Any time someone accuses me of being just a little bit extreme in my security focus, I get a little bit offended. I don’t think I’m extreme, after all, and people who really are extreme(ists) never really did anything good for the world. Not anything lasting good, anyway. However, the main reason why I get to be offended (and I think that reason goes for most of us) is that there might be just the wink of a chance that there’s something true in those accusations. I, however, tend to think about extreme security as survivalism. If you haven’t heard about survivalism, you’ve been missing out – it’s actually fascinating.
According to Wikipedia;
Survivalism is a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or preppers) who are actively preparing for
possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales ranging from local to international. Survivalists often have emergency medical and self-defence training, stockpile food and water, prepare for self-sufficiency, and build structures that will help them survive or “disappear” (e.g. a survival retreat or underground shelter).
Anticipated disruptions include the following:
- Clusters of natural disasters, patterns of apocalyptic planetary crises, or Earth Changes (tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, solar storms, severe thunderstorms)
- A disaster caused by the activities of humankind (chemical spills, release of radioactive materials, nuclear or conventional war, oppressive governments)
- The general collapse of society caused by the shortage or unavailability of resources such as electricity, fuel, food, or water
- Financial disruption or economic collapse (caused by monetary manipulation, hyperinflation, deflation, or depression)
- A global pandemic
- Widespread chaos or some other unexplained apocalyptic event
So, right off the bat, there’re both similarities and differences. Similarities? Well… they plan. The scope of their planning is a little more fatalistic than most security contingency plans, but they plan for bad things to happen. While a security pro might plan for someone to break in, a survivalist might plan for bugging out if someone comes and tears the house down. While someone who’s security minded might put bars over their windows because they’re at ground level, a survivalist might build himself a concrete bunker in the middle of the woods. Or in their basement.
While a security minded person might install floodlights to deter trespassers in the night, a survivalist might prepare a weapons cache, with weapons tailored to hunting, defense or offense. There are important differences in the approach to hardships, as well as the expected scale of what kind of trouble might lie ahead. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other, and I think there are many important things that survivalists do that are left out of everyday security preparedness.
Most governments insist that you have to be able to get by on your own for 72 hours in the case of a natural or man made disaster before you can start expecting anyone to come help you. Why is that? Well, it’s the 3 T’s. Things Take Time. That’s all. Organization, rolling out equipment and personnel, clearing a path to wherever you are… that sort of thing. Most people either don’t know this, or they’ve either consciously or unconsciously decided to ignore it.
For a recent US example look at the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. If more people had heeded the 72 hour rule, then planned and acted accordingly, more people would have survived, and there would have been less damage. That might be a harsh thing for me to say, but it’s also true.
FEMA, the “disaster agency” in the US has had information about this prominently placed on their webpage and their printed material at least since 2007. Disaster planning is up to you, they say, and goes on:
The first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. Electricity, gas, water and telephones may not be working. In addition, public safety services such as police and fire departments may not be able to reach you immediately during a serious crisis. Each person should be prepared to be self-sufficient – able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones – for at least three days following a disaster.
They also recommend building a “safe room” in your house – apparently taking clues from survivalists themselves, and goes on to list how, why and where you should do it, as well as approximating what that might cost – here’s a tip: if you want to build a safe room in your house, apply for financial support from your state. You might just have some cash coming your way.
This strategy is something even regular security minded citizens should get onboard with. Plan for 72 hours of hell, and you might just make it out on the other side. At the very least, you’ll have a vastly better chance of it than anyone who didn’t prepare.
Toning it Down & Taking it Here
Survivalists are extremists. I don’t necessarily mean that in a (very) bad way, but the zombie apocalypse is probably some ways away still. Having a safe room, or even a scaled down bunker in your back yard is nice – we’ve written about bunkers a couple of times on this site, in fact, but building a weapons cache, preparing for war with the government or whatnot is not part of a sound security strategy.
That is why I thought it would be a good idea for us to create a whole new category for this site: Survivalism & Security. I’ll be working hard to distill what I can from the survivalists, tone it down and make it elegantly useful for those of us who want to feel safe without having to descend into the darkness of expecting that the apocalypse (man-made or otherwise) is just around the corner.
The first article is already up – take a look at our modest effort at directing you to the Bug-Out-Bag, incidentally the first step any good survivalists will tell you to take. It’s pretty good, and will take you a long way towards being prepared for those 72 hours you have to leg it on your own before FEMA’s happy people come to pick you up.
So, whether you’re a prepper or a survivalist or a retreater or just security minded, we’ll give you everything you need. So to speak.