‘Course It’ll Always Be There

When people ask me why I prep, I tell them–assuming they are actually willing to listen to the answer–that we have five basic needs: food, water, shelter, security and energy. These needs are delivered via a series of integrated systems. In an emergency, big or small, when one or more of those systems fail, the delivery of these basic needs may be in jeopardy. We, as individuals, are powerless to control these systems or fix them when they fail. At that time, all you can depend on is the preparations you have previously made.

What kind of systems are we discussing and where might they be vulnerable? We’ll use food as an example:

  • Agricultural system – food production. Affected by: inclement weather, including droughts and floods, also blights, equipment costs, fuel prices, shortened growing seasons
  • Local laborer system – harvesting and packing food for shipment. Affected by: local regulations, regional (civil or economic) instability, employee shortages
  • Transportation system – getting the food from there to here. Affected by: ‘vehicle’ system – trucks, ships, airplanes, trains; fuel prices, inclement weather (snow, ice and wind storms, rough seas), transportation worker strikes
  • Processing and warehouse system – where food is received, repackaged, and temporarily stored (refrigerated as required). Affected by: power failures, worker strikes, inclement weather
  • Grocery store system – where food is stocked, refrigerated, rotated, and sold. Affected by: power failures, local inclement weather (real or anticipated), civil unrest, hoarding

We eat every day and we depend on these systems to function almost flawlessly. Most people give little thought to how these multiple systems interact to get food to us; they just assume the food will always be there when they want it. But if one of those systems fail and that food item doesn’t arrive, you may have to do without.

Now, say, this food item is your favorite type of apple from New Zealand. If it’s not in your grocery store today, you may wish it was but, you can make do with another type. What happens when it wasn’t just that apple shipment, but none of the local shipments arrived that day, or the next? Grocery stores don’t keep a large inventory on hand; their business model is based on inventory arriving on a regular basis for consumer purchase. Very quickly shelves would be emptied. Ever been to a grocery store when a large storm is predicted?

And similar events affect our other needs as well (with shelter being somewhat of an exception):

  • water: lines break, contamination, droughts, flooding, sewage leaks or backups
  • security: inclement weather delays police or medical response, civil unrest ties up resources, power failures cause security systems to be down
  • energy: power failure from storms, broken lines; fuel systems affects almost every level of every other system, i.e. fuel costs go up, food prices go up

Jack Spirko, on TSP, talks about how we buy all of our needs a la carte. But we know what those needs are, and we know we’re going to need them everyday. Most, if not all, can be planned for ahead of time and we can have extras stored and redundancies built-in. Ready your preps so you can be self-reliant when those systems temporarily fail, and build the knowledge and skills to be self-sufficient so that you will not be bound to those systems you can’t control or fix.

(Wednesday: Something To Lean On)