May 27, 2017

You Don’t Have to Outrun the Bear

You Don’t Have to Outrun the Bear

Two friends are hiking through a remote section of a national park. The subject turns to what they will do if a bear approaches. One friend says “I’m going to run like crazy”, the other reply’s “There is no way you can outrun a bear”. To which the first friend says “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you.”

The notion that we need to be totally prepared to make it through whatever flavor of extreme survival situation you can think of doesn’t make sense to me for a few reasons. This is a topic I’ve thought about for a while and decided I would share my thoughts with you. Please share yours with me in the comment section.
You’re On Your Own

I get the feeling that people might be under the impression that everything is going to fall apart and we will not have any infrastructure or any help coming whatsoever. For this to be true, the event would have to be extremely large. That has such a low chance of actually happening that I’m not terribly concerned about it.

The Yellowstone Caldera exploding, a colossal meteor strike or a full out nuclear war are a few of those events. I know some of you are concerned about the Yellowstone Caldera. I think it is something to keep an eye on, but not something that should cause anyone to lose sleep. With all but the colossal meteor strike, I think we would see aid from other countries in time.

With smaller scale events, such as any type of weather related disaster, aid and assistance from other states will pour in soon after the disaster. Images of Hurricane Katrina, and the cries on the news about “Where is our help Mr. President” might come to mind. Here is something you might not know, that I learned from the County Emergency Manager when I went through CERT.. The county needs to invite the state, and the state needs to invite federal help. The reason federal help was delayed during hurricane Katrina was that the local government officials were slow to request it. I think they may have even turned it down at first.
What Is a Reasonable Goal?

I’m going to use the largest scale event that I believe has the highest chance of happening; a pandemic. The pandemic of 1918 killed 6.5% of the American population. I believe that if we had one today, the percentage would be higher. In 1918 it took much longer to traverse the world, let alone the United States. It could’ve taken a week or more for an infected person to travel from their country of origin and make it stateside. Now one infected person could infect everyone on their flight, they in turn infecting people on connecting flights and within 24 hours we could have infected people in every state.

In 1918 the largest percentage of our population lived in a more rural environment and we were far more spread out. Today we have large percentages of people in high population urban areas and many more in suburbs that aren’t that far away. For more on my thoughts on pandemics, please read What You Need to Know About Pandemics.

So let’s say a pandemic with a high morbidity and mortality rate spreads worldwide. Stories will make it on the news within hours of multiple hospitals reporting being overwhelmed with sick people with the same symptoms. Imposing a self-quarantine for your family before anyone contracts the illness would be ideal.

It could take 4-12 weeks to be able to create a vaccine, so being able to stay in quarantine and have the ability to provide clean drinking water, food and to have enough medications and other supplies on hand with the ability to protect your family for three months should be a long term goal. I can’t see a realistic scenario that wouldn’t see federal or international aid taking longer than that to arrive.

I’m not saying that we should only prepare a little because Uncle Sugar will come to the rescue. What I am saying is that if basic services stop; if trucks stop delivering, for instance, those things will be remedied as quickly as possible. Medications and medical help will be brought in, as will clean drinking water if it is needed. We should be as prepared as we can be, but I fully believe help will be there in time if we need it.

If you’re just starting out, 90 days might seem like a very lofty goal, but it’s not as unreachable as you may think. Many of the things you might need are one time purchases, such as a water purifier. Food and medications are going to be the biggest hurdles for most of us. Here are a couple articles that can help increase your pantry and your medicine cabinet. Copy Canning is one way to inexpensively and quickly build your pantry over a few months. I cover several ways to add to your medical preps in Building a Stockpile of Medicine.

To me, this is a plausible worst case scenario, and I’m going to be very candid. If we see a global pandemic, the death tolls will be staggering. Those unprepared will resort to doing whatever they feel necessary to feed their families. The first month is going to be dangerous as the pandemic spreads and people deal with the breakdown of infrastructure. Any thing you can do to limit your exposure to the public, and to people that might come to you for aid, the better off you are. If you want to help, do so through a local church or food bank, or leave a care package anonymously.
Out-Running the Bear

I mentioned pandemic and self-quarantine above, but this is just one example. Try not to get tied to the event, but how you are prepared in general. If you are able to provide the Five Basic Human Needs for your family for an extended time, it means that if there is chaos in the streets, you don’t need to subject yourself to potential danger.

There are several things that we should be ready for that will have a far shorter duration than 90 days. However, once you reach 90 days, I don’t think you should stop there. I fully believe we will see serious economic corrections in the next 5-10 years. I think this will make the mess of recent years look mild. If you lose your job and cannot find a new one, having six months or a years’ worth of staples stored will stretch your savings and unemployment much further. I should know, when I lost my job at the beginning of 2013, we relied pretty heavily on our pantry, spending $50 or less some weeks on groceries.

