Do People STILL Think You’re Paranoid For Preparing?

Welcome to this week’s Newsletter, brought to you by the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course and the FastestWayToPrepare.com ultra-fast preparedness course. We wrote this article awhile back for another site.  It had such a good response that we moved it over here.

This week, we’re going to talk about whether or not you’re paranoid for taking steps to be prepared for disasters.

Are you a Paranoid Prepper?

It’s amazing how many emails I get that start with either, “I might be paranoid” or “My family thinks I’m paranoid.” The simple fact is, if you think that it’s smart to prepare for likely disasters, some people will call you prudent and others will call you paranoid.

Now some people might even be considered delusional, naive, gullible, and/or paranoid. And, if they believe in things that are far enough “out there,” the assessment may be correct.

Our products and writing tend to attract people who are more grounded than most, and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re not COMPLETELY crazy :)

In reality, the passage of time is all that will shed light on whether someone is being paranoid or not. As an example, Joel Rosenberg wrote about terrorists flying planes into a skyscraper before 9-11. (It was after 2 Chinese colonels wrote a book that suggested it as a strategy to attack us and Al-Qaeda had started preparing, so he didn’t give them the idea.)

Many thought that the idea was the creation of a fiction writer with an overactive imagination. And those who thought it was possible were merely paranoid—until it actually happened.  Then he was seen as a visonary and every alphabet soup government agency wanted him to come consult with them.

That’s the way it is with many threats. Some in New Orleans thought that preparing for a levee break was being paranoid—until it actually happened. For awhile after Hurricane Katrina, there was only one operational hospital in the entire city. It was Ochsner Hospital, and they had been taking practical steps to prepare for a levee break since the 50s.  Most people thought they were paranoid too, until they were the only working hospital in town.

Then the city that hadn’t prepared thought that they deserved $80 million of free medical care from the hospital that HAD prepared.

Other threats never pan out…like Y2K. People who were myopic and focused on Y2K ended up looking paranoid after the dust settled. BUT, those who looked at Y2K as simply being one of many potential threats on the horizon didn’t need to miss a beat when nothing happened.

Those Y2K preppers who kept their supplies and training up to speed look pretty smart right about now. They may have been paranoid about Y2K, but their understanding of the need to be prepared was practical and timeless.

“Paranoia,” if you want to call it that, isn’t necessarily a bad thing…unless it starts affecting your sleep, your relationships with others, and your mood. Fortunately, there are some simple things that you can do to look at the threats that we’re facing in a way that will allow you to keep balance in your life.

So, here are some truisms about being paranoid/prepared:

1. There will always be a “new threat” to worry about. They’re kind of like waves in the surf zone. If you focus all of your energy on one, there’s always another one coming. Your best bet is to power through, keep moving, and keep your eyes on the big picture.  Greece might collapse, the US will probably have another government shutdown this year.  The sun will keep having solar activity.  Terrorists will continue to increase and decrease their “chatter.”

2. General preparedness will help keep you from the emotional rollercoaster of going from one probable disaster to the next. EMPs, bio attacks, economic collapse, & infrastructure attacks all share common elements…people who are prepared to take care of themselves and are familiar with some hardships fare better than those who expect to always be able to pay with plastic and to always have a plentiful supply of food, water, fuel, and electricity at their fingertips.  Focusing on these common elements will give you a broad preparedness base.

3. TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) may or may not happen during your lifetime, so don’t waste all your time on Earth focusing on it. Some day you’re going to look back on how you spent your life. Spend your time today in a way that you’ll be happy about tomorrow.

4. If things do collapse, life will get REAL stressful, so don’t forget to stop and smell the roses while things are relatively stable…and figure out the magic combination of factors that let you manage personal stress.  (I devote a big chunk of the FastestWayToPrepare.com course to this very skill.)

5. If you’re losing sleep now because of what MIGHT happen, you should learn how to get your mind under control for when things actually do happen.

6. Spending time making forward progress on your preparations will ALWAYS beat spending time reading about every possible disaster that could happen.

7. Unless your plan is to live in a cave, completely isolated and alone, make sure to spend time on relationships with family and friends. They’ll make your life richer if disaster never happens, and they’ll make life livable if disaster does happen.

