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From the upcoming book by Ernest Emerson, “Knowledge Destroys Fear” Available this Summer.

In order to prepare a plan to survive a real SHTF catastrophe you need to become aware of just what is needed to survive.  The easiest way is to break those needs into categories.  I'll do that for you.  The categories of needs in order to survive are the following.

  1. Sustenance – Water and Food
  2. Clothing – Whether it’s clothes as we know it or something more primitive.
  3. Shelter – Whether it's a house as we know it or something more primitive.

These three categories can be divided into many sub-categories, so I'll do just a few.

Sustenance – Your first need is water.  Your second need is food.  Your third need is a way to procure the food (hunt, fish, trap etc.), and fourth a way to cook your food – fire.

Clothing – You need to cover your body to prevent heat loss and to protect your body. A simple scratch can easily become infected.  If you can't find clothes, you'll need to make some from animal skins or vegetation.

Shelter – You need to find something that acts as a barrier between you and the elements.  You need to find a place to protect you from predators both animal and human.

In order to survive you must have, at a minimum, the necessary knowledge, resources, and tools to provide for each of those three categories.  The key in setting up those resources and tools is that you must have the essentials that are necessary to provide the benefit of each of those categories.  With just those essential items you can with a little knowledge, ingenuity and common sense, address your needs in each of those categories.  When I use the words “bare essentials,” I need you to take heed of literal meaning of the word essentials.  In this context that word describes the bare minimum but necessary means to sustain life.  These essentials may change according to a specific type of disaster and to a specific environment.  For example, your essential, and specific needs in the Arctic will be different from those needed in the Sahara.  And your needs in a flood will differ from your needs in an infectious epidemic.  However, the ability to effectively address the three categories Sustenance, Clothing, and Shelter are common to every disaster survival scenario.


I teach a lot of classes how to survive very dangerous places. Most of these classes are about how to deal with bad people that are trying to harm good people. In terms of survival in a dangerous situation does not necessarily need to be an attack by another individual. You might be attacked by Mother Nature, natural disaster, or a terrorist event.


People at times have asked me if I was just being paranoid to training to prepare for these things? My answer, “Only if you are preparing to be attacked by Martians.” People survive dangerous situations by being prepared. There are four components necessary to be best prepared to survive any catastrophic event.

They are.

One – Education

Two – Training

Three – Planning

Four – Mindset


As you read this, I want you to realize that aside from some specific details that go with any unique event depending on the cause, the preparation will be the same for any disaster, whether it is a hurricane, power grid failure, earthquake, or a terrorist dirty bomb.

We are going to talk about survival preparation from a single viewpoint, a complete breakdown of all systems, power, water, food, including societal infrastructure, police, emergency services, etc. You might ask, “Isn’t that just something you see in movies?” I’ll just mentioned two names, Katrina and Sandy, two of the most devastating of our recent hurricanes. Yes, it did happen. Yes, it does happen and yes, it will happen again. Both natural disasters caused complete system failures for up to several weeks in some areas. A lot of people died. Both hurricanes were huge and of terrible consequence, but they only directly affected the areas of states that their paths physically crossed. The rest of the country that was not affected remained intact. Help, resources and aid poured in from all over the rest of the unaffected country. What will happen if the disaster is a coordinated attack by terrorists or another country designed to disable the complete US infrastructure perhaps with an EMP weapon or some destructive computer virus? And speaking of a virus, what will happen when a virus such as Ebola or some new unknown pathogen gains a foothold, mutates and then runs rampant throughout the population? How long would you be on your own? How long would you be able to survive? I’ll give you the real answer. Only as long as it takes for you to run out of water, because then you’re going to die. Most people can only survive 3 to 4 days maximum without water before the body shuts down – for good. Let’s also consider this; a catastrophe, a disaster can bring out the best in people, those who will sacrifice their own resources time and safety to help others in their time of need. But it can also bring out the worst in people, the human beast. And that beast is concerned with one thing only, the need to survive and to satisfy his lust for greed. It only takes a simple power outage and a couple of hours in New York City for the looting to begin. Not to mention the robberies, rapes and murders that spike every time the lights go out.  You won’t see those statistics in any of the New York City travel brochures. Think about it, a couple of hours and normalcy starts to break down. You might survive a natural disaster, but can you survive your neighbors? You are not prepared unless you’re prepared for both. We’ll talk more about that later.


