Monday, December 24, 2012


In my brief span of years, I’ve been present during at least 2 riots, 3 typhoons, 2 hurricanes, and 2 major earthquakes. I glean from this that equipping oneself with an ascending life support system of goods capable of preserving you through whatever may come your way is an excellent idea.

Having a list of things to acquire is, at best, the baby food of getting prepared. (As opposed to more meat-and-potatoes fare.) Mind you, simply by having something, you’re miles ahead of the vast sea of Pollyanna the-government-will-rescue-me retards whom one wades through day in and day out anywhere you’d care to name. They range from the people holding signs up at the Superdome after a Cat. V hurricane to folks waving at helicopters from the roof of their house 10 miles out to sea after a tsunami. At least, the survivors are. The nameless rest end up “missing” until recognizable body parts are recovered. Those, to me, do not represent suitable choices about how to spend your final moments.

The reason lists are pre-basic is because while occasionally barely sufficient for a very specific event, they’re never adequate for anything more, different, or worse and far more likely, longer than said event. And thus convey a false sense of security, akin to having a towel when hitchhiking the galaxy, or carrying a security blanket in a cartoon strip. For example, military pilots wear one survival vest, but also have any number of different supplemental supplies. While the personal vest and contents don’t vary, the additional supplies in kits or under-seat panels vary considerably depending on whether one’s aircraft is operating over deserts, arctic tundra, jungles, or over water, or any combination of the above. Consider that a simple military training flight from an airfield in Southern California could put aircrew over snowy mountains, desert, or the Pacific Ocean, in the same trip's flightpath, and you get the idea.

So it strikes me that being prepared doesn’t consist in various “piles of stuff” one collects, depending on what one anticipates, but rather on being able to supply one with systems that address the basic survival necessities under a variety of events.

Survival Rule of Threes:
You can survive 3 seconds without security.
You can survive 3 minutes without air.
You can survive 3 hours without warmth.
You can survive 3 days without water.
You can survive 3 weeks without food.

And after 3 months, if you haven’t got shelter and health needs squared away, or found a way to be plucked out of your circumstances, you should probably start carving your tombstone. But I’ll save that for the topic of “Thrival” rather than “Survival”.

(I added the 3 seconds rule above to the hand-me-down rule of 3s survival list, for reasons I’ll explain below.)

Think charging grizzly bear, pack of wolves, circling sharks, irate mob, invading alien zombie hordes, whatever. You’ll be dead and assuming room temperature in those cases long before lack of air becomes any concern. Fat lot of good a poncho, whistle, and Swiss army knife will do there.  12 gauge shotgun with slugs and buckshot, on the other hand…

For those submerged, a bailout bottle of compressed oxygen. For someone a block from the WTC, ten seconds after the first tower collapsed, a really sturdy N95 respirator would be worth its weight in $100 bills. And so on.

Warm clothes: wool, down, neoprene, polyfleece. Better still, a secure and otherwise vacant cave or shelter with a well-supplied fire.

And means of collecting, purifying, and carrying it.

Enough of everything you need, for as long as you need it.

Note that under the above guidelines, a canteen is a water system – for an hour. Add a water filter and a source of replenishment, and it lasts far longer.

By the same token, a poncho is only shelter if the most fearsome beast assailing you is a snowflake or a raindrop. Their resistance to claws and fangs is measured in miliseconds.

 Start looking at your preparedness in the timeframe of “until you die in your bed of natural causes”, and in terms of whether you have adequate systems for each of the above necessities of life.
A “72 hour backpack” beats having nothing at all. But it’s a poor choice to depend upon completely if you’re venturing to a location that’s a week's walk (or limp) from civilization.
More on each system in days to come.

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