The Survival Stress Test
The purpose of this exercise is to discover any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in your survival preparations. In the military, they do unexpected drills where soldiers must quickly pack up all their clothing and gear and be ready to head into action at a moment’s notice. In some cases, they even get on the choppers and head overseas. The reason for this is so they can discover their weaknesses and make adjustments. It’s a very effective exercise, and I recommend you do the same thing at home.
Although disaster can strike anywhere at anytime, the first time you do this survival stress test it’s best to do it at a time in your life when things are relatively stable (you’re not expecting any guests or emergency phone calls) and during a time of the year when it’s not extremely hot or cold. Wait until you have a few days off, or just do it on the weekend. You might want to start on a Friday or Saturday evening at 5pm when everyone is home for the night and go until morning. Although the longer you go, the better.
Here’s what you should do:
- Throw the main breaker switch that provides electricity to your house. (You might want to eat most of the food in your refrigerator before this).
- Take the batteries out of all cell phones and battery-powered devices.
- Pretend the faucets don’t work. Put something over the handles to remind you not to use them. (You can still use the toilets, just write down how often they’re used and remember you’ll need several gallons of water to refill them each time.)
- If you have gas-powered appliances, do the same thing with them.
- Take all the keys to every vehicle and put them away somewhere.
- Pretend your neighbors are in the same situation and that they have nothing you can borrow.
Doing these things will give you a glimpse of what life might be like after a collapse. It will expose your weaknesses and help you identify which areas you need to work on. You’ll have a whole new set of questions and find out what you want to learn next and what types of items you need to stock up on.
To make sure you learn from this experience, get a notebook and write down your experiences. Concentrate on areas like hygiene, food, cooking, lighting and security. Write down how many things you use (you’ll probably use more supplies than you estimated). Take note of which family members complain the most so you’ll be prepared to deal with them in a real disaster.
Here are few sample questions you should ask yourself:
- What would it be like after two weeks of this? Or two months?
- How long does it take me to cook a meal without a microwave or stove?
- How long would my water last? How much work would it be to purify nearby water?
- Are my camp grills, lamps, and other gear in working order?
- Are my candles and lamps bright enough so everyone can see?
- Who will stand guard and when?
There are many more questions you could ask yourself, but this should get you started.
Now you might be thinking, “There is no way I can get my family on board with this.” Well, you might have to do some creative negotiations. For example, “If we do this tonight, tomorrow we can go to the mall/park/whatever.” But don’t act like it’s going to be a miserable time. Make it fun! Tell the kids you’re going camping at home, talk, tell stories, play games, and enjoy yourself. But don’t forget to learn as much as you can.