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Before you can be mentally and psychologically prepared for a disaster, you will also need to be physically prepared. While the survival mindset is a mental awareness of the need to survive, you cannot get to that place until you have the confidence that you can take care of your physical needs and be self-sufficient without reliance on others.
This is where you need to take some definitive steps to get to that positive and productive mental state.
As mentioned in Survival Mindset Part I and Survival Mindset Part II of this series, everyone has unique needs when it comes to survival. Add to that the variances of the particular emergency or disaster situation and you have hundreds of different variations to the basic survival plan.
To avoid becoming overwhelmed, start small and build up knowledge, skills and supplies over time. Like a little alarm clock in your brain, keep survival and prepping in mind whenever you shop, and especially when you make a major lifestyle decision.
Using the following as a guide, you can begin to embark upon the preparedness journey and do so with fortitude and the motivation to succeed.
10 STEPS TOWARD A POSITIVE SURVIVAL MINDSET
1. Assess the risks and threats unique to your area.
This is not as difficult as you might think. Virtually every state, and most counties and cities have an emergency preparedness website that will outline the specific threats in your area. They may not address universal threats such as a terrorist attack or economic collapse but the resources for identifying those things that may likely affect you are often very thorough.
2. Prepare a bug out kit.
What is a bug out kit? A bug out kit (or B.O.B.) is a bag or pack that you would grab when you had to evacuate in a hurry. A bug out kit is typically stocked with a three day supply of food, water, gear and enough first aid supplies to get you by for a very short period of time.
3. Learn to shelter at home.
In most cases, you will always be better off bugging in without leaving your own home. That sounds counter-intuitive but the reality is that there are very few situations that require that you abandon your homestead. (Those include massive destruction where the conditions are dangerous and unsafe.) Sheltering at home includes learning how to seal off unused areas to conserve heat, learning to cook when there is no power, and figuring out what to do about sanitization and basic cleanliness if there is a failure in the water or sewer systems.
4. Start a survival pantry and accumulate a stash of extra food or water.
Identify an area in your home that you can designate as a survival pantry. It can be a closet, a shelf or even an area under the bed so get creative as you find a spot separate from your day to day supplies.
Here you will store food and water that you have set aside for emergency purposes. You can start by adding a few extra items to your grocery cart with each trip to the supermarket. Save old soda bottles and use them to store extra water. As time and budget allow, over time you can increase the quantity of the items in your survival pantry until you feel you have enough to survive for three months, six months, a year or longer.
Hint: An easy way to get started regardless of budget and space constraints is to take the month by month approach as described in 12 Months of Prepping – One Month at a Time.
5. Develop useful survival skills such as fire making, gardening, hunting, or fishing.
You may never need to survive outside and grow or forage for food but, if you are truly going to be self-sufficient, you need actively embrace these skills.
6. Secure your home and learn self-defense.
This topic alone could fill an entire book. Protecting your family and your precious survival goods requires a diligent and concerted approach to home security. Good locks, adequate outdoor lighting, an alarm system and even a dog will help maintain a barrier of protection around your homestead.
Think of this: if people are tired, hungry and upset, they will do whatever it takes to find comfort and relief. Good guys become bad guys and bad guys have weapons. You need to come up with a plan for defending yourself against these bad guys, whether you use a shotgun, a rifle, pepper spray or a baseball bat. Do not ignore the importance of figuring this out in advance. Your life may depend on it.
7. Get to know your neighbors and like-minded members of your community
No man is an island, and there is no place where that applies more than in a survival situation. The problem, though, is that not every man is trustworthy. As mentioned above, there are bad guys (or good guys gone bad due to the stress of the situation) that will come after you. By getting to know your neighbors and like-minded members of your community, you will have someone to watch your back – and your family – in the event you are otherwise engaged.
Likewise, you will be there for them because you have built up a trust well in advance of the need to call that trust in to play.
Something not often mentioned is that you can divide up the skill sets required to survive, at least in the short term. For example, one of you can learn how to build a sustaining fire while another can learn how to catch and clean fish. Simple things, yes, but given the demands of time, you have someone to fill in gaps until you have the time to learn these skills yourself.
8. Know your stuff. Educate yourself.
Expand your knowledge by reading books, watching videos and practicing your survival skills on a regular basis. The internet has a wealth of resources available, but keep in mind that in a grid down situation, the internet and your computers will be down as well. Build up a print library that you can call upon when times get tough and the grid is down. And keep learning.
