In your lifetime, in the United States of America, there has been one disaster above all others. When it occurred, society broke down into those that would live and those that would die. It was a survival tools situation. Thousands of people, dependent for generations on government for their daily sustenance were wholly unprepared for what awaited them... Government did not come.
Survival tools begin with tool number one, and that is attitude. After that is taken care of then we can begin to get on with the practical business of survival.
The greatest challenge to survival when death is staring us in the face is the will to survive when it would be so much very easier to just give up and let death have its way. Take the lazy way out and you'll miss your breakfast come dawn for sure.
The basic test which can quickly identify life's losers is when you ask someone, "So, do you have a weapon around the house to protect yourself in case of an immediate survival situation?"
"No, of course not. I would call the police."
"Well, suppose somebody is breaking in and you have time to grab a pistol to defend yourself. What about then?"
"Oh my no. I would call the police. I don't care for the police, but I would call them to defend me if I were in danger."
"Ok, last question. Since it will take the police at least ten minutes to get to your house, and the other guy has a gun, and will kill you in six minutes flat, then would you consider having some backup protection?"
"Of course not! Guns kill people!!! I would call the police."
See, you can't deal with these guys. Having never had to face adversity of any kind, and having no imagination, they are as doomed as a man standing in a shallow creek damning the dam about 100 yards in front of him even as it starts to crumble. "I damn you cursed dam. You will not break and drown me!" Gurgle.
Actually, these morons potentially posses the survival spirit. It's just a little misplaced. They put their faith in things and men rather than trusting to their own common sense and devices. If they would take the latter tack, they would be very hard to kill indeed, as they are a very stubborn lot.
The fact is that the greatest survival tool of all is the human will to survive. The reverse is also true. Some folks will do whatever it takes to be the one to NOT survive. They take the attitude that if God is going to drop the hammer, there is nothing to do but salute and fall over. So, they drive into tornadoes, build on active fault lines, try to disentangle their kites from high voltage lines, and golf in thunderstorms. You also have the folks that give up way before it's time.
Survivors think ahead. Unlike their fatalistic lazy cousins, they plan ahead, figuring that there is always time to survive. Sure, they figure, you can't protect against a 747 falling onto your head, but then they figure that if they see it while it's far enough away, they can get out of the way.
Besides immediate survival, as in homicidal break-in, there are two other scenarios, ie, short term survival, as in, say, three days, and long term survival, as in a general economic collapse.
As in the story of the ant and the grasshopper, the time to make plans and lay in the proper survival materials is well before the survival situation occurs.
Thus, if you live where there are blizzards, nobody will think the worse of you if you have survival tools like a blanket and some means of providing warmth in the trunk of your car in case you get stuck on the way home one day.
Similarly, if your transit takes you across the lonely high desert, nobody will jeer at you if you have a case of water stashed in the back of your high dollar desert rover.
The most likely problem that we will run into is a temporary cessation of normalcy. The power goes off for days for some reason. That means no water, light, heat, or way to cook. These eventualities are easily remedied with a stash of bottled water, Coleman lantern, and a box of matches. How long could grubbing up these most basic of survival tools essentials take you from your softball game Saturday?
Longer term survival tool situations call for more complete planning. What will it take to make your cave a home? How about some nice comfy folding chairs, saw, axe, survival kit, fire starter, food and water? A gas powered generator is optional, and not of much use unless you are camped below a gas storage tank that only you know about. You have to be practical.
Homeowners generally have a much better start to survival than an apartment dweller. Most apartments aren't designed with shovels, axes, and lantern storage space in mind. Country folks have it even better. However, apartment dwellers have to eat and drink as well. Collectively, big town survival strategies are lumped into the big term, urban survival. With fore planning city survival can be done without resorting to cannibalism, most times anyway. An urban survival kit can save the city boy or girl a peck of trouble.
Survival tools must be specialized for the expected emergency. An emergency bathing suit, for example, would be of little use in Minnesota in January if the power goes off. Stuff like that.
Generally speaking, here are things you should have in your survival arsenal regardless:
The good survival tools news is that a well stocked survival larder can warm you twice. First, knowing that you have made preparation for the unthinkable will make you feel good. Second, if the dam does break, you're ready for what comes, short of a long tail comet.
What practical benefit aside from everything else above does having a survival tools plan and supplies give you? My friend, being ready gives you confidence. Confidence gives you the will to survive, while your miserable cold, wet, hungry neighbors long for the bliss of eternal sleep.
Then, when the sun rises the next day, and you, all warm and snug, are having a grand feast of your breakfast MRE, glad that you don't have to go to the office, your neighbor is busily decomposing, because they gave up the night before and jumped to their death from their second story bedroom window, landing in sticker bush and impaling themselves on a really pointy stick in the middle of the bush. Now they repose in the gristly arms of Darwin, while you check to see what's for lunch. See, there is nothing like planning ahead. Will it be beans, or perhaps a bacon sandwich with home made biscuits for the noon meal?
Remember, in a survival situation, a man is only as good as his tools allow him to be. Be the man with the correct survival tools, and lots of them!