Tag Archive: mental preparedness


winterwarmTitle gotchya didn’t it? But no seriously, I might be a newbie in the woods but when it comes to home preparedness, I know my stuff. Come what may, I can survive at home when the grid goes down, which it can and has done during the winter. So I thought I’d share some serious practical advice and know-how when it comes to surviving in your home during a grid down situation during the winter. Been there done that and lived to tell the tale here.

Number one rule: be careful what you use inside your home…candles, oil lamps, any type of flame for light or heat can cause a fire if not carefully attended to, including propane and kerosene heaters. Trust me on that one. Better to skip those if you can, especially if you can’t be right there while using them. I bought a Detz oil lamp that you can heat up or cook on top of and it will throw some good heat too, but I would NEVER EVER leave it where my kids, dogs or I could potentially knock it over. I am ALWAYS right there. I do not use candles, though I have them if and when all other sources of light are used up.
Number two rule: be careful what you use inside your home…to heat your home, to cook food or even get a little bit of power in your house (generator). Do NOT use anything inside that is designed and intended for outdoor use. Most heat and cooking sources use some sort of combustible to generate the heat. If you have combustibles, then you have the potential for carbon monoxide and it is a silent and deadly killer. That’s why previously I advised to have a battery operated carbon monoxide alarm.

Those are the two simple rules of the road in any grid down situation (no power) no matter the season. Remember those and you will be okay.

Alright, now on to the good stuff, tips and tricks to staying warm during Snow/Icemagedeon outside of the typical preparedness/survival stuff:

Here’s the obvious one…have an alternative heat source to heat your home that does NOT depend upon electricity and obviously is SAFE to use indoors.

Story time…
When I first bought my little slice of country the house came with an unvented propane fireplace. Yep, seriously. I personally never used that thing but my ex would and did to get heat into the home during the coldest parts of the first winter. I would wake up and instantly know he had used it that nasty thing because I could smell it and my head would be pounding (carbon monoxide, I am extremely sensitive to it having had mild carbon monoxide poisoning growing up due to a faulty gas heater). Finally, I called the propane company to come get their tank of gas and cut the line…end of subject…it was pretty, but dangerous to have that thing. So round about the ex and I went about ‘spending’ the money on a wood burning stove. This argument went round about until one March morning we awoke to being able to see our breathe in the air. Power was out for only a few hours but needless to say, sometimes pain makes people see reason. I got my wood stove installed about 2 weeks later. And I use it A LOT during the cold times.

There are safe alternatives if you can’t afford a wood stove, pellet stove or something else similar, or you don’t live some place that can have one. Mr. Heater makes a very safe line of propane heaters that can be used indoors for those of you that can’t have anything else.

As a last resort if you go on over to Lehman’s you can find some really good oil lamps that will throw heat in a small space, but as previously warned, be warned this isn’t the best idea.

Best advice to getting heat into your home: Be SAFE and NEVER USE ANYTHING INTENDED FOR OUTDOOR USE.

Up next, minimize heat loss…and heat it up BEFORE it happens.

If you have a wood stove or fireplace use that, get it going well before you actually ‘need’ the heat. As for any heat pump or furnace, crank it up BEFORE the storm comes. You’d be surprised just how quickly the temperature can drop once the power is off and just how long it takes to get heat back into the hours.

One last comment on this…if you have a wood stove, pellet stove or coal stove or use a rocket stove or other type of cooking stove that requires ‘dry’ material…get it in place and out of the weather BEFORE the snow hits…nothing sucks worse than having to traipse outside when you are already cold to get the wood or find wood/pellets/coal. Not to mention that wet stuff is a lot harder to burn and get to burn that dry stuff.

Pick ONE room to ‘survive’ in where you will have the most heat.
If you have a fireplace, wood burning stove or a small propane heater, that is where you will stay.
Keep all exterior windows and doors closed and close the interior doors to the rooms you will not be using. In an extended case you may want to consider hanging blankets, or even emergency blankets over doors and windows to keep the heat in. Use duct tape or some other heavy duty tape to keep the blankets up…it works! Especially emergency Mylar blankets which you can get on the cheap in bulk on Amazon.
Also, don’t forget to block drafts such as that bottom of the door you never got around to putting weather stripping on.

Also consider your heat loss through your flooring. I have a one level home that has a crawl space underneath it and bamboo flooring…all neat and good when the power is on or during the summer, but when its cold those floors get COLD. If you have something along these lines consider insulating the floor where you will be staying put. Be mindful however of fire hazards. Blankets, rugs, pillows…kinda the same idea as when camping, get as much insulation between you and the ‘floor’ as possible to keep your body heat and heat ‘inside’.

Last resort or maybe just an idea to keep the kids distracted…set up a tent and go camping inside while the power is off. Small spaces can be warmed up with just body heat alone and if you use mylar emergency blankets over the outside of the tent you get even more ‘heat’ trapped inside the tent.

For those with a basement…in a prolonged power/heat outage consider your basement. It might not be the Hilton, but if the basement is underground it will be considerably warmer than upstairs, sometimes as much as a 20 degree difference.

Layer your clothes, can’t say too much about that. Without power and a good heat source inside the home, you are basically ‘outside’. Dress as if you were outside.

Sleeping, well, this is an interesting subject. For those that camp and don’t have a good heat source inside the home you know the rules…wet or even damp (even slightly) will suck the heat right out of you. The heat loss through the ‘head’ is a myth…it’s your feet. CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP IF AT ALL POSSIBLE ESPECIALLY THE SOCKS!! If you are a camper then you have some idea of how to handle things, just inside your home. But if not…hopefully you have picked out your one room and have stayed put as much as possible. Create a communal sleeping area there. Share body heat. Sleeping bags are great. Next up pillows, cushions, blankets piled one on top of the other. You get the idea. If you do have a tent and I don’t care if its one of those outside pop up with sides that you can zip on, USE IT. The smaller the space the easier it is to get warm and stay warm. If you don’t have sleeping bags consider a cheaper, emergency alternative…emergency bivvys by SOL.

One last thing…get a stash of hand and feet warmers that hunters use. In the case of the heat going out due to power outage during a winter storm these things are cheap and easy to use to keep the extremities warm. And its sure nice to have toasty feet while you sleep!

