Planning For Survival
By C.E. Teal
In light of recent events, such as the Persian Gulf War, terror
ism, and economic instability, many individuals and families are
taking a fresh look at the dreaded "S-word," survivalism.
As with any beginners, these people need some sort of plan for
these uncharted waters. I hope that this article can give some
useful guidance to those new to the field, and perhaps some new
insights to others who have been left to their own devices in
coming to grips with this virtually all-inclusive field.
This plan consists of nine major points: 1. Determination; 1.
Becoming/staying healthy; 3. Allocating your Budget; 4. De
veloping plans of action; 5. Have a "bug-out" kit; 6. Plan for
duration; 7. Get training; 8. Practice; 9. Don't advertise.
The first requirement to insuring your (and your family's)
longevity is DETERMINATION. You must want to survive. Contact
others upon whom you might rely (and whom may likewise rely upon
you) in a crisis. This is not a game, although games can play a
part in the training aspect. If we are to survive as individuals,
as families, as a society, we cannot approach this as a one-
person show. It will take cooperation of the highest order. The
stakes are literally life and death.
Many people take the attitude that "If it happens, I wouldn't
want to live anyway, " This is an attitude which almost guaran
tees defeat or death. A husband, father, or single mother with
this attitude is virtually condemning his or her family to a
BECOME/STAY HEALTHY. Every-one in the family or group should
get a complete medical, dental and vision checkup. Find your
weaknesses and limitations so you may cope with them, before
they take you by surprise Get caught up on immunizations such as
tetanus, hepatitis, and measles. If eyeglasses or contacts are
needed, get at least one spare pair, or save old ones. Stock
up on cleaning solution if you wear contacts. Work to bring your
teeth up to the healthiest level possible. A toothache can be a
major problem even in normal times when a dentist is available.
Imagine trying to make critical decisions while suffering with a
toothache when there may be few, if any, dentists in operation.
Make sure your feet are in good condition. They may someday be
your only mode of transportation. Begin and maintain an exercise
program which balances strength with endurance and flexibility.
Running, swimming, and stair climbing are all excellent condi
ALLOCATE PART OF YOUR BUDGET. Acquire supplies as your budget
allows. Be practical; set priorities. For example: set aside $10
per month for weaponry (including ammunition and cleaning sup
plies, ($10 per month for clothing (if you don't have the
proper clothing already on hand. Three-piece suits or tennis
outfits have very limited survival applications) , another $10 a
month for reserve food and medical supplies, and so on. If money
is tight, you can alternate purchases from month to month.
The important thing is to make some sort of survival-based
acquisition regularly, or at every opportunity. In making sur
vival investments, you should consider the following points: a)
Might you actually need it (Does it serve a legitimate survival
need, such as food) ? b) Do you have the skill to use it prop
erly, and would you be able to repair it when it inevitably
breaks down? c) Will it need something else, such as electrici
ty, gas, heat, or water to operate? d) How many/much will you
need, and how long do you expect it to last (see Plan For
Duration) : e) Is it practical for the conditions you antici
pate, such as proper clothing for the climate?
DEVELOP PLANS OF ACTION. You should discuss with your family or
group the conditions under which you would run (Where?) or
stay; whether to hide (For how long?) or fight (Whom? How?) .
Every member of the group must be in agreement with the final
plan. One dissident could destroy all your intentions; for
instance by "setting-out" the group to an adversary.
You should also develop "backup" plans to cover various
contingencies such as those mentioned. Plan for the worst-case
scenario and work down from there.
HAVE A "BUG-OUT" KIT. Keep a short-term (up to one week)
survival kit handy in case you must leave NOW. Remember the
priorities: shelter, water, food, medical supplies, weapons,
communications. Ideally, you should have several kits; one for
each member of the family and group, another one in each vehicle
in case a crisis occurs at an unexpected moment (as they usually
do) . and a large cache of supplies away from the home, in a
place safe from discovery or disaster; in the event you must
evacuate your home quickly, as in the case of fire, earthquake
or war. Each of these kits or caches should be planned to supple
ment and extend the capabilities of the next smallest kit.
Avoid making your personal bug-out kit too heavy to run with;
you may have to carry it long distances, quickly.
PLAN FOR DURATION. Try to realistically anticipate how long you
expect your scenario may last, and add a little more to the
estimate as a buffer against shortsightedness.
Do you expect your disaster scenario to last for days (such
as waiting for disaster relief after a major storm, fire, or
earth quake) , months (i.e., a major strike by unions; re
building after a disaster) , or years (such as being caught in
the clutches of a dictatorship, foreign invasion, or persecu
Try to be realistic in your preparations. Plan for the con
sumption of food (calories per person per day, plus other essen
tial nutrients) , water (gallons per person per day, for
drinking, cooking and sanitation) , ammunition (as much as can
be obtained, with a suggested minimum of 500 rounds per weapon)
, air quality (while in shelter, or masks for outside) ,
medical supplies (including prescription medicines) , and so
Some of your scenarios may look unlikely in the context of
present conditions, but it only takes an open-eyed look at the
world, the nation, or the neighborhood, to see the potential
for frightening situations to rapidly develop which would not
allow time for preparation after the fact. For instance, note
that many people reacting to a disaster often converge on all the
nearest stores for provisions such as food, candles, bottled
water, batteries, and so on. Frequently, the crowd gets impa
tient, not wanting or waiting to be left without essentials for
themselves or their families. Occasionally, rioting and looting
begin, feeding upon itself as the unprepared start to panic.
