Situational Awareness

Part of developing a survival mindset is being aware of your situation. The military developed a set of color codes which Col. Jeff Cooper (a respected firearms trainer and originator of modern pistol fighting techniques) adapted for personal “street” survival by those who carry a firearm. (If this seems familiar it is because Homeland Security adopted a version of this Color Code.)  Captain Dave has adapted and modified the original to pertain to survival in the broader sense:

Condition White An individual in Condition White is totally unaware that the world is an unpredictable (at best) place and that they could be put in danger by a man-made or natural disaster with little or no warning. They suffer from the misguided belief that the government will protect them and keep them safe.  When disaster strikes, they are surprised, angry that it could happen to them, and totally unprepared.  Most of the populace is in Condition White until they see the hurricane warnings on TV or the evacuation siren goes off.
Condition Yellow An individual in Condition Yellow has accepted responsibility for his or her personal survival. They have admitted that the veneer of civilization can be wiped away, catapulting us back to an era where our modern conveniences don’t work. They realize that the police cannot protect them before a crime has been committed. They realize that while mankind can harness some of nature’s powers, and predict some of her behavior, but it cannot stand against her fury. They may have even done something about it, or they may be preparing to.  This is the beginning stage for survivlism, and people reaching it can either proceed to Condition Orange or shrug their shoulders and slip back into Condition White.

This individual has started making preparations to protect themselves and their loved ones from potential disasters. They monitor the news for weather-related danger or potential civil unrest. By reading this far into Captain Dave’s Survival Guide, you are probably in condition Yellow.

Condition Orange You are in Condition Orange when you realize a dangerous event is on the horizon and looming closer. It could be a hurricane heading towards you, an impending snow storm or a gang of youths crossing the street on a course ready to intercept you. In condition Orange, you are preparing to survive an impending situation. This could mean filling improvised water tanks or bringing extra fire wood into the house to dry. It could be loading the car in preparation to evacuate or hanging hurricane shutters.

(Note, in some emergencies — like an earthquake or terrorist bombing — you may go straight from Condition Yellow to Condition Red or Black.)

Condition Red You are in a survival situation and the dangerous event is there NOW. This means the bullets are flying, the water is rising, the wind is howling, the electricity is out, or the snow is piling up. You’re most important priority is to ride out the moment, to survive the immediate event. This probably means taking shelter or running or, depending on the situation, fighting back. Condition Red can last only a few minutes in an earthquake or Tornado, or it can last for weeks or months in a epidemic.
Condition Black In Captain Dave’s version of the color code, Condition Black is after the catastrophic event, but before the situation has returned to normalcy. You still are depending on your survival stash and skills to survive, but the danger is longer term, not immediate.

Here are examples of condition black that could last a few days:  The earthquake that is over, but you can’t return to your home. Or the river has crested, but it will be days before your can return home and longer before you are cleaned out. Or the riots have died down, but you dare not leave your house or neighborhood. Or the snow has stopped but the electricity has not been restored, and it will be a few days before the plows dig you out.  The terrorists have struck but there is a hold on all travel.

Depending on the emergency, Condition Black may last a few months or even years.  For example, imagine if 25% of the world’s population has died in a terrible pandemic and our government has declared martial law.  Power and other utilities are intermittent and food delivers have stopped.  Or, a nuclear exchange in the Middle East has spread fallout across the globe and caused oil prices to quadruple.  Or, the U.S. is at war with China over Taiwan and all commerce between the two countries has stopped.

Think about your worst-case scenario and determine how long you might have to survive in condition black. Remember that in a catastrophic event, such as nuclear war, a terrible plague, a comet strike or an alien invasion (people have been e-mailing Captain Dave asking me why he hasn’t addressed the latter two) “normalcy” may only be in your memory.

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