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  1. Thank you for standing up and saying it about how really unprepared we are! It is true none of us know what is coming or what true life is like in a true SHTF situation and frankly, I hope I never have to. As a ham radio operator who in the late 60s and on spent time preparing to provide emergency communications in whatever natural or manmade disaster, I know that no matter how well you think you are prepared, it never works the way you invisioned it! As a famous military general said, ” the best prepared and planned battle falls apart at the first shot or encounter with the enemy” Keep up the good work Sir and please, please, do more writing to encourage us to anticipate and overcome when things don’t go the way we expected! God Bless and good luck!

  2. We have been prepping since 89. We have changed or scenario several times as to what we are preparing for. we have changed our BOB’s more time than I care to count. Your article hits Dead On about the people/experts that know everything and take peoples $$$ and really never give them anything in return. We have been purchasing Food stores since the beginning and have gone thru almost every company out there selling. All list different serving sizes and measures but in the long run all offer the same food for about the same price when you do the math. Yes you must look at caloric intake to make the right choices. Depending on your situation how much is important. If your going to sit around and do NOTHING you need only the basic intake about 1200 per day depending on your age and other factors. We have been working it out for the past several years and still don’t have all the answers. I’m a kinda big guy 5-11 230 more weight than I want to be but it is what it is. I do a lot of strenuous physical work on our retreat when we go to it and have been testing what works. I need about 3K per day and I still lose a few lbs over the course of 3-4 days. The 3k calories are spread out at about 6-7 hundred Breakfast, 5 hundred lunch, 6-7 hundred dinner and the balance over the course of the day snacking and such as we work, break, work, work. We are testing our food stores also and you can SURVIVE on Freeze dried Foods with no problem. We just opened a can of Freeze Dried Beef Steaks packaged in 1986 last week and they came back to life as advertised and were tasty (with a little help). I rarely write any responses so I will stop rambling until next time.

  3. Very much appreciated!! I worked for decades with an oil company and learned from their evolutionary thinking. They started with “respond to oil spill from a ship ” after the Exoon Valdez. Over the decades, that became “Crisis Reponse”, as the emergencies define the response, not the other way around. We need to think that way in our personal lives as well. Our response plan will not define the disaster, it will be the other way around. THINKING is an underrated exercise….

  4. The whole ‘Bug-Out’ concept sells a lot of stuff. Most folks would be safer hunkering down with a group. If you choose a plan to bug-out, have a pre-provisioned location and pre-established group. ‘Patriots’ is an excellent example.

    1. I agree Roger. Having a group is better than going it alone but that group BOL must be in a rural location.
      If you are grouping up in the city, it’s just a matter of time till a bigger group comes along and wipes you out (or multiple smaller incursions dwindle your manpower).
      However, with a group, you must also have long-term food to feed the bigger group. That’s a big problem I see with my clients. While they may have plenty of food stored up for “their” family, the other families don’t have enough, if any, food stored at the BOL. That’s a recipe for disaster. Most people that go the “group” route don’t really understand HOW MUCH food a group of 20 people consume on a daily basis and the insanely large gardening infrastructure and cold storage structure needed to keep food for that many people.
      The other big issue is that its VERY hard to put a reliable group together. Most of my wealthier clients don’t have similar minded friends in the “limousine liberal” circles they run. But you are correct, a single family unit will have a very rough time doing everything themselves and trying to keep a 24 hr watch long-term. You have to sleep sometime…

  5. With all respect, history has shown that, in a full-on anarchy, that to survive, one would have to be Mo-bile and Hos-tile. I will be neither, and expect that my life-expectancy, in the extreme rural area in which I live, would be measured in weeks. I am extremely well prepared…far better than most, but would be unable to defend what I have against “your worst enemy”, as the blogger of several weeks ago related.

    1. Don’t get discouraged Gerald, and never give up hope! You are correct that threats could be many and often. If you don’t have a big group for defense, than you need to think like a squirrel.
      Hide your foodstuffs and supplies underground “outside” the four walls of your house. You don’t need a 100k bunker to do that either. Buy a larger plastic water holding tank and bury it under a shed with floor access or something similar. I strongly disagree with the board up your windows and defend your stuff to the last man philosophy. If you build the Alamo, it will have the same results eventually.
      If “your worst enemy” is coming down the drive, flee through the backdoor (or better yet tunnel system if you can afford it). Let them come in your house and steal what they can carry off. This isn’t a life threatening situation if 90% of your supplies are hidden elsewhere. When they leave, move back in… Don’t get into pitched battles after the SHTF if you can avoid them. forget the macho stuff alot of other are peddling. live to fight another day and don’t get yourself or a loved one killed over a little food or sleeping bags… just my two cents brother. Don’t give up. Identify the threat and figure out a way around it…

  6. Excellent article. The idea that people are going to live off the land is , I think , viable for about two weeks. Then we are going to run out of deer , elk , and bears. May take a little longer for rabbits and skunks .

