Planning for TEOTWAWKI, by P.S.

Everyone is familiar with planning for “The End Of The World As We Know It” (TEOTWAWKI).  Our long and costly preparations that we make in order to survive the massive disaster that will one day change our present way of living. We try to predict what type of disaster may happen and plan accordingly. It may be plans to survive the coming economic collapse, some form of EMP whether be it solar or man made, or some form of a global pandemic, the list goes on and on. I enlisted in the US Coast Guard back in 1975 and took our motto, Semper Paratus (“Always Prepared”) to heart.

All the years of climbing up the sides of ships at sea using a Jacobs ladder to conduct Law Enforcement (L/E) boardings or the thousands of hours running small boats to conduct Search and Rescue (SAR). I never dreamed that I would have three life changing events. Each one being something that would be “The End Of My World As I Knew It”.  The first was in 1994 when I was involved in an auto accident where I lost my first wife and son which not only took some of the physical life out of my body but took its emotional toll also. The second was in 2002 when I went through a very bad divorce and lost 88 acres of very well set up survival property. The last was in December of 2004  at age 47 when I found out my body was being attacked by a disease know as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Not only is this a physical disease which one day may lead to being crippled, but you have to try and imagine the emotional toll it takes also. In the few months it took the Coast Guard to process my medical discharge, I went from employed to unemployed.
People who are young and in good physical shape never dream of one day that something may happen that will change their lives and how they must cope with it after.  It doesn’t have to be a disease that changes your life but may be something as simple as just growing old. I feel that I’m one of the lucky ones who has this disease, I’m still able to walk, not very far at one time, not in the heat and many times with the help of a cane, but every morning when I get out of bed and I’m able to walk to the bathroom on my own, its the start of a good day and “Life is Good”. Many years ago if I needed to walk some place it all just came naturally, now I need to concentrate on every step I take. There are many things in life that I can no longer do but I have to be positive and be thankful for the things that I still can. 

Needless to say this has changed the way I have to make preparations to survive not just TEOTWAWKI, but each and every day. Living with this for 8 years now, I have pretty much learned my limitations. I know that I cannot handle temperatures much above 80 degrees or below 40, so this determines where in the country I can live. I know I have a left side weakness and that I will fatigue quickly if I overdue any physical activity, so this tells me that bugging out on foot carrying supplies is not happening.  At present I’m able to get a three month supply of my medications at a time but one day the supply may run out due to some future disaster.

People who are dependent on medications may only be able to get a 30 day supply at a time either due to the type of medication or insurance reasons. I would suggest that you sit down with your Dr. and explain your concerns as to your limited availability of medications. Maybe there is something he or she can do to at least get you on a 90 day supply at a time. Depending on the type of your medication it may require refrigeration. This is something you will have to make plans for in the event you have a loss of power. For the people who fall into this category I suggest a small economical generator that will run a small refrigerator or for a longer lasting system you should look into a solar panel system that will run a 12 volt DC camper cooler.       

Knowing ones limitations is an eye opener and we need to plan accordingly. Many of you for now may be in good health or physical condition but you cannot foresee the future and what your abilities will be when you get older. My brother many years ago lost some of his fingers while using a table saw and this has greatly changed what he can do and how he needs to do it, such as shooting a rifle. I was talking with him the other night and he mentioned at the age of 60 he is not going to hike into the woods, shoot a 140 pound deer and drag it two miles out as he was able to do in his younger days. I know that JWR in one of his articles here mentions ways to bring the game to you but depending on the type of disaster, it may come down to more hunters in the woods than game.

Knowing that one day you may be in the position where you cannot hunt or grow your own food you should stock up on the wide variety of Emergency Foods that have been processed and packed for long term storage. Its expensive and can take up a lot of room depending on how much you decide to stock up on, but if you plan accordingly now you will be much better off in the long run. In emergency preparedness you cannot think of the here and now, you have to think way down the road.  What kind of physical condition do you think you will be in 10, 20 or 30 years from now if you live a normal healthy life?