Much like the friend who didn’t need to outrun the bear but only his friend; we don’t need to outlast whatever event takes place. We need to outlast others affected by it.

Eventually things will start being put back together, though they may not go back to the way they were. Whether it is a vaccine or cure for the pandemic, the grid being repaired or correction of whatever the event may be, things will eventually level off. If you can outlast those who were not prepared; those who fell during the event, you will be a part of the rebuilding.

Like I said at the beginning, this is something I have thought about for a while but admit I don’t have completely polished. I would really like to hear your thoughts.

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  1. All one needs to do is look at FEMA’s recommendation of having a 2 week supply to know that you must have a 3 months supply or longer. I guess FEMA is assuming the government will work efficiently and quickly to help those in need and we all know that’s a joke.
    You also won’t find a smidgen of information on self defense/weapons on the site or in their handouts and guides.
    This is their National Preparedness Month and from what I gather they are going to be pushing it hard this year for some reason. The are doing a disservice to the county with their crap. If they had peoples interests at heart they would have them prepare for 3 months or longer. They would offer better advice and how to get prepared and they would definitely tell them to be prepared to protect themselves and their loved ones.
    Can you imagine a President speaking plainly and honestly with the American people on this? Of course he would be advised that he would be inciting the masses and igniting mass hysteria. Only one past President I know of who could have pulled it off and that was Reagan because he knew how to speak to the people and ignore the press and talking heads. He had it right when he said “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
    Maybe the discussion this time won’t have people resorting to throwing Bible verses around to prove their point.:-)

    In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6

    • Think of all the annual examples that hit coast to coast and how hard it is to get the population mobilized to deal with 3 days in a meaningful way ahead of time, despite them. Every year, there’s the same images on the news ahead of and during well-forecasted storms – empty shelves.

      I thought it was great that FEMA and the Red Cross moved from 3 days to 10-14 days. In time, maybe they’ll expand, but you also risk pushing people away if you do it too quickly. Baby steps, just like the progression of any other education, hobby or skill.

      The president did actually push more for preparedness and he did it more bluntly than I’d have ever expected (for what it’s worth):
      “It is also critical for individuals, families, and businesses to prepare well in advance. As this year’s hurricane season approaches, Americans who live in at-risk areas should assemble emergency supply kits and create action plans” —

      Use of the word “critical” is a pretty strong statement.
      Maybe it will help even a little, even for just the usual annual threats, and make it a little safer for the first responders and critical-needs people who have to go in, and limit the times they have to risk their neck for an idiot.

      • “It is also critical for individuals, families, and businesses to prepare well in advance. As this year’s hurricane season approaches, Americans who live in at-risk areas should assemble emergency supply kits and create action plans”

        oh my goodness. It has taken many years, but he actually said something I agree with. Good for him.

      • While the President’s statement was a little more strongly worded it is still meaningless. It was said in obscurity on a website very few visit. It’s also something that would never be covered by the media except in an offhand way.

    • I agree that the two week suggestion is far short, but I can see why they went that way. Two weeks is something that is achievable, and comprehendible to everyone. If they came out and said 90 days, most people would flat out ignore them, those that didn’t could be overwhelmed thinking of the expense and planning.

      Like I said, I agree that 2 weeks isn’t enough, I would much rather everyone one my family members and neighbors be ready with 2 weeks supply, then nothing at all.

    • The federal government especially FEMA can’t work well even when there is no catastrophe. What’s it going to be like when the big bubble bursts and people realize their elected officials are safely bunkered in somewhere and are being catered to while the rest is left to fend for themselves. Think ferguson was bad. I guarantee when all the welfare moms and those dependent on the guvment on a monthly basis find out the gravy boat is now empty. All hell will break loose in America. Time to collect precious metals ( copper) if you get my meaning is now. Then when those hoards come around you can share some of those precious copper little trinkets with them.

    • Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

      At one time, FEMA was saying that having more than three days worth of supplies was hoarding. Any movement from that position is positive.

  2. Son of Liberty says:

    In many respects I think you are right, the likelihood of a major catastrophic event that hits the entire world at one time is small – extremely small. With one major exception — the time of ‘great tribulation.’

    Jesus talked about a series of smaller tragedies that would lead up to that time, but indicates they are only the beginning of birth pangs, precursors to the suffering that comes with the delivery of a child. These will be a series of smaller regional events that lead up to this major catastrophic world wide event. During this period – when the anti-Christ is in power for only a few years – the world will see tragedy like it has never seen through the annals of human history.

