Dire Straits

A bad situation is what we all anticipate happening?  Is this not what prepping is all about anyway?  Regardless of the failure of the world, we prepare for the same outcome.  We are smart enough to plan for a SHTF event. We are also paranoid enough to lay a groundwork of strategies to survive it.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SurvivalCache.com

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The Band

Dire Straits of course comes from the British rock band formed in 1977.  Consider the lyrics from their song “Calling Elvis”

Calling Elvis is anybody home,
Calling Elvis I’m here all alone.
Did he leave the building?
Or can he come to the phone?
Calling Elvis I’m here all alone.

Do we not wonder sometimes if Elvis has left the building?  Do we sometimes feel we are all alone in this venture?  You may feel Survivalist Preppersthis way when the SHTF event goes full bore and the incident begins to unfold.  This makes our prepping all the more important not only the physical preparations, but the mindset we must build, maintain and strengthen to deal with it all.

Take Care of the Basics

Neophyte or veteran, you continue to learn how to prepare.  You balance SHTFthe now world of self, family, and work with real efforts to get ready should anything negative impact your world.  Which goals dominate your daily thoughts?  That is the struggle.  Today you have to finish that report at work.  Later you must take the kids to soccer practice in the afternoon, shop at the grocery afterwards in time to throw together another quick dinner.  There is homework to supervise and grass to mow.  The car needs an oil change and you have a dental appointment.  You are finding less and less “me” time.  You scoff at the mere idea of taking a “vacation.”

You watch the late news; no good news about the economy.  The elections go the other way and you worry further.  Wars rage in Apocalypse 101far away places taking a further drain on the economy.  Debt builds.  You understand the politics.  So, just in case in the wildest of dreams that the blessings of America might cease, you lay by in store.  You read, you study, you plan, you buy, you stock up and you practice, practice, practice.  You may attend training seminars and then practice your prepping skill trades some more.

So continue your prep as best you can and as you can afford it.  Don’t ruin your everyday life over it.  For all we know the SHTF may never happen.  More realistically it might well come in a more dramatic catastrophe such as the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma for example.  Mother Nature can be infinitely more cruel, quick to unfold, and devastating in her impact.  I am uncertain if prepping can manage those events, but I think again it all boils down to mindset.

So read and study here at the Survival Cache home base.  I’ll not cover all the issues of bug in, bug out, bug-out-bags, essential supplies, needs and wants, defensive and offensive weaponry, food supplies, water, cover, survival attire, etc, etc, and yada, yada, yada.  That is what the SC web site and the forums is all about. Read, read, read, then do, do, do.

The Psych Prep

When the electricity is gone, the local store is out of bread, milk, bottled water and all of the other usual sustenance then the shtfawareness comes.  The fuel gauge on the car shows empty, just as the neighborhood gas station tanks go dry.  Then the new reality begins to set in.  How will you handle the stress, the pressure to secure yourself and your family?

This is the ultimate test of your preparedness.  Whether you bug in or out really doesn’t matter at this point.  You must get through this, the ultimate trial.  It isn’t going to be easy.  Nobody said it was going to be easy.  Will all your dividends pay off now?

The best preparation is to conduct practice exercises.  They can be as simple as setting up your tent in the backyard at night with a flashlight or without.  Take an hour hike with your primary Bug Out Bag on your back.  Then go a half day, then a day.  During that hike take only one canteen of water and maybe a power bar.  Can you last?  I probably couldn’t, which is exactly why I am making other plans.  Maybe you need these simple assessments to determine if you need to modify your plan.  Include your spouse and kids to see how that works out.  I can only imagine the first time out.

Learn to use all your gear intimately firsthand.  Do not just read the owners’ manual then pack it back up to be stored in the closet SHTFor garage.  Ironically, practice does make perfect, and practice relieves the stress of feeling inadequate, lost, or outright stupid.  Fuel your cooking stove and then cook on it.  Light your Coleman lantern.  Prepare an MRE or a freeze dried dinner and eat it.  Build a lean-to cover and set it up like a functional camp.  Sleep in it.  Test out everything you own and plan to use in a prep situation.  Train your family or prep group to use everything correctly as well.

Prep gear items that fail or prove unsatisfactory during the practice phases will surely do likewise during actual truth and consequence events.  Remember you are best at doing what you know best how to do well.  This is the foundation of psych prep for a SHTF.

Ultimately when you feel better about your prep plan and its execution then you will feel better about yourself.  Your prep self-esteem will grow as will your confidence.  If you fail at something, then analyze the event to take corrective action.  Try it again.  Falling short is part of the process.  Just get up, dust yourself off and start again.

Let me close with words from Bob Dylan’s latest album, Tempest and the song Scarlet Town that was recently debuted on an episode of Defiance:

In Scarlet Town, the end is near
The Seven Wonders of the World are here
The evil and the good livin’ side by side
All human forms seem glorified
Put your heart on a platter and see who will bite
See who will hold you and kiss you good night
There’s walnut groves and Maplewood
In Scarlet Town cryin’ won’t do no good.

Photos by:
Joe Kurtz
Jim Nix
Linda & Clark

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3 thoughts on “Dire Straits”

  1. Dr. Woods is spot on….this article is so true…… practice practice and practice is the only course to success…. if you do not think it is ture just watch "Naked and Afraid". Seasoned survivalist put in extremely tought situations and they all have had more than their share of unexpected difficult expereinces…Great article… take it to heart….

  2. Hi John,

    From one Doc to another, I think you have hit a nerve with many of what I call PINOs or preppers in name only. Stockpiling is easy. Setting up camp is easy. Eating MREs is easy. What is not easy is, as you mentioned, the psychological mindset that will lead to survival.

    In my Professor Prepper column, I called the phenomena you addressed Placebo Prepping.

    In placebo prepping, the prepper turns into the ultimate consumer spending vastly more time acquiring prepping gear and food then he/she does focusing on the necessary skills and mindset to realistically deal with any SHTF event.

    You mentioned setting up a tent in a backyard at night using a flashlight. If only it were that easy. Backyards are familiar flat terrain. How about setting it up at night… without a light…in the forest…during a rain storm…with howling winds? And then stay put for the next seven days!

    Placebo Preppers are confusing camping with prepping. The simple fact that you can bail out when your camping trip goes south is a enough to make it somewhat misleading as a prepping experience. Don't get me wrong, however. Camping is a great shakedown cruise for a bug-out, but it hardly provides the necessary mental toughness for a real bug-out.

    Nobody can truly be mentally prepared for a SHTF event because the details of said event will affect us all differently. If the event hits us all, then we know that many of our loved ones will not be bugging anywhere. And that will be tough to swallow.

    On a side note, I've been thinking that the best place to bug out to is ….the library. Prepping involves mentally manufacturing a bad scenario and then preparing for it. Nothing is real until it is real. However, when the SHTF event occurs, you then have the key piece of information you need to be prepared. Sure, it's a chicken-egg situation but if the library is intact, and there is no reason to prevent you from adding it to your raid route, then head to the library for the answers to the questions that the SHTF just asked.

    Carry on!


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