Food comes to mind next…if you are lucky to have a wood stove with an area flat enough and big enough to cook on, good for you! (I do and do use it to cook on). But if you don’t or there isn’t an area large enough to get a pot on (such as those wood/pellet stoves that are put into a fireplace) then you have to start thinking about how you are going to eat.
It takes more calories and more water to survive when you are cold. So you need to think about this. Using camping equipment or other OUTSIDE methods of cooking INSIDE is a disaster waiting to happen. Hot food is great, but not at the risk of death. Consider keeping a stash of MRE’s (but keep in mind the colder it is the less warm/hot they will get) as a quick way to have meals. Keep bottled water on hand, this is especially important for those who have well water and becomes important for those on city water IF the power stays off for an extended time (water pipes can and do freeze). Keep canned goods that would be tolerable to eat, even if cold. Use up what is in the fridge. Cook out, yep, on the grill or your rocket stove or whatever you have…it will suck for the person tending the food outside, but hey, a hot meal is worth it.
You get the idea, beef jerky, dried foods…heck, protein bars! Just remember the 2 rules I started with.

Here are some great options and ideas for emergency cooking. Be sure to practice BEFORE you need it!

And here’s a tricky one:
When water is scarce, the “mellow yellow” rule should apply. Don’t flush the toilet unless you *really* need to.
If you have no water for flushing, use a 5 gallon bucket and paper or sawdust to absorb liquid and odor. You could also cover a bucket tightly or use a garbage bag. If you have a wood stove and don’t mind getting a little primitive, you can do what my older sisters used to do. Rather than running out to the outhouse in winter (the farmhouse I was raised in had no running water when my parents started their family), my oldest siblings would poop on several sheets of newspaper and burn it in the wood stove. As I said, primitive, but it worked. I was very glad we had indoor plumbing by the time I was born, as I have used the outhouse when there was a minus 40 below zero wind chill one Christmas and the septic system froze. It was not pleasant.
Don’t bathe unless absolutely necessary. Getting wet is a quick way to get really cold. Keep some baby wipes on hand for waterless cleaning.
If you still have running water, protect faucets that are at risk of freezing by turning on a pencil size stream of water.
(taken from commonsensehome.com…couldn’t have said it better)
But one thing to keep in mind for females…urinary tract infections can happen fast…so keep mindful ladies of keeping clean ‘down there’. Also, when its really cold and you have to go I have found that using a Shewee or PMate is an excellent way to decrease skin exposure to the cold and still ‘go’.
Fill bathtubs before hand with warm water. You can use this water just like in any other emergency.
Have hand crank options for lights and emergency radio.
DON’T use your generator in the snow/ice. Um…think electrocution hazard.
Personally I have a portable charging station that I can recharge the batteries for via the car. It’s a smaller generator that made by Boise that is mainly used on construction sites but no gas is needed, uses batteries just like the ones for your cordless drills and such… it will recharge cell phones, run a light, laptop, etc.

Finally, if keeping warm and eating won’t keep you busy, you’ll need ways of staying entertained…especially children. Just one idea here for you…they do make a DVD player, radio/karaoke player that uses D batteries  you can find it on Amazon…it is a life/mind saver, trust me…worth the investment.
These are my tips for you just in case grid down happens during snow/icemegedeon…feel free to comment and ad your own tips and tricks!

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woodsLast year was a personal TEOTWAIKI (the end of the world as I knew it)…from the suicide of my youngest daughters father (whom I found only 10 minutes after speaking to him in person, leaving and then feeling something was wrong…oh yeah it was…and going back to find him dead by his own hand), to the SWAT team at my door at 8 am, to a down turn in business, loosing a business and just about every imaginable small shtf that could happen happening. Over the past year and a half I have worked really hard getting to a new normal while still dealing with life changing events…it has been wave after wave, but fortunately, I learned how to surf! It was full of bumps, bruises and backslides and some painful mistakes, but I have finally learned to surf (figuratively) in getting through the crap life throws our way, big and small. That is the hallmark of a survivor by the way…I have truly learned in many ways what Tim Gunn (okay, I admit it! I do sometimes watch Project Runway) “make it work” as he is looking at a hot mess that aspiring designer has made. But somewhere along the line, my world of preparedness and my thinking became so narrowly focused upon my home and my immediate surroundings that a simple day outing in the woods with my friend became a real eye opener in situational preparedness.

Knock, knock…what the (bleep) are you thinking?

The started off well enough, coffee, breakfast, discussion what to do…common everyday talk between people…suggestion…lets go out to the WMA are nearby where he hunts regularly so he can take a look around (hunting season coming up)…okay…so here I am getting dressed for a walk in the woods, no biggie, I live in the woods…I know how to get dressed for going into the ‘woods’, do it everyday after all…so on go jeans, tank top and sturdy trail shoes…I get looked at and he looks at my shoes and says ‘you’re wearing those???’ in that tone of voice that only someone who does something all time can only have talking to someone that has broken some unspoken ‘rule’ of the road. Okayyy…it quickly dawned on me that we weren’t go onto some nature trail…so off the shoes came and on came the ‘real woods’ boots, you know the kind hunters wear? yeah those kind of boots…I was thanking God at that point that I had spent the previous week walking around in them to break them in (much to the dismay of my 15 year old, apparently your mother wearing camo/woodland hunting boots out in public is NOT cool). I at least had the presence of mind at that point to pull my socks up to my knees, after all, ticks love to climb up shoes/boots onto legs. I also changed my shirt to a loose short sleeve one.
Alright, all set and up to snuff approval wise for what to ware…out the door we go…
Its been a long running discussion between us about ammo, where to find it, prices etc…so we’re headed out to the WMA and he decides to show me where he has stopped before to buy ammo before hunting. Of course, me and my big mouth, having lived in my small town for a few years, I begin to explain to him about one side of the highway and the other and how you just don’t cross that line (its like the railroad tracks)…uhhuh…that went over like a lead balloon…dead silence…smack, upside the head I am confronted with a prejudice that is so ingrained in me that I didn’t even realize it until it came out of my mouth and got a strange look…you know the one, the slightly raised eyebrow real quick with no comment. Anyway, we stop at this little hole in the wall (and that is being not an untruth) gas station that has a sign for ‘check-in’ (as in for hunters with deer and turkey)…and lo and behold! walk back into the back and bingo! AMMO!!! no .22 but they had plenty of other including 9mm (haven’t seen that in MONTHS) and .17 and well, you get the idea…and the prices? pre-Sandyhook!! man, did I feel about stupid, again…so I bought what I could afford and on the way back to the car I have to acknowledge about eating crow on this one. Basically something along the lines about getting over my snobbery (yeah, I admitted it) and thank you for showing me someplace new…the answer was something along the lines of ‘well, its always good to have more than one place to get something’ (nuff said on that subject, point well taken)…but of course on the way out of the area I have to defend my position and my line of thinking (just keep on digging Laura)…anyway, at this point I feel absolutely DUMB and shut up. But I swear, I still won’t go there at night…nope…not…