So, in order to prepare for disaster or a system shut down, I’ve identified the four components that you must address to up your chances for survival for you and your loved ones. Remember, those components are, 1. Education, 2. Training, 3. Preparation, 4. Planning, so now we’ll look at what is meant by those terms.


Education and Training

Education and training are so closely related and overlap in so many ways that I’m not going to separate them into two separate categories for this discussion. Education is a simple part of this equation. You can get almost all the education you need from reading the right books. What books are those?  The Internet can be a good source, a very good source if you know what you’re looking at. What I mean is that there are a lot of sources out there that although they may be providing some information, they’re really trying to sell you something. In other words, they are an infomercial for whatever product gadget or device they’re selling. I guess figuring that out is also part of your educational process. Education and training about survival skills can be a lot of fun. Just ask a Boy Scout. After all who doesn’t want to know how to start a fire without any matches? Learning how to survive in the wilderness is in just about every guy’s dreams. And there is something very satisfying about being able to go it alone, the knowing that you can be totally self-sufficient and if you would ever choose to do so that you could survive – on your own. Nowadays unfortunately most of us are far removed from possessing those skills. Skills that only two or three generations ago were known to almost every man woman and child in our country. Hell, I was born and raised in a log cabin built by my grandfather grew up on a farm in a very rural area. There’s not a lot of money where I came from and many people hunt and fish just to put food on the table. And that includes the dad, the wife and the kids who all know how to provide for the family. I can also tell you that almost every household had a big vegetable garden and those gardens provided food all through the year. Mind you I am not talking about a bunch of burned out hippies growing their own vegetables either. These are people who still know how to provide for themselves more on from it’s not a fact, it’s a way of life. So, when Hank Williams Jr. sang his song, “A Country Boy Can Survive” I knew exactly what he was singing about.

Anyway, back to education and training. Learning all the outdoor skills you’ll need to survive can really be a lot more fun than you may realize. Think about it, get your gear, get your backpacks, tents and your kids and go camping. Practice a few outdoor skills while you’re camping, and you’ll be training and having fun all at the same time.


Teach your wife and kids how use a firearm, both rifles and handguns. Be sure to teach them all the safety protocols regarding firearms.  You might want to attend one of the many NRA hunter safety programs that are offered. Shooting at the range is a lot of fun and those skills could be a lifesaver in a real time of need.



“The fighter without a plan is unarmed.” – Ernest Emerson

Planning can be simple or complex depending on your commitment to a survival preparation program.  You should at least establish some phone numbers and rendezvous points if you and your family are in separate locations when a disaster strikes.  For example, who’s going to take care of Grandma and Grandpa and who are you going to support at your house?  If some of your family can’t get to the house, where should they go?  What family members are going to oversee certain immediate responsibilities and tasks when disaster strikes?  You do realize that you, alone, cannot do everything. Answers to simple questions such as these can spell the difference between life and death in a real emergency.


When it comes to planning in the case of an emergency or disaster, those who prepare and those with a plan survive. Those who don’t die.  It’s really that simple.


Elite units of the U.S. military’s special Operations teams when they are planning, training and preparing for a dangerous mission are notorious for having contingencies. In other words, if something goes wrong, they already have a backup plan in place. In fact, not only do they have a backup plan, they have a backup plan for the backup plan for the backup plan. The reason that they are able to do the extremely difficult things that they are tasked to do with such great success is because of planning, meticulous planning to the degree that most of us cannot even imagine, and it is to the most minute level of detail.

Be prepared so you are ready for the unexpected. Be prepared so you don’t have to get prepared. Making choices when you choose to do so is always better than making choices when you must do so. Make your choices before you have no choice.



