Preparation levels: Why short, medium & long term planning is required

RainMan(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Preparation levels: Why short, medium & long term planning is required)

A.  The Three Levels of Preparing
12 May 2012, Code Green Prep, David Spero
Pasted from:


[A FEMA map showing county by county counts of Presidential declared disasters for the period 2000-2010.]

It is easy to think of prepping as being one single set of actions, designed to prepare for any and all future challenges as/when/if they occur, and of the differences between types of situations and necessary responses as being on a smooth continuum, from trivial and minor to life changing/threatening and major.
This is only partially true, and masks the very different types of situations and preparations required. There are very different sets of responses to different types of situations – perhaps best to think of prepping like a plane, which you control very differently while taxiing on the ground compared to when flying through the air.

In fact, rather than just two modes of response (like a plane), we suggest it is most helpful to create three different sets of future challenges, and to identify prepping solutions for each of these, because the three different types of preparations are very different from each other. These three levels of preparing, and the three levels of future challenges, are :

Level 1 : Short Term
Short term problems are those which are, obviously enough, of short duration. They are events that clearly have an expected resolution to them via society’s normal mechanisms, and it is just a case of waiting for the issues to be resolved.

An example of a short term problem would be a major storm, flood, or power outage. Such events could inconvenience you for anywhere from an hour or two up to perhaps a week or two. Lesser events can be considered, too – having your car break down on the side of the road late at night, for example.
In such cases your response to such challenges generally does not require evacuating your normal residence – indeed, by definition, any Short Term/Level 1 events are ones which do not require you to leave home.

You may lose power, you may lose other utilities, and you may have transportation challenges, and there may be regional disruptions to normal social support functions. But the functioning of the country as a whole remains unchallenged, and in some form or another, you know that matters will, in the foreseeable future, return to normal. Society is not disrupted, you don’t have lawlessness or looting.

How/what do you prepare for and respond to a Level 1/Short Term disruption? Things like an emergency generator and enough fuel to power it for a couple of weeks. Extra fuel for at least one of your vehicles. Food and water for a couple of weeks. A two-way radio, although there’s a good chance your landline and cell phones will still work, as may also your internet.
You only slightly modify your normal lifestyle, and you are secure in the certainty that life will be back to normal well before you’ve exhausted your emergency supplies.
A person can be well prepared for Level 1 events without needing to outlay more than $10,000, and probably without needing to outlay much more than $1,000.

Level 2 : Medium Term
These are obviously events which are more major than Level 1 events. We define Level 2 events by the need to abandon your normal residence and move somewhere else. Level 2 events disrupt the total fabric of your region, and are more open ended in terms of when and how matters will return to normal. They might be natural – a solar storm wiping out our power grid, for example. They might be economic – a collapse in the global economy – something which we seem to be flirting with at present. They might be the result of military action, or could be any one of many other issues – maybe even something minor which then snowballs and destroys the increasingly fragile and delicate state of today’s modern interdependent society.

Level 2 events may even threaten people’s lives due to interruptions not only to utility services such as water, sewer, power/gas, trash, and communications, but also due to disruptions to the distribution system for food, gasoline, and other essentials – disruptions which appear likely to extend beyond the point at which most non-preppers can cope.
Some lawlessness and looting will develop, as desperate people search for food.
On the other hand, these problems, as severe as they are, have some sort of an eventual happy ending and resolution clearly in sight, such as to see the restoration of normal infrastructure and a return to ‘life as we know it’ (LAWKI) at some reasonable point in the future.

How do you prepare for and respond to a Level 2/Medium Term disruption? You need a secure location where you can shelter from the lawlessness that may envelope cities and other areas of dense population, and where you can create your own little bubble of comfort, safety, and what passes for civilization.
Possibly your retreat will still have essential services connected to it (power most of all), but you’ll be prepared for an eventuality without power.

You’ll live primarily from stored supplies without worrying too much about replenishing them. Sure, you’ll try and reduce your reliance on external sources of most things, but you’ll not feel the need to become 100% self-reliant or to adopt a 100% sustainable independent life. Instead, you’ll happily live off your stockpiles of food, energy sources, and whatever else, because you can see a clear restoration of ‘normalcy’ at some point within a year or so.

