There is a lot of conjecture as to what the event will be that “ends it all” and sends the world into complete chaos, causing Americans to go into “survival mode”. Every corner you turn you hear another theory about how it’s “going to go down”. People’s answers include terms like E.M.P., H.E.M.P., nuclear, biological, chemical, economic meltdown, foreign invasion, global natural disaster, space alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, or all the above (for the real dooms dayers). So, what is the more likely or more plausible scenario or scenarios for having to go into real survival mode? Let’s look at the different possibilities,break them down to their reality, and determine what the real threats to survival are.
I don’t believe this is in the realm of real possibility, but I have heard it mentioned numerous times, so I will give it a little thought real quick. The last time our nation was actually invaded was during WWII by the Japanese. They made their way onto the Aleutian Islands but were defeated by U.S. military. In the book “Secrets of The Dead” a Japanese officer is quoted as saying “I do not fear the invasion, I fear what will happen when we get there. Behind every blade of grass there will be a gun, and behind that gun, a citizen ready to give his life for his country.” I believe that realization is still prominent throughout the world today. Thus, the importance of protecting our second amendment right is made apparent. A full-scale invasion would be at the peril of the invader. They realize that, and thus I don’t believe anyone– one military or group– has the gumption to attempt it. Many say we are in the process of being invaded now at our southern borders, but that isn’t the scale of invasion everyone is referring to when they say we are going to be “invaded”. It is more straw on the economic camel’s back, but it isn’t the “Red Dawn” invasion we picture. This is a major problem though. Many of the terrorist organizations are able to see the holes in our perimeter. They could easily exploit those weak areas to infiltrate our borders to get to the more metropolitan areas and succeed in a local, mass casualty scenario. A small scale “dirty bomb”, chemical or biological device, is a definite threat to the particular area or areas they are used in. The biggest threat from these, from a national stand point, is the economical disaster caused, if they are used with precision tactics on our financial hubs or power grid. However, these WMDs aren’t that easy to whip up.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
I am a Hazardous Materials Technician with the fire department. I have had hours upon hours of Haz Mat response training, including nuclear training. The knowledge I gained from that training all but eliminated the idea of there being a “national” nuclear, chemical, or biological incident. When I say a national incident, I am referring to the entire nation being physically affected by either radiation, a chemical agent, or biological agent. In the event that one of these WMDs are utilized, it will be on a local scale or multiple local scales. The more suitable areas for these threats are the more populated city areas. The primary goal being to add up the most casualties in the least amount of time for the news outlets to blast all over the world and send shock and terror into the hearts and minds of individuals. Let’s look at the nuclear aspect first, its plausibility, and how to respond if it were to go down in that manner.
Nuclear. An all out nuclear war between nations I guess is a possibility, but if it occurs I doubt any of us non-presidential administration folk have a lot to worry about as far as survival goes. When the first one goes up, it will be an end of all life event, because it’s guaranteed the rest will follow. The earth will be uninhabitable…period. From fall out to nuclear winter, every living organism will cease. Take a look at Chernobyl and how close Europe came to being uninhabitable. That was from one reactor melting down. Multiply that by thousands of warheads strategically launched, and you can see how I come to my conclusion. [HJL comments: Total annihilation is a product of Hollywood and the evidence available, even from Chernobyl, does not support this conclusion. In short, if you are unprepared or are in the wrong place through providence, bad luck or bad planning, you will probably die, but with prudent planning and preparation, a total nuclear war is indeed survivable.] World leaders know this. The ones who don’t care and would look at it as the ultimate sacrifice for Allah don’t have the means to build multiple war heads or systems to defeat the defenses of the other nations around them. Again, if they were successful with a nuclear attack, it would be on a smaller and more localized scale. Thus, the importance of keeping the nuclear technology out of their hands. Aren’t you glad you live in the U.S., surrounded by friendlies, instead of in the Middle East? Here, in the U.S., we could see a small briefcase dirty bomb or the like though. These could definitely affect cities and millions of the population. So what if this is the case? Well, first of all if you survive the initial explosion, you still aren’t out of the woods. Depending upon the size of the explosive device, the infrastructure is going to take a major hit and present a lot of hazards. Transportation is going to come to a stand still, caused by both a mass exodus of individuals from the area and also, as crazy as it might sound, individuals trying to get closer to see what is going on. For example, a major propane distributor in my area had a fire at their warehouse. Fifty thousand 20-lb propane cylinders exploded over the course of a few hours, and three 30,000-gallon cylinders were threatened by the flames. The explosions could be felt miles away, and the flames could be seen from air traffic up to 60 miles away. Many of the streets were shut down, due to traffic– NOT from people trying to leave but from people trying to get closer to the scene to see what was going on. One of our fire trucks responding to the fire was hit by a man in his vehicle wearing nothing but his boxer shorts; he had heard and felt the explosions, saw the bright orange light on the horizon, and wanted to go check it out. People do not react the way you would expect during emergencies and disasters. In the event of a city-wide attack, mass hysteria will take hold and the thugs will definitely take advantage of the situation. There are examples of this all of the time in the news. Self-proclaimed leaders will rise up and attempt to take hold of areas and determine who goes and who stays, who lives and who dies, and what’s yours and what’s his/hers. Gas lines will be ruptured, leaking flammable and toxic gases throughout. It will be survival of the fittest in the city. Do not rely or lean on local law enforcement, fire, or ems for aid. Our public service personnel are already stretched thin and under paid. To be honest with you, in this event, hanging out to help my fellow man is not on top of my priority list; getting my family to safety is. So I will not be around,and many of the like-minded individuals in the field are going to be gone as well. You will be on your own. More than likely, if you are reading this, you are already aware of that, but take a look around at how many people are living ostriches. They are the ones who we will have to weed through to get to our shelters. After the initial destruction of the explosion, you may have to take into consideration the possibility of the bomb being dirty. “Time, Distance, and Shielding”. In other words, get as far away as fast as possible, and put as much stuff between you and ground zero as possible.
