This is my first time to submit anything to a blog. Since I found survivalblog.com about a year ago, I have become a daily reader. In my opinion, it is the most worthwhile site on the Internet. I do browse a lot of the other sites but not on a daily basis. I have considered myself a survivalist since I was a teenager, some 40 years now. I grew up in a very small town on a small farm. We raised animals and always had a garden. The animals we raised were chickens, pigs, goats, rabbits, horses, and cows. The smallest garden we ever had was about a half an acre, and the largest I remember was four acres. My grandfather and father trapped most of their lives, with me tagging along sometimes. Everybody in my family hunted, including my mother and aunts. We would hunt rabbits, squirrels, deer, ducks, bear, and elk. I spent time fishing with polls, what we called trot lines, Yoyo’s, traps, and nets. I guess that this gave me a head start on most people in the preparedness department. I learned job skills through my work with fabricated steel as a fitter’s helper, fitter, and welder. My side jobs were as an electrician’s helper on residential buildings. After that, I spent eight and half years in the U.S. Navy as an aircraft electrician and flight deck troubleshooter, during which time I managed to get in some jungle survival training. Then I moved back to the private sector as an aircraft electrician, aircraft technician (sheet metal and mechanical), and machinist. After years of school, I then worked my way up to become a Senior Manufacturing Engineer in the aircraft industry. My last job was as a Process Improver.
As for the title of this article “State of Mind” is where all Preppers should start, and from there they should try to improve. What I believe is the biggest part of prepping is situational awareness, which means paying attention to your surroundings. Your surroundings include everything– your home, your neighborhood, your community, all the way out to your solar system and beyond. I’ve always liked to observe people in public, and you can tell which ones are not aware of their surroundings. It’s the people who go to the shopping mall, park the car, go in shopping, and then come out and cannot remember where they parked their car. One of the best examples of someone unaware of their surroundings was a lady at the mall; she was walking while texting and fell into a pool. How do you know when to bugout, if you don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you? I believe your mind is your best weapon, but like any gun the more ammunition you have, the more useful it is for long-term use. Knowledge is your ammunition. There are many sources of knowledge– the public library, the Internet, family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and personal observation.
Security can come in many forms and should be personalized to every individual. Operational security (OPSEC) is first on my list. Without this you become a target. Next is a large area that I call passive security. If you think of security as layers of security, this would be most of the outer layers.
First of all, you want people to decide to go the other direction. How is this possible? Say you live some distance outside a large city. People fleeing the city come to a road that splits off from the one they’re on, and they see a sign that points in your direction naming the city they just left. They do not want to go back where they just came from, so unless they know the area, they will not take that road. During World War II the retreating Germans often changed the road signs. This misdirected and slowed the advancing armies, in many cases.
Second, people are like animals; they followed the paths of least resistance. Downed trees would make a lot of people choose a clearer path. For the best effect, the trees need to look like they have fallen naturally. A tree that has been cut down would make smart people wonder what is being protected that direction, but a tree that has been partially dug up on its far side and then had its roots cut would not be as obvious. The same goes for a burned bridge. A burned bridge does not look natural, but if there are also a few burned vehicles or trucks that look like they may have caught fire and burned the bridge, it looks more believable. In an area with hills or mountains, rock and landslides may look natural.
A third item could be signs that look like a gang has moved in and that the fleeing people are entering their territory where signs say, “Keep Out”. There could be a lot of dead animals along the roads with no obvious signs of what killed them. I believe either of these would work far better than official looking signs from the government telling people to keep out. The one exception to this would probably be a set of yellow and black sawhorse type “Road Closed” and “Bridge Out” signs. These can always be made ahead of time and set out fairly quickly. The road really does not even need a bridge. One important point here is to make sure none of these items point directly to your location. It would be best if they point to the location a few miles away from your hideout that you can observe from a distance.
Now we move on to what I call active security. Get to know as many people in your area as possible. Join the local church. Join other local organizations, such as the ham radio community, volunteer search and rescue, volunteer fire department, and/or the local book club at the library. All these people could be a good resource for knowledge or serve as an extra layer of security. The towns around where I live hold emergency preparedness fairs. These are a great source of information and connection with people. See if people that live around you would consider joining an emergency assistance group. This could mean a lot of different things to different people. This group could be formed to help during storms, just look out for each other, form a neighborhood watch, or maybe just be someone close by to call for a helping hand. I have read that some people in communities start and run a tool-lending group. This is a group of people, who each has a certain dollar amount worth of tools (or chips in a certain amount of dollars for buying tools) that anyone in the group can use. This is a great cost-saving way to possess access to a large number of tools. This would be even better for you if you happen to have a large detached garage or building that could be used as storage and for checking out all of the tools. All members would have a key and would be able to use the tools at any time, as long as they checked them out on a logbook or some other way. I have joined groups in the past that had a woodworking shop set up and another that had a mechanical shop set up similar to this. Anything that gets the community working with you gives you more security. Of all the people you meet, make notes where they live, what do they do, what they like to do, what skills they have, and how to contact them. Are they elderly or do they have needs that you could help with in a disaster? Do they have skills that could help you in a disaster?
One of my highest preps on my list is knowledge of my surrounding area. By this, I mean knowing the location of all water sources within about 20 miles, as well as access points and other resources. This means identifying all creeks, rivers, ponds, and any town or city water storage facilities. Learn all the roads in and out of the area, noting the location of any bridges or structures that could block or be a choke point on the roads. This includes trees, rock formations, and areas that could be flooded. Terrain features are very important. Large-scale maps of the area are handy for note keeping. I also like to note all the other resources that are in the area. These would include any solar panels, even the small ones on polls or equipment. Mark locations of private and commercial fuel storage (gas, diesel, propane and kerosene). Note all businesses as to type and what materials they utilize or keep on hand. Just visit any of the businesses, introduce yourself, and tell them you have an interest in learning what they do. Most would be happy to give you a tour. Learn what waste products the businesses produce and how they dispose of them. This might be a good supply of prepping material. Find out how many local farms are producing certain goods, such as local dairy, chicken houses, and grain farms just to name a few. Every bit of knowledge you can gain by observation could be useful in one scenario or another. It could be very useful to know all about these resources after a large percentage of the population dies off or when you need to trade for certain items. An old saying says, “Knowledge is power”.
Now that you have the basics down, let’s fill in all of the details. How many, what kind, and what is the location of the fruit trees, nut trees, and citrus trees in your area? Who grows a garden every year, and where do they live? The county I live in and surrounding counties all have county-owned canning facilities. Do you have any near you? Where are all the greenhouses in your area? Are there gardening or tree nurseries in your area? Where are all of the libraries and bookstores in your areas?
So, it’s a state of mind. I think a lot; it’s free. The right question is more useful than a book of irrelevant facts! Some say that wisdom is “knowing how little you do know”. I have lots of questions. Does that qualify? If you have all of this figured out already, I don’t really want to talk to you because I don’t believe I would understand you. For me, I still have a long way to go, and hopefully we all have a long time to get there! Thank you for your effort and good luck.