An essential part of the preparedness problematic is how unpredictable disasters and emergencies are by their own nature. If we always knew what was going to go wrong, when and where, the incident could then be prevented or avoided entirely. The unpredictability is a key element of a disaster. This may lead us to believe that there’s no way of knowing when disaster will strike.
This isn’t entirely true. Although it sure isn’t an exact science, to a significant extent we can predict within a certain margin of error most of these disruptive events. Some may be more predictable than others, and you can’t hope for much accuracy regarding timeframes, but detailed risk assessment goes a long way in knowing what we’re likely to deal with in the future.
The problem many preppers and survivalists encounter is, yet again, the lack of objective, reality-based research and analysis. Popular beliefs among the prepper community, most of them fueled by nothing more than romantic fantasies, are brought to the discussion as if they were unquestionable facts written in stone even though they may be completely fabricated. The simple truth is that a lot of the objective analysis isn’t very entertaining, and the conclusions to where they lead are even less so.
Don’t bother owning more than one gun for defense, you’re unlikely to ever need to use even one, needing two for self-defense in the civilian world is statistically impossible. Don’t live in some beautiful place surrounded by nature, practically all research shows that you’ll live a healthier and happier lives living in a condo, hitting the gym three times a week and working hard on your career. That doesn’t sound very adventurous, does it? Well, many times preparing isn’t supposed to be fun.
It is right at this point where I’ll happily be the first one to point out the obvious: There’s more to life than surviving. It’s about living YOUR life after all, living it YOUR way. If you love living by the ocean because you love sailing or living surrounded by thousands of acres of forest because you love the outdoors, then that’s what you should do. The trick is, be honest with yourself, don’t lie to yourself about what you want, what you need and the reasons for doing what you do in an attempt to justify your decisions. Not everything has to be logical and functional, not everything requires a practical use that justifies your decisions. If you can accept this, then your decisions will be much wiser. If we reach this point of honesty with ourselves then we can start looking at things from a new perspective and understand better the challenges we are likely to face.
If we are interested in the study of survival, then the first thing we want to avoid is dying. Simple enough, isn’t it? Ask yourself, what are the leading causes of death? 2 seconds of googling will show you the following:
Heart disease: 611,105
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
Alzheimer’s disease: 84,767
Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149
Out of the ten most common causes of death, other than the 4th one (which we’ll get to in a second) are directly linked to having a healthy body and mind, a sound diet and a good level of fitness. Surprisingly enough very few of these are ever discussed in most preparedness discussions. Why? Because watching your diet, not overeating and eating more vegetables isn’t as much fun as talking about zombies, raiders and the end of the world. From a practical approach to survivalism though, it is much more effective.
When it comes to the 4th top cause of death, accidental injury related deaths, the truth doesn’t align with the popular belief of avoiding cities being the better option. Why Cities Are Safer Than Rural Areas: 5 Surprising Facts
Not dying is a good start, but for step number two we also want to have a healthy life worth living. Notice how by tackling the main causes of death we are also addressing the main causes of sickness, which considerably improves your quality of life while alive. As if that wasn’t enough, staying healthy and in shape boosts your morale and overall sense of joy. Here we may want to pay particular attention to the mental or emotional aspect of health: Avoiding depression, having a good marriage and family relationship, enjoying the kind of work you do. Emotional health is as important as the physical one.
Ok, so we’re not dying, which is a good start, and we’re not getting sick physically or mentally. Things are already looking good! But what about good old Murphy showing up and spoiling our little personal utopia? What ruins life for people, what concerns us the most? Which are the threats we are likely to face? This is the third step, the one where we go past the first two unavoidable facts of life (dying and getting sick) which have a probability of 100% on the long run, and we start doing a dedicated risk assessment based on our location and lifestyle. In general, this is the one most preppers and survivalist jump right into, completely overlooking the all-important first two. “oh, here’s where my CCW comes into play and saves me from all the thugs on the streets..” Actually, no. Hold your horses. Lets take a look at the leading causes of injury-related deaths:
2 Motor vehicle crashes
Turns out, chances are that you’re more likely to end up killing yourself than getting shot by some street thug. Clearly we can’t emphasize enough how important mental health is.
Not being much of a surprise, car accidents are a leading cause of death. Its safe to say chances of getting involved in a car crash are pretty high during our lifetimes. What can we do about it? Here’s where the intelligent survivalist goes to work. You drive carefully, that should be obvious enough. But you also buy a vehicle with a high safety and survivability score. You keep your car serviced. You make sure your tires are in good shape. You never drink and drive. You try not to drive during nighttime and you avoid driving during storms. These alone will highly improve your odds for one of the most common causes of injury related death.
While some children do die of unintentional poisoning (very careful with that!) “Poisoning” also seems to be today’s politically correct way of saying death due to drug overdose. Again, working on emotional health and strong family bonds is essential.
Falls are a common form of injury, especially among the elder population. How likely? 1 in 3 of the elder population +65 fall each year. By the time they reach 80, 1 out of 2 will fall at least once a year. http://www.learnnottofall.com/content/fall-facts/how-often.jsp
The falls often causes fractures, which may lead to more serious conditions or even death. Understanding how likely this is to happen helps towards planning for it better. Have proper footwear and walking aid when required. Consider moving with someone else so as to not be alone or keep your cellphone with you in case you fall. Be particularly careful with ice and wet floors.
When it comes to homicide, avoiding dangerous places and having means of self-defense will obviously help. USA has a homicide rate average of 4.7 per 100.000 population. While this isn’t something to lose sleep over, it makes sense to have means of self-defense and avoid dangerous places as much as possible. In high-crime areas, the greater risk calls for other measures such as better safety habits and improved home security. The higher the crime rate, the less forgiving the environment will tend to be.
Natural disasters are also predictable to a great extent. Events such as earthquakes, tornados, floods and storms, they tend to occur in specific areas where they have happened before. While this doesn’t make them completely predictable, it does mean that they are very likely to occur again and that you should prepare for them.
Many times man-made disasters can be detected as well before they occur. On a macroeconomic level we see signs such as inflation, unemployment and institutional instability as signs of possible economic problems and civil unrest. Geopolitical tensions may be a prelude to open hostilities between nations. Staying informed is key to detecting potential problems on the horizon.
When preparedness is approached through a logical, educated, common sense process, we can foresee some of the most likely disasters and emergency situations.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.