How to Survive Lost Without a Compass

Woman hiking and reading map in forestYou have decided it is a good day for a short hike on a well-known trail. A trail well known to you anyways because you have hiked it numerous times and you know every twist and turn. You know how long it takes from start to finish and you have your survival gear down to a science. You know how many bottles of water you will need as well as number of protein bars. Because you are, so familiar with the terrain a map and compass is just added weight and you see no need to pack then for the hike.

After an hour along the trail, you notice storm clouds gathering and realize it is an hour walk back to the trailhead and your vehicle. Getting soaked out here is not ideal because it is getting cooler so you begin to search for shelter, you veer off the trail, and soon you spot a downed tree that may offer some protection if you get under it.

The rain pelted down for the better part of an hour and the mist rising from the ground made seeing the ground difficult. You set out for the trail and after 10 minutes of hiking you realize you must have went in the wrong direction because surely you did not walk ten minutes to the downed tree. Twenty minutes in the other direction and still no trail and for some reason you have the urge to run in another direction to find the trail, you do not however because panicking is dangerous and it will only move you farther from the trail.

You Are Lost What to Do Next

Like most people, you probably get in your vehicle and drive to your destination. You know the way because of landmarks and street signs. Directions are not given like in days past where someone would tell you to walk north for 800 paces and turn south for 300 more. Frankly you have no idea if the trailhead where your vehicle is, is north or south of the trail and certainly no idea where it is from your current location.

How to Find Civilization

Man checking compass for right directionSome people naturally assume a compass is no good unless you know which direction to travel in and that you need a map to find your way. Granted a compass is ideal for finding locations if you know the grid coordinates and know the destination as marked on a map. However, a compass also allows you walk in a straight line.

The bezel of a good compass will have degrees marked on it that correspond to the direction of travel and is lined up with the needle that points in that direction. When walking you glance at the needle to ensure you are always moving 180 degrees south, for example, and this makes it easy to adjust course and of course ensures that you are walking in a straight line.

It is nearly impossible to walk in a straight line without a compass or some visual landmark that you can focus on with your eyes.

Lost Without a Compass

Why is walking in a straight line important. If you cannot walk in a straight line, simply put, you will never get anywhere and ultimately will walk in circles and end up back where you started. You can literally walk for days, be less than five miles from civilization, and never find it because you walked in circles. Hikers, hunters and others lost have been found in some cases just a few miles from camp, their vehicle or a town. They had succumbed to the elements or dehydration because they could not stay pointed in one direction long enough to reach their camp or the town.

Assumedly if you walk in any direction in a straight line for 10 to 15 miles or more in some cases, you will come upon a road, highway or some other evidence of civilization. It is simply a matter of maintaining course, and it can be done with a compass or map.

Find a landmark that you can walk directly to and once there find another and do the same and repeat this process to walk in straight line. Use the sun during the day to maintain course by walking with the sun over one shoulder and once the sun begins to go down either walk into it or have it centered on your back as you walk, which will require that you glance back often to stay on course.

Waterways can lead to towns and homes. Simply follow any river or stream downriver. Many cities and towns grew up around water because water is essential to any community’s survival and many communities sprang up around water.

Railroad tracks either lead to or are coming from a settlement and once you come upon a set of tracks it really does not matter which direction you travel in, one way could have a town just around the corner or several miles around the next corner.

Overhead power lines and oil pipelines will lead to civilization, repair huts, homes and transfer stations where help may be found.

If you know or suspect you are in a coastal area walk into the wind to find the coastline or follow birds. Birds will fly inland and then return to the coast. Prevailing winds blow inland so if the breeze is at your front then you are walking toward the coast where help may be found.

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Suburban Survival, Survival Gear Comments Off

5 Ways to Help Your Family Be Better Prepared

Fives Ways to Better Prepare your family for a Crisis


Families today are accustomed to power outages and a few hours of the power being out is generally not a problem it is simply an inconvenience and any tasks needed to be done can wait. However, once services such as electricity, water and gas have been disrupted for several days it becomes not an inconvenience but a problem.

Families in some cases tend to overlook the fact that tasks and responsibility do not cease because their municipal services have been disrupted. Meals still have to be prepared, baths given to children, laundry needs to be done, your home needs to be kept clean, and your family protected all without the benefit of electricity, gas or running water.

1.) Survival Without Electricity

The problem is the world’s dependency on electricity. The simplest task like toasting bread without electricity requires planning and resources you might not have. How do you toast bread without a toaster or an oven? Some might say this is not a problem but combine this with the fact you may not be able to brew coffee, squeeze orange juice or poach an egg, and you start to see how difficult life can be during a disaster if you have not properly prepared.

  • Become aware of the threats, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wild fires and terrorists attacks. Typically, you would know if you live in an area prone to seasonal natural disasters, earthquakes and wild fires. However, disasters such as tornadoes have been reported in every area of the world except the Antarctica. Tornadoes can occur anytime there is a thunderstorm and can happen anytime of the year, so regardless of where you live they are a possibility albeit a remote possibility in certain areas.
  • Generally, emergency supplies are not disaster specific, in other words you will always need certain essentials regardless of the calamity. In some cases however, special precautions, may be needed such as in the event of a terrorist attack if they unleash chemical or biological weapons. If this is the case, evacuation is probably the only course of action you can take to save your family’s life along with certain protective gear for short periods of exposure. Part of preparing your home and family for any situation includes preparing for evacuation and knowing when to evacuate and where to find a safer location.
  • Additional threats could include a collapse of the monetary system that would result in hyperinflation and cause civil unrest such as rioting and violent demonstrations. Destruction of the power grid by hackers is a real threat and attempts are made daily against the security systems in place. Water treatment plants would also be affected by hackers, computers viruses and sabotage at the plant level.

2.) Create a “To Do” List

List all of the tasks you have to accomplish during the course of a typical day and decide what tasks will still need to be accomplished during a crisis. The only way you can settle on a solution is to determine the problem. If you have children, they will need to be entertained, bathed, fed regular meals, have their clothes washed, given medications and comforted. Establishing a sense of normalcy by doing, the things that you normally do will help control stress and panic in children as well as adults.

  • It is important that you approach every problem by assuming the worst. You cannot use history as a template. What happened last time the power went out cannot be used to determine what might happen the next time. Super storm sandy along the Eastern Seaboard is an example of families and local authorities using history to dictate their actions today. It was not even classified as hurricane strength and yet the levels of destruction far exceeded that of even more severe storms in the past and most people prepared based on what had happened in the past.
  • Areas are more built up, infrastructure is in places it never had been before and much of it has been weakened by past events and ad hoc repairs because of financial problems over the years only adds to the problem. There are more people and structures in the path of storms today now more than at any time in history. The storms simply have more to destroy.
  • Once you have identified what needs to be done you have to set about gathering what is needed. Water is important and practically speaking you cannot have too much stockpiled. You will need a storage system in place however, gallon jugs on the shelf is not adequate for extended periods. You will need water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and general sanitation around the home and for laundry.
  • You will need a system in place to do laundry and give baths, so this means you need a way to heat water in large volumes. Your ancestors washed cloths in a tub using a scrub board and sticks, the water was drawn from a well or river and heated over an open fire outside the backdoor.
  • You are preparing to live without the benefit of electricity and you must have the tools and systems in place that allow you to accomplish your tasks without public utilities. You will have to learn to do many things during the day to conserve on candles, oil and propane used for lanterns. You will literally begin to adapt as humans did years ago to the natural cycles of nature. You will get up with the sun and go to bed when it goes down.

3.) Plan For Proper Sanitation

Proper sanitation procedures are important and possibly even more so during a disaster to prevent the spread of illnesses and bacteria. Some people fail to realize that once the power is out for an extended period the sewage system in place in your community will not work. The system will certainly not work if there is not any running water for an extended period.

