Introduction to Survival

Reliance on Systems

As civilisation grows, people become more reliant on systems. For example, there will always be a supermarket, so there is no need to know how to hunt, forage or grow food. Water will always flow through pipes to houses, and water treatment facilities will always function, so there is no need to know how to locate and sanitise drinking water. Police are only a phone call away, so there is no need to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones. And of course, telephone networks will always be open and functioning.

Is this reliance on systems healthy? Perhaps. As conditions change, people adapt. In today’s society, time spent learning how to gather food, hunt and purify water could arguably be better spent learning about the stock market. Trading stock is a form of survival, because it generates income, and some form of income is necessary within this system to survive. However when the system is disrupted, deteriorates or completely collapses, these basic survival skills, which used to be common knowledge, can become absolutely essential.

Knowing and working with the system can be very beneficial. Society will always be governed by certain economic rules, and knowing these rules allows you to prosper:

  1. Living costs money, so you need a job
  2. Certain assets are valuable, so invest in them
  3. Diversify when possible

I should’ve invested in a machete sooner. And a sharpening stone...

The system can be disrupted though, which affects people on a differing scale, depending on what has occurred to disrupt it, and how much people are reliant.

What can disrupt the system?

Many things can disrupt a system, some more speculative than others, but one particular type of event has consistently disrupted, deteriorated or collapsed the system over the course of human history:

Natural disasters.

Small-scale disasters occur regularly all over the world, affecting people differently depending on their location. Large-scale disasters occur less frequently, but often strike with little or no warning, resulting in unimaginable damage and casualties.

Along with an increased sense of awareness and knowledge, such disasters can be overcome adequately with the help of one invaluable asset:

Your Bug Out Bag.

What’s a Bug Out Bag?

A Bug Out Bag (or BOB, for short) – aka. Go Bag, Grab Bag, Emergency Kit – is some form of bag or backpack that contains a set of items which allow you to survive a disaster for 72 hours or indefinitely, depending on your Personal Plan. Ideally an expert survivalist should be able to survive in the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on his or her back, however it is unrealistic to expect this from an everyday person. Regardless, even an expert survivalist would consider any Bug Out Bag priceless in a disaster situation.

A Bug Out Bag will typically contain items that meet what’s referred to as “The Three Basic Needs of Survival” - Shelter, Water, and Food – and often a more extensive list of needs, which complement the basic needs and serve other important purposes – Medical/Hygiene, Navigation and Communication – referred to as “The Three Supplementary Needs of Survival”. Your Bug Out Bag will not only be useful in a disaster scenario, but in everyday life. You’ll find yourself turning to your Bug Out Bag regularly and not knowing how you got by without it.

What does it take to survive?

In essence, survival means meeting three basic requirements: Shelter, Water and Food. To stay alive, your body needs to be at the right temperature (Shelter), you need to be hydrated (Water) and you need energy (Food). These requirements are referred to as:

“The Three Basic Needs of Survival”

Surviving more comfortably means also meeting three supplementary requirements: Medical/Hygiene, Navigation and Communication. These requirements are referred to as:

“The Three Supplementary Needs of Survival”

Meeting all of these needs depends on what you know, and what you have in your Bug Out Bag to complement that knowledge.

Levels of Disaster

Ask yourself, “What am I preparing for?”

Essentially you are preparing to take care of yourself and those you love in the event of a natural disaster; to survive, should the worst happen. The scale of disaster you wish to prepare for is up to you to determine. Some disasters are more likely than others, and most possibilities can be determined simply by looking at the history of your area.

Level 1 Disaster

It’s common practice to prepare on a smaller scale for the effects of the first level of disaster, including blackouts, flash flooding, etc. If you haven’t done this, perhaps it’s a good place to start. Preparing for this sort of event can be as important as having smoke alarms in your home, and will make all the difference should you find yourself in trouble. Put together a small kit containing:

  • A battery-powered radio
  • Several bottles of water
  • A first aid kit
  • A torch
  • Extra non-perishable food (canned food including baked beans, tuna – things that won’t go bad any time soon).

Keep this kit inside a bag or backpack so you can easily transport it if the scale of disaster was to worsen. This bag or backpack is the beginnings of your Bug Out Bag, and has the potential to be more extensive, should you wish to take preparation a step further in order to survive a more extreme disaster.

Level 2 Disaster

The second level of disaster people prepare for is a more severe situation, where it is no longer safe to be in your home, and evacuation is necessary. In an evacuation scenario, such basic supplies mentioned for the first type of event wouldn’t be adequate, because you won’t have the survival needs met that it would otherwise provide for. Should evacuation be necessary, your Bug Out Bag must contain supplies that allow you to survive for 72 hours away from your home, under the assumption that you will receive aid at some point during that time. These supplies should meet The Three Basic Needs of Survival – Shelter, Water, Food – and if possible The Three Supplementary Needs of Survival – Medical/Hygiene, Navigation, Communication. Your quality of life will effectively be shaped by what you have in your Bug Out Bag.

In addition to your initial (Level 1 disaster) supplies, for a Level 2 disaster you'll need to pay special attention to the Shelter need, because you will no longer have a reliable roof over your head. What is the weather like where you live? Depending on the climate, perhaps it would be a good idea to pack:

  • An emergency bivvy or blanket
  • A jacket
  • A raincoat

Level 3 Disaster

The third and most extreme level of disaster people prepare for is a situation where help may not be coming for a very long time, if ever.

We waited, and waited... and no one came.

Perhaps a disaster is too widespread and aid will either not make it in time, or is completely diminished. In this situation, your Bug Out Bag must contain all the items you’ll need to survive the coming days, and long enough for you to find a regular supply of food and clean water. Preparing for such a scenario requires a more extensive supply of items in your Bug Out Bag, more extensive planning, and a willingness to learn and improve your ability to survive the ordeals of such a situation. In addition to your Bug Out Bag supplies, improvisational skills are necessary and can be gained through knowledge and practice.

The following information outlines a general approach to surviving disasters. Sometimes specific skill sets pertaining to survival are mentioned, i.e. fire lighting, etc. At this point in time it is unfeasible to list step-by-step, “how-to” instructions for every skill set mentioned, however further information is planned for the future.

Form your plan