Run to where? Taking an honest look at getting out of Dodge.

One of the central themes of a lot of readiness thinking and training is the notion of bugging out when a disaster strikes. There are a lot of reasons for that fact, mostly driven by people living in urban and suburban areas that are critically unsustainable in a crisis situation. That said, one of my major misgivings about the notion of getting out of dodge, and I think one of the major failings of that kind of readiness, is that it often ignores where someone will run to if they run away.

This isn’t a question of standing your ground, but rather it is one of figuring out how not to be a refugee. Why is avoiding that state so important? Because, as a refugee in a crisis situation, you become dependent on whatever aid someone else can provide, and in the worst cases, those providing that aid triage it just like medical care. Unless you have a plan for how to get somewhere that can support you and alternative plans for what happens if you cannot get there, it may prove to be the case that it’s a better call to stay where you are, even in a worst case scenario.

Consider the standard planning for a so-called bug-out kit. A single kit usually contains enough supplies to support one person for three to five days, and with proper care, rationing, and a little luck, could probably last two weeks. What happens after that? Keep in mind that, if you’re in a situation where there is a crisis bad enough to warrant leaving home, it’s likely there are going to be many other people, often far less prepared, doing the same exact thing. If the refugee crises of the past few decades have shown us anything, mass migrations of people fleeing a crisis usually end badly for everyone, even for people who were prepared for short term fleeing.

So, again, what happens after that? If you want to avoid finding yourself in the middle of exactly the kind of secondary disaster a large-scale crisis is likely to create, the only real answer is to have a known destination that you know will be well-supplied and, unfortunately, well defended, along with secondary options for how to get to that location if the primary way is blocked and places to go, at least temporarily, if you cannot get there at all.

Of course, this kind of planning becomes very unique and depends on all sorts of variables, making it far more complex than stocking a backpack with three days of supplies, but the fact is that readiness is a state of mind and a constant practice. The best bet is to add the, “Run to where?’ question to your readiness planning so that you don’t find yourself just trading one disaster for another.


Being ready no matter what happens

When I sat down to write this post, I intended to write about what I see as the disconnect I see between the demands for firearms control and readiness and how so many people who demand such regulation are also the least prepared for when that regulation fails. Then, I realized to doesn’t matter.

The fact is that the people who are going to be ready are going to be ready irrespective of whether an overbearing government imposes firearms control or demands that people submit to any other kind of forced dependency. History is replete with examples of people being ready no matter how horrible the government restrictions levied against them might be. For some people, the instinct to survive and carry on is stronger than what any government or group can do. We owe our very existence to those kinds of people.

If you consider yourself one of those people, then I am talking to you.

It is very easy, in the face of the trials of our time, to lose focus on the one thing that drives being ready for whatever comes next: life goes on. Life will go on if the government takes all the guns. Life will go on if the government takes all of our money. Life will go on no matter what until the moment life ceases to exist altogether.

But if life is to go on, it requires certain things. For humans, that is, as a minimum: water, food, clothing, and shelter. Without those things, no other preparation matters.

That’s why it’s important for those of us who are ready no matter what happens to remember that we are ready no matter what happens. Eve if the government takes all the guns. Even if the government takes all of our money. We will be the ones who endure because we have dedicated ourselves to being the ones who endure.

I am not suggesting that we should not be concerned about what is happening around us. If we were not, we would have no cause to prepare. I am, however, saying that we should not lose sight of what we are preparing for.


December 31st, 2012

Have you been putting of getting yourself and those you care about ready? Have you been looking for evidence or incentive to start? Well, look no further.

On December 31st, 2012, most of the nation’s current tax benefits are scheduled to expire. Overnight, every American who pays taxes could see a significant increase in what the federal government takes from his or her paycheck, to the tune of hundreds to thousands of extra dollars a year.

Further, capital gains taxes and estate taxes will skyrocket, crippling the income of retirees and the ability to small business owners to pass their hard work on to future generations.