  • Waste treatment plants need electricity to process the waste. When the plant shuts down, they will close off the system at various control points to prevent waste from building up at the plant. This means the waste from your home cannot enter the sewer system and will backup in to your home if you flush toilets or run water down the drains.
  • This is critical and not having a means to control and remove waste can cause severe illnesses and create insects and rodent infestations. This is a serious safety issue for families that is not given enough attention when it comes to disaster preparedness. For years, in centuries past, citizens living in European countries simply dumped their waste in the streets. Rains washed the waste into the local water systems where the people drew their water causing untold numbers of death from cholera, typhoid fever and other diseases.
  • According to UNICIF over 1.8 million people worldwide, mostly children, die each year from unsanitary living conditions. Four thousand children die everyday world wide from unsanitary conditions that caused their drinking water supply to become contaminated (UNICEF, n.d.).
  • Have a plan in place such as portable chemical toilets and/or waste disposable bags designed for human waste. Another option is a latrine outside. Dig a small trench, screen with tarps, and provide illumination for nighttime use. Have a bag of agricultural lime on hand to control bacteria and odor. Dig the trench at least two feet deep by two feet wide and pile the excavated soil nearby to toss in along with some lime after each use. Do not allow small children to handle the lime or to use the latrine unsupervised. Do not use the latrine to dispose of spoiled foods or other household waste, dig a separate pit for other garbage generated.

4.) Defend The Home

Home defense is important and it must be a consideration when planning. Looters and other criminals will take advantage of any crisis. Law enforcement will be stretched to their limits and you may find in some cases they will not respond at all unless it is a life or death situation. It will be up to you to see that your home and family is protected. Have enough plywood sheets on hand to cover all glass openings so if the crisis causes riots or demonstrations you can cover your openings to deter criminals and to help prevent extensive damage. Once they see you have taken precautions, they may move on to an easier target. Criminals in many cases during a crisis are opportunist, if they find open doors and windows, they may decide to slip in and grab and go or even confront you.

  • Home defense weapons are an option but they must be with you at all times during a disaster. This prevents children from gaining access to them and they are with you when they are needed. Experts always recommend that you keep weapons locked up but during a crisis, they must be visible to act as a deterrent when others come around and they need to be in a position for use if something happens.

5.) Food & Water

Food stockpiles must be carefully planned and knowing how to store your foods properly is critical to ensure your family eats well and receives the proper nutrition during a disaster.

  • You will likely need more calories daily during a crisis because your physical activity level will increase if the disaster extends for any period. Remember you will be doing many tasks and chores during the crisis without the benefit of appliances and tools powered by electricity.
  • Only purchase foods everyone will eat. A pallet of canned spinach may be a bargain but it will not look that way when the lights are out and everyone is looking for a hot meal. Ensure you know how to prepare the foods you have purchased. If you do not have the means or knowledge to cook rice then learn how to cook it and gather the cookware or do not use it. During a crisis is not the time to experiment.
  • Eating food from a can or package is acceptable for a few days but soon everyone will want a hot meal. The process of preparing a meal and getting everyone involved can reduce stress. Give everyone a task to perform so everyone has a role and are contributing to everyone’s well being. This means you must have what is needed to heat and prepare foods such as propane camp stoves or outdoor charcoal/gas grills.
  • Ensure you know the expiration dates of all foods and do an inspection every 30 or 60 days so foods can be removed and put into use before the expiration date. Replace any foods pulled from the stockpile. Families tend to use emergency foods and not replace them because of complacency. Nothing happens for months or even years so soon everyone begins to believe nothing will ever happen.

Ensuring the safety of your family is your number one priority in any situation. Everyone must have a clean and safe environment in which to live. A disaster is no reason to forego common sense practices such as personal hygiene and house cleaning. Dirty clothes and bodies will harbor bacteria. You will have closer physical contact during a crisis, diseases can spread easily, and until the cycle is broken, they will remain a threat.

