Safety & Security Considerations

Level 1 Prepping & Preparedness

Safety and Security may or may not become an issue for level-1 prepping & preparedness.

You might look at this topic from two different perspectives.

One is your general safety while going about your tasks and dealing with the issues at hand, and the other is your general personal security.


The best way to ensure your safety during any disruption is to keep a level head. Use common sense and don’t rush if you don’t have to.

Accidents tend to happen while stressed and not thinking clearly.

Each emergency, disaster, or disruptive event will have it’s own circumstances. Some of them may present abnormal hazards. Just be aware.

One thing that comes to mind for general safety is having good boots. What do I mean by that? I’m talking about good work boots that come up over your ankle providing good support. Good sound footing and ankle support are very important.

I have a variety of boots that I use for various situations. Almost every day I wear the following Belleville boots (made in USA) although there are lots to choose from:

Belleville 350

I have a pair of Bates 8″ boots with a side zipper. A great boot for quick in and out (side zipper). I’ve had them for several years and they’re still holding together.

I have a pair of Muck boots, regular hiking boots (ankle height), and then of course snow boots…

As you can see, I’m emphasizing your footwear. Speaking of which, you might consider keeping a pair of walking shoes in your vehicle if you ordinarily wear “fancy shoes” (for lack of a better term) to work.

Related article: 5 Steps To Buy Boots That Fit

Another important thing is to protect your hands. I always have lots of various gloves sitting on the shelf and in the bench seat of the hall tree by the door.

Why risk getting cuts and slivers while working?

Related article: The Best Work Gloves For Preparedness?

Related article: How To Find Your Glove Size

Regarding glove size, I personally like to get them a little bigger than a snug fit, but that’s just me.

Tip: Leave shoes or boots, socks and a change of clothes right at your bed. If you need to quickly take action (for whatever reason) it will save precious time.

Personal Security

My own definition of level-1 could extend up to one week, and that’s enough time for some people to go off the rails and become dangerous. And as you probably know, some people can go nuts if you simply look at them the wrong way even on day-1!

You have to admit that when people lose their creature comforts, a high percentage of them may become cranky, angry, or worse. A level-1 event will be enough to trigger many of them and if you’re in their way, watch out…

The best way to prepare for this is to be prepared yourself so that you can minimize your exposure to environments where you are likely to run into problems.

For example, if it becomes necessary to go out to a store (assuming there’s one open) to resupply, chances are you will run into some cranky, angry, desperate or panicked people.

What might these people be looking for? Food, water, gasoline, toilet paper, or something else they need.

So, by simply being prepared ahead of time, you can avoid that environment altogether.

Self Defense Tools

For your personal security and avoidance, first and foremost, work on your situational awareness. What’s that? It’s simply paying attention to what’s going on around you. Sounds easy right?

Surprisingly it’s not that easy for most who are used to looking down into their “smart devices”.

I have written quite a number of articles on this subject which you might explore:
Situational Awareness

Even for level-1, I recommend that you explore obtaining a gun for protection. For most places, it’s really not that difficult to get a license to carry and there are training classes in most areas. You may even live in a “Constitutional Carry” state and not need a license at all…

Okay, if that’s not for you, I do recommend at a minimum that you get yourself some pepper spray. Here’s an article I wrote awhile back that describes some options for you:

Pepper Spray For Self Defense

Keep a cool level head during any emergency situation.
Consider outwear & gear to enhance safety.
Be prepared so you don’t have to go out where others may be anxious.
Consider personal self defense tools.

[ Read: Preparedness Level 1 – 4 Series Overview ]

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  1. excellent article.

    Sooner or later, something going to hit the fan as the way things look.

  2. Carry a good knife or tatical pen. Pepper spray or a taser are also good options. Some area athletic clubs/rec centers offer some form of self defense class which I recommend everyone to take a few to at least learn some basics.
    As Ken also said, situational awareness and learning “grey man” techniques can help greatly. You can’t become a victim if you aren’t there or even noticed.

  3. Ken, I am enjoying your level-1 articles. They are a great introduction to mindset and lifestyle. Very helpful to get newbees started. Your site is one of my favorite daily reads. Keep up the good work.

  4. Safety & Security; Level One

    Ok time to have a little fun here.

    Safety; As mentioned Situational Awareness aka ‘Leave the DAMB STUPID-Phone in your pocket or Purse !!!!! DON’T be distracted when swinging that hammer towards a framing nail you’re holding in your bare hand, seen a LOT of waffled thumbs in my day, (Ken be warned LOLOL)

    Ken also mentioned Boots, Gloves. I would add for safety you need to know the job you’re doing and wear the appropriate gear for that job. Seriously I have seen ‘stupid people’ welding and using cutting touches in swimming trunks and sandals…. Or better yet, cleaning an outhouse without a Gas Mask and rubber gloves….

    Security; now remembering we’re on level one here, I would think that anyone with 3 working brain cells would know to NOT be meandering around in a Wally World looking at a new Toilet Bowl Brush, I mean really? If you’re prepared in a Level One magnitude that you should not need to go anywhere unless forced out, but that’s a whole different Level of Preparing. Stay at home, keep AWAY from the crowds, be the Gray Man and do NOT draw attention to yourself by mouthing off about the steaks your BBQ-ing.

    Self Defense Tools; A firearm, IMHO, is not a level one item, first of all, you had better darn well know how to handle and use one. You had better have had some/LOT of training, you better have come to the realization of taking someone’s life and deal with the ramifications. This is a Level One situation for one week max, if you shoot and kill someone you WILL be held accountable, even if justified your life will change forever. Second, if you have a firearm and don’t know the above, someone with a lot worse attitude might just take that firearm away from you and use it on you and your family. If you don’t have the proper training and know the above, please take your firearm to a local machine shop and have the front site removed….. 99% of the ‘tough guys’ find out there are a LOT tougher in the world than them.

    As far as a Level One defense tool, I would suggest a Cast Iron Frying Pan, ( Now before ya all think I’m NUTS, how many times has a Husband come home drunk with the smell of Perfume on him and been clobbered with a Frying Pan?????? OK OK a little off the wall.
    Something I would suggest is a good Hardwood Walking Stick, and/or a can of Wasp Spray…. One other thing that works well, ‘Crazy’ seriously act like a complete crazy off your nut wacko. 99.99% of the time people will leave ya alone, especially if ya answer the door ¾ naked as a Jay Bird babbling about how you lost yar Tin Foil Hat and the .gov is coming after ya. It works…. Do NOT ask me how I know, but it does work… :-)

    1. NRP
      Just seeing me standing at the door half naked would scare of most folks, so I don’t have to worry about acting crazy. Although there are those who would say it’s not an act. I was wondering if anyone would suggest Wasp Spray. At the present time there are some places where bear spray is outlawed, but so far no one has outlawed wasp spray. It’s good for up to 25 feet, sends a heavy, wet spray and requires hospitalization for removal from the eyes and skin, let alone if it’s ingested. At least that’s what I have been able to figure out from researching the ingredients. It doesn’t wear off folks it just soaks in. We keep several cans around the house and in the coach (motor home), sitting by doors, of course, and in other easily accessible places. We check supplies regularly and add more, it’s very inexpensive in comparison to other stuff. We DO NOT open the door, at home or in the coach, to strangers without a can in our hand ready to spray, even during the day but especially at night. They are usually very unaware of what you have which lends an element of surprise.

    2. Quote, “Self Defense Tools; A firearm, IMHO, is not a level one item”

      I disagree. Owning a firearm is a Constitutional Right here in the United States, having nothing to do with levels of preparedness or levels of security. I see no need to scare people into owning their own. Given the anti-gun sentiment in this country, I feel that it is important to resist and oppose that sentiment.

      1. Ken
        I agree with your statement; “Owning a firearm is a Constitutional Right here in the United States” and I practice that right very well, there is never a doubt about that. I will stand behind all the rest of what I said, one had better know how and when to use a firearm, or ya could be in a world of hurt very fast regardless of what “Level” we’re talking in.

        I will reiterate that if you’re in a Level One mindset only than the chances of being well trained in firearm use and safety may MAY be lacking, and would never consider anyone just going out and buying a firearm without the skill set and knowledge of its use, again speaking on a Level One preparedness standpoint.

        How many thousands of firearms are purchased with ‘A’ box of ammo, shot at a range 6 times somewhere and the remaining shells tossed in the nightstand with the once fired firearm and never used again, PLUS the owner believes they are now “safe” from all the ‘bad-guys’? Additionally how many gun owners are killed by their own firearm when the ‘bad-guy’ takes it away and shoots the owner? Thousands. One had better know the facts before “just buying a gun” and calling it ‘good’.

        With all that said I, like yourself, totally believe that owning a firearm (AND the training) should be a MUST for every legal citizen in the United States of America before some decides we can no longer have the right to own such a hunk of iron and plastic.

        Honestly maybe a Firearm should not even be in the conversation of the “Preparedness Levels” as a ‘Level’ of defense?

    3. An effective weapon is the tire thumpers big rig drivers use to test the pressure in their tires. It is short, rubber, and with a steel rod through the center. I put mine into a collapsible umbrella cover. When I carry it people just think I am carrying an umbrella. It is small enough to keep in a large purse. I purchased mine at a truck/car gas station. When not with me it hangs on a hook by my front door. Again, nobody notices it because it looks like a collapsible umbrella. One underhand smack with this would be pretty effective.

    4. NRP
      YES, cast iron pans work as a defense deterrent. One needs to make sure they have a size they can lift and swing. Those fry pans come in different sizes and weights.
      Will save the cast iron fry pan story for Saturday’s posting,

    5. NPR
      Wasp spray works! As I told the officer the man in traffic attacking a woman in her car was told once to back off. Than he fell to the ground blinded and short of breath and crying. Every G.C. has wasp spray in their work truck as we deal with wasps on job sites all the time. Wasp spray for a W.A.S.P in heat was the proper tool officer.

  5. What do you mean, Level 1 ??? Some parts of several cities are already there. Don’t be the frog and let the situation deteriorate so slowly that you miss the warning signs. Your defense requirements may differ depending on whether you are in Detroit, San Fran, Potland, Baltimore, Chicago, … a stick, a gun, a flower in your hair, a glazed stagger, stick on tattoos, … I jest slightly. I agree that avoidance is goal one and adaptation to the situation is goal two.

    1. All good points. Cities always raise the threat level. Some more so than others.

      Beyond that, level-1 is my own general made-up timeframe for disruption: several hours, days, or up to one week. It is primarily meant for newbie preppers to get their gears turning…

  6. Personal protection or defenseive tool is a tough one, carry permits are non existant here in the islands, its illegal to transport loaded firearms let alone carry one.
    That said, if or when things go sideways, 1. I wont be out and about. 2. You can bet ill have my 1911 at least on my person if not my AR hanging off my shoulder, rather have a fighting chance than just be SOL, most will be SOL,
    I know far too many people who are oblivious to the risks

  7. For those with mobility issues and use a walking cane/stick, there are books out showing “Cane Fu” as a self defense technique. Your cane may just save your life or valuables one day!
    Most also have stretches and workout methods for those with a cane to help with mobility.

    1. Thanks for the tip on the “Cane Fu”. I have been thinking about adding walking sticks to the GHB stuff. This gives me a good reason too now.

      1. Unless you get a good hardwood stick, (think short Shepard hook) the techniques may not work so well. Many of the walking sticks (at least backpacker/hiking styles) out might be too long and are made to be collapsible for easier carry/storage.
        At any rate, I’m sure there are many moves that can be used/adapted for a walking stick.

  8. Just last night, a coworker of mine was going to go to the store to purchase some chicken soup and saltine crackers for our patient with nausea. He kept asking me where to go (referring to the little “bodegas” where most people buy cigarettes and beer.). I told him 3 of 3 times to go to the local chain Supermarket where he can buy the stuff quickly with no fuss and you are less likely to catch a bullet. Some places I will go in order to eat ethnic food DURING DAYLIGHT. I stay far away from these same places when the sun goes down. The neighborhood around the hospital we work at is a pretty violent place after dark. (2 shootings within the past month)

    My coworker lives in SE Portland. Maybe his tolerance for street weirdos gives him normalcy bias. I am the former Southern California Cop that stays out of the convenience stores after dark because I remember that the freaks come out at night. ( and they bring their guns with them.) Being in a bodega when an armed robbery takes place is very dangerous even if you have a personal weapon on you. Survive by avoiding those places at certain times of the day.

    The older I get, the more likely I am to buy the stuff I need from the supermarket. I also tend to gas up my truck during the daylight hours. Contrary to what many on this site may think, I do not always go around town packing a gun either. ( in both legal and medical profession, you may have to go through metal detectors and are ordered to leave the gun outside.). Sorry to disappoint you Lauren, not a lot of talk about guns here today.

    Cane Fu or Cane self defense classes may be found by contacting a local Senior Day Center or Police Department. The one I learned and taught was based upon Aikido many years ago. Now that I am also a Senior Citizen, I am dealing with reduced mobility and flexibility. Good luck finding a class out there.

  9. Speaking of Prepping……….. Fox News and Wash Post have just confirmed that North Korea HAS a small atomic war head that will fit on their missiles. While they are still not accurate they seem to be progressing fairly quickly. All really Kim would have to do is explode it as an EMP.
    Just thought I would throw this in as Mr. and I are listening as I write.

    1. Mrs. USMCBG
      Saw the article on tv, early this morning.
      If we have lurkers out there, or beginners for preparedness level 1 you may wish to read these articles Ken has on the sight.

  10. Wow! An argument of where firearm possession fits into survival preparedness. Level 1, 2, or 3. Is Level 1 too early, based on the fact that a gun can be dangerous in the wrong hands? If so, why do we not routinely deny access to knives, lawnmowers, automobiles, chainsaws, bathtubs, (I could go on for a long time listing items routinely abused or carelessly handled that cause thousands of death and grievous injuries every year)? None of these “dangerous items” are restricted as to how old someone has to be to purchase, much less require training and competency tests in order to possess them. Gun ownership requires you reach a certain age before purchasing one (not even the automobile has that requirement if it never leaves your property). Why? An argument is made that with age comes a level of maturity, with maturity a level of expectation of being less likely to do stupid things. Some folks never outgrow stupidity, thankfully, most folks do.

    That said, I have no problem with, in fact I strongly encourage that anyone purchasing a gun for the first time obtain professional training in its safe use and operation. I would never allow anyone to operate one of my tractors without assurances they were familiar with its operation and inherent dangers. My guns are no more inherently dangerous than my tractors or other farm equipment I use. They don’t become dangerous until the human factor comes into play. I know tractors and their operation as well as guns. I assure you that I can teach anyone (except stupid people) how to safely operate a firearm in a much shorter time than I can teach that same person to safely operate a tractor safely in all possible scenarios. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that a many, if not most, injuries or “accidents” with either is because lack of attention by the operator coming from familiarity that leads to lapses of attention to the basics. It has been my experience that most folks who have recently gone through the very basic training of a concealed carry course tend to be more safety conscious than many of the “old hands” I’ve encountered.

    Having said that, back to the original discussion of at what level of preparedness does gun possession fit in. We talk of the “survival rules of three”. Three minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water, three weeks without food. Where would three tenths of a second without adequate deterrent to a deadly attack fit in? Maybe never. Maybe in the next 15 minutes. I don’t have a crystal ball. I have carried and trained incessantly since childhood. I would never tell anyone they shouldn’t just because there are some who are too stupid/incompetent to safely handle that tool. There are plenty enough evil folks to justify that equalizer being available and part of anyone’s preps.

    1. Dennis
      Argument? Ahhhhh hell dude, that was not even a heated discussion LOLOL. Can’t have an argument when we all agree…. 😁

          1. Hahaha!!! I was thinking the same thing (well, maybe not the name Bruce, but we all know when it’s NRP) : )

    2. Dennis, I agree with you 100%.

      I have been teaching a friend of ours 7-year-old boy how to shoot a .22 and I would trust him with that more than driving a tractor (at this time). As badly as he wants to learn how to drive my old Ford, he can’t reach the clutch while sitting in the seat – he’ll just have to wait awhile longer ;)

      You have eluded to the fact that guns don’t kill people, people do. There will always be a stupid element in our society and they are NOT going to be the least common denominator when it comes to gun ownership. Stupid is as stupid does. Can’t change that.

      Gun ownership is a personal choice and not everyone is comfortable with it. That’s alright by me. However I don’t go around discouraging gun ownership. In fact when the opportunity arises, I encourage it.

    3. Ive always said ” im more dangerous with construction equipment than the average gang banger with a gun”

  11. I’m wondering if a dog might not be handy (a real one – about the only toy breed I might accept would be a toy English Mastiff if anybody breeds ’em) . I’m thinking of those times I used to take Malice, my pit bull, for a walk. Oncoming pedestrians would cross the street when they saw us sauntering along. Not too hard to feed him – he’d eat anything including a couch. Dogs will keep ya warm at night and feed you if worse comes to worstester. It might be hard to find a recipe but parboiling ought to work.

    1. Our mini schnauzers hear folks down at the gate a full 1/4 mile away! They bark us awake immediately. The Great Pyrrenes bark at all the bears, but don’t seem to mind people at all, though we have one neighbor whom they seem to dislike immensely. LOL Dogs are great friends and family members. Gotta have em.

      1. I swear that my “little” mini Dachshund (who thinks he’s MUCH BIGGER) is the best watch dog ever. Dogs are great for this!

        1. The guy who took care of the feedlot on the ranch i grew up on had a pack of these little fox teriier mutts, he got more pigs with those things and they were real good watch dogs, nobody could go near his truck or the john deere if he was hauling the feed wagon, they were pretty convincing little dogs

        2. We have a half lab, half Dachshund (we don’t pretend to know how exactly that worked) who “identifies” as a Great Dane. 😉

  12. Ken
    Would you make it possible when each level is completed that all subjects on that level are in one location to view

  13. Three quick comments.

    One, for a good stout walking stick and no time to make your own, go to the hardware store and buy a hoe handle or the handle for a push broom or a floor squeegee. Add a cane or crutch tip and you have a very strong, hardwood walking stick for little effort.

    Two, the wife has a chihuahua that thinks she owns me. She’s a lot more likely to bite than my half lab/half boxer who lives in the back yard. She’s also the better alarm system. A lot of idiots don’t care how big the dog is, they will turn tail and run as easily from either one.

    Lastly, +1 on the wasp spray. A can by each door, and if anyone asks, some family member is allergic to wasps and ants. If you have to use it, well, ‘It was just there.’
    – Papa S.

  14. My dog is a cute house pet that happens to make a lot of noise. Only the most stupid ones will proceed into the back yard despite the dog raising a fuss within the house. Years ago, I surprised a fellow by chipping his front tooth with the muzzle of my 45. Yes, he did try to sue for dental work butt he could not explain why he was at my back door opening it with a screwdriver.

    I choose to be armed within my own home with an unwelcome guest entering through the back door. Oh, he also was not there to see my wife either. Not a great way to meet my wife’s: “Backdoor man”.

  15. Ken,
    Perhaps a couple nuances to your third point about having to out to a store:
    A Level 1 prep might be to do what you can to avoid having to go out for supplies. If S hits Fan, the odds high that (a) the stores won’t be open anymore, or have whatever it was you wanted, or (b) the public scene will be too dangerous. (riots, etc.)

    A good Level 1 exercise would be assessing what you’ve got at home with the question: “What could I run out of that would be important enough to risk facing bad people to get?” Whatever that is, get enough of it in the house that you won’t have to face the bad people. (for a week? a month? 6 months?)

    Per all the comments about whether a gun is appropriate — it is if things have gotten bad enough that you’re worried someone will try to rob you of your supplies (or money to buy same). But, I tend to agree that if things have gotten that bad, things may not be Level 1 any longer. That’s not to say getting a gun and learning to use it should be put off for later. When things get to Level 2, you already want to be equipped and ready.

    — Mic

    1. I really like your drill exercise — to put yourself in a hypothetical disruption and assess what you would run out to the store to get. Discover what those things are ‘now’, and get them ‘now’ before you actually need them during an event!

  16. All the discussion of where firearms fit into this scenario is a redundancy. You should be proficent and carrying when Level 1 hits, because it is paramount to your and your families safety right now. That said, boots and work gloves are also something that should be on your person at all times. I prefer unlined leather gloves until winter, then lined leather. For boots, I also wear Bellevilles, but mine are the 390’s in the summer and insulated 670’s for cold weather. Accidental injury is far more likely in this scenario, especially since Ken’s parameters specify a week. You should have a weeks provisions put up and ready at any time…

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