This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest by Brendan F
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This adage sums it up. Prevention, forethought and caution go a long way in enhancing one’s chances of survival in whatever scenario occurs. This is commonly referred as risk management or risk assessment.
The best weapon for self-defense is a debate that will continue until the end of the time. There are people who advocate rifles, shotguns and handguns. Many have valid arguments and others have inaccurate “Urban Legend” arguments. This includes the idea of scaring off an intruder by racking a shotgun, a hit in the hand with a .45 will knock someone down, a shotgun can be pointed in the general direction and hit target and_____ caliber and __________ action is the best. Most of these arguments boil down “what if.”
Another hot topic regarding self-defense involves which martial art is the best to study. Some prefer hybrid or mixed martial arts, where others are purists and prefer traditional styles. Arguments are common place on internet forums regarding this hot subject. The effectiveness, or lack thereof, of a particular art revolves around a “what if” scenario.
What if a person were to take steps to avoid a self-defense situation all together? This can be accomplished in any number of ways; including being a hard target, aswell as disappearing as a target altogether.
In nature, animals prey on easier targets. A weak or wounded animal does not survive in the wilderness. This is also the reason why animals travel in packs,herds, or other groups. This can be applied to human survival aswell. Traveling in a group when possible provides safety in numbers. Military servicemen who pull into port in a foreign country are often only permitted to go out in groups of four or more. A single person is an easy target, especially for two hardened criminals. Two criminals would certainly think twice before attempting to rob a group of five walking down the street. Five to two are bad odds.
An alert person also makes a hard target. Many criminals rely on the element of surprise to initiate a violent action. Paying attention to one’s surroundings provides the seconds needed to put a hand on a weapon – or to escape. A criminal may think twice upon realizing he has been spotted. A heightened level of alertness would allow for the detection of an assailant prior to being assaulted. Remember, if something looks out-of-place, it probably is. Consider why the cargo van is parked next one’s car in a nearly empty parking lot or garage. Consider seeing a group of two or three, who almost seem to be following one. Coincidence? Probably not.
The ability to disappear as a target is easier than it seems. First, avoid displaying objects of value or perceived value. By removing the opportunity for a criminal to strike, the crime is prevented. How can items be stolen, if the items aren’t present? How can a person be robbed, when that person isn’t in the path of the robber? Avoid high crime areas. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a weapon or martial arts will ensure survival in a violent encounter. Avoid the violent encounter.
Far too many variables are present. Suppose one uses a weapon against the assailant that results in bleeding, as knives and firearms do, but the assailant is HIV positive and infects the victim. Sure, the battle was won but the war was lost. Some may argue that the victim allowed the assailant to get close. In reply, see the above paragraph regarding being alert. A firearm is mechanical and can fail. Even a revolver, can fail. Springs wear out and parts can break. Likely? No. It isn’t something to tempt Murphy about though.
Granted, avoiding a self defense situation is ideal and obviously may not always be a viable option. The survivalist should be prepared to defends themselves. Part of this preparation, involves becoming a hard target that predators can’t see. Ever try shooting a swinging bowling pin at 100 yards? What if the bowling pin is camouflaged? Not a very easy task. The survivalist needs to be the swinging, camouflaged bowling pin the criminal can’t see and when it is spotted, is difficult to hit. Criminals are lazy. Be a hard and camouflaged target.
Prevention truly is the best medicine when it comes to healthcare, especially in less than ideal situations. This involves avoiding injuries or activities likely to cause injury as well as understanding disease process and disease vectors. Many people discuss in forums what makes the best medical kit or what items are must haves. These lists get pretty long and some become impractical.
Anaphylactic shock is a great example of a “what if” that people prepare for. However, it can be difficult to manage without access to EMS or definitive care. Definitive care requires epinephrine and Benadryl, and possibly a surgical airway. Avoiding exposure to allergens that trigger anaphylactic reactions will carry far more weight. The same applies for bleeding. Oftentimes, a life threatening bleed is preventable. This could be as simple as being cautious when working around anything hazardous. A step farther would be evaluating if the risk of life threatening injury is worth the reward. Avoiding gunfights will prevent sucking chest wounds.
As harsh as it sounds, pets can be disease vectors. The cute puppy that shows up at the campsite is likely affected by disease-carrying parasites. Lyme disease is something that very few first aid kits are capable of handling. Not feeding the cute pup and sending it on its way could be very well be a lifesaving decision. Pets were prohibited in Iraq and Afghanistan for this reason. Feral dogs were shot for this reason: to protect the troops and the working dogs. A well placed .22 LR can be used to dispatch pests and varmints likely to be carrying disease. Keeping the homestead free of disease carriers is critical. Avoiding unneeded exposure to sick or ill people keeps you safe.
A far more difficult step is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A proper diet supports the immune system and allows the body to heal itself, as nature intended. The human body is an incredible healing machine, but must be properly maintained to function at the optimum level. A person who exercises and eats a healthy diet, reduces the risk of disease substantially. Physical fitness allows for a quicker recovery from illness or injury when compared to an out of shape person who is ill or injured. This is why falls are so devastating to the geriatric population. Hippocrates suggests, “Let your food be your medicine.”
A person who is truly concerned for ensuring survival of self or others, must make sure to take measure to prevent injury and illness. A bad case of the flu for a family off our could easily liquidate a supply of over the counter symptom reducers. An accidental gunshot wound can deplete a gauze and antiseptic supply. Treatment by untrained individuals could cause more harm than good, and the makeshift surgery would be in vain.
Ultimately, the most powerful prevention skill available is proper hygiene. Washing hands after using the bathroom and before eating will save lives. This reduces the risk of intestine borne illness such a e-coli. Hand washing is required of all personnel entering a mess hall. Even without running water, field expedient sinks are constructed. Take this lesson from the military and apply it. Don’t use the bathroom where food is prepared and consumed and water is drawn.
Common sense hygiene prevents disease. Hygiene is also very important when preparing food. Keeping hot foods hot, and cold foods cold, prevents forborne illness. In a situation where the power is out, only prepare what food is needed. Keeping meat separate from fruits and vegetables prevents cross contamination. Washing hands is a powerful prevention skill that a five-year old can perform. Use it often.
Make responsible choices to stay safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Be vigilante and prevent injury and illness.
The prevention of a food shortage is often thought to be remedied by stockpiling canned goods and surplus MRE’s. This won’t last forever. The prevention of a food shortage can be handled by smart gardening and good stewardship of natural resources. Crops often need to be rotated as each uses different nutrients in the soil. Maintaining a garden results in a food source that is ready when disaster strikes. Remaining crops can be canned and used in the winter for food.
A garden is planted the following spring resulting in a renewable resource. An individual can compost organic waste to use a fertilizer. Stewardship of the resources available is critical for survival. A person should not kill a deer simply to place a trophy mount on the wall. The deer should be taken for food. If one deer is sufficient to feed one’s family, only one deer should be taken.
Same applies for fish, only take what is needed for food from the water and leave what isn’t. This ensures these animals reproduce and more are available for harvest, should the need arise. If a person waits until a food shortage occurs to plant a garden, that person will be hungry. If that person waits until a food shortage to start hunting, that person will likely be a gatherer. Taking steps to ensure that a renewable and sustainable food supply is available is essential for surviving.
In closing, there are several other subjects in which prevention can, and should, be applied. The survivalist must seek out sustainable methods of preventing such undesirable conditions. Avoiding a self-defense situation solves the issue of which gun to carry or martial art to study. Looking before one leaps can prevent injury. Proper pest control and reducing exposure to disease vectors keeps people healthy. Sustainable foodsources prevents famine. Being reactive doesn’t always provide the desired results. Being proactive, identifying trouble spots, and mitigating such trouble spots is good medicine. Assessing risk and making appropriate choices saves lives.
Prevention is key.
This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:
First Prize) Winner will receive a Nomad – 1 Person Standard Survival Package courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply, a One Month Food Pack courtesy of Augason Farms, a $150 gift certificate for Remington Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner.com and a EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves. A total prize value of over $875.
Second Prize) Winner will receive two (2) Rothco Sure Paks With Heater courtesy of Camping Survival, a Wise Food Vegetable bucket courtesy of LPC Survival and a Wonder Junior hand grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $509.
Third Prize) Winner will receive 3 – 27 Variety of Non Hybrid, Heirloom Non GMO Survival Seeds, 2 – Fruit Pack of Non Hybrid, Heirloom Non GMO Survival Seeds and 2- First Aid Kit with Sutures in a Waterproof Resealable Bag courtesy of Be Prepared Now. A total prize value of over $215.
Contest ends on March 30 2012.