ANYONE Can Use These 2 Powerful Preparedness Tools Today

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Co-Author of SHTF Survival Bootcamp

Selco and I have had a strong impression for a long time many people in the prepper sphere were almost indulging in a little bit of a fantasy. It wasn’t that they weren’t taking preparedness seriously. They were investing a lot of time and effort, but not necessarily with the belief that they would actually utilize that preparedness. We often say that preparedness is just another form of insurance. That’s how we package it in our beginner presentation to get people in the right headspace. 

Health insurance, life insurance, and home insurance are there as reassurance. But you never really think you are going to use it or need it.

Now, however, we’re definitely in the stage where people are active in their preps. People are anticipating using them, whether short-term, midterm, or long term, depending on each individual’s circumstances and location. 

As ‘reality bites’, many folks are coming to the realization they may have to actively engage some of their preparedness activities in a meaningful way. This can be a stressful time, so we want to share two tools to help you succeed in your preparedness.

Powerful Tool #1: Mental Visualization

Mental visualization is precisely that. In your mind, you are going through a set specific scenario and achieving success as you do it. As you go through it step by step, at every stage, you achieve success.

For example, you think your power supply or your gas supply is going to go out. You know you are going to rely on off-grid cooking. Allow yourself a couple of minutes or longer to visualize cooking a meal off the grid successfully. Go over unpacking the stove and putting it together. Imagine yourself opening the contents and seeing that everything is okay. You have the can opener, and you haven’t forgotten anything. By the end of the exercise, you are eating a balanced, nutritious meal.

Now, that is a really simple example. But it can be much more complicated. Defensive use of force is another excellent example to visualize mentally.

Let’s say you hear the sound of breaking glass at two in the morning. It seems somebody is breaking in. Begin with that scenario and mentally go over every single step of managing that confrontation successfully. You can envision avoidance, scooting out, ambush, direct confrontation, or whatever your methods are. Decide upon your methods, and step by step, stage by stage, go through the motions. 

As far as your brain is concerned, this mental visualization is almost as good as doing it in real life. It is very close in terms of effectiveness in preparing your mind and body for executing that scenario as you need. I used this extensively in my military career, especially the tough physical challenges and the assault courses. Substantially stressful moments usually are a pass/fail scenario. To do this exercise, mentally begin at the start line (after the warmup) and proceed the entire way through the assault course. Successfully and feeling good along the way.

The advantage of mental visualization is that it is a powerful tool you can do anywhere at any time. You don’t need to be in your house with somebody physically red-teaming you and mocking a break-in.

Powerful Tool #2: Walk-Through-Talk-Through

The walk-through-talk-through is a physical action. This exercise is critical if there are more than one of you. If you are in your family unit or your group, you may think you have communicated well your plan or actions to take in the event of an emergency. Until you do a full walk-through-talk-through, you won’t realize the things that may have failed to be communicated or had been miscommunicated or misunderstood. Walk-through-talk-through is everybody, physically, in slow time, going through their role and actions in a specific emergency. 

Let’s take an evacuation, for example. During this exercise, there is no stress. It isn’t like a situation where you only have three minutes to leave. What you do here is everyone takes time to walk-through-talk-through what would happen in an evacuation event. In reality, you want to achieve that evacuation in short order: one to four minutes, in a perfect world. But for the walk-through-talk-through, everybody’s going to do it in a super slow time. Ideally, each person will say out loud what they’re doing. So you’re not second-guessing their motivation or their action.

So someone will say, “The evacuation notification came, and I’m going to confirm that I understand that happened. I’ve got it, and I’m now going to walk to my duty station. I am going to go into the basement and open up the safe and collect the following things.” While the person is saying this they are also physically doing the actions. Everybody comes together at the end, ready for evacuation with all the vital things gathered and loaded. 

Everyone should be good to go with a list in their mind of any doubts or uncertainties they’ve had. There should also be a debrief from the person in charge saying things like, “I noticed you did this, or you didn’t do this, or we’ve missed this, that, and the other.” Doing so keeps communication clear and helps with understanding the whole process. Ideally, the walk-through-talk-through becomes quicker until you’re ready for a full dress rehearsal. A full dress rehearsal is all actions completed in real-time.

