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Battle Drills for An Uncertain World

By: Tom Chatham

When soldiers go out to train, they conduct battle drills. They practice conducting military operations not only to hone their skills but also to teach them to act rather than react to certain situations. They put themselves in situations that they may face in hostile places and under abnormal conditions and circumstances. Soldiers do these drills so much they get tired of doing them but it is all for a reason. In a previous article, I mentioned acting rather than reacting to situations. The reason this is important is because when people are suddenly put under duress, they can easily develop a mental block and freeze. In combat, this can get you and others killed very fast.

Those that live in earthquake zones may feel a quake and instinctively go to a doorway for protection. While driving down the street if someone suddenly pulls out in front of you, you are stepping on the brake before you actually have time to think about it. These are battle drills in a sense. When something happens that you have done many times before, you instinctively act in a certain way and do things without thinking about it. These reactions are your survival instinct kicking in.

The problem is that many people often find themselves in situations they have never contemplated before. When this happens your survival instinct may not have an immediate or proper response to the situation and you will hesitate. Soldiers often find themselves in situations that are abnormal and dangerous so to give themselves an edge, they conduct training to provide the proper responses to those situations. This allows them to instinctively do things without thinking about it.

This is one reason I like to make people think about unusual circumstances. Disasters are hard to plan for mentally because anything can happen. It’s these unexpected things that cause you the most danger. By allowing yourself to explore these possible situations ahead of time, you provide yourself the ability to do certain things instinctively rather than spending critical seconds thinking about what to do. Many have seen doomsday preppers doing a practice bugout on TV. This practice allows them to take immediate actions without wasting valuable time.

In an uncertain world, the more you practice for surreal circumstances, the better your survival instincts will be honed to keep you out of danger. Asteroids, giant tsunamis, super volcanoes and polar shifts are not very likely but they are possible. In the event one of these things starts to happen, would you instinctively do certain things or would you stand in shock wondering what to do? Running into a hostile road block, a rioting mob, police conducting house to house searches, your car breaking down during an evacuation or loosing power are all things we don’t want to have to deal with but someday it might happen.

If you conduct your own type of battle drills now to prepare for unusual circumstances you will give yourself one more tool to stay alive when the time comes. What type of battle drills might you do? If you think self defense may be necessary you might practice hand to hand fighting or clearing a jam or misfire in your weapon. You can do this by placing spent casings in a magazine mixed with live rounds. Can you disassemble your weapon in the dark and put it back together again? Can you dress a wound in the dark?

Can you navigate through the woods in the dark? If you had to suddenly evacuate your home permanently, what would you take? How would you pack your vehicle for maximum storage? How fast can you change a flat tire if someone is after you? Can you move your family in the dark without making a lot of noise? If your primary route is blocked which way would you go? If a tornado struck where would you hide? If flood waters suddenly started flowing into your home what would you do? If your home caught on fire how would everyone get out?

There are so many everyday disasters that can occur, you should plan to deal with some of them during your lifetime. By imagining these things now and walking through your actions, you will have a programmed response to the situation. Investors do research to provide the best decisions to make money. Doing battle drills for everyday emergencies will provide you with the best actions to come through the disaster in the best possible shape. Drills for other than normal circumstances provides you with a knowledge base to draw on when you don’t have time to think.

If you get creative, these drills can be fun for the whole family. An evacuation combined with a planned camping trip. A fire drill combined with a backyard cookout. First aid and land navigation classes at the camp site. The possibilities are endless. Battle drills are a way to develop your knowledge base so you can act instinctively rather than succumbing to indecision when seconds count. This is training that has to be done before you actually need it so now is the time to practice for those unforeseen events so you and your family will not be hampered by indecision at a critical moment.

The Three Stages of Crisis Revisited

The following is a repost of an article first published last year. Given the recent destruction in Oklahoma it may be a good time to revisit this subject.

