The fact of the matter however is that there are many more "normal" disasters that we are likely to face.
Prep Level 1: Simple Power Grid Failure
Lets face it, at some point this is going to happen. Can you communicate with others and let them know you're okay? Can your loved ones get to you? Do you have some alternate method of power generation to keep your refrigerator working and a radio running?
Seriously, out of all of the things we need to be prepared for this is the easiest one, but the most often overlooked unless you have a prep plan that allows for you staying at home.
Prep Level 2: Car Malfunction At Worst Possible Time
- Your car breaks down on a lonely road during a blizzard in the middle of the night. It's well below zero, visibility is a few inches.
- Your car breaks down on a lonely road at noon in the middle of the desert. It's 120 in the shade and the heat causes disturbances in the air making it difficult to really tell what's up ahead.
Now, we've heard of the Get Home Bag, and in the case of your car breaking down in the desert, IF you understand how to travel in the desert on foot, a Get Home Bag can literally mean you grabbing your bag, leaving your car, and doing it on foot. More likely, your "Get Home Bag" that you should keep in your car should be more considered a "stay alive in my car until someone comes by" bag.
The problem is that your Get Home Bag needs to change depending on where you are going to be traveling. The needs of someone in 120 Fahrenheit temps is obviously dramatically different than the needs of someone in sub zero temps.
Not only that, but of the two, the car break down during a blizzard is the worst scenario of the two as you could be stranded in your car for several days. Out in the desert it likely won't be more than a day. However, trying to stay in your car without it functioning in 120 degrees is problematic (your car would function like a giant greenhouse making it even hotter).
A quick word of note on this ... I really know what I'm doing in the snow and mountains. Despite that, If my car broke down during a blizzard and there was no one else around I would stay with my car. My "Get Home Bag" is packed for the mountains where I live. Survival chances during a blizzard drop dramatically when you leave your vehicle.
Prep Level 3: Localized Natural Disaster
The possibility of your power grid going down is a fairly likely event that most everyone will encounter sooner or later. Most of the country has experienced power grid failure for one reason or another that lasted multiple days and well into a week.
This is the first level where you need to worry about things like "Bug out bags" and "Bug out locations"
The possibility of your car breaking down is something most everyone has encountered though admittedly most of us break down on a major road and our cell phones work just fine. If you actually live in an area of extreme mountains or extreme desert then you already know that several people die every single year from cars breaking down and the person isn't prepared for it.
However, if you live somewhere that has tornadoes, a high possibility of torrential rain, hurricanes, "firestorms", or even earthquakes then you know that these events kill A LOT of people, often result in a break down in civil order, and generally things can get pretty ugly.
Katrina hopefully taught us all a valuable lesson regarding the government's ability to respond to something like this and how society will react.
Here is the problem with Localized Natural Disaster; with the exception of a hurricane, it can happen so suddenly that you can't get home to obtain your Bug Out Bag or if you can, your home won't still be there. This is where the "Get Home Bag" turns into a "Get To Your Bug Out Location" bag.
In my previous post I talked about "prepping your bug out location." Well folks, this right here is part of the reason for that. Your bug out location needs to be "ready enough" for your arrival even assuming you don't have your bug out bag ... because you might not have it. You may want to consider taking a look at the video below for assistance in getting your bug out location ready.
In fact, I would venture to say that unless the "localized natural disaster" is a hurricane, you stand a better than even chance of NOT having it. A hurricane is one of the very few massive natural disasters that gives fair warning of its arrival.
Those of you living in "tornado alley" are well away of how suddenly one of these puppies can take out a home. What if one goes through your neighborhood while you're at work?
What I'm saying is that your survival plan must include the possibility that you can't get to your actual Bug Out Bag!
For that matter, during that time of day it would mean children at school and possibly most of your other loved ones at work as well. What is your communications plan in the event of a breakdown in the usual communications system? Do your children know what to do? How will you communicate? I talked about communications in this post here.
Prep Level 4: Widespread Natural Disaster/National Breakdown In Civil Order
This is what most of us are actually prepping for ... and it is the least likely to happen. In most of the first world, governments are quite careful not to push their citizenry so far that breakdown like this will happen and most countries are geologically diverse enough that no natural disaster could be that wide spread (except near extinction level events like a huge meteor strike).
Part of the reason I don't worry about storing years of food is that the likelihood of the above is so astronomically remote. In the event something like the above happens, like I've said in previous posts, I'm much more about growing/hunting/creating what I need than I am with stock piling.
What's The Point Of These Stupid Levels Anyway?
Here's the thing. I wanted to put up this post about the prep levels to create some understanding within our community. In my opinion there is far too much planning for PL4 (prep level 4) despite the fact that few of us are actually likely to see it in our lifetime.
Now I will admit that with the current financial mess the world is in PL4 via massive civil order breakdown caused by an absolute collapse in the global financial system is becoming more likely.
However, it is still far more likely that you will have to live through a PL2 or PL3.
So let me ask you ... if your car breaks down can you live in it? If there is a PL4 do you have a "Get Home Bag" that will get you home or to your bug out location?
Here is my point with all of this.
Lets plan for the most likely survival events we are likely to encounter. Especially since starting with the most likely events we might encounter makes us more prepared for the PL4 level events.