The result could very well be an unprecedented collapse in the US and, therefore, global economies.

You don’t think it could happen? You think the government will do the right thing before then? Have you been paying attention to what the government has been doing up until now?

Take this potential as a warning. Get ready. Now.


Intermediate Readiness

Intermediate readiness represents an order of magnitude of greater complexity than immediate readiness. Planning for intermediate readiness means being ready for events that could last weeks to months or even years and usually represents planning for specific kinds of contingencies you might anticipate having in the place where you live. While intermediate readiness anticipates such changes, it also anticipates an eventual return to a previous state, which is what differentiates it from long-term readiness.

What kind of events need to be planned for? Most intermediate plans involve responses to natural disaster events, although I think every intermediate plan should include responses to social/political turmoil in your area,  to extended fuel shortages, and to extended electrical outages. It might also be useful to plan for multiple events occurring simultaneously.

What are the major changes anticipated as a result of those events? While the ultimate goal of readiness is to be able to weather changes without much change in your routine, most people will not be at that point when an event occurs. Therefore, it is very useful to anticipate what kind of changes will occur and how you will respond to them. Specifically, it is very important to understand how you will respond to a sudden lack of fuel or electricity if you depend on those resources.

Will those events affect only the people covered by your plan, or will they be more widespread? Some events may be very local and may affect only you or the people involved in your plan such as a flood or tornado. More likely, the events will involve a large number of people, many of whom were not ready for whatever event occurred. Intermediate planning should include both the people involved in your plan and plans for how to deal with people not included in your plan. It should include specific provisions for whether, when, and how those involved in your plan will render aid, provide charity, deal with refugees, and provide defense of people and resources.

How many people will be covered by your plan? In intermediate planning, scale becomes incredibly important. It is a much different consideration in planning for 5 people than it is for 10 than it is planning for 20. Of course, planning for more people to end up involved in your plan is also appropriate. It is almost inevitable that circumstances, once a plan has been activated, will change, and additional people could very well be part of that change.

Where will this plan be carried out? The consideration of “where” involves more than just where everyone in your plan will end up. When an event occurs, everyone involved in your plan will most likely be somewhere other than where they plan to end up. Your plan should include responding to the event and the stages necessary to get people from where they are to where they should be.

Don’t expect one member of the group covered by the plan to think of or do everything. Planning always benefits, to a point, from more minds, and readiness benefits from everyone being involved more than other kinds of planning. If people are going to be involved in the execution of your plan, they should also be involved in developing it, and most of the time it makes sense to divide responsibility among the participants as much as possible.

Don’t forget to plan for the immediate response to an event. While you may have a decent general immediate readiness plan, it may not be appropriate to the events your intermediate readiness plan seeks to address. While you are planning for those events, consider what additional steps may be necessary to adapt your immediate plans to the intermediate events.

Make sure everyone involved in your plan is trained in as many aspects of your plan as possible. Because intermediate plans may become highly specialized and complex, it is very important to make sure everyone in your group possesses the right knowledge and skills to carry out the plan, even parts they are not primarily responsible for.

What are your contingencies if your plan falls apart? An old military axiom is that no plan survives the moment of first contact, and your plan will be no different. In extreme cases, your plan may fall apart altogether as a result of events you could not anticipate. The best way to handle such situations is to develop a simple but well though out standard for how to make decisions under such circumstances that everyone in the group agrees to, understands, and is able to exercise if the time arises.

Whatever your plan might be, never plan to become a refugee. One of the most important items to consider in readiness planning, but especially in intermediate planning, is to ensure that your plan is proactive, even in its consideration of its own failure. Whatever else you plan to do, never plan to depend on someone or something else for aid who is not already explicitly involved in your plan. You must always keep in mind that, while individuals, groups, and governments trying to render aid during an event are probably in some way compassionate, they do not have the luxury of caring about individuals. To those rendering aid in an event, everyone becomes a statistic, and the loudest and most demanding statistics become threats. If you end up relying on someone else for aid–that is, if you become a refugee–you will be reduced to the lowest common denominator of assistance that other entity can muster. The lot of refugees is a tragic one that often ends badly. The point of readiness planning is to avoid that state altogether, even if your plan itself falls apart.