So over the river and through the woods, nice ride, he’s busy scoping out places to go fishing in the area, pointing out upcoming places to look at from the GPS and we are looking for the no trespassing signs or private property signs (which by the way, I learn from him later that even when its posted you can’t restrict access to public water ways within reason).
Fast-forward, we are on WMA land, he’s pointing out the WMA land, private property, where you can and can’t park, etc, etc. up and down gravel roads, being educated about what Bucks do and what to look for, looking at the ‘weeds’ growing trying to figure out what some are and aren’t…Wild passion flower is an intoxicating smell! Wind up on the water, he does some fishing off the public dock…back in the car…down another road to nowhere…he finally pulls into this parking area and we get out…looking at the weeds…and I need to use the restroom but of course…lol, its the woods…not an issue, not the first time with no bathroom or toilet paper (hmm, remember for future, baby wipes, flushable stuff, paper napkins even better as they server more than one purpose or really, do guys worry about it?) but ladies, remember, when out in the woods, find a slight hill…water runs downhill (at least I remember that). But he had to remind me about bug spray (seriously Laura? I mean, really?) He had some thank goodness, I should have sprayed myself down BEFORE leaving the house!! And off we go through the woods down to the water…come up to a rather large tree that had fallen down across the path and up and over…and me, like an idiot, just walks OVER IT…yep, got the look again…never, ever in the woods just walk over a fallen tree, always step up onto it, look down and then step down…snakes like to hang out under dead wood…I shrugged and said, well, I figured you went first and would have found it and I was safe (ha!), got the look again. Point taken. Where I live these little buggers live, cottonmouths, timber rattlers and copperheads…in general they will run from you, but corner them, step on them, forget it, they strike in defense..
Cottonmouth, the only viper snake in the US:
cottonmouth
Timber Rattlesnake:
timber
Copperhead:
timber

copperhead

And just as a side note, I noticed where people had recently camped in the area…what a frickn’ mess. Not good caretaking nor OPSEC…take out what you bring in or burn it out…better yet, don’t leave yourself ‘noticed’ for being in an area (ha, now why I can remember that and not bug spray…)

Yadah, yadah, yadah…mess around for a while at the water, (at least I didn’t embarrass myself by falling on my butt going down a step hilly area to get to it, like I have done before) I explained to him about WHY it wasn’t a good idea to eat the arrownroot from the water where we were at (duh, plants draw up water and act as filters for the water ways and if the area is known to have high levels of mercury and other contaminates…duh..what will you be eating???) not to mention you can’t just pull a water plant out, you really have to dig them out…of course he had to prove me wrong on that point…I won, I managed not to give him a look.
Back to the car we go…and yes, this time I remembered to step up, look and then down, and I learned a little something on that one, I need to go to the gym, I can walk forever, but stepping up two feet onto the top of the dead tree easily…hahaha…crap…not as in shape as I thought I was. Endurance yes, strength no…sigh…another lesson learned…
But the biggest lesson learned with this simple walk in the woods came a bit later…we are out in a clearing looking at the weeds, checking things out and he tells me to stand dead still. So I freeze immediately, nothing happens so I start to think he’s messing with me and move slightly and then BUZZZ, I scream because I thought it was a wasp, turns out it was a horsefly that had landed on me…but all I could think about at that point was ‘crap, it has been a wasp I had nothing with me to stop the anaphylactic reaction I would have if stung and we are MILES from help’ …DUH!!! I am ready to go at this point.
Another side note, that bug spray I used? yeah, okay, kept the suckers off my clothes and exposed skin, but you know what? they found their way to exposed skin UNDER the clothing…bites around the waist band and a few other places…I now understand the use of pyrethin on clothing…screw the bug spray…

Long and short of this tale is that I had become complacent and non-thinking about my potential situation and circumstances simply by going out in the woods…from shoes, to bug spray to the more serious side of nature, snakes, bees, wasps…it was an eye-opener for me…I had isolated and insulated myself so much that the possibilities just didn’t register in my brain and here I sit calling myself a survivor and prepper…really? I can tell you how to prepare yourself to bug in and tough it out at home, but put me in the woods…and I USED to do this quite a bit before, but because I went into protective mode due to circumstances from the past year or so, it all went out of my brain, and honestly, it could have gotten me seriously hurt or even killed and possibly put my partner in jeopardy. NOT GOOD….
And then it got me thinking…I was depending upon someone ELSE to keep me safe out there….trusting your partner is good but what if? I will be the first to admit that I will never be the woodsman he is, after all, he grew up in the woods has spent his whole life out there, tracking animals, camping, hunting, fishing…but me, I am a liability to him and myself simply because I don’t have even a few basic skills and knowledge of being ‘outdoors’. I got off easy this time and am taking steps to not let the same mistakes occur again, but it made me really wake up…If I had to leave my home on foot or get home on foot, I probably wouldn’t make it over some ‘trivial’ mistake or oversight on my part. They say we are given situations to make us grow, the first is slap on the hand, then a knock on the head and then a hammer and then well, the building falls in on you. I got the slap on the hand and have no intention of getting hit on the head.

So, I did buy the pyrethin spray to treat my clothes and boots and socks…
I have a very small kit together for going out that can be put in a pocket for short trips for bug bites/stings with things in it just in case I go into anaphalytic shock…and a small ace bandage too that will fit in my pocket easily since I am NOT known for being graceful.

And I count myself lucky that I have someone who is a good man and knows ALOT more than me who doesn’t put me down but supports me in my learning.
I also count myself lucky that someone is watching out over me from above.
Moral of the story, we get so used to our ‘normal’ in prepping and survival that we forget to look outside of ourselves and see ourselves outside of the normal routine or what we have planned….while I in no way plan on bugging out or leaving, its always good to have some sort of idea of what may happen if you had to abandon your plans and go do something else.

Lessons learned from a simple walk in the woods….and a blessing in disguise…

Don’t Put Off Doin’ What Needs Doin’

Ever had one of those moments when something happens and you are left to wonder what the heck you were thinking about when you put off doing something that you just KNEW needed doing? Yep, one of THOSE moments and you know exactly what I mean…putting off getting more gas and running out, cleaning the steps off the back deck only to go down them on the rear, put off going to the grocery store only to find yourself without that all important ingredient right when you are in the middle of making dinner. Not mowing the grass for the 3rd weekend in a row and then finally getting out there to do it only to find that you spend half the day declogging the lawn mower and then having to rake up the clippings otherwise you will wind up with dead grass? Or better yet, buying rice in bulk, putting it to the side to seal it up properly and then forgetting about it until one day you notice a smell or better yet a trail of ants or mouse poop leading you right to that rice you bought but didn’t put away properly? Yep, one of THOSE moments.
Well, I had one of those moments about a week and half ago…I knew I had to get some sort of lighting up going between my house and workshop because it is pitch black out here in the woods at night and half the time I wouldn’t think to grab a flashlight or had my hands full going back and forth. But I messed around, found a million reasons NOT to spend the money or time or effort to light up the path even though I KNEW I needed to do so for safety’s sake.
Early one morning last week I couldn’t get back to sleep so I decided to come out and work (might as well do something productive right?) and sure enough, trip, fall, hit the head, sprawled face first onto an extra propane tank (and of course I had knocked it over so my head it the edge on the bottom of the tank), neck at some awful angle, arms and legs splayed out with a nice 2 inch cut that went deep. Yes indeed…all because I kept putting off doing something I knew needing doing…putting up lighting so I could see!
Don’t know how long I was out (scary) but was able to control the bleeding and take care of the cut myself (cleaning it etc) and this wasn’t my first rodeo with a concussion (my nickname isn’t Grace for no reason) but what I didn’t expect was to get whiplash from this (and let me tell you, I would by far rather deal with a concussion than whiplash any day!) and that (the whiplash) has had me down and out in quite a bit of pain for the past week…cut is almost healed up (no antibiotics or stitches thank you!) but the whiplash is another story. While I am a big one to take care of myself without seeing a doctor, after 5 days the pain was so intense that I had to go to the ER because I couldn’t get on top of the pain and it hurt so bad I wanted to throw up, yep, not good…so here I sit, thinking about this and kicking myself in the rear for not spending the $30 and 1./2 hour of time to get some little motion sensitive lighting up. Yep, one of those moments where you hope and pray no one says “I told you so”. I know how lucky I am not to have really hurt myself, but my point in telling you about this is to make this point…don’t put off doing today what needs doing otherwise you might find yourself in a bad situation…Like a concussion with whiplash, or out of gas in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone service, or needing that food only to find it rotten or infested.
I am lucky in some ways that I know how to take care of deep wounds, concussions and whiplash without using drugs (for the most part!) from a doctor and I will post on that over at Survivalmedicineblog this coming week. I am only using pain meds and a muscle relaxer at night so I can sleep (which is very important in the healing process) and during the day I am using herbs and homeopathics to help myself heal and not go through the prescriptions, but I am still busy kicking myself over the woulda, coulda, shoulda of the whole situation…all this could have been avoided IF ONLY I done what needed doing instead of putting it off. $30 dollars and ½ hr of my time…needless to say the lights are up now.
And this got me thinking and looking around my house…what ELSE am I not doing that could be life saving or important for me to get done? Not a whole lot, but needless to say I now truly understand the importance of getting my priorities straight, health and safety first! I have had my children clear out pathways around the house (trip and fall), gotten more lighting up, cleared the grape vines away from the back deck steps (they were a virtual FENCE)…am getting ready to repaint the outdoor stairs with an anti-slip paint (yep, another one of those things that I have paid for in the past with pain), replaced fire extinguishers…figured out my kids had used up half of my battery supply without telling me (replaced those!) and have a phone call in for a chimney sweep to come out and clean my wood stove. I am sure there are other things that I need to do too that fall under health and safety that I haven’t found yet but I will…my priorities have suddenly changed to taking care of business to make sure things around me are safe and sound BEFORE I or someone else gets hurt or something else fails when its most needed.

So dear readers, what are YOU putting off doing that you know needs doing?

And by the way, you can find the lighting I bought and put up over at my Amazon store…cheap, effective and easy to put up!

Stay safe and take care of business this week!

Normalcy Bias

Yet again I return to blog after a long absence…the past year and a half has taught me A LOT about me personally and those around me when SHFT happens. Some people disappear, others are very supportive and helpful, and others take advantage. I have also learned that there are those who might stick around, be helpful for a while but in the end, the pressure is just too much and they ‘disappear’ into their own world. All in all, I have figured out who I can and cannot count on and the list is a very short one. Sad really to realize that most people cannot or will not be around when and if anything truly life altering happens. But I am trying to look at it this way, better to know NOW than to continue to believe that certain people will have my back if and when things go south. But I have learned this past year a few hard lessons about normalcy bias and people, including myself and you are prone to it…

What is normalcy bias?

Normalcy bias

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia….

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.[1]

Possible causes

The normalcy bias may be caused in part by the way the brain processes new data. Research suggests that even when the brain is calm, it takes 8–10 seconds to process new information. Stress slows the process, and when the brain cannot find an acceptable response to a situation, it fixates on a single and sometimes default solution that may or may not be correct. An evolutionary reason for this response could be that paralysis gives an animal a better chance of surviving an attack; predators are less likely to eat prey that isn’t struggling.[2]

Effects

The normalcy bias often results in unnecessary deaths in disaster situations. People will freeze, emotionally, psychologically and physically. The lack of preparation for disasters often leads to inadequate shelter, supplies, and evacuation plans. People make the assumption that ‘its nothing’ or that someone else will take care of the problem or them. Even when all these things are in place, individuals with a normalcy bias often refuse to leave their homes. Studies have shown that more than 70% of people check with others before deciding to evacuate.[2]

The normalcy bias also causes people to drastically underestimate the effects of the disaster. Therefore, they think that everything will be all right, while information from the radio, television, or neighbors gives them reason to believe there is a risk. This creates a cognitive dissonance that they then must work to eliminate. Some manage to eliminate it by refusing to believe new warnings coming in and refusing to evacuate (maintaining the normalcy bias), while others eliminate the dissonance by escaping the danger. The possibility that some may refuse to evacuate causes significant problems in disaster planning.[3]   

Examples

Not limited to, but most notably: The Nazi genocide of millions of Jews. Even after knowing friends and family were being taken against their will, the Jewish community still stayed put, and refused to believe something was “going on.” Because of the extreme nature of the situation it is understandable why most would deny it.

