Four Great Preparedness Myths

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by melbo, Jun 4, 2010.

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  1. melbo
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    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    by Dan B.

    I subscribe to the RSS feeds of a number of blogs about survival, including Rawles' (top of the line!), and I subscribe to numerous firearms-related blogs and message boards. I also periodically meet people who are interested in survival issues in my non-electronic life. All preppers are trying to prepare for a particular situation, and their preparations reflect their beliefs about what that situation will be like. Unfortunately, many of those beliefs are false, and those false beliefs seem to be brought about by four myths, which I thought I would describe. The strange thing about these myths is that they seem to be largely taken for granted and rarely discussed - preppers will debate endlessly the right rifle to have for a survival situation but rarely talk about the big picture. I hope to dispel these myths, but at the very least, I hope to start an interesting conversation.


    Myth #1: You can defend yourself against the horde.
    Most of the beginning and intermediate preppers I've met believe that they will be defending their property against a horde of starving or otherwise malicious people, and prep accordingly. It's important to note that no one who has actually tried to defend themselves against a large group of determined assailants actually thinks it can be done. The math is pretty simple: the horde has numbers on its side, time on its side, and its determination probably matches yours. If a large group of people decide that you've got something they want, that's all there is to it. You can take a stand, but sooner or later, you're going to run out of manpower, firepower, or sleep (or all three), and it's all over. These aren't slow-moving, unarmed, clumsy movie Zombies who want to eat your brains - these are determined, smart people who are just trying to preserve their own lives, who can scale fences, create strategies, or simply overwhelm you with sheer numbers. This is why experienced preppers either live in the middle of nowhere or conceal that they are preppers. (By the way, the concealment strategy is a pretty limited one - how long do you think you can living in a community and conceal that you're not starving while everyone else is starving? At that point, you can go right back to the horde problem.)


    Myth #2: Stock up on the ammo you'll need to defend yourself with.
    Once again, the math just doesn't add up on this one. There is only one scenario where you think you'll be be using a lot of ammunition, and it is the horde scenario. You won't - the horde scenario will be over in a few minutes to a few hours, with you the loser, and your stored ammo with go to the winners. Don't get me wrong - you need guns and ammo, but the idea that you're going to expend thousands of rounds is just a reflection of people's erroneous beliefs about what kind of shooting situations they'll be in. If you're determined to buy ammo, don't buy them for [just] your guns - buy them for everybody else's, and you'll actually own a valuable commodity. Better yet, use the money to buy food, which leads us to myth #3.


    Myth #3: I only need X number of days of food.
    I was motivated to write this article by a thread I saw on a message board where people were comparing the contents of their bugout bags. Seven people in a row described having less than two day's worth of food. What is the point of having survival gear if you are so debilitated by hunger that you can't use it? Some people who've never been without food for a couple of days will point out correctly that the human body can go for weeks without food, but I suggest that you fast for just four days and then try to engage in any kind of real physical activity - it's a nonstarter. The body can keep itself alive without food, but that's about all it can do. In a real survival situation, you won't be sitting behind a desk typing e-mails; you'll be running, walking, digging, and fighting, plus any other actions that a machine used to do for you. All that requires energy - lots of it. You're going to have to supply that energy - all of it. Now multiply that obligation by the number of people in your group, and the number of days you'll have to go without a resupply of food. The result is a mountain of food, much more than what casual preppers sock away. The problem isn't just food - what are you going to drink? How are you going to sanitize that water supply? How are you going to cook all that food? However much food you store, you'll need an equivalent source of energy to cook it, since most long-term survival foods, like grains and legumes, all need to be cooked. The myth I'm describing is perhaps more a tendency than a myth - preppers focus on weapons and defensive equipment (some out of fear and some because those are the things they like using anyway), when they should be focusing on food. You can buy an awful lot of wheat for the price of a single gun.




    Finally, the king - the big kahuna of survival myths:

    Myth #4: TEOTWAWKI will be fun!
    A rarely-discussed but obvious undercurrent in survival circles is the general idea that somehow a serious survival situation will be great for those who have prepared adequately, and likely good for the world in general. A number of justifications are given for this view: It will have a cleansing effect, it will be a neat little "reset" button for society, people's priorities will improve by necessity, etc. Although this issue is not discussed often, there is an obvious hoping-it-will-happen theme to the attitudes of many survivalists, because for those who have prepared, somehow things will be better than they were before SHTF. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The bottom line is that if you survive a worldwide collapse, you haven't earned immortality - you've just earned the opportunity to die a later death that will likely be violent but will almost be guaranteed to be painful and lingering. And it isn't just your death that will be slow and painful - you'll also have the experience of watching your friends and family go the same way. Culturally, we are now so many generations removed from primitive medical care that we've almost completely forgotten what life will be like without a professionally-staffed, well-equipped, electrified, sanitized, and heated hospital to go to when we have any sort of illness. You think appendicitis is bad with anesthesia, antibiotics, and a trained surgeon? It sure is - but now try it without any of those things. It doesn't stop at medical care - in our culture, we have come to take for granted general security, food availability, reliable utilities, sanitation, the rule of law, human rights, access to information, and on and on. By definition, none of these things will be available in TEOTWAWKI. And if you think living in a world where none of these things exist is going to be anything other than misery, you haven't thought very hard about what it will be like. Thomas Hobbes wrote in the 17th century that life was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." We've come a long way since then, but that description will fit a TEOTWAWKI situation perfectly. It's pretty obvious to me that many in the prepper world hope that there preparations weren't for nothing, and to them I'd say: be careful what you wish for.

