The recent flooding in Houston has sparked several conversations in my monthly coaching program regarding disaster preparedness and security from both human and nature-based calamities. Today, I’ll lay out a basic system that is Alpha 2.0 compatible on how to protect yourself. Much of these items I’ve covered before in various places, but I’ve never made a complete list like this.
Here’s what you should do to ensure you are as protected as possible from both natural and man-caused disasters, listed in no particular order.
1. Get debt free, and stay debt free for the rest of your life. This includes paying off your own home mortgage once you pay off all other debts. Men who have literally no debt, including no house payment, are literally some of the safest men on the planet.
2. Insure the crap out of everything. Most people don’t realize that most insurance policies don’t actually insure against many likely problems. Add medical protection onto your car insurance in case you ever get into a car accident while your health insurance has lapsed. If you own your home (i.e. don’t rent), add both flood and earthquake insurance to your homeowners policy (these things are not included unless you add them!). If you rent, get some renter’s insurance ASAP to cover your belongings. If you live in the USA, never spend any significant time without health insurance, even if it’s a catastrophic-only plan (that’s what I have). If you provide any kind of business service to companies, make sure you have E&O insurance so no one will sue you if you ever make a mistake. And so on. Most people are woefully under-insured; you don’t want to be one of them.
3. This shouldn’t be said since it’s a core requirement of Alpha 2.0, but make sure you have at least two to four diversified sources of income from very different market sectors and industries. Relying your entire financial well-being on only one source of income in today’s economically chaotic world is STUPID. Yes, it may take you several years to build up these multiple income streams; stop complaining and get to work.
4. Have 30 days of long-term emergency food in your home, stored somewhere high off the ground like in an attic. Make sure you can prepare this food with no electricity. For food prep, I have a personal camping stove along with a box of propane tanks for it that would probably last me a year.
5. Have 30 days of safe, drinkable water stored in your home. To determine how much you need, the average person requires around 1.5 gallons of water per day for drinking and bathing. Multiply that by the number of people in your home, then multiply that by 30. Have that amount of gallons stored and drinkable in case you have no access to water for a prolonged period.
6. Own a gun, and take at least two gun safety courses so you know how to use it without hurting yourself or any loved ones. Failure to own a gun when you have food and water stores is dangerous, since in a disaster, your food and water will become the ownership of whomever in your area does have a gun. (Obviously if you live in Suicidal Europe, you’re not allowed to own a gun because of your suicidal, socialist governments. This means you’ll be at the mercy of the mobs in a disaster scenario. Sorry. Yet another reason to not live in Europe in my opinion.)
7. Avoid living long-term in any area that is repeatedly hit by hurricanes or similar weather patterns. For my entire life, ever since I was a kid, I’ve been watching news stories about horrible, devastating hurricanes that repeatedly hit the Gulf areas, particularly Florida. After about the tenth such story, I started thinking, “Why the fuck would anyone want to live in Florida if your house keeps getting blown down?” Good question. If you live in a place where devastating floods, monsoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes are common, then for shit’s sake, move the hell out of there to somewhere safer. Why ask for these kinds of problems? Seriously.
8. Make sure your home has good locks and strong windows. Most homes do not. If you own your home, spend the money and upgrade these things if needed.
9. Make sure your home has a decent security system with cameras and motion detectors. These kinds of systems have become shockingly inexpensive in the last few years. The ones where you can view your cameras on your smartphone from anywhere in the world are ideal.
10. As I’ve talked about before, don’t keep any long-term valuables in your home. That just doesn’t make any sense. Don’t store them at a bank either, though. You have many other options.
11. Live in a low-crime neighborhood that’s not on a flood plain and not on or near a fault line. If you live on or near the coast, try to make sure your home is located at a higher elevation, like on a hill.
12. Live in a country that minds its own business and doesn’t start wars with other nations. (Obviously I’m still working on that one).
13. Keep the number of people in your household to a minimum. If you have a big household with lots of family, children, friends, roommates, extended family members and whatnot, it’s going to be much harder to keep everyone safe during a disaster than if you’re by yourself or with just one or two other people.