Little Sioux Scout camp in June 2008. Despite being in the middle of “Tornado Alley,” the campground had no tornado shelter to offer protection from a strong tornado.[4]

New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. Inadequate government and citizen preparation and the denial that the levees could fail were an example of the normalcy bias, as were the thousands of people who refused to evacuate.[citation needed]

During the September 11 attacks, many in the World Trade Center returned to their offices during the evacuation to turn off their computers and ultimately died when the towers collapsed.[citation needed]

Normalcy Bias has also been used to help explain why the United States continues to raise its national debt ceiling, which now exceeds 107% of its Gross Domestic Product. Historically, the US has held a very high credit rating of AAA, however, the growing concern over US monetary policy lead to the United States federal government credit-rating downgrade to AA+ by Standard & Poor in 2011. Later that same year, GAO Comptroller Gene Dodaro warned memebers of Congress that the current national debt is “unsustainable” at a time where the Debt-to-GDP ratio was considerably less at 73%.[5]

Included into ‘normalcy bias’ is the idea that ‘its somebody else’s problem’:

Somebody Else’s Problem

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Somebody Else’s Problem (also known as Someone Else’s Problem or SEP) is a psychological effect where individuals/populations of individuals choose to dissociate themselves from an issue that may be in critical need of recognition. Such issues may be of large concern to the population as a whole but can easily be a choice of ignorance by an individual. Author Douglas Adams‘ description of the condition, which he ascribes to a physical “SEP field,” has helped make it a generally recognized phenomenon. Somebody Else’s Problem used to capture public attention on matters that may have been overlooked and has less commonly been used to identify concerns that an individual suffering symptoms of depression should ignore. This condition has also been employed as trivial shorthand to describe factors that are “out of scope” in the current context.[1]

Psychology

Various areas of psychology and philosophy of perception are concerned with the reasons why individuals often ignore issues that are of relative or critical importance. Optimism bias tends to reduce issues of subjectivity due to the tendency to have thought processes that are overly positive- “Overly positive assumptions can lead to disastrous miscalculations — make us less likely to get health checkups, apply sunscreen or open a savings account, and more likely to bet the farm on a bad investment.”[2]

Where multiple individuals simultaneously experience the same stimulus, diffusion of responsibility and/or the bystander effect may release individuals from the need to act, and if no-one from the group is seen to act, each individual may be further inhibited by conformity. An example of such instances would be the murder of Kitty Genovese, who on March 13, 1964 was stabbed and killed outside of her apartment building. “Most of the evidence suggests that at least half a dozen-and perhaps many more-of her 30 or so neighbours heard the events but failed to come to her aid. Most didn’t even bother to call the police.”[3]

When individuals are exposed to a multitude of messages about pressing matters of concern- information overload (now also known as Information Fatigue Syndrome) may be a result. In Joseph Ruff’s article “Information Overload: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions” Ruff states, “Once capacity is surpassed additional information becomes noise and results in a decrease in information processing and decision quality”. [4] A student who has spent the entire semester socializing instead of studying would find themselves in a state of information overload the day before a final exam for example.

There may also be a tendency to argue that since a proposed solution does not fit a problem entirely then the entire solution should be discarded. This is an example of a perfect solution fallacy. “This fallacy is often employed by those who believe no action should be taken on a particular issue and use the fallacy to argue against any proposed action”.[5]

However, taking responsibility for negative events that are outside an individual’s control is related to depression and learned helplessness.[6] Part of the solution is to help the individual to realistically assign a proportion of responsibility to herself/himself, parents and others (step I in the RIBEYE cognitive behavioral therapy problem-solving method).[6][7][8]

 

And on top of this, many have the idea that ‘others’ will be there to make things better for them (ie police officers, doctors, FEMA, Red Cross, Social Services). Really??? I can tell you differently as can many others who have lost jobs, lost loved ones, a home, the only vehicle they had and many other SHFT senarios.

Esther Inglis-Arkell explains normalcy bias:

The frozen calm of normalcy bias

When disaster strikes, some people lose their heads, some people become cool and effective, but by far most people act as if they’ve suddenly forgotten the disaster. They behave in surprisingly mundane ways, right up until it’s too late. Around the world, researchers are wondering how to combat normalcy bias.

If you spend the beginning of your flights staring in disbelief at the cabin crew gesturing towards the emergency exits and asking you to look at them and think about walking to them in an emergency, you may be surprised that doing exactly that has saved one person. When two planes collided just above a runway in Tenerife in 1977, a man was stuck, with his wife, in a plane that was slowly being engulfed in flames. He remembered making a special note of the exits, grabbed his wife’s hand, and ran towards one of them. As it happened, he didn’t need to use it, since a portion of the plane had been sheared away. He jumped out, along with his wife and the few people who survived. Many more people should have made it out. Fleeing survivors ran past living, uninjured people who sat in seats literally watching for the minute it took for the flames to reach them.

This isn’t unique behavior, although plane crashes provide the most dramatic examples. People seeking shelter during tornadoes and cyclones are often called back, or delayed, by people doing normal activities, who refuse to believe the emergency is happening. These people are displaying what’s known as normalcy bias. About 70% of people in a disaster do it. Although movies show crowds screaming and panicking, most people move dazedly through normal activities in a crisis. This can be a good thing; researchers find that people who are in this state are docile and can be directed without chaos. They even tend to quiet and calm the 10-15% of people who freak out.

The downside of the bias is the fact that they tend to retard the progress of the 10-15% of people who act appropriately. The main source of delay masquerades as the need to get more data. Scientists call this “milling.” People will usually get about four opinions on what’s going on and what they should do before taking any action — even in an obvious crisis. People in emergency situations report calling out to others, asking, “What’s going on?” When someone tells them to evacuate, or to take shelter, they fail to comply and move on, asking other people the same question.

This isn’t entirely loopy behavior. If something minor seems wrong, in your neighborhood, office, or home, it’s hardly inappropriate to ask the people around what’s happening. And how many of us have heard a suspicious noise nearby, paused for a moment, and then thought, “I’m sure it’s nothing,” and gone back to what we were doing? The problem comes when, even when it is obviously something, people stay in denial.

There are a lot of theories for why this occurs. There’s the shock itself, and the time it takes to process it. Even people who are well-trained and well-informed lose some of their knowledge and physical acumen under extreme pressure. Some researchers blame instincts. Animals that don’t struggle during an attack by an overwhelmingly large predator are sometimes left alone. The passivity indicates sickness or poison, and puts off the predator. Faced with a threat that’s overwhelmingly enormous, people may instinctively become passive as well.