Mindset is the hardest part for most people. You want to know why? Because all our lives we work to avoid danger. We certainly can’t fault anyone for that. We all know that doing dangerous things can be, well, dangerous. It’s part of what has kept us alive for the last 6 million years or so. And it’s just common sense, because you shouldn’t want to play on the freeway. However, an additional result of that risk avoidance behavior is that it also becomes a mental habit, not just covering our daily activities and the things that we do, but the way that we think. We just don’t want to think about bad things. Things that are unpleasant, dangerous, or threatening. We don’t want to think about a tornado destroying your house, a crazy guy shooting people at the mall, or a terrorist detonating a bomb at your child’s school. And how about your neighbor pounding on your door at 4:00 AM because he ran out of water two days ago and knows you have some. That’s the same neighbor whose family has now contracted the Ebola virus when the pandemic broke loose two weeks ago and now is breaking down your door and you’re going to have to shoot him to keep him from infecting you, your wife and your three children. That is certainly not a pleasant thing to think about. So, it is only natural that not only do we avoid doing dangerous things we also avoid thinking about dangerous or unpleasant thoughts. Some people call that denial. And when it comes to survival, denial can be a very bad thing. Now I’ll be the first one to tell you that I too live in a state of denial, we all do. For example, I don’t want to think about my children getting seriously injured or my wife getting cancer. It’s just too painful so I put it out of my head. When it comes to survival, denial can be the thing that gets you killed. For example, I live in Southern California. California has earthquakes and most of them are small and they’re kind of exciting. But there is a big one coming and that’s not going to be exciting at all. It’s going to be terrifying and the consequences will be horrible. Conservative estimates by the emergency services predict that if one occurs at the worst time, 50,000 to 60,000 people would be killed in the first few seconds of a major temblor.


Am I prepared for it? Kind of. What I mean is that I have food, water, flashlights, extra water, extra propane tanks, and a lot of other emergency supplies. You might comment “You seem pretty prepared to me.” Well the answer is that I’m way better prepared than 99% of the general population, but I know that I would like more water, a bigger generator, more gasoline, a couple more bikes, a motorcycle, and more water. Although as prepared as I may appear to others, I know there are more things I can still do to be better prepared. You can never be 100% prepared for 100% of all possible scenarios, but you need to be as prepared as you can to ensure the survival of your family, your loved ones and yourself.


The problem with denial is that it is a comfortable thing to do. It takes all the pressure off and all the worry away. Since we are all prone to taking the easy path, this conscious ignorance – denial – is the reason that 99% of all people have done nothing to prepare for a catastrophic event. Where do you think that 99% are going to go to get food and water for their families when they run out? The answer – anywhere they can. And if you’re one of those who is of the belief that the government will be there to take care of you, then you are being pretty naïve. Yes, I would take the government’s assistance if it were available but I’m never going to bet my survival on the chance that they will be there for me. Hell, the California state government itself has recommended that you need to have a minimum three days survival supplies and to be prepared for the probability that there will be no government services three days. That’s no police and no medical or emergency services. So, if the government itself is telling me that I’m going to be on my own for a minimum of three days, why are there still those who refuse to get prepared  because they think the government will be there to swoop in and save them? I would say that reasoning like that goes beyond denial. It goes beyond being naive. It’s just plain ignorance.


So the most important thing in regard proper mindset is to make the change from the mentality of, “This will never happen to me, which always leads to the response, I can’t believe this is happening to me,” when something bad actually does happen. The change that must take place in your mentality is, “This could happen to me,”” and not to be caught off guard when it does. “I better prepare to be ready for it, if it ever does happen.” This is the mental difference between being proactive about being in control of your safety and survival versus being passive about your safety and survival. Because by being passive you are simply placing your survival and your family’s safety in the hands of someone else. And who do you think that someone else will be? Would it be your neighbors, the police, the government or maybe just some complete stranger? That’s a chance I’m just not willing to take. I hope you’re beginning to see how vitally important the role of your mindset is in developing a strategy for your safety and survival. Because when the shit hits the fan, you’re going to have to step up and take charge of the safety of those who depend on you. You better be prepared to do so.


Now I'm going to list the attributes of a survivor. These attributes are drawn from years of research gathered from people who survived against the odds in situations where others did not, situations where one wrong move or one bad decision can spell the difference between life and death. These traits are gathered from the experiences of survivors of natural disasters, accidents, plane crashes, maritime disasters, shootings and war time combat experiences. While the causes of these scenarios or harrowing near-death experiences can be diverse and totally different from each other, or seemingly unrelated, research has found that there is a commonality of traits, characteristics and attitudes, the attributes that exist among all of those who did survive life threatening events.



The most relevant mental and physical attributes of those survivors are these.

