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What Are Your Bug Out Triggers?

What conditions would have to exist for you to decide that you had to abandon your home; that remaining there had become more dangerous than bugging out into a world that has gone sideways (at least in the corner of it that you can observe)? Some natural events are pretty easy to visualize, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and out of control wildfires. But these are actually localized evacuations and not ‘bug-outs.’ In these events, you can reasonably expect that first responder will flow into your area quickly. They will be followed by state and federal agencies with varying degrees of timeliness and effectiveness. Disaster relief funding will be appropriated, insurance companies will write you a check to repair or rebuild and, eventually, you will be able to move back into your property.   In other words, the massive infrastructures of local, state and federal governments will have continued to function throughout the disaster. All’s well that ends well, right?

But, what if there weren’t going to be any first responders? What if state and federal governments were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, or if they effectively ceased to exist at the very moment of the event? In some SHTF scenarios, those conditions might prevail and you simply haven’t learned of it yet. So, here you are in your dark home, with no water. You’ve burned the last chair from your dining room set to keep warm and you haven’t seen any neighbors for more than two weeks. Maybe it’s time to go, but you aren’t really sure.

If you find it difficult to articulate the conditions under which you would be willing to bug out, you aren’t alone. That difficulty is compounded by generally vague SHTF/TEOTWAWKI scenarios and a lack of meaningful decision trigger points. What are the differences between an inconvenient, undesirable situation and one that has become intolerable and possibly life-threatening? Can you make such a decision with the full knowledge that no “mulligan” will be issued if you get it wrong, that once you step outside the door of your home, it may be for the last time?

For purposes of this discussion, I make the following important distinctions between evacuation and bugging out:

  • An evacuation is accompanied with the reasonable expectation that you will be able to return to your residence in the foreseeable future. It means not only that you are leaving a place under imminent threat, but that you are evacuating to a known place of safety where aid can be provided by a still-functioning government or the charity of others. An evacuation means that rule of law and its consequences continue to apply across the entire spectrum of society and that there has been no suspension of Constitutional rights. Your primary concern may be as simple as finding a motel that hasn’t turned on its “No Vacancy” sign.
  • Bugging out means that you have no reasonable expectation of returning. It means that sheltering in place in a post-SHTF environment has failed as a strategy and has become more dangerous to your survival than bugging out. Rule of law may no longer be respected or enforceable. It also means that no one can guarantee a safe route of passage or a safe destination. Finally, it means that you have no guarantee of receiving aid; that acquiring essential food, water, shelter, and security are entirely dependent upon your ability. In other words, you are on your own.

With two exceptions (#22 and #23), all of the questions that follow are independent of any specific type of SHTF event. Instead, they deal with conditions and information that will help determine whether or when you need to bug out. The list is by no means complete; you are welcome to add questions that pertain more directly to your own environment. Rather than treat them with simple yes or no answers, consider the degrees of risk that may develop as time progresses. As you work through the list it will become evident that answers to multiple questions can lead to a more complete understanding of your situation and the world around you. Having many data points is more reliable than basing a decision on a single piece of potentially flawed information.

RunningFromFire

The questions deal with specific aspects of public safety, public or government infrastructure, your own resources, or conditions in your immediate area or region. There are no redundant questions. For reasons that should be obvious, this article assumes that you have already made some level of preparation to bug out.

(1) Can you defend your home?

  • Understanding the defensive limitations of your home and property should be the prime factor in determining whether and when to bug out before it ever becomes necessary to do so. The stark reality is that the vast majority of residences are not designed or constructed for defense. Windows, sliding glass doors and wood or stucco exteriors will not stop a bullet or a determined intruder, and some calibers can penetrate cement block walls. In the typical suburban setting, with small property lots and walled in back yards, the defensive field of view is extremely limited. Without some form of perimeter security, you may face the prospect of repelling armed looters that have already entered your home.
  • Can you maintain a visual awareness of approaching threats around the clock? Can you maintain this level of awareness for days or weeks?
  • Is your concept of defense dependent upon distance? In other words, can you tolerate a potential threat that is 1 mile or only 200 yards away? What if there is an existential threat standing on the other side of your front door?
  • Objectively accessing your ability to stop looters outside your residence is a paramount consideration, regardless of how defensible you think the interior may be. Importantly, ask yourself if you would be able to prevent or defend against simultaneous entries from multiple points in your house. A low probability of success (intrusion prevention) is an obvious red flag. That doesn’t mean it will happen, but if you do not believe that you can prevent entry from multiple points without endangering your family or yourself, then you must conclude that your home is not defensible. If the answer is “no,” the issue now becomes whether you are willing to gamble on the outcome. Simply stated, if your home is not defensible and other factors (below) indicate an increased risk over time, you must at least consider bugging out for your own safety.

