Panic can be defined as a sudden overpowering terror that clouds one’s judgment making him or her act erratic and irrational. History has shown us through wars, national emergencies, and various local disasters that a state of panic can trigger a profound state of dysfunction that leaves a person incapable of acting, stilling their every instinct of survival. Those that act, unaware of how to deal with a panic state and its effects, may, in fact, survive, but it becomes just a numbers game. To survive during a crisis, you need to learn how to control yourself and deal with panic and its effects. Since panic is contagious, you have to do everything in your power to keep your cool, especially if you need to mitigate the risks caused by others. Think of it like this, you are at the movies enjoying some times with your kids, a fire breaks out, and people start noticing it. One person starts screaming and rushes for the exit door. That’s pretty much all it takes to cause hysteria. Every single person will start to follow “the lead,” and soon enough, they will pile one over the other, making escape impossible for the rest of you. Understanding panic To deal with panic, we first have to understand that such a state of mind is a personal thing. It can be different from one person to another. Some are afraid of snakes; some have a phobia or self-limiting behavior that blocks them from enjoying life. In some cases, the simple image of a panic triggering element is enough to make their skin crawl. Panic is also universal, and even the most well-adjusted individual out there will panic if placed in the right environment. The key element, precipitating panic—in even the most autonomous of us—is sudden exposure to the unfamiliar and the unexpected. Panic follows a certain hierarchy, and it has various stages of development with predictable responses to the physical or mental upset. Let’s envision a scenario to understand better how panic works. Let’s say you are taking your family out on a boat ride to enjoy a beautiful day. You are caught in a storm, and it can be frightening at first. Being an experienced navigator, there’s no need to panic, right? Your wife is in the cabin trying to get the radio to work, while you and your son are working on the engine that has just stalled. There’s a loose wire dangling from the ignition, so you grab it and touch it to the coil. The small spark at the pole ignites the gas fumes in the bilge. The explosion throws you against the bulkhead. Fire starts spreading everywhere. To make things worse, your boat broaches and a large wave swamps the deck. The hold starts to fill as a ladle dipped in a rain barrel. The water shorts out the pump. Now it’s time to panic! You let go of yourself, and panic makes you scream, rant, act erratically. It all ends with you grabbing the last life-jacket right out of your son’s hands. Right there, you are three phases deep in panic, and you didn’t even have the time to recognize the first two phases. Let’s rewind and see how you got in this mess, but also how you will get out of it. Apathy The first response in an evolving crisis or the calm before the storm, as many call it, can be distinguished by a state of under activity, apathy, and unproductive preparation for the impending disaster. Some feel it’s a nuisance to be prepared, and practicing rescue and survival procedures is just not for them. That ounce of prevention is not worth their precious time. They believe fate is on their side, or some divine intervention will save the day. It’s not even your boat, you’ve rented it, and the owner should be responsible for your safety. Right? This fatalistic behavior of “letting others do it” for ourselves when we discuss disaster avoidance happens everywhere around us, and it can be deadly. We see it every day, with people believing that the government will take care of themselves in case of SHTF. The inability to act during “peace times” is the main thing that increases the body count during “war times.” Disorganization Too little, too late, can be described as the second stage of panic development. When you are on the boat, and the storm closes in, everyone will come to you for answers and instructions. They need to know now what can be done to reach home safely. Right now, when it’s too late. All the efforts put into salvaging the situations created by apathy are unorganized, and time is wasted as the events unfold faster than you can react to them. Others will start to pray while some will become overactive, even if their efforts are random and ineffective. The first stage of real panic has settled in. You and yours are just a moment away from irrational and self-destructive behavior. Now logic abandons the post and leaves room for the herd instinct to take the lead. In the collective mind, appears to be only one escape route or scenario, and everyone acts on it. This can be observed in hotel fires or any other crowded places where fire creates panic. People will rush to a single exit point while other escape routes are ignored, or some become trapped in an elevator. Nobody bothered to take a look at the fire exit plan, and they now pay the price for their apathy. In your case, you are trapped on a sinking boat, and everyone is fighting over too few life-jackets. Panic This stage can be defined as full-blown panic, and it starts to manifest as the boat starts to sink. Everyone ends up in the water, and their only efforts are concentrated on staying alive. Everyone reaches for something to hang onto and stay afloat, and a state of confusion settles in. Even stranger is that your wife and kids are reacting without emotion, and they seem docile, withdrawn, and indecisive. These