Basic Survival 101
My brother visited Argentina a few weeks ago. He's been living in Spain for a few years now. Within the first week, he got sick, some kind of strong flu, even though climate isn't that cold and he took care of himself. Without a doubt he got sick because there are lots of new viruses in my country that can't be found in 1st world countries. The misery and famine lead us to a situation where, even though you have food, shelter and health care, most of others don't, and therefore they get sick and spread the diseases all over the region.
What got me started on this post is the fact that I actually saw this coming, and posted on the subject here at Frugal's, months before the new viruses spread over the country and the news started talking about this new, health emergency, which proves that talking, thinking and sharing ideas with like minded people (you guys), does help to see things coming and prepare for them with enough time. So I started thinking about several issues, what I learned (either the hard way or thanks to this forum) after all these years of living in a collapsed country that is trying to get out an economical disaster and everything that comes along with it. Though my English is limited, I hope I'm able to transmit the main ideas and concepts, giving you a better image of what you may have to deal with some day, if the economy collapses in your country. Here is what I have so far:
URBAN OR COUNTRY?
Someone once asked me how did those that live in the country fare. If they were better off than city dwellers. As always there are no simple answers. Wish I could say country good, city bad, but I can't, because if I have to be completely honest, and I intend to be so, there are some issues that have to be analyzed, especially security. Of course that those that live in the country and have some land and animals were better prepared food-wise. No need to have several acres full of crops. A few fruit trees, some animals, such as chickens, cows and rabbits, and a small orchard was enough to be light years ahead of those in the cities.
Chickens, eggs and rabbits would provide the proteins, a cow or two for milk and cheese, some vegetables and fruit plants covered the vegetable diet, and some eggs or a rabbit could be traded for flower to make bread and pasta or sugar and salt.
Of course that there are exceptions, for example, some provinces up north have desert climate, and it almost never rains. It is almost impossible to live of the land, and animals require food and water you have to buy. Those guys had it bad; no wonder the Northern provinces suffer the most in my country. Those that live in cities, well they have to manage as they can. Since food prices went up about 200%-300%. People would cut expenses wherever they could so they could buy food. Some ate whatever they could; they hunted birds or ate street dogs and cats, others starved. When it comes to food, cities suck in a crisis. It is usually the lack of food or the impossibility to acquire it that starts the rioting and looting when TSHTF.
When it comes to security things get even more complicated. Forget about shooting those that mean you harm from 300 yards away with your MBR. Leave that notion to armchair commandos and 12 year old kids that pretend to be grown ups on the internet.
The best alarm system anyone can have in a farm are dogs. But dogs can get killed and poisoned. A friend of mine had all four dogs poisoned on his farm one night, they all died. After all these years I learned that even though the person that lives out in the country is safer when it comes to small time robberies, that same person is more exposed to extremely violent home robberies. Criminals know that they are isolated and their feeling of invulnerability is boosted. When they assault a country home or farm, they will usually stay there for hours or days torturing the owners. I heard it all: women and children getting raped, people tied to the beds and tortured with electricity, beatings, burned with acetylene torches. Big cities aren't much safer for the survivalist that decides to stay in the city. He will have to face express kidnappings, robberies, and pretty much risking getting shot for what's in his pockets or even his clothes.
So, where to go? The concrete jungle is dangerous and so is living away from it all, on your own. The solution is to stay away from the cities but in groups, either by living in a small town-community or sub division, or if you have friends or family that think as you do, form your own small community. Some may think that having neighbors within “shouting” distance means loosing your privacy and freedom, but it's a price that you have to pay if you want to have someone to help you if you ever need it. To those that believe that they will never need help from anyone because they will always have their rifle at hand, checking the horizon with their scope every five minutes and a first aid kit on their back packs at all times…. Grow up.
Also analyze the consequences of those services going down. If there is no power then you need to do something about all that meat you have in the fridge, you can dry it or can it. Think about the supplies you would need for these tasks before you actually need them. You have a complete guide on how to prepare the meat on you computer… how will you get it out of there if there is no power? Print everything that you consider important.
Summarizing, being in a city without light turn to be depressing after a while. I spent my share of nights, alone, listening to the radio, eating canned food and cleaning my guns under the light of my LED head lamp. Then I got married, had a son, and found out that when you have loved ones around you black outs are not as bad. The point is that family helps morale on these situations.
A note on flashlights. Have two or three head LED lights. They are not expensive and are worth their weight in gold. A powerful flashlight is necessary, something like a big Maglite or better yet a SureFire, especially when you have to check your property for intruders. But for more mundane stuff like preparing food, going to the toilet or doing stuff around the house, the LED headlamp is priceless. Try washing the dishes on the dark while holding a 60 lumen flashlight on one hand and you'll know what I mean. LEDs also have the advantage of lasting for almost an entire week of continuous use and the light bulb lasts forever. Rechargeable batteries are a must or else you'll end up broke if lights go out often. Have a healthy amount of spare quality batteries and try to standardize as much as you can. I have 12 Samsung NM 2500Mh AA and 8 AAA 800mh for the headlamps. I use D cell plastic adaptors in order to use AA batteries on my 3 D cell Maglite. This turned out to work quite well, better than I expected. I also keep about 2 or 3 packs of regular, Duracell batteries just in case. These are supposed to expire around 2012, so I can forget about them until I need them. Rechargeable NM batteries have the disadvantage of loosing power after a period of time, so keep regular batteries as well and check the rechargeable ones every once in a while.
1) The obvious, a generator. I carried my fridge food to my parent's house way to many times on the past. Too bad I can't afford one right now.
A DIFFERENT MENTALITY
Once you experience the lack of stuff you took for granted, like food , medicines, your set of priorities change all of a sudden. For example, I had two wisdom tooth removed last year. On both occasions I was prescribed with antibiotics and strong Ibuprofen for the pain. I took the antibiotics (though I did buy two boxes with the same recipe just to keep one box just in case) but I didn't use the Ibuprofen, I added it to my pile of medicines. Why, because medicines are not always available and I'm not sure if they will be available in the future. Sure, it hurt like hell, but pain alone isn't going to kill you, so I sucked it up. Good for building up character if you ask me.
Make sacrifices so as to ensure a better future, that's the mentality you should have if you want to be prepared. There's stuff that is “nice to have” that has to be sacrificed to get the indispensable stuff. There's stuff that is not “basic need stuff” but it's also important in one way or another. My wife goes to the hairdresser once every month or two. It's not life or death, but it does make her feel better and it boosts her morale. I buy a game for the Xbox or a movie to watch with my wife every once in awhile, just to relax. 7 or 10 dollars a month are not going to burn a hole in my pocket. Addictions such as alcohol, drugs or even cigarettes should be avoided by the survivalist. They are bad for your health; cost a lot of money that could be much better spent, and create an addiction to something that may not be available in the future. Who will have to tolerate your grouchy mood when your brand of smokes is no longer imported after TSHTF?
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