There are three primary types of radiation to consider: Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. The first two primarily pose a risk via our mucous membranes. We are affected by inhaling, ingesting, or absorbing this through our eyes, cuts, or openings in the body. Alpha is a “large” particle that only travels a few inches and can be shielded by clothing and respiratory protection. It is really the least of the three to worry about, but don’t dismiss it all together. Technically, you can block an alpha particle with a sheet of paper. The problem is if you ingest or inhale it, so protect your airway and other openings. You can accomplish this by wetting and wrapping cloth around your face and wearing glasses. Beta is a smaller particle and travels a little further. A few feet is generally the maximum distance that it can travel, without the help of wind, but keep in mind a windy day can circulate these particles through the air, so be sure you are out of the hot zone before relaxing personal protection means of the airway and mucous membranes. Gamma is a ray, not a particle. The only defense against this is time, distance, and shielding. Again, do not stay any length of time; get as far away from the city as you can, and if you find yourself stuck around the detonation zone, try to put as much stuff (buildings, cars, trees, land masses, et cetera) between you and ground zero as possible. In any of these cases, if you feel you have been contaminated by the particles or rays, do not enter into your home or touch any family or loved ones. Disrobe carefully without touching the clothes with your skin, and wash your body with a mild soap solution. Undressing actually eliminates up to 90% of the contamination by alpha and beta particles. Respiratory protection is the last item to be removed. Only remove this when you are certain that all contaminants are eliminated. Again with gamma, it is a ray and penetrates most materials. Before coming into contact with family, if you believe there is a possibility you have been contaminated, monitor yourself for a while. Watch for nausea, diarrhea, blisters (radiation burn), anything with a slower onset than what may have been caused by the explosion itself. I would recommend doing a little research into the area of radiation contamination and personal decontamination. There are thousands of documented radiation sources that are missing in the U.S. alone. Most of these are medical sources and non-threatening, but research is the best defense against ignorance. Google radiation and “gross and technical decontamination” methods. In many instances the decontamination methods can also be used in the event you are exposed and contaminated with chemical or biological substances as well. Knowing how to decontaminate yourself, a family member, or members is important, and there is a method to do it properly.
Biological. This is another one of those WMDs I would consider lower on the possibility range. It’s not to say impossible but less likely. Number one, to make weapons-grade biological agents is very difficult. Second, it is very costly. Third, it doesn’t get the immediate satisfactory result those most likely to attack us want. I did read the other day where ISIS, ISIL, or whatever they are calling themselves this week is looking at the possibilities of making or acquiring biological agents, but again the affected areas or targets are going to be high population zones. If you are in the dispersion zone of one of these agents, you aren’t going to know about it until the late stages. Immediately after 9/11 we ran dozens of white powder calls. The threat of anthrax was rampant. We would respond to find piles of white powder in envelopes, on cars, and on desks; you name it. The thing is if any of these were weapons-grade Anthrax, we would hardly be able to find any dust outside of taking residue samples and sending them to a lab. Weapons grade is very small and very light. If you look at a jar full of weapons grade biological agent, it looks like liquid moving in the jar even though it is a solid. Opening a door to a room where the agent is causes enough air movement to disperse all of the agent into the air. You will not know you are in a hot zone and will not know you have been contaminated until symptoms appear. If you find out there has been an attack with the use of a biological agent in your area, the best reaction immediately following may be getting info. If it is somehow dispersed city wide, your best response may be sheltering in your home and sealing all air leaks or moving up wind and up hill. This is where having multiple planned routes of escape will come into play. At least four routes should be considered. Obviously north, south, east, and west if possible. If your shelter destination is north of where you are, but the wind is blowing from the south to the north, you do not want to travel with the wind and everything it is carrying. Currently, there are around 1200 possible “weaponizable” biological agents that have been described and studied. However, again, they are very costly and technically difficult to produce in quantity and disperse without being discovered or destroyed during dispersion. Explosions or heat will destroy a living biological agent, so bombs laced with biological threats really aren’t plausible. With that said, I don’t believe this will be the choice of our enemies, since again their goal is to produce immediate carnage, along with chaos to terrorize the populous. If you would like to take a look at the more possible biological agents, for your own personal knowledge, you can look it up online.