A general intermediate readiness plan: I think the best intermediate readiness plan involves planning for a year’s worth of change, so any specific amounts mentioned refer to that length of time. I intend this list as a guide for things to think about. Every group must design their own specific plan to their own specific circumstances.

Rally Point: Where are the people in your plan going to go? Is that place big enough for everyone involved? If not, how do you plan to accommodate them?

Rally Plan: A rally plan is really an immediate readiness plan that forms the beginning of your intermediate readiness plan.  It should detail how everyone involved in your plan is going to get to your rally point, detail contingencies if parts of the plan should fail or prove impossible and deal honestly with issues like pickups and rescue attempts.

Water: Human beings can only survive for about three to five days without potable water. Most readiness experts recommend having at least a gallon of water per person per day on hand for each person involved in an intermediate readiness plan. Unfortunately, storing large quantities of water for even a small group of people to have enough water for a year becomes problematic at best. The best recommendation is to have enough water stored so that the group can survive for several weeks without needing a potable water source, but the overall plan should include provisions for bringing in water from a source and ensuring it is clean. There is no clear cut answer to how someone might accomplish this task, and the solution will vary from circumstance to circumstance. However, ensuring continued access to potable water may be the most important problem an intermediate readiness plan solves.

Fuel: Fuel may not seem that important, but especially early on in an intermediate event, it may be the most precious commodity a group possesses after potable water. Special care should be taken to determine how much, what types, and where fuel will be stored and how that fuel will be safeguarded.

Communications: Especially in the early days of an intermediate event, the ability of members of a readiness group to communicate will be a necessity. More than likely, members of the group will be making their way to the group’s rally point, and being able to communicate progress will be an indispensable part of executing the plan. The best rule of thumb for communications during an intermediate event is to assume that normal public communications systems will be unavailable. As a result, the group should pay special attention to the ranges necessary for communication and plan appropriately.

Protection: No one wants to think about it, but in all likelihood an intermediate readiness event will spawn violence. Most people will be unprepared and, therefore, scared. Scared people, desperate to survive, will do whatever they think they have to in order to get the things they think they need. People preparing for such events should also prepare to defend themselves. When, where, and how such defense takes place must depend on the people involved in your plan; however, if you do not plan to defend yourself, you can plan to lose at least some of what you have. Take care to make sure that any member of your plan involved in protection is well trained in both the use of whatever tools you decide on and in the procedures you agree to.

Food: The average sedentary diet is around 2,000 calories. In a readiness event, that requirement will probably go up by quite a bit. A good rule of thumb is to store up about 3,500 calories per day per person involved in your plan for a year. Keep in mind that if you expect an event to last longer than a year, also plan to have on hand archive quality seed packs, especially grains and legumes, so you can begin growing your own food as soon as possible.

Power: Many people will say that planning to live without power is the best way to approach an intermediate readiness event. Yet, so many of the things we rely on in modern life, including means of producing light, heat, communicating, and even forms of protection, require electricity to work properly. Planning on having a reserve source of power, if only to charge batteries and to provide periodic light, should be a part of your plan.

Medical: People are going to get hurt, especially in the early days of an intermediate event. Every plan should include the supplies and training necessary to provide medical support, perhaps indefinitely. After protection, preparing medical capabilities may be the most expensive part of your plan.

Shelter: Many people preparing for an intermediate event underestimate how much shelter will be necessary for the people involved in their plan. People tend to think of readiness as a long camping trip and fail to realize that as an event drags into weeks and months such close quarters can create their own kinds of problems. Give careful consideration to how to provide every person with enough space and privacy.

Clothing: If the intermediate event lasts more than a few months, clothing will become an issue, especially if growing children are involved. While most clothing can be repaired for some time by someone skilled, eventually it will wear out and have to be replaced. Growing children simply cannot be expected to wear clothing that is too small or too big. I recommend keeping at least one full ensemble of clothing (one complete outfit) in reserve for every three months you plan for the event to last. For children, expect to add a bigger size for every six months.

Mobility: Planning for mobility in anticipation of an intermediate event involves two parts: movement during the immediate aftermath of an event and movement during the course of the period of time the entire event lasts. Immediate movement can be a difficult thing to plan for and will depend in great part on the anticipated event. Longer term movement involves planning for how, when, and why movement is necessary and the most expedient way to make such movement happen. Keep in mind that stockpiling fuel can be a difficult proposition and fuel stockpiles will make you a target if their existence becomes known.

Caching: If it is at all possible, it makes sense to store a certain amount of supplies somewhere other than your main rally point. Keep in mind that an unoccupied cache is an invitation to pillaging, but having all of your supplies in one place is an invitation to loss.


Some thoughts on Irene

Hurricane Irene has come and gone, leaving a swath of destruction in her wake. The latest reports indicate 21 people died, millions are without power, and the high winds and flooding have probably caused hundreds of millions if not billions in damages on the densely populated East Coast. Yet, it was not as bad as it could have been.

What strikes me about this event is the combination of media and government hype versus the backlash by many people because this event was not as bad as it could have been. Both the hype and the backlash prove that virtually everyone involved failed to get the real point: you should have already been ready before the hurricane came and you should still be ready now that it is gone.

Readiness is not piles of canned food and bottled water collected in advance of a known emergency. Readiness is not panicked preparations just before a disaster. Readiness is not falling for the hype then returning to apathy after it has passed.

No, readiness is being ready for whatever comes next both when things are calm and when things are in chaos. Readiness is a way of life, one that is so different than what most Americans live in 2011 that the mere suggestion of this kind of readiness seems alien and apocalyptic.

Nevertheless, the kind of readiness I describe is the only way to be ready. It means establishing a certain kind of autonomy from the very society that encourages us to be unready then panic when something bad seems about to happen. It means doing hard work for yourself and establishing local networks for what you can’t do yourself. It means being ready to feed, clothe, shelter, and defend yourself when no one else is able to do so. It means being ready to be a leader when all the so-called leaders have abandoned everyone.

My hope is that people will see Irene as a warning instead of an arbitrary occurrence. Be ready because you never know what will happen next.


Be ready now: 3 things you can start doing this week to be ready for whatever comes next: Establishing self-sufficiency

Be ready now is a weekly post about things you can do right now to get ready for whatever might come next courtesy of Dennis L Hitzeman’s Readiness Weblog. You can find other posts in this series in the “Be ready now” category.

This week’s theme: Establishing self-sufficiency

  • Immediate: Make a list of all of the things you depend on in order to provide yourself and the people to depend on you with necessities. Such a list will likely include things like your source of income, where your food, clothing, and shelter come from, and similar things. Next, make a list of how you could provide for the same necessities if one or more of the things you currently depend on become unavailable. Finally, make a plan for how to implement each change will take place.
  • Intermediate: Consider replacing things you depend on others to do for you by paying them with things you do yourself. If you are unable to do them yourself, seek out the most local source for the thing you are paying for. Pay special attention to the sources of your most basic necessities.
  • Long-term: The best way to establish self-sufficiency is to surround yourself with people trying to do the same thing. Typically, such people gravitate to small, rural farm communities, and they do so because of the lower population density, the access to arable land, and the general tendency for rural people to be more self-sufficient than city dwellers. Before undertaking such a task, carefully consider what you can add to such a community–that is, what are you going to do to be self-sufficient yourself that would compliment what others are already doing.


Do you find this information informative and helpful? Feel free to contact me and let me know. You can also contact meabout ways you can support this effort.


Readiness Watch for the Week of 13 June 2011

Readiness Watch is a weekly publication intended to provide current, relevant, and actionable readiness information to people determined to be ready for whatever comes next, and especially for those people who are just starting their journey down the road to readiness. Readiness Watch will include observations, commentary, advice, links to resources, and related news.