8. Many of the things you worry about will never happen. Some might. But, as Matthew 6:27 says, “Who by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Try to convert worry into action and/or prayer.

9.  Some perceived threats really are crazy.  I’m not about to make myself a lightning rod by criticizing some of the conspiracy theories that are floating around, but I will say this…if you want something to worry about, there are more than enough 100% verifiable things to worry about.  But, as #8 says, don’t worry…take action.

Efficiency = Vulnerability

We live in a time of incredible efficiencies. Our power, water, electronic banking, just-in-time food supply, travel options, communications and other infrastructure are simply amazing. All of these systems are streamlined and relatively predictable. And we’ve become dependent on them to the extent that they have become some of our biggest vulnerabilities.

These systems are all vulnerable to natural disasters, solar events, terrorists, foreign interests, and simple accidents.

Ironically, if we wouldn’t have any of these efficiencies in place, preparedness wouldn’t be so unusual because everyone would have to practice preparedness in order to survive. You can see this by looking to undeveloped countries or by looking back 70-80 years in the US.

But our society is advancing so quickly that we’re increasingly vulnerable to more and more threats. In fact, it seems like a new threat/vulnerability combination is announced every week. One week it’s a possible solar storm. The next it’s overprinting money, foreign economies tanking, and nuclear reactors half way around the globe melting down. The week after that, it’s foreign countries’ ability to launch EMPs off of our coasts.

The threats are not going to stop. Even if they do, journalists will just recycle old threats & vulnerabilities to get viewers.

Eventually one of these big disasters is going to happen, but how do you absorb all of these threats in the meantime without going a little nuts?

I wrestled with this question a few years ago when I was getting my family prepared…and it’s one of the reasons I took what we learned and created the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course. At one point early on, I was so focused on all of the new threats I was learning about that my mind was pinging around like a bunch of sugared up kids in a bounce house.

I know from the letters I get that many of you and even more of your relatives are in that very situation.

It causes some people to stick their head in the sand and ignore the problems. It causes others to end up in a repeating loop of fixating on the latest & worst threat facing us but not taking any action. Fortunately, there’s a better option that I’ll cover in a minute.

There are just SO many big threats to prepare for…it’s hard to know where to start and whether or not to simply throw in the towel, and abandon life as you know it in preparation for an immediate breakdown in society.

A few years ago, I didn’t think the country would last more than a few months, let alone until 2012 or 2015. And every week I have people telling me that they think things will collapse within the next few weeks, or right now, specifically, that it’ll collapse in September.

Fortunately, I was wrong a few years ago and many people have been wrong since then.  Y2k came and went, the Mayan prophecy came and went, solar storms came and went, terror attacks on school kids haven’t happened, EMP attacks haven’t happened, etc.  But at some point people worried about immediate collapse WILL be right. It could be a day from now, a decade from now, or a generation from now.

So what do you do when you’re being barraged by threats, know you need to act, but have limited time & money and don’t know what to do first?

Calm Down

The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath. In a survival situation, panic can kill you quicker than a lack of oxygen. One of the best ways to prepare for the stress of a survival situation is to learn how to handle stressful situations in everyday life as efficiently as possible. This isn’t a switch that you can flip…it’s a skill that’s developed over time—and a skill you can start developing today.

Practice calming down while driving, while talking with customer support that doesn’t speak English, and with friends and relatives. There are some situations where escalating conflict helps, but in most cases it doesn’t.

If you’re frantically preparing, you might also want to calm down a little. I believe preparedness is both urgent, and a way of life. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to prepare at such a frantic pace that you quickly burn out or make expensive mistakes. But when you make it a part of your life, it becomes quite fun and enriches every day in addition to preparing you for disasters.

Listen to your body.  If your “fuse” is shorter than it should be, figure out what you need to do to get calmed down.  More sleep?  More exercise?  Less caffeine?  Everyone’s different, but everyone shares similar bio-chemical needs.

Make a Plan

The next thing you need to do is make a plan. What threats are you MOST concerned about? What preparations can you do that will help you no matter what kind of disaster you face? What skills & supplies do you currently have? Which skills do you need to develop & what supplies do you need to start getting? What if you have to bug-out? What if you can’t bug-out and you have to Survive In Place?

You will continually be modifying your plan based on opportunities and your unique situation, so don’t feel like the plan you make today will be set in stone.

Control Your Time, Control Your Mind

It’s easy to spend hours and hours reading, watching, or listening about the next worst thing that’s going to happen. It’s also intoxicating to read about other people’s survival plans and about other people’s survival skills instead of actually doing stuff yourself.

I encourage you to control what you watch, listen, and read. There’s no shortage of information out there about all of the threats that we face. And it’s not a bad thing to be aware of them, but think about every potential disaster you hear about as encouraging your decision to be prepared rather than as something new to worry about.

One of the best illustrations of this is helicopter pilots. Helicopter pilots are a unique breed. Airplane pilots know that if their engines go out, their plane will naturally glide some distance and they have a good shot at being able to land safely.

Helicopter pilots, on the other hand, are basically flying a rock attached to a few spinning tongue depressors through the air. If the engine goes out, autorotation will buy some grace, but landing a dead helicopter becomes more like landing a rock than landing an airplane.

As a result, helicopter pilots are very aware of all of the threats they face and everything that could go wrong at any given moment and cause a series of cascading disasters. The ability to accept and deal with all of these potential threats, embrace them, and enjoy finding solutions to them is what makes for great helicopter pilots. They learn that at some point you have to stop over thinking what might happen and just start flying.

Similarly, the more aware you are about the political, natural, and terrorist threats that we face, the more you’ll want to develop the mind of a helicopter pilot…always aware of what could happen, but never dwelling on any one thing and letting it paralyze you.

Fortunately, there’s a balance.

What I encourage you to do is watch & read enough to spur you to action and spend the rest of the time that you would have spent reading/watching actually DOING things to get prepared. Once you’ve read and or watched enough to make you want to take action, then you don’t need to watch anymore.

That’s a big reason why I am so focused on not only writing about vulnerabilities that we face and big picture preparedness, but also simple, fundamental things that people can do on a daily basis to get themselves prepared. I want every article that I write to have actionable steps that you can take immediately so that you become more prepared every day.

Take Action!

Once you’re aware of the threats that we’re facing…both in the US and globally…the biggest thing you can do to get prepared and stay sane is to take action.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” “Slow and steady wins the race.” These are all good sayings to remind you to pace yourself. If you have to sprint, then look at your preparedness as interval training and plan for time to catch your breath and regroup.

Think you’re a tough-guy and can sprint the whole marathon?  Ironically, the marathon event immortalizes a Greek messenger who ran as fast as he could for 26.2 miles to Marathon and fell over dead from exhaustion as soon as he delivered his message.  In other words, pace yourself.

Do something on a daily basis to get more prepared. Don’t just read about skills, practice them. Do things that will earn you the right to sleep soundly because you’ve made forward progress.

Don’t kick yourself for waiting to get prepared. It’ll only waste mental energy. Learn the lesson and get moving.

Don’t think you’re going to go from newbie to expert in every facet of survival overnight. It’s a process—and any progress that you make will give you that much more of an advantage over the general public.  Decide right away whether you want to become an expert at one area at a time or throw yourself at everything at once and be content with a low level of proficiency in several disciplines.  (You’ll probably want to take a hybrid approach)

Pray

For my wife and me, prayer is the biggest thing that gives us peace and strength. We’re facing some pretty huge threats to our way of life and talking with God is the biggest thing that helps keep our heads from spinning around in frustration with what’s going on in the world. We’re living in crazy times and we’re thankful to have a rock that we can hold onto.

What to Do Next?

Still don’t know what to do next? That’s a big reason why I wrote the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course and the FastestWayToPrepare.com Ultra-Fast Preparedness Course.  They’re step-by-step guides to get you and your family ready for breakdowns in civil order after disasters. To read more about it and see if it’s right for you, please go to SurviveInPlace.com or FastestWayToPrepare.com.

Do you have any stories about how you went from being paralyzed or panicked by what is going on in the world to feeling more at peace? How about how you won over relatives who once thought you were paranoid? And, if you’ve gone through the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course or the FastestWayToPrepare.com Ultra-Fast Preparedness Course, please share how it helped you feel more confident in your preparations by commenting below.

Until next week, God bless & stay safe!

David Morris

Surviving Extreme Heat and Power Outages

We’re to the part of the summer when the heat and thunder storms take center stage as big news stories. Conveniently, everyone seems to forget that it gets hot and we have thunder storms EVERY summer, so it makes good news.

Along with heat comes power outages, primarily from increased air conditioner use, but also from severe weather that happens when hot or cold weather systems move into an area. This week, the Northwest part of the country is having a heat wave and MOST of the country is forecast to have thunderstorm activity to one degree or another this weekend.

For the most part, thunderstorms are no big deal…but when they include hail, high winds, flooding, or tornadoes, it’s a different story.

The media loves this time of year. They can interview hot people, talk about where power is out and when it will come back on, and talk about all the people dying and being hospitalized from the heat.

As our population and electrical infrastructure ages, this is going to be a bigger and bigger issue. Throw in a local or regional disaster, and it’s an issue that almost everyone needs to have a plan for.

I want to start with heat related deaths and say that for the most part, they are a creation of the media. It actually makes me mad when I hear talk about people dying from the heat. It’s not only inaccurate, but it plants the idea in people’s heads that they might die simply because it’s hot out.

In the majority of cases where people die from the heat in urban areas, the deaths are completely unnecessary and avoidable.  It’s much more accurate to say that these people died from a lack of knowledge, rather than from the heat or a power outage.

Do people die when it gets hot out? Yes, but ask anyone who has deployed to the sandbox, done manual labor throughout the summer, or the millions of people who live in Africa and the Middle East without air conditioning and they’ll tell you that hot weather alone won’t kill you.

Which begs the question, why do more people die when it gets hot and air conditioning stops working? In short, the problem isn’t with the heat as much as people’s inability to control their core body temperature.

One of the first signs of heat related issues is muscle cramping, although that is more of an issue for people who are exerting themselves and not for people who the media claims “died from the heatwave.”

The next stage is heat exhaustion, which is caused by low water and salt levels. It’s exactly what it sounds like…you feel exhausted because it’s hot. In addition, it’s normal to also have headaches, confusion, and cold, clammy skin.

If it’s not treated, the body can “stroke out” and eventually die. At this stage, people don’t sweat anymore, their pulse is fast, they feel nauseous or vomit, they’re extremely confused and/or delirious, and may pass out.

It’s important to look for and recognize these signs, both in yourself and those around you. If you’re alone, you can take care of yourself if you’ve got cramps or early heat exhaustion, but if you let things go too far and get heat stroke, your survival depends on someone else finding you and helping you.

Here’s a few things you can do to influence how vulnerable you are to heat related illnesses and death during a temporary power outage:

First, we’ve got sweating. Our bodies rely, in large part, on sweat evaporating off of the skin to cool the body. You want to give the body the tools it needs to be able to sweat as it sees fit.

If you take medication that interferes with sweating or is a diuretic, then you’ll have a harder time sweating.

If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t sweat as much as you need to.

If you consume sugar, caffeine, or alcohol, you will need to drink more water or you won’t sweat as much as you need to. Caffeine and alcohol also leach minerals.

Your sweat contains salt and minerals. If you don’t replace them, your body will enter a low salt state called hyponatremia. When you’re in this state, you feel like you want to die. I would gladly have the worst flu conditions that I’ve ever had for a week than hyponatremia for a day.

All of these factors are more pronounced for the extremely young, extremely old, and people who are chronically ill.

Second, you can make yourself more resilient to heat by simply keeping your house warmer when you use AC. It may not seem like much, but your body will be able to handle 100+ degree temperatures much easier if it is used to 74, 76, or 78 degrees than if you keep it at 68 or even 72 degrees.

It takes a few days to a week for your circulatory system, breathing, and sweat glands to get used to high temperatures. If you’re constantly telling your body that “normal” is 68 degrees, then it simply won’t be able to adapt to extreme temperatures very quickly. But even if your body IS used to 68 degree weather and you get an extended power outage, keep in mind that your body will quickly adapt to the higher temperatures over a few days.

Personally, we keep our house between 74 and 76 during the summer so that we can run easier in 100+ degree weather and so that our kids can play in 100+ degree temperatures without thinking it’s too hot to play. There’s also a benefit of lower utility costs, but the biggest benefit is the freedom that it gives us by not being “prisoners” to air conditioning.