Contaminated drinking water kills people and it does not just happen in other countries. Out of the dozens of drinking water, associated outbreaks every year that sicken thousands and cause deaths the majority of illnesses are caused by bacteria in the water. A lower percentage 13.9 percent is caused by viruses while slightly over eight percent are caused by parasites in the water. Close to three percent of the outbreaks reported both bacteria and parasites present in the drinking water. Other contaminates found in drinking water include chemicals/toxins such as pesticides and herbicides. (CDC, n.d.).

In the United States alone there are close to 30,000 cases of waterborne dysentery each year, while worldwide there are 140 million cases reported with 600,000 deaths cause by dysentery worldwide.

When people think of safety for their families during a crisis, many times the focus is on the crisis itself. The fact is the days after can be if not more devastating that the crisis. Clean drinking water, proper nutrition and protection from physical hazards is what will keep your family safe.

Begin now preparing yourself and your family to survive without electricity because at some point maybe even in your lifetime electricity will be a luxury that few will be able to afford if it is available at all.

CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from

UNICEF. (n.d.). Water Sanitation and Hygiene. Retrieved 2013, from

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Testing Your Preparations

Testing your PrepsIt is not enough to realize that you need to prepare and gather certain items you also need to know why you need to do certain things. Knowing why something is important allows you to make contingency plans. If you do not know how to use certain things or even know what they are used for, means you will not be able to find a substitute for that item.

Survival is about adapting and using what tools and materials may be available. You need to practice, and test items and plans. You are never going to be prepared unless you know that your plans, tools and equipment actually work.


Emergency plans like anything else must be adapted as the situation changes. If you have an emergency escape plan from your home, it should be tested under various conditions such as in cold weather if applicable, during a thunderstorm/snowstorm and at night. You have to keep in mind it is not likely that you will need to escape your home unless there is an ongoing disaster, so your training must be as realistic as possible. Adapt the plans as the weather changes and plan for certain disaster to create structural damage that must be accounted for. What happens if a large tree blocks one of the escape routes out of the house?

Training is gathering information to use during a real life crisis. You cannot train for a few days and declare yourself trained. Training should be a constant so it brings you to the point where actions become natural and instinctive. Practice is important for retention of information as well. You gather the knowledge and then apply that knowledge during your training sessions and then in real life situations. Have practice runs every 60 days.

Equipment Materials and Supplies

prepper pantryToo often families and individuals will stockpile supplies and then become complacent when nothing happens. Soon the emergency supplies are being used for backyard adventures or weekend camping trips and some items may deteriorate from improper storage and items may have gone past their use by date.

Inventory your supplies every 90 days and make on an index card for each item or batch of items. Information on the card should include who checked for expiration dates the date of inventory, when to inventory again and how much is on hand and amount you want to have on hand. Attach the card to the outside of any backpacks, storage bins or shelves.

Item Identification and Usage

You may know how to use everything but does everyone else. You can be hurt during the crisis, and if you are the only one that knows how to purify water, or make a water filter or any number of things then your family or group will suffer. Does everyone know where the main gas meter is and how to shut off the gas service for example?

As a leader, you need to train others to take over for you if something happens to you. It is not a plan if only one person knows, it is a secret, so you must not keep things to yourself, make sure everyone has the same level of knowledge as you. Of course, not everyone will achieve the same level of training, but everyone must enough knowledge to carry on and keep the family alive. Test for knowledge on how to use all of the equipment and tools every 90 days or when a new item is obtained. Use a training sheet that indicates everyone is proficient with each item and identify members that may require further training.

Keeping Track of Progress

logbookEvery member of the family should have their own logbook. The book should have important numbers, rendezvous points and school and work emergency plans. Older children should know where all emergency shelters are located in your community and must know how to get there under any conditions. You need to know where schools will take children during a crisis so you do not waste time searching frantically. You must have a plan for getting home from work during a crisis.

Everyone in the family should have a 24-hour bag in their car or at work.

