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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