LAYERING YOUR OPTIONS
I recently came into a small chunk of money, and had the opportunity to acquire a good deal of "stuff". One the of the first things I did was sit down and develop a careful plan as to what I was going to procure. My criteria was such that I wanted to have the basics covered, but have them covered in such a manner that there was a good amount of depth to my preparations. This depth is something I consider in every aspect of my preparations, and I try to achieve it by "layering". This layering tends to provide a buffer for us, and offers alternatives when our primary plans have fallen through.
By layering, I mean having different options available. For instance, if I take a Bic lighter out, I'll also have a Blastmatch firestarter, and probably have some waterproof strike anywhere's with me as well. Now this is a very simple and basic example, but it can be applied to every facet of our preparations.
As we go through this article I will cover what I consider to be the fundamental areas of preparation or "survivalism." Before I do proceed, however, I want to emphasize that I do not claim to be an expert in this area. I am only going to share my thoughts as a layman (like so many others) on the aspects of giving more depth to our preparations.
Security for ourselves and our friends and family is vital if any type of scenario that we envision actually occurs. We can layer our security preparations as well as anything else. The key to this is to sit down and address what types of concerns we have and the availability of options at our disposal. The following areas are a breakup of what I consider to be different types of security.
First, in dealing with personal security, we need to define it. I would consider this to be what I have on or about my person (or in my head) to deal with immediate threats. Layering here can be more vital than even site security. Because here, you do not have the fortitude of a stronghold to defend yourself, and no one to back you up. So, layering is essential.
Everyone likes weapons (at least most survivalists I know). So what do we carry about our person? I'm not going to tell you that. That's a personal choice based on your preference, size, experience, etc., but I will suggest that you do not put all your faith into one thing. For instance, one of my favorite carry weapons is my HK USP .45 Compact. But at all times, somewhere on my person, you will find a second firearm, either a KAHR .40, or a Glock 27. This additional weapon serves as a backup. Your primary piece could fail, or get lost in an altercation, and having the second could be a lifesaver. Now, some people call that being paranoid. True. Some people call carrying even one weapon paranoid. So I figure if we're paranoid enough to carry one, then why not a second? At that point, it's kind of being "a little pregnant." There's no such thing.
But there is so much more to personal security than the carry of a weapon. Have we actually practiced under combat conditions (or as close as possible)? Have we taken the time to learn weapon retention techniques? Have we taken the time to learn some form of unarmed martial art to assist us in a difficult situation? These are all things we can do to increase our knowledge base, and add more depth to our security preparations.
By the way, how many of us carry a lethal weapon such as a knife or firearm, but have no intermediate level of force available if a situation doesn't warrant lethal force? I know many of us like to believe that we could fight our way out if we had to, but why limit ourselves? Having a simple canister of pepper spray could even the odds with someone who is getting, or will get the better of you in a match of fisticuffs. I have no illusions (or delusions) about my abilities, and I want to have that non-lethal alternative available if needed.
Moving on to site security, we find that adding depth or "layers" here will serve us just as well. Take a look at your home, or camp and examine your physical surroundings. After you do this, sit down and make a plan that will work for you.
Did you ever look at prisons? They don't have just one fence for the inmates to make it over. They have several. Every obstacle the aggressor encounters buys you more time. One example is in my home. I have my safe room at home that has what I need to withstand an assault. However, I don't want to test my "theories" if I don't have to. Using this logic, I decided to install a pepper spray fogger (about the size of a fire extinguisher) in my safe room. However, I securely clamped some plastic tubing to the nozzle and ran it through the wall of my room out into the main portion of the house. If I have an intruder in my home trying to advance to my strong room, all I have to do is pop the release and let it fly. Now my house might reek for a while, but it beats being taken down.
The same goes with weapons in the home. How many of us have a gun up on the closet shelf in the bedroom? How do you get to it if you're in the kitchen when someone kicks the door down? Have we thought about "layering" our weaponry through the house? Something to consider...
Food preparation is also a vital concern when we consider the layering aspects involved. We have to ensure that we have enough food to last during different types of disasters or scenarios.
One of the first questions we might ask ourselves is "Do we have long-term supplies?" This would include the nitrogen packed food such as vegetables, wheat, etc. If TEOTWAWKI does occur, this could be a true lifesaver. My research has turned up different storage lives on this type of food. I have read that it will last anywhere from ten years to twenty-five. My thoughts on this food is that this is last-resort eating. It should be left in storage as long as possible before being brought out. Like my grandfather once told me after having me stick a twenty in a dark corner of my wallet, "Put this in there, and never spend it. That way you'll never be broke."
