Corona Virus Panic & What Matters Now

I put back some of the articles on my page, articles that I find are make sense for new situation in the world about this new Corona virus.

I felt there is need to put back some of that in this situation.

Whatever happens with this new epidemic or pandemic chaos around the world, as I always said it it will come to the bare essence of the people vs. resources combination.

Was, plagues, climate changes, asteroids… at the end it always come to the same: more people than resources.

Some of the articles here on page I wrote years ago, most of them are about situations that happened 25 or more years ago, but if you read it carefully and if you “transfer” some of that to your settings or this time you ll see philosophy and basics are same, for most of the situations.

Rest of the my articles archive and my articles from other places, and stories that are not being  published on line anywhere are published as a books for some time on Amazon:

SHTF Survival Stories: Memories from the Balkan War

The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival: The Brutal Truth About Violence, Death, & Mayhem You Must Know to Survive

Corona, system, panic

 

Situation with Corona virus changes everyday, and that change is towards bad everywhere not to good, I still think this virus is not necessary so dangerous like most of us think (time will show if Im right), but that does not mean too much to us in “prepper terms” because I still think it will bring pretty big chaos everywhere.

Chaos will be more or less everywhere because many reasons like poor system reaction to virus, false information on public media about pandemic, panic, and generally poor will of people to live in changed times.

All that essentially and eventually may bring to the situation mentioned above: more people then resources.

We have being bombarded with information that system will take care for this thing, and in the same time as a preppers we need to know that system can not take care about things like this, if this gonna last for a long time.

 

Few examples:

 

stay tuned

 

 

Staying “tuned”  or being mesmerized by info that “officials” will provide you for latest crisis makes sense if you wanna be kinda “aware” where things may go, or if you want to “check pulse” of the system, but to be mesmerized by it to the levels that you base your important decisions on it is simply wrong (as i mentioned many times before).

System job is simple-to keep the system running, so you are probably not gonna heard on TV official warning something like “we are out, it iseverybody for himself”.

At least you not gonna heard it on time to make some difference to you.

I listening here for days public announcements that “there is no need to stash up, to buy huge amonts of food, meds, water etc, because there is no need for it, goverment had it under control”.

Then yesterday I read bit shy government statement that “every household should have enough food, meds etc, so it can survive for couple of weeks without need to go out”

Now, if you waited here in my region for that announcement yesterday and go out to buy stuff, you could not find some items like masks, hand gel sanitizer and similar.

So, if you are prepper, survivalist, it really does not make sense to wait for someone to tell you “you need to go out and stock up”.

Smart people (survivalists) did that long time ago.

 

system and panic

 

I do not know how things are going there wherever you are, but here in my region it seems that people who are handling this crisis and make decisions are kinda idiots, at least majority of them.

There were so many flaws in dealing with this that often I am thinking about conspiracy theories now.

But then again, here everything is politics, and everything is about how things are “under the control” even when they are very far from any kind of control.

So people who are not competent will go out with info that will bring more panic, more false info, and at the end more misunderstanding and eventually chaos.

I have friend who works in goverment “crisis center”. He was out on radio, making statement that everything is under control, no need to panic, no need to buying stuff… on same day he called me privately and told me “you need to stock up  and be prepared”, i told him “thank you i will” , of course he do not know I am prepared since the time of his elementary school.

What about people who trust his public anouncment?

Again, job of the system is to keep system running.

 

 

what going to happen?

 

Well nobody knows, but if you telling me that this virus does not have impact on society just go and check what measures China government took, in order to contain it.

And then think is your goverment is ready to do measures like Chinese, and are people around you ready to “agree” with measures like in China?

I know for sure here it would bring society to complete stop, and then to chaos.

So do I think we all going to die from virus, no, definetly not, but I do think there is huge possibility we might be pushed back, in some cases we might be pushed back in chaos and system collapse, for some time.

So, it definitely makes sense to be prepared for it.

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Survival lesson Re-visited: Staying Out Of Trouble

 

This new article is actually a re-post of one of the my old articles that I wrote almost 3 years ago.

The guy that I wrote about in that article died few days ago, and that is the reason why I am re posting this.

I use to knew him very well, the man that he became at the end was almost a stranger to me.

He did not die shooting an AK47 at the politicians who once “pushed” him to war with their “infinite honor” and “our cause” stories, he did not wrote book about his experiences, he did not become hero.

At his funeral there were 9 people, including guys who are paid to finish the job with shovels.

This man was “eaten” by cancer, and I am sure that cancer started in his soul first.

I drunk few gins for his soul and decide to re-post this.

Message of this is same. Stay out of the trouble and simply do not believe everything, especially if the message is coming “packaged” and in “big words” (Students in USA should take special note of this now…)

 

Looking for goods and usable items during the war often meant I got myself in some weird situations and scenarios. I knew lots of guys who risked their lives just to go to some destroyed places because they knew they could find some items that meant a lot for them personally, but actually those items were useless in given situation around us at that time.

But people often act like fools and if you find yourself in a survival situation it is the perfect time to lose your life if you act like fool.

Like a friend who lost his eye, just because he went to his house and searched through a closet full of audio tapes in order to collect some of his favourite punk band titles. Not to mention that electricity in that time was something like faint memory, and he could not do anything with those tapes even if he did find them.

Anyway booby trap exploded, luckily he survived, but he lost one of his eyes.

When you have young people or in general, inexperienced people and fighting around you, it is the perfect combination for some people to act like fools.

There is something in dangerous (and new) situations that makes you want to act like fool, and to do stupid things, young folks do that mostly, but it can happen to anyone, it happened to me too.

Good old „stay out of the trouble“ advice is one of the best survival lessons one can learn.

Whenever I read on survival forums, threads about gangs and how during SHTF people should get organized and simply defeat them, I remember how young and enthusiastic I was about that too, but luckily enthusiasm went away quickly and I survived.

The problem here is holding onto old concepts and not accepting change. One day you have law and order and you can call someone when you see trouble because it is not right, next day suddenly there is no one to call and you might feel you have to jump in to make things right.

You may find it cowardly that man wants to stay put when bad things happen around him but in reality in most of the situations you can not do anything without huge organisation that helps you and a big personal risk.

My relative was outside the country when the war started, he was working for an electrical company in the middle east. Contract was good, and he had a monthly salary there equal to 6 months salaries here at that time.

On first news about fighting and war, he returned to the country to join the army and fight. Blockades and battles already started and his trip back to his town took lot of time and troubles.

He was 26 year old back then and he told me that when he entered the country at a small city where he and few other guys wanted to join the fighting forces, he saw that war is not like in books and movies…

Military unit that welcomed them asked who they are and what they wanted, they said that they wanted to join the fighting forces. He said he expected some kind of questions about their military experience or similar, but instead of that the small unit commander asked them : „Do you want some women?“

They starred at him like idiots so he explained „We have some enemy women in prison close here, so go there first if you want“.

My relative was raised by his grandmother, he was nice kid, no cursing, not too much drinking, he said to me that shock was so big that he could not open his mouth to even say „No man!“

He told me that later he find out that fighting includes doing lots of things in order to win fight and stay alive. He went through lots of fighting, earned the reputation of a tough guy, and one day they got caught up in ambush and he was one of the few who survived.

Machine gun from close distance destroyed his legs and belly. He was removed from the country for rehabilitation, his legs are still there, but only for „pictures“.

He is „glued“ to wheelchair forever, and no kids, no wife either.

He lives today in small apartment that looks at big chimney of a disused factory, elevator is usually not working, and nobody cares to lift him up and down.

Nobody visits him too much, he is no hero, he fought for something that is now considered „ wrong and not needed war“ as they say.

Now and then I visit him in his city and that apartment, and every time I conclude two things:

First how lucky I am. Even with all my issues and traumas from the war compared to him, and second is that every time when I left him in his misery and bitterness I am expecting to see in few days in news something like „old war veteran in wheelchair went crazy and start to shoot from AK47 at people in street from his apartment at 6th floor.“

I asked him once why he returned to the country at the beggining of the war while at the same time thousands fled? I expected to hear something patriotic or similar, but he said „Man, at that time it was something so exciting and new!“

So just listen to first survival and most important survival lesson: Stay out of the trouble. Life is very real and it is easy to forget how brutal “real life” can be. With real life I mean life without our civilized society or just life without all support and help we take for granted.

I hope I will never have to use everything I trained for or any lesson I share with you here ever again.

Do you have examples when staying out of trouble was hard and about consequences of this? Share in the comments below.

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Skills And Training

target

I have just finished delivering another ‘Mile In My Shoes’ (MIMS) down here in the Balkans. As always it was a great event with many insights both for the students and me. Having finished the course I got to thinking more about training in the survival and preparedness community.

Learning real survival skills in the field is something that cannot be substituted with anything, but I see people often try to do that.

Another mistake in learning skills is because they are often (almost always) taken out of the context, or even more often, there is no context at all.

Somehow as a result, there is a whole bunch of people learning skills without mindset where and when to use it, or not to use it. (I agree it is better to have skills even without context than not to have them at all, but that sounds more like an excuse than a justification…)

Prepping is a BIG industry, and for lot of people it just needs to be “sugar coated” in order to be consumed.

 

Levels…

Two examples here:

When you say to me “SHTF” my first thought is partial or complete collapse of the system and its services, so my second thought is about (lack of) resources, and other people realizing that fact, my third thought is about fight with other people for the resources still left.

It is my thought when you say SHTF.

For some people when they heard “SHTF”  their first thought is let’s say ‘power shortage’ that’s going to last for about 12 hours, their second thought is that they need to be comfortable for those 12 hours (only) because after that government (system, services) will jump in and fix things.

For them SHTF is 12 hours without electricity…

Now what is clear here, I firmly believe that there will be event of complete (prolonged) missing of the system (law, medical services, food distribution chain…) and some of the reasons could be new pandemics, economic problems, ethnic race (religious) reasons, chaos, or simply some wide world event.

Important thing is that people believing in any of these two levels have a lot to learn, but the starting point should be different.

For example for the folks who think that it is impossible to meet anything more complicated then short disturbances in electrical supply there is no too much use in throwing to them war scenarios and tactical shooting course, because for them it is maybe going to be fun, but there is no context there for them, no understanding.

It is more use for them to read history books, speak with war veterans-to try to understand that shit (will) happens, even in most modern societies where similar things did not happen for generations.

That is start for them.

 

Skills and Using Skills In Context

 

Real danger here is not about learning skills (which is again great thing to do), it is about not understanding how to put it in correct context and real life situation.

If you putting skills learning into good, practical multi day courses of “basic primitive skills learning course” or “wilderness skills course” and play it like that it is perfectly good and useful.

But again there are courses (or books, publications, media, you tube videos) of “how to survive end of the days”, “austere medicine course” or simply “buy this and you will survive and thrive when SHTF” and inside are skills, and list of items to learn or buy without connection to real situations, it is not only scam (more or less) – it is quite dangerous.

What I am trying to explain is best to show through the example.

Let s say there is “where there is no doctor” or “austere medicine course”, and it is like “advanced” too.

In short part of the course goes like this:

-Students start with drinking coffee, and getting know each other

-It is nice, weather is fine, there are snacks and food available, all students feel really comfortable

-They are injuring a pig (or other good sized live animal) and then trying to stitch the pig, or stop the bleeding in different ways

– The pig does not survive and they learned something about stopping the bleeding, and they feel stronger (and disgusted) because of the amount of blood and screams and how ‘real’ the training was.

Good things here that students get some feeling about blood, and they learned something about bleeding and ways to stop it.

But bad thing here is that they been told that now they are ready for SHTF in terms of the bleeding and stopping it.

In reality they are not even close to be ready.

Preferable this is  how this part of the course should look:

-No coffee on the course

-No food that day

-Bad weather is preffered

-Students are divided in two groups

-Preferable one at least one student in each group should be slowed down (let say evil instructor will “somehow” cause one of the student to have serious case of diarrhea)

-Students (each group separately) are instructed to carry the pig 5 kilometers to a near mountain or a specified place using compass and map only

-Half way to the mountain they have been (each group) instructed to stab the pig, stop the bleeding and carry the pig to the mountain again (while pig is screaming)

-Groups should hide one from another

-Group who get first to the mountain top with alive pig is winner

 

Now this is very banal example, and it is here only to in terms of an example, but point here is to understand – there is no sense only from learning skills without putting (and testing) those skills in scenarios that need to be as close to real life as possible.

I mean, if we are learning about stopping bleeding on someone when serious SHTF do you really believe  that you ll be well fed, healthy, in good mental state, perfectly capable for that?

There is the huge probability that you’ll be in poor condition while you trying to stop someones bleeding, remember it is SHTF? Actually you may be in condition where you may not be able to stop someone s bleeding at all.

What is the point of testing yourself if you do not push yourself at least close to the limits while testing ?

It is much more important  after the some  course, book, or you tube clip to understand and realize that you are not yet ready, and to know your current limits than to be sure “you are ready for full SHTF” because your instructor told you that, or simply book saying you that, while clearly you are not.

If you know your current  limits you know what more to learn or practice or achieve, and that is good, I learn almost every day something, and in many fields there are unknown stuff for me and there is nothing wrong in that…

Remember “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” – Archilochus

 

 

 

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Reality Check – What You Maybe Doing Wrong and How It Will Get You Killed

suicide

 

Over the years being in the Prepper and Survival community,  I realize that my favorite topics for writing are about survival myths.

There are two reasons for that. First I have been through SHTF, so it is obviously clear to me what are the myths about survival and what are the truths, in other words it is kinda easy for me to write about it.

Second reason is because at the same time it’s hard. It is not hard to write about it, but it is hard to explain to people what it’s all about.

Reason for that, is not because I consider most of the Prepper’s idiots, it is about the preconceptions inexperienced people have about survival, or being ready for SHTF.

That preconception is so huge, and so deep, it has been plugged or conditioned into a lot of Preppers so hard, over so many years of bombarding from youtube, blogs, forums, movies and similar that sometimes it look simply hopeless too fight.

 

Where to Look?

 

I remember for the first time seeing and teaching a group of students who considered themselves survivalists and Preppers. After few hours of talking with them my first impression was to tell them, or to yell at them „ you are so fucking dead when SHTF, on second day you are dead!!!“

Of course I did not tell them that, but the point is that their survival mentality and mine were like two completely different worlds.

No they were not idiots, just regular folks who look and checked for the most common information about survival out there available, or most commercialized, or coolest.

And no, I do not think that everyone needs to go through years of war in order to become survivalist, just some common sense and some effort.

It is like they learned everything they knew about survival from the guy on youtube channel, who read it from the book, which was written by a guy who heard something from a friend some time ago. So many of the sources they ‘relied’ on or trusted were dangerously worthless…

Folks, there is much more to learn from let’s say a diary of holocaust survivor, than from youtube guy who is testing his new BOB in his backyard!

Actually I would rather have memorized the diary book, instead of owning the BOBs that most of the youtube guys are testing and recommending!

This whole topic is huge, but let’s address the more common mistakes I see all the time. Each of them is not a mistake by itself, but if you put these as a ‘priority’ it is something that definitely will get you killed when SHTF:

 

The ‘Cool’ Factor

 

Here is a scenario that happened. A student on my survival course has been offered to choose some equipment to complete a survival training task, the amount of equipment to choose from was limited.

He is trying to ensure he has covered all of the ‘seven priorities’ of Urban Survival. When he gets to the water „section“ there were two items, a camping stove set (The Trangia model), and an old dirty plastic bottle, he could choose one.

He choose the plastic bottle for the section „water“.

I asked him ‘can you tell me why did you choose plastic bottle instead of the camping stove set?’, his answer was: “I saw on youtube that plastic bottle can be use for boiling water and making it sterile“.

I asked him:“ why did you not choose the camping stove set, it can do same thing, much easier, can do even more things, and last much longer etc etc“?

He did not have an answer for that, other than his previous one.

Folks, watching something on youtube (believe it or not) that looks cool, does not necessary mean it is right, or right for every situation.

I believe that youtube video was about using plastic bottle in survival when you do not have anything else, but taking it instead of something really useful just because looks cool or it’s a ‘good trick’???

This Plastic bottle story is just one example, many other times on various courses I see very similar things.

Internet is full of good advice about tactics, techniques, and equipment for SHTF, problem is, that in the same time internet is full of s..t, so choose carefully where you look to learn something, Check for guys who CREDIBLY tested something or experienced it, or you test it yourself before real SHTF.

I know, it is big industry and big money out there about let’s say „ how to survive end of the world with cool equipment and looking cool“, but from my experience I did not see cool equipment in my time, and the ‘cool’ people died very early on…

Folks who survived had stuff that worked and mentality that worked. ‘Coolness’ was not important in that time, even if someone had some ideas about looking and being cool, those ideas gone with first bullets hissing around their heads.

If you’re preparing to have cool equipment (only) and look cool when SHTF you are doing something wrong. Seriously.

 

Commodities, Peace of Mind, and Degrees of Knowledge

 

Again, having a commodity by itself when SHTF, on it’s own is not a problem. There is nothing wrong in preparing to be in as much comfort as possible when SHTF.

But huge number of Preppers are preparing only for that! And that is wrong.

Simplest example here, is man who is preparing for SHTF by buying good generator, in order to have as much comfort possible when SHTF, but at the same time he does not know ways to start a simple fire.

Generator here is something like an upgrade, fire (knowledge) is essential.

Nothing wrong with owning a generator, if you also know and have supplies up to the level where a generator ‘fits in’.

Or you have man who has 5 assault rifles, and a lot of ‘knowledge’ (youtube again) about tactical movement – but he has NO clue how hard (noisy) it is to move through partially destroyed buildings, or he never fired the rifle inside an enclosed space (room, empty corridor) and did not experience the impact of that event on his ears.