Other researchers believe those with normalcy bias are playing the odds. People step onto dangerous-looking roller coasters every day and scare themselves half to death, trusting that, no, the situation their instincts are screaming about couldn’t possibly really be happening. Rounding out the theories about normalcy bias is the idea that people need information in order to act. If people don’t know how to deal with a situation, they can’t begin to deal with it, so they don’t begin to deal with it.

Nothing can be done about sudden shocks and natural instincts, so most researchers try to deal in increased information. This is why we’re given countless safety lectures. Look at the exits and plan your exit route. In the event of an earthquake, a fire, a flood, do this. Drills and practices, even if only done in a person’t imagination, at least give them the basic tools that they need when dealing with an emergency.

More complicated, from a policy standpoint, is the need to personalize the risk. This information — that the present disaster will harm you, yes you, so take action — is the hardest to accurately disseminate. People mill, asking for opinions, because they want to be told that everything is fine. They will keep asking, and delaying, until they get the answer they want. In a completely alien emergency situation — such as a downed, flaming plane — people think of the likelihood that they’re mistaken about the nature of the emergency, and the consequences for screwing up if they take personal action. Although early warning systems, alarms, and alerts proliferate, very few things manage to get through to specific people that they are in personal danger, that they are on their own, and that they need to take steps to save themselves.

http://io9.com/the-frozen-calm-of-normalcy-bias-486764924

 Plan Ahead

  Of course, these are extreme examples…if you really sat down and looked at your life you will find that you too have done things based upon ‘normal’ that could have or did create situations that made life more difficult for yourself/others or put you in a position that might have been life threatening or financially ruinous… If things or events do not ‘fit’ into their idea of normal or the way that they believe life works then they tend to either stick their head in the sand and pretend that it isn’t happening or it is very temporary situation (both of which by the way can get you killed in the end). Or they back away from you because its beyond their ability to understand, empathize or scares them so badly because they can and do understand and empathize because they can see it happening potentially to them…so they back away like you have the plague.  This is a very personal example. And I will admit, that in the past 1 ½ I have done things out of my own normalcy bias…I was used to having 2 incomes and spent beyond my means which has put me in a, shall we say, interesting position. But the good news there is that because of this financial normalcy bias that I carried for a while, I have had to branch out into other avenues to make money, save money and otherwise redefine my life. Looking back I can see where I have been given grace in my life to make mistakes without real harm occurring (at least nothing that will get me in bankruptcy or foreclosure or otherwise making a further mess of life!) and it has given me a glimpse into what I believe will become the financial normal in the coming years for many people as our economy continues downward. For me, its already normal which puts me ahead of the game. I have had crop failure do to weather (too much rain) and am working on a solution for that. Business drop off drastically (thank goodness for food storage!) only to pick back up and push me to expand what I do and how I do it. Experienced my own mental health issues and assorted accidents and learned how to handle these without ‘professional’ medical care and in the process learned a lot about myself and how to help others now and in the future (more great skills learned!). I have no health insurance and with ObamaCare coming to your world soon, I do believe that there will be a new ‘normal’ and many won’t be able to deal with it…I have seen death up close and continue to prepare for more death within my own family due to health issues, but I feel I am more prepared thanks to a certain event last summer. I have watched people close to me deal with addiction and fall face first deeply into it. Denial is powerful (normalcy bias) but eventually you have to deal with it and make choices and decisions. I am now a proud single mom in charge of a house and land and have learned what I can and cannot do…I could go on and on, but lets just say that through my own experiences in the past year, my own ‘normalcy bias’ has smacked me in the face and awoken me to where I do and don’t do things in emergency or changing circumstances that cause myself and others harm. Its tough to fight. We all have our ideas that ‘it won’t happen to us’ or ‘those things only happen to others’ or we believe that we can handle whatever will happen thank you very much and we are ‘prepared’ to deal with life’s setbacks, weather emergencies, death, job loss, etc. I would ask you this…really? I used to believe that too, until it happened to me, one thing after another. The hardest part is changing your mind set and being courageous and brave enough to do what needs doing in the midst of chaos. Being able to have a survivors mindset. Of course, we all have our moments when it just becomes too much to handle and then break down someway. But for a survivor, it means you cry or do whatever and then get moving to make it better. Acceptance and the ability to quickly move from denial into acceptance is the key for surviving whatever may come your way. Staying in denial or stuck in grief will get you hurt or killed…period. Normalcy bias is denial in its strongest form and grief/shock is the sister to denial.

After a year and a half I am finally adjusting to my ‘new normal’ and have found that as things in my life change I am getting much, much better at quickly moving from what ‘was normal’ to what is ‘now normal’ much more easily, I am able to move more quickly from denial and trying to keep things ‘normal’ into solution oriented ‘new normal’ to make things ‘normal’ again…adjust and move is what I like to call it. And the biggest part is within my own mind and not falling into despair or depression about things I cannot control and learning to find the ways and means to control that which I can. Letting go things that really don’t matter and figuring out what really does matter. That part is continual and ongoing right at this moment as my life changes continually, I have accepted this and am getting used to it.

So, anyway…I guess the next question becomes what can be done to ‘prevent’ normalcy bias?

For major events its called PLANNING to reduce normalcy bias:

The negative effects of normalcy bias can be combated through the four stages of disaster response:

  • preparation, including publicly acknowledging the possibility of disaster and forming contingency plans[citation needed]
  • warning, including issuing clear, unambiguous, and frequent warnings and helping the public to understand and believe them[citation needed]
  • impact, the stage at which the contingency plans take effect and emergency services, rescue teams, and disaster relief teams work in tandem[citation needed]
  • aftermath, or reestablishing equilibrium after the fact by providing supplies and aid to those in need[citation needed

You can break the above suggestions down to apply to your own personal life…preparation…simply acknowledging that something is possible and making plans to handle it in some manner will make your life easier as you go through your own personal SHFT…extra food, medicine, back up ways to accomplish things that need to be done, etc. the list is endless…the whole point is acknowledging that it CAN HAPPEN TO YOU and then putting precaution in place to help yourself out when it does happen.

Warnings… personally we have to be on the look out for signs that something maybe about to happen and not fall into the trap of overlooking or not believing that it is or potentially could happen. If the mother of the Sandyhook shooter had believed the warning signs her son was displaying and then took action as much as she could (ie removing the firearms from her house) I truly believe that this tragedy would have not happened as easily as it did.

Impact…this goes along with preparation, your preps will help to mitigate the impact of the crisis.

Aftermath…again, this goes with preps and is the end result of preparation.

But first things first, we must look at ourselves closely and root out, see and understand where our own normalcy bias is and then take the steps to help ourselves, because if you believe there is someone else out there that will make it better for you, or a pill will make it all better, then you are deeply in denial and I wish you the best when the SHTF occurs. I have been there, done that and know first hand just how normalcy bias can hurt you…so get yourself in gear! Play the what if game and go from there.

Some places to start are:

Loss of job

Loss of transportation

Loss of public services including power, water, doctors, police

Grocery stores or banks closed

Internet/cell phone down

Loss of loved one (especially ones that you depend upon for help and partnership in getting things done)

Do you really know your neighbors? Do you know how they would act in a given situation?

The above are just suggestions to start thinking about what you believe about the world…don’t be afraid to go down the rabbit hole with these, think it out, plan, prepare and then go out and live your life.

Good luck and Bless You

chaosgodWell, it has been one heck of a past year. A year in which my life went upside down, twisted inside out and taught me a lot about self-reliance, trust, faith, courage and just how far down the emotional and mental rabbit hole one can go when SHTF happens. Never mind the details, but lets just say that after a nasty run in with several governmental agencies of the law enforcement type due to the behavior of someone who at the time was close to me, followed by all the fun police action entails (mind you I did NOTHING wrong myself but that is another topic for later), sudden loss of income on several levels, the acts of nature that came afterwards and then top off by the sudden death of someone close to me (by suicide, and I found him)…and well, I am just happy that I still have my home, my kids and one car left. I can laugh about it now in some ways…but one thing is for sure…I have LEARNED the hard way about being prepared for whatever may happen. Made a lot of mistakes along the way in the past 12 months, but hey, I am human and I am still standing.

I am still dealing with the fall out of the last year, but am now able to look back and say, that was right, this could have been done better and what were the lessons I learned?

First things first, if you think it can’t happen to you, it will…just ask them up in New York and New Jersey about Sandy. Just ask anyone who has lost a job or source of income/job that looked and seemed rock solid and just ask anyone who has lost someone due to suicide or some other untimely death or has had their life shattered by any type of trauma. It can happen to you.

That is lesson number #1…IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU…this idea that so many people have (or should I say ‘illusions’?) that if they do everything right, walk the line, go along with the flow will give them safety and security in this world is a and can be a fatal one. See and understand this…preparedness is the ability to get past this idea that ‘it can’t happen’ or ‘it won’t happen’ or ‘I have done nothing wrong and abide the rules and laws’ or ‘it has never happened before’ or ‘oh, the chances are almost slim to nothing’ or any of a million other things we say to ourselves to make the world a safe place for us to live. The super storms of this past summer…never happened before…Superstorm Sandy…oh they will help us and/or its not that bad and/or it never happens here…it is safe to speak your mind and rant and rave on the internet…its just harmless talk and the 1st Amendment protects me (are you nuts?) or any number of things (um, can we say QE3 and 4? Or Sandyhook? Or the movie theater shootings)…say bleeettt if you have managed to avoid taking a hard look at the world we live and not come to the conclusion that you need to get as prepared as you possibly can (shall I begin to cite statistics on unemployment or how many people get foodstamps now?) while you can.

I got rolled on this lesson this past year, as wave after wave of change, chaos and quiet frankly traumatic events kept coming at me…never in a million years did I ever believe that my door would be kicked in by SWAT and FBI agents, especially since nobody around me did anything ‘wrong’ (I have since redefined what that means and adjusted somewhat accordingly). But they did. I never thought it possible that I would find myself in a situation where I was asked to save my own skin over someone else’s. (And I took the middle road there, I am not a rat, bring it on). Never thought I would take a hit on 3 different fronts financially either (the old never keep all your eggs in one basket rule) all within 3 months of each other. Never in a million years could I possibly conceive of talking to someone one minute and then 10 minutes later finding their body, let alone have to deal with powerful storms one after another at the sametime that knocked out power for 10 days (ask them sheeple up in Fairfax how it worked for them). And I certainly never thought that I would have to deal with PTSD, I am a tough bird after all. But IT HAPPENED TO ME! Ever wonder what YOU would do IF you found yourself facing the inconceivable? ARE YOU PREPARED IN ANYWAY? got extra food in the house? have a community to lean on? another source of income? extra toliet paper or the knowledge how to stay off mind altering substances to cope?

And through all of this life went on and did go on including all the everyday ordinary BS that comes with living in this modern world and such…kids, dogs (did I forget to mention that I had to put down 2 good dogs and another almost died in the midst of all this? oh yeah, and kept my customers happy and the laundry done and food cooked?)…see just because crap is hitting the fan in your life and quite possible those around you to one extent or another doesn’t mean that the ordinary details of life get to go unattended. You get to deal with that too, on top of the storm, on top of the death, on top of the major illness, on top of the job loss, on top…well, the list goes on and on.

You may THINK you can handle anything that comes your way, but have you really stopped and played that evil game called what if? It may drive you nuts at first, but part of being prepared is PLANNING…LOSS PREVENTION, Mitigation, controlling what you can…and being aware that it IS THE SMALL STUFF that will make or break you in the end.

I have spent alot of time, effort and money getting prepared in many ways…the storms that came through were a big inconvience and uncomfortable but I was at least physically ready for them…income loss was a tough one since I have never had my income cut in half overnight with no warning but I am thankful for my forethought in keeping a well packed pantry (which is now being replenished) and that I didn’t listen to others that told me sock away the money instead. I am thankful that I had a background in medicine and mental health…it HELPED tremendously and at the very least I KNEW there were healthy ways of dealing with things once the shock and denial wore off. And I learned real quick who my community was and wasn’t, who I could count on and couldn’t (now that was an eye opener), how long I could go without going grocery shopping (several months) and that grief will make you and others do really strange, unusual and nasty things.

So if anything this past year has taught me is this…IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU and IT WILL EVENTUALLY…I have come to look at ‘preparedness’ and ‘survival’ and TEOTWAWKI in a much broader scope…its not just about hurricanes, tornados or a large scale collapse…but its also about your own life and that of your family…what happens to you to end YOUR WORLD doesn’t has to happen to others…and you know what? MOST PEOPLE WILL NOT CARE ABOUT YOU, YOUR FAMILY OR YOUR SURVIVAL…it is entirely up TO YOU…not that a lone wolf will survive, but in ‘normal’ times, when SHTF in your personal life, others will be too busy or unsure to help and frankly, may in fact start behaving like buzzards smelling blood…ugly thought, but true..so my question is this…are you prepared?

Be prepared, be aware and be ready…and remember, it can happen to you!