By: Tom Chatham – Author of The American Dream Lost

In every crisis there are three distinct stages that occur to form the complete crisis scenario. Once a crisis occurs, all three stages will be experienced at some level. In preparing for a crisis, you need to be aware of the stages and prepare for each one. A failure to acknowledge any of the stages will cause hardship for those caught up in it. Our ability to foresee danger and take precautionary measures sets us apart from other animals and gives us a distinct advantage when it comes to survivability. We have the ability to create tools and store supplies to see us through the worst of a given situation.

The first stage of any disaster is the pre-crisis interval when a potential crisis becomes suspect. Some will investigate the potential danger further to deduce its’ ramifications on their lives while others will ignore the potential threat in favor of maintaining the status quo so they will not have to face the reality. Many people have a problem facing a reality that suddenly changes and pushes them out of their comfort zone. To acknowledge a threat is to question the sustainability of that comfort zone and the beliefs that the person holds. Those that acknowledge potential threats widen their comfort zones to encompass the threat and they incorporate that into their beliefs so they can accept a changing reality and adapt to it. Once a person accepts a potential threat as real, they determine how best to protect themselves from it and form a defensive plan to deal with it. The defensive measures are dictated by the type of threat and the resources available to the individual. The defensive measures taken act to enhance the persons’ comfort zone and provides mental clarity when reality suddenly changes. This is why some people handle disasters better than others. Their comfort zone already encompasses the new reality and they are able to comprehend what is happening. Those that prepare during a pre-crisis interval are prepared for radical changes in reality.

The second stage of disaster is the unfolding crisis itself. This could be short or long in duration depending on the variables involved. An earthquake is relatively quick while a 1930s style depression is very long. The analysis and preparation one makes prior to an event will determine how well the person gets through the situation. Even without all of the necessary items identified by the prior analysis, a prepared person will fare much better than the unprepared due to the fact that their comfort zone will not have been breeched allowing them to make rational decisions in a timely manner. The preparations made during the pre-crisis interval will lead to successful navigation of the crisis and prepare the individual for the final stage.

The final stage experienced will be the post crisis phase. No matter how bad or long a crisis is, eventually it will end and recovery will begin in some form. A proper evaluation of the potential crisis will provide some insight into what a post crisis reality will require in terms of human and mechanical needs. The recovery effort following a crisis will depend in large part on what preparations were made prior to the crisis to provide infrastructure for the recovery. The failure to plan for a recovery effort will extend the crisis until the necessary situation develops in which recovery can commence. The act of preparation sets the stage for recovery even before the crisis actually happens and can limit how far outside of the comfort zone the crisis extends for unprepared persons. For every person prepared for the crisis, the extent of the crisis will be limited in scope and duration by a proportional amount. Hence, if everyone is prepared for a disaster, the impact will be small and manageable and recovery will be rapid. Many people prepare for disasters but their planning stops at the crisis itself and fails to go beyond it. This can potentially extend the crisis in scale or duration until a majority of the victims learn to move beyond the crisis and define the new reality they will live in.

As an example, you may determine that you are at risk of a tornado strike because of your location. Because of this you decide that building an underground shelter to protect your family is a sensible action so you build one. This is where most planning stops. If you believe your family is in danger then the possibility of loosing your home is very high also. A complete analysis of the potential danger can lead you to a conclusion that you may also lose your home and leave you without the ability to care for your family. Because of this you may decide to build a more robust shelter and equip it with the ability to house your family for several days and provide for all of their needs. Your post crisis planning will limit the hardship you face and aid in recovery.

To prepare successfully for crisis, you must look through to the other side of the disaster and determine how to best mold the new reality that will exist and prepare for the disruptions that are likely to occur. A plan to redefine the limits of a new reality will speed the recovery and prevent the lost, hopeless feelings that usually accompany any serious crisis. A failure to plan for the post crisis reality will leave the new limits to be discovered by trial and error and lead to a chaotic transformation rather than a smooth one.

The List of Many Lists

By: Tom Chatham

Many individuals have published lists of the many things you may need or want during an emergency. The following are a few different lists you may want to ponder while making your plans for self sufficiency or disaster.