    Does your disaster preparation plan include security measures?

  • Another aspect of home defensibility pertains to fire. Are trees or native brush located near the structures on your property? Do you have a defensive (fuel-free) space that would prevent an uncontrolled fire from destroying your home? Could you suppress a fire without the aid of the fire department? Before you answer “yes” to this question, could you do it if there was no water?

(2) How long have you been bunkered in your residence?

  • The longer you remain in place the less likely you are to be factually aware of the situation unfolding around you. This is particularly true if you cannot obtain information from news networks, local radio stations, etc. Events and threats can develop rapidly. The absence of timely eye-witness or other authoritative information can mean that you are in the path of increasing danger and don’t know it.
  • The assurance of continued safety may require that you reconnoiter your area on a regular basis to assess current conditions. Speak with as many people as you can (safely), but you must also evaluate the other questions on this list.
  • If possible, set up a regular time each day to meet with neighbors to share information.
Makeshift barricades are a low-tech way of blocking or slowing access.
Makeshift barricades are a low-tech way of blocking or slowing access.

(3) Has your neighborhood been forced to erect barricades?

  • The erection of barricades across streets leading into your neighborhood may be a preemptory defensive measure to a perceived threat, or it could be in response to an active threat. You will need to determine which situation pertains.
  • If conditions are such that barricades are deemed necessary by local residents, you must at least consider that the risk to personal safety has increased to a level that warrants consideration of bugging out. In other words, if barricades are necessary, but become ineffective, your zone of safety will be greatly diminished,

(4) Are you counting on neighbors for your own security?

  • Is your strategy for sheltering in place dependent upon the cooperation of neighbors to maintain a degree of safety?
  • Do you consider that your neighbors are able (equipped, competent and physically capable) to contribute to your security?
  • Have you exchanged commitments (a mutual defense pact of sorts) regarding area security? Is it based upon a perceived threat level or the passage of time? In other words, does the pact hold as long as the threat is minimal? Have neighbors (or you) committed to remain in place for a limited time, such as one more week, or are you/they hanging in on a day-to-day or hour by hour basis?
  • Are you confident that you can patrol your neighborhood without being shot by a local resident? Think about that for a moment. How do you intend to reconnoiter your neighborhood if you have no means of communicating with each other?

(5) Have your neighbors abandoned their homes? Has your security situation improved or worsened since they left?

  • After the event that caused you to shelter in place, have you seen neighbors generally packing up to leave?
  • Have neighbors (that you were counting on for mutual defense) started leaving their homes?
  • Has your ability to protect your residence been degraded by the departure of others?
  • A sharp decline of residents in any neighborhood effectively isolates those who stay. Remaining residents are surrounded by unoccupied structures and will be unable to prevent looting and arson. In such a case it may be beneficial for remaining residents to relocate into adjacent houses where they can maintain close communication and concentrate their defenses.

(6) Are you willing and prepared to salvage supplies from residences in your area?

  • If you are determined to shelter in place for an extended period of time you will inevitably need something that you do not presently have or that you have run out of. The list of potential items is virtually endless, yet you may be surrounded by homes that were hastily abandoned – possessions whose owner/occupants will never reclaim. You are faced with a choice: You can inventory and salvage useful items, or you can sit back and wait for looters and scavengers to take them. Either way, it is merely a matter of time before your neighborhood will be cleaned out of anything that is useful, that may extend your life or improve your safety.
  • I am not advocating theft or looting. I’m talking about a world that has gone sideways; a world where rule of law has largely collapsed; where the government has ceased to function; where even the declaration of martial law has no effect on the behavior of people.
  • If you are unwilling to salvage abandoned material, you may be hastening the day when bugging out is the only course of action remaining to you. Importantly, you will still be without the items that you needed.
AbandonedCity
When is the last time you saw or spoke with anyone outside your own dwelling?

(7) When is the last time you saw or spoke with anyone outside your own dwelling?

  • Let’s look at an extreme hypothetical situation where you have been bunkered for two months in a typical suburban environment. There was an initial chaotic period where neighbors were fleeing their homes and large numbers of refugees were streaming through your area. Those numbers declined after a week but were replaced by looters and scavengers during the next four weeks. None of your neighbors have returned and no refugees have moved into vacant structures. You have now been in place for two months and you haven’t seen a single soul in the past three weeks.
  • Does this mean that you’ve weathered the worst of the post-SHTF event, that you are safe? Hardly. This scenario brings us squarely to the issues of situational awareness and your sense of timing. Your decision to shelter in place means that you were neither ahead of nor in the middle of the golden hoard. They left you behind a long time ago.
  • Except for what you have been able to salvage or scavenge for yourself, every business and dwelling place may have been picked clean for miles in every direction. There is still no potable water, gasoline, propane, packaged food, seeds, protein on the hoof or medicines that you can find.
  • At some point you have to confront the concept of what it would mean to be totally alone; without the possibility of immediate or future aid. Now what? Do you have an objective reason to think that your original bug out destination is still a viable option?

(8) Have you seen or been forced to repel looters?

  • Many major metropolitan areas provide information about the location of criminal activity via web sites. It is fairly easy to identify high crime zones, as well as the general nature of the activity (burglary, assault, homicide, etc.) by looking at an interactive map.
  • What distance is your home from these chronic hot spots? Are there convenient routes that would enable riots and looting to spread toward your residence if law enforcement was unable to control or contain it? How much time would it take for looters to reach your neighborhood?
  • In the absence of public communication, you may have no knowledge of the proximity of looters to your residence. Realistically, whatever that time frame is, you have far less time to decide whether to bunker down or bug out.
  • Once looters enter your neighborhood your margin of safety could shrink to near zero.
When is the last time you had access to water?
When is the last time you had access to water?

(9) How long has it been since the electrical grid went down?

  • Local weather events and even accidents can cause power outages lasting from a few minutes to a few days, but people still go to work and shop in areas where power is available. Utility crews show up with chain saws, electrical cable, poles, and transformers. Long duration outages (greater than three days) could indicate a problem that is far more widespread than your immediate locality.
  • From almost any high point you should be able to spot the sky glow from city lights reflecting off cloud cover at night. I can see the night glow from cities 70 miles south and 50 miles north of my location. If you are unable to see city lights in any direction, the event that caused your outage may be at least regional in scale.
  • The key to this issue is not the outage itself, but whether the resources (manpower and replacement gear) exist to recover from it in a time-frame that enables you to remain in your residence. Without electricity, the infrastructures that provide gasoline, natural gas, public communications, and water will be inoperable. At some point, you will begin to use and deplete irreplaceable emergency supplies that you have stored in your home.

(10) How long have you been without a source of water?

  • The delivery of urban water depends upon electric pumps, purification plants, and large capacity storage tanks to maintain pressure. Without electricity, water will cease to flow.
  • Here is a straightforward equation: SC=R. If you started this event with a five-day supply of water (S) and it has been five days since water stopped flowing from your tap, then you have consumed (C) all that you had stored at the end of the 5th You now have zero days of water remaining (R). Conservation of your dwindling supply is irrelevant if there are no prospects that water will begin to flow from the tap. Without the ability to replenish potable water stocks, continued occupation of your residence will become untenable. If you have no source of water, neither will anyone else in your immediate area.

(11) Are you running low on your bug out supplies of food and water?

  • When the taps went dry, how much potable water did you have on hand (measured in days of supply) for the number of people in your residence, including water needed for food preparation and toilets?
  • Including cooked or uncooked foods that were refrigerated or frozen before the power grid went down, how many meals do you have available for the number of people in your residence?
  • Assuming that you have a bug out plan, how much of that food and water will be needed to reach your destination once you abandon your residence? Once you begin depleting your bug out resources, you will effectively be reducing your range of travel; possibly without the ability to replenish supplies along the way.

(12) Are grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and banks in your area open for business?

  • Have you ever experienced panic buying situations where shoppers strip food aisles in the face of an oncoming winter storm? There is no reason to think that a SHTF situation would not produce the same or worse behaviors, but of a greater magnitude.
  • If the situation is accompanied by large-scale power outages of long duration, modern commerce will effectively cease.   To the extent that any purchases are possible, they will be strictly cash and carry; but the conventional sources of cash (banks) will be closed. It will not matter how much you have in your checking or savings account; you will not be able to access it or convert it to a usable form.
  • For anyone that is sheltering in place under such conditions, the cash and supplies that you have on hand are all that you are likely to have for the foreseeable future. Given those circumstances, you must determine when bugging out will become necessary. The key question is whether you intend to be in front of or behind the Golden Horde.

EmptyHighway

(13) Has home delivery ceased?

  • At minimum, there are three organizations that make regular deliveries to your home or neighborhood and they are ubiquitous throughout the country: USPS mail carriers, FedEx and UPS vans. And, unless you haul your own trash, the local sanitation department will make weekly or semi-weekly stops to empty the dumpsters that you place on the curb.
  • If all of these services have ceased it could be that your area is no longer considered safe for employees to enter. This could be a localized or temporary issue, in which case there will be other indicators to help with your assessment of risk.
  • The absence of mail and package delivery may also be caused by other factors, such as the collapse of regional or national logistics systems that rely on air and ground transportation, massive sorting centers and, of course, data processing and communications.
  • A build-up of trash at your residence (while other houses have none) will indicate that it is still occupied, that you are sheltering in place, and that you have some level of resources, such as food and water. Can you conceal or bury trash while sheltering place?

(14) Have you seen any long-haul freight carriers operating on highways?

  • Freight transporters cannot function without fuel, communications, and logistics. If tractor-trailer rigs aren’t moving in and out of depots, are piling up at truck stops or are sitting on the side of the road, there has been a major breakdown in the transport/supply system.
  • Many businesses rely on “just in time” delivery for merchandise, including food, by using real-time inventory control systems and automatic low order restocking points. If the order cannot be fulfilled, if the distribution center cannot load freight onto a truck, or if the truck cannot roll, the supply line will back up – but not at your merchant’s back door. The material will be stuck in distribution centers, at the producer’s plant, or may be rotting in a farm field. Consequently, supply chains will quickly fail.
  • Looting and other forms of civil disorder are likely to occur within hours and could quickly become widespread. Initial looting targets are almost always retail stores. The next likely targets would be distribution centers and other types of supply warehouses. Common sense suggests that freight haulers will not enter areas where civil disturbances are uncontrolled.

In Part 2, we will examine the remaining questions that you should evaluate when before making a decision to bug out.

What Are Your Bug Out Triggers? What conditions would have to exist for you to decide that you had to abandon your home; that remaining there had become more dangerous than

The bottom just dropped out all of your warning triggers are telling you that it’s time to pack everyone into the family bug out mobile and leave town before it gets worse. Much worse. You thought ahead which is fortunate for you and your family. You have a vehicle adequately equipped for the journey to your bug out location with essential gear, plenty of fuel with extra in reserve and everyone in the family has their bug out bags stowed safely away. Nervously, you pull out of your driveway in the middle of night to avoid most of the trouble already brewing. This may possibly be the last time you see your home and just like every trip before, you have that nagging sensation you forgot something.

Many disasters that preppers think and plan for could require you to leave the safety of your home, possibly forever. In a situation like this, your well stocked bug out bags and any other gear and supplies you are able to load and carry could be the sum total of all your worldly possessions. Some disaster scenarios assume the worst, a complete destruction through various means that leaves the civilization as we know it destroyed beyond repair for years. In a complete disaster like that, we make assumptions that normal commerce as we know it would effectively be over so the subject of bartering after SHTF comes to mind.

In other scenarios, which some might argue are many times more likely, the world won’t just stop spinning overnight. Every store won’t be closed and you will be able to buy supplies with whatever monetary instruments you have on hand that are still worth a commonly understood value. For most of the world, certainly here in the US we look to cash as the main fallback, but some people are saving precious metals as well to hedge against a currency collapse where that cash you are stowing away is worthless.

Assuming that money in the common forms we are talking about here (cash, precious metals) is able to be used to our benefit during a bug out scenario, have you ever thought about how much you need to put into your bug out bag?

A reader asked me about this subject today and after he pointed out that I hadn’t really addresses the subject on my site, I decided to write an article.

Question from Sam:

I have one question, how much money or other valuables (gold, silver, etc.)do you have in your bug out bag to buy/trade or barter with? I have looked on many prepper sites and have not found an answer to this. Can you please give me some guidance or advice for me?

First, let me thank Sam for this great question and I would encourage anyone else who has questions, or comments about anything you have seen or not seen addressed on Final Prepper to please contact us.

Back to Sam’s question, so how much money do you have in your bug out bag? That part is simple. I have as much “money” as I can carry but I will break this down into specifics with my reasoning why below.

What are some reasons to have money in your bug out bag?

Why have any money in your bug out bag in the first place? Well, there are many good reasons I can think of. Imagine a scenario where the power is out, possibly for weeks. You wouldn’t be able to use ATM machines because they rely on power. Stores couldn’t run credit/debit card transactions without power because they all go through the internet now which relies on power. If the electