Editor's note: This feature ran in our companion service, The Tactical Wire four years ago by our skills specialist Tiger McKee. A veteran of tornadoes and floods, he has wisdom to impart on preparedness.
The new term for those who prepare for emergency situations is "prepper." When I was younger the term "survivalist" was often used, normally not in a nice way, to describe those who lived off the beaten path. The thing to consider is either you're a survivalist, which means you live, or according to Webster's listings of antonyms you 'die, perish, fail, … "
Being a survivalist doesn't mean you go off the deep end and hole up in a cabin, stock on up weapons, build a big fence and stop bathing. It does mean when the time comes you, your family and community are ready to survive whatever type nastiness comes 'round. The usual problems are weather related. Civil or economic unrest is a possibility. How you prepare depends on who you are and where you live. Someone in an urban environment like New York will have a different plan from the Ala-Frickin'-Bama emergency scenario Gretchen and I prepare for. Regardless of who you are the basics are all the same.
I can tell you from personal experience it is a good idea to prepare for times when the power is out, the water isn't flowing, and even if the stores had anything on the shelves there is no way to get there. There may be civil unrest or some type pandemic, in which case it might not be a good idea to go anywhere anyway. Even if you stay home trouble may come to you. During our last tornado incident here roving bands of looters traveled to well to do areas to steal and violent confrontations occurred.
Reaching out to family and friends, especially those you live around is a good way to help educate others and pool resources. Trading knowledge, like teaching an EMT how to run a pistol and getting them to share some basic trauma medicine is a great way to acquire new skills while helping another person. The fabled lone wolf of books and movies isn't who most of us will be. Having a support group makes survival much easier.
Keep in mind that fighting skills, while necessary, are a small portion of the survival pie. And being a survivalist doesn't just mean you're prepared for a nuclear winter. Survival skills also apply for getting and back and forth between home and work without running into a dangerous situation. Simple things like having fire extinguishers and flashlights handy are necessities. Survival allows you to wake up tomorrow and start it all over again.
As with all skills becoming a survivalist or prepper isn't accomplished overnight. Prepping means you start preparing now, improving your knowledge, skills and equipment as you can. As always your mental attitude is the most critical aspect to focus on. You can never prepare completely for everything, but you can be ready for about anything.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org