Halloween Special: Don’t let planning scare you.

Today is about haunted houses, costumes, and pumpkins full of candy for many people. While we enjoy this holiday, let’s remember that planning can seem a scary proposition when taken as a whole. It can be be like a haunted house to begin with. From the outside it can seem terrifying. The closer  we look though, the more we see that it is just a bunch of animatronics and masks. Similarly in planning, once we look close we see that it is not such a scary task. Taking your planning in smaller pieces can make it more manageable. Instead of thinking of stockpiling months worth of food, start with buying a few extra items on each grocery trip. Or for bigger items,  put back a little money each payday until you can buy it. This way you can can manage each goal until you have fulfilled the level of planning you desire. So have fun out there tonight and remember the only thing zombies want tonight is chocolate.

Hiding in Plain Sight

You are just going about your day when things fall apart. You are forced to move from Point A to Point B. This could be getting from work to home or from home to a more secure location. You strap on your trusty pack of supplies and head off.  Unfortunately, now you are in a very vulnerable position. While you planned and gathered your supplies, you might be in the minority. Others may have realized that things are bad and only going to get worse. This may lead them to desperate measures and your supplies may look like their lifeboat.  Alternately,  you may have to travel through areas that are far from friendly on a good day. This can put you in contact with violent individuals or groups.

In these instances, it may be very beneficial to use “The Gray Man” strategy. This strategy is all about blending in. The idea is to not draw attention to yourself. This prevents the desperate or predatory individuals from focusing on you. The hope is that you can avoid conflict and reach your destination without incident.

The first part of this involves your physical appearance. Dressing like you are an elite commando might keep trouble away in some areas but in others it may invite conflict. Those that are desperate may only see your gear and feel the risk is still worth it. Others may see you as a challenge and a way to assert their dominance. There is no one “best” way to dress. It will depend on your environment. Some general rules can cover the basic strategy. Dressing in the most common clothing of the area will help. Obviously used jeans and a T-shirt could blend you into a college campus or suburb neighborhood.  A book bag is going to fit in more here than a full blown tactical pack. This would be a different story if traveling through Kuwait. Each area is somewhat different and you must decide yourself. Avoid logos and branding that is flashy or may offend.  You need to not only pass, but not be memorable.

The second part of this is the way you act. If you are traveling along in a crowd of evacuees, downcast eyes and a tired look will make you out to be just another face in the crowd. Avoid making eye contact, keep a steady pace, and don’t get involved in the drama around you if possible. If traveling through areas prone to crime, walk with purpose and be alert without looking arrogant or nervous. Just be another passerby too alert to offer an easy score.

In regards to your gear, as stated above, your pack should look common to the area. If necessary, distribute as much gear as you can around on your person. This will let you either hide your pack on you, such as under coat, or ditch it if the risk is too high.  Weapons should be concealed if at all possible. It is better to use them as a surprise if needed than to try and ward off danger by flaunting them.

While this skill may be as much art as science, it is well worth mastering. Be observant of those around you and learn who goes unnoticed by most. These may or may not be people who have homed this skill and use it daily. Either way you can learn from these people how to perfect your own “Gray” self.

Water Everywhere – None to Drink

Watching news footage of recent flooding brought up a very important question. When you see relief efforts arrive the first thing they hand out is water. Why is that? People are literally swimming around so the casual observer might think water is not an issue.

The first issue is that few of those people have made plans to sustain them in case of such an emergency. They are forced to rely on the charity of others. That is a large chance to take.

The next issue issue is contamination where the flood waters overload sewage systems that then mix with the flood water. In rural areas, the water can also pick up animal waste as it flows through barns and other livestock housing. That is dangerous enough, but nothing that some minor filtering and boiling will not fix. The more dangerous contamination is chemicals that mix in with the water. These come from a lot of sources. Every vehicle that is flooded has the chance to spill oil, antifreeze, wiper fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. In addition,  industrial buildings caught in the path of the flood can contain hundreds of types of deadly chemicals. These contaminates are a much greater danger because normal filtration and even boiling will not remove them. These can remain in the water table for long periods and contaminate wells.

This brings to the forefront that planning should not only include means to filter and sterilize water, but if possible, a store of clean water. Unfortunately stored water does have a shelf life. Many jugs and other retail containers are not meant for long term storage. Some may fail over time spilling their contents, some may let water slowly evaporate, and others may allow growth of bacteria. Planning should involve investigation into long term containers and stability additives. This store will allow you to not have to rely on the kindness of strangers. Depending on the scenario,  that kindness may be far too little, far too late.

Bug Out Bags: Do you need a B.O.B.?

Anyone who has even causally looked into preparedness has seen references to “Bug Out Bags”  or B. O. B.s.  Why is there such an emphasis on these? This is because the term has come to be used to cover multiple kinds of kits. People use it for kits you keep in case of car trouble, a bag to get you home if things fall apart, bags to survive a certain number of days in a crisis, and full blown bags to permanently bug out to your secret mountain hideaway. Really these should all be divided up. A bug out bag really refer to a kit used to leave home to go to a predetermined remote location stocked with supplies. These should be much more elaborate than some other types of kits. They should prepare you for a long trip over (possibly) rough terrain where you may need to hunt, fish, or gather food. Most people do not need this elaborate of a kit unless you are planning for the very worst. Most people need to break things down into smaller kits. The most basic kit is your every day carry (E. D. C.) items. This is what you have on you during your normal day. A few choice items in your pocket or purse can go a long way. The next level  would be the items you keep close to you. They may be in your bag or car. These are more aimed at sustaining you for longer. Sometimes they can be called “72 hour” bags if they are aimed at giving you a few days cushion to overcome issues. These can also be called “Get Home Bags” because they are aimed at getting you to your home where your larger kit or supply stash is.  Basically what you call the kit is not really important when you plan and understand its purpose.

Guns in your planning

People seem to put very variable amount of emphasis on guns in your preparedness plan. First, it depends greatly on your location. Obviously certain countries will greatly restrict what you can have. Even in countries that allow you to own guns, there are still varying laws in different states and cities.

If you can legally own a gun, then there is still the issue of cost. If you have the funds and feel it fits into your planning, then ensure that you get appropriate training. Like any other tool you need to know how to use it.  The best gun in the world will not make you a sniper overnight. Train and shoot regularly to keep up your skill and ensure your gun is functional. So many people buy a gun, put it in a drawer, and hope it works when it is needed. Don’t be the one that finds out your gun fails when you need it most.

Preparation is Key!

Preparation for possible disasters is key to making it through them with as little impact on you and your family as possible. If you read across the internet, advise ranges from “carry some extra clothes in your car in the winter” to “stock an underground bunker with food, water, guns, and ammo”. There are many levels to the disasters you may face, so there should be levels of preparedness. Leveled Survival’s philosophy is to classify possible disasters into one of four levels and plan according for each. There are also levels that different individuals can prepare due to their finances. This should not deter you from making preparations. While someone may buy the latest $300 knife to put in their pack, another may customize an old butcher knife from a flea market. Sometimes spending time instead of money on a solution can result in just as good of a level of preparedness.