  1. Physical Fitness
  2. Physical Speed and Quickness
  3. Physical Strength and Power
  4. Confidence in Your Abilities
  5. Ferocious Resolve
  6. Environmental Awareness
  7. Creative Visualization
  8. Commitment to a Goal or Mission
  9. Belief in Physical and Mental Dominance
  10. Preparation


Although most of these characteristics or attributes may appear to be obvious on face value, because of their importance, I need to make sure you understand exactly what they mean and why they are important. I will go through them briefly on an individual basis.


Physical Fitness

Of course, it makes sense that the more physically fit you are is important in influencing your overall chances of survival, aside from the obvious health benefits that, “being in shape” provides.

First, a high degree of physical fitness breeds confidence and the self-awareness that you can push through physical hardships since you have essentially been practicing that every time you go to the gym. So, you are already mentally used to confronting and overcoming tough physical obstacles. This is definitely a good survival attribute. Second and conversely, if you are 60 pounds overweight and have trouble going up a flight of stairs, it’s going to be a lot tougher on you to do many of the hard physical tasks that will be required of you, every day in a major disaster. On the other hand, it might be a hell of a way to lose weight.


Physical Speed and Quickness

This may seem a little less relevant at first glance, but it can literally spell the difference between life and death in any number of situations. For example, plane crash survivors are often those who reach the exit doors first. The same applies to getting out of a burning building before it is too late. Of course, it applies to escaping a hostage situation or getting to cover or escaping during a terrorist attack or when a gunman begins attacking and shooting people in a mall. We are all governed by and subject to the fight or flight mechanism during a life-threatening event. If you end up running away it’s much better if you run away fast.


Physical Strength and Power

Remember that old statement; “Only the strong survive?” Well the reason that a statement like that is still around is because it is true. In most cases physical strength plays a definite factor in upping the chance for survival. The immediate benefits of physical strength are obvious. These are the ability to physically free yourself from debris or rubble after an explosion, tornado, or earthquake or the ability to overpower a bad guy or terrorists who are attempting to carry out a terrorist act. In addition, physical strength and power translates to life energy. The stronger and more powerful you are, the more life energy you have to withstand the stress and the toll that any catastrophic disaster will assuredly take on both your physical and mental well-being.


Confidence in Your Abilities

Have you ever seen an athlete battle down to the wire, seemingly beaten by the opponent, and then in a last-ditch effort find the ability to emerge victorious? Not only have I seen it, I’ve been there, and I’ll tell you what’s going on. In that critical moment, that final tipping point, many times it comes down to pure will, “Who wants it the most?” That power of will is of course bolstered by a confidence in your abilities. In your head it goes like this; ‘I’ve trained for this done this. I’ve done this before. I can do this!” and

then suddenly you find the strength to do it. If you did not have a confidence in your abilities that were both tested and bolstered through training, you would never

be able to prevail against what may seem to be insurmountable odds. The key statement to survival in a disaster or life-threatening event is simple and direct; “I can do this!” It is the ultimate expression of true confidence in your abilities.


Ferocious Resolve

Ferocious resolve is the thing nations are built on. Ferocious resolve is what makes a 120-lb. Marine, just out of boot camp, the toughest S.O.B. on earth. Ferocious resolve is what makes a Navy SEAL one of the deadliest warriors on earth. Ferocious resolve is how a wolverine can back down a grizzly bear. Ferocious result is when a mother will defend her children to the death. Ferocious resolve is how a 95-lb. Grandmother can pick up a tractor to save a trapped grandchild. It is the will to win. The idea that you have no other choice but to win and that you will win at all costs, holding nothing back and the conviction that you will never, ever, give up. You will never surrender, throw in the towel or quit – – ever. It’s not in your DNA. And that’s how deep that conviction must be. I said that confidence is what bolsters your abilities well, ferocious resolve is the super power behind those abilities and is the result of your deepest convictions, and those convictions are; nothing can break me, I will never give up and I will do anything to survive.


