A businessman called me shortly after the near market meltdown on 17 September, asking my opinion on what he should do with his cash now that he is pulling it out of the markets. My reply was simple: start preparing yourself and your family to be self-sufficient. I’m far from being a doomsayer, but it is now no longer whether hard times are coming, it’s simply a matter of when. You can’t borrow yourself out of debt, and no matter how much you try to nationalize financial institutions and throw good dollars at bad, market forces and past mistakes that were not allowed to play out, as free markets should, will eventually collect their toll. The more money the fed prints to “save us,” the worse inflation will be down the road. Couple all of that with a new President who intends to create more funny money, not to mention redistribute wealth that’s not his to play with, and we could have the making of a disaster, the likes of which we’ve never seen.
WHITE COLLARS JOIN “CONSPIRACY NUTS”
One thing’s for sure: this crisis has shocked a lot of people into the real world, and they’re no longer listening to idiotic advice from talking heads. Nowadays, learning how literally to survive is taking precedence over learning how to survive the downturn of their 401(k). The survival food industry is booming. Firearms sales, ammo sales and the survival networks are coming alive. Like-minded individuals are forming cellular networks; training is on the increase. In the mid-90s, the politicians and news media labeled the self defense advocates and survivalists as “kooks” and “conspiracy nuts.” Nowadays, the white collar businessman is joining that mindset, buying dehydrated food, training with his rifle, and not trusting the government to assure his survival. The populace is scared and asking “what should we do,” but no one is really responding to them on a level they can understand. This article is not intended to be a long-term survival plan, since that will vary with the location, skill level and special circumstances of the people involved. It is, however, a survival plan that will get you through the initial stages of a crisis, since this period always seems to be the most dangerous.
YOU CAN’T EAT GOLD
Forget about buying gold and silver with your cash. Gold is a good investment against inflation but a poor provider of calories. It’s even harder to trade for usable goods, since the average person knows little about it. The number-one priority should be buying food that can be stored safely for a period of time. Dehydrated food and canned goods are the way to go, since they don’t require power to keep them from spoiling when properly rotated. How much should you buy? The “survivalist” standard is a one year’s supply of food for those you intend to feed. That’s a lot of food, and I’m not sure you will actually need that much to make it through the most dangerous times of a crisis.
The main things we’re worried about in the coming months (years) are 1) inflation driving food prices high, 2) sporadic food shortages due to panic (as seen recently in Iceland), and 3) a hunger-based increase in crime. So, I suggest a minimum of 3 to 6 months’ supply of food for those who cannot sustain themselves from their own land with established gardens and crops. If you can afford more, then by all means buy more, since a proper food storage program means never wasting and always rotating. Whatever you do, DO NOT let anyone know about your food storage program or where it’s located.
HYDRATION AND SANITATION
It is also wise to have potable water stored in case there’s a disruption to your community’s water source or power grid. Plastic water storage barrels and common bleach for purification are the best route. Do not use your potable water for bathing. In a crisis it should be saved for drinking purposes only. Hands can be cleaned and sanitized using alcohol or first-aid hand cleaners. Water from suspect sources can be boiled for cooking purposes and to replenish your potable water. It should also be noted that almost every home has at least 40 gallons of water already stored in their hot water heater.
You should take an inventory of your first-aid cabinet and get at least a six-month supply of your prescription medications. I realize that most people will say that they cannot do this, since their doctor or insurance will not allow that much at one time. All you have to do is tell your doctor you are going on a long trip and will be away from home for at least six months and you will be able to buy a long-term supply of your meds. You may have to pay a little more due to your insurance rules, but it’s worth it to have a stockpile of your meds. Once you have your prescriptions in place, make sure you have extra pairs of eye glasses and also a plentiful supply of standard first-aid supplies, such as wound management supplies, alcohol and other disinfectants, OTC meds such as aspirin, Imodium, cold medications, etc. If you would like to stock up on antibiotics and your doctor won’t write a prescription, use a veterinary supply store. Vet antibiotics will work just as good as human antibiotics, no matter what the college boys may tell you. (Vet supply stores are also a good place to purchase general first-aid items.)