14. Set up a bug out bag and keep it safe and somewhere high in your home. Just Google “bug out bag” to see what kinds of things to put in there. If you drive a lot, have another bug out bag in the trunk of your car.
15. If you don’t already have the skills, learn camping / backpacking basics, to the point where you are able to survive in the wilderness for at least two nights, all by yourself, with no one to help you, in very shitty weather, from extremely hot to very cold and in the snow.
Lastly, don’t turn into one of those end of the world weirdos who constantly worry about World War III or a zombie apocalypse or other crazy shit. Just relax; the world is not coming to an end and there will be no world war, nuclear or otherwise. You just need to be prepared for things like a big flood, earthquake, tsunami, civil unrest, and/or long-term power/water outage. All of these things are temporary, likely not lasting longer than four or five days, but you want to be prepared for those four or five days. While everyone is freaking out, you’ll be chillin’ just fine.
That’s about it. This is a big topic, but those items above should give you a good overview to at least get started. I’ve personally done most things in the above list (thought not everything), so I’m pretty prepared for just about anything, no matter how crazy. I sleep very soundly at night.
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According to a few accounts I remember reading from the Bosnian War, in a civil unrest situation toilet paper and alcohol are pretty hot bartering commodities.
Tornadoes fall into the 2% rule even if you live in tornado alley. They are very dangerous, but the chances of you actually getting hit by one are quite small since the tornadoes themselves are small.
As for living outside, the SAS Survival Handbook is a great reference to keep in your bug out bag. Hopefully you don’t have to live outside long enough to use it, but it would be invaluable to anybody needing to survive for more than a couple days.
Not all of Europe is insane w.r.t. guns.
Gun ownership and participation in gun clubs and shooting competitions is quite high in Switzerland, higher than in some of the blue states in the United States. There are even a lot of chicks who are into shooting competition in a big way. And it really is true that many members of the militia keep their rifles at home, even if you need to get a permit if you want to keep ammunition at home to use your guns in sports.
In Austria too, owning and using hunting rifles and shotguns is pretty straightforward. France & Italy too. In fact, there’s a huge participation in traditional (centuries old) hunting and shooting sports competitions in Italy.
But you would be out of your mind to actually live in the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, etc., where citizens are completely disarmed.
Yeah whenever I generalize about Europe there will usually be exceptions. I knew about Switzerland; didn’t know about Austria.
I’m confused Caleb,
You’ve stated before that insurance and healthcare policies of the US and the rest of the world are overpriced clusterfucks. But you also recommend in point 2 to “insure the crap out of everything.”
Could you please elaborate on that? Although to be honest, I’m not very knowledgable regarding insurance at all.
I said the US health care system is a scam and a clusterfuck, yes. Because it is. I never said the concept of insurance is a scam. Insurance is a necessary aspect of your long-term financial life. Notice that most of the examples I gave in the article weren’t related to health care.
Yes, you should insure the crap out of everything; your home, your belongings, your car, your business liability, even your life if you have loved ones who depend on you. You need to do this to ensure long-term happiness.
In terms of health care, in the US, all you need is a catastrophic, high-deductible heath care plan attached to an HSA account, then take fantastic care of your health so you don’t have all the usual problems Americans end up having. That’s the least expensive and scammy way to protect your health (in the US).
You might wonder why. It’s simple: insurers rely on getting in money and making small payouts at a predictable rate. As with the whole FIRE industry, the game is keeping all the balls in the air. When a flood or an earthquake hits, it hits everyone all at the same time and an insurer can find themselves caught short. So, they exclude those events in their contracts and don’t make a point of telling you about it.
If you have any assets, I recommend looking into umbrella insurance. It adds additional coverage on top of your existing policies that are protecting you, so if something happens and your existing policy falls short, the umbrella policy kicks in and tops it up. Its very cheap for extra peace of mind.
Nice list. The most likely personal disaster is unemployment/loss of income and/or illness. You dont explicitly say this, but, this list of preps work.s for those scenarios.. then I would say large scale economic meltdowns and regional natural disasters. I agree, prepping for nuclear war, pandemic, mad max, zombie apocalypse, is likely a poor use of resources unless you are very wealthy
6. The gun thing in Europe is overblown. Estonia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Serbia, and many others all have reasonable gun ownership laws. If you want to shit on regions, Asia-Pacific is far worse.
1. Why would one pay of their house is they can get a better return elsewhere. Mortgage rates are low and the best part of real estate is leveraged returns.
I agree, at least for some people.
Haha! What are you smoking? Some of the countries you listed the most insane and restrictive gun laws in the world. Many handguns being illegal. Having to go to the police to ask permission to own a gun. Government telling you exactly how you’re “allowed” to use your own guns (sport guns can’t be used for hunting, etc). Government forcing you to have a “good reason” to own a gun or you’re not allowed to buy one. Fucking insane. Yes my friend, on the overall, Europe SUCKS for actually owning a gun as compared to the rest of the Western world, particularly the US and Canada.
And just because Asia sucks in a certain area doesn’t mean Europe doesn’t as well.
Because in an economic downturn, you’re fucked if you have to pay a house payment and can’t afford it, or if you go upside-down in your mortgage and end up owing more than it’s worth. And so on. If your house is paid for, you’re bulletproof regardless of what the economy or the real estate market does.
Don’t forget to have some sort of plans during travel. One of my coworkers is in the Caribbean right now and only has plans to leave the night before Irma hits (I left a few days ago already).
If he ends up checking out of the hotel, returning his rental car, and THEN finds out his airline cancelled flights, he’ll be severely fucked. Stores will already be cleaned out by the tourists and locals, especially now that all other flights are unavailable/full.
He’s now completely dependent on the airline taking him out. If the aircraft has a maintenance issue, is delayed by another storm, someone with higher status takes his seat, or the flight otherwise gets cancelled, then he’ll have no car, no place to stay, no food, no water, no cash, no local language skills…
Understand the reality of the situations you could be in, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Yes, however there is a degree of risk you must be willing to take on when you travel internationally. As in your example, when flights are canceled because of a hurricane, that’s completely out of your control (unless you are ultra-wealthy and can charter your own private jet), so there’s literally nothing you can do about that. You’ll just have to get a hotel room, sit tight, and wait it out.
In scenarios like that, the issue becomes financial. When you travel, always have $1000 ready to go in an easily accessible account so that you can cover the costs of extra hotel nights, food, etc. It’s also a good idea to have more foreign cash on your person than you think you’ll actually need for the trip.
“when flights are canceled because of a hurricane, that’s completely out of your control”
In this particular example, we had plenty of notice in the forecast for two options entirely *in* our control:
A.) Get out early (risk wasting a bit of employer’s money)
B.) Stick around and see if the hurricane hits, at this time flights will be outright cancelled or fully booked. (In a 3rd world island country with shitty infrastructure, the risk is dying)
If you do option B, then you better make extra precautions and take them early (get water, get a high floor on hotel that’s at higher elevation, make sure you have backup batteries to power phone, translator fully downloaded on phone, network with tourists, keep in touch with local contacts, etc).
Some of that stuff is best to do on each trip anyway (batteries, translators, networking).
True story. If you live on the coast, its your funeral. Its not really all of Florida, just south florida and stuff along the coast. I lived in Tallahassee FL for a decade and dealt with exactly one “disaster.”
People don’t understand this either. I’m getting a feeling that those who think this way actually WANT those kinds of things to happen, just to they can say that they are “right.”
I’ve done a good number of things and I now live in South Florida, where hurricane Irma is about to go crazy on. I’ve done about half of these things. While everyone else is going insane, I’m good.
Must be nice to be young and strong enough to do this kind of thing. When you’ve lost your own capability (and don’t bother telling me to exercise, I have ALS & can’t) you realize that you’re a whole hell of a lot more invested in civilization than you thought and have a real stake in keeping it going instead of bugging out.
I personally know men well into their 60’s doing this kind of thing.
I’m very sorry about that. I have a family member with the same. Regardless, you’re an exception to the rule, and moreover I never said you have to leave the country. You can protect yourself from the collapsing West without actually “bugging out.” Read this.