Your aim must be to store adequate supplies for all intended
members of your group for the longest time that you will likely
be on your own, with self-sufficiency being your goal. The
federal government recommends having at least three to five days
supplies on hand, to sustain you until relief agencies can get
into action. The more serious the crisis, the longer you may
have to wait for outside help.
If you are able, lay in extra supplies for a few additional
persons who will, most likely, show up either on their own, or
with members of the group ("My mother was visiting at the time; I
couldn't just leave her") . As pragmatic as you must be, you
must also not surrender your humanity completely. Otherwise, you
are no better than the predators you may be fleeing. Of course,
there is a practical limit to how much you can be expected to
cope with. Examine your own conscience on this issue.
A plan must also be drawn up to deal with waste management.
Essential "luxuries" such as toilet paper, soap, and proper
means of disposing of human waste and garbage with become major
issues during a survival situation. Goods and services we have
always taken for granted may no longer be available.
You must also plan to cope with your people's emotional surviv
al. The abrupt change in lifestyle, the day to day fight to stay
alive, will take its toll psychologically if not treated quickly
and continuously. Find things to alleviate boredom, such as
games or projects. Give every able person in the group a job
they will be responsible for. Even children can be instructed to
secure trash, act as lookouts, or help with food preparation or
gathering supplies. Also attempt to continue with their educa
tion, albeit with a different emphasis. Find duties which re
quire a person to study the situation and come up with a solu
tion. Hold meetings to keep everyone current on what's happening,
and conduct frequent and regular classes for everyone in survival
arts. Keep your people, and yourself, busy. Despair may be your
GET TRAINING. Your group should learn how to use weapons effec
tively. Safety, maintenance, handling malfunctions, and
marksmanship are all of equal importance in a survival context.
Because this is an area where mistakes can be fatal, instruction
should be sought from qualified professionals, such as the Na
tional Rifle Association. Also, everyone should study unarmed
self-defense under a qualified instructor; one who teaches
combative, not tournament techniques.
Tactics are another important area of study. Learn how best to
utilize your weapons under various conditions and environments,
such as snow, rain, or at night. There are several reputedly
good schools for this type of study. There are also many books
such as military manuals which can be of help, if accompanied by
lots of practice.
Study first aid diligently, as this is one of the most essen
tial areas of self help study. The American Red Cross has excel
lent, inexpensive courses on CPR and basic and advanced first
aid. Everyone should be encouraged to take and pass such a
course. A study of improvised medicines and first-aid equipment
would also be useful. Some community colleges offer non-credit
courses in herbology, folk medicine, and edible wild plants.
There are many very good reference books on the subject. Another
variation on this theme would be the study of medicinal minerals.
You might seriously consider taking an Emergency Medical Techni
cian course (or a Paramedic course if already an EMT) and
joining a volunteer ambulance corps. Not only would you be con
tributing to a vital community function, you would also be
gaining practical, real-life, hands-on experience which no
course can give by itself. Remember, in a crisis, your body
does what is has been trained to do. The untrained reaction to
crisis is usually panic Practical experience aids tremendously in
overcoming the panic which accompanies disaster.
Fieldcraft is another valuable area of study. Learn the differ
ence between, and uses of, cover and concealment. Learn how to
survive in rural or urban wilderness, how to find or construct
proper shelter, how to gather food and collect and purify water,
the use of correct sanitation procedures, basic land navigation,
and much more.
PRACTICE. Conduct realistic simulations with your equipment and
your people to gain valuable experience and confidence working
together. Get the bugs out while it's relatively easy. Learn
what works and what doesn't.
Go to the firing range often, preferably when you or your
group can use it without onlookers. Practice on human-shaped
targets, using tactics. Train in firing techniques for real
world situations (such as varying weather conditions, target
distance and size. Learn different firing positions, practice
in-house techniques, etc.) . Always rigidly enforce appropriate
safety procedures while training with weapons.
As an EMT, you can work on an ambulance or in the emergency
room to practice and to accustom yourself to the suffering of
others. It's certainly not pleasant, but it is crucial in over
coming the shock of seeing something happen suddenly, perhaps to
someone you love. This allows you to get on with treating the
patient rather than wasting valuable seconds in panic. With prac
tice, reaction becomes almost automatic, and confidence is
gained. Without practice, hard-earned skills are gradually lost.
You should try to incorporate your survival skills into every
day life, making it a normal part of your existence.
Don't, however, carry it to extremes, such as walking around in
public wearing cammies with a 10-inch knife on your belt. Be dis
creet. Shooting and hand-to-hand practice, ambulance duty,
making your own clothes, and canning your own food; all these
skills and more will not only add to your survival repertoire,
they will enhance the quality of your life, as you become less
dependent on "the system" and more confident in your own abili
Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your equipment, your
people, and yourself. Without practice and effort you are just
wasting time and money, and someone close to you could die need
DON'T ADVERTISE. Keep your actions and intentions as low-pro
file as possible. You could risk discovery and the loss of every
thing you have been working for, or wind up with a lot of people
on YOUR doorstep in a crisis; people whom you cannot support,
and who may have no positive survival value. If you intend to
support dependents, prepare for them with your supplies.
One last thought. Because predatory people are out there,
firearms are an essential element of survival planning. Unfortu
nately, they have been abused frequently enough to give the
whole survival movement a bad reputation in the eyes of the
general media, who too often seem to be looking to discredit and
ridicule the movement. Survivalists should respect firearms and
view them as tools to protect what they have: their lives,
families, homes, and provisions; not as weapons of conquest.
The more you prepare, the more ready you must be to defend
against those who don't.