Nothing wrong with owning 5 rifles, if you know everything up to that level.

Five rifles alone does not mean s..t.

Internet is full of advertising that if you do (or buy) whatever they offer you, you’re going to have something like ‘best time of your life when SHTF.’

Of course it is a lie, even if you are fully prepared it is not going to be a joyride, it is going to be hard and life changing.

And by ‘buying solutions’ then you are just buying peace of mind, nothing more. Worse still, you are seriously underestimating SHTF.

PLEASE make some common sense decisions in your preparing. Do not find yourself in situation where you have 30 spices in your pantry but you do not have duct tape or an axe.

Start from the basic in every „pillar“ of survival, evenly, then build on that base with logic and sense. Build all pillars up at the same time, don’t take ‘defense’ for example and focus and build that to the highest level while ignoring the six others…

I’ve written about these before, but just as a brief re-cap, the seven ‘pillars’ of Urban Preparedness are:

1) Fire

2) Water

3) Shelter

4) Food

5) Signalling/Communication

6) Medical/Hygiene

7) Defense

Use the internet to help your preps, but confidence check your sources, and do not believe everything you read/see!!!

I see and read to many people treating Prepping like some ‘fun game’ as opposed to the serious matter it is. Please choose your approach wisely folks…

 

 

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Plans Without Preps

maze

 

I got asked a great question recently, and thought I would answer it with an article. A reader asks:

„I read your posts for years, I did not find myself survivalist all that time, I have read it because what you wrote about war times and similar… My question is simple, can you give couple of simple advice’s what to do in case of SHTF, without going into „prep for years“ or „build your group for years and store pile of ammo“ advices,  what if SHTF tommorrow and I do not have anything like that“?

At the first it looks like simple question, something that any of us who are into prepping should answer easily, but again we are talking about man who is not into prepping at all.

So what to do?

Whole books are written about this answer, but let’s try to be short and just stick to the basics here.

What Is Going On?

You see that something is happening outside, something big, let’s say you notice that there is an emergency broadcasting on TV, and you see a huge number of law enforcement outside, and other that that you know nothing more.

Now, at this moment, you need to make some important decisions, and you’ll have to make it based on what you know, so clearly the more information you can get, the better you can make decisions.

Two important points here you need to understand are:

1.No matter what is the real reason for your particular SHTF event, there is some common  elements of every SHTF event no matter if it’s terrorist dirty bomb attack, solar EMP or Romulans attacking with spaceships.

Panic, disorder, rumors, looting, chaos. So just do not expect to collect all the info. you want in that moment.

Do not wait to find out what is really happening, or let’s say do not wait to find out why things (shit) are happening. At this moment forget the ‘why’ and act.

2. Collect info. based on your small circle of options. That means (continuing from point A) that you do not need (most probably) to find out why there is looting in street next to you, why there is police force in big number, why there is no TV signal, and why there is big black smoke visible from your office few kilometers away in the city.

What you need to know is how to avoid (and what way to take) looting mob, what kind of force police is using there and what way to travel to avoid that big black smoke.

Do not get me wrong, to know why things are happening is great, but to wait too long to find out is usually bad and it is often way better to solve things in small steps.

What Actually To Do?

Go back to the basics again.  Simply try to stay away from the trouble.

We said that you are not prepper, and you are in the city.

Assess your situation and act.

Your „luck“ probably in that moment is that people will probably look more how to take (steal) LCD TVs or laptops than things for shelter or defense.

Get yourself organized into simple categories, we typically have SEVEN Survival Priorities:

  1. Fire
  2. Shelter
  3. Water
  4. Food
  5. Communication
  6. Medical
  7. Defense

Try to cover each priority as much as you can.

Again, do not spend too much time in covering each one at the expense of finding yourself in a worse situation.

As you are not prepper, and you might find yourself in the middle of working day in the office when SHTF, look around yourself and see what you can use to cover each of the priorities.

For fire you can have only a lighter maybe, and, for now, you have that priority covered, for water you going to put several bottles of water in your bag.

For shelter you gonna steal a few more jackets, or emergency blanket or trash bags.

For food you’re going to take energy bars from the vending machine, for communications you’re going to take cellphone with you (and hope there is still a signal/network), for medical you are going to „borrow“ the first aid kit from the hallway in your office building, and for defense you will take a couple of knives from the kitchen or simply smash some chair and take a chair leg as an improvised baton.

So all priorities are covered.

Yes it looks poor, but you covered sections with what you got. Improvising and adapting is key here…

Where To Go?

Bug Out or Bug In?

Simply go away from the trouble, that’s it.

We are talking here about city, so huge possibility is that you are going to go outside of the city. More people means more problems.

But first thing to keep in mind is not to run from the city, it is to escape the trouble (think in small circles-steps). Rory Miller says it nicely ‘Don’t run away from danger, run towards safety’.

If that means that you need to hunker down in office building, or in rolled over school bus or wherever in the middle of the city for two days in order to safely leave the city then you are going to do that.

First and immediate task is to stay out of (and avoid) trouble in your goal to leave the city.

Maybe you going to have to spend week hiding somewhere in city, waiting for right moment to leave it. You do not know.

Point is to avoid trouble and adapt your plans accordingly to that.

Rules

Best advice for you is anticipate that there are simply no rules, but some common things for every situations are there, so:

-Stick to your plan up until to the moment when it is more dangerous to follow the plan, then improvise, adapt and modify your plan. Be ready that your plan can fall apart right at the beginning (example: if you plan to leave the city through several pre planned points and streets, and there is danger on the way, you might choose to ‘bend’ your plan and use a longer way instead)

-Violence. Avoid violence, simply like that. Violence means chance to get yourself killed, or injured. Killed means your survival story is ended, and injured means much more trouble than in normal times, remember small cut can kill you in SHTF world.

-Violence, again. When there is no other way then to use violence you have to use it in a quick and effective way, without hesitation, without rules. You’ll think about what you did later, if you have to.

-Things are (probably, or might not be) not what they look like. Police might not be police, law is not law anymore, stealing is not stealing, honor is not honor. Survival changes things.