Chemical. Chemical warfare is a little closer to the end result expected by a radical organization but would still remain as a localized attack. They can have the explosions and disperse chemical agents with immediate signs and symptoms of bodily mutilation. Blister, respiratory, and nerve agents are a few that can be considered. Many of these are already in use by everyday industrial and farming communities. They roll down our railways and highways in mass quantities. Immediate affects can be death in minutes with blistering and melting of the skin. So the images potentially shown to the world could get the reaction the terrorists want right now. If you are in the immediate area of the attack and come into contact with a chemical agent you will experience the symptoms rapidly in most cases, thus rendering you unable to flee and having to seek medical attention. If you are not contaminated and can leave, the earlier mentioned escape and decontamination methods are still in play here. Up wind and up hill should be considered. Move up hill, because most chemicals are heavier than air and seek lower lying areas. The one exception is ammonia. If you are contaminated but not experiencing symptoms, disrobe and decon yourself immediately with copious amounts of water. Gallons of water will be needed. Water solely is preferred, if you do not know the agent used, as some soaps or solutions may react with the agent making the outcome worse. Being prepared, as far as personal protection equipment, is really not in the cards for most of us. These are either already gases or want-to-be gases. The only means of protection is inside of a level A hazardous materials suit. These cost around $1000 dollars each, and then you have to purchase the self-contained breathing apparatus that is a few grand. You have to be fully encapsulated with an air supply in order to be protected while inside the flume of a gas. It just isn’t feasible to “prepare” physically for this event, but you can prepare mentally with a plan. Things to be mindful of in your area are water treatment facilities that use chlorine gas, farming areas that use anhydrous ammonia. These are some readily available agents common in cities and towns. They are monitored and protected as WMDs, but where there is a will there is a way to obtain them. Again, some research into the different possible chemical agents and their possible uses and affects in the event of a terrorist act will prove valuable. Some info can be found online.
Natural disasters are the inevitable area of this discussion. These emergencies have provided examples in recent years and effect entire states and regions of the country. Being prepared properly for a natural event is very important. Self sufficiency, for a minimum of a couple of weeks, is a must. Hurricane Katrina showed us just how slow a response can be to a wide-spread natural disaster. During the footage of Katrina, you noticed all of the areas of concern come to light– looting, self proclaimed leaders taking areas hostage, infrastructure coming to a halt, escape routes nullified, food and water shortages, public servants rendered useless, entire economies destroyed, and many hazards presented to those directly affected by the disaster. Navigating through ruptured gas mains, structure fires, flooding, piles of hazardous debris, modes of transportation destroyed, and the possibility of having to hump it out on foot became a real element of my plan. You could find yourself having to make your way through areas that are experiencing accidental releases of chemical warfare agents or even biological agents, depending upon the amount of time since the initial disaster and conditions on the ground. Again, you saw hours of footage of individuals wading through flood waters with no protection. That water has hydrocarbons, feces, urine, decay of natural vegetation, and the bodies of humans and animals. It’s a collection point for everything bad, and you don’t want to be wading chest deep in it.
Storms. On a side note, personally, I can’t believe an event like this hasn’t been capitalized on. Imagine this; let’s say we have another Katrina hit the southeast, and a radical group decides to capitalize on it by detonating a couple of simple bombs in the northeast and west, during the national response to the natural disaster. I don’t know of many people who have considered this as even being a possibility. These are still all localized or regional events, contained, and manageable. The problem is when the people who aren’t prepared mentally realize they don’t have a plan and national panic sets in. Suddenly, they realize their smart phones aren’t able to bale them out. Simple, preemptive planning is the best solution. Knowing when to LEAVE and how to leave, BEFORE the storm makes landfall, is critical. Everyone, who was caught by Katrina and stranded, placed more value in possessions than they did their lives. They had plenty of fore warning, but they chose to stay and ante up with their lives and in many cases the lives of their loved ones. Be smart and know when to call it and leave.