Emergency food supply providing about 2,600 calories per day

Item                                                                                             Ounces per day

Whole kernel hard wheat                                                                    16
Beans                                                                                                    5
Non-fat milk powder                                                                             2
Vegetable oil                                                                                        1
Sugar                                                                                                    2
Salt (iodized)                                                                                     1/3
Multi vitamin pills                                                                      1 per day

Emergency food supply for a baby

Item                                                                                            Ounces per day

Instant non-fat dry milk                                                                  2 ¾      1 cup + 2 Table spoons
Vegetable cooking oil                                                                      1            3 Table spoons
Sugar                                                                                               0.7         2 Table spoons
Standard daily multi vitamin                                                     1/3 pill

Disaster planning and emergency considerations

Psychological preparations

Know warnings and communication systems

Evacuation plan

Shelter – short term and long term

Ventilation, heating and cooling of shelter

Protection against fires and carbon monoxide

Water

Food

Specialized equipment – NBC, medical, tools, communications, weapons etc.

Light

Shelter sanitation and preventive medicine

Clothing, improvised clothing and protective items

Energy sources

Entertainment

Survival seed supply

In a situation when you need to bug out and can only take what you can physically carry, you want to take a seed supply that will give you the most food for the space. A supply of seeds that will feed you year round and will fit in your pocket is ideal.

Tomato

Corn

Squash

Beans

Cucumber

Turnips

Cabbage

Spinach

Carrots

Oats, hulless

Cotton seeds – (clothing production) for permanent relocation

Soapwort seeds – (soap production) for permanent relocation

Sprouting potato – if room and weight permit

Subjects of study

Medical – first aid, CPR, wound management, medicinal herbs

Hand made tools for farming

Butchering and preserving wild game

Homemade filters – for water or air

Building structures using locally available materials

Tanning hides and making cloth

Making charcoal and coke from wood

Making cast iron from iron ore bearing rocks

Making green sand molds

Root cellar storage and dehydrating foods

Fire starting methods

Furniture making and joinery methods

Land navigation and time telling methods

Long term bail-out-bag

For required long term relocation on foot a dual purpose weapon such as an AR15 with .22LR adapter will allow more ammo capacity.

Backpack
Canteen
Water filter
Ziplock bags – various sizes
Seeds
Hunting knife
Gerber tool
Small hatchet and/or folding saw
Magnesium fire starter w/flint
Fishing supplies
Salt, 2 lbs
Folding shovel
Compass
Pencil and small notebook
Playing cards
Cook set – SS or aluminum
Eating utensils
Sleeping bag
Weapon and acc.
Hand crank LED light/radio
Lightweight tarp
Para cord 100’
Medical supplies – iodine, triple antibiotic ointment, gauze, razor, tweezers, aspirin, bandaids, tape
Toilet paper
Dish rag
Rain suit/poncho
Mylar blankets
Hygiene kit
Towel
Multi vitamins
Binoculars
Sewing kit
Bed sheets – multi use item for clothing, filtering, bandages etc.
Duct tape
Magnifying glass
Dry bleach

Anyone that determines a bug out plan may be necessary must also acknowledge that there is the remote possibility you may be forced at some point to relocate on foot with only the items you can carry. A civil breakdown, natural disaster or war could force a permanent relocation to a safe area. In the event this happens you should at least have a list of items you have already designated to carry to enable a fast exit from the area. While many may not see the need there are situations when staying where you are will result in death. If you decide not to develop a walk out plan because you feel you are physically unable to do so, you should reconsider and develop a plan that will work for your situation when the time comes. Time is a critical element when evacuation is necessary and any delay can be deadly. If you had to start over again with only the things you could carry, what would they be? Now is the time to figure that out.

Preparing For a National Fuel Shortage

By: Tom Chatham

The availability of fuels in society is what literally makes the wheels go around. The U.S. is addicted to petroleum products and we would find it hard to suddenly go without. Our fuel supplies and distribution system are just as fragile as our electrical grid and food supply chain and could be cut off for any number of reasons.