-Prioritize things. Systemic collapse, especially first period of it, means lot of chaos, that means lot of distractions in your planned action. Always have in your mind what is your priority in the given moment. Getting from point A to point B might look easy today, but when SHTF you may find events problems and obstacles on that way that can fill one lifetime of average peaceful citizen.

Do not find yourself pulled in situations, like say going to the destroyed pharmacy seemed like a good chance to refill your medical kit, but also its a good chance to meet couple of high junkies inside who will stab you. Choose wisely what „distraction“ you will take as a good ‘chance’.

Conclusion

As you can conclude, for non prepper advice would be develop some plan and act. Also that does not mean that plan is to run like an idiot and get yourself killed.

Sometimes what you need is just will to survive, and based on that you will adapt and build your plan.

Have you ever had to deal with a serious situation with no time to prepare for it? Please share your stories and ‘lessons learnt’ in the comments below.

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Every Day Carry (EDC) Foundation Concepts

Every Day Carry

We all routinely carry certain items with us, either out of necessity and/or habit. Even the shortest journey out of home or work place triggers an instinctive check of pockets and bags: do I have my phone? keys? wallet? By logical extension, those of us who analyze and assess external influences on our lifestyle, normally have additional items in our routine carry checklist, and it is these objects that tend to be classified as EDC items. We discuss EDC a lot in our in depth online survival course.

The concept is far from new and should not be intimidating, although some zealots of particular EDC items can come across a little strong in their discussions and guidance.

An identifiable generalized trend in Urban Preparedness, Wilderness Survival and even EDC, is the obsession with and reliance on ‘lists’. I get the distinct impression that for most people purchasing items from a recommended list of “things to carry”, is far easier and less time consuming and gives a quick ‘sense of peace’.

With this in mind, why would I have a concern over the ‘list trend’? My issue is this: if we look to the founding concepts of EDC, we realize that arbitrarily following a list does not necessarily give us the protection and peace of mind we desire, in fact, in some circumstances, it may put us at more risk depending on what and how we carry.

The aim of this article is to run through what I regard as the foundation concepts and therefore key considerations on items we carry.

There are three key category headers to consider:

  1. Stowage – Where/How are we carrying
  2. What items are we carrying
  3. What should be the demands and expectation of our equipment

Let’s expand on these:

1) Stowage

Whatever we decide to carry must be carried in a manner that does not excessively confine or restrict our movement, ensures the items are held securely, but allows them to be accessed as needed (and this may be exceptionally time sensitive, especially in regard to any defensive items).

Most militaries will define individual equipment scales (also known as ‘loadouts’) right from basic training. The concept is simple; there are 4 scale/load levels:

Level 1 – Items carried on your person AT ALL times. In the military these would be items carried in your pockets, affixed to your belt or worn on your person e.g morphine syrettes worn on a neck chain. This translates directly to civilian standards. Our level 1 items would be keys, phone, wallet, personal defensive items etc.

Level 2 – These are items that are always within arm’s reach, but maybe removed from the body. In military terms, this would be your weapons system and ‘fighting order’, (Body Armour, Assault Vest or equivalent). Fighting orders revolve around the necessity to carry ammunition, water, emergency medical equipment and some key survival items.

This again can be easily translated for civilian application with the exception being the method for carrying items, since a military style webbing system may not be an appropriate choice in most cases. More likely, essential items are going to be stowed in a fanny pack, small shoulder bag (e.g laptop bag) or purse/manbag. Consideration also needs to be given to the type of clothes we are wearing and what stowage options are afforded to us by these.

Level 3 – These are items needed for extended operations (>12hrs), but maybe stowed during attack/assault phases of operations. Normally this larger pack (Ruck or Bergen) will contain additional supplies (ammunition, batteries), food, sleeping system, field equipment (shelter, wash kit, stove, additional clothing items etc).

For those who have given consideration to larger scale preparedness, level 3 is the equivalent of a ‘Bug Out’ bag. The intention here is to carry the essential items to sustain the individual for a period of up to 72hrs. This bag is normally stowed in a vehicle or at home/in the office, as opposed to being constantly carried.

There is a lot written about what constitutes the ‘ultimate’ Bug Out Bag, but often, in my mind, there is WAY too much equipment advised to be carried at this level, and this is where the dangers of ‘the list’ really begin to manifest themselves. That doesn’t mean there aren’t advocates of burdensome carry at level 1 and 2 also! We will look to avoid the ‘over burden’ problem in the next section.

Level 4 – These are typically ‘on base’ level items, which can be kept in a trunk, locker, in barracks or equivalent.

In EDC terms, level 4 will be items we potentially have stored at home for replacement or supplementation of regular EDC items if needed.

2) What Items are We Carrying

Remember we are addressing at a conceptual level here, so what must be considered with regard to our item choices? I believe there are 4 essential considerations:

a) Individual – Who are you, what do you do, what’s your build, what’s your fitness level, are you carrying long term injuries or mobility problems, are you carrying for you individually or also on behalf of other family members? Answers to all these questions are going to significantly influence what you carry and how.

b) Competencies – What is your skill set, what is your level of training (especially in regard to any defensive items you are carrying), what is your experience in dealing with unexpected situations? The adage ‘the more you know the less you carry’ is often quite true. The greater your training, skill and experience level, the less likely you are going to carry equipment to ‘substitute’ your knowledge.

c) Concerns – This is one of the most critical, but also, in my mind, one of the most overlooked. What are you actually concerned in terms of personal safety? Or more pointedly, what are you preparing for? If we can’t specify our goal it is incredibly difficult to work back from that point to identify our equipment needs. Equally if we can clearly identify our goal(s) it is far easier to select our EDC items.

d) Environment – How is your physical environment (hot, cold, urban, rural), what potential threats or hazards are contained in your environment? Again clear assessment and identification of which hazards we want to avoid and/or mitigate is going to be influential on EDC selection.

3) Demands on our equipment

The final part of our Foundation Concepts is to address what demands we have from our equipment. I have identified 5 key considerations in this regard. Before I begin I just want to clarify, it is very rare you will find an item that fulfills all 5 of these considerations. Think of it as ‘ticking the boxes’, an item that scores 4 out of 5 of these points will have a greater chance of making it on to my EDC than carrying an item that scores say 2 out of 5:

a) Fulfills an Essential Function – It is VERY easy to get loaded down with superfluous or overly specialized gear. In the first instance, EDC is about carrying small items that make a BIG difference. Investigate every piece of equipment and make sure you are carrying it because it’s essential.

b) Difficult to Replicate In Your Environment – This is coming from my ‘wilderness rules’. Being in a town or city means, in theory, everything is available to us if we are willing to purchase it, but that is not always a financially viable or stable approach. What I mean here is be careful not to load yourself down with items that can easily be scavenged if you needed to. I expand on this more here:

c) Multifunctional – Some items may clearly have more than one use (e.g. Multitool), however with some creative thinking, we may come up with multiple uses for even the most banal items we carry. This is a great mental exercise and also a good way of really pairing down your gear if you feel you are currently carrying too much.

d) Legal – Given the increasing level of ‘stop and search’ powers afforded to the police throughout western nations, as well as enhanced security screening in many public locations, the chances of being ‘caught’ and prosecuted for carrying illegal items, plus the fact it’s erm, y’know illegal, means we should not be so foolish as to carry anything that is not legally allowed. Ignorance of the law is no excuse here. Get informed. Also understand, there are many, many, legal alternatives to items that maybe banned. This takes us back to our ‘training and competence’ development.

e) Discreet – I am a firm believer in the ‘Grey Man’ theory. You may want to walk around primed for imminent apocalyptic action, just don’t look like you are. Blending with your environment is something you want to and should be able to do. EDC item selection and carry methods can greatly help or hinder this process.

With a clear understanding and grasp of these foundation concepts, it should be easier to carry EDC items more suited to us and our situation, rather than carrying generic items from a different individual´s list. This makes us not only more prepared, but more informed and therefore confident in the equipment we are carrying.

In subsequent articles I will be going through some of my personal carry items and going into more detail on how these foundation concepts relate. All of this said, the final note is to know and understand EDC needs to be fluid and dynamic, making it easy for us to change, amend, add or remove items as we see necessary in changing circumstances. This will also be covered in more detail soon.

Does this article give you thought on things you may change about your EDC? If so, comment below on the what, why and how of your changes! If you are still unsure what to pack, you can always get more guidance in our Survival Boot Camp.

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Best Way’s to Build Your Survival Group

urban survival

When we talk about how to start with preparing, for example how to talk to someone who is dear to you to get them started with preparing, it is easy to think that they will understand because it is obvious that world is going to hell right now.

You may try to convince someone to be with you in case of SHTF if that person is someone dear to you (family member for example) or if that person has cool skills that you will need when SHTF (some friend who does not know or share thoughts about SHTF, but his skills are great).

Of course best combination is if you have family members who have really cool skills necessary for SHTF (for example wilderness skills, martial arts, shooting, farming or similar) and you just need good conversation with that person over some time in order to be on same track with you and understand the importance of prepping.

Problem is in fact that combination is rare, and sometimes even if you have it, it can be possible that this person is useless simply because he (or she) is too shocked with SHTF and how hostile world suddenly is.

Anyway, there are activities to kinda „promote“ or simply „test“ your friends (or family members) if they are „candidates“ for your survival group.

It is slow process, you can not just go to someone and tell him that you strongly believe that world as we know it will end in next few years and that we all need to be prepared for that.
Usually they will think you are a weirdo.

Camping

There is nothing more simple and valuable in terms of learning and checking skills of someone (including yourself) like few days of camping in wilderness.

I am talking about camping in simple tents, with stuff and tools necessary for camping, without dragging truck full of things that will make your camping trip something like multiple day barbecue party in your backyard.

How to start fire, different kinds of wood, how to not kill yourself with axe while you collect wood, fishing, cleaning and preparing the food. Buying meat in your grocery shop is something completely different from killing live animals cleaning them and making them edible, for some people even catching (killing) fish is something new or big effort.

Man can get whole new perspective while lying inside tent during heavy rain, and it is getting colder and colder.

You can talk to him about how many people died last year because they were not aware of how everything is fragile, but he still gonna think that s..t is happening to someone else always and not him.

But he will always remember how cold it was because he did not have right socks, shoes or sleeping bag.

Or simply how hard it is to make your own food while it is freezing cold. Nothing like real experiences.

I was with friend camping on one mountain lake, and in the middle of the night he went out to look for the „toilet“.

He did not bring lamp, he went few steps too far into the woods, and of course after he finished his business he finds out that he does not have clue how to come back to the tents.

After 20 minutes of wondering he yelled and screamed and woke me up, he was actually close to the tents, so I brought him back. Grown up man, so helpless.

He said that he never felt scared like then, and that he did not have clue that „it is so dark in woods“.

Lesson learned.

History

It is simple. It happened before , and it will happen again. And probably it will be worse.

As a society we invented things and tools that allow us to make collapse events bigger, nastier, uglier.

We are living in a world where victims are numbers only, where there is thin line between those who will be protected and hidden when SHTF and those who will die in huge numbers when SHTF.

Do you still believe that goverment is there for your own good?

When SHTF, majority of folks will be left to take care for themselves and that s it.

It was like that many times before, and in the future it is gonna be even worse because we realy more and more on the system.

Suggest someone who is dear to you to read real life experiences.

Choose your books. For example general who was involved and wrote book about WW2 can teach you maybe something about tactics and numbers, but man who survived holocaust in camp can teach you way more about living and dying.

How armies were defeated is interesting, how man survived hiding like animal is more interesting in terms of survival.

Movies, documentaries ,TV shows, web and everything else are great sources of information and tools to give someone the right ideas but real experiences are always better.

If necessary, fake a longer power out to make people uncomfortable. This is not mean, this is to show them how much they depend on things and take things for granted. Survival is about getting normal skills back every human should have and needed for many thousands of years.

