A major disaster hitting in your area might leave you high, dry, and helpless unless you can think ahead, react quickly, and shield yourself and others in a crisis.
If you would only knew in time… And if you would, how much could you do to prep. Let’s say, could you prepare for any disaster in just 3 days?
Let’s see where to start from, and where to head to, in order to survive!
- “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” – Harry Callahan. While survival is largely a DIY proposition, you have to realize your limitations and when calling in a specialist is your most effective move.
- A plan needs a Statement of Commander’s Intent (SCI) to keep everyone’s eye on the desired end-result.
- Using a modified version of the “Rule of Threes” as a mnemonic for survival priorities enables the survivor to plan for a wide range of survival scenarios without missing key priorities.
- “Skills trump gear.” Is an oversimplification that reflects ignorance of the fact that both skills and gear are necessary to save lives in most life-threatening emergencies. Used effectively, emergency tools and supplies save time and calories, and saving time and calories saves lives.
A Loud Knock at the Door
Let’s say you’re not a prepper, and you are enjoying your favorite TV show when you are startled by a loud knock at the door. You approach the door and peer out.
To your relief, you see a beloved family member staring at her cellphone. It’s been a while as she has been busy with work as the county emergency manager and you are glad to see her. As you open the door, she bursts in and hurriedly explains that there a new airborne pathogen is raging out of control and that the math cannot be refuted.
A global pandemic with a mortality rate above 50% has begun, and the federal government is already frantically preparing. The feds will not announce the threat for 72 hours to give them time to move personnel and supplies, but a longtime colleague at the CDC could not bear the guilt and tipped her off.
She simultaneously pleads with you and issues a mandate that within three days, you must quarantine your home for 90 days to have any hope of your family surviving this without loss of life. You must be ready before the announcement because panic will surely ensue.
You knew that a major disaster was a possibility, but just did not ever think that it would happen during your lifetime. You have never seen the need to prepare before now, but then there was no concrete threat at your door.
Now things have changed and so your vision has changed. You have experienced the all-important paradigm shift and now have precious little time to act.
How much could our survivors possibly prepare in just three days?
I know plenty of folks who have been preparing for months, years and even decades who don’t feel they are adequately prepared! Well, I enjoy a good survival challenge, so let’s take a stab at it.
3 Days to Be Prepared Blueprint
Even a relative novice to preparedness would be quick to concede that being prepared involves more than just equipment and supplies.
Our survivors must execute some immediate actions to give them any realistic hope of survival beyond sheer luck and the compassion and forbearance of others.
1. Establish Leadership
First things first, someone needs to step forward. A leader must be decided. Chain of command must be established. A state of emergency should be declared. There will be times when they can, and should, be democratic, but this is not one of them.
The leader should explain that this is not permanent. They should also explain why the changes are necessary and clearly describe the circumstances that will bring it to an end and they will step down and things will get back to normal when the family is out of danger.
2. Secure a Plan
Normally, I would say to create a plan, but as the family in our case study could not hope to become experts in any aspect of preparedness in just three days, our would-be survivors would do well to enlist the services of a competent emergency-preparedness expert to guide them in their preparations.
Our new leader does not have to be an expert to execute a well-drafted plan, and everyone would benefit greatly if that plan was drafted by someone with considerably more experience than they currently possess.
A realistic appraisal of the situation and decision to pay the price to bring in an expert would be our new leader’s best move. The plan should be simple and focus on the basics necessary to survive the situation at hand.
3. Execute the Plan
In executing a plan, the family should be instructed to pay attention to the first lines, which will communicate the Commander’s Statement of Intent. It this case, it will should be along the lines of “Enforce a strict quarantine of the structure occupied even if the use deadly force is necessary to enforce the quarantine.”
Systems will be put in place to warn the public to stay out and hopefully make the use of any level of force unnecessary, but since is the number one place the plan could break down, the family must be ready, unflinching and must not hesitate should use of force be necessary. If they pay attention to this, it is possible that everything else could fall into place.
4. Understand Physiological Responses to Danger
For most people, functioning effectively in an emergency is more easily said than done. Academics use the 10/80/10 Rule to describe this: Only 10% of people respond effectively in an emergency, 80% freeze, and 10% panic or respond in ways that are counter-productive to survival, such as drinking seawater or opening an emergency exit on a pressurized airplane at 30,000 feet.
You may have heard disaster survivors describe instances of tunnel vision, tunnel hearing, feelings of time slowing down, instances of victims repeating, “This is not happening.” over and over or outright refusal to recognize threats.
Physiological responses like tunnel vision and normalcy bias occur when the brain provides less detail in effort to prevent us from succumbing to analysis paralysis and freezing like a deer in the headlights. The connection I think academics fail to make is the role that the modern pattern of life we have engineered for ourselves plays in this process.
“Developed” modern city life insulates people from life and death decisions to such a degree that it causes the evolved protective response to backfire, resulting in paralysis, like it evolved to prevent. Understanding that physiological responses to danger exist is the first step to overcoming them.
5. Improvise, Adapt and Overcome
Emergencies are dynamic and even the very best plans do not survive contact with the enemy. Survivors plan to shelter in place and end up having to move to another dwelling or location to survive. It is not the strong who survive, but the adaptable.
What might the plan look like?
Depending on the size of the household, the family may benefit greatly by doubling or tripling up with other families as they may not have the manpower to mount an effective watch and secure the quarantined structure. The best candidates would likely be other family, friends or neighbors who are already prepared. Our professional would surely advise them of this need should it exist.
As mentioned under immediate action number 3.) the plan will be headed with a Statement of Commander’s Intent (SCI). The rest of the plan will support this statement. Beyond the SCI, the plan should include pre-quarantine, quarantine, end of quarantine and post-quarantine phases, and should focus on the following principle areas:
- Austere Medical
Pre-quarantine (The next three days)
I will detail the pre-quarantine phase of the plan since that is the first phase that this article deals with. The pre-quarantine focus will be a three-way split:
Most of the procurement should be done locally. Again, the survival consultant or experienced survivalist uses established best practices (based on a modified rule of threes mnemonic) to guide the family in creating a list of supplies to procure in order of importance and urgency:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Antimicrobial Products, Antibiotics, First Aid & Austere Medical Equipment
- Air Filtration, Positive Air Pressure, Quarantine and Barrier Materials
- Zoned, Layered Security, Lighting (and a renewable energy solution to support it), Movement Denial & Self-Defense Gear Including Bullhorns, Materials for Signs, Yellow Quarantine Flags and Field Phones (to act as an intercom and avoid face to face communication and create space and time to react), Firearms, Ammo, Concealed Carry Gear, LBE, Cleaning Gear and Force Multipliers such as Night Vision if resources allow for such.
- Appropriate Clothing, Heaters, Interior and Personal Lighting, Cordage & Tools
- Water, Water Treatment, Transport, Storage Supplies, Drinking Water Hoses and Buckets
- Food Storage, Stove, Cooking Fuel, Fire & Carbon Monoxide Safety Equipment
- Hygiene Supplies and Accommodations
- Bug Out Bags, Service Vehicles, Gasoline Storage, Map & Compass
- Battery-powered Radio Communications Gear
- Reference Library
A quarantine zone must be established. Ideally, it should establish a posted perimeter to create a reactionary gap and identify the home as quarantined.
The principle aspects of the household must be modified to operate off-grid since infrastructure requires maintenance and an event like this would almost certainly affect the workforce that maintains the infrastructure that the family depends on for power, water and trash pickup.
- Establish Perimeter, Area Denial, Signage, Communications Points, Entry/Exits & Decontamination Points
- Seal the Structure, Establish Positive Air Pressure, Air Filtration, Entry/Exits, Decontamination Points and a Quarantine/Treatment Area (in case someone becomes infected.)
- Establish Security Barriers, Fighting Positions, Listening Post/Observation Post (LP/OP), Guard Posts, Charge of Quarters Desk and Duty Roster
- Create and Stock Medical Triage and Treatment Areas
- Establish a Mud Room, Heating Systems and Fuel Stores
- Establish Water Storage, Treatment, Transport & Hygiene Systems
- Setup and Test: Lighting, Renewable Energy & Communications
- Create Hidden Off-site Caches of Emergency Supplies and Weapons (This way you may still be able to survive if your home is captured, destroyed or surrendered to a superior force. Do not inform the children of their existence.)
Three days is not a lot of time, but it is enough time to get a lot done. Luckily for our survivors, three days is enough time for an initial training, followed by three spaced repetitions. This will get the best bang for our buck memory-wise given the time available with the instructor.
After that, the family will have to continue training on their own. Unfortunately, the first day is going to be a long one, but it’s OK if the family doesn’t not have high initial retention. Repetition is the key.
Training sessions will be short, but they will be hands on. The basics of each topic will be introduced the first day and repeated once each day. Classes will be videoed for reference and the family will learn the material knowing that each of them will have to re-teach it. The training regimen will be along these lines:
- Biohazard PPE & Enforcing Quarantine of an Occupied Structure
- Quarantine and Treatment of an Infected Individual
- Armed Self-defense & Defense Drill
- First Aid
- Water Treatment
- Food Preparation (using the fuels and gear they will be using), Preservation and Food Storage
- Hygiene Under Quarantine Conditions
- Renewable Energy, Lighting & Communications
Should we consider a longer-term scenario? The problem is that no amount of stuff can ever make you prepared for a more challenging ordeal, and three days would not give a person who had not started preparing a realistic chance.
Still this less-challenging, shorter-term scenario is more easily survivable, not because training and skills trump gear, but because you need BOTH to realistically give you the best chances and to help prevent the morale compromise and traumatic experiences that result when survivors lack either. If you do not cache supplies, you are not likely as skilled equipped to deal with serious survival ordeals as you think, and cannot possibly know until you are already in the situation … and that is too late.
There is an attraction of carrying a little less equipment and supplies than you need and relying on your wits and skills to see you through. That is an effective way to train and develop antifragility, when you have a safety backup, but not such an antifragile approach to actual emergencies.
It is thinly disguised too little, too late and the story too often ends with a damaged operator, which not antifragile, it is just plain fragile.
The moral here is to prepare. You do not have to identify as a “Prepper” to be responsible, stay fit or to survive a disaster. The truth is that if you have a first aid kit, exercise or a keep a little cash on hand, you are already preparing for emergencies and fit the widest definition of a “Prepper.”
It is my hope that more people will recognize that emergency preparedness is simply a responsible behavior, just like owning a fire extinguisher, volunteering or brushing your teeth, and that these actions are responsible independent of labels or stereotypes.
This is what actually makes the difference between a victim and a survivor!
This article has been written by Cache Valley Prepper for Survivopedia.