Monday, January 14, 2008

Survival Priorities

Sustenance, Shelter, Security, Scarcity and Sustainability

Survival preparation is a never ending process requiring time and considerable amounts of money. Depending on your end planning goals count on spending anywhere from several thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars. The cost will vary and always grow as you reevaluate your needs and deploy your infrastructure.

One of the more difficult issues surrounding the planning process is determining and prioritizing needs. Sustenance, Shelter, Security, Scarcity and Sustainability are the five S’s that will help you plan and allocate your resources. In an ideal world you would make a list of needs, purchase your supplies and wait for the inevitable. But we do not live in an ideal world.

The other area that needs addressing is exactly what type of socio/economic distress are you planning for. Planning for a Yellow Stone super eruption is different than planning for an ice storm. Planning for the complete collapse of our economic structure is a little more involved than planning for a few months of unemployment. Regardless of the type of disaster there are two thing that any survivalist demands,

The family must have their basic needs met

The family must not rely on external support to attain those needs
The point of the survivalist movement is not only to survive but to do so independently, free from institutional help. Institutional assistance carries the restrictions implemented by the “giving” organization. These can included forced labor, mandatory meetings, registrations of assets, forfeiture of firearms and enforced relocation. If you want the handout you must play by their rules. So preparation should be geared towards guarantying independence from institutionalized support.


The first thing you need to address, hands down, is food and water. Without these nothing else matters. In any emergency situation the first people on the scene after the rescue workers is the Red Cross. They set up a tent and you get in line, for what? Food and Water. If it is a remote disaster the first thing airlifted to the site is food and water.

Without these two base items you are immediately forced into the institutional system of handouts, waiting for hours to secure the basics to simply keep your family alive. You become fully dependent on the welfare system, you have lost your freedom. You are no longer in charge of yourself or your family, the man with the food and water now owns you.

You can live in a tent, you can not live in a tent with out basic sustenance. During an ice storm it does not matter what kind of gun you have or how fancy your crank radio is you and your family are going to die without food and water.

Don’t think you are going to be able to hunt for food, this is what everyone else is thinking and the local game will be depleted very quickly. It does not matter if your retreat shelter is in your house or in a distant cabin it needs to be fully stocked with food and water. This is the first, this is the top priority. Everything else falls into place behind basic sustenance.


Shelter is the place or thing that protects you from the elements and can continue protecting you and your family in a emergency situation. Now, this goes far beyond simply a roof over your head. Your shelter needs to provide warmth, power and waste disposal. The shelter can be your apartment, home that you own, retreat cabin or even a travel trailer.

Wherever you are your basic shelter requirements need to be met. In other words, if you have a retreat cabin two hours from town, the cabin and your place in town need to be able to shelter you. Having a nice solar power system, a wood stove with plenty of wood and a composting toilet at your cabin does you no good if you are stuck in town.

When looking at homes or apartments, try to find one that has either a real wood burning fireplace or a large southern exposure with windows, ideally both. It is worth spending a little more money monthly for these items. Everything in your home is grid attached. If something happens and you no longer have heat, water for the toilets or power your nice house becomes nothing more than an cold stinky cave.

But if you have a southern exposure or fireplace your home or apartment will stay nice and relatively warm. Additionally a simple sawdust toilet stored in the closet or under the sink can saves you from squatting in an undignified manner under a tree. Purchase some blankets or plastic sheeting to place over the doorways and windows.

Be careful when choosing a backup heating source. Although kerosene and propane heaters are great for temporary off grid heating they become a useless expense in a prolonged crisis situation when fuel is no longer available or priced out of your range.

An independent power source is another matter entirely. If you can swing solar for your house or trailer do so but don’t invest the money if you are in an apartment. Small backup generators are great for power tools at your cabin site but like petroleum based heaters become a liability when fuel starts to run out. They can also make a lot of noise bringing unwanted guests looking for warmth and bright lights. Wind generators should only be used away from jealous neighbors at your cabin. If you are in the city more than likely you will have to do without power for lighting and such. Stock up on candles and solar lanterns.

You don’t want to freeze to death in a power down situation. A good shelter will protect you from the elements, store your sustenance items and hide your families life from unnecessary scrutiny. Remember a survivalist without proper shelter is a refugee.


After you have secured food, water and appropriate shelter you need to address some security and safety issues with your family. How will your family communicate with each other in a crisis situation? If necessary how will you move your family out of the critical zone? Are you comfortable with your family owning and using guns?

You should do research into communication methods that work best in your area. GMRS two way radios are recommended for family communications but this is a decision that you must make with your family. Possibly look into CB radios. Remember that cell phone are not a reliable communications method in an emergency and phone locations are traceable.

Also a large, powerful, reliable vehicle is necessary. You will need something that can haul the family as well as a considerable about of survival supplies. A older model four wheel drive full size truck would be ideal for this, a topper can be placed over the bed protecting critical supplies. These trucks can be purchased for under two thousand. Be sure to keep the tank full.

Personally I think every person in America should be required to own guns, but this is a personal decision. Gun ownership, gun selection and ammo amounts are not addressed in this article. I would only say that base supplies need to be acquired before you invest terrible amounts of money into your arsenal.


What will you need that will not be readily available in a crisis situation? What about a long term collapse? Some of these items might include wicks for your heater, nails for your nail gun, rechargeable flashlight batteries, solar charger for batteries, propane cans for your stove and extra blankets. Anything that will make life easier, but not necessarily critical for that life.


Whats next? How do you and your family recover from the crisis? What will life look like after the collapse? What is your plan for when the supplies run out? Do you have skills that will be necessary in a post collapse society? Planning now for your niche in the new world will help guarantee your families continued survival.

We are heading towards a great socio/economic collapse, you can pretend all is well or you can responsibly prepare for the fall.


gregm said...

Your writing on this critical issue is unusually clear and concise and in equal measure; rare. Would you possibly consider expanding on this post?

BigBear said...


I plan on going into detail with each of the five points. Hopefully kick one out every week or so.

theotherryan said...

This is a good well rounded post that covers alot of ground. It is almost survey of survivalism 101. My thoughts on using these 5 points is as follows.

1) think of that the worst case issue for you is (also beware of how your geography affects that situation). Your individual situation can greatly affect the priorities of these 5 points. If you live in LA then security is going to be a much larger concern then shelter while if you live in rural Alaska it is going to be quite the opposite. If you live near a lake water is not a big issue while if you live in the desert it is.

2) How much money do you have to spend? If you and your partners are a doctor and a lawyer your budget could be very high while if she is a homemaker and you are a roofer then your budget is going to be alot lower. In any case come up with what you can realistically raise soon and how much you can add to monthly. If you have 250k now and can add 500.00 a month then you are ina very different situation from someone who has 2k now and can add 50.00 a month.

3) Now that you know what you are planning for and what you can spend it is time to prioritize. I definintely agree with you that most of your food should get stashed away before going full bore into getting a basic firearms battery PROVIDED you already own atleast one reasonably useful defensive firearm (centerfire rifle, centerfire pistol or pump shotgun) in the household. For this I suggest a divided approach where you take the money you have now and divide it into 3 parts: 40% beans/food, 40% bullets/firearms and 20% bandaids/assorted other stuff. Once you have one area squared away then move down the priority list to the next thing with areas such as renuable power getting your prep money. I also really like the idea of prioritizing the sawdust crapper. I will get one pretty soon.

I am looking forward to your posts elaborating on these points.