    My second thought is many preppers ( me included) stock pile ammunitition. The idea of huge gunfights is I think, far fetched. Any encounter is probably going to be rare and over in seconds. Keeping a low profile and being ready will be ,I think, the best way to stay alive.

    A reliable water supply and a bunch of food is our plan. An LDS contact is a good way to go, canned rice and beans by the case are really cheap and will last 25 years. We bought 49 cases . You can them yourself . They have everything you need ,including supervision. I’m not a Mormon and don’t plan to become one and was worried they might try to convert me. There were a bunch of nice people at the LDS site who never mentioned religion. They even take visa.

    I would encourage everyone to check calories before you buy any food. As the author pointed out ,many of the supplies marketed simply provide less calories then an individual needs to survive.

  7. As mentioned in the article how impossible it will be to contain a fire in the city, another huge secondary aspect of the grid down scenario that is also not very well understood, is the impact of no electricity to regulate nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams.. Do not be down wind or down stream. What other physical objects will collapse without power? This is a nightmare scenario with few good options except choosing a very good location, having a detailed and well rehearsed plan, and then having some luck that you are not too far away when the lights go out. Every time I shop at Costco, I buy something extra to add to the supply and think this may be the last time I get to look at all this easy to buy food… Looking forward to reading the rest of the article. Thank you.

    1. Great point on the nuclear facility nearby (and i would add large dams). Know the threats to where you live and if you do have a nuclear facility or big dam near you, than survive in place is absolutely a no go option. A long term grid down scenario is the stuff of nightmares and will likely be ten times more savage than I described or people think…

  8. Mr. Hollerman – thanks for this wonderful series – your insight demonstrates your wisdom and candor that needs to be shared with a much broader audience. A lengthy response and comment, and I’m hopefully that others will benefit from my perspective on your series.

    Growing up around Fairchild AFB as a late baby boomer, I had many parents of my friends that went through the Survival School, and then later in life became a personal friend with one of the commanders of this school – what I know/learned is that “preparation assets” without deep research training and experience are worth much less than many likely ascribe to these assets – having many “BBB’s” without training, the know-how, and resourcefulness will be a surprise and shortcoming for many that think they are prepared. Like many, I have many assets stored away but the research and training are now my focus, especially given my age and decision to bug-in and build a community to respond to such events, rather than to hope to find a “Camelot” in some other remote location. Thankfully, I live in the Midwest, still too close to a city populated by 250,000, but nothing like the hell that will face those in our large metropolitan areas if the black swan emerges.

    Agree with your candid assessment of how to prepare and survive any number of events – I describe the potential risks we face today in these categories: Nuclear, Biological (including pandemics), Chemical, Digital, Natural (CME) and the Human Factor (i.e., someone like a Kim Jung-un or Putin that will perpetuate the event).

    In risk management, one’s focus should be on assessing the “severity – how bad could it be” and “frequency – how many times should we expect these events over time”, and then the case for a “black swan” event (from a natural event or the human factor).

    You can try to prepare for all events but in the end, you have to make choices (unless you have unlimited wealth) and invest in a few assets and skills that will be most appropriate for the risk while perhaps providing some residual remediation for less calamitous events.

    So the question is what event would be the most calamitous – my assessment is that a coordinated “cyber-attack” from a foreign nation or a terrorist/criminal organization is a growing possibility and tops my list (likely a true “black swan” event for many when it happens), followed by a viral flu-like pandemic, an EMP/CME event, a localized biological or chemical attack, and radioactive fallout if you are not within 100 miles of a major military installation or center of economic importance (e.g., the top 20 MSA’s contain 35% of the US population today – these will be the first cities to be targeted – destroyed and quickly turn into anarchy – don’t bother to prepare unless you are lucky enough to leave before an attack or lucky not be in these locations if this is the risk that you believe is most likely to occur).

    With a post-graduate degree in biological science and 30+ years in the financial services industry, my perspective has been shaped by my academic education and watching our financial industry continue to become the Achilles heel for our country, the world and where the risk is sorely underestimated by most and known only by a few.

    Look no further than the frequent guidance (and examination and reporting requirements now routine) by the banking regulators and the Treasury over the last 3 years. Today, every major bank in the United States is desperately scrambling to quickly shore up their cybersecurity and technology infrastructure – you’ll never hear this topic on the nightly news or about the events of a compromised US bank system or the financial losses because it will create a panic. When it happens, it will start slow at first, with those most savvy likely to move and protect their assets, and then broadly impact those living “pay check to pay check”.

    The drive for “digitizing” our economy and currency is one of many strategies to cope with a cyber-attack that destabilizes the currency of a country. The US Dollar and Euro are the targets of a few countries and they know how damaging any success in a cyber-attack could create in the short and long term (e.g., look no further than Bin Laden’s thoughtfulness in his choice of targets that has cost our economy untold trillions over the last 16 years and the 2,998 souls that lost their lives on this date). Even if amounts are not stolen or transferred to another account, when the EBT, ATM’s and the Visa/Mastercard systems fail, even for a few days of disruption at critical times during the month, the panic that ensues will be a startling reminder of this vulnerability.