    Lifted from SurvivalBlog: http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/05/four_great_preparedness_myths.html
  2. Tommy Jefferson
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    Tommy Jefferson Monkey

    Interesting stuff. Thanks.
  3. Tracy
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    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member Site Supporter

  4. ghrit
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    ghrit troglodyte Administrator Founding Member

    #1: True. You will have to sleep and cover 360 degrees while you do it. Assume you can cover all 360 with three shooters, and your group is up to 9, minimum. Less than that, negotiate safe passage out (so you can get to your cache, if you have one, and if the horde will let you leave.)

    #2: True. You need no more ammo in stock than you need for practice, hold out a few hours if the horde is small and unsophisticated, and carry WHEN you leave, which you will if the horde thinks you have something they want. It's called food. (And/or water.)

    #3: To be argued endlessly, but seems to me like enough to get thru a couple weeks (think Katrina, a localized breakdown of society) is all you can plan on needing, unless you are really off the beaten path. (In that case, you won't be a target anyway.) Plus some to carry WHEN you leave.

    #4: Try war, the fun factor is about the same, and no resupply or medivac.
  5. Detentus
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    Detentus Monkey

    Scary stuff, indeed. We're in the process of preparing and are covering all the basics, at least. Food, water source, sanitation and sterilization of water, etc.

    We're in a pretty isolated area, but only half an hour from Worcester(west) by car. We live in the woods and I suspect that city people would have a harder time negotiating this area than small town folk. Our neighbors are all well stocked with guns and ammunition, but I don't know how well pepared they are with food. I suppose if we saw this coming we'd have to group together and share duties. Is this what you're suggesting? I'm reading Rawles' book, Patriots, as we speak and have just finished One Second After.

    Any suggestions?

    I don't want to see anything happen in terms of interruption of services, or end of the world scenarios. If nothing does happen, I look at my preparations as somewhat of a hedge against inflation.
  6. fortunateson
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    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!

    1.
    I'm not sure of that. Put yourself in the shoes of the horde:

    You're hungry and thirsty and need to get food and water. It's been 3 weeks. You can't get out of your neighborhood and you hear the city has turned to the 7th level of hell. There is that occupied house on the hill over there. You know that they have food, because you've seen well fed people and you've seen lights on at night. You have no morals and nothing left to live for, so , if you could, you'd kill everyone there and take everything they have. HOWEVER, every time you get within 100 yards of the place, shots ring out and bullets fly all around you. You and your buddies figure out a plan to raid the place, but every time you get within 100 yards of the place, shots ring out and bullets fly all around you.
    You found an armored car and a bit of gas, but every time you get within 100 yards of the place, shots ring out and bullets fly all around you. Should I continue?
    Maybe it's just me, but I think I'd have a better chance digging grubs out of rotten logs.

    #2 - see #1

    #3 - If x = 365 (or whatever large #) then yes, you only need a certain amount of food IF you have a plan to generate sustainable food.
    Piling food up endlessly doesn't make much sense to me. IMO after stocking up a 2 year supply, you'd better have a plan to generate your own food.

    #4 - ABSOLUTELY AGREE.
  7. Detentus
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    Detentus Monkey

    Fortunate son,
    Our cabin is surrounded on three sides by wetlands(kind of swampy with critters everywhere), and we live at the end of a 450 ft. long driveway. That's ghe good news.

    I have a vegetable garden, a supply of heirloom seeds, hand mill for making my own flour(I do make my own bread), a food dehydrator and will probably get a vacuum sealer tomorrow.

    I do not have a two year supply of food. More like 9-10 months if used judiciously. Regular food(canned and packaged) supplemented with freeze dried and dehydrated.

    Can I ask if you've ordered from Beprepared.com(emergency essentials)?

    More suggestions would be helpful. Thanks in advance.
  8. SLugomist
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    SLugomist Monkey+

    I read somewhere that with our current lifestyle each person would need the equivalent of something like 100-400 slaves to maintain that lifestyle.

    it makes sense, if you have a 200 horsepower vehicle, then you'd need to have 200 horses and the slaves to care for those horses, not to mention the energy (time) for all the processed food we consume.
  9. fortunateson
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    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!


    I haven't ordered from be-prepared.
    I do have some dehydrated however. It is an okay way to store up quickly. I hate the taste though.
    For me, I'm sticking with bulk grains and canned foods.
    I'd keep doing what you're doing. Count calories to determine how long it will last.

    I think it's important to have your food production plan in place - as far as that goes, I'm a newbie :(
    I'm one year into rabbits and about 1 month into gardening.
    (yes, I'm preaching to myself in the above post)

    If you have some experience with that, I'd move forward strongly with that.
  10. -06
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    -06 Monkey++

    Some of these are not myths:
    Myth #1: You can defend yourself against the horde.
    actually one(group) can if in strong enough position and prepared.

    Myth #2: Stock up on the ammo you'll need to defend yourself with
    Ammo is a wise investment. The harder times are the more valuable it becomes. And yes, one does need an ample supply--no such thing as sending a runner after some.
    Myth #3: I only need X number of days of food.
    Only if you are planning on living for "X" # of days.
    Myth #4: TEOTWAWKI will be fun!
    I was raised(reared) on a dirt poor farm where we ate what we raised and bartered our produce/crops/animals for what else we used. We ate well but it was not fun--even as kids. We made it fun but only because we did not know how tough we were having it.


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