E.M.P.s and H.E.M.P.s. These have gathered a lot of steam in the past few years. Electromagnetic Pulse and High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse are possibilities, and I would venture to say the more probable concern (but not so much the man-made variety). You have to consider that a man-made device carrying an E.M.P. has to make it past very sophisticated defense systems in order to reach altitude and detonate. The U.S. has been a little slow, from what I know, in meeting this threat, but many of the systems already in place since the Cold War are or should be capable of handling this threat before it reaches altitude. The greater threat here is the more naturally occurring E.M.P. Just within the last month or so we thinly avoided an M class solar flare from the sun. Many don’t realize that on July 23, 2012, the earth only just missed by a week being hit by a solar flare from the largest solar storm in 150 yrs. Had the wave been sent out the week prior, the earth would have been totally blacked out. All electrical components would have ceased to function. We would still be in total economic disarray. Living in the stone age would probably be a more accurate description of the conditions, had the flare met the earth. Our sun is in a very angry cycle as we speak. The possibility of an X class flare being shot towards the earth is a real concern within NASA circles. It would usher in the environment that everyone pictures, when they day dream of having to bug out. Economical and social fall out is the big ticket winner here. It is the only event that will send the entire world into survival mode. Vehicles can’t be used, so I hope you have a mule to bug out on.
Here is my argument against this method and the interesting thing to me. Millions have been spent on preparing physically for when the time comes to pack up and head out. There are clues as to what the world has been experiencing and what it will experience in the future. I am a Christian and believe in what the Bible says about the end days. In Ezekiel 39:14,15, it speaks of scenes and events that can, I believe, be contributed to nuclear aftermath– a scorched earth and bodies lying on the side of the road with signs on them to indicate they are not to be touched by anyone except the specialists being sent around to collect them. It sounds to me like radioactive placards to mark “hot” bodies. This would indicate that the global grid and GPS systems are still intact, thus eliminating the idea of an E.M.P. of any sort. This point of view will most definitely spiral into an entirely different conversation altogether, so I will end with my overall point. As I mentioned, millions are being spent to prepare physically for that day when it all melts down and you have to caravan to your shelter for the long haul. Don’t get me wrong, I completely believe in investing physically for events that could send us fleeing into the woods; in fact, part of those millions is mine. However, what about the mental preparedness? I don’t believe there is enough emphasis on this portion of the equation for the individual who doesn’t experience emergencies on a regular basis. Mental preparedness is going to go just as far, if not farther, in the survival atmosphere than the physical. As I mentioned, I work for the fire department. Those of us in the field are more or less numbed to the adrenaline rush that the everyday emergency brings. You would probably be surprised to see how many people panic in the presence of a dead body from very natural reasons just lying on the floor. The fact is most people have never experienced death outside of the funeral home. Now line the streets with mutilated human bodies from any event, sprinkle some destruction, blend some panicked screams, toss these folks in, and sit back and watch the circus. Being prepared enough mentally so you can make rational decisions in the face of adrenaline, fear, explosions, fire, screams, wreckage, carnage, possible chemical or biological, nuclear, or natural disaster is the most important of all preparations. Determine what your reaction is going to be ahead of time, and practice or “train” it in your mind. This will naturally prepare you and numb you to the images when physically presented with them.
Conclusion/The “Real Threats”
What about the more immediate situation? What if “your” bug out event occurs tomorrow in the parking lot, on the road, or in a restaurant where a thug wants what you have? What if you are left with seconds to determine if you are going to have to take another human being’s life from them? How are you truly going to react? This is obviously something you can’t truly know until faced with it, but you can know the phases an individual will possibly go through, mentally, when faced with the decision between killing or being killed. Everyone says they would have no problem killing, but I bet the truth of the matter will surprise you. I would recommend the book “On Killing” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. Take a look at the phases experienced during human to human conflict. His research is backed with some absolutely amazing statistics going all the way back to the Napoleonic wars. Prepare now for if and when, God forbid, you are met with the choice of life or death.
Let’s face it, we are already in a state of social and economical decline. A certain level of anarchy is already evident in our towns and cities. Seeing the threat, having a plan, and being prepared mentally to deal with the threat is what is going to save your life, not a shelter full of non-perishables. The point is any one of the above mentioned means to the end are possible, though I still wouldn’t broadcast the theory of an alien invasion or zombie apocalypse to my friends. Some are more of a possibility and some less of one. The only common thread through all of them that will save your life is being aware of them and being better prepared mentally to respond. In conclusion, a lack of awareness, education, and mental preparedness are the “real threats” to your survival.