so I could live in the woods or field.

    Since I live in New Jersey, I am not in a profession for which the courts say concealed carry is necessary. I cannot carry a gun now, but I always have a knife. In a grid-down situation, I do have a choice of handguns to carry. I would also add a much longer knife, and pepper spray/

    Thanks for a nice article that helps us think a little more out of the box than usual. As a sign-off, I will just say, “Two is one. One is none”.

  3. Badger359 says:

    I must admit I do not know what Maslo’s hierarchy is, but will look at it. I agree with the rest of your article. Redundancy is key and expensive, i apply it through the survival triangle or triad concept. In short you have a (primary a secondary and a emergency component). This works for me, like the Rev. Harris, I am no older and more limited do to age and injuries incurred during my DOD days.

    • Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

      Not knowing something and expressing a desire to look it up says a great deal about you–and we like that.

      I just read something about ‘swift-boating’ and realized that, while I looked it up months ago, I did not know what it meant. I looked it up and realized that I did not need to read the article, as the headline (with the term ‘swift-boating’) now made sense.

      I was too damaged to be in the service, however, my mother (US Marine, married to career Army, and working for Air Force) said that if I went into the service, I should go Air Force, as they were not really military.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Personally, I like: “2 is 1; 1 is none; and 3 makes me happy!”

    In a post-IHTF situation, “rules” aren’t going to matter; carry the guns.

    DH and I have gone from a remote bugout area to a slightly less remote and certainly more visible farm. We plan to meet our Maker from there, and really don’t care; but we also plan to take a few into eternity with us, if it comes to that.

    • Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

      Elizabeth, rules will always matter, but not all rules will matter. I have core values that most of us call Morals; my morals are defined by the Holy Bible. I have a conscience that is directed by the Holy Spirit. Between the two, I have a set of rules that will allow me to survive while not committing too many sins.

  5. Thanks for the article, re-hashing the primary needs is good practice. It reminds me how my preps have evolved, and the mental exercises of their use. Check the math on water storage, 49 gallons would serve a family of 7 for a week or a family of 4 for 12 days. Grace.

  6. I may be guilty of mentioning Maslow here before. I think his heirarchy of needs is important to understand not as a list of things we need to survive and be happy, but from a social interaction (and therefore security) standpoint in a disaster. What is motivating others, at that moment, to do what they do? At what common level can we operate at? Can we discuss Shakespeare, or just shake spears?

    Like the redundancy comments, and don’t forget to test your preps – that’s the only way to find out if they work.

    • Chris Ray says:

      I hope I didn’t offend you. I think Maslow’s hierarchy are needs for a good life, but I don’t think they carry over to a survival situation. The five basic needs I listed are what is needed to keep one above ground, putting one foot in front of the other.

  7. good article and i hope that more people follow this advise because
    things are going to change [ for the worst ] soon.i know it’s not easy to follow this list but if you take one step at a time it will make a huge difference.

  8. Catherine says:

    Excellent discussion!

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