The Red Cross responds to about 2 disasters per day. For too long, the term "survivalists" has called to mind paranoid separatists or militia who give up the conveniences of modern society, drop out of the government's databases and live in one-room backwoods cabins like the Unabomber.
Well, the good preppers at the The Warrior Class know survivalists are much more likely to be Floridians buying hurricane shutters a few months before the next hurricane season, Californians preparing a three-day kit of food and water in case the next big one rocks their town or your neighbor in Anytown, USA who knows the damage a small fire can cause or a Denver resident who keeps a few blankets, a pair of old boots, warm socks and a few candy bars in the car during winter. This isn't paranoia, it's just good planning. Like carrying a spare tire, even if you never need it.
But there are plenty of online resources for people who just want to prepare a three-day kit. The Warrior Class's Survival Article is designed to take you to the next level. Because in a true emergency, three days may not be long enough. We want you to be mentally, physically and financially prepared for any emergency on any scale.
Some Common Terms
● We define survival as emerging from a natural or manmade disaster in a better position than the average person. In other words, you get to keep on keeping on, while others may not.
● Preparedness means making preparations before disaster strikes to improve your chances of survival. Surely you remember the old saw about closing the barn door...
● Survivalists have a self-reliant bent and choose to prepare on their own or in a small group rather than rely on the government to help them survive.
So, how can you prepare to survive? What can you do to prepare, to become a "survivalist?" The Warrior Class has developed this eight step program to help you get started. While designed as a guide for the new survivalist, it has plenty of information for the hard-core preparedness expert as well.
A notice: The Warrior Classes’ Survival Guide contains some extended information You may wish to save or print it out for reading at your leisure. And remember, in many emergencies, your computer will be inaccessable, so a hard copy of anything here you find especially helpful isn't a bad thing to have on hand.
What Exactly, Am I Preparing for?
Before you can prepare, you must determine what you are preparing to survive and how each disaster threatens you, your safety and survival. That will give you the parameters necessary for the following steps.
This initial exercise isn't tough, it only takes a few minutes of thought. We suggest you jot notes or switch into your word processor while you work.
But first, it's important to realize that you cannot prepare for everything -- only the army tries to do that, and we've
yet to meet anyone with their resources. The Warrior Classes suggests you prepare only for those potential disasters that are likely to occur within the next five years. Sure, you may wait seven years for the next earthquake, but remember the survivalists creed: better safe than sorry.
What's going to happen in the next five years? If we knew, our web page would look different. You'll have to extrapolate, evaluate trends, read the newspaper, conduct your own research. At the very least, take a few minutes and consider your location. Pull out a
map and look what's within a two-mile, five-mile 10-mile and 25-mile radius of your home and place of work. Put on your pessimist hat and consider what might go wrong that could directly impact you. Decide if that's something you want to prepare for (see questions one and two, below).
For example, if you live a "safe" distance outside of a flood plain, your house might still gets flooded in the 100-year flood, should you prepare for it? We would, but it's your call. It's your ass on the line, so you have to decide.
That nuclear plant 20 miles away has an excellent safety record. Should a nuclear disaster be on your list? Again, you make the call.
Are you worried about a meteorite crashing into your house? Well, it has happened, but it's probably not worth preparing for.
Finally, if you've been afraid of something since you were a child -- whether it's a raging fire or nuclear war -- prepare for it. At the very least, you'll sleep better at nights knowing you have done all you can.
Now, some questions to ask yourself:
1. What natural disasters or extreme conditions am I (we) l likely to face in the next five years?
Make a list and rank them in order of most to least likely to impact you. You can review our list of possible natural disasters if you need to.
Your list might look like this:
❍ Heavy thunder storms
❍ Severe winter weather
❍ Nearby flash flooding
2. What other disasters or emergency situations might I face?
Add to your list the man-made or other disasters that you might face in the next five years (again, you can refer to our list, if necessary).
Let's say you have added these categories:
❍ Toxic material emission/spill (from a train derailment)
❍ Riot or other civil disorder
❍ Nuclear plant problems
3. What are the ramifications of each item on my list.
Now, take your list and create a second column (bet those of you using a word processor are wishing we'd told you this before, huh?). Put the ramifications of each disaster in the second column. What do we mean by ramification? How the disaster or emergency situation could affect you. Think this one through very carefully, as everyone's situation is different. For example, families with children have different concerns than those without or singles.
Finally, note if the ramifications could require evacuation (our next topic). To keep using our example results in a table like this:
Once you've created a chart like the one above, you know what situations you are most likely to face and can prepare your survival plan.
Think nothing can happen to you? Well, Teflon man, take a look at these potential disasters and think again:
● Heavy thunder storms
● Flash flooding
● Mud/rock slides
● High winds
● Severe winter weather
● Extreme high heat
● Volcano eruption
● Tidal wave/Tsunami
● War (conventional, biological, chemical or nuclear)
● Toxic material emission/spill (from a train or nearby plant)
● Riot or other civil disorder
● Nuclear plant melt down or other nuclear disaster
● Government action against you
● Stock market crash
● Sever depression
● Plague or disease outbreak
● Comet strike or giant meteor
● Alien invasion
● Mugging, robbery or other criminal attack
● Random acts of violence against yourself or a family member
● Unemployment/financial disaster
● Death in family
● Home destroyed by fire
Did we leave something out? Send us your suggestions and we'll add them (all calamities must apply or potentially apply to a significant portion of the population to be included on
Bug out or Batten Down?
Should you Stay or Go?
Based on the previous section, you should have a good idea of the potential survival situations you might be facing. Now the question is whether to stay and face them or move to another -- hopefully safer -- location.
We all have a strong desire to protect what's ours. Regardless of whether you own the largest house in the neighborhood or rent a ramshackle shack, home is where the heart is, not to mention all the rest of your stuff! And The Warrior Classes knows you've worked long and hard to accumulate that stuff, so abandoning it and running for safety may stick in your craw.
Thankfully, there are times when saying at home makes the most sense. If you can wait out the storm, ignore the heavy snow, batten down the hatches against civil unrest or otherwise stay at home during an emergency situation without endangering yourself, it may be your best bet. There are many advantages to staying home in a survival situation, if you can safely do so:
● The food in your refrigerator and pantry can supplement your survival stash (see the next part).
● If you loose power, you can quickly cook much of your food and monitor the temperature of your freezer (frozen food will usually keep at least 24 hours).
● You'll have more time to improve your home's chances of survival (move items to
high ground, put plywood over windows, etc.)
● It offers shelter against most elements.
● You'll have access to all your clothing, bedding and other comforts.
● You won't suffer from boredom as much as you might in a shelter.
● You can protect your stuff from looters. Of course, there's a downside as well:
● You could be putting yourself in unnecessary, life-threatening danger. (The fire, flood, hurricane, riot, etc. might be worse than anticipated. We've all seen TV coverage of people clinging to their roofs as the house washes down stream.)
● If you decided to evacuate later, it may be too late.
● Without heat, electricity, hot water or other services, home just isn't the same.
● There is no sense of community, unless other neighbors or members of your local survival group stay home, too. You may feel cut off and alone.
● If a mandatory evacuation has been ordered, you may be prosecuted by local authorities (although this rarely happens).
No matter how much you wish to stay at home, there are times when evacuation is the only choice. These include a nuclear, chemical or biological event as well as any impending disaster that is likely to destroy your home. For example:
● If the warning sirens on that nearby chemical plant go off at 3 a.m., you have no choice but to don your gas masks, grab your bug out bag and drive the opposite direction as quickly as possible.
● If you're beach-front home is directly in the path of a Force 3 hurricane, staying put might show a surplus of guts, but deficit of brains.
● Likewise the time you spend, garden hose in hand, trying to fend off a raging fire that has already burnt out six neighbors might be better spent salvaging your valuables and items with sentimental value.