• You will need communication devices that do not rely on cellular towers or the power grid

• Food and water for 24 hours and a thermal blanket along with a multi-tool/knife these items will be needed if you have to walk from work to home

Walking/hiking shoes, gloves, bandana, hat and cold weather coat if applicable

• Rain Poncho

Logbooks should also track training schedules and have an inventory of all your supplies. Remind everyone that the logbooks are confidential you do not want people outside of the family knowing your plans and level of readiness.

Controlled Testing Environments

Unless you have survived through a catastrophic event, you can only imagine what it is like and imagination has a way of blurring the rough edges. You should have training weekends where you shut off the water, electricity and all electronic gadgets to get a feel for what it is like surviving without utilities.

In a controlled environment, you can use mistakes as tool to improve your readiness and no one suffers from those mistakes. You have to know what to do, how to give baths, cook meals, and do all of the needed tasks without using modern conveniences. The entire world is just one disaster away from waking up to 150 years in the past. The things you do during the normal course of a day will still have to be done during a crisis.

Going off grid if you will is the only way to test your preparedness plan. You get to experiment to some extent with alternative power sources such as solar or gas operated generators, fire starting methods and surface water collection and purification and so on down the line.



Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Planning, Survival Gear 1 Comment

Body Armor Guide For Dummies

Our friends over at have graciously provided us with a guest post this week.  They have shared with us a prepper’s guide to body armor.  I am sure you will find it very informative.  Feel free to visit their website and tell them what you think. -SP

Guide to Body Armor

Body Armor With SAPI Plate Pocket

Body Armor With SAPI Plate Pocket

There’s no doubt that you know that the federal US government seems to intentionally violate US residents’ integral right for self-defense. Body armor can at times be a crucial prep for people who want to secure themselves from an unfortunate event. This article, this guide, is meant to be a simple explanation and introduction to body armor for the average person. This is for anyone who is not familiar with body armor. It is designed to help you choose the appropriate body armor for your specific needs.


Body Armor Rating System

There are two protection levels for stab proof armor that are managed by Home Office Scientific Development Branch of the UK, whereas protection levels for bullet proof vests range from level IIA to level IVA and are managed by the US National Institute of Justice. In general, body armor is manufactured from three materials: Kevlar, steel, and ceramic.


Kevlar Body Armor

Kevlar was created by DuPont back in 1965. This material is the most common one used in soft body armor. Kevlar is an aramid, a polymer chain, which aligns parallel to the fiber. The extra strong chemical bindings permit the fiber to be incredibly strong elastically relative to weight. These fibers are joined into a thick cloth, creating the layers that are employed in modern Kevlar body armors.

Most of the time, Kevlar is good at stopping bullets. The material is much lighter, comparing to any other material used in body armor, and is mostly reputed for stopping rounds from a handgun. For example, an IIIA protection level body armor set is able to stop up to a .44 Magnum bullet from permeating it. Kevlar is flexible and adjusts to the bodyshapes of its owner, when worn. Kevlar body armor is concealable, so it might be worn regularly.Body Armor Levels



Ceramic Body Armor

The majority of ceramic plates (frequently referred to as trauma plates) are manufactured of a boron-carbide blend. This material’s structure is crystalline. Ceramic plates are very hard and are known for absorbing bullet’s impact.

Generally, ceramic plates are rated III and IV by the NIJ. They can absorb the impact of bullets that range between .308 and .3006. The impact to the body is highly reduced by the body armor that breaks up and absorbs the impact. This is referred to as “fracturing”. Also, ceramic is much lighter, comparing to steel, so wearing ¾ inch plates ads about 4 lbs. less, than steel. Ceramic isn’t affected by moisture or heat and doesn’t spoil very much with the lapse of time.