As you make your plans in preparedness now, think if you can still carry out your plan if you no longer have the use of your strong hand or your strength and stamina is not like it use to be. What if you have trouble walking or your eye sight is failing, can you still use the systems you have put in place for survival? Over the past few years it seems more and more people in my age group (mid-50s) are having hip or knee replacement. Many times they come back stronger than they were up to before the surgery, but what would you do if you needed the surgery in the middle of a disaster it cannot be done. In my younger days the further out in the country and away from people I could get the better it was. Now that I’m older and have a disability I feel being closer to neighbors and medical facilities has become more important for my daily survival.        

In my family, I’m the youngest of three boys. It was in 1994 when I had my accident, in the late 1990s is when my eldest brother lost some of his fingers. Then, in 2010 the middle brother was in an auto accident and now has a steel rod  in his leg. Hopefully its not that we are a hard luck family, but accidents do happen. One never plans on being in an accident or having a medical problem, but maybe in the making of our preparations for TEOTWAWKI we should plan as if we may.            

In the making of all your preparations have you set up plans to include someone in your family not being able to carry their share of the load or needing special attention? Do you have a family member in a nursing home? Knowing what may happen to them would you leave them there or pull them out to live with you? How about a child with special needs, have you planned for the caring of them? You can find tons of information in books, tv shows and on the internet on theories of what may happen in the event of some form of disaster and many thoughts on how and what you should do to prepare, but no one can tell you how your going to react to being informed of a disease or how you will recover mentally and physically from an accident or the death of a loved one.

It’s better to re-arrange your plans and make the adjustments now than to continue on spending money and setting up systems that one day you may not be able to use. Do you have a bunker you need to climb down into? Do you need to hike any distance to your bug out location (BOL)? For your water supply will you have to carry it up from a stream in buckets? Do you rely on cutting down trees and splitting them up for firewood? Do you have to shovel or plow snow each year from around your walks or driveway? Do you have to shovel the heavy snow off the roof of your house after a hard winter storm? If you can do it now, will you be able to do it 10 years from now? Do you have stashes of supplies that are in hard to access places? Are the majority of your supplies in heavy bulk items?
If you want to have an idea what things might be like, try these few simple exercises. Tape the thumb of your strong hand to the side of your hand. Now try to do some simple things like: opening up a can of beans with a manual can opener, shooting your pistol or rifle, riding your motorcycle or bicycle, getting dressed or using the bathroom. Just spend an entire day doing your normal things in life and see how it works out. Now for the second test, put your strong arm in a sling, bind it to you body and spend the day again doing normal living. How do you feel about climbing a ladder, can you still shoot your weapons, how about carrying a box of your supplies, can you pull out your generator and fire it up, can you still use a hammer and nails to make a simple repair? Want one more exercise? Place an eye patch over your strong eye and again go about your daily routine. One thing you should really test with this one is shooting from strong eye to weak eye. The reason I ask you to bind your strong side is, this will give you an idea faster of your limitations when you have to use your weak side for daily living.

For me, I have found out that I can no longer drive a vehicle with a clutch, including a motorcycle.  I cannot walk much more than 100 yards without getting tired and needing rest. When I go shopping I usually find a cart in the parking lot and use that for my support while walking. I do not handle stairs very well or climbing hills. I cannot be out in the heat or in the cold for very long. I do not operate any power equipment without having a cell phone or when my wife is not home. Because of the weakness of my left hand, I no longer carry items in two hands, I may drop the item in my left and also I need one free in case I trip and fall. If I have 6 bags of groceries to carry in, it takes me 6 trips. Some days I have energy and some days I don’t. I don’t go anywhere now without my reading glasses. I know when my body is getting fatigued and I need to sit down and rest. One day it was in the middle of Lowe’s on a pallet of drywall compound for about 10 minutes until I could make it out to my car for a short nap.

When I bought my current house back in 2003, I bought it for the location with prepping and survival in mind more than the design of the house. I had not been diagnosed with my MS yet so I had no idea that one day it would not be wheelchair friendly if I need to go that route. Even now with the things I have put in place for prepping I may have to either abandon all this one day for a place I can live and move around in or tear this one down and build new. Before I use to be able to work construction around the house doing all my own repairs and projects, now I need to hire them out. Due to no fault of my own, I hate to say it, but in some things I have become dependent on others for help. I do not run anywhere and I know my reactions are not quick.

My strongest assets which makes me know that I will be a survivor is I have been in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” and my God has carried me out on more than one occasion and he will carry me through anything. Through him, I have a very strong positive attitude. Good luck in your adventures and preps.