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Survival is not just about living

When I think of survival and survival planning I’m thinking to cover two distinct timescales. Planning ahead for what I need.

The first timescale covers simple survival. The aftermath of a disaster or collapse where everything falls apart and you, and your family, are on your own with no shops to buy food, hungry people desperate to feed themselves and their families and no government, no law and order and no justice system. This timescale I would guess would last a maximum of one year and three months and would end after the next winter period or if we are lucky when society pulls itself together. In some cases this will encompass two winters as it depends on when it starts. During this period and depending on your location there will likely be scavengers, food shortages, cold, disease and violence. People who have not prepared will be struggling for survival and will trample over everything in their way to get a single meal for themselves and their families. What starvation does not get the cold winter months will. Eventually they will die out and what will be left are people like yourself, if you are lucky, and the hard core survivors with no family able to live on a small amount or gangs able to take over a preppers home and living by moving from home to home scavenging wherever they can. You will have difficulty planting food or keeping significant numbers of livestock as they are likely to be found and eaten by scavengers.

If society has not pulled itself together then the next timescale covers adapting to the new reality. Society is unlikely to pull itself together. You are the future of our society and you need to take charge in the rebuilding of food sources, the consolidation of your living quarters and adapt to living your new lifestyle whilst rebuilding society. Visitors will more likely be other survivors looking to see who is out there and/or trade and/or work for food. The first year will be the most onerous one as you will be running out of, or will already have run out of, your stored foodstuffs and your unused medicines will be expiring. No easy cure if you get a cold, cut yourself or become injured. In addition those that need regular medical attention will find they are running out and cannot replenish their stores. Your fuel will be exhausted, no more diesel for the generator and little for cooking and heating unless you are using wood instead of gas. Yet, this will be the time where you need to get out planting and breaking ground that has never been used before as you take over the best houses in your street and turn those overgrown lawns into vegetable patches. You also need to secure the area as best you can. Move animals around, plant in different places, collapse stairs, break roads up to make it difficult to get in. Nobody will be thinking about educating the children, burying the dead, unless they are in the immediate area, or doing much more than basic work till it gets dark, eat and rest for the next day. You need to prepare for the next winter and ensure you have enough to eat and keep you warm through it. The next year the crops will be in place, many will need replanting but not as many and you can start looking at exploring, see who else survived, educating the kids and planning for the future. At this point the future will be measured in months rather than years or decades. Our life expectancy will drop without health care and so we should be planning on rebuilding society before everything is gone and forgotten. Hopefully there will be libraries to scavenge so we can learn, there will be mines just waiting to be powered to provide salt, coal or other raw materials, factories waiting for those raw materials and people knowledgeable enough to use them to work towards the next step. Producing medicines and basic tools for the step after that. If we don’t do this; the tools will disappear, we will quickly lose our knowledge and when our children are old and feeble at 55 talking about lights that burned by flicking a switch on a wall and radiators that warmed the room before you got out of bed in the morning the others listening will look and think they are mad.

It isn’t just about having a stock of food and knowledge about how to live from a bush and two stones. There is a lot more than that.

10 comments to Survival is not just about living

  • Justin

    Good points well made. Especially about the continuation of knowledge. Much would be lost if it was a global shtf.

    Only point I’d disagree with would be the time taken for the ‘die off’. I did some calculations based on the quantity of food and water most people have / could get hold of and it didn’t look good. Around me the population density is 150 per square km. I estimate it would be down to 7 per square km in 10 weeks. And that’s without a winter. But then, my estimate is based on certain assumptions that may or may not be correct such as none of them being prepared.

  • Skean Dhude

    Justin,

    That is a critical point. Losing knowledge means a whole lot of new people have to die before it is regained.

    I’ll not argue to much with your calculations. People can go weeks without food and there will be some for most people for a few weeks and if they stretch it a bit with living off their gardens, depending on time of year, then a lot more could make it to 3 months. Obviously we would watch and depending on the situation we could plant earlier or at least perform work on our retreat.

    I’m looking at it simply. If too many people are around a garden will get raided. It is indefensible and waiting till spring will ensure at least one winter. People die now during the winter so when they are malnourished it will be devastating.

  • skvez

    The driving factor will be fresh water rather than food. People can only go a few days without water and water borne disease will kill people long before they starve (actually a combination of disease and suppressed immune system due to being malnourished).
    Some means to collect rainwater while it’s clean or purify it if we collect it from puddles (or the roof) should be our number one prep.
    We have become too used to having water-on-demand. Look what happened in Northern Ireland just after Christmas 2010 even when the shops were open selling bottled water (and liquid alternatves, juice etc).

  • Justin

    I’ve been looking more and more at water recently. Both chemical treatment (chlorine bleach and tablets), filtration (those army bag things and bottle filters) and collecting sources that are unlikely to contain contamination (rain and swimming pools). I agree that both getting water and water-borne diseases will be a major factor and a major killer. Probably killing more than the lack of food.

  • Skean Dhude

    Skvez,

    Good point. However this is the UK water falls from the sky on a regular basis although I suspect that most will collect it in dirty buckets or whatever and get ill from it. I have plenty of bottled water plus the tools to collect and sterilise it via sunlight, 2lt water bottles, or via bleach.

    Justin,

    I suspect you are right. More will die from water borne diseases. It is one of my concerns over the dead bodies. Swimming pool water is for fish or cleaning. No big pools near me though. Most of the back gardens have trampolines in atm, not summer yet.

  • skvez

    Collecting drinkable water isn’t that easy, even if people have the forsight to put out a bucket an inch of rain into a 25cm wide bucket is still only 100mL.
    Put out a bigger catcher (plastic sheet etc) and the local wildlife will be drinking it, birds will be bathing in it and probably pooping in it. A strong breeze will spill it.
    In desperation people will drink whatever dirty water they can find.

  • Skean Dhude

    Skvez,

    It will be a problem for all of us. Even those who have prepared.

  • Ronnie

    Does boiling water kill most things? Can I just boil a big pot on the wood stove to clean water up for drinking?

  • Skean Dhude

    It will kill all the bad bacteria etc. however if the water is tainted with a chemical or something it will make no difference.

    However, filtering only really matters if you have an unknown source. If it is rainwater from a roof or a rain barrel then boiling will be fine.

    Even a stream could end up polluted by something dead in the water upstream. Don’t assume.

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