how to start living a life of permanent preparedness

Worried about economic and social breakdown? Why not prepare now and have less to worry about?


Your first task is to commit yourself to change.

Take the first step. Then another one.

The key to making big changes is to take them at a comfortable pace, step by step. Start with the first logical step, then take the next step, and keep going.

The first step is to consider the risks

A common mistake many people make is to be inspired by Hollywood depictions of crises, typically involving a lot of Dirty Harry situations, without considering less dramatic but more common long-term hazards. A good way to get a realistic idea of what can happen when an economic system breaks down is to read about experiences in places like Russia during Perestroika?, Jugoslavia during its break-down, and Argentina during its banking and currency crises.

The next step is to evaluate your own vulnerability

The most likely risks are running out of food and cash, and being stranded in hazardous situations.

High-risk situations include:
  • Living in small apartments in crowded neighborhoods, who have little storage capacity for food and water, and lots of competition for whatever is left.
  • Living far from lines of transportation and communication, especially in mountainous or desert regions, or regions prone to natural hazards such as floods and fires.
  • Living alone, especially if sick, elderly, or handicapped.
  • Living as a single mother, especially with young children (older ones can be a big help).
  • Living close to crime-infested neighborhoods, especially in situations where rich and poor live close together (eg, luxury view condominiums a few blocks from slums).

The next step is to take measures to reduce your risks

There is no point in rushing out to buy a lot of supplies, especially if it is going to drain savings that you will need for other purposes. Think first. You probably already have the basic necessities of life, and just need to organize them.

  • If you do not feel safe where you are now, move now while it is still an option. It is usually unwise to flee AFTER a crisis, which is how people end up stranded in hazardous situations.
  • Avoid “exurbs” (suburban-style “lifestyle communities” not attached to any city); lacking their own economic base they are likely to turn into ghost towns. For the same reason, avoid outer suburbs too distant from employment
  • Avoid high-crime areas of large to medium cities, and also avoid cities with badly-decayed economic bases, such as New Orleans and Detroit.
  • Avoid resort communities such as Aspen, Colorado. Their wealthy inhabitants might be able to keep them running...but maybe not. There isn't a lot of productive infrastructure or skilled population nearby.
  • Avoid deep-rural areas, especially in mountains, deserts, or near fire and flood hazards.
  • Don't move to farming communities unless either you really are a farmer yourself, or you have a clear-cut idea of what products or services you can offer to those who are. Get used to growing and storing your own food. Due to global monoculture of fractionated crops, there is actually some risk that farmers could starve to death in fields full of soybeans, having no idea how to render soybeans edible!

The safest places? are generally small to mid-sized towns where some real production takes place, and goods are loaded and/or offloaded from railways or ports. Better still if they are located in or near farmland. Having a yard in which you can grow some vegetables is a huge plus, mostly to supplement your income with home-grown produce, but also as an emergency supply of fresh food. You can not count on growing food fast enough not to starve, however.

You will need to get used to storing bought food.

“Dry goods?” such as flour, rice, beans, lentils, powdered milk, and the like, are the easiest and the cheapest to store. This is how our ancestors stored most of their food. However, you must have a source of vitamin C, as dried goods typically have none. You would die of scurvy if you tried to live too long off of rice, beans, and flour. The good news is that it's just as easy to store vitamin C pills. Nevertheless, keep in mind sources of fresh food.

Keep in mind that you need potable water even more often than food. Even people in rainy climates should probably store at least a little, and should definitely have a reliable means to render surface water potable. People in dry climates need to be able to store lots of drinking water.

Create a simple system for rotating food stocks?!
Once you get used to buying and storing dry goods in large quantities, it becomes relatively easy to reduce your risk of starvation or desperation during a crisis.

Wherever you decide to make your stand, you need helpers. Do not live alone, even if you are a young, strong, healthy male—which would make you statistically the most tempting target for murder! For that matter if you are particularly able, someone else probably needs your help. Cultivate a network of family, friends, and cooperative neighbors.

The mistake that everyone else makes

57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
(Source: Dan Poynter, self-publishing consultant)

I have some books to recommend, but they won't do you any good unless you read them. Read them once through (even though at least one of them is situation-specific), then keep them handy and browse them at odd moments. During a crisis, you would find it difficult to try to read them cookbook fashion.

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