Four Great Preparedness Myths

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

  1. melbo

    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:
  2. Tommy Jefferson

    Tommy Jefferson Monkey+

    Interesting stuff. Thanks.
  3. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company 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

    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

    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!

    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.

  7. Detentus

    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 essentials)?

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

    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

    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

    -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.

  11. Detentus

    Detentus Monkey+

    fortunateson, thanks for the reply. Getting pretty good at this gardening thing. Good advice from the ladies over on MSN, Money, Discussion forums: Smartspending. These frugal gals know their stuff: hence the vacuum sealer.

    Also setting up a mini-pharmacy: general stuff, analgesics, first aid kits, supplements and vitamins. It would be nice to get some antibiotics, but I'm not sure of the legality of that or how it's done. Is this a typical practice?
  12. pcc

    pcc Monkey+

    These "myths" look at the situation from the worst case for the prepper and the best case for the "horde". As others have pointed out they can be overcome with proper preparedness.

    The myths also seem to be very generalized and the author contradicts himself in his list. So, lets look at society today and make generalizations about it as they correspond to the myths.

    1. You can defend yourself against the "horde". By the authors own admission everyone else but the prepper will be starving. In myth 3 the author states that starving people engaging in any type of physical activity will be a non starter. So from that we can conclude that the "horde" will probably be a group of very tired & starving (IE weak) disorganized people looking for easy pickings.

    Being the good prepper you possess and have trained with decent weapons and have a good supply of ammo. The "horde" approaches and several of them immediately develop a severe case of lead poisoning. How long do the think the rest of the "horde" is going to stay around while you use them for target practice?? Not very long, they will quickly move on and look for the low hanging fruit elsewhere.

    2. Stocking up on ammo is futile since you will be overrun by the "horde". Another worst case for the prepper and best case for the "horde" See my response above for dealing with the "horde" and see 06's response for the potential value of ammo

    3. I only need X days of food. IMO the average prepper "should" have the basic knowledge needed to continually resupply their food stuffs.

    4. TEOTWAWKI will be fun. I'm sure there are some hard core types out there that think it may be fun but no one I know thinks that way.

    IMO, for the well prepared myths 1-3 can be overcome. Of course there are always exceptions and if you happen to have an organized, trained group come knocking then the average prepper will have a difficult situation to overcome. YMMV
  13. SoFarSoGood

    SoFarSoGood Monkey+

    Very intresting. Ive often thought of how im gonna get out to my location,which is 35 miles away from my home through some back roads with my gear family and dogs when the SHTF. Still working on that one. My property is surrounded by thick cedars and pines and there's only 1 way in and out. its 50 acres with a pond stocked with plenty of wild life. Still when theres a mob full of everybody and thier momma trying to get the hell out of dodge its gonna take a set of stones to get to our location.
  14. Resqdan

    Resqdan Archangle

    #1 Yes i agree in principle that if there is a large enough group of people determined to see what you have and get it, then you probably wont hold them off. But if we looked at every situation like that there would be no point in prepping at all.. Like others have said the point is to try to hold them off and keep your stuff. I would rather come through a bad situation with a lot of extra ammo as opposed to getting into a fight and running out.. So I say there probably isnt a right answer to the ammo question but i hedge towards having more than less. With out a doubt no place is impenetrable but lack of ammo will not make the situation better.

    #2 see #1

    #3 If you live were the seasons are four in number than you must have food stores. There is no way around it. But yes you must have a plan to sustain yourself after your supply dwindles. The key is to make sure you have enough to get you to the point were the garden can go in or the emergency has passed. I guess the main point here is if you don't have any stores your probably be one of the guys trying to steal others or among the dead. So i don't think anyone can tell me that storing food is not a good idea. Yes i have plans to replenish my stocks..

    #4 Not gonna be fun.. Never thought it would be fun.. I have been to war and know anything not like we have it now sucks.. It sucks being shot at and shooting at people.. And that was just with me and my buddies i cant imagine it with my family and trying to keep everyone safe.. not fun..liveable but not near as enjoyable or comfortable. Until you have lived it don't wish for it.
  15. fortunateson

    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!

    I think there is also a lesson to be learned from countries like Argentina and the Philippines. These countries have hordes of hungry people and at the same time have very wealthy people.
    The hordes do make for a lot of crime, but the wealthy have learned to hold them off with high stone walls, barbed wire, dogs and hired security.

    Not a one -to- one comparison, but worth noting IMO.

    I think it's also worth noting that most of what we imagine as TEOTWAWKI is based on fiction. Things may not get that bad, or may be worse. They may be localized or national. Martial law may or may not be implemented. Military and police may or may not go rogue.

    Whatever the case, it's not a bad idea to have a way to put lead downrange. Can it hurt?
    Not that "into guns"? Fine. A 10/22 and 5,000 rounds of bulk ammo will cost you less than 500.00. Use it for barter, squirrels, scaring crows away from your corn - whatever.
    If a person, or small group starts to harass you, that little gun will come in pretty handy.
  16. Hillclimber

    Hillclimber Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Regarding #1.

    Saddam Hussein thought he could hold out in the face of the Horde... Even well funded Militarys with lots of guns and stamina fall over time. I think #1 is very real.

    Screw you all who disagree ;)
  17. fallout

    fallout Monkey+

    very good points
  18. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    [applaud][applaud][applaud]best post ever melbo!
  19. Nomad 2nd

    Nomad 2nd Monkey+++


    I believe in training...

    When FERFAL was here we went into a gunstore and I had repeated heart attacks at hearing what X ammo would cost 'at home'!

    At the NTI I was shooting 9mm which cost me $3.83 per 50...

    At the Birthday bash on Sat I was shooting 9mm for the same price, .308 which was LESS than $21 per 140
    As well as assorted other deals...

    I bought enough 5.45 to take training classes a couple times a year for MANY years...

    Sides... ammo like water... is kinda important. I can always dump or bury it if needed.

    Kinda hard to improvise it in the field... or go without when needed.
  20. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    Does anybody agree with melbo the myths are myths????( I do) Or are we all gonna go "yeah...but"...: because that's the line of thinking we've been following for so long???
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