SILENCE KEEPS THE WOLVES AT BAY
Once you have everything in place, you may have to protect yourself, your family and your supplies from the common street thug and/or hungry person trying to feed his own family. The best way to do this is to not let anyone know about your survival plan. This includes your pastor and church members, law enforcement, government workers, next of kin, and anyone else you would normally trust with your life. Trust no one now and you won’t be forced defend against them later. While that may sound a little extreme, I’ve been in countries with food shortages and have seen hungry people turn on each other to survive. Plan B (since most folks can’t keep a secret) is to be well armed and prepared to use those arms to defend what you have. But before you go spending money on AR-15s, M-4s and cases of 5.56mm ammo, you’re better off spending that money on food and securing your home. The bottom line is that while we may fantasize about defending our family and food with weapons, most Americans are not mentally or physically prepared to do it. My suggestion is to have a good handgun, one good rifle, and a good home defense shotgun. Backstop that with enough ammo to support the platforms and you’ll be good to go. Survival works best when it’s kept simple and basic.
Making your home a hard target is something you can do now. Installing a good alarm system that works on battery backup and is local (meaning the alarm system notifies the homeowner instead of some rent-a-cop monitoring a desk at an alarm center) is a good start. Outdoor infrared security cameras are also great early warning devices for the occupants. Strategically placed perimeter fencing and hedge rows with aggressive plants such as Prickly Pear will make it more difficult for the criminal element to operate against your home. Burglar bars on windows (that can be
opened from the inside for escape) and steel entrance doors with dead bolts are other additions that make your house a less-than-desirable target. You have to remember that the common thug is not that smart. He’s looking for easy, quick access to hit a target and escape. If you do not live in an area that can be modified to be defendable, then move to a better location. If you cannot move, then map out and practice an escape and evasion plan before a crisis occurs.
STASH THE CASH WHILE YOU CAN
How much cash to have on hand has always been a question for which there is no definitive answer. There is no way to predict how inflation will affect the dollar value, but I still think that in the beginning of any crisis, standard American currency will still be able to purchase items easier than gold, simply due to the fact that our system, at this stage, is not set up to trade in gold. Keep enough cash to bribe or buy your way out of a problem or pick up useful tools from other individuals. If I had to put a value on it, I would say have at least a month’s wages in cash in a safe
place in your home. Other survival issues that one most look at for the long haul are communication and energy questions. Knowing what’s going on in the rest of the world will give the survivor key indicators on how to plan for the future, when to move, and what to expect. No home should be without a good short-wave radio capable of receiving the full spectrum of AM, FM and short-wave bands. If you don’t have a small solar charger and rechargeable batteries, then make sure you stock up (and rotate) the batteries you will need when the lights go out.
If you live remote, then having a portable generator and extra fuel come in real handy for long-term survival scenarios. If you store fuel, be sure to put stabilizer in it to keep it from going bad. Also make sure you have spare parts and tools that may be necessary to work on your generator, well pump, vehicle and other things that you typically call a repairman to fix. If you’re not mechanically inclined, then your library should include the books that
walk you through the basic concept of repairing everyday items.
TOUGH, WARM DUDS FOR BRUTAL CONDITIONS
Lastly, one thing that most people forget about when preparing for a self-sufficient lifestyle is the type of clothing they buy. I suggest always buying the best work-styled clothing you can find. Forget about all the cool looking tactical clothing, since it usually doesn’t hold up well in long-term situations and will simply make you a target if anarchy comes to your street. True survival is about working your ass off. Make sure your clothes and boots are heavy enough to fit the bill and also make sure you have the tools to repair any and all of your gear when needed.
There is no doubt in my mind that tough times are head of us. How tough they will be is anyone’s guess, but the best bet is to always plan for the worst and hope for the best. Being able to survive long-term means knowing a little bit about everything and preparing in advance of a crisis. As previously mentioned, survival is hard work that must be practiced and performed every day of your life. This will probably weed out a good portion of lazy Americans as being self-sufficient when a crisis hits (Katrina is proof of this). This particular segment will become the moochers, looters and criminals, taking advantage of the crisis and resorting to violence to take what is not theirs. So, prepare now, don’t be obvious or outspoken about your preparations, train your family well, keep your network small and be prepared to face things you didn’t prepare for. Do this and you will exponentially raise your chances of surviving whatever the future holds.