You need two way radio communication to supplement any remaining ‘normal’ types of communication, but primarily to communicate among yourselves, and perhaps augmented by a shortwave radio receiver so you can keep updated with news of ‘the rest of the world’ and what is happening to resolve the problems your region has suffered.
You may choose to do this independently by yourself, because you have the supplies and resources you need. Alternatively, and perhaps for optional social reasons rather than for any essential needs, you may choose to band together with other prepared people too.

Level 2 clearly requires a massively greater amount of preparation (and expenditures) than Level 1. If you have only prepared for Level 1 contingencies, you’ll have a problem surviving a Level 2 event, primarily due to not having a retreat location to move to. Cities will quickly become lethal environments, and even if you successfully manage to evacuate the city you live in, so what? Where will you move to? See our article about the modern day imbalance between city and rural life – there’s no way that small country towns can suddenly accept four times more people than they had before as refugees from the cities. If you don’t have somewhere to go to, already prepared, you have in effect nowhere to go to.

Preparing for a Level 2 event will cost you anywhere from $100,000 as an absolute bare-bones minimum up to $1 million or more. These costs will start to encourage you to adopt group/shared solutions. While two people can never live (or prepare) as cheaply as one, they sure can do so for much less than double the cost. There’s not only safety in numbers, but economy too.

If you feel it impractical to consider preparing to Level 2 standards yourself, don’t give up. The reality is that a Level 2 condition is close to essential. Maybe Code Green can help. Ask about becoming a member of our cooperative community and how you can benefit from shared investments in Level 2 and Level 3 preparations.

Level 3 : Long Term
This is the big one. Society has broken down. Something has destroyed much of the infrastructure not just of your region, and not just of the United States, but of most of the entire world. This might be a bio-disaster (a flu pandemic as has several times come very close in the last decade) or a global conflict, or an EMP pulse, or any one of many other events.
You’re not yet reduced to a stone age life-style, but you’ve no idea when you’ll be able to resupply any of the items you’ve stockpiled, and so your focus now is on sustainable ongoing self-contained living.

Whereas in Level 1 events, you happily lived off and even squandered your stored supplies, sure in the knowledge that the event was short term, and in Level 2 events, you were more prudent and glad you had spares for essential items and generous amounts of ‘just in case’ materials, with Level 3 events, you’re not just focused on spares for essential items, but on how to build replacement products from raw materials and how to adjust to a life with massively fewer modern and complex appliances.

You of course have needed to evacuate if you lived in a city, and the lawlessness (or arbitrary capricious unilateral attempts at imposing draconian ‘order’) is pervasive. It is an ‘every man for himself’ sort of situation, and yes, it may also become a ‘kill or be killed’ situation too. Starving people, facing certain death for themselves and their families, will have no choice but to fight for food and shelter, and you in turn will have no choice but to defend that which you have.

You need to change your lifestyle so that you can become self-sustaining and self-sufficient. Sure, you’ll use up your stockpiled supplies as you devolve down to a level of sustainable self-sufficiency, and as you do so, you realize that you might never be able to replace such things. You need to become both energy and food independent, and your energy independence needs to be not just in the form of PV solar cells (because what do you do as they degrade and fail, in a situation where you have no replacements and where you can’t create the underlying pre-requisite technology to manufacture more) but rather in the form of some type of energy source that you can maintain and operate indefinitely.

Food independence can be slightly modified by trading off surpluses of the types of food you can grow with surpluses of food developed by other nearby families and communities.

You need to become part of a community because you don’t have enough resources, by yourself and with whatever handful of friends and family are with you, to have all the talents, skills, and resources necessary to optimize your life. You need to be able to communicate, bi-directionally, not just locally and regionally, but nationally and internationally, so as to understand what has happened to and what is happening to the rest of your country and the world, and to coordinate your activities with those of other pockets of survivors.

If you have already prepared for a Level 2 contingency, you’ll have a ‘parachute’ to cushion your crash-landing down into the post-industrial society that you’ll be entering. The most important thing is you have a place to retreat to, and enough supplies and resources to buy you some time to urgently start adapting to the new future staring you in the face.

It would be better, of course, if you already have some Level 3 planning and preparations in place, but if you’re already at Level 2, you’re way ahead of most other people.

How much does it cost to be prepared for a Level 3 situation? That’s a question with a huge range of possible answers, and it depends on how much of life’s former comforts you want to try and preserve and for how long, how much you want to have in place to devolve down to less complex forms of technology, and how far you can split such costs with fellow preppers.

This is where Code Green Prep can help. Ask about becoming a member of our cooperative community and how you can benefit from shared investments in Level 2 and Level 3 preparations.

Here’s a table showing some of the key differences in these three levels of future event and their implications to us as preppers.

Item Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Duration Short – maybe up to a week or two Medium – perhaps up to a year Longterm
Likelihood of   Occuring Varies regionally, but between likely and definite every 5 – 10   years Take your best guess. A disruptive solar storm = 12% chance   every 10 years. Other risks = you decide. More likely than you’d wish for. What are the chances of Bird   Flu evolving and a global pandemic wiping out a huge slice of the world’s   population? Might Iran or N Korea detonate an EMP over the US? etc.
Return to Normalcy Assured Very likely Not for a long time, maybe generations
Regional Scope Probably local and limited Extensive, possibly national Definitely national, maybe continental, possibly impacting   much/all the world
External   Assistance Yes, expected Maybe some, but not much and such resource as there is will be   massively over-extended and unable to cope Probably none for extended periods of time
Survivability if   Unprepared Yes with some inconvenience and discomfort Marginal to low Very low
Social Disruption Possibly some limited opportunistic rioting and looting, brought   under control within a week or so Major, probably new forms of small community government and   policing programs will spring up to create pockets of order among much   lawlessness Complete. Organized gangs will dominate
Relocation Can survive in your normal abode Due to breakdown of city services, need to relocate Essential
Food strategy Not a constraint You’ll survive by eating through your stockpiles of food in the   hope by the time you’ve eaten it all, order will be restored Your stockpiles of food will give you time to create your own   ongoing food sources and to become self sufficient
Energy Some candles, flashlights, warm blankets, open fires, and a   generator You’ll reduce your energy needs and rely on a generator and   stockpiled fuel, perhaps using some in-place renewable energy sources too. Stockpiled fuel will be used carefully as you transition to   energy independence and renewable sources
Defense Stay at home. Biggest threat will probably be rude/pushy   neighbors. Hopefully no lethal threats or responses needed. Moderately uncoordinated groups of starving people or   opportunistic raiders, will probably be able to be repelled by presentation   of weapons and maybe occasional skirmishes. They are looking for easy   targets. Organized groups will battle among themselves for regional   supremacy, and will ‘fight to the finish’ to take over the assets and   resources of others. Expect stolen military weapons as well as civilian   rifles/shotguns/pistols to be used.
Transportation Stay at home Necessary to get to your retreat. Little need to travel outside   your retreat boundaries. Necessary to get to your retreat. Occasional travel to trade   with other groups, roads degraded, few mechanized vehicles. Pushbikes and   horse drawn carts become the norm. Travel is dangerous due to risks from   marauders.
Communication Hopefully some normal forms of comms remain operative – radio,   tv, land line, cell phone, internet. Traditional comms largely degraded or disrupted. Short-range   two-way radios to keep in touch with other members of your group. Shortwave   radio receiver for general news. Traditional comms all gone. Long range two-way radio for comms   within your group, and to interact with other groups and to understand the   world situation and what the future may bring.
Group Size Small. You can survive just fine, even if alone. Medium. Your group/community will essentially be the people who   share the retreat with you, providing social interaction, extra skills and   additional manpower for some tasks. Large. You need access to as broad a range of skills as   possible, and in a nearby region due to dangers and difficulties of   traveling.
Cost of Preparing Low – less than $10,000; probably less than $1,000. High – More than $100,000; potentially as much as $1 million   (but possibly shared among a group of people). Maximum : Everything you can afford and more besides. Definitely   requires group participation to make high-cost items affordable.

When Does Each Level Evolve to the Next Level
Determining the type of event you’re facing depends on three things. The event itself, the reactions/responses of other people, and the level of preparedness you already have in place.
If you have a realistic 5 year supply of everything you could possibly need, you’re in a Level 2 situation for any event that promises to be resolved within that five year situation. But if you only have a six month supply, then you’re forced to adopt Level 3 measures even if the event seems likely to be resolved within a year.
And if you’re prepared only for Level 1 events, you’re way short on options for any type of Level 2 or 3 event.

If society ‘gracefully degrades’ without rampant lawlessness, and if support mechanisms remain in place, then what could have become a Level 2 – 3 event may remain as an ‘easy’ Level 2 event. But if society explodes, then even a survivable Level 1 event assumes Level 2 status due to the need to evacuate the city.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, you need to consider how you can improve your preparedness to be able to respond adequately to Level 2 and Level 3 events. There’s no real trick to lasting out Level 1 situations, but even a mild Level 2 event will be life threatening to many people in the affected area. Speak to us about the Code Green Prep cooperative communities, and how it might be possible for you to find strength, safety, security, and financial feasibility as part of a larger group of fellow preppers.