I always welcome input from my readers, especially tips on information or ways to make this publication better. Feel free to contact me with information, advice, or tips or for ways you can support this effort.

Readiness Watch for the week of 13 June 2011

Previous Readiness Watch posts.


Be ready now: 3 things you can start doing this week to be ready for whatever comes next: Minimum skills

Be ready now is a weekly post about things you can do right now to get ready for whatever might come next courtesy of Dennis L Hitzeman’s Readiness Weblog. You can find other posts in this series in the “Be ready now” category.

This week’s theme: Minimum skills

  • Immediate: At a minimum, everyone involved in your readiness plan should be trained in basic first aid, CPR, and rescue breathing. Other useful minimum skills can be fire-starting, use of basic clearing tools such as saws, chainsaws, and breaker bars, and orienteering.
  • Intermediate: At least one person involved in your plan should have some level of training in the following areas: medical care, knife sharpening, sewing, shelter-building, skinning and butchering game animals, small engine repair, large engine repair, and weapon repair.
  • Long-term: Long-term readiness skills include raising food and livestock, construction of weatherproof shelters, finding sources of fresh water, negotiation, and self-defense.


Do you find this information informative and helpful? Feel free to contact me and let me know. You can also contact meabout ways you can support this effort.



Be ready now: 3 things you can start doing this week to be ready for whatever comes next: Transportation

Be ready now is a weekly post about things you can do right now to get ready for whatever might come next courtesy of Dennis L Hitzeman’s Readiness Weblog. You can find other posts in this series in the “Be ready now” category.

This week’s theme: Transportation

  • Immediate: Maintain a fuel reserve for every vehicle you own. Optimally, your reserve should include enough fuel to refill each vehicle’s tank once. Take care to store fuel in proper containers and in safe areas. Keep each vehicle’s tank filled to at least a quarter tank, with a half tank being better.
  • Intermediate: How will you transport yourself if fuel or vehicles are not available? If you intend to walk or bike, are you physically fit enough to make the trip?
  • Long-term: Consider owning alternative forms of transportation, such as bicycles, quad-cycles, or ridable animals.


Do you find this information informative and helpful? Feel free to contact me and let me know. You can also contact me about ways you can support this effort.


Be ready now: 3 things you can start doing this week to be ready for whatever comes next: Clothing

Be ready now is a weekly post about things you can do right now to get ready for whatever might come next courtesy of Dennis L Hitzeman’s Readiness Weblog. You can find other posts in this series in the “Be ready now” category.

This week’s theme: Clothing

  • Immediate: Put together a clothing kit for each person who is part of your immediate readiness plan. The kit should include, but is not limited to, at least one change of underwear, at least one pair of good quality socks, a pair of work pants or jeans, a shirt, a sweat shirt, a pair of sweatpants or long underwear (That can be worn under the regular pants), a pair of work gloves, a pair of winter gloves, a stocking cap, a scarf, and a good pair of walking shoes. Other items to consider could be sunglasses, dust masks, simple tools (a Leatherman or equivalent would be a place to start), a winter coat, a rain coat, etc. Pack all of the clothing in a waterproof container or bag and store them in a central location that everyone involved in the plan knows about. If you wear dress clothes to work, consider packing a smaller version of this kit into your car or carry it with you in a backpack. If you carry nothing else, carry walking shoes.
  • Intermediate: How much of your clothing is appropriate for an enduring emergency situation? Do you have the capacity to repair your clothing? How will you keep your clothing clean? Consider all of these factors for a period lasting as long as a year. Consider stockpiling extra clothing for everyone involved in your readiness plan.
  • Long-term: Do you know someone who can make clothing? Do you know of a local, non-commercial source for fabric and supplies? Consider stockpiling raw materials.

Do you find this information informative and helpful? Feel free to contact me and let me know. You can also contact me about ways you can support this effort.