There is a whole market and industry established to help you prepare for hard times, whether it is from natural disasters or man made problems. A lot of people have caught on and have taken actions in order to be ready for trouble that may come. The problem I see with a lot of people's plans is that they don't really reflect reality. A lot of it is based on "fiction."
Today there are a lot of books and movies that tell the story of survival. They cover scenarios such as the collapse of government, EMP strikes and the loss of power and of course even the zombie apocalypse. These make good reading with interesting stories how individuals or small groups work together to in order to survive and rebuild. One of the first of these I read was "Lucifer's Hammer," back in 1985, which tells the story of what happens after a comet strikes earth. The trouble is that this is fiction, and fiction rarely tells the whole story. True down and dirty survival is ugly and brutal.
The best way to get a real understanding of how bad it can get, and what it takes to live to tell your story is history. And you don't even have to go very far back in time to see this.
You want real life with no power end of the world type stories here in the U.S.? Read about what Southerners were forced to do to survive the "War Between The States," especially once the official war was over. One of my instructor's great grandmothers had to list her possessions after the war to receive benefits. He has the paperwork; she owned two forks, a chair and some clothing.
The twentieth century has plenty of stories about the "end of the world as we know it." Read non-fiction, the true stories of what WWI looked like on the other side of the pond for those who lived in the battle torn areas and what they did to survive. The same goes for WWII, where the German army had to issue orders and strict discipline measures for their soldiers in Stalingrad to stop them from cutting off the soles of their feet to cook and eat.
Want more recent examples of civilian life during hard times? During the Great Depression things were hardcore. The only food my mother's family ate was what my grandfather could kill, grow or trade for, and the same goes for clothing they had to make or any other commodities required to live. Read about how civilians survived during the recent conflicts fought in Europe and the Middle East over ethnic cleansing and religious differences.
Today, in the U.S., most of us have become soft. Life is extremely easy compared to what it has been in the past. We complain bitterly when the 'net goes down or we lose power. Our visions of survival are often based on movies and books, and even if they are modeled on "true" events they usually have "story-book" endings where the good guys win. To learn about real survival you have to study history, the unedited truth.
History shows us how ugly it can get and the horrible things people will do to others in the name of "right." History shows us what you do in order to live without power and all the nice modern things we take for granted. Then, once you get an idea of what this is like try it for a few days. It will be hard, but you'll learn a lot about how well you're prepared.
Today we have instant access to almost anything we want or need. This is great, but it also means you can go from having all that to nothing in a heartbeat - especially considering how fragile our support systems like power, the economy and society are today. It's a fine act of balancing, and it doesn't take much for things to tip over and go sideways. To be ready you have to study and know what it's truly going to look like, and then prepare accordingly.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: