45 of The Most Common Survival Acronyms Defined…
With a Bit of Humor
I love TLA’s (Three Letter Acronyms), don’t you? Just in case you’re having trouble with all of the survival-related TLAs, I figured I would attempt to define a few dozen of the most common acronyms that we commonly use and read about on the Net. I know there are many, many more–especially military terms–and you’re welcome to include your own in the comments. Enjoy!
BOB: Bug Out Bag – (aka. “72 hour bag,” “go bag,” GOOD bag”) – Bag that should contain all the stuff you need to evacuate your home usually with the expectation that you will be returning, but not always.
BOL: Bug Out Location – Usually in reference to a fully-stocked rural retreat, well off the beaten path, where you can escape hordes of zombies, but it could be any place far away from where you live.
BOV: Bug Out Vehicle – Typically in reference to an awesome all-terrain vehicle with a full-array of steel-plated armor, bulletproof windshields, and spikes on the tires. Ok, maybe it’s not that cool but, in reality, is any vehicle you intend to rely upon to bug out.
CAT: Combat Application Tourniquet – A life-saving device used to stem the flow of blood from an extremity (a fancy word for arms and legs) suffered from a nasty accident or perhaps at the hands of an unprepared sheeple who shot or stabbed you because they didn’t bother to prepare whatsoever.
CB: Citizen Band Radio – A common radio that you should already know about, probably not use, yet have on-hand anyway.
CCW: Carrying a Concealed Weapon – As opposed to the open-carry of firearms. Regardless, carry a firearm!
CERT: Community Emergency Response Team – Usually a group of local volunteers who are intended to aid with search and recover after a disaster.
CO2: Carbon Dioxide – An odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that’s produced by incomplete combustion of something being burned, usually for heat or cooking. It is nothing to mess with. Seriously. Think safety first.
COMMO: Communications Equipment – Anything you can use to communicate with others, or, just repeat the word “radios” several times and call it good.
EDC: Everyday Carry – All of the stuff you can and should have on your person when you walk out the door, including a pocket knife, light source, fire-starter, firearm, and anything else you choose to keep on you. Remember, you’re really only as prepared as what you have with you when you NEED it!
EMP: Electromagnetic Pulse – A favorite topic among preppers which may be caused by man-made devices or an angry sun, an EMP essentially wipes out the precious electrical grid we’ve become so reliant upon thereby propelling us back to medieval times and, the worst part is, no more Sunday football.
FIFO: First In, First Out – Often in reference to food storage, this technique is meant to always utilize the oldest stock first. You are rotating your supplies, aren’t you?
FMJ: Full Metal Jacket – Bullet that doesn’t expand.
FRS: Family Radio Service – The most basic two-way comms available to the average citizen (besides CB, I guess) and is certainly the most vulnerable to prying ears.
GHB: Get Home Bag – Similar to a Bug Out Bag but will probably focus less on survival equipment intended for long treks on foot through dense wilderness and more about a few basics (e.g., food, water, comfy shoes) to help you get home on paved streets and sidewalks.
GOOD: Get Out of Dodge – Another way to say “bug out.”
GMRS: General Mobile Radio Service – 2-way radio service similar to FRS but requires a license. Regardless, it’s no more secure than FRS.
GPS: Global Positioning System – The thing that tells your GPS where the nearest Starbucks is (so you don’t buy from them every again) and also what the authorities can use to easily track your movements.
Ham: Amateur Radio – For the longest time I actually thought “Ham” stood for something but, in reality, it’s just slang for Amateur Radio… who knew?
HDPE: High Density Polyethylene – Perhaps the greatest invention on earth, HDPE is a form of plastic that is used to create all sorts of materials we rely upon as preppers, including water barrels and buckets. Yes, you simply cannot have enough buckets. Buy plenty of buckets.
IBC: Independent Brewers Company (aka., “Intermediate Bulk Container” or “International Beverage Container”) – A large container (most often 275-330 gallons) that, for the average suburbanite prepper, is the most economical way to collect and store rainwater. Eventually, it will be a must-have prep for you.
ICE: In Case of Emergency – Most recently to be added as a prefix to your most important cell phone numbers that emergency responders can use to call if/when you finally keeled over due a heart-attack because you just realized what 16+ trillion in debt actually means.
