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Survival, Shelter, Fire, Water and Food

Survivalism is approached by its adherents in different ways, depending on their circumstances, mindsets, and particular concerns for the future. The following are characterizations, although most (if not all) survivalists fit into more than one category:

These Preppers Are Ready for Anything

While these people accept the long-term viability of Western civilization, they learn principles and techniques needed for surviving life-threatening situations that can occur at any time and place. They prepare for such calamities as structure fires, dog attacks, physical confrontations, snake bites, lightning strikes, car breakdowns, third world travel problems, bear encounters, flash floods, home invasions and train wrecks.

Wilderness survival emphasis

This group stresses being able to stay alive for indefinite periods in life-threatening wilderness scenarios, including plane crashes, shipwrecks, and being lost in the woods. Concerns are: thirst, hunger, climate, terrain, health, stress, and fear.

Prepping, Survival and Common Sense

The individuals involved in the prepper network prefer to be called preppers instead of survivalists because they are regular people with normal lifestyles and jobs who prepare for a variety of reasons whether natural or man-made. This group focuses on surviving brief encounters of violent activity, including personal protection and its legal ramifications, danger awareness, John Boyd's cycle (also known as the OODA loop—observe, orient, decide and act), martial arts, self-defense tactics and tools (both lethal and non-lethal).


People who live in tornado, hurricane, flood, wildfire, earthquake or heavy snowfall areas and want to be prepared for possible emergencies. They invest in material for fortifying structures and tools for rebuilding and constructing temporary shelters. While assuming the long-term continuity of society, some may have invested in a custom built shelter, food, water, medicine, and enough supplies to get by until contact with the rest of the world resumes following a natural emergency.


American Preppers Get Ready For the Worst

This group is concerned with weather cycles of 2–10 years, which have happened historically and can cause crop failures. They might stock several tons of food per family member and have a heavy duty greenhouse with canned non-hybrid seeds. Recent work has indicated that for disasters involving the elimination of conventional agriculture, alternative food conversion is a more practical means of ensuring human food. This would involve converting wood and natural gas into human edible food using a number of different mechanisms. Alternative foods are inexpensive pre-catastrophe but must be scaled up post-catastrophe. A research agenda for analysis of specific food supply resilience decisions has been proposed as food supply resilience requires not just the food itself, but also the accompanying systems of food production and distribution.

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