Author Topic: How to Survive Comfortably  (Read 1109 times)


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How to Survive Comfortably
« on: February 13, 2017, 01:37:15 am »
                  How to Survive Comfortably


              What Friends are really good for...
                    By Steven D. Ramseur

                      9 December, 1990

Once you have studied the realities involved in surviving a long
term catastrophe (years, not weeks), it becomes painfully obvious
that maintenance of a reasonable comfortable standard of living
in a post disaster situation is beyond the resources of one
individual or one family.

It is simply impossible to know enough... to learn enough... or
to afford enough to meet all the needs of a family unit living at
more than a bare subsistence standard of living... a standard of
living far below what we would now consider to be "third world".
This is a future I would wish upon my family only if death were
the only alternative. We can, however, do better... much better.

"How?", you ask. "With a little help from our friends" is the

Team work is the key to survival, not only individual survival,
but survival of an acceptable standard of living... even survival
of a productive society. It is simply not possible to cover all
of your future needs from within your family unit.

For example, you may be a great gardener, but can you build and
maintain the tools necessary for production level farming. Even
if you can forge plowshares and tan leather for tack, what if
your animal gets sick, or what if your family gets sick? Can you
diagnose the problem, and if you can, will you have stored the
supplies needed to treat the problem?

What if you are a great farmer, a great blacksmith, a great vet,
and a physician on the side? What if someone attacks your family
while you are in the field?

Who will spin the yarn? Who will weave the cloth? Who will make
the clothes? Who will tan the leather? Who will make the shoes?
Who will teach your children? Even if you have every one of these
skills, you are not likely to have the current resources to stock
the supplies needed to maintain the trade. Even if you stock
everything that might possibly be needed for every one of these
trades, there will simply not be enough hours in the day to meet
even your most basic needs.

What is the answer? The answer is specialization. This is the
root foundation for human society. The whole is greater than the
sum of the parts. Forget the idea that you will survive in your
secure fortress with your solar power, your tons of wheat, and
your thousands of rounds of ammunition. You will succumb to a
superior force, or to disease, to starvation, or to isolation and

The "dream" survival situation would be a small, relatively
isolated community with a large agricultural base and some
manufacturing resources. It would have its own power supply,
temperate weather, and a good mix of trade skills. Very few of us
have the luxury to live in such a plane. In fact there are very
few such places at all. Even if you can find one, they are not
likely to welcome a total stranger into their community during
the turmoil of a post-catastrophe situation.

If you know of such a place, consider moving there now, even if
it means a career change and an income reduction. You may have to
give up your weekly trips to the symphony and the theatre, and
you might not have a choice if 15 different French restaurants,
but you might find your live very much richer for the safety,
fraternity, and slower pace of life.

I realize that we cannot all live in small town utopia, and even
in these communities, the vast majority of people don't give a
moment's thought to post-disaster survival. They don't have on
hand even a fraction of the supplies needed to carry on their
trade for even a few days out of touch from the regional and
national distribution system. Life in America is just too
comfortable just now to think about things.

So what can you do? You can learn all you can about everything
you can. You can stock up on reference books. You can collect all
the supplies needed for short term survival and intermediate term
subsistence. But most importantly, you can learn a practical
skill, then stock deep in what you do well, then recruit friends
of like mind who will do the same for other complementary skills.

A carpenter with some wheat and a rifle with loads of ammunition
might be in a poor situation with a sick or hungry child. A
carpenter who has seen fit to put aside a top quality set of hand
tools and several hundred pounds of nails might be a rich man in
a community with a need for shelter and building skills.

A physician may be a lousy shot and unable to defend his family,
but a physician with the tools to diagnose illness and a
stockpile of medicines to treat them is guaranteed to have the
whole community turn out in his defense. The combination of his
knowledge and his supplies, not necessarily either one alone is
what makes him an immense asset to the community. The whole is
again worth more than the sum of the parts.

After realizing that the team or group approach to preparedness
is superior, one must consider what skills are essential in order
to know what to learn or who to recruit.
Skills might be divided into essential or primary, and desirable
or secondary, based on whether they are necessary for personal or
cultural survival respectively.

Primary skills needed for personal survival, and the people to
provide them, might include:

          1)   Sustenance - storage, preparation, and production
          of food and water
          A) farmers
          B) serious gardeners
          C) cooks and bakers

          2)   Shelter - short and long term protection from hazards
          of toxins, fire, radiation, the environment, and 
          antisocial behavior, including maintenance of existing

          A) builders - electricians, plumbers, carpenters,
          B) wood cutters
          C) sanitation or radiation engineers
          D) mechanics

          3)   Security - protection from the antisocial conduct of
          insiders or outsiders

          A) law officers
          B) military personnel or veterans
          C) hunters or others skilled with weapons
          D) administrators (yes, even after the great disaster
             there will be a need for a few petty bureaucrats.
             Someone has to keep the ducks in a row.)

          4)   Medical care - maintenance of the personal and public
          health of the community

          A) physicians, especially Family Practitioners and
             Surgeons, a Pathologist might have his place but
             would be of less general use than a primary care
             clinician or surgeon.

          B) dentists

          C) nurses, physicians' assistants, paramedics, EMTs,
             ex-military medics

          D) pharmacists

          E) sanitarians and public health officials

     Secondary skills are things you personally might be able to live
     without, but society cannot.

          1)   Education

          A) teachers - parents can teach, but not as well or as
             comprehensively as someone who is trained in it
             professionally. Note also that teachers frequently
             make good administrators if you don't want any real
             bureaucrats in the group. 

          B) parents - education is their principle job anyway.

          C) lawyers and accountants - Their primary skills may
             be useless, but they are well educated people. Don't
             let lawyers administrate, however, unless you want a
             new world as screwed up as the old.

          2)   Transportation - life proceeds very slowly when you
             must walk everywhere.

          A) mechanics - There will be no shortage of surplus
             vehicles, but keeping them running will be a task.

          B) chemists and/or distillers - Those surplus vehicles
             and machines must run on something.

          C) animal breeders - If you can't get the truck run you
             can ride an animal. This form of transportation is
             also edible and produces fertilizer. Petroleum may
             be hard to come by as well.

          D) wood and leather workers - to make harnesses, 
             saddles, wagons, etc.

          3)   Communications - vastly increases the efficiency of
             production, distribution, and security.

          1) ham radio operators - they almost always have plenty
             of equipment and they think a lot about emergency

          2) telephone technicians - the telephone system will
             still be there but keeping it working will be a
             vital help to the community.

          3) electricians or electronics technicians - the 
             generation and storage of electricity is vital to
             communications and very helpful to almost every
             other sector of the community.

          4) athletes - If you can't get the message there any
             other way, you can always send a runner.

Others might add quite a few more categories to this list, but
it's easy to see that the scale of the task in mastering even a
fraction of these skills is beyond reasonable expectation.

A practical way of dealing with this problem can be found in
studying the organizational principles of the U. S. Army Special

Among the concepts taught in the Special Forces is the idea of
limited specialization. Every Special Forces soldier is expert in
the basic skills of soldiering such as weapons, movement,
concealment, survival, etc., but he is also a specialist with
very advanced knowledge in one particular area such as
communications, intelligence, demolition, or medical. Every team
member is familiar with the skills of the others, but he is
expected not only to be able to utilize his skills in a superior
manner, but also to teach his skills to others.

The Special Forces soldier is a consummate warrior, but his
principle mission is not to fight but to teach, lead, and
inspire. The "survivalist" should consider this to be his mission
as well. The Regular Army NCO would be expected to lead a squad
of ten or so men. The Special Forces NCO would be expected to
teach his skills to a large number of indigenous sympathizers and
then lead a group as large as a company or a battalion... jobs
usually held by captains or lieutenant colonels.

So too should the dedicated survivalist consider himself a leader
and teacher. After having mastered the basic skills of self-
reliance his next priority must be to master his specialty skill,
and having learned it well, to stockpile the tools of his trade.
He must then work on the other specialties important to survival,
with special emphasis on skills not yet filled by recruitment.

A good plan would be to become a specialist in one of the primary
or secondary skills, develop a good working knowledge of all of
the primary skills, and become familiar with the secondary

The camouflage clad, rifle toting loner of the popular media
isn't practicing survival, he is practicing for suicide. Don't
imitate him, and don't recruit him. Survival means teamwork, and
the bigger the team the more comfortable the future.

Just think, if everyone thought like a survivalist, then it's
likely none of us would ever need these skills and supplies we
work so hard to obtain. The best life insurance policy is the one
you don't have to collect on.