As preppers, we tend to focus primarily on gear and storage. While there’s nothing wrong with either of those, and both are absolutely necessary, the third vital leg of the “Prepper Three Legged Stool” is skills. What you have stored internally in your mind & muscle memory, or at least available on quick recall, is equally as important as the first two legs. We’re going to go beyond just acquiring skills though – this post is going to urge actually taking some formal training, not just teaching yourself or learning through watching YouTube plus trial & error.
It’s that time of year again – Christmas is over, the first hints of warmer & longer days have arrived, and the dreaded April 15th tax deadline starts to loom closer. Before we’re totally focused on going outside and making preparations for the spring garden, now’s a good time to reflect on balanced prepping, specifically in terms of wealth distribution. It’s often the case that due to price fluctuations, life changes, or overallocation due to specific concerns, even a seasoned prepper’s distribution of wealth can become unbalanced & less diversified.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, which stands for virtual private network, is an encrypted network between one or many machines (clients) and a server. It is “virtual” in the sense that it is not a direct physical or WiFi based network. The machines securely connect over an internet connection and define an entirely new set of internal IP addresses by which they communicate. This provides a private network which cannot be snooped on, even by the client’s internet service provider (ISP). It is one of the best network security mechanisms available.
The “bug out bag” is one of the most well known items in preparedness. Whether you literally use it to “grab and go” from your main location, or as a “get home” bag for getting from your car, work, or some other location back to your home, every prepper should be intimately familiar.
As a prepper, it is very likely you already have at least one bug out bag ready to go for yourself. If not, what are you waiting for? The worst case scenario is having yourself all prepped up at home, but being caught away from your preps or forced to abandon your preps by a fast moving crisis. The bug out bag will help hedge against this most unfortunate situation should it occur.
What one keeps in a bug out bag, what kind of bag to use, and how heavy it should be is a topic of frequent discussion in the prepper community. General agreement is to target needs for survival for at least a 72 hour period. This includes some form of shelter, food, water (or at least the means to purify water), means of defense, general tools (think duct tape, Swiss army knife, leatherman, etc), light, firestarters, first aid materials, communications (radio / walkie-talkie), etc. There are some great discussions on bug out bags on The Survival Podcast and on the PrepperRecon podcast.
While it’s great to have your own bug out bag, if you’ve got a family and/or a spouse, it’s important and often overlooked that they also should have their own bug out bags. Let’s discuss why.
The last Resolution dealt with keeping our physical home safe. This is obviously extremely important. But in our modern world, we increasingly have an online alter-ego which has become equally important to protect.
Everything from bank & investment accounts to deeply personal information like pictures are increasingly digital and available through the internet. Aside from actual theft potential online, identity theft is also a rapidly growing problem.
Most online sites we interact with use technologies like SSL (secure socket layer) to encrypt information so that online snoopers can’t read the traffic data. However the vast majority of these sites also use what is called single factor authentication. That’s a fancy way of saying a username and password.
Many sites use an email address for a customer’s username, and email addresses are generally very easy to find. That means the only secret thing separating your accounts from someone looking to steal or do damage is typically your password. If you use a simple password that is easy to guess, you can be compromised pretty quickly. Likewise if you use the same password in many places, even if it is harder to guess, once you are compromised at one site, a hacker will try that same password on another site with your email. In such a situation you can be compromised across every site where you reuse that password in a very short time frame.
While some preppers start out in the world of preparedness from a defense point of view, having grown up as hunters or just being around and familiar with firearms all of their lives, many of us have not been exposed to defensive issues. Growing up in quiet suburbs where the population doesn’t generally hunt and there are very few issues with crime, the need for self-defense likely wasn’t a high priority. But at some point, we wake up and realize the thin veneer of civilized life has the potential to come crashing down very quickly, and the best made preparations can be subject to theft or destruction. It is at that moment if you haven’t thought of defense before that the idea takes hold.
Procrastination: Normalcy Bias
Once we realize a need for defensive measures, many of us still seem to procrastinate. We figure when the big economic collapse hits, we’ll have time to account for that as in a major crisis involving civil unrest, since the big cities will come unraveled first before any danger comes to our relatively smaller & safer location. Unfortunately this is the result of normalcy bias, thinking that bad things only happen “to those people, over there” and “my area will stay as it always has been”.
This is a dangerous thought pattern to become trapped in. It could be that a disaster is local or regional, and it can strike any town or area at any time. Think of Katrina, or a major chemical spill, mudslide, wildfire, or gas leak which causes fires to rage out of control. Even in a community with mostly good folks, there are always some bad seeds who will want to take advantage. Such situations can unfold rapidly, and as we said with resolution #4, you’ll want to have your gear in place AND be trained up and familiar with it. Keep in mind even with the popular big financial collapse scenario such as where the EBT & WIC cards start getting rejected, or the food & medicine stops rolling in, many people in quiet small towns who are normally well mannered will likely come unglued quickly.