    It will be a time when those who are truly Christian are not able to buy or sell unless they pledge allegiance to and are willing to “worship” the beast or his image — very similar to the situation in Iraq and southeastern Turkey today. When the realization dawns upon “Christians” that if they do take his mark, and/or worship him, that they have no hope of salvation — things will get to the point very quickly that it’s survive or perish.

    I cannot begin to imagine what things will be like for those who make no preparation for those days. I struggle to think of what it will be like for those who DO make preparation. I’m only thankful to know there will be a place(s) of refuge — where ever it/they might be located (Rev. 12:14ff), and/or if that period means death for me I have my hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. Thank the Lord!


    Son of Liberty

    • You obviously are correct. But as I’ve stated on this topic before, I don’t see it as my mission to ready people for the tribulation; an event that could begin at any time, or be many years away. I believe it is my calling to explain to people that preparedness doesn’t show a lack of faith, it in fact a statement of it. I then share my knowledge in hopes of helping them to get prepared.

      I am not going to get into an eschatological debate (You and I are very close in our understanding), but I can far more easily convince someone of the need to be ready for a small grid down event, an ice storm, a job loss or many other things than I can an event they may or may not believe they’ll be here for.

      On that note I am going to say no more on the topic of the tribulation. It was proven to me that people can’t disagree on the topic, while being respectful at the same time on previous threads.

  3. Chris,
    Good article – and I’ve always loved that quote. :)

    I also think people focus on WROL situations and largely ignore the EROL possibilities (whether fully sanctioned or not by various levels of government) although that seems increasingly likely and is only removed by some of the pet “world ender” scenarios.

    One of the things I like about your site is the regular reminder of odds (as with the “rings” theory of disruptions and likehoods) and the practical way you approach things, the real solutions you offer along with the spiritual strength.

  4. “What is a Reasonable Goal?” – that’s the problem imo. It has a different answer for each person, it can’t really be defined except for you personally. You live in Minnesota? It has an average of 27 tornados and 0 pandemics each year, so spending any time or money preparing for a pandemic that hasn’t happened in 100 years before you’ve bought/built a tornado resistant home that happens a couple dozen times every year might not seem reasonable to some folks. Just an example. It reminds me of the George Carlin joke that anybody driving slower then you is an idiot, and anybody driving faster then you is a lunatic.

    • I agree, anyone who has been a reader for any length of time knows I don’t recommend preparing for the big event’s, but instead for the everyday things.

      The point of the article is to say we don’t need to prepare to the extreme. The reason I used a pandemic is because as I mention, it is one of the big ones that I believe is actually a possibility.

  5. Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

    In New Jersey, each of the almost 600 local jurisdictions has MOAs/MOUs with all its surrounding towns and with the county government. The counties have MOAs/Mous with adjoining counties–in Burlington County where I live, we roll over our 911 calls to Camden County automatically and they with us. All states have agreements with all other states to define how emergency services would work. These agreements define who can help (liability issues) and who pays for the people and the liability insurance.

    In the case of mismanaged City of New Orleans and Katrina, the major (who is now in federal custody for criminal mismanagement) should have contacted the parish government for help. The parish government might have been the same as the city, but it is the parish (county everywhere else in the USA) that that needs to contact the state government. The governor of the state should send aid to the city, or contact the federal government. There was comparable damage in Baton Rouge by Katrina, buy that city took care of its own by having a workable flood emergency plan in place and by executing it properly.

    In several of my master’s classes in terrorism and homeland security, I prepared city-level plans. These plans tend to be generic and overarching; they should work for most serious emergencies. They do take time to prepare and to gain acceptance by all the major players, but they are worth it. Some states may provide plan templates to the local jurisdictions, which I think should be the norm.

    I was reading some news article, in early August, that said that it was not economically feasible to develop a vaccine or a cure for Ebola because there were on 10 to 100 cases each year. Why does the US government have a vaccine now? Why are there so many cases of Ebola now? Chris mentioned the ease of travel and the unwillingness of WHO and national governments to seal borders and quarantine infected populations. Does our federal government want an Ebola pandemic so they can declare martial law, as some conspiracy theorists have suggested?

    Several years ago, the firm that hired me had a five-year contract with the US Navy. We thought that the follow-on contract would be five years, but it was only a three-year contract–set to expire mid-April 2015. Last Friday, I received notice that the contract hours were out and that I would be out of a job by mid-September 2014. I have been trying to stockpile staples, but as the prices continue to rise, I am not getting ahead. I picked up my insulin at the pharmacy today–$311; it was $155 in June. I use it to even out my glucose levels and not to stay alive. I may have to drop it in the future when Medicare takes over.

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