    Pandemics are not what many fully understand – this event is not an isolated outbreak like Ebola, HIV or even Zika. It’s an event where the human immune system is so unprepared that a modest shift in the genome of a virus will create a level of virulence (how infectious the agent is to the host), a long latency (how long the infection takes to fully fulminate across the host and population, and the ease of the spread), a mortality rate (how many people will survive or die from the infection), and the treatment protocol (how many organ systems does the infection impact and must be stabilized or treated to ensure survival) – all of which compromise and broadly kill the human hosts in a population.

    A pandemic is similar to a black swan event – only after the event does one begin to understand the root cause and what drove the virulence and mortality (and the preventative measures such as vaccinations that may or may not provide to the population). We have not seen a major pandemic event in 100+ years (the Spanish Flu was the last and long forgotten by any generation that is alive today), and if this event were to repeat, we could easily see 5 – 50 million deaths in North America, worse yet completely overwhelming our health care system and our “just in time” economy.

    Preparing for a pandemic is not in the realm of many plans or persons – the only preparation will be near total isolation from anyone that has been exposed to a large population (e.g., frequent travelers, church goers, large office complexes and shopping malls, any health care providers, including EMT’s), assuming you are not one of those that have already been exposed. Isolating or turning away sick family, friends and neighbors will not be easy unless you have significant training in “isolation” medicine (e.g., how to put on and remove googles, latex gloves, tyvek suits, particulate masks, and effectively use disinfectants, isolation and clean room techniques).

    The most challenging pandemic will be a respiratory virus that spreads through aerosols created from coughs and sneezes, with a long latency (7-14 days) and high mortality rate (50-75% of those infected directly or indirectly from other organ failures from the inspection) – no amount of “fish antibiotics” will help you or the patient – in fact, these may further compromise the victim’s recovery in some cases. Your preparations will need to focus on surviving the “burn-out period” – the time frame for the virus to kill off all of the susceptible hosts, leaving only those that were lucky enough to avoid infection or had some immunity or stamina to survive.

    The EMP/CME event, including those from a cyber-attack induced on the electrical infrastructure, could be very broad (world-wide) or narrow (covering a few hundred square miles). Success in any preparation will be driven by the severity and duration of the outage, time of year (e.g., imagine a major power outage in the upper states in the midst of a major snow storm and arctic front that drives temperatures to below zero for several days), the response by the community (e.g., the resourcefulness of those that have the skills to restore any power outage, authorities effectively communicating the actions and response, and the “moral and spiritual fiber” of the majority), and how well prepared you are to help your family, friends and neighbors.

    You can do all of the “desk top business continuity plans and games”, but a major EMP/CME event will be near impossible to completely understand or plan for in the future. My only plan and hope is that my assets, resources, skill and small community can withstand (and hopefully outlive) a slowly unfolding tsunami that will likely kill off the majority of the population. Noteworthy research has shown that through circumstance, luck, and the will to survive and resourcefulness, that 5-20% of those that face such an event find a way to survive, and this same research was the basis for Lloyds of London’s report on their forecast for the mortality rate from a catastrophic EMP/CME event in the USA.

    So, where does this leave the person that refuses to be unprepared and seeks to protect their family, friends and neighbor – simply put, you have to make the best informed choices that are rational and fact based (much like what you shared in your series); you must do your own thoughtful and fact based research and internalize what you believe is the most likely risk based on the environment you live in today; understand how to remediate the risk (what are the few core and key resources needed to cope and overcome the event); how well prepared are you to lead or participate in a community of like-minded individuals to band together (i.e., I’ve learned from Admiral McRaven’s recent book that the key success factor in becoming a Navy Seal isn’t strength of body but rather the strength of the team and your confidence that the man/women behind you is what will keep you alive); and finally the strength of your moral and spiritual fiber – your belief in God, the Lord and the teachings in the scripture, and your will to sacrifice and protect your family and friends in the most difficult of times.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share your candid and thoughtful perspectives to the SurvivalBlog readers.

  9. If planning to use a large plastic water tank underground, make sure it is rated to be buried. My neighbor just had a cistern collapse as he was back filling. It was rated for above ground use only.

  10. This is an eye-opening article! You have pointed out great points and realistic ideas for prepping. Prepping is more of a personal thing, you can refer to survival books, articles, tutorials on the internet, but how you prepare and what are the tools and supply you should buy for prepping really depends on the situation you are in. Alter your Bug Out Bags and suppy everytime is pretty tiring. I guess you should know first the place you live in very well then think about what are the most common disasters or SHTF scenarios can occur there. After that, you can laid out survival plan, prep for gears, and do all the necessary things you could think of for long-term survival situations.

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