We all like to believe that we’d fare well if a disaster hit. At least, those of us who think about disaster preparedness believe that they’d survive (the rest aren’t even willing to admit that a disaster could impact them!).
A lot has already been written and debated about the people who will die first when SHTF. Most fixate on people like the physically weak, disabled, elderly, and yuppies.
But I don’t want to focus on those standard weaknesses here.
I firmly believe that anyone – regardless of health or physical ability – can survive a disaster with the right amount of planning.
Unfortunately, many preppers will die. They will die NOT because they stockpiled the wrong items or bought a BOL in the wrong location.
They will die because of personality weaknesses.
Take a look at these personality types and see if you fall into any. If so, it is time to stop focusing on gear and emergency kits and instead work on building mental toughness!
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1. The Indecisive
It is well-agreed upon that the key to surviving disaster is to Get Out of Dodge ASAP. The longer you wait to leave, the slimmer your chances are of survival. That’s why we pack Bug Out Bags (see here for a bug out bag checklist) and run emergency drills.
Yet, the decision to leave isn’t an easy one. No one wants to feel like they are overreacting. Emotions can get the better of us and we make bad decisions in the face of danger.
If you are the indecisive type, then you better make a checklist of conditions for when you stay/leave. That way you will be able to take action right away instead of waiting too long to flee.
2. The Sentimental
This one absolutely breaks my heart, because I can relate. I love my home and community. It would be hard for me to leave, even if I knew that a disaster was approaching. However, I also know that it is important to put sentimentality aside so we can make rational decisions in the face of disaster.
Overcoming sentimentality is probably a lot harder than we want to believe. Even with an evacuation order in place, many people chose to stay in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Even those with the means to leave simply didn’t have the heart to leave.
I’m also reminded of the case of Harry Randall Truman, the 83 year old man who died in the Mount Saint Helen’s blast because he refused to leave his home. Before dying of asphyxiation from the blast, he told reporters:
“I’m going to stay right here because, I’ll tell you why, my home and my (expletive) life’s here…My wife and I, we both vowed years and years ago that we’d never leave Spirit Lake. We loved it. It’s part of me, and I’m part of that (expletive) mountain.”
I understand Truman: His wife and daughter were both deceased. He probably felt like he had nothing left worth living for other than his home… Truman didn’t have any other family (that I’m aware of), so his decision to stay instead of flee didn’t really affect others. At 83, he was probably near the end of his life anyway and maybe didn’t want to start over from scratch.
However, I do have people in my life that rely on me and care about me. I (hopefully) have a lot of life ahead of me to live. I owe it to them — and myself — to put aside my sentimental attachments to my home and GO before it is too late.
3. The Macho
The prepping and survival community is filled with machoism. Now, don’t confuse macho with the healthy personality trait of self-reliance and wanting to protect your family.
Machoism is overly aggressive, assertive, and prideful. It is EGO and it will get in the way of survival!
- Macho preppers are the ones who flaunt the lone wolf mentality. They believe that they can do everything themselves and won’t take help when it is necessary.
- Macho preppers show off, which in turn draws attention to themselves and could make them a target.
- Macho preppers are the ones whose idea of prepping is, “I have a gun. I’ll take what I want!” (And will likely get killed in the process)
If you don’t believe that machoism is rabid in the prepping world, just consider how many preppers talk about “standing their ground” if someone attacks their home. In a lot of cases you’ll be severely outnumbered. Macho people would rather give up their lives than their supplies!
Recommended Reading: Home Security
Or consider this remark to this post about hiding guns: “If it is time to hide ‘em, it is time to use ‘em.”
No successful revolution was ever waged by one person gunning down officers at the door. The people who survived (and won) were the ones who hid, laid low, and waited for the right moment to come out of the shadows.
4. The Uncreative
The key to survival is creativity.
Creative people are the ones who will look at an abandoned soda can and realize that it can be turned into a stove, and that the tab can be used as a fishing hook.
They are the ones who will turn a crayon into a candle, or use a plastic bottle to make rope.
You might think that you can’t learn creativity. True – some people are naturally more creative than others. However, there are some exercises you can do to encourage creativity.
I know they seem cheesy, but they really do help!
5. The Panicky
In a disaster, approximately 10% of people panic while 80% of people freeze (which is basically a severe form of panic). Only 10% of people actually respond and take action.
The ability to stay calm during a disaster is key to survival. By default, preppers are going to be less likely to panic than the general public because they have accepted that there are risks and likely have a disaster plan in place.
Yet, don’t assume that you are superhuman and won’t panic during a SHTF disaster. Staying calm is a skill which must be developed. I recommend trying these exercises which build mental toughness.
6. The Fantasy-World Planners
I first heard this term used by The Organic Prepper in her article about How to Die When SHTF. “Fantasy planners” are the preppers who believe that they can live off the land, hunt, farm, and forage their way through the apocalypse.
This sort of fantasy planning ignores realities (such as that you have never actually done any of these things, that you are out of shape, and that you can’t predict everything).
The solution? Perform real-life drills.
For example, try going camping with just the items in your Bug Out Bag. If you can’t survive 3 days like that, you aren’t going to be able to survive a lifetime in SHTF conditions! But you will gain knowledge about how to better prepare so you can survive.
What other types of people do you think will get killed first when SHTF? What personality traits will keep you alive? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments!