Austin Fletcher Archive
Austin Fletcher is the Executive Director of Category Five, a Preparedness Education Network, and is a prepper at heart. After graduating from Arizona State University with a degree in Global Business Management, Austin spent seven years in pastoral ministry while building ministry and business relationships around the globe. During that time he became keenly aware of the coming financial storm that is upon us today, and has been prepping ever since. For this reason, in early 2009, Austin and his team at Category Five began to change the original purpose of the organization to become what it is today. Prepping is not about being an expert in survival or having experience as a former Special Forces soldier; prepping is about building on the strengths of those you prepare with and educating yourself about things you can control. This is the idea behind the Category Five, and the necessity of a Preparedness Education Network. Email this author.
At the end of last month’s article, I mentioned that I recently experienced the “joys” of purchasing the wrong piece of equipment (again). Hopefully, it encouraged you to take a closer look at improving your knowledge concerning the goods and gadgets that you have.
Do you think you know how to use your prepper tools? You might want to practice using them before you actually need them. (Knowing “how” to use them is not the same as actually using them.) If you have food from a particular food storage company, taste it. If you have a particular water filter, prime it and practice using it. For instance, if you have a flint fire starter but “can’t use it to save your life,” then most likely you won’t be able to use it to actually save your life.
Perhaps the most daunting aspect of living the preparedness lifestyle is that there is so much to learn. Pick any subject, and it seems that there are endless “experts” to listen to and hundreds of products to choose from. Once you’ve done your research and purchase your products, you’ll inevitably find someone else whose research landed on different products for different reasons.
As the executive director of Category Five, I am regularly asked questions about what piece of gear I recommend for this or what product I recommend for that; and it always makes me think about my own closets where I have an ever-growing collection of “junk” tools (and even more half-built projects sitting in my garage). Most of these blunders were from my early days of prepping when I thought that all I really needed was a bunch of cool gear and I would be ready for the big crash. Then, after learning more about prepping and practicing with the tools I had, I quickly began to learn that knowledge is infinitely more important than gadgets. Additionally, knowledge greatly improves to efficiency of your gadgets and saves you a lot of money spent on inferior or needless products.
Have you ever tried to encourage someone you know to prepare, only to have them look at you like you have three heads? Or have you started your preparedness journey and only found a sense of guilt about not moving as quickly as you’d like? Or my personal favorite: Do you have family members who joke about not needing to prepare because they have got you to lean on?
Being a lone wolf of preparedness may make you a very capable individual who has the knowledge to survive a potential crisis in the wilderness, but this mindset does not account for 99 percent of the situations that involve living in social context.
While the lone wolves might be ready to disappear into the woods and take on nature, they may not actually be able to survive the darker sides of a chaotic society in a likely crisis situation. For this reason, even though becoming a true “survivalist” is a great goal to shoot for, it is imperative to join like-minded preppers in your area if you want to be ready to deal with the fact that there are other people in our society who will affect your life in a time of crisis.
While three months’ worth of preparedness may seem like a long time, history confirms that it takes a combination of only a few emergencies for things like power, water and health services to be overloaded and run-down for weeks on end.
For instance, New Orleans is still being rebuilt years later, and Japan was still cleaning up their nuclear meltdown more than six months after the tsunami. There’s no telling how long the recovery from Superstorm Sandy will take.
Should a severe snowstorm or forest fire cut you off from the grid, it certainly has the potential to last longer than a week. Thus, as you progress in your preparedness lifestyle, you will want to move beyond a short-term plan.
While the government recommended level of preparedness is currently three days, history tells us that people should really expect to be YOYO (You’re On Your Own) for about seven days.
After a major disaster like the earthquake in Japan or Hurricane Katrina, it takes about three to four days for first responders to get through the rubble and chaos. Then it takes another couple of days for them to deal with high-level emergencies such as those who are dying, rioters, nuclear meltdowns and the like. By the time government and nonprofit organizations can get to the basic needs of you and your family, you will likely find that you have been YOYO for almost a week.
Let’s pretend that as you are reading this the global markets are collapsing, a hurricane is coming your way, or NASA just informed the world that a sunspot is about to shut down the power grid for months (or a combination thereof).
If you are not prepared, what do you do?
Whether you’re bugging out with your bug-out bag or staying put with a well-thought-out, self-sufficient homestead plan, make sure you always have quick and easy access to the important documents in your life. Make at least two copies of the originals, and store them in different locations where they can be grabbed at a moment’s notice. It’s important to update these records often. Outdated information will help no one.
In the case of an emergency there are countless scenarios wherein you will need documents to prove that you are who you say you are and your claims are true and accurate. This is especially true when children are involved. If you can’t prove that you are their parent, today’s State and Federal security laws prohibit schools from releasing them to you, and medical facilities will not treat them. With that said, the following is a list of suggested documents to copy and keep together in one place for access upon a moment’s notice.
When, in the course of “human events,” it becomes evident that the “junk” has hit the fan, your medical, bug-out, vehicle and home kits need to work well and last through whatever life may throw at you.
The process of weeding out the “fluff” to get down to the meat and bones of a good product you can bet your life on (and your family’s lives) can be annoying at best and detrimental to your survival at worst. In an effort to show you some basic solutions to the challenge of selecting such important components of preparedness kits, Category Five has developed these helpful guidelines.
While many people romanticize the idea of social unrest or martial law as motivations for “bugging out,” the more likely event is that something like Hurricane Katrina or a forest fire will be your stimulus for actually leaving your home behind and hitting the road with your bug out bag (BOB). If you classify yourself as a “prepper,” then you may already have your BOB packed. However, you may not know that system redundancy is just as important in building your bag as it is in every other aspect of prepping.
When building your BOB, make sure you have particular items in multiple pockets and pouches, as well as retaining multiple versions of the same functionality. For example, instead of having one lighter in your front pocket and that’s it, make sure you also carry some waterproof matches in your medical kit, a ferrocerium rod and steel striker in your waterproof clothing bag, and a road flare in the side pocket of your bag. That way, if anything happens to any piece of equipment you have (i.e., submerged in water, stolen, dropped along the way), you will have diversified your reliance on any single part of your bag.