As an example, yesterday I ran when it was 97 degrees and 50% humidity. It wasn’t all that bad, simply because my body is not used to 68 degree air and I gave it the raw materials it needed (water, salts, minerals) to cool itself.

When it gets even hotter, I start wearing loose “wicking” clothes and soak myself with a hose before starting my run. I also use a camelback with me that I filled with ice and then water to sip (not drink) on my run.  Many people would call my steps of using the hose and drinking icewater “cheating”–and they’re right :) 

Heat and humidity can lower your pace by half or more, and I want to squeeze as much performance out of every beat of my heart as possible.  By taking these extra steps to cool my body while running, I’m able to run at a faster pace while maintaining my target heartrate.

Third, influence your environment. It’s pretty obvious that if you’re stuck in a 100 degree house with the electricity off that you shouldn’t wear a winter coat. Even so, many people don’t take the next logical step of wearing as few lightweight breathable clothes as possible.

If you’ve got water and lightweight breathable clothes, the next thing that you want to do is get them damp so that your body doesn’t have to sweat to get the benefits of evaporative cooling. Any time you feel uncomfortably hot and realize that your skin is dry, you should both drink water and get your skin damp.

If you’re moving around, that’s great because you will be creating airflow that will increase evaporation. If you have to sit, try to sit in a chair that exposes as much of you as possible to air. A good example of this is a wicker chair. Unless it’s a lot hotter outside than inside, open windows so that you get a breeze.

If you have access to water that’s cooler than 98 degrees, take a bath or shower. Water conducts heat away from the body 27-30 times faster than air and can help you get your core temperature down quickly. If you live in an area that gets to temperatures that you consider to be “dangerously” hot, invest in some batteries and DC fans. You can get low power 12 volt fans from Amazon or Radio Shack for $10-$60. When combined with moist skin, they can cool you off very quickly.

In an extreme condition, you can dig an 18-24″ deep, body-sized trench and lay in it to cool off faster. To improve the effectiveness of the hole, keep it shaded, line the bottom with a cotton sheet or blanket, and moisten it with water.

Powering items during power outages.

And what about powering stuff? Whether it’s power for medical equipment, for cash registers and credit card processing, for computers, or just to run fans, having power during a short term power outage can mean the difference between a minor interruption and a disaster.  I’ve written about this a few times in the past, and I go into detail on the subject in the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course, but here are a few quick-n-dirty tips.

One of the simplest things, although not necessarily the cheapest, that you can do is buy a couple of 6 volt golf cart batteries and a properly sized inverter. Golf cart batteries are about the same size as car batteries, but they’re made to run things for a long time where a car battery is only designed to start your car for a few seconds and then get immediately recharged. This will allow you to run or charge both 12 volt and 120 volt items, including refrigerators (in the summer), medical items, fans, computers, well pumps, and a furnace blower (in the winter).

You can scale this up as your needs dictate and your finances allow, but I suggest buying batteries in sets of 2 and never mixing batteries of different ages.

You can also scale this up by adding a gas generator or solar, wind, or hand/foot crank generator to the mix to recharge the batteries.

And one trick on your refrigerator…if you change your light bulbs from incandescent to LED, you might just cut the size of inverter you need by 25% or more! Since LED lights are pretty expensive, you can also just remove your refrigerator lights when the power is out.

If you’re in one of the areas being impacted by the summer heat and power outages, what have you done to minimize the inconvenience? What lessons have you learned that you could apply to a medium to long term power outage? Do you have any kind of power backups in place? If so, what kind? Share your thoughts and answers by commenting below.

Until next week,

 

David Morris SurviveInPlace.com

 

Countering The Myths of Gun Violence

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1 Weird 2 Cent Trick For Precision With A Pistol

Gip precision mark on my Glock front sight

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DHS Is Gaming Civil War…Are You?

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3 Great Lessons From Getting Disqualified at Indoor Nationals

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4 Hacks To Improve Your Self-Defense Mindset

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Self Defense lessons from a coyote vs. moose (surprise end & pics)

IMG_2774

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The BEST Pistol Shooting Technique

Glock mag release (Small)

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