There seem to be two main camps when it comes to being prepared for the worst: the survivalist types, and the basic emergency preparedness types.

The survivalist types seem to prepare for the absolute worst, often to the exclusion of being prepared for lesser, far more situations. The stereotypical survivalist has a large cache of guns and ammunition, months of food and water in their bunker, and potassium iodide tablets for radiation protection. In some cases they almost seem to be hoping for The End Of The World As We Know It. They laugh at the foolish naïveté of the emergency preparedness types with their flashlights and 3 days of water. They don’t need a radio because they know that in an emergency, you are on your own, every man for himself. There is no sympathy for the weak and unprepared.

The basic emergency preparedness types are prepared for common emergencies: hurricanes, tornadoes, perhaps civil unrest or terrorist attacks. The member of this group has basic supplies -- some food, water, batteries, FM radio, maybe a generator. An advanced one will have ham radio gear. They make fun of (and are afraid of) the survivalists and their guns, and they know that in an emergency, we’re all in it together and should help each other out. They also feel some sense of duty to help out the third group: the unprepared.

The truth is, they’re both wrong -- and they’re both right. By far the most common emergencies are ones where basic supplies will tide you over until help comes and order is restored. Most of the time you can count on others to some extent, and it’s a good thing to help others out. And most disaster situations don’t involve the threat of violence.

But sometimes, there is the threat of violence. Sometimes, there is no help on the way. Sometimes you’re on your own, and other people are potential dangers. Sometimes you need a gun. And sometimes, the former situation is only a few twists of fate away form the later, or can turn into the latter quickly.

Here in South Florida, hurricanes happen with some regularity. After Wilma, there was no power for a long, long time -- two weeks in our case. Generators were commanding huge prices. Even if you had one, there was no guarantee you could feed it -- gas stations were closed, because with no electricity, their pumps didn’t work. But, there was no significant looting, no food line riots. A few days self-sufficiency with basic supplies was fine, until government emergency plans were up and running in and there were emergency food, water, and ice supplies available. People for the most part were very cooperative with each other, obeying the 4-way stop rules at the intersections where the traffic lights were out for days and days, and so on.

But it can go the other way, too. Look at Katrina. One day you’re in a major city, the next you’re living in what could easily be mistaken for a third world disaster area in the midst of a civil war. There IS no government. There is no food or drinkable water. The streets are a giant sewer. You hear gunfire. And you’re trapped there.

Or, look at the LA riots.

So, the philosophy behind this site is that survival and emergency preparedness covers a huge range of scenarios. It’s thinking about what you would do to survive if an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) attack destroyed the electric grid nationwide, but at the other extreme can be keeping a safety pin handy in case your fly breaks on the way to a job interview. It’s knowing enough to have a chance at survival if lost in the woods. It’s having jumper cables in your car to help a stranger with a dead battery. It’s about knowing how to shoot a gun.

It’s also about trying to help other people when you can, but also being prepared to use deadly force to protect yourself and your family if need be.

It is not about is paranoia, or conspiracy theories. It’s also not about living in fear. It is about not only the comfort that comes with having some degree of preparedness, but the enjoyment that many of us find in preparedness activities, and in helping others. I like collecting and playing with interesting bits of gear. I also like learning interesting skills, like shooting, and knowing how to use a ham radio. Indeed, learning is another thing this site is about. I’m not an expert on this stuff, by any means. I just enjoy learning about this topic. This is as much about my adventures in learning as it is about educating others.

-- Sheepdog
28 June, 2009