B.  Why People Will Steal Your Food – And Everything Else – in a Level 2/3 Situation
11 Jul 2012, Code Green Prep, David Spero
Pasted from:

prep2London’s 2011 riots yet again demonstrated the ugly streak of evil that lurks close below the surface of modern society.
(Note – it might be helpful to refresh your understanding of what we define as Level 1, 2 and 3 events.)

The main challenge you will have in a Level 2 situation is security. While you probably will have food and energy supplies for a year or two (or three….), most ‘normal’ unprepared people have no energy stockpiles and little food. Within a week, most people will be increasingly forced to ‘forage’ for their food – and we use this word ‘forage’ as a euphemism for more than simple ‘stealing’, because stealing is a familiar and non-violent sounding term.

Interestingly, we see the greatest problems being in the early days of any Level 2/3 scenario. There is probably an evolutionary process that society will shake down through – we discuss this in our article on the security/lawlessness cycle here.

In that article we lightly touch on the concept that people will be forced to choose between starvation and forcibly taking such food and shelter as they can, by any means necessary. Let’s look into this in some more detail both in terms of the types of risks and threats you’ll face, and how you need to prepare for them.

Level 2 Risks : (a) Lawless Gangs
We have regularly seen, both in the US and elsewhere in the world, the propensity of some groups of society to degenerate into violent lawlessness any time society hiccups and normal law enforcement activities pause.
These people violently riot and loot (and attack and murder) for the sheer devilry and ‘fun’ of it, and because they are laboring under some bizarre view of reality that makes them feel entitled to behave that way, and also for the opportunistic chance to enrich themselves by carrying away color televisions and other home electronics from stores they are looting.

How much more aggressive will they be in a Level 2 situation? It seems realistic to accept that normal law enforcement will be massively reduced in a Level 2 situation. Even if all the police and other law enforcement personnel still report for duty, the same as normal, they’ll be overwhelmed by the number of problems suddenly dropping in their lap.

As we saw in, for example, the Los Angeles riots in 1992, normal law enforcement numbers can be completely inadequate for any outbreaks of mass violence, and in a Level 2 situation, not only will there be even greater disorder, there will not be regional and national reserves of manpower to call upon, because every other region will also be struggling to keep ahead of their own problems. The inability of local law enforcement to deal with rioting is the flipside of the coin to do with the police relying on the general consent and acquiescence of the communities they police – when this starts to fail, so too does the policing, whether it be as we say in Los Angeles in 1992, or more recently in London in 2011, or anywhere else.

Add to that the fact that such roving gangs of people won’t only be looting for fun and for personal enrichment, and they won’t just be seeking things such as computers, iPhones, and suchlike. They’ll be as threatened with starvation as anyone else, and they’ll be looting for food and survival, too – just more vigorously and violently then everyone else.

Level 2 Risks : (b) Organized Gangs
A much greater threat is the presence of organized gangs – bikers, drug distribution networks, street gangs, and such like. While there aren’t as many of these people as there will be, initially, of lawless gangs, they are organized, disciplined, and totally amoral.

They are also determined. Whereas lawless groups of people – ad hoc gangs – are opportunistic and will attack easy targets and avoid hard targets, organized gangs will be willing to attack all types of targets – weak targets because they can, and hard targets because they pose potential threats to the organized gang that will otherwise seek to become the new power structure in a region.
Even worse, many of these gangs are vaguely prepping for the future, too. They’re poised, waiting to attack society as soon as it becomes feasible to do so.

Level 2 Risks : (c) Starving People
We don’t need guns if/when a person politely comes up and knocks on our door and asks if we can spare any food. If we are unable to help out, they thank us for our time and leave again.
But do you really think that is what will happen?
Let’s say 50% of the population only has food for three days or less, another 25% for about ten days, another 20% for about twenty days. And let’s say it becomes obvious to everyone that the Level 2 situation will take not days or weeks, but many months to be resolved.

In three days, half the population will be looking at empty pantries. What will they do?

Within another week, 75% of the population will have no food, and there will be a growing realization by everyone, whether they still have food or not, that there is no hope of any arriving any time soon. What will all these people do?
Over the next ten days, they’ll be joined by just about everyone else. In less than three weeks – probably much less – more than 95% of the population will be starving.