Life altering event, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI….all things that in the end, mean the same thing…our life has changed and not in a good way and will most likely never go ‘back’ to the way that we knew it to be ‘before’.  The past year for me personally has been like a long, drawn out SHTF event…a series of events that culminated in a real, honest to God, NOT GOOD SHTF event. My life turned upside down and inside out for good.

While most of the world was rolling on at the end of January, I found myself dealing with law enforcement, the state, personal issues and facing life threatening, life altering, never to be the same again events. I truly did nothing wrong, (heck, I am so up tight about doing things right that you will rarely find me speeding or not paying a bill on time) but it was someone close to me who, unbeknownst to me, who was sticking his head up to get it mowed by ‘them’. He didn’t really do anything other than run his mouth (and I will say he RAN IT)…but the saying ‘loose lips sinks ships’ is apt here. And the Titanic went down.

Misunderstandings occurred, miscommunication happened, no one was stepping back or down, everyone was right and everyone else was wrong…things got out of hand…people got scared and people got angry. People over-reacted and people shied away or looked the other way. Communication either did or didn’t happened and not in a good way…it became a my-way or the highway type of deal…the ball rolled and gained speed and then the ball hit the wall and splat happened and oh my, what a mess…and here I sit on the otherside, my life changed, altered and forever different (hmm… I just realized as I finished writing these sentences just how much that sounds a lot like what is happening all over the country and world now for various reasons…a recipe for kaboom).

The actually event was horrible…never in a million years did I ever believe I would find myself on the wrong end of an assault rifle, my house gone through inch by inch, being asked tons of questions about things that I had no clue about or hadn’t given much thought to, personal property taken and what SHTF really is. I don’t want to say too much about ‘the event’ and what caused it, sometimes allowing sleeping dogs to go back to sleep is the best policy, but I have, in the past three months, learned a lot about the world we live in that previously, I had only theory and ideas about… I have learned a lot about power and influence of social media and the internet, law enforcement in my area (and trust me when I tell you I do believe they are still the good guys. All people involved were very polite, respectful and did things ‘right’. I have no issues with how anyone did their job and I cannot stress that enough to you), the judicial system, how much fear is truly out there in the world, power plays and my own reactions to life threatening/altering events. My life changed at the end of January to never be the same again. My perspective has changed and things will never be the same again. Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing some things that have become crystal clear to me about the world we live in now such as knowing (and I mean KNOWING) what your friends and family are up to (transparency is very important), the good and bad of social media/the internet and other such goodies and nuggets of gold that I have found in the pile that I have been swimming through as of late.

Why am I writing this? Because there are lessons that should be shared with the world, conclusions that I have come to that should be shared and an underlying need to say to many, ‘you may THINK you are prepared’ but you never know how prepared you are until it happens to YOU.

Much is said and made of in the preparedness world about beans, bullets and band-aids. Many talk about making plans, thinking ‘what if’ and then making plans based upon ‘what if’. This is all well and good…but the truth is this…you never KNOW how you will react, what you will do, if you have done things ‘right’ and planned well until you are neck deep in the doo-doo and cannot ‘do’ anymore to ‘be ready’. Stop and think about that for a minute. It is like a hidden secret that many of us don’t want to face…the unknown factor if you will…YOU in the middle of ‘it’. We are all born with the fight/flight response and we all have a certain amount of resiliency available to us. We all have our own faith (or lack there of), sense of trust and individual constructs of the world (how we see and make sense of the world). Many of these things that I have just mentioned are developed over time and vary from person to person based upon our personal histories and backgrounds. And this is what I want you to think about while you are ‘preparing’. Take an inventory of yourself, take stock of those around you and take the time away from doing to go within and think about yourself, how you personally react to normal, run of the mill stresses and even some of the bigger ones (divorce, loss of job, etc.) How do your friends and family react to these things? Thought provoking yes? Let me say this…in ‘the big one’, the ‘big’ event, those things you see in yourself and others will be magnified tenfold.

Sometimes I think as people who are ‘preparing’ we get way too focused on the doing and having and ‘things’ that we loose our perspective on the most basic, most important element…US. Who WE are deep down inside. Our own strengths and weaknesses. Our own personal demons and angels. Ourselves, exactly who we are as an individual which will be the MOST important thing in any SHFT or TEOTWAWKI event. And then taking stock of who is around us will be next most important. All the plans and preps will be for nothing if you freeze or fall apart or go ballistic when it hits because you won’t be able to respond or respond appropriately. Again, ask any police officer or vet if this is a true statement. So first and foremost in all of your prepping is to know thyself and the others around you.

Knowing yourself and those around you…this is just as important as having beans, bullets and bandages in your preparedness kit. Just ask any combat vet, police officer or anyone else who has a ‘dangerous’ or high level of risk job about this and they will tell you the same…you never know until it happens, but the more you know the better off you will be, the safer you will be and the better able to respond you will be. If you know in your heart of hearts that you could never take another’s life, well, then by all means make sure you have a way to insulate yourself from having to do so. If you know that your husband can’t handle more than one thing at a time then accept it and adapt your plans. If you know or come to realize that Billy-Bob next door has an explosive personality and can’t even handle a dog taking a whiz on his grass, figure on him being one of ‘those’ that you may have to defend against. If you know that your son or daughter falls apart at the least little bit of change in plans…well, then make some of your now daily routines fit into a prepared/SHFT routine. Why? Why take a step back and take a look at yourself and others on a deeper level? Because what you don’t know or don’t want to see or accept can get you killed or into trouble that you don’t need and what you do know can be changed, adapted, molded or fixed so you and yours can survive and thrive.

I understand that you or nor I will never truly know what we are made of unless or until the something wicked this way comes arrives on our doorstep and doesn’t bother to knock. But like storing beans, bullets and band aids, we also have our ‘personal stores’ to take stock of and treat similarly to the material things we collect. We do not live in a bubble and all of our preps will be for nothing if we fall apart or someone we count on goes MIA.

I am okay, not untouched, not unchanged, but have found a new balance and perspective and am putting my life back together piece by piece…I have a new found respect, appreciation and insight into/for law enforcement, the judicial system and the power of the internet/social media. I also have a new found appreciation and respect for myself and my own strengths and resiliency, and where I am challenged personally. I have yet again, found holes in my own preparations for the changing world, but at the sametime, I have found new ways of doing things and new ways to prepare that I had never even thought about. A new awareness has become apart of me and new spoke of being prepared has been added, and for these things, I am grateful for the SHTF.