So, if the survival situations you outlined in the previous section shows several emergency situations requiring evacuation, you'll need to put together a plan:
The Evacuation Plan
There are several important elements to your evacuation plan:
● Where to go
● How to get there
● What to bring with you
Where to Go
Sure, you can head to the nearest shelter, but if sitting on cots at the local high school gymnasium or National Guard Armory was your first choice, you probably wouldn't be reading this.
You need a safe house or survival retreat in a location where the current crisis will not threaten you. The easiest way to set up a safe house is to coordinate with a friend or family member located between 100 and 150 miles away, preferably in a different setting. For example:
● If you're in the inner city, they should be in a rural area or at least a smaller town, preferably not the suburbs of your city
● If you're near the coast, they should be inland
● If you're near a flood plain, the safe house should be on higher ground. Following these guidelines, you can be relatively sure of several things:
● Whatever disaster you are facing should not affect them, and vice versa. This
allows you to trade off, so when they are facing a survival situation, your home can be their safe house.
● You'll be running towards something, not just away from danger.
● You can get there on one tank of gas, even if there is a great deal of traffic (During the Hurricane Opal evacuation in 1995, it was not unusual for a 100 mile trip on the interstate to take four hours).
● You won't be turned away at the inn (Hotel rooms are quickly filled, and often at inflated prices).
If you plan in advance, you can leave a few changes of old clothes, a toiletries kit, necessary prescription drugs, ammunition, some MREs or anything else you might need at the safe house. This will make your evacuation easier.
While many will find that a friend or relative's house is the easiest and most cost-effective safe house, the ultimate safe house or survival retreat would be a second residence located in a very rural location. During normal times, this survival retreat can double as your vacation home, hunting lodge or weekend getaway destination. But when the flag goes up, you can evacuate to a safe house fully stocked with everything you need for self sufficiency.
TWClasses’ ultimate survival retreat would be:
● Well off the beaten track, ideally reachable by a single dirt road. This seclusion will offer you a good bit of protection. For example, you can cut a large tree down
across the road to help eliminate unwanted guests.
● Not too flamboyant, so that it doesn't draw a lot of talk from locals and become a target for vandalism. Nothing wrong with a solid one-room cabin with a sleeping loft.
● Near a spring, well, stream or other natural resource of water.
● Equipped with at least one fireplace or wood stove for cooking and heat.
● Within 10 to 20 miles of a village or small town where you can go (by foot, if necessary) for extra materials, news and other contact with the outside world, should the emergency stretch into months or longer.
● Have adequate land for growing your own vegetables and other crops.
● Near a natural, easily harvestable food source (usually wildlife for hunting or fishing).
● Provisioned with enough food to keep your family safe for at least three months, preferably a year.
● Provisioned with tools necessary for long-term self sufficiency, should it become necessary.
If you are worried about storing goods in a unattended house, where they could be stolen, you can store a supply nearby. While most caches are buried in hidden locations, a simple solution to this dilemma is to rent a commercial storage unit in a town close to your retreat. This has several advantages:
● As long as you have access to the facility 24 hours a day (one of those outside storage areas where you use your own lock is best) you can get to your supplies when necessary.
● It will be much easier to make a few trips to and from the nearby storage facility and your safe house than carry everything with you from home.
● It's easier to check on the status and add materials to this type of cache than one buried in a secluded location.
● In a worst case scenario, you can hoof it to the storage area, spend the night inside and hike back the next day with a full backpack.
Of course, for the ultimate protection, a buried or other hidden cache is hard to beat. The is especially true for the long-term storage of ammunition and weapons that are or may one day be considered illegal. Here are some specifics on establishing this type of a cache.
How to Get to Your Safe House
Whichever option you've chosen for your safe house, the best way to get there is by car.
It's convenient (most of us have them), offers some protection, is relatively fast and allows us to carry much more gear than on foot or bicycle.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with taking a train to a safe house in a nearby city. The Warrior Class is partial to boats, and even a bus beats walking, but for most, the car is our escape vehicle of choice.