two responses mean the same thing; everyone is in panic, and we can notice both fight and flee instincts. Their behavior is aimless, and their thought patterns are random without a certain goal. They sweat, have tremors, startle easily, and are swallowing water. Dependence The full impact of the disaster has passed, and you survived while others have not. The remaining survivors are now strongly dependent on your stable leadership. They become childish and “needy,” and they will follow you no matter what you do. They have chosen you as their leader, and they will be loyal until the end. Once you manage to survive the disaster, it’s time to nurture those that have survived it as well. This can be done in various ways depending on the environment. Since you are neck-deep in water, you have to explain to the survivors that they have survived the crisis. This may not be obvious at first, and some will continue to panic and act erratically. Try to get closer and support them, encourage them, and do whatever you can to take care of their needs. Assure and keep reassuring them that the worst has passed and rescue is imminent. Rescue may, in fact, not be imminent, and maybe the scenario ended worse than depicted above. Maybe no one survived. That being said, let’s see what you can do to prevent such a scenario from becoming a reality. Preventing panic The first thing we need to understand is that we all have to identify the panic response, apathy. That single moment where no one assumed responsibility for the scene ahead. In every single survival situation, someone has to lead. Someone has to take charge, no matter the environment. Such a person should require everyone in his party to have some sort of training, some self-rescue procedures. They should practice and imagine what would happen in a certain situation with the help of their leader. This make-believe exercise may and will save lives if the scenario envisioned becomes a reality. This is what people fail to understand, and that’s why they keep making fun of preppers. They fail to see that by pro-acting to a disaster instead of reacting you it, you and yours have eliminated most of the unexpected. That unexpected factor that precipitates panic. A real leader must emerge from the chaos and must give loud and clear orders. Every piece of information given should be precise and simplified so that everyone can follow. No one is left on the bench, and everyone should get a task. When the event spirals out of control, remember that your first reflexive response is probably the wrong one. Stay still for a few seconds and sour out the alternatives. Then make a decision and put your plan into action. However, be prepared to change your plan as developing events dictate. Keep a close eye on the victims and encourage them to do specific survival tasks. Do whatever you can to isolate and keep under control those that are in deep panic mode since they can pull others and act as irrational as they do. How to recognize panic Fear and panic are not easily hidden, and you should learn how to read the eyes. You can spot a panicking person if he or she has dilated pupils, they are blinking rapidly, and they tend to look down. They may try to hide their face or protect their head, while others will literally cover their head with a pillow or seek refuge in the corner of a room. If you are not able to persuade them into action, you may have to lead them away from the event (if the situation requires you to do so). Conquering your fear Panic is caused by fear, and fear can be triggered by various factors. Some fear certain animals, while others fear certain scenarios, items, and so on. The list is long, and as we mentioned earlier, panic is personal. Fear can simply be defined as a human response to a lack of control. In cases of people suffering from phobias or panic attacks, they have a strong urge and need to control themselves and their environment. They have become masters at finding excuses and practicing avoidance. We are all fearful people, and many of us are uncomfortable if we are exposed to certain factors or if we have to face certain scenarios. These are normal responses, and usually, the unexpected unnerves all of us. However, you can cut your losses and gain control over your fears. Here are some tips for doing so: 1. Start by accepting your phobia and understand that you are not crazy. Don’t fight your fears and even if you are uncomfortable, understand that this feeling will pass. Most likely, you are not in danger, anyway. 2. Face your fear. Start by exposing yourself gradually to the stimulus. Don’t give in to the flee response and look at it. Try to observe and study what frightens you. Start by experiencing your phobia from a safe distance. 3. Keep your ground and don’t flee. You may back off, but don’t run. When you manage to compose yourself, face your phobia again. 4. Teach yourself to expect the best, not the worst. This may require some cognitive therapy at first, and you need to apply what you’ve learned in a real-life scenario. For example, if you find yourself in a ski lift and you are afraid of heights, don’t ever consider that it may fall. Think about how it’s just a machine helping you to reach your goal, how it will bring you to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy a full day of skiing. As preppers and survivalists, there’s an impending need to understand that phobias will get in your way when you have to face a survival situation. You must learn to diffuse these fears now, long before they can cripple you when you least expect it. Concluding In an unexpected survival situation, you may expect fear, panic, and paranoia to be present. These are instinctive responses that you will have to face, and you need to learn how to deal with them. You can do so by taking part in successful field experiences that help you gain confidence. Seek training and take your first steps into the unknown.
Wildfires have been ravaging the West Coast states once again, threatening people’s homes and lives. While leftist activists see this as an opportunity to push their global warming rhetoric, a number of people have been arrested and charged with arson for starting those fires. So unless global warming somehow caused them to light the fires, it doesn’t seem like the political creature is known as global warming is the culprit. These fires remind me of the 2018 Camp Fire, which totally leveled the town of Paradise, California. One thing that stood out to me back then was that any preppers who lived in that town probably lost all their preps, as well as everything else. For some things, being a prepper just doesn’t seem to be enough. The year before, I was struck by roughly the same revelation when Hurricane Harvey flooded Southeast Houston. Thousands upon thousands of people had to be rescued from their homes, each only allowed to take one suitcase with them. So unless they had their own boat to evacuate with, those people’s preps didn’t do much to help them either; although they might not have lost them all. These problems could be taken by some as reasons not to prep. “After all,” they might say, “what good does it to do prepare if you can’t use what you’ve prepared when the disaster comes?” But I see it differently; I see the need to make sure that our preps manage to survive so that they can help make sure that we survive. Just because our preps can be at risk, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare. Rather, it means that we need to do a better job of preparing; one that takes those potential risks into account and finds a way to protect our stockpile from destruction. Packaging is Important All military specifications written for food products contain a section where they talk about the packaging. While that may not seem like something all that important, it is. Imagine, if you will, pallets of food being offloaded in support of a Marine invasion of some island, much like they did in the Pacific Campaign, during World War II. If normal cans of food, intended for restaurants or supermarket shelves are included in those pallets and it’s raining, what’s going to happen to that food? Granted, canning is perhaps the most perfect food preservation method there is, protecting the food inside from just about anything. But that doesn’t mean that the packaging itself is impervious to anything. The first thing that the rain would do is attacking the cardboard cartons that the cans of food were shipped in. Corrugated cardboard isn’t at all waterproof and the glue holding the cartons together isn’t much better. So it wouldn’t take long for those cartons to fall apart, spilling the cans out in a heap. Once the cans were no longer protected by the cartons, the rain would do essentially the same to the labels on the cans, which are nothing more than paper, held on by the same glue. Before long, those labels are going to turn to mush, adding themselves to the soggy cardboard. The stack of boxes will collapse, leaving a bunch of basically unlabeled cans, not being held together by much of anything. Can you imagine the mess sergeant who is issued those cans of now unlabeled food and has to figure out what to do with them, while not wasting any? No thanks. That’s why canned food for military use has the label printed right on the can; it can’t wash off. And while they are still packed in corrugated cardboard cartons, the cartons are stouter, stapled, instead of just glued and banded in case they get wet. Everything that can be done to protect those supplies is done, helping ensure that the food issued to those mess sergeants is clearly identified, as well as not having any opportunity to spoil before they are used. Unfortunately, you and I can’t buy those MILSPEC food supplies. If we could, they’d be ridiculously expensive. But there’s nothing saying that we can’t mark those cans with an indelible marker so that we will know what the cans contain, should the label become destroyed. A simple step like that goes a long way towards protecting our food and keeping it usable. If you use cardboard cartons for storing cans or other food in, it’s a good idea to fortify the cartons. While a carton stapler and banding equipment are unnecessary expenses, you can do a lot to make a carton stay together, just by banding it with strapping or packing tape. Use a good quality tape and wrap it around twice, making sure that the layers stick to each other and to the tape crossing in the opposite direction. In this way, even if the cardboard loses all structural integrity, it will hold together and can even be picked up when dried. Of course, food packed in five-gallon plastic buckets is well protected from water, as the buckets themselves are waterproof. You can submerge those buckets or bury them underground and about the worst that will happen to them is the wire handle rusting. Location is Important Where you store your food stockpile is an important factor in it surviving. Most people will recommend storing it in a cool dry place. For this reason, as well as being a good hiding place which is often used for storage anyway, basements are a popular option. But basements aren’t a good place to store things if you’re expecting a flood. Or are they? If you have to get to those items in the middle of the flood, you’re probably going to be out of luck, unless you happen to have scuba