Will these people politely knock on your door, and then just shuffle off and die quietly on the street if you refuse to share your own limited supply of food with them? It is possible that a pacifist single person might do this, but what about a man (or woman) with a spouse and children to feed? Will they just passively let their entire family die of starvation, while watching you and a very few others continue to eat almost normally?

Here’s the logic they face :
You can threaten to shoot me with your gun, but if I don’t take your food from you, I’ll definitely die of starvation, so it makes sense for me to risk being shot while doing anything and everything necessary to take your food from you. If I have to choose between you dying, or me and my family dying, you will be the one I prefer to see die.

You need to understand this. If you refuse to feed your best friend in a post Level 2/3 situation, then he, just as much as any stranger, has no choice but to use whatever means necessary to take your food from you, because it is essential tp the survival of himself and his family.

You also need to remember how people are so brilliantly good at justifying any actions to themselves. The same people who laughed at you for stockpiling food will now be demanding it from you as their ‘right’ – ‘You have no right not to share your food with us, you can’t just leave us to die, you selfish so-and-so’. That’s only one small step removed from ‘You are trying to kill us by withholding food from us’ and ‘You’ve more food than you could possibly need yourself, there should be a law against such selfishness’.

After they’ve demonized you in their own mind, and played up their own deserving victim status, they’ll feel totally justified to shoot you in your doorway, and then to clamber over your dead body and to loot your house of all its supplies.

We are deliberately writing this in vivid shock terms, but you need to understand and accept this. If it sounds impossible to you, ask yourself – and answer the question – what will starving people do instead when they see you with plenty of food while they have none?

Some people might find it unlikely that their friendly next door neighbors will turn around and use any and all means up to and including lethal force to take food from them. We agree this is unlikely, but we realistically fear that it is much more likely that your neighbors (and, of course, strangers too) will do this than it is that they’ll just peacefully and calmly resign themselves to die of starvation and lie waiting for death to occur in their own homes.

No matter where you have your retreat located, sooner or later it will be found by groups of starving marauders and/or opportunistic gangs (see our article on ‘Is it Realistic to Expect Your Retreat Will Not be Found‘). The only three things you don’t know is, 1) how long it will be until you are first confronted by starving/looting marauders, 2) how often such confrontations will occur into the future, and 3) how many people you’ll encounter on each occasion.

The one thing you can be sure of is that these people mean to take your food and other supplies and resources from you, and if they have to do it by force, they won’t even pause to think twice. Indeed, their resentment at you being well prepared is such they’ll feel you ‘deserve to die’ – this is about as warped as illogic can get, but do you want to bet your life that this is not how people will end up thinking?

You will have become the evil ’1%’ that has recently been demonized by the ‘Occupy Wall St’ protesters. We’ve seen, over the last year, people trying to wrap themselves in the righteous mantle of being part of a supposed 99% of the country, using this supposed ‘moral majority’ empowerment to advocate violence and sanctions against the remaining 1% of the country – even though the supposed 99% group are – quite obviously to those of us who truly are mainstream – anything but representative members of the majority. They’re as much a 1% minority group as are the people they claim that their ‘majority status’ empowers them to act against.

We make these points not so much to criticize the Occupy Wall St people (although we definitely don’t support them) but rather to point out how people readily make completely ridiculous claims about themselves so as to give themselves a self-claimed mantle of legitimacy that then empowers them to do whatever lawless and wrong acts they wish.

The same people who are keen to live off government handouts today, and who believe that rich people should be taxed and then taxed some more so that they (the ’99%’) don’t need to do any work themselves, will of course now resent you for doing the very thing they will have laughed at you about before the Level 2 event – preparing prudently and storing food.

They won’t now consider it to have been prudent preparation and storing of your food. They will claim it to be immorally selfish hoarding of food that should belong to the community (and, in particular, to them). Your refusal to give all your food to them means that you are denying them the right to live. So, of course, they’ll feel totally morally empowered to at the very least take all your food from you, and if they have to shoot you in the process, so be it.

You need to plan your retreat not just from a perspective of weather and suitability for agricultural purposes and everything else. You also need to plan to make it defendable against people keen to rob you by force, even by lethal force if necessary.

The most important adage is ‘safety in numbers’. You need to become part of a community to share the burden of defending your properties, and to have the strength in numbers necessary to prevail against attacks by evildoers


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