Survival strategy is a very generalized summary of how to survive a great array of disasters, and how to decide what gear is necessary to have a comprehensive plan.
Prior to adopting a model of response to any particular threat you need to evaluate what high risk - low probability event you are going to prepare for. By preparing for a high risk - low probability event you are actually preparing for many lesser, more probable events. Here is a sample list of high risk - low probability events that may occur in your lifetime:
- Nuclear Attack (terrorist dirty bomb or full exchange between nations)
- Great Quake (magnitude 8+ subduction zone earthquake - West Coast)
- Tsunami (Coastal areas)
- Volcanic Eruption (West Coast, Alaska & Hawaii)
- Hurricane (Atlantic, Gulf Coast & Hawaii)
- Tornadoes (Mid-West through Eastern States)
- Major Flooding
A Model of Response
The appropriate response to a specific disaster can be modeled as such:
- Prepare a Family Survival Plan
- Assure family members that survival and recovery from the disaster is desirable and probable.
- Prepare a contingency communications plan if family is not together when disaster strikes.
- Take steps to mitigate damage to self and property before the damage occurs.
- Assemble necessary supplies and set up caches where appropriate.
- Escape or eliminate immediate threat.
- The disaster occurs, and the individuals affected must escape the area or eliminate any immediate danger.
- Preserve flexibility. Re-evaluate. Pursue long term response.
- An evaluation of the long term strategies is conducted, and the best choice pursued.
- Long term
- Shelter from disaster
- Individuals take shelter in a certain area for the duration of the disaster.
- Evacuation from disaster
- Survivors leave the area of the disaster.
- Shelter from disaster
At any point it may be necessary to return to the beginning of the model to deal with changing situations.
Strategies for accomplishing these goals effectively will be listed below.
Escape or eliminate immediate threat.
The individual may not be fully prepared for a disaster during typical everyday life, but a general awareness and access to certain tools may help to survive the initial effects.
Generally useful tools
In some applications, specialized [tools]] may be helpful:
- In a car: Seatbelt cutter / Window hammer
- In the city: Dust mask, Eye protection, Bolt-cutters
- In the woods: Bear Mace
- On a boat: Life Jacket
Also, general health and fitness will both help an individual survive a disaster, and make it easier to survive after a disaster. A fit individual who is well fed and hydrated will find it easier to evacuate on foot.
Preserve flexibility. Re-evaluate. Pursue long term response.
After surviving the initial disaster, one must evaluate their next best course of action. It is useful at this point to have access to a temporary survival kit, often called a "Get-Home Bag". This ability to survive for 48-72 hours can give the individual more flexibility when pursuing long term options, and can serve as the basics for an improvised shelter or evacuation attempt. This bag should be constructed using the concept of social camouflage to avoid unwanted attention from law enforcement, or other citizens.
Following this, the individual will pursue one of the following two options:
Long term strategy
Shelter from disaster
An adequate shelter should be designed to support its occupants for the duration of any possible disaster. Shelter accommodations should include adequate water and food. Reliable heating will be necessary for cold climates, and for cooking. It should not be based on natural gas or regular oil deliveries, as these may not be present during a disaster. Optimally, all of these accommodations would be self-sufficient, through the use of filtration, gardens, and a renewable heat source. This would allow for an almost indefinite period of shelter, until the disaster is resolved.
A shelter should also protect its occupants from the disaster itself. Different situations will require different strategies, but features such as hurricane windows, tornado/bomb shelters, bulletproofing, surveillance, flood/earthquake resistance and air filtration should be considered.
Comfort and morale should also be a consideration. An electrical generator will allow for modern electric lighting and appliances, which should certainly boost comfort. Reading material, pictures, radios, televisions and games could be kept to boost morale.
Evacuation to a safe/civilized area
This typically depends on an appropriate vehicle. Important attributes of this vehicle include adequate range, safety and flexibility. Adequate range can be defined as the ability to reach a safe, or relatively safe area given any possible disaster. Safety can be defined as not allowing the elements of the disaster to harm occupants during evacuation. Flexibility means having the capacity to reach this destination despite obstacles, blocked roads, lack of bridges, or excessive traffic. The optimum vehicle would be capable of flight, but a vehicle with off road capability and adequate range may suffice.
Other options include evacuating on foot, carrying equipment in a backpack.
With either choice, there must be enough water, food, and shelter for the evacuation party to survive the journey. Additionally, self defense capability may be necessary depending on the nature of the disaster.
The evacuation destination should be to the nearest form of civilization not struck by the current disaster. Members of the evacuation party may require extensive medical assistance. Thus, it is unwise to evacuate to a non-civilized area, unless your party includes several ER surgeons and a full suite of surgical gear, antibiotics, etc. Also, few individuals are capable of long term wilderness survival.