gear as part of your survival equipment. Until the water goes down, you’re not going to have access to anything stored in your basement; and even then, you’re probably going to have to pump the basement out. But once you do, that food should be fine, as long as it is stored in cans and sealed buckets. Most plastic storage bins aren’t waterproof, so anything stored in them would be water damaged, unless its own packaging, such as cans, is waterproof. To protect your supplies from flooding, they would have to be stored on the second floor of your home or in the attic. But the attic tends to get hot, which isn’t all that good for the food. So it’s not an ideal location. Another advantage of storing things in the basement is that they are fairly well protected from fire. That’s probably the only place in your home where they will be. Home fires burn hot, somewhere between 1,100°F and 1,600°F. But that same fire will only measure about 100°F at floor level of the living room. Since heat rises, it will be even cooler than that in the basement, so any food that’s stored in the basement will be protected from the fire, as long as the fire doesn’t start in the basement. That includes food stored in plastic buckets. Those buckets are made of HDPE (high-density polyethylene), which has a melting temperature of 248°F to 266°F. Most plastic bins are made of normal polyethylene, which has a melting temperature of 10 to 20 degrees lower. So, while the buckets and bins might get a little warm, they shouldn’t melt and the food inside them should be fine. Of course, you’ve got to decide for yourself what potential risks and prepare for them. That will be different than what others have to prepare for, simply because they live in different areas. After all, people in Kansas don’t see many hurricanes. Ideally, your best bet, if you are faced with multiple threats, is to divide your stockpile up, so that it all isn’t in the same part of your home. That way, should a disaster come, which makes it impossible to access some of your stockpiles, you still have other parts of it available to you. In other words, you could use the food in the attic, while the basement is flooded. What about Other Disasters? While flood and fire cover a lot of ground, those aren’t the only disasters we can face. But if you look at other disasters, they either aren’t going to have a high risk of destroying our homes or the risk is so high, that there is nothing we can do to mitigate the damage. There’s just not that much that can be done to protect anything from earthquakes and tornadoes. Putting supplies in an underground bunker or root cellar might protect them from a tornado, but that won’t help for an earthquake. Some things that nature can do are just bigger than we can handle. In the case of most other man-made disasters (other than fire, that is), there’s little likelihood of anything happening to your stockpile. Since there’s also little likelihood that they will require you to abandon your home, your stockpile in your home will serve you well, to provide for your needs. Don’t Keep it All at Home The other really critical thing to do, in order to protect your stockpile, is to move some of it to an off-site cache. As long as everything is at your home, then it’s all susceptible to anything that happens to your home. In the cases of Hurricane Harvey and the Camp Fire, people who had a survival stockpile weren’t any better off, than those who didn’t. In both cases, they had to abandon their stockpile (assuming it was in their home) when they left. All those preps didn’t do a thing for them. Had those people had a remote cache of supplies, they would have had something to work with, in order to survive until they could go back home. While I seriously doubt that anyone died of starvation in either of those occasions, that’s not the point. At a minimum, they had to buy food in restaurants, paying money for it, which they were going to need to have in order to put their lives back together again. I’m not talking about a buried cache here, although those are possible. But buried caches are best used for resupply while bugging out on foot. Rather than that, I’m referring to renting a small storage unit and using it for food storage. You can get a small one rather inexpensively and even the smallest are big enough to hold quite a stockpile of supplies. Best of all, it’s a place where it doesn’t look suspicious to be taking boxes of all types in and out. One of the most important things here is to make sure that your cache is far enough away from your home, so as to not be affected by whatever disaster strikes. But distance alone isn’t enough. If one of the things you’re concerned about is hurricanes, then putting your cache in a storage unit 100 miles away, but still along the coast, isn’t going to gain you anything. It needs to be moved away from the potential damage area, in this case, moved inland. A forest fire can be even more challenging to keep your stockpile from. Distance is one protection, but only to a point. Ideally, your cache should be located on the other side of a barren area that the fire can’t cross. Since such areas are rather hard to come by in forested areas, you’ll need to try and figure out how the fire is likely to travel, so that you can put the cache out of that range. No matter what you do, make sure that any cache you create is located someplace you’ll be able to get to, in the event of a disaster. If you live in an area that’s prone to earthquakes, you probably don’t want your cache on the other side of a river, with a bridge that might collapse. While that might protect the cache from a wildfire, it won’t help you, if you can’t get to it.