Return of the Prepper #3 : What am I prepping for?

In a comment on yesterday’s Return of the Prepper post, @livinguktaiwan asked what I am prepping for – “a natural disaster or for some unfortunate reason you have financial difficulties?”.

That is a perfectly reasonable question and one that I do ask myself regularly.

As a keen watcher of post-apocalyptic movies it is quite easy to get carried away with heroic visions of fighting off hoards of zombies, leading the resistance against invading aliens or being the gallant survivor whose immunity provides the miracle cure against some virulent plague.

But the reality of course will likely be much more mundane. With my age, health and limited resources and skills I would be unlikely to fulfil any such dramatic roles.

Prepping is about being prepared for difficulties at all levels – from losing one’s job and income to being snowed in on the mountain to strikes causing food shortages to everything beyond.

I have over my years of prepping developing a little ‘disaster scale’ to measure my prepping activities against.

I gave this scale the grandiose title of…

Pennsif’s Personal SHTF Scale (PPSS)

Threat Level Threat Area Examples
0 Family house fire, death of immediate family member, loss of main source of income, major illness
1 Local major flood, explosion at a chemical factory
2 Regional widespread flooding, terrorist dirty bomb, severe earthquake
3 National extreme weather destruction across the country, multiple terrorist attacks in several cities, government collapse, cyber attack on the electricity grid
4 Continental outbreak of war with Russia in Europe, major pandemic, terrorist detonation of a nuclear bomb
5 Global major meteor strike, worldwide pandemic, outbreak of nuclear war between USA and Russia / China


I am sure someone, some body or some worthy institution has codified this in a much more elegant and robust fashion. But this works for me and acts as my onboard scale for planning and prioritising my prepping activities.

Every prepper will likely have some variation of such a scale, and every realistic prepper will likely know what point on that scale that could actually deal with.

Personally while it might be bold and brave to aim for the big #5, in reality the best my family could readily cope with would be #3.

Moving up to the continential type threats of #4 might be doable with some luck and good fortune but I think it would be all survive and no thrive at that level.

So for the here and now I set the targets for our family preparedness squarely at be ready for level #3 threats. Maybe in some areas, overspill of our preps will move us up to #4.

Certainly, with only a casual glance at the news these days, with incidents in Iran, with the latest Chinese coronavirus outbreak and with ever hastening climatic dramatics, it is not difficult to make a strong case for seriously wanting to up our prepping activities to be ready for level 4.

That though can begin to get just too awful to imagine and contemplate.

That is the stuff nightmares made of.

Time, I am sure, to go to sleep…

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Floody hell – and mine is only 4 inches

We are currently experiencing our first ever house flood.

About 2.30am on Friday night I went to the kitchen and discovered that it was flooded and just starting to enter the living room.

First off I thought a pipe had burst or something was wrong with the washing machine (as has happened before) but after a quick survey of the situation and a peek in the dark outside the back of house I realised we were being flooded.

With very heavy continual rain for the past few days the massive amount of water pouring off the mountain side behind the house had just overwhelmed our protective drainage system and was then coming through our old farmhouse walls.

And it was rising fast.

I woke my wife and we kicked into action. By now most of the living room was already flooded and it was moving to the hallway. From there it was heading to the office.

The office is the centre of operations where all the computers were located and where I am writing ths post.

We rushed to grab old towels and blankets and anything absorbent we could find to try to stem the flow from kitchen to living room.

We failed – it was rising too fast so we moved our efforts to barricading the door to the hallway. The dog’s spare bed was even called into action.

We had more success there and managed to stop more ingress into the hallway and office.

The situation was just about under control. The flooding was contained in the kitchen and living room. My wife went back to bed. I stayed on watch until my wife came back on duty before 7am.

With daylight we were able to make a better assessment of the situation.

Being preppers, although flooding of the house was never on our risk radar, we were partially prepared.

We had an old submersible pump that was called into action to try to at least stabilise the still rising water level. The pump only had a capacity of 7000 litres per hour but it did seem to make some impact holding the kitchen to just around 4 inches.

We also had a builders dumpy bag of sand on hand, and a pile of hessian style sacks. Our youngest daughter joined in making sandbags. They reinforced much more effectively the barrier to the office in particular.

By now we were getting reports from friends of the situation around the area. The nearby town was more or less all flooded including the supermarket, many shops, the local college and many houses.

Indeed one friend’s house was under 4 foot of water and the fire brigade was trying to pump him out. We were lucky with our meagre 4 inches.

This is all the fault of Callum – Storm Callum in fact…

* Storm Callum : One killed as Wales suffers ‘worst flooding for 30 years’

Next we turned our attention to the back of the house. I was clear that we could not do anything about the existing drainage – it was just overwhelmed by the volume of water coming off the mountainside.

We started digging a secondary drainage ditch. My trusty mattock was definitely the tool for the job.

An hour or so later we had a working drainage ditch with a good flow of water away from the house. It still needs deepening further but it started to do its job.

With the extra drainage in place and the pump running full tilt, after a couple of hours the water level in the kitchen began to go down even though it was still raining heavily.

I stayed on duty through the night to monitor the pump. By the early hours of the morning – just over 24 hours after the flooding started the water was down to just over an inch and the submersible pump shut off. It had done it’s job as best it could. It is now over to us to do some bailing…

The very annoying side effect of the flooding is that it got into the electrics of the fridge and central heating boiler. I am very much hoping that they will just come back on when the water has gone…

So this was, and still is, a real life prepping situation for a real life prepper.

We haven’t done too badly. A bigger pump and having sandbags more immediately to hand could have been very useful. And a secondary drainage ditch looks like it will be a necessity.

But house flooding was never a risk on our preppers radar. Now it is.

Keep on prepping…


Pennsif’s Progress #603 – Am I prepared for this crazy world?

Today’s headlines were quite an eyeful for any aspiring prepper.

“Wildfires in Greece kill 74 people”, “Many feared dead as Laos dam collapses”, “Japan heatwave declared natural disaster as death toll mounts”.

Is the world going crazy? Is the earth fighting back? Is Gaia seeking instant karma?

How much these tragedies are freaks of nature, and how much they have been brought about by human action, may be difficult to judge.

Are such disasters becoming more commonplace, or do they just catch my eye more often as I get older and I get more concerned.

As a prepper I will always have a heightened sense of concern, but as a father and as a citizen of earth it gives me ever more anxiety about how my family, my children and everyone I know will cope with this changing world.

Sometimes that anxiety spills over into outright despair.

I am for sure not yet a 5 star prepper, but I am considerably more prepped up than the average Jo on the block.

Yet when I mindport into the horrific settings of at least the first two of these headlines today I suspect in reality all my prepping would most likely not have saved me, my family or our possessions.

Could we have outrun the wild flames of Greece?  And even if we had our homestead would have been burnt to the ground.

Could we have escaped the torrents of water from the collapsed dam in Laos?  The same answer I fear.

And the 40+ Celsius temperatures in Japan?  We have struggled with the effects of the mid twenties here in Wales.

But these things will never happen to us…

Why not?  The world is changing. Mother Earth seems to be fighting back.

And as technology grows, we think we are getting smarter.

In fact all the time we are getting weaker and unhealthier, dumber and more dependent, lazier and more reliant.

Our society is becoming ever more fragile.

Our resilience is evaporating in the white heat of technology. 

Our chances of survival are diminishing.

But there is a way. I hope.

You might also be interested in some of my other posts :

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