The next point I would like to address is preparedness that one can do for free. These are all fairly time consuming, and not neccessarily fun, which
will be difficult for most people, but they are all free of cost and absolutley vital to survival in the event of Situation X.
Preparations that are Free:
Excercise - How many of you watch a movie where ordinary everyday people cross the mountains, or have to swim underwater holding their
breath, or have to leap across a several foot gap, and think "I could do that, if I really had to," and yet the walk from the car to the store is a
pain in the arse. It's dangerous to assume that Situation X will get you in shape in time. As with most disasters, the time your muscle and reflexes
will most likely be needed are going to be immediately during and immediately after the initial crisis.
Once things have calmed down to mere anarchy, you will have more time to relax and worry about food and water, but first, how are you going to get
back home? What if you are a commuter and Situation X happens while you're at work, or in traffic? How will you walk ten, twenty, even fifty miles to
get to your safe haven? What if you have to help put out fires, how will you carry and hold a high-pressure hose in place when carrying a couple of
grocery bags in from the car will normally strain your physical limits. Excercise. Learn how to properly lift heavy loads, increase your lifting
capacity, and walk as far as you can, while carrying a load, each day.
Friends, Family and Relatives (FFARs) - Despite what Mad Max, Max Payne, Arnold, and video games would have you believe, there is no such
thing as a one-man army. Unless you are a trained special forces operative with years of field experience, or you have a sealed bomb-shelter, your
chances of surviving Situation X alone are virtually nil. And unless Situation X blows over quickly, even the ability to survive alone does not mean
you'll leave it sane. You need someone to watch your back when you sleep. You need someone to help with the work (which there will be a LOT of). You
need someone to help you obtain neccessities, someone to help watch for fires, to help you in combat, and so forth. Unless you want to get saddled
with the unknown, and take your chances on Joe Average, I suggest you start building a network of trusted and proximately close friends, family, and
relatives. Anyone further than about 50 miles is right out, unless it's a destination point, which I'll get to in a minute.
Chances are you know far more people than are willing to take this seriously, and of the ones you know, some will take it more seriously than
you. Some people can't even handle the thought of Situation X ever happening to them, and some of them bloody-well crave it. I recommend a
small contingent of no more than eight adults, plus whatever kids y'all may have. Start simple, don't overwhelm them at once. Test the waters, see
how they react to a suggestion of an emergency preparedness network of FFARs. If they react positively, then invite them on a camping trip. Nothing
fancy, just local camping with as many of your network as you can manage. Work your way up from there. Learn how to live around these people, how to
deal with their idiosyncracies, who is reliable, and who is not. Figure out who stands out as the natural leader and organizer, and who tries to grab
for power. Of utmost importance, determine if you can trust these people with your life. All the best and worst traits of your FFARs will be amplified
a hundred-fold in the event of Situation X. You'd best know who's on your side.
4 Cardinal Destinations - You could have every single possible aspect prepared for at your home. It could be a fortress of food, water,
and firearms capable of sustaining itself indefinitely... but if it burns down, is blown up, washed away, or overrun, what next? Where do you go? This
needs to be determined in advance. Chances are that you or your close FFARs have land or other FFARs out in each direction from your home. Perhaps
it's a farm a couple of hours west, or a cabin up north, or a warehouse south of town. Among you and your FFARs, you need to establish at least 4
locations, each in a different cardinal direction, to fall back to in the event that your primary location becomes unsustainable. The reason why you
want on in each direction is because the chances are very high that travel is going to be extremely dangerous, if not impossible, in at least one of
those directions. If none of your FFARs have land or structures in one of those directions, consider state parks, military bases, distribution
centers, and religious institutions, all of which are likely to have supplies, reinforcements, and can often be found outside of cities. While you may
balk at the idea of surrendering your autonomy, trading a little ego for survival may be well worth it to your group.
Learn to Navigate Without Roads - Roads are wonderful things when society functions normally. They may not be the shortest route from
point-A to point-B, but they are quicker than walking, and they make navigation about a million times easier. Unfortunately, in Situation X, they are
deathtraps. Let me make this clear, you will likely be unable to drive anywhere during Situation X. Even if the roads aren't completley clogged by
vehicles that have run out of gas, people who've died behind the wheel, or fallen structures blocking passage, there will be desperate people looking
for any means to stay alive, which might include joining you and further straining your resources at best, or killing you and taking your things at
worst. If some sort of military were the cause of Situation X, the roads will be one of the first areas they procure. So learn how to get to each of
your FFARs houses, and your 4 Cardinal Destinations, using nothing but the landscape, the sun, and stars, without using any major roads. Figure out
how long it takes you to walk there on foot. Practice walking their on foot. Use a weekend to hike to one of your four Cardinal Destinations with some
of your FFARs. Start on Saturday Morning, see how far you can make it towards the destination on foot. Once you've gone as far as you can, have
someone pick you up and take you home. Sunday, have a FFAR drive back to the same spot you left off at, and try to make it the rest of the way on
foot. If you can't make it to your destination in two days hiking under normal "ideal" conditions, you probably won't make it there during
Situation X, and may need to consider picking a closer spot.
Locate Nearby Natural Water Sources - If the city loses power, or the local reservoir becomes contaminated or depleted, where will you get
your fresh water from? Is there a nearby lake, stream, river, glacier, or other method of obtaining water? Learn multiple sources, between your home
and your four Cardinal Destinations. It will probably need to be treated, but all the boiling and iodine tablets in the world won't do you any good
if you have no water to treat.
Learn Native Edible Plants - It's great if you know what potatoes look like in the wild, but if they don't grow near you, you're out of
luck. Chances are you'll have to forage at some point for food. You need to know what wild plants grow nearby that are edible, which parts are
edible, and how they need to be prepared to be edible. Some plants, like tomatoes, have edible fruit, but the leaves are extremely poisonous. Practice
finding them in the wild, figure out where they tend to grow, and how far you need to go to find enough to make one meal for one person.
Quit Addictions - The most obvious one that comes to mind is smoking. Now, having been a smoker for 12 years, I am absolutely no one to
cast judgment on smokers. However, Situation X will be stressful enough without having to deal with nic fits, and a burning cherry can be seen for a
very very long distance at night, and the smoke will give away your position to anyone downwind. Further, the physical demands of Situation X will be
such that the last thing you need is something that makes physical exertion even more difficult. Alcoholism is another addiction that will need to be
broken ahead of time. And, while either of these two are technically survivable in Situation X, anything harder, such as a heroin or coke addiction,
will probably lead to your death as you either take insane risks to obtain it, or are killed as a result of withdrawal symtoms.
Learn How to Cook - You know how to add oregano to Ragu. Fantastic. What can you do with nothing but a little flour, some miscellaneous
veg, and a bit of fruit? You're going to get really tired of eating the same meal over and over, and knowing what wild spices grow nearby, or how to
cook bread in various ways, or anything where your supplies will largely be minimal, you and your FFARs will be greatful for your cooking. Another
advantage is that, when work duties are assigned, cooking is among the easiest and most appreciated by all.
Store Water Containers - Finished a gallon jug of milk? Wash it out thoroughly and find a place to store it and others. Do you buy those
big 4-gallon containers at the store? Save them afterward. Not only will you need something to carry water back from your natural water sources later
on, but initially during Situation X, there will often be enough warning to fill up your containers and have them standing by. Most people will be
lacking in containers and have to subsist off what they can fill their tub and various bowls with. Save yourself the trouble and start saving your
containers now. Keep in mind the average person in Somalia gets by on 2.3 gallons per day, so plan on at least 2 gallons per day, per person, for your