In the article, Introduction to Full Spectrum Preparedness Doctrine we briefly discussed the ten fundamentals of preparedness, how they overlap and interact as well as how each fundamental has four aspects. Today we’re going to establish some conventions to aid us in our future discussions of how long to prepare for.
I’m working on a probability model (if you’re a mathematician and want to help please contact me) to help those readers that are mathematically inclined chose how long to prepare for…but for today’s discussion we’re going to simplify things a little and talk about preparedness time horizons. For convenience, I’ve broken the time horizons down into ‘Preparedness Levels.’
While there’s no reason a person, family or group couldn’t prepare to different levels in different fundamentals…you should keep in mind that your overall preparedness level is that of your ‘lowest level’ preparedness fundamental. For example: if your family is prepared to Level III, Weeks in every fundamental except Health (where you are prepared to Level I) than your overall preparedness level is Level I, Days.
Take a look at the graphic to the right to remind yourself of what the aspects of the Full Spectrum Preparedness Fundamental are. You can review the 10 Fundamentals of Full Spectrum Preparedness HERE if need be or look at the Graphic towards the end of this article.. Keep in mind as you read about the Preparedness Levels that different aspects become more or less dominant at different Preparedness Levels and factor that into your preparedness planning.
You and your family are unable to get through the next 72 hours without making purchases, borrowing from others or seeking charity. Perhaps your life sustaining prescription is about to run out, your pantry is almost bare or you don’t have a source of safe, potable water if the tap suddenly stops working.
At Preparedness Level I you are self reliant for 72 hours (3 days). This is the minimum level of preparedness that the and other government agencies recommend including what you’d need to get along if you had to leave your home due to hurricane, wildfire, civil unrest, chemical spill, etc. This is the minimum level of preparedness that FEMA and other Federal Government Agencies recommend. Building a bug out bag for each member of the family is a good way to achieve Level I preparedness. ‘Stuff’ is the most important aspect of the Full Spectrum Preparedness fundamentals at this level.
At Level II preparedness you have everything you need to get through the next 14 days (2 weeks). Additionally, at this level you must begin practicing operational security (OPSEC) to protect your family and preps because if resources are scarce you will become a target for those less prudent. The ‘Network’ aspect of the Full Spectrum Preparedness fundamentals begins to become more important as we prepare for longer periods. However well you plan, you will undoubtedly need help with certain tasks or need to borrow tools. If the ‘Network’ aspect of preparedness fundamentals sounds similar to the ‘Family & Community Support’ foundation than you’re paying attention. Community is vital to preparedness, consider this carefully if you are planning to bug out to an area where you don’t have an established support system.
You achieve Preparedness Level III when you become self reliant for 90 days (3 months). At this preparedness level you should focus heavily on turning knowledge into skills in order to improve quality of life and conserve ‘Stuff.’ For example: knowing how to efficiently light a wood stove and actually being able to do so without wasting matches, lighter fuel, or flint and steel is the difference between knowledge and skills. The Stuff of preparedness changes in another way at Level III as well…the need to ‘Direct Stuff’ starts becoming the need for ‘Indirect Stuff’ as well. For example: in addition to stored water (Direct Stuff) you also need tools (and/or supplies) that allow you to purify large amounts of water over time (Indirect Stuff). Unless you own a warehouse and have unlimited funds you must begin thinking more in terms of skills and tools to fill your needs.
Preparedness Level IV is when you’re prepared to be self reliant for at least a year but less than three years. The aspects of Skills, Stuff and Network are of about equal value at Preparedness Level IV. The Knowledge aspect of the preparedness fundamentals should be eclipsed by Skills at this point as you turn ‘book learning’ into physical capabilities (Skills).
The description ‘Indefinite’ is a little misleading as it’s impossible to be self reliant forever. In fact whenever I use the term ‘self reliant’ in these pages, what I really mean is ‘relatively self reliant’ because, as John Donne said, “No man is an island.” If you chose to prepare for longer periods of time… what I propose is that you focus on three years. That gives you two years of failed crops with a year to spare just in case. In your preparations make allowances to help you acquire and replace what you’ve used to maintain your preparedness levels. I find it hard to image that even in the worst cataclysm there wouldn’t be some form of society or commerce operating again within three years. Of course, if you elect to achieve Preparedness Level V there are still some preps you may want to push well beyond 3 years if you think replacements might be tough to find after an event that calls for this level of preparedness. One example that comes to mind is .22 cal ammunition. It’s cheap and plentiful now but takes a great deal of infrastructure and technology to manufacture…unlike most other calibers, .22 can’t easily be reloaded at home.
I believe that Level II, Weeks is the absolute minimum preparedness level that even a non-prepper should achieve because it’s relatively common for a storm to disrupt services and civil society for two to four weeks. However, Level II is only appropriate for those convinced that FEMA and Uncle Sugar will always be there to bail them out if the sewage hits the air circulator.
How long should you prepare for? That’s up to your own sense of responsibility for your family and knowledge of the threats and vulnerabilities of our society. That said, don’t get overwhelmed…preparedness is a journey. All you have to do is make a plan and work it one step at a time…or as Prepography columnist Jay…just Jay says…”Do One Thing…”