But like I mentioned many times before, there is danger of getting involved in preparing and getting things only instead getting the right mindset and knowledge. Learning common sense.

This is also what people will learn in our Survival Course in Croatia in few weeks. We still have spots available and you can train with me and Toby a few hundred miles from where I survived during Balkan war.

All details here.

Nothing beats real experience and investing in fancy knife might be fun, I understand, but real training and right mindset will make difference between those who live and those who die.

Survival’s first lesson: Staying out of trouble

survival lessonLooking for goods and usable items during the war often meant I got myself in some weird situations and scenarios. I knew lots of guys who risked their lives just to get to some destroyed places because they knew they could find some items that meant a lot for them personally but actually those items were useless in given situation around us at that time.

But people often act like fools and if you find yourself in a survival situation it is the perfect time to lose your life if you act like fool.

Like a friend who lost his eye just because he went to his house and searched trough a closet full of audio tapes in order to collect some of his favourite punk band titles. Not to mention that electricity in that time was something like faint memory, and he could not do anything with those tapes.

Anyway booby trap exploded, luckily he survived but he lost one of his eyes.

When you have young people or in general inexperienced people and fighting around you it is the perfect combination for some people to act like fools.

There is something in dangerous (and new) situations that makes you want to act like fool, and to do stupid things, young folks do that mostly, but it can happen to anyone, it happened to me too.

Good old „stay out of the trouble“ advice is one of the best survival lessons one can learn.

Whenever I read on survival forums threads about gangs and how during SHTF people should get organized and simply defeat them I remember how young and enthusiastic I was about that too, but luckily enthusiasm went away quickly and I survived.

The problem here is holding onto old concepts and not accepting change. One day you have law and order and you can call someone when you see trouble because it is not right, next day suddenly there is no one to call and you might feel you have to jump in to make things right.

You may find it cowardly that man wants to stay put when bad things happen around him but in reality in most of the situationz you can not do anything without huge organisation that helps you and big personal risk.

My relative was outside the country when war started, he was working for electrical company in middle east. Contract was good, and he had monthly salary there equal to 6 months salaries here at that time.

On first news about fighting and war he returned to the country to join the army and fight. Blockades and battles already started and his trip back to his town took lot of time and troubles.

He was 26 year old back then and he told me that when he entered country at a small city where he and few other guys wanted to join the fighting forces he saw that war is not like in books and movies the first time.

Military unit that welcomed them asked who they are and what they wanted, they said that they wanted to join the fighting forces. He said he expected some kind of questionary about their military experience or similar but instead of that the small unit commander asked them : „Do you want some women?“

They starred at him like idiots so he explained „We have some enemy women in prison close here, so go there if you want first“.

My relative was raised by his grandmother, he was nice kid, no cursing, no too much drinking, he said to me that shock was so big that he could not open his mouth to even say „No man!“

He told me that later he find out that fighting includes doing lots of things in order to win fight and stay alive. He went through lots of fighting, earned the reputation of a tough guy, and one day they got caught up in ambush and he was one of the few who survived.

Machine gun from close distance destroyed his legs and belly. He was removed from the country for rehabilitation, legs are still there, but only for „pictures“.

He is „glued“ to wheel chair forever, and no kids, no wife either.

He lives today in small apartment that looks at big chimney of for years closed factory, elevator is usually not working, and nobody cares to lift him up and down.

Nobody visits him too much, he is no hero, he fought for something that is now considered „ wrong and not needed war“ as they say.

Now and then I visit him in his city and that apartment, and every time I conclude two things:

First how lucky I am even with all my issues and traumas from the war compared to him, and second is that every time when I left him in his misery and bitterness I am expecting to see in few days in news something like „old war veteran in wheel chair went crazy and start to shoot from AK47 at people in street from his apartment at 6th floor.“

I asked him once why he returned to the country at the beggining of the war while at the same time thousands fled? I expected to hear something patriotic or similar, but he said „Man, at that time it was something so exciting and new!“

So just listen to first survival and most important survival lesson: Stay out of the trouble. Life is very real and it is easy to forget how brutal “real life” can be. With real life I mean life without our civilized society or just life without all support and help we take for granted.

I hope I will never have to use everything I trained for or any lesson I share with you here ever again.

Do you have examples when staying out of trouble was hard and about consequences of this? Share in comments below or forum.

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Essential for understanding survival is understanding reality of death and dying

Death and Survival

When I was young and under the influence of movies and books about fighting, war and dying somehow I adopted views that death and dying is something unavoidable and it is mostly noble and clean, and have some kind of cause and reason.

Soon I realized that truth is quite different, and mostly there is nothing clean about it.

People like to think that death in combat is something like they see on movies because it makes sense, it gives you some kind of comfort. I have seen death and dying many times, both in combat and in bed at peoples home when working in emergency services, and I can count on one hand when it looked clean and “noble”.

Buddy next to you who get few bullets in stomach will usually scream a lot, smell a lot, and you gonna catch yourself thinking „is he already dead? I can not stand this…“ and in the same time theres gonna be one more thought, prevailing, it is „thanks God it is him, not me, lying, screaming and dying…“ and later you might feel guilty for thinking this way…

Dying people will call their moms, sons, wives… will hold to you with their hands like death is trying to drag them, like you can save them, sometimes they will stare „through“ you, like they already see something that is not from this world…

Sometimes you gonna see something like blame in their eyes, this time they are aware that they are dying, and they want to switch places with you. Why can this guy stay and I have to go now? How unfair and cruel is this. This can not be real.

When SHTF be prepared that people will die around you, and it probably will look very different from picture that you have in your mind now. And also be prepared that looking at those deaths will change you on many levels, will affect you. I have seen people that were changed in bad ways, also I have seen people changed in good ways.

But it will change you.

As I said, I have seen many deaths, and most of those deaths were violent. All that makes me more cynical, but every time when I caught myself being too cynical I remember my motto that „generalizing things is not good“ so I remember the man, my good friend who died some 5 years ago.

He died in hospital, throat cancer. It was bad, and it was very painful. And what was worse it was very slow. He was „melting“ in front of my eyes, for weeks, at the end all what was left were skin, bones and his eyes.