An EMP/CME, war or financial collapse are just some of the situations that could cut our supplies and leave the nation in a very bad situation. Without liquid fuels we won’t get to work, go to the grocery store, grow process and transport food, or mine and transport fuel such as coal to keep the power on. We may not be able to get shipments of goods from overseas such as food, clothing, building materials or oil. The sudden lack of fuel would shut down society as we know it.

In a technologically advanced country it is only prudent to have sufficient backup systems to enable society to continue functioning if a catastrophe should happen. Fuel is one of the linchpins of an advanced society and contingencies should be in place to replace conventional supplies in an emergency.

While we have the ability to create several different types of fuel locally in an emergency, most of them require a feedstock that we must grow and process before they can be used. Fuels such as alcohol and bio-diesel are good for emergencies but will be difficult to acquire in many places such as urban areas where the crops cannot be grown in sufficient quantity to be viable. Even if these fuels were produced in rural areas in quantity, we would still need to use a considerable percentage of the fuel for transport to other areas just as we need to burn petroleum for transport of gas and diesel today. A more widely available source of fuel needs to be used to insure availability in most areas.

The most widely available source of fuel that we have is wood. It can be used in many different ways from wood stoves for heat to producing steam power to producer gas for vehicles and generators. Wood is a versatile fuel that can be used on site in its raw form with little modification and can be procured almost anywhere from locally available sources.

The most prominent use of wood fuel today is for heating. Those that have a wood stove and a supply of wood have the ability to produce heat to stay warm and cook food when other forms of power are not available. These capabilities are tremendous in themselves when times of crisis arrive but with a few additions to your wood burning accessories you can increase your capabilities many times.

A wood gas production unit burns wood in an oxygen starved environment to create a flammable gas that can be used to run most gasoline engines. These units can be of moderate size and provide the fuel needed to run a car or generator when needed. A unit can be attached to the rear of a vehicle to provide power for road use to enable transportation when no liquid fuels are available otherwise. The use on agricultural equipment can assure the continued production of food products to insure a supply of food for the population. Wood chips provide the fuel for the unit and 16 to 20 pounds of wood will equal about one gallon of gasoline. In a fuel emergency this type of unit can help to provide transportation and electricity reducing the hardships you will be facing.

An old truck with a producer gas system can provide you with many capabilities while keeping your investment relatively low. Not only can this vehicle provide you with transportation but with a few additional items, can provide you with a backup power source. The addition of a few deep cycle batteries to the cargo area of the vehicle connected together and connected to the vehicles charging system utilizing a battery isolator, they can be connected to a power inverter to provide AC power to your home in a limited way. This system will allow you to not only have emergency transportation but limited power as well.

As mentioned earlier, a fuel disruption can also cause a power disruption if it continues for very long. This can put you in a very difficult position unless you have sufficient backup systems to provide for your needs. This one system can provide many uses while depending on only one fuel source that is locally available in most cases. In an urban environment where a wood stove and firewood can be used, this system is a logical fit to enhance your resources. Where a wood stove cannot be used, a vehicle equipped with the system outlined can be kept anywhere a typical vehicle can be kept. The amount of wood fuel will be limited but can enable you the ability to relocate when others can not.

An enhanced system where a slide in camper is placed on the truck and battery storage is located under the truck bed and the producer gas system is located on a swingout carrier on the rear bumper can provide you with a portable shelter, transportation and power unit all in one. In an urban environment, a unit such as this can make a prolonged disruption of fuel and power a more survivable event by allowing relocation to a less dangerous area while maintaining a reasonable living standard.

While supplies can be cut off in disasters they can also be cut off on purpose in some cases. A terrorist action targeting production and distribution systems can happen at any time and even the government might cut supplies if they wish to restrict movement by the population in any way. While it is possible to store large quantities of fuel it is also required in many places to notify the local authorities of this storage due to fire regulations which may result in them confiscating your fuel in crisis situations. The storage of wood is not as regulated in many cases and allows the stocking of fuel reserves without much notice from locals.

