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On Preparing For Emergencies & Finding Like-Minded Good People


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At Guns Save Life meetings across Illinois, we welcome subject matter experts as our guest speakers. Sometimes the presentations make history come to life with people who were there such as the Korean First Marine Division Breakout or the Iranian Hostage “Crisis.”  Other times, we hear from insiders and experts.

Last week at the Pontiac GSL meeting, we heard from a man with 30 years of experience in America’s Special Operations Command. Terry Riccolo shared his thoughts on family preparedness for emergencies.

“Forget the super shelter,” he said. Instead, got together with a group of like-minded people with skill sets you will need in a location that allows for the safety and security of the inhabitants. This might be in Small Town, USA or it might be on a farm with enough shelter for a large group.

Either way, you want to join up with people with diverse skill sets. For example, you probably want medical professionals as well as those skilled in animal husbandry, agriculture, communications, dentistry, canning, marksmanship, tracking, security and so forth. (Odd how he didn’t mention lawyers on that list, isn’t it?)

Have one or more places you can go if things get bad. And if there are major natural barriers like large rivers between you and where you’re going, you better have a plan to navigate those waterways that doesn’t involve bridges which may be blocked by the government or bad guys. In fact, as far as you’re concerned, they might well both be one and the same if they won’t let you through unmolested.

Alternatively, if you’re holed up by yourself as a family unit and conditions don’t improve, Mr. Riccolo doesn’t think you will have a positive outcome for very long. Why? “Because everyone has got to sleep sometime.”

Even if you’re living well, what are your neighbors going to do when they smell you cooking sausage and eggs and their kids are begging them for something to eat after a week of little or no food? Unless you have food and fuel to feed the entire neighborhood, your position will soon be untenable.

How long can you last in your residence remained a common theme in his remarks.

Do you have what you need for the short term, including backup power for a well pump if you live in a rural setting? Do you have heat, food and water for that short term? Food that you (and your spouse/kids/grandkids) are already accustomed to preparing and eating?

While it might seem obvious to those of us who have practiced preparedness for some time, you must prepare for the most critical necessities (heat, water, food) first.  Everything else comes after that. All the guns and ammo (or precious metals) in the world won’t help you if you stepped or fell into near-freezing water and you don’t have a way to dry off and get warm.

From a practical standpoint, what’s the point of storing a year’s worth of food for you and a dozen others if your neighborhood (or apartment building) won’t remain stable and relatively orderly after a week or two of no water or electricity?

If you’re really into prudent preparing, you will pre-position some limited food and supplies into one or more of those trusted places you would likely fall back to in a serious emergency. Fortunately in America, those sorts of emergencies are very rare and typically fairly localized (think Hurricane Katrina) and short-lived. So plan accordingly.

Two or maybe weeks of food and supplies might be all that’s needed. Or if the New Madrid tears loose or the Yellowstone Caldera burps, you might need to plan for a little longer, but you get the idea. Both of those dystopian disasters are far less likely than Joe Biden getting us into a shooting war.

Worried about the government? Don’t be, Riccolo says. They have bigger fish to fry than even a large, well-run group in Small Town, USA. Unless you’re stepping on their toes in some way, the government has limited resources and you won’t be in their crosshairs.

Their priorities will be to first keep their facilities secure and safe from looters and other bad guys. Secondly, they’ll tackle the really big issues at hand impacting hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, not what’s happening in Smallville, population 4,423.

At the same time, if you live in a big city, Riccolo suggests your plans might involve getting out at the first opportunity.

Emergency management people have plans to keep city dwellers penned up in the big cities if something really bad happens. “For their own good,” of course. You would be wise to make sure you’re not one of those stuck there if those plans are implemented.

If those plans are implemented, those kept inside the big cities will probably want a whole lot more government-provided security, but it will likely be scarce at best and heavy-handed at worst. Meanwhile, small towns and rural areas will likely remain relatively unmolested by the .gov.

At the same time, Terry noted, if you have 400 head of cattle and everyone for fifty miles around has nothing to eat, you’re going to need quite a security operation to protect those animals. (Anyone else watching Yellowstone lately?)

How can I find other people with useful skills?

“I don’t have a farm or a medical degree. I can’t shoot well. Or worse yet, I don’t own a gun. What can I do? Where can I find these people to help navigate an emergency?” Well . . .

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Riccolo advised that you can increase your survivability and meet some good people at the same time by learning some basic life-skills. Indeed, while learning you will meet others who are similarly situated.

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Embracing gun ownership is an obvious one, but you’ll also need to learn skills with those guns, including how to shoot to the Rifleman’s standard and how to handle your defensive handgun effectively. The “man card” alone doesn’t imbue man skills in using a gun, and neither does Hollywood.

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If your state still issues concealed carry licenses, get yours if you don’t already have one.  If your state doesn’t require a permit to carry, you can start carrying now and get accustomed to it.

Either way, consider taking a defensive shooting class to boost your skill sets and confidence (and meet some good people). If you choose a class well, you’ll have a great time, too.

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Other skills, like basic hand-to-hand fighting skills can also save your bacon. We’re not talking super-ninja stuff, but simple things like how to throw a strike…and how to block one.

It might surprise you that most men today don’t even know how to throw a proper punch. Many hit like a proverbial schoolgirl. Learn how (and where) to strike most effectively. And yes, you can strike and block even if you’re an old-timer or in a wheelchair.

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You’ll also want to add in other abilities with knives (how to use them without cutting yourself, first and foremost) and first aid. How to defend against a knife attack might come in handy, too.

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Outdoor skills help, too, like how to build a basic shelter, start a fire, and navigate (with a compass, not Google Maps!) all are great life-saving skill sets everyone should have.

While you and your family are learning, engage your social skills and work on making new friends while enjoying lunch. Those relationships may prove priceless.

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At the same time, you can also work on building relationships among those in your existing circle of friends, to the point where you can present yourself and your family (and what you bring to the table in knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities) as an asset in an emergency.

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Where do you find friends like these? Again, start at your local gun club, grassroots gun rights organization, or events like Appleseed shoots or other “life skills” classes.

Your church may also have some good people to build relationships with as well. Unfortunately you can get all manner of philosophical perspectives as well as varying levels of reliability from members of any given church’s congregation.

On the other hand, Riccolo noted that you can spend all your weekends golfing, and that’s okay, too. Terry noted, however, that golfing has little to no practical survival value.

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