While everyone chooses a car that fits their lifestyle and budget, a large four-wheel drive vehicle is the best bet for evacuating to your safe house. The bigger, heavier the vehicle is, the better. Not only do larger vehicles have greater ground clearance and the ability to ford higher waterways, they offer the most protection and carry the most gear. They also offer
you and your passengers better protection in a fender-bender. When the entire city seems to be running from an impending disaster, you don't want to be stuck on the side of the road because of minor accident.
Four-wheel drive is critical if you need to go off-road to avoid accidents, road blocks or other evacuation-related snafus.
So, since an army surplus army truck is probably out of the question, a large four-wheel drive pick-up with a cap may be the best bug out vehicle available. But the fact is, whatever vehicle (or vehicles) you have at hand is the best bet.
And the old saw about never letting your car's gas tank get below half makes a lot of sense. The Warrior Classes also recommends keeping a couple of five gallon tanks of gas on hand "for emergencies." Even if you use it to fill your tank, carry it with you (strapped to the roof, perhaps) because you never know when you might find more. If you are very serious, you can have a second tank installed in your truck.
And while we're on the subject of cars, make sure your is is good mechanical condition.
Taking the High Road
One of the most critical factors is route planning. You should have memorized several routes to your safe house or survival retreat and have maps on hand so you can identify alternate routes around accidents or other problem areas. The routes should include:
The fastest, most direct route.
This will be your first choice when you are getting out early, before the crowds. If you're smart enough to beat the rush, predict an upcoming disruption, or just feel like being far away from any federal buildings on every April 19, you can take your main route.
A back road route.
This may be your best bet when the interstates are clogged with lines of cars all trying to leave "ground zero." Sure, it would normally take longer, but it in this situation, it may be your best bet.
An indirect route.
There may be a time when you need to get away, but don't want anyone to know where you're going. There may come a day when it make sense to go north 200 miles out of your way to end up 150 miles east of your destination. This is also the route to choose if you have reason to believe you may be followed.
What to Bring With You
The Warrior Classes keeps a bug-out bag in the closet. A bug- out bag is the first -- and possibly only -- thing you grab when you're bailing out. When the fire alarm is going off, for example, grab the kids, the bug-out bags and get out.
Bags, you say? Yes, bags. Each member of the family should have his or her own bug out bag.
What should you include in your bug-out bag? Ask 100
people, and you'll get 100 answers, but here's what The Warrior Classes suggests:
Now that you know where to go, how to get there and what to bring when you leave in a hurry, you can take a look at long-term survival planning. The next part covers the three basics of any survival plan: Water, food and shelter.
Caching Your Goods
Of concern to many survivalists is long term storage of supplies in a safe location protected from both accidental exposure and those aggressively searching for your stash. For this reason, creating a cache (rhymes with stash) of items you believe you will need in a survival situation is a good plan for any serious survivalist.
The Warrior Classes found creating a cache on a boat is difficult, with the best option being a variation of the 18th century pirate's buried treasure. For most land- bound survivalists, however, creating a cache of emergency goods is less of a challenge, as you will see below:
There are two types of caches:
These caches can be in a closet, basement, local storage company or other, relatively easy- to-access location. They are normally protected by locks or other traditional security measures and some discretion on your part (you know -- keeping your mouth shut.) The basic stash should include all your survival items (covered in chapters three, four and five). Because these caches are accessible, you can rotate items in and out as necessary.
Basic caches can simply be food, water and other necessities on shelves, in boxes and bags or in cupboards set aside just for that purpose. A lock on the door can keep family members from rifling supplies (when the portable stereo needs batteries, for example) and nosy neighbors or guests from uncovering your preparedness stash.
On-site caches in basements or closets (for those areas such as Florida, where basements are as rare as snowballs in April) are convenient, available in most emergencies and facilitate adding new items and rotating out canned goods, water and other perishables.
Off-site caches, as discussed briefly,allow you to stash items near your survival retreat. Should you choose a commercial mini-storage unit near your residence, it gives you more room for goods than you might have at home. In this manner, you could keep two weeks worth of food at home, and store several months worth or more in a rented storage unit.
The danger inherent in off-site storage is that you will not be able to protect your stash from marauders (should our system of law and order break down) or natural disasters, such as an earthquake. You must also consider transportation concerns. How easy will it be to reach the 20 cases of MREs you have squirreled away in that storage unit 15 miles outside of town? If the disaster is of such a magnitude that you need them, can you get to them?
Like buried treasure, these caches are protected from discovery by burial, creating secret compartments in walls and floors, etc. To preserve the secrecy, you shouldn't visit these caches more than annually, so there is little or no opportunity for adding or removing items. This means items stored in hidden cache must be suitable for long-term storage, possibly 10 or more years.
Other items for long-term storage include gold and silver. It is commonly held that paper money will have little or no value after a cataclysmic disaster (plague, revolution, nuclear event, etc.) but that silver and gold will always have some value. Other items with a possible barter value, such as knives or hand tools, may also be stored.
Evaluate your personal needs, cache location and long term survival plan to determine what you need to store. Perhaps a good knife, hatchet, frying pan and tin cup are your choices. Maybe a box of fish hooks, lead sinkers and line is on your list. Use the information presented in this guide to develop your list, but keep in mind that not everything is suitable for long-term storage.
Creating Your Cache
The ideal cache is one that is buried off the beaten path in a location you can remember. There are a number of items sold today specifically for burial. These include sonar buoy tubes and PVC pipes six or more inches in diameter. But it is also possible to build your own storage device our of plywood or other lumber. The tubular design is intended to be buried in a vertical position, to minimize the signature should someone with a metal detector try to locate it, but manually digging a hole two feet in diameter and eight feet deep is easier said than done.
There's nothing wrong with a cube or rectangular box built out of 2x4s and treated plywood. Of course, the box must be strong enough to keep the walls from collapsing, as well as supporting the weight of at least 18 inches of dirt on top. Because a plywood box -- even one lined with plastic -- will not prevent moisture from penetrating, items inside the box must be stored in sealed ammo boxes, plastic buckets or other waterproof containers.
Once you have built your box or purchased your tube, assembled and packed your items for long-term storage, you will need to transport everything to the cache location. While you may be able to make most of the trip by car, you will probably have to trek everything to the site on foot, perhaps under the guise of a backpacking trip (if you are caching your material on public land). Of course, if you have your own retreat, the entire process becomes much simpler. While many would recommend digging your cache in the middle of night, if you pick a secluded enough site, this may not be necessary. Clever camouflage or misdirection can be used to allow you to bury your material without attracting undue attention.
For long term, secret storage, caches should be buried in secluded areas, on ground high enough to avoid flooding, in open areas where tree roots won't be an immediate problem. If you are choosing to bury your goods near your retreat, pick an area where there are metal scrap or junk around that would hide a your stash from a metal detector or an area scan. They have radar and sonar that can identify buried minerals.
If you are using tubes or caches with limited capacity and need multiple caches to accommodate all your goods, bury them in a geometrical pattern. If your caches are buried in a line, 50 feet apart, or a square, finding one cache will allow you to quickly locate the others.
Finding Your Cache
There's nothing worse than realizing you can't remember the exact location of your cache, filled with more than $1,500 worth of supplies.
To prevent your cache becoming a brain twister for future archaeologists, you must not only pick your spots very carefully, but draw or mark a map of the location. While you should obviously memorize the location, storing partial directions in your home survival stash is not a bad idea. Unless you are hiding contraband, a complete map should be stored in your safe deposit box. This will allow your family or loved ones to benefit from your advanced planning (or at least recover your goods) should you meet an untimely demise.
While The Warrior Classes recommends marking a tree or bolder in the areas, painted blazes on trees are likely to attract unwanted attention, and can fade over the years. Carving a set of fictitious initials on a tree, however, will help you confirm you are in the correct location without giving away the store.
To test your ability to find your cache, return to the site two years after burying it and try to locate your loot. You don't need to dig it up, just dig enough to confirm you are in the correct spot.
Coming next, Pt2