Most survival strategies and related tactics today draw upon the methods that worked in much smaller disasters and will likely work to some extent today in similar small-scale disasters. However, large-scale (continental-sized disasters) are quite different in many ways.
Prepaing For A Large-Scale Disaster
Some people assume that all disasters are created equal and that one-size fits-all when it comes to survival strategies and disaster preparedness and response, however that is not the case by any stretch in a large-scale disaster. And when this assumption is proffered to others, it ensures that there will be many more causalities than need be.
As if this writing, FEMA is still proffering a “72-hour” disaster survival kit: http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
I guess the million-dollar question is; what do these people do in a large-scale disaster after their 3-days-worth of food, water and toilet paper are exhausted?
Even the psychological impact of a local disaster is quite different from that of a continental or global scale disaster. In local or regional (small scale) disasters (tornado, hurricane), survivors know that help will be coming and that affects morale and how most survivors react; there is order and cooperation.
But in the case of a global, national or ’continental scale’ event, such as Covid-19, many survivors will within a few weeks realize that nobody is coming to the rescue, because everyone is suddenly thrust into the same desperate situation. This later situation is a game-changer and will certainly create a level of desperation seldom seen.
The current failure by FEMA to properly instruct Americans as to ‘a more realistic level of preparedness‘, such as, having several weeks of supplies, including N-95 masks and toilet paper (as a minimum), will in the event of any large-scale disaster lead to enormous masses of desperate people in the short term. If people had slowly stockpiled enough supplies to weather a few months, there might be a chance for people to organize and form a cooperative effort for some level of recovery, and doing so without hording supplies during a crises. But currently that is not the case. Sadly, most Americans have less than 3-days-worth of supplies.
Recently I was debating with another disaster preparedness author on the differences between the conditions that existed during the Great Depression (~1929-1940) and the conditions that would envelop a serious disaster situation today.
Breakdown Of Supply-Chain Infrastructure
There are many different possibilities when it comes to the potential causality of large-scale disaster scenarios that are statistically relevant. Some are man-caused, while others may result from the forces of nature, such as global pandemic viruses. Regardless of the causality, there would likely be a complete breakdown of supply-chain infrastructure and society, resulting in large-scale lawless chaos.
When you read some of the survival blogs, papers, books and other speculations on ‘what if the SHTF’, you quickly realize that many people haven’t fully considered the existing environment in which any massive crises will develop. We now have over 340-million Americans living within the United States, and that’s more than double the number during the Great Depression (~127-million). And many more people are armed today compared to the 1930’s; approximately 80% of American households today now have firearms.
Today, our society is living on the top floor of a ‘house of cards’ due to the fact that almost every facet of our daily needs and current level of living, literally our daily survival, is based upon an integrated supply-chain system that is highly leveraged and quite fragile.
That means that everything we depend upon and probably take for granted each and every day, including the simple things like; water, food, fuel, clothing, medicine… almost anything we can think of, depends upon society and its intricate systems operating in perfect harmony. Any major interruption of these systems or the failure of any key element will lead to a catastrophic failure of the entire system due to the inter-dependencies of these symbiotic systems, which due to high-level efficiencies operate on a ‘just-in-time’ basis. This phrase (‘just-in-time‘), which is used by supply-chain managers refers to the fact that, unlike in the past, inventory (food, parts, supplies, fuel, etc.) are no longer inventoried on-site at wholesale and retail locations. Instead, product is essentially distributed directly from producers and manufacturers just as it is needed to supply the retail and wholesale outlets serving consumers. This system allows more money to be made, which is why it is done.
Disaster Communications If The Grid Goes Down
One of several potential catastrophic failures in society would result if we lost a major portion of our national energy grid. The fact that even the U.S. government has been seriously looking at this probability should send a chill up and down your spine, since they are sometimes a day late and a dollar short on important projects, and as of this writing, they haven’t affected any of the corrective measures mandated by the recognized experts in these matters.
Like an 8-cylinder engine that requires all eight cylinders to run properly, we absolutely need and use the full capacity of our current electrical grid as well as many other systems to support our society. In fact, the demand on many current systems (water and electrical) actually exceeds what is available on a regular basis. Of course, assuming everything continues to run optimally, we can to some extent, continue this delicate high-wire act, and scrape-by with one work-around after another.
The United States is essentially already over-populated because we have according to experts exceeded the ‘carrying capacity’ of our own natural resources, where as examples, our soils are being heavily depleted as is our water supply. As a nation, we can no longer live on our own resources alone and we are drawing-down the natural resources from outside the U.S. by way of very large, complex and fragile supply-chains.
We haven’t had a large-scale disaster in the United States that would be remotely comparable to a large-scale grid-down scenario (major or complete loss of the national energy grid). So there are no direct lessons that can be learned from our past history, even for those people who do take lessons from history to heart. There have been some small-scale grid failures, which of course were remedied only because there were nearby areas that were unaffected, from where repairs were initiated.
The combination of our current high population density with a catastrophic failure of any critical supply-chain would lead to social unrest and competitive violence at unprecedented scales. And if such an event affected the continent, who will be coming to the rescue of the United States? Well, looking back in history, it seems that for the most part, the U.S. has been there for many other countries during times of disasters, as most other countries sat on the sidelines and watched. I think it may be reasonable to posit that we could expect the same in the future. In fact, the enemies of America would want to see any such disaster continue to the point where America is reduced to nothing more than another decimated third-world country.
Even in the best of times, we have witnessed (on YouTube) well-fed people trampling over and injuring each other in order to be first to get a pair of shoes or a game on sale at Wal-Mart! I can easily imagine these same-kind of people killing anyone to get what they needed if they became truly desperate. In my estimation, these will be the real-life ‘Zombies’ in any serious large-scale disaster.
I realize that these postulations paint a dire picture, and it’s not what any of us want to hear or think about; that is unless you are really serious about surviving any such potential events. The U.S. Government is that serious, which is why they have built complete cities in elaborate under-ground bunkers. Survival depends upon a full comprehension and understanding of the potential challenges and risks. Clearly the government has that understanding, however few civilians do, and of those few people, most say we cannot afford such solutions.
But there are effective alternative solutions that are within the financial reach of average people, which I will discuss further into this article.
It’s quite clear that in the event of any large-scale disaster, the short and long-term competition for resources will be fatal to a large percentage of the population as a result of population density, regardless of basic training, bush craft skills, firearms, etc. If average people adopt the wrong strategy, they will perish.
There Are Basically Two Schools Of Survival:
There are basically two schools of thought with regard to surviving massive large-scale social chaos. Many people who have some level of preparedness (AKA; ‘Preppers’) subscribe to one of these two strategies.
Again, causation is not the issue in these considerations; surviving the aftermath of any continental or global-scale disaster is of the essence. So debating what may trigger such an event is not a fruitful exercise; devising and adopting the proper survival response strategy is a beneficial enterprise.
Strategy One (The Most Common):
Generally speaking: The first, and more common school of survival strategy is to hunker-down where you live, and by using a multitude of survival skills and stocks of supplies and weapons, survive long enough to get a community re-established.
Of course, this plan sounds better than it really is. But as they say here in Oregon, ‘that dog won’t hunt’ in a large-scale event. People who adopt this strategy for whatever reason have failed to properly gauge the impact of the loss of the technological infrastructure combined with the immense numbers of un-prepared survivors (AKA: ‘Zombies’) who due to their own desperation, will swoop-in on the positions of the prepped like the hoards of Genghis Khan in the pursuit of resources.
Some variants of this survival paradigm (‘hunkering down‘) involve planned combat using stores of weapons, sometimes coupled with a ‘Plan B’ involving bugging-out to a secondary location, should the first location become overrun. Of course by and large in a large-scale disaster, this strategy is fatally flawed from its inception, and the fall-back location will likely be overrun as well, even if the Prepper-survivors make it to that position. ‘Heading for the hills’ when the ‘hills’ are already overrun with a mix of desperate un-prepped survivors and Preppers on the move doesn’t improve anyone’s odds of survival.
In a serious large-scale disaster, there will be incredible numbers of un-prepped, don’t be one of them.
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