IFAK: Individual First Aid Kit – This is really just a first aid kit but often refers to something meant to deal with major trauma and bleeding because something horrific has just happened.
INCH: I’m Never Coming Home – Again, another term for Bug Out Bag or G.O.O.D. Bag but even more extreme because, like it says, you’re expecting to never return home… bummer.
LEO: Law Enforcement Officer – The guys that are supposed to protect us from the bad guys but, sadly, seem to be more of a problem than not these days.
MIL-SPEC: Military Specification – Anything that’s designed for military use (which means it’s often better quality gear) but is most often associated with 550-mil spec paracord which happens to be wonderful stuff, by the way.
MOLLE: Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (similar to ALICE) – A version of gear that a person in the military uses to carry all of their stuff and what you can use to look really cool too.
MRE: Meal Read to Eat – A military ration that is designed to last years and is something that people either tend to love or hate. They’re great adds to a bug out bag but can be expensive and a bit bulky… consider freeze-dried foods instead.
MURS: Muli-Use Radio Service – Sort of like FRS/GMRS/CB in that it’s unsecured but is less likely, in my opinion, to be eavesdropped on for the simple fact that less people use it. Remember, don’t tell your neighbors about it. Shhhh!
NBC: Nuclear / Biological / Chemical – Ah, the dreaded NBC trio. If we’re really prepping for this stuff then you should bend over and kiss your [fill in the blank] goodbye. If you don’t know what to fill in the blank with then just use the word “ass.”
NiMH: Nickle Metal Hydride – Rechargeable batteries, ’nuff said.
NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – I’m sure they do a lot but for our purposes they provide us with weather warnings via our trusty NOAA weather radios… you do have one of those, right?
NVG: Night Vision Goggles – Probably the most important of “force multiplies” that I NEED but simply cannot afford.
OPSEC: Operational Security – Entails all the things that you probably do wrong now but should be fully aware of in a grid-down situation, including light, noise, and litter disciplines.
OTC: Over the Counter – All of the wonderful drugs you should be stockpiling in order to become the neighborhood drug kingpin post-SHTF.
PET / PETE: Polyethylene Terephthalate (I had to look this one up) – Another useful plastic that is mostly found in disposable plastic water bottles and perfect for SODIS (defined below).
PM: Precious Metals – You know, gold and silver, but could even refer to copper. Basically, this is expected to be THE alternate currency to replace fiat money and is yet one more thing I can’t afford. It may also mean Private message.
SHTF: Shit Hits the Fan (aka., “Schumer Hits the Fan”) – My favorite acronym by far, SHTF refers to any catastrophic event but usually centers around all hell breaking loose, zombie invasions, dogs and cats marrying… you get the idea.
SODIS: Solar Disinfection – One of the best reasons to keep those clear 2-liter plastic PET bottles around, SODIS is a way to harness the power of the sun to magically disinfect water by inactivating (or is it killing?) nasty microbes that will otherwise cause your bowels to turn to mush and probably result in explosive diarrhea for at least three weeks straight.
SOP: Standard Operating Procedure – Probably a military term, it’s basically your set of “rules” that outline how things will be done, from bugging out to security protocols and so much more.
SOS: Not actually an acronym but could mean “Save Our Souls,” “Save Our Ship” and more – It’s the internationally recognized distress signal. FYI: Anything grouped in threes (such as three fires) is also a recognized distress signal. And, no, you shouldn’t spray paint “SOS” on your rooftop post-SHTF.
STOP: Stop, Think, Observe, Plan – A common mantra among wilderness enthusiasts, it’s meant to get you to analyze your situation (assuming something bad has happened) so that you don’t continue to make it worse. It’s actually a very good acronym to live by in daily life.
TEOTWAWKI: The End of The World as We Know It – See SHTF but most people take it to mean something even worse. What’s worse than that?
TP: Toilet Paper – You know what that is. And you’re going to miss it when the last roll runs out.
WROL: Without Rule of Law – See SHTF and TEOTWAWKI. Think of the wild, wild west and you’ve got the right idea.
Hopefully, that was a relatively fun and light-hearted look at a very serious topic. FYI, if you want the most complete list of survival-related acronyms and definitions anywhere, especially with respect to military acronyms, read Rawles’ list here.
Add your own below in you like.