Steel Body Armor

Barely any introduction is needed for steel. The only thing that should be noted is that a wide range of steel trauma plates are manufactured from AR500 steel.  Among the available hard armor, steel plates are the most elastic. Numerous strikes to steel plates won’t compromise armor’s integrity. Steel isn’t fragile and won’t crack, if shot at or dropped. Also, steel is cheaper, than ceramic and is obtainable from a broader band of manufacturers.

Body Armor


Should You Get Yourself Body Armor?

It is advisable, but there are a few cautions. In extreme situations, like WROL, a bullet wound will probably be a death warrant. Unless it’s a clean subcutaneous wound, it is improbable that most people would have the skills or tools needed for recovery. Fragments of bullets and tissues of bone, muscles, and organs would have to be removed or fixed to avert sepsis or even death from bleeding, not to mention the recovery of a limb’s or organ’s function. Slow moving ammo is known to tear clothes and bringing their fragments into the wound, increasing infection risk even more. How many people have a shotgun that is loaded with several shells? Also, consider the fact that the person attempting to treat you could be your friend or family member with limited first-aid knowledge and could easily overlook some of the birdshot grains stuck in you. Lead isn’t a vitamin you should be taking for better brain function.

Like all good preppers know always prep the essentials before anything. Never buy body armor before getting food, water, medical supplies, and firearms. Prep wisely, before getting a million rounds ammo, make sure you have enough food and water to feed your family. You must know your priorities. You won’t be able to eat Kevlar for lunch and bullets won’t keep you hydrated. Body armor is a great item to have when you need it but don’t over look the essentials.

Kevlar’s lightweight properties make this type of armor ideal for children, women, the elderly and for those who want to avoid carrying an extra 20 pounds on them. Kevlar prices ranges from $150 to $300+, Prices vary from each manufacturer and the type of carrier in the set. When buying Kevlar, don’t forget to check the manufacture date. There are quite a few different Kevlar Made Body Armor options for all current occupations or requirements.

The more robust individuals can carry serious hard armor protection with carriers, most of which have MOLLE webbing. Ceramic plates cost about $200 per plate, so a set would cost about $400+ and don’t forget about at least $75 for the armor carrier. Steel armor certified by the NIJ costs about $100 per plate, in general, which means they cost about half the price of ceramic armor. Most of the steel and ceramic armors isn’t protected from spalling.

Stealth Body Armor

Stealth Body Armor


What Armor Should You Get?

There’s no magic body armor that will protect you 100%. The perfect body armor is the right balance of protection and mobility. It must protect against incoming fire and at the same time keep you mobile.

For suburban preppers that live in suburban areas, where you are in minimal risk of being shot at with larger caliber rounds, you can choose to wear soft body armor for its concealment features and mobility. However, in a rural area, where many people are hunters, the probability of rifles and larger calibers increases and makes the use of hard body armor a better choice. Hard armor is also a better option for a firefight, where you can’t disengage, stationary security, or reconnaissance over flat land or in an unfriendly environment.

For more information please visit online in the United States or for UK residents.

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Suburban Survival, Survival Gear, Survival Kits 1 Comment

How To Establish A Prepper Network

Preppers for the most part naturally want to encourage others to prepare for disasters, and they generally are willing to help others get started. The reasoning is simple; the more people prepared for a crisis the less looting, violence and theft during a crisis.

Otherwise, law-abiding citizens may believe they must steal to provide for their family during a crisis. Parents desperate for food and water for their children will go to great lengths to provide that food and water.

Networks: Is It A Sensible Move?

Networks are not necessarily designed to help people prepare before a crisis although many are set up with this express purpose in mind. There is some debate on what a network actually is and is it to help others at large or only those in the network.

A network should for the most part be put together to help the community as a whole. Ideally, the network would be set up to help coordinate relief efforts. To help match up individuals with certain tasks. A network is a means to survive when local, state or federal authorities are overwhelmed and cannot respond in a timely manner

To be effective a network should be set up to help everyone survive an ongoing crisis and the aftermath. This is accomplished by having a system in place that uses everyone’s training, skills and knowledge collectively. Consider what needs to be done in your home and community during the course of a normal day, and realize that many of the same tasks will still need to be accomplished in the days after a disaster has struck.