Do we have intermediate-term supplies? This might be just a good stock of regular canned food. There are places on the Internet where you can find the storage life of canned food. Most canned stuff is good for at least a year, if not a lot longer. Acquiring enough of this could do any person nicely through most bad situations.
How else do we acquire food if not from a wholesaler or grocery store? The old fashion ways!! We either grow it or hunt it! How many of us work gardens regularly? How many of us hunt regularly? What about trapping? Now that's something I know nothing about. I have hunted quite a bit, but I need to learn more about trapping. This would be just another layer of food acquisition knowledge that would come in handy!
Do we have different ways of preparing it? Now that's a question. If the power goes off today, how many of us are really proficient at cooking food over a firepit? Do we know how to season cast iron pots and pans to make the best use of them during cooking?
What about storage? Are we canning our food? Are we dehydrating it? What steps have we taken to ensure the food we have either grown or hunted will not go to waste? Again, this is the concept of layering at work. By providing alternatives, we increase our chances at survival with peak efficiency.
Communications is fast becoming one of my favorite "areas" to deal with, but still one of the ones I know very little about. But even so, a newcomer to this field can have multiple layers of to deal with this area as well. I might as well pause here for one thing. When I speak of layering (and this goes for the entire) article, I do not necessarily mean being redundant with supplies, I am also speaking to alternatives. Ten CB's are no good if the only way you can reach someone is with a shortwave rig.
Layering communications might be having a simple dead drop for people to get send and receive letters.
This could be a very important method when there is no power or we don't want to be the objects of eavesdropping ears. This is merely establishing a place to drop mail between family or team members. One drawback to this however is the possibility of exposure to being observed.
Having CB's would be another option. Though the days of "Smokey and The Bandit" have long passed, The CB still plays a vital role in many people's lives for work, travel, and recreation. On good days, you can get ranges of about five miles. This would be an ideal mode of communication between neighbors or team members who live close by. Simply having a CB base station in your home could keep you linked to your immediate surroundings. This is not difficult to do, as base stations can be had relatively inexpensively. This is especially true if you find a good unit at a thrift store or pawnshop.
CB's can also be had in what called SSB (Single Side Band) models. These are CB's that can utilize the upper and lower ranges "around" a given frequency for more channels to speak on. They also can reach further distances-up to about ten miles normally. Because of the few number of people that use them, they also provide a modest amount of security for people who do not wants their conversations monitored. Again, I do emphasize the word "modest".
CB's can also be used in on patrol with portable units. While they do not have the same range as base or mobile units, it beats trying to yell to each other a mile away. My understanding is with the type of frequency CB's use, they are more difficult to track than FM units. Again, my knowledge here is limited, so I will defer to the experts.
But speaking of FM units, today, I just bought several Motorola Talk-About radios. While I know they can DX them right away because of the FM signature (if fed.gov wanted to), in most scenarios that wouldn't be the case. If the situation is bad enough for fed.gov to come looking for us, then my guess is that we would have more chance of encountering looters and vandals first. These units are extremely handy for team communications with VOX capability, accessory jacks for headphones or earbuds, and with multiple channels and privacy codes.
Some would argue that experienced Commo Gurus could easily intercept signals and do whatever with them, and I admit that's probably true. However, look around you at the number of people who aren't getting prepared. How many "seedy" people who would turn to thievery and vandalism do you think will take the time to learn this discipline? Again, when we layer ourselves with different options, then we can pick an alternative when way fails us. I happen to like the Talk-About units with their crystal clear clarity, and I do feel that they have a place in our "Commo Shacks".
Even simple field phones can work in situations such as these if we are dug in and have made the necessary arrangements. There have been articles on the Alpha Board lately dealing with the conversion of regular telephones to field phones. If we aren't electronics geniuses, then we can get surplus field phones. These would be ideal in situations where we don't want to be heard and don't want to broadcast a signal.
So far we have dealt with local communications issues, but what about when you need to find out something from a greater distance? Then we get into the issue of shortwave communications. The very first thing I would do if I were in anyone else's shoes would be to go out immediately and buy a shortwave receiver. There are many models out there and I cannot recommend any because your preferences may be different than mine. But I have heard that Sangean (sic) is supposed to be top of the line and has recently introduced a model that was supposed to change the face of Shortwave reception. Me personally, I have a DX-398 from Radio Shack. At the time I decided I needed a good unit, I didn't have the cash handy, but I had credit. Hence, my decision to go with that model. I got what I thought the best they had to offer.