I remembered those eyes from the days of war and chaos, he was strong man, a lion, people had a picture of him that he is powerful and ruthless. He was inspiration for many to fight on. And they were right. He was dangerous and fearless. But what they did not know was fact that he hide and save whole bunch of people from different enemy „group“. He did not do that for money, gold or anything else.

He saved them from death and private prisons, and get them to the safety. In that time he could easily lost his life for doing that. Only condition was that those people keep their mouth shut about who helped them. And they did mostly. After everything rumors were there, but nobody believed them.

Anyway times changed, he lost his power after the war, and later his health too. Times came when he could use fact that he save those folks, in order to gain money or power or similar.
But he did not do that, I know him before war, during the war, and after the war, I helped him once in smuggling few those guys to safety.

He did not use that. He was very poor when they found his cancer, he died as a poor man. Only few people were with him when he died, including me.

And I think it is one of the rare occasions when I saw that some man is very aware that he is dying, and still he is very calm, very peaceful. He always believed in God, in Jesus Christ, so it gave him peace I guess, but I like to think that being good man gave him peace. He save those folks because he was man like that, good man. He also knew what to expect from death. We, survivors of this time, have seen it too often to live under any illusion.

As I said, my faith in people is not strong at all, but whenever I lost it too much I remember him and thought that come to my mind is that even in hardest times you can find good people, even in strangest places. It does not mean to trust people, you should not. But in big crowd of naive sheep there are few exceptions. Look closely how people deal with stressful situation around you. Look who believes in what Hollywood tells them is reality and avoid these people.

Reality of death and dying will change them and it is hard to guess to what. Reality and our idea of life and death is often very different and this can result in shock when you look at ugly side of death. Shock paralyzes and scars souls.

I know this message is lost on many people who like to flip open weapon magazine and shop for new toys instead of learning about ugly side of life. Getting comfortable with death and how ugly, smelly, dirty and not noble it is, is essential for survivalist to still make right decisions and actions when it matters.

What are your thoughts on death and dying? Any personal experiences that helped you to become peaceful with it? Please share in comments.

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Prescription drugs, mental health and unstable people in survival scenarios

A reader wrote me and spoke about a family who are friends but he found out they are all on prescription medication that keeps them normal. He asks for advice how to deal with this and what can be expected from people like this during collapse.

Today I want to talk more about prescription drugs and medicine. I’m sure many of you who need medication on regular basis have already big stock of them. Know that some prescription medication like antibiotics can be bought as animal medication and so on. But here are some more thoughts on this.

People who have been dependent on some drugs, stuff like sedatives, antidepressants or something similar usually had two choices, first choice was to try to find sources of medicine (black market etc.) or to try to get by with substitutes (alcohol, marijuana or something stronger like heroin).

Second choice was in short to „get over it“ and live.

Of course this other (second) choice sounds and looks cooler and probably more „macho“ but in real life it is not so easy and people needed lot of support.

In my family I had example of a relative who chose first choice and go through our year of trying to survive with some serious drinking, sometimes during that time he was causing more problems than help.

But I also know guy who had pretty poor life before SHTF in terms of his goals in life, way of living and similar. He had bad drugs habits but when everything collapsed, it kinda woke him up in terms that he finds out that there is more real life problems to think about.

He saw that life is cool thing, and it is so easy to lose your life, so this gave him much motivation and energy and he overcome his problems. Years later he lives now life much better than in the time before the war, simply because he changed his priorities in life.

Prescription medication

Being dependent on certain drugs (medicine) that allow you to function properly because you are suffering from certain conditions (and I am talking here about stuff like depression, anxiety, panic disorders, phobias…) can be already hard in normal life.

It is constant and everyday struggle.

Coping with that conditions when SHTF can look impossible, especially without proper support and help. But also, do not consider them „not usable“ and „not worthy“ when SHTF.

For some things survival scenario is good, it can show you what life is, how much you need to appreciate it because you become close to death, and how easily you can lose it. SHTF will show you what is love, hate, fear and extreme emotions. And it can show you your true meaning of life.

My time in war was all about urban survival, besides my trip over mountains to get some supplies, but survival puts you more in touch with yourself and nature. You have no choice.

It is good if you have big stash of medicine you need, but do not stop with this. Living healthy life now, trying to find natural alternatives to drugs you take makes more sense to do now then when you are busy with surviving. From what I read a lot of people in survival scene live in world that they think they can buy safety. They forget about learning new skills and preparing your mind and body. Getting all things ready for harder life includes a lot of areas you have to put work in.

It is easy to take care of your teeth now, get regular checkup and any holes fixed. Someone else does it you just lie down. But try to clean up your medical problems as much as you can today. In long term collapse it can take years to rebuild system that can offer modern medicine.

So what about people in your family or friends who are dependent on some medication or drugs? What if it is about someone you can not change or who even does not care about preparedness and survival?

I mentioned few times that when SHTF people show their true face, so you can not know how someone will act.

People can act under the stress in some very weird and not common ways, be ready that people who do you consider like „tough ones“ cry, or be useless because of high stress. Theory is one thing but when you smell blood, hear screams and find out that you are about to fight for your life then everything is different.

If you can, take them out on adventure trip. Put them in some stressful situation (you still have control over) and see how they react. Look how these people work. Are they willing to work hard on something?

Do not consider automatically persons on some drugs (antidepressant for example) not usable for SHTF situation. Personally I would focus more on their other qualities and skills. Keep in mind that some people with mental problems have been to very dark places, sometimes only in their mind but for them it is real. They can be tougher and more used to stressful and terrible situations because they are used to it.

You want to prepare and form group for survival.

Group can be great source of support and can carry few unstable people through hard times but make sure you take good hard look how many “bad apples” you can take in your group. Survival is never popularity contest. Some decisions you will make sound cruel, maybe even insane but it is what it is. Let’s be realistic, without modern medicine we would have less people here today.

Even if you take on some unstable people, make sure you have solution to cut them lose from group when you can not support them anymore.

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