The individuals in your network do not necessarily have to be your neighbors. Some people may not want their neighbors to know that much about them. You may have a dispute with your neighbors and simply do not trust them.

Use friends that may know someone and that someone knows someone and so on. A network cannot be set up in a matter of days. It will take time to established trust and friendships. You have to trust and they have to trust.

Doctors, nurses and EMT’s can help, while you in turn, help them repair their home if damaged if you or someone else has those skills and someone else can offer them fresh vegetables or eggs. You see where this is going. Take a pencil and paper, list your skills and then those of your close friends, and then look for other skills that will be needed by everyone to survive.

You can essentially barter using knowledge and skills as currency

You can ask people if they would want to be a part of your network. Approach it from a crisis standpoint and point out what the needs of people in the community would be after a hurricane, earthquake, or tornadoes. Tell them you are collecting numbers and ask if they can be called upon to provide help during a crisis. Inform them of course that you and others would in turn help them.

Inform everyone it is a community effort and everyone is working toward the same goals. Point out some of the problems the local authorities had during hurricane Katrina and super storm Sandy and the more recent tornadoes that struck the Midwest of the United States.

It is not recommended that you tell anyone other than family or close friends how well prepared you might be as far as supplies, weapons and ammunition. People during a crisis will act differently and you have no idea how some may react, so keep your personal preparedness a secret.

Getting Organized

You should identify people who have medical training and organizational skills along with military and law enforcement training and ask them to be a part of your network. Additional skills needed would be in agriculture, animal medicine, carpentry, engineering and so forth.

Who Is In Charge and How Much Do They Need To Know

You will have to establish a list; someone in the group should be the secretary responsible for names, occupation and phone numbers/addresses. Everyone in the group will need the names and numbers so each individual can operate alone if need be. If you centralize control and information then no one can operate alone and if one key player is disabled or missing, then the network will fail.

Essentially a network is list of people who can be called upon when their particular knowledge and training is needed. Individuals in the group do not need to know who is prepared and how well prepared. It would be assumed that people in the group would be responsible for their own supplies. The concept is to use combined minds and talent to survive the aftermath when hospitals and clinics are shut down for example.

The “pecking order” will be the hardest to identify because some will naturally assume they are in charge simply because they are who they are. You will have to give gentle nudges and establish priorities.

Communications will be important so you will have to gather devices that can be used during the crisis that does not rely on the local power grid, cellular towers or electricity. Ham radios, two-way radios and Citizens Band (CB) radios are ideal for emergencies.

Will It Work

People will have good intentions and what seems like a good idea on paper has a way of looking bad in reality. The biggest downside to an ad hoc volunteer network is that you have no idea how people handle themselves in a crisis. Many of those in your group will be thinking during the crisis that their family comes first, and that will be your attitude as well.

When networks really work is during an extended crisis, after the initial shock has worn off and people have had a chance to assess the situation. Once people have gotten their “footing” as it where is when they will come together to help others. People with talents that can be used will show themselves and offer their services.

People that live in the community will come together to help rebuild their community after they have seen to their family’s immediate needs. If you develop a network with this in mind, it can work. However, priorities must be identified triage if you will must be performed to ensure the most in need get the help first. This may cause a strain because everyone’s problems are a priority to them but you will need to explain to everyone this is for the collective good and it is time to come together for everyone’s benefit.


Unfortunately, aside from the crisis your biggest threat during any disaster is other citizens in the community. Keep the network professional and stress it not a relief agency for people to come to for food and water. It may seem harsh but if you start passing out supplies to everyone you and your family will suffer.

Ensure you know where disaster relief agencies will be staging such as the Red Cross and FEMA, so when people do ask you can direct them to the appropriate areas and agencies so they can get some emergency supplies.

Avoid asking for or giving out too much personal information. People not prepared will naturally seek out those that are during a crisis.



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