There are classes each of us can take if we want to get into shortwave transmitting. There are different rigs out there that operate on 2m, 10m, (someone correct me if I go astray here) and so forth. You can use what shortwave operators call "Ham" rigs to talk from around the block to around the world. I haven't figured out what the true benefit of talking around the world is, but I do recognize the need to converse with people on a regional basis, say within 500-700 miles. Information of troop movements, weather patterns, etc. would be very valuable in a scenario where resources are limited. I am sure there probably is some vital use to actually talking to someone say in Israel or Guatemala; I just haven't figured it out yet.
Even if we don't transmit, anyone can receive shortwave information, and that's why I would stress acquiring a receiver to put away for future use. If the need does arise where you need to get the word out, at the very least you could have established a rapport with someone who is knowledgeable in this area. Maybe you could trade services with each other. Again, it's about giving ourselves options and leaving all the doors open for easy egress.
Layering for communications could also include hand signals for patrol when you might be out in the bush. By the way, how many of us know Morse code for signaling? Options....
We can layer our shelter considerations as well. If some of us are homesteading it, how many of us have alternate locations picked out if they too had to bug out? If we have to move, then have we already pre-positioned supplies at the new location? If we do not have an alternate site, then do we at least have the necessary material in our B.O.B.'s to fashion shelter?
One item that I picked out almost just for the reason of shelter was a truck camper shell. I can haul enough stuff in the back of my truck to make it, and still have enough room to lay down a foam pad and stay out of the elements...Again, we're talking alternatives.
Most of us probably have a first aid kit made. It's fun to do if we customize it ourselves. But how many do we have? Do we have a go-anywhere personal kit? Do we have the team kit? Do we have a kit at home for the family? Situations may arise when we can't get to the 'one' kit we have. Again, layering is the key.
Do we suture or do we staple? Do we simply use super glue, or even butterfly closures? See? It's nice to have these options available to us if we have done the necessary planning in advance.
Yes, power. What do we do? Many of us have grown to enjoy the comforts of power, and some of us simply have to have it. For instance, I am afflicted with what is called sleep apnea. In order for me to sleep restfully, I have to wear basically a mask that fits over my face and supplies air at night because I do not receive enough oxygen at night. The details of this I will cover in another article. Suffice to say, power is a vital concern for me and maybe for you as well.
There are options out there of course, one of them being a generator. We might consider getting a generator to run one or two of our appliances for a short while. But consider the fuel concern. Most people get gasoline powered generators without considering that gas will not store nearly as long as diesel. From what I have read, diesel will store up to several years without treatment, where gas begins to breakdown after only 12-18 months.
Another alternative for power is solar energy. There is one company that makes what looks like a truck toolbox with solar panels on top of it and deep-cycle batteries inside of it. This is supposed to store enough energy through the day to run a couple of appliances for a few hours. This may well be worth the investment for some of us.
Wind-driven power? Maybe. I haven't done that much research on it, but what I have indicates it's not as efficient as other means, but it might be an option for you.
The list goes on and on: light, heat, and other considerations. But the last one I wanted to address was water purification. The reason I wanted to end with this, is that water is probably our most vital concern in survival situations, and we must be prepared with different methods for collecting a purifying water, and not just rely on one way or device.
My impression is that some of us (me included) will get one water purifier and say, 'I'm prepared' without giving thought to what would happen if it broke, or got lost, or you simply couldn't carry it? Do we have other options? Do we have an alternative if that plan doesn't work?
One thing I did recently when I moved on this new property is restore a natural spring and its accompanying cistern. It was a little hard work, but well worth the effort. This gives me an alternative if the water company decides not to send me anymore. But what do we do as far as purification? There are several alternatives.
Though this article went into some detail in different areas, the article was not intended to give you a blueprint for developing your own survival approach. It wasn't even intended to give you alternatives to different ideas or devices. This article's only purpose was to have you consider alternatives to give more depth to your preparation. As I stated earlier, I am no expert, but I can only share what I know, as I can't speak for anyone else. So, if you do decide taking this layering approach to your preparations, please spend the time doing your own research and determining what is best for you and those around you.
There are two quotes that I have heard and like, and I think they apply to survivalism. They are:
"Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance."---The Seven P's. I did a post, and I couldn't remember the seventh at that time (Heh Heh) and the other is:
"Chance favors the prepared mind."
We can carry all of this too far and have 15 of everything. We could hire private security details to patrol our land for us. I don't mean to suggest we go to this end, but do consider having options the next time you sit down and decide what to buy, wear, or carry. And above all else, take the time to learn. With knowledge, you can improvise, overcome, and adapt. Knowledge is the ultimate alternative.