9. Practice, drill and practice some more.
All the planning in the world will be useless if unrehearsed. Play out different scenarios in your head and think about how you would handle them. Unplug for a weekend and learn to live without power. Eat for a week from the foods in your survival stash. Don’t use the toilet for a few days and learn how you will cope with the lack of sanitization facilities. Keep track of your results; they will help you do better the next time and will greatly enhance your ability to survive if you are ever called upon to use your survival skills.
10. Conquer Fear
Debilitating fear can be one of the greatest hindrances to acquiring a positive survival mindset. Fear of the unknown is a human trait and will always be present. The key is to conquer that fear and wrap your arms around it. Know that it is there and accept it. Then move on with your preparations with the confidence that you have done your best to mitigate personal danger to yourself and your family. Take control of what you know for the rest cannot be changed.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: A SUCCESSFUL SURVIVAL MINDSET
The ultimate goal of these last three articles has been to help you develop a Survival Mindset by incorporating survival and preparedness tactics into the fabric of your daily life. Whether this is done one step at a time over the period of a year or in a marathon effort over the course of a month, being prepared requires that you embrace the execution of tasks, skills and mental gymnastics with diligence, perseverance, and enthusiasm. This is not something for the slacker.
The Survival Mindset means you are focused and that you have the self-discipline to navigate a multitude of situations without panic. You have the ability to set priorities and follow though to their completion. And perhaps, most important, you have the ability to accept your human condition with optimism and grace and with a positive and productive attitude toward life and the world around you.
A Survival Mindset will Bring Peace and Calm in to Your Life
With his healthy mindset, the Prepper takes the concept of survivalism seriously and applies it to his or her own set of circumstances and life choices. Nothing scary, nothing weird and nothing kooky. And certainly nothing to hide from or be ashamed of. It means developing a plan to exist in a healthy, secure, and positive manner with adequate food, clothing, and yes, sources of enjoyment without the fear of helplessness or lack of total control.
THE FINAL WORD
Within yourself you must find the inspiration and courage to embark upon the path of independence so that you are prepared for the unexpected contingencies of life.
And to that end, hold dear the following mantra: Survivalist is not a dirty word!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Here is a convenient list of some the books that I personally own and recommended for every Survival Library.
Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression: If you don’t know about Clara, be sure to read Depression Cooking: A Visit to Clara’s Kitchen.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking: At an average cost of 50 cents a loaf, this bread is easy, delicious and inexpensive to make.
How to Live on Wheat: Everything you need to know about wheat.
Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart: An instructional guide and planning tool that addresses defensive preparation of a location. If the government can no longer protect your home, farm or property, Holding Your Ground will teach you how.
The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster: Written by Bernie Carr at the Apartment Prepper blog, this is highly readable guide to all things preparedness.
2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and ECC: This is free so you have no excuses. Be sure to download and print out a copy.
How to Grow More Vegetables: Decades before the terms “eco-friendly” and “sustainable growing” entered the vernacular, How to Grow More Vegetables demonstrated that small-scale, high-yield, all-organic gardening methods could yield bountiful crops over multiple growing cycles using minimal resources in a suburban environment. This is the bible.
All New Square Foot Gardening: This book will prove that you can grow a significant bounty in limited space. Just add seeds.
Desk Ref: This hand book includes 1280 pages of tables, maps, formulas, constants and conversions and will serve you will in an off-grid situation.
Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.
I eat a lot of fruit (usually three whole fruits a night as a bedtime snack) and in a SHTF situation, fruits will be something I will really miss. The Freeze-Dried Fruit Favorites Combo from Emergency Essentials is something I use all year round. With the grocery store a 20 mile round trip journey, I like the thought of being able to rehydrate my own fruit, in the quantity I want, at a moments notice.
The selection includes Apple Dices, Bananas, Peaches, Pineapple Dices, Blueberries and Strawberries.
But not to be left out, there are veggies too. The deluxe supply of Freeze Dried Vegetables includes 18 #10 tins of the following veggies in various quantities: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Sweet Corn, Green Beans, Green Peppers, Green Peas, Mushrooms, Potato Dices, Spinach, and White Onions.
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11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life: This little book will provide you with the motivation to get started or stay on track with a self-reliant life. 11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life, co-authored with my long time pal, George Ure (www.urbansurvival.com), and can purchased from Amazon.
Shelf Reliance Virtual Party: Are you a fan of Shelf Reliance and Thrive products? Backdoor Survival hosts a virtual, online Shelf Reliance party with discounted party prices and some special packages not normally found at the Shelf Reliance site.
As a matter of fact, all of the packages you see available at Costco.com are available at my party and at better prices too!