It’s Tuesday morning at 2am when ground begins shaking. It continues violently shaking for several minutes. Furniture begins moving, shelves fall over, and then the power goes out. When the shaking stops and you look around, you realize you’re probably not headed to the office today. You’re going to be stuck in your house for a while.

Don’t be “that guy” or “that gal.” You know, the one who “was thinking about putting together a kit, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.”

The first paradigm of survival is the securing of your basic needs. Most survival situations call for the same basics so we suggest beginning your preparations, or evaluating what you’ve got already, using the “Rule of 3.”

For example, you can last:

  • 3 seconds without self defense
  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

Obviously the number 3 is a bit arbitrary, but the concept is important and serves as a road map of sorts to get you started. We’re really focusing on the basics of survival along with the tools and skills to be successful. Recognize that this is not a “one-size-fits-all” concept either.

That comprehensive survival kit you’ve assembled in your garage doesn’t do you any good if you’re not at home when a disaster occurs. So as you’re considering your preparations, you must ask yourself questions about your individual daily routine. Do you work in a high-rise building where you may be stuck for a while, or are you in a small building where you could go out a window or door to reach your vehicle? Are you walking home or will you stay where you are? Ideally, you will have a kit in each of your common locations so you’re never without the basic tools for survival. These small kits should include a full 3-day kit in your car including overnight capability and medical equipment. If you’re car is at home, so are you so keeping the equipment in the car is the most convenient. If your car is such that you might not be able to reach it at work, due to distance or because your car is in an area like a parking garage which could become compromised, be sure to have a similar 3-day kit with overnight capability in your office.

Common sense, however, says that we can’t prepare for every possible circumstance because the “what if” list is endless. “Prepping” television shows tell the story of people preparing for one disaster or another. EMP, earthquakes, civil unrest, biological attack, pandemic, F5 tornados, and it goes on and on. This makes great TV, and there are plenty of creative ideas to be learned, but what should we really be preparing for?

To determine exactly what we should be preparing for we need to use a threat matrix. The matrix evaluates how catastrophic the risks are against how likely they are to happen. Ideally we prepare for the most likely and most catastrophic, and we do so in a manner which will be flexible enough to apply to other circumstances should they arise. For example, getting stuck on the freeway in a snow storm is more likely than a rogue meteor striking the earth and being in an earthquake is more likely than a zombie apocalypse. Use your own threat matrix to determine what you should prepare for most and then use the “Rule of 3” to address what the basic needs are in that situation.

Finally, remember that there is a difference between basic survival and “making it look good.” Once you’ve got your survival preparations assembled, consider adding some “creature comforts” to help pass the time a little easier. Some ideas could be adding something like a book you’ve not read, a new board game, maybe an art project, or a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Spoil yourself by indulging a bit with a bottle of your favorite beverage, a fancy cigar sealed in a glass test tube, or a favorite candy bar (king size of course!). If you have children consider stashing away a couple brand new toys they don’t know about and some of their favorite treats and, of course, don’t forget about your pets! The idea is that if you’re going to be stuck somewhere for a time, you might as well “make it look good” and enjoy it.

Content by Greg Hamilton
Written by Doug Marcoux