The ability to restock your fuel supply from multiple sources frees you from the limiting factors placed on society by energy sources, regulations and people in general. A producer gas system will allow you the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities that the general public will not. While others will be reeling from shortages, you will remain mobile and well supplied with power.

The ability to fuel your vehicle may also open up job opportunities during a shortage. Products will still be needed by the population and being able to transport some of those products can earn you a regular income and the ability to provide yourself with free fuel will make you very competitive in the transport market.

Where might you get a supply of wood if you own no woodlot? You can buy it of course in the form of cord wood which can also supply a wood stove. You may be able to get a free supply from neighbors in the form of tree limbs and cuttings. Another source is the many tree cutters that clear the power lines around the nation. They cut and chip truckloads every day and must dispose of the chips somewhere. You may be able to get an ample supply just for asking. Having a few hand tools to cut limbs for fuel from local sources is advisable should you find yourself on the road and in need of fuel in an emergency evacuation.

This fuel source has the ability to replace the current fuels we require and provide unlimited energy for independent homesteads in emergency as well as normal circumstances. The ability to produce local energy on a sustainable basis provides the nation with security in many forms that cannot and should not be dismissed for the sake of convenience. The availability of cheap, renewable energy sources at the local level will be necessary in years to come if our energy situation changes drastically in a negative way.

Conducting a Post Crisis After Action Review

By: Tom Chatham

Many people prepare for emergencies and find their planning has some shortcomings after its all over and sometimes they are better prepared the next time, but how many times do people find themselves in a similar circumstance and realize after it happens that they forgot something. Many times its’ something they identified the last time but forgot to fix it or get one for the next time. It always happens and it does not have to. Many people tend to stop their plan when the emergency is over and go about their lives once again until the next time something happens. A good plan never has a stopping point but continues through all phases of daily life. Your plan should cover pre crisis, crisis and post crisis work. Your post crisis work will insure any deficiencies you noted will not be repeated the next time. This can help alleviate any mental anguish you may feel when an emergency happens. To do an after action review you need to ask yourself some basic questions that apply to your emergency planning. Having a list of questions and room beside each to answer them will help you organize your thoughts and planning. It is a way to track your progress over the course of time to insure you are making progress. Having it written down also helps you to remember things over a long period of time as well. Here are some questions you should keep in mind for emergencies. They are by no means the only questions you may want to answer but they offer you a good starting point if you do not already do this type of review.

Did I have sufficient shelter?

Did I have the proper clothing?

Did I have enough food for the crisis and was it the kind I needed?

Did I have enough water for the crisis?

Did I have the power systems I needed?

Did I have the communication and transportation systems I needed?

Did I have the heating and cooking systems I needed?

Did I have the lighting systems I needed?

Did I have the functioning sanitation systems I needed?

Did I have resources to mitigate or repair damage until the crisis was over?

Did I have the fuel sources I needed?

Did I have the means of self protection I needed?

Did I have the medical resources and medications I needed?

Did I have the refrigeration ability I needed?

Did I come through the crisis in a good physical and mental condition?

What would I have needed if the emergency had lasted much longer?

What planning worked the best during the crisis?

What planning worked the worst during the crisis?

What should I do different the next time?

You should write down the answers to these questions in a brief and usable format so that you can review them from time to time to improve your plan and to insure you fix any shortcomings. This will ensure you do not forget something you identified as a critical shortage for the next emergency. You may even want to write down any problems you discover as they appear so you do not forget them when the emergency is over. It could be something as simple as not having a long enough extension cord or running out of toilet paper. It may be something as critical as your generator stopping after only a few hours, because it was not serviced recently, due to a long duration of non use. In a longer emergency you may decide you need the materials to service your equipment before the crisis is over. Something as simple as leaving the new ethanol type gas in your equipment for a few months can be disastrous to your equipments operation. These are the lessons you need to learn to avoid serious consequences to your well being. You need to work out the problems during the small emergencies so you do not suffer during the long ones when it can be life threatening. Doing a written after action review after each emergency can help you avoid repeating the same mistakes and provide you with confidence when a big crisis unfolds suddenly with little warning.

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