Environmental Awareness

This is an attribute that literally goes all over the place. The reason is that it should follow you, no, lead you, wherever you go. Have you ever heard anyone say, “It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?” I guarantee that 90% of the time they are describing someone who should not have been where they were – whether they knew it or not and they were not paying proper attention to the things that could ultimately harm them. Why do you think cars continue to be hit by trains? Why do people get hit crossing the street – – even when it says walk? Let’s look at that last one. This one’s personal. One time I was standing in a crosswalk with about six other people all waiting to cross the street. People would crowd right up to the edge of the curb and one gentleman was looking down at his phone. He looked up at the light which had turned to say walk, and he immediately stepped off the curb to cross. At that same moment there was a huge sound of screeching tires against pavement and I saw a car sliding sideways about to skid right through the intersection. I grabbed the guy by the back of the shoulders and pulled him backwards and over on top of me. As we fell backwards the car skidded past us and about 30 feet into the center of the intersection, going right through where he was stepping only a fraction of a second earlier. He thanked me profusely after he figured out what had just happened. Did you get that? He had to figure out what had just happened. I didn’t, because I don’t care what the light says, because the light doesn’t stop the car – – the driver stops the car. So, I always look to make sure the cars are stopping before I step off a curb. I saw the whole thing start to finish because I was paying attention, I was environmentally aware. He was not. He was almost killed. If I had not been there, and that gentleman stepped off the curb, someone would’ve certainly said, “Oh, the poor guy. It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ But that’s certainly not the way I would have described it.


Being environmentally aware means that you make a conscious effort to keep your eyes and ears open to observe what is going on around you. In a tactical sense, let’s say for soldier or police officer, it would be assessing whether or not you are about to enter a dangerous environment and if you need to proceed, you immediately begin looking for potential cover, avenues of escape, potential ambush sites and what we call funnels and chokepoints. Obviously, we want to avoid places of advantage for the bad guy and disadvantages for ourselves. And in most cases seasoned operators can “smell,” when something is not right. Their environmental awareness has become so fine-tuned it’s virtually a sixth sense. I have a friend in Ireland named John Brawn. He was a doorman for over 20 years at several pubs and the toughest joints in Ireland. He once told me, “Ernest I can tell there’s going to be a fight before the guys you know it themselves – – I can just quote smell it. I’m never wrong.”  His environmental awareness was his ability to read a situation and he was very, very good. It has undoubtedly saved him from serious harm year after year, time and time again.


Have you ever seen a herd of the gazelles, antelope or wildebeests sitting on a hillside grazing or dozing? If you would look closely you would see a pattern. First they pick a high point for visual advantage and rather than all of them lining up facing in a single direction you’ll see them arranged so that there is at least one of them facing in each direction at all times so they have eyes looking out at all points of the compass. This allows at least one of them to spot a predator coming at them from any direction. I guess when you are on the menu for a lion’s dinner, you better be environmentally aware. In terms of survival, we need to follow this example. Being alert and being aware of your environment and those around you, gives you a distinct advantage when SHTF.


Creative Visualization

One of the best training aids we possess is our imagination. Our ability to create a movie in the mind, can be a tool that could very well save your life. We’ve all heard of the term, “combat experience.” What is it and why is it important? Why would it be important to help you survive a catastrophe or disaster?


In any high stress or life-threatening situation, we are subject to a number of hardwired physical, physiological and psychological responses that our minds and bodies are going to experience. Most of us know about the fight or flight reaction to danger. Actually, more reactions than fight or flight are possible and any of them could possibly happen when you are suddenly faced with unexpected, unanticipated danger. There are actually five possible reactions; fight, flight, posture, submit, or freeze. If as I stated before we are all subject to these possibilities, then how does it seem that some of us are not. Well it comes down to how severely they affect us and how long they control us. That’s where, “combat experience” comes into play. Those who have been in combat before and have the experience of combat are able to make decisions, act and think, much more clearly than those that were experiencing combat the first time. They are the old grizzled sergeants who lead their men into battle and get them through it without harm, just like in the movies. The reason they can do this is that they’ve done it before. This may or may not apply directly to a survival situation, but the principle is the same. If you are exposed to an event again and again you get used to it, and as a result you can act more effectively in an environment where others may be in a panic.


Now we all know that you can’t go practice escaping from a falling building or breaking out of a car that’s sinking into a river, so how can you ever get any experience in those regards?