Things are getting serious in a lot of different places now

Using these tools assures you that you are as prepared as possible and helps to manage the stress and anxiety around these issues. And that’s completely understandable. Using the mental visualization and the walk-through-talk-through is massively useful. Even if you don’t have a group, if it’s just you on your own, use these tools to satisfy your mind. Doing this will ensure you that you’ve got this and show you what it looks like and how it works. 

Learn more about our preparedness philosophies in our book, SHTF Survival Boot Camp.

Please let us know in the comments below what you think of these tools. What is it you’re working on, and what success are you achieving?

About Toby

Toby Cowern has an extensive background in the military, emergency services, risk management, and business continuity, combined with applied wilderness and urban survival skills. He discusses personal safety, security, and the crossover of military skills to the average civilian.

ANYONE Can Use These 2 Powerful Preparedness Tools Today
Toby Cowern

Toby Cowern

Toby Cowern has an extensive background in the military, emergency services, risk management, and business continuity, combined with applied wilderness and urban survival skills. He discusses personal safety, security, and the crossover of military skills to the average civilian.

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  • Definitely, two important things. There´s a reason most buildings and some facilities F perform a yearly evacuation simulation, it´s more than just a rehearsal and evac time-taking, it´s to put everyone in the mindset by making them go through the dynamics without the actual stress. Just that simple exercise get everyone a lot less anxious and feeling better prepared for an emergency, and it improves performance and outcome when something happens.

  • The Walk-Through-Talk-Through can apply to not just communication with others/family members, but when doing something by yourself.
    Prior to slaughtering a hog, walked-through-talked through how I would do it. Everything from taking the shot, rendering the rifle safe, bleeding out, loading up on the back of the ATV (there was a fail on my part the first time, wrestling over 250lbs of dead weight on the back of the ATV, next time, brought out a block and tackle, lesson learned).
    Even the gutting and then processing, there will be steps that one cannot anticipate with out the go-through motions.
    The logistics that may seem obvious but the real devil is in the details.

  • “many people in the prepper sphere were almost indulging in a little bit of a fantasy”

    (laugh) more than a little bit ….

    “visualizations”

    try this one. one morning your phone says your service has been cancelled. your credit cards don’t work. your bank cards don’t work. the bank teller says your account has been locked, sorry we don’t control anything here that’s all done at corporate we can’t help you. what do you do?

    • gman-

      What you do is put into practice what the authors on this forum share with us. Lessons- some hard. I don’t comment often, but I’m going to make this worth it; in case you haven’t been paying attention, bottled up in your little basement, doing your BS D&D style comments (as you do here), this site exists precisely so that these questions can be asked a community can come together and share. Everything from what Jose has told us about Venezuela, Selco in Bosnia, Daisy and Fabian in their lives- this is not grandstanding. Its REAL life. You have been invited in the past to present your thoughts and lessons and have failed to do so. The entire world is in a state of exceptionally public upheaval. You should, perhaps, consider the very real threat of digital currency only, the VERY present activity on censorship, and the anxiety that has begun for many over this past year of madness. If nothing else, answer your own damn question- what do “you” do? I would wager you don’t think through these things and have no capacity to answer in a way that either meets your definition of prepared, or is valuable to share with others.

      *shakes head, laughs more than a little bit*

      • “You have been invited in the past to present your thoughts and lessons and have failed to do so”

        (shrug) when I do, people get really mad.

        like now. my scenario seems to have struck a nerve.

    • “try this one. one morning your phone says your service has been cancelled. your credit cards don’t work. your bank cards don’t work. the bank teller says your account has been locked, sorry we don’t control anything here that’s all done at corporate we can’t help you. what do you do?”

      Why would my phone service be cut? Really, I think I would be okay with that to be honest.

      Why would my CC and bank card not work? I dont carry a balance, and my credit rating is in the upper 700s (might be in the lower 800s by now).
      We use a local credit union, so that is corporate. Where is my money, be it in checking, two differing savings accounts and all else fails, take a withdrawl from the 401k, convert that into cash.
      Then there is the cash I have on hand in the firebox at home.
      Got enough stocked pantry/freezers to get us by for awhile with no worries.
      Got our own well. Wood shed is stocked.

      Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

  • Another example of where the preliminary mental visualization of a process is only a first step might be in learning how to use a cheap $20 Chinese knockoff of a camping or backpacking wood gas stove. It’s easy to mentally visualize starting a fire with a little dab of hand sanitizer onto a cotton ball by scraping sparks from a fire steel you acquired from Walmart — only to learn in actual practice that despite scraping off the exterior sealing coat (oh, you didn’t know of that, nor that it needed to come off first), the quality of that fire steel had been “Walmarted” away, and could never produce sparks out in real life. The difference between initial mental visualization and actual practice.

    A follow-on example might be where you imagine needed to substitute an alcohol burner (like the Trangia) in that stove where wood (or other bio-mass) fuel is simply not available. Seems simple enough. If you did your homework and learned that a Trangia burner has an optimum distance between the base of the flame and the bottom of your cookpot above that flame (around 38mm), you could easily measure what height to cut a tin can so that when you turn it upside down inside that stove to use as a height-adjusting spacer for that Trangia you get the flame height distance set to best advantage.

    Then in practice you learn that your recipe calls for a longer heating time than the burn-time amount of alcohol that the Trangia can hold. If you bought one of the Chinese knockoffs of the Trangia it likely doesn’t mention (unlike the well-instructed genuine civilian Trangia on its lid in tiny inscribed letters) that such an alcohol burner should not be refueled while the flame is still burning, and should not be refueled until that burner has cooled down. Oops … that kinda messes with your cooking plans to have a cool down partway through the process. That’s why a lot of Trangia and knockoff users have sworn off using alcohol burners because of that obnoxious cool-down requirement.

    The solution is to have a second alcohol burner handy, fueled and ready to go, along with some tongs so you can extract the almost exhausted but STILL HOT and likely burning burner — so you can immediately replace it with your backup burner you’ve just lit. In theory, if you had the need you could switch back and forth like that for a long time for much longer cooking or boiling needs.

    The point is that the initial mental visualization often needs to be followed up with some actual physical run-through to find out if there are any gaps in what you thought you knew … such as in device inadequacy, process misunderstanding, missing instructions, missing remedies for problems that other users have solved after bitter experience, etc.

    –Lewis

    • @Lewis,
      In the USMC we called it “Practical application.” Put what you learned in the class room to application.
      And, we were always taught the hard way first, because we always knew we could do it the easy way.
      I still do it like that, as if S really has HTF, around here. I can and do buy hay for the livestock. But the first year, I cut hay using a scythe, raked it, turned it, then bagged it. Then I hauled it down to the barn and put it in the loft. Hot, sweaty, itchy work.
      But I know I can do it.

    • “mental visualization often needs to be followed up with some actual physical run-through”

      especially if it’s in the dark.

    • I have a 50 year old Optimus 8-R gas stove. Wondered if it could steam a loaf of bread. The tank holds all of a 1/3 pint of camping fuel (can run on regular gasoline too, but that’s awfully dirty). One of the advantages of steaming is that boiling the water automatically regulates the temperature so that the bread isn’t burnt. I also have a Chinese steamer big enough to hold a loaf pan for bread. My questions were, would the stove burn hot enough to bring the steamer to a boil, and would the fuel last long enough to finish a loaf of bread? Steaming a loaf of bread takes about the same time as baking it. The results of the experiment are that the stove does burn hot enough to bring the steamer to a boil, and that the 1/3 pint fuel lasts more than an hour, more than enough time to steam a loaf of bread.

      I’ve cooked many one-pan meals on it.

      But another cooker has been a greater challenge. I tried a biomass burner, tried it a few times, it’s a lot harder to start and keep burning. The slightest wind blows it out before it really gets going. It also doesn’t care for refills. Need to keep the air intakes from clogging. The initial load cooks long enough to grill a hamburger or maybe some other short time meal, but would it give me a loaf of steamed bread? It doesn’t look promising. One thing going for it is that it uses far less wood than an open fire.

      Between the two, I’m pretty confident that I can cook a meal even if the power goes out. But like you say, practice gives me the confidence.

      Because of my situation, my primary plan is to shelter in place, but be prepared for a grid down situation. A second option is to go to another house, not ideal, but again may be in a grid down situation. I wish I were in a place like 1stMarineJarHead where things grow, but I am where I am, and need to make the best of it.

  • My to go items and bags are together in a bench at the front door. Run through with hubs with alzheimers took me 4 minutes. To load up ducks, chuckens and rabbits would add 15 minutes. Cages are handy and of course rabbits live in their cages. That means stowing everything in the back of a small truck or car with a hugh trunk and can’t take all of the critters. Logically ducks would stay as would most of the chickens. Rabbits produce cold manure, reproduce quickly, are good eating and would be easy to relocate with or start a small garden and settle in somewhere. Find containers and grow containers of quick growing food. Seeds in one bag.
    We’re used to small tent camping or living out of the small truck with a camper shell. Building in a bed with under bed storage. A small rocket stove and cookware are a planned permanent part of camping preps. Just simple things. We’ve camped in parking lots and rural places. A way to replentish water will be important.

  • In the last 5 years I have hosted over 20 gun safety classes for women here at our homestead. I believe that hearing the lessons that many times prepared me for a day last November when I had to wait in my husband’s new Dodge Ram in a hospital parking lot in the big city while he underwent medical testing. Of course I was not allowed to be in the building with the fear of Covid 19 governing the universe.
    As I waited seat belted in with doors locked and windows half way down, 2 inexperienced thugs in black hoodies approached from the rear of the truck and by the time I turned around after hearing, “I want this truck! I want this f…. ung truck”, my responses seemed to be automatic. I reached for my concealed carry pistol since the kid had one aimed at my face less than 4 ft away. I turned, yelled,”I DONT THINK SO!” And aimed my 380 at his face. They both panicked and ran off when I told them to get out of there. After taking an hour to fill out a police report and watch them finger print the truck, I warned every woman that came out of the hospital’s front door.
    The reason I tell this story is because I surprised myself with my controlled, take charge response.
    During each firearm safety, class I go through scenarios in my head as to how I should react. It amazes me how quickly you assess a situation, and react to it with the goal of staying alive. I believe reviewing the situation and my response was just as important as preparing my mind before hand.
    What I did right:
    Had the doors locked so no one could enter from behind and put a gun to my head.
    Had windows half way up so no one could open the door easily.
    Assessed that these 2 punks, who had not grown facial hair yet, were very inexperienced because instead of flanking the truck, they were both on the same side, only one with a firearm so I could act like an angry grandmother and tell them what to do.
    If it had been a weathered mean eyed ex con holding a 45 over the window of my door, I would have responded differently.
    What I did not do because it was mid afternoon, and I never imagined a car jacking would take place at that time, was to have my key fob in hand to press the alarm immediately.
    I would survey my surroundings continually instead if every 20 minutes since it took less than that time for the 5’4″ boys to get behind a high truckbed and present from behind me.
    I also might move the truck to different parking places closer to the front door of the hospital when one opened up. Reviewing my experience with my instructor and also the chief of police friend near where I live (a hundred miles away from the hospital) also helped me sleep better at night having them confirm that my response was correct. I believe group input is important too.
    I am ever so grateful for preparation beforehand and forethought which I believe made all the difference in the outcome. My husband could have lived without his truck… but not so easily without his wife.

    • “It amazes me how quickly you assess a situation, and react to it”

      did you actually assess the situation, or did you just react?

      • I had to assess the 2 brats who appeared and their lack of experience plus the possibility of getting shot because I could identify them in a lineup.
        They made it clear they wanted the truck- not me. I did not shoot the one with the pistol because he was a dumb kid who was way scared when he saw a gun pointed at him. I hijacked his brain. I was not about to let him hijack mine.
        Had it been a seasoned ex-con, I would have responded with, ” let me get my seatbelt off.” Hopefully, Giving me opportunity to get my gun out and shoot as soon as I could. At that point, it would have been him or me.

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