The fact is that a dream can be real in terms of emotions and physical reactions, for example, fear and an elevated heart rate from a scary dream.  That’s because when you are dreaming your mind and body do not know that it is not real. Your imagination can do much the same thing and you can fool your intellectual brain into thinking something is real just like it does during a dream. It’s called creative visualization and athletes have been using it successfully for years. Athletes imagine themselves running and winning the race. Weightlifters see themselves lifting the world record weight. Racecar drivers drive the course in their minds. Concert pianist play a concert in their heads, perfectly. Numerous speakers imagine themselves in front of an audience delivering a speech flawlessly. I hope you are seeing that this doesn’t only apply to sports. It can be used for almost anything you are going to do. Outside of doing the thing, it is the next best way to prepare for action. So, if you start to think like this, “What am I going to do if…?” It can be as simple as visualizing yourself jumping out of the path of an oncoming car or getting to the exit door of a plane that has just crashed into the ocean. When I teach self-defense courses to women since I can’t come up and punch them in the face of throw them violently to the ground, I must ask them to realistically visualize those things happening to them. We actually do strike them and we do take them to the ground, because we need to teach them techniques to counter such actions, but we cannot replicate the level of violent aggression that they will be facing if it were to take place in real life. We get as close to that as we can in a classroom environment but what happens in classes is never the same as real life and we can’t go there for real. We can describe the level of violence but at best, those are still just words. We tell them they must go with there in their imagination, to visualize the bone shaking fear brought on by true ruthless violence directed at them by another. Then, they will be able to react quicker, and more decisively when it is for real and as a result have a better chance to use some of the countermeasures that we teach them. If you become a deer in headlights, scared stiff, then all the tactics in the world won’t do you any good and your survival will depend entirely on whether the bad guy chooses to let you live or die. And if he chooses to kill you then your life is truly in his hands. Creative visualization is a valuable tool and if used correctly you can use it to give you the experience that will give you a fighting chance and the ability for you to make the choice whether you live or die and not him.


Commitment to a Goal or Mission

In World War II the British army found out that when the soldiers were from the same town or district they fought more ferociously and had higher success rates and lower casualty numbers. As a result of that study the conclusion was that it was because those soldiers knew each other before the war and many times were close friends or even relatives. As a result, when they were in combat, they were fighting to protect their friends and neighbors, or relatives and they weren’t going to let the Germans do them harm. The evidence was so compelling the British started forming units that were largely comprised of lads from the same town. Give those boys a more personal cause to fight for and they will, to save a friend. This principle has proven true in almost all cases of harrowing feats survival against the odds. In combat it can be to save a wounded buddy, or to not let your teammates down. It could be born of patriotism, or the idea of good versus evil, a moral need to protect the innocent, or even revenge, among a myriad of other reasons. In a life-threatening event it can simply be to make it home to your wife again, to see your children again, or to walk your daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. It can be as simple as “I’m not ready to die yet” or perhaps, God will protect me he will not let me die or just “I’m going to survive.” The deep conviction of a commitment to survive because there is reason to live can be the extra weight that at a critical moment, a tipping point, is the weight that is needed to tip the balance in your favor.


Belief in Physical and Mental Dominance

Muhammed Ali once said, “I had to believe I was the champion before I could convince my opponent that I was the champion even before I was the champion. What one of the greatest boxes of all times, Muhammed Ali was describing in this case was the power of both physical and mental dominance and how it can affect the outcome of the fight. In other words when the opponent stepped to the ring he was facing the champion even if Ali wasn’t really the champion at that time and that air of confidence brought on by his belief in his physical and mental dominance made him that much harder to beat. If you look at it in simple terms, it’s just this; “You can’t beat me I’m the champ.” And most of his opponents believed it. Only a handful of boxers ever beat Ali and only in those fights that were long after his best years.


When it comes to surviving a SHTF catastrophe you will run into many situations where you need to believe you are dominant, the alpha leader or the one who takes charge. Belief that you can outsmart outwit, outrun or overpower anyone or anything is all part of the power of the will, and willpower is probably the single key ingredient in creating the powerful attitude of never quitting, never giving up, never breaking your spirit and never questioning your convictions. This fuels the vehicle that gives you the drive to survive.


You’ll never meet a survivor who will say, “I wish I had been less prepared.” Simply put, those who were prepared to survive are the ones who survive. There’s no way to argue about this one, but it’s the one attribute that scares people away. There are many who don’t want to be known as one of those quote crazy survivalists or one of foolish, “preppers.” So, they don’t prepare all. The bummer is that when they are knocking down your door because they’ve run out of water, you are going to have to make a hard choice. Make a note here. It’s probably best not to let anyone know you have provisions or emergency supplies, to avoid having to make such a choice.


Anyway, the benefits of this attribute are, I hope obvious by now. If you have food, water and other provisions for a week, a month or year then you’ll probably survive for a week, a month, or a year. Make sense? At the same time preparation doesn’t consist of just having a stock of provisions your basement. In fact, includes everything we’re talking about in this book. You really can never be done preparing because, there are always more things to do, more contingency plans to put in place, and more things to learn about. In order to give you a perspective on preparation just answer this question; why does our military spend the time and effort to send our pilots and all our special operations forces through survival schools? Because they are preparing those soldiers so they will know what they will need to do if they are stranded behind enemy lines or captured by the enemy. This reason is simply because it works and confirms the reality that those who are prepared, survive. Preparation for calamity or a disaster is like buying life insurance, but the differences with life insurance is that you never get to reap the rewards because it only pays off when you are dead. Being prepared for a disaster is life insurance that pays off by keeping you alive. When SHTF you want to be able to cash in that policy yourself.


Preparing for a real disaster can be a very grim process if you are the only one who thinks about the possible eventualities of those events occurring. However, in order to get your family on board, you need to make it something that they also want to do. And a way to make them want to do it is to get them to enjoy it. Be creative, give some of the easy stuff to the kids, engage them. Ask them what they would want or need, if they were stranded on a desert island. You’ll be surprised at their insight and if they feel that you are truly interested in what they’re saying, they’ll think even more about it. And as I have said, go camping, go fishing, teach them some of those pioneer skills. Build a garden for them and then have a meal with the food they provided. Education is something that should be ongoing, for example have the family attend a CPR class given by the American Red Cross. You will never know everything, but you can always continue learning. Just as any military analyst will tell you, you can never learn too much about your enemy. You’ll never know when that one little bit of information can become a critical factor in your ability to defeat them. In this case, your enemy is the disaster. It could be damn near anything and it is impossible to write about every possible scenario and to consider each specific circumstance that will be unique to that event. So, regarding education your work would never be complete as you could spend a lifetime exploring all the possibilities the solutions to those predicaments. I would first pick the ones most relevant to your geographic location. For instance, I don’t really need to prepare for an earthquake in northern Wisconsin, but I should be prepared for tornado. The good thing though is that preparing for any disaster scenario is that it helps get you prepared for most other disaster scenarios and there are large areas of commonalities that are universal and essential, necessary requirements for most every other likely scenario. So, if you are preparing for earthquake, you are also preparing for hurricane. If you are preparing for a total power grid breakdown then you are also preparing for an earthquake, whether you know it or not. Because if you are realistically covering the basic needs for survival then you are covering most of what you would need for almost all disasters. The difference is in the details. For example, a maritime disaster would require some very specific items such as life vest or raft that you would not need in a desert environment. You know that.

As you can see, you can continue to pursue your survival education by any number of means, talking with others, Internet sources, hands-on practice and of course dozens of great books on the subject covering every conceivable scenario possible from terrorist attacks to volcanic eruptions. Once you’ve read more than a couple of these types of books, you’ll see what I mean about the commonalities that exist. All the books contain common sense advice, bits of wisdom or the recounting a personal experience by the authors and others. Don’t neglect to read any book all the way through, because that author may just mention something that in a moment of real crisis may be that bit of advice that saves your life or the life of a loved one. Remember that education is the key to knowledge and knowledge is the key to solving problems. Being able to solve problems is a key to surviving any harrowing experience. An Air Force survival instructor once told me, “The key to survival is the ability to make crucial decisions quickly and correctly. Those are the guys that make it out.” Those decisions are not made by Luck. John Wayne once said, “Life is tough and if you’re stupid it’s real tough.”  So it is with survival.



“The fighter without a plan is unarmed.” -Ernest Emerson


Elite units of the U.S. military’s special Operations teams when they are planning, training and preparing for a dangerous mission are notorious for having contingencies. In other words, if something goes wrong, they already have a backup plan in place. In fact, not only do they have a backup plan, they have a backup plan for the backup plan for the backup plan. The reason that they are able to do the extremely difficult things that they are tasked to do with such great success is because of planning, meticulous planning to the degree that most of us cannot even imagine, and it is to the most minute level of detail.

Be prepared so you are ready for the unexpected. Be prepared so you don’t have to get prepared. Making choices when you choose to do so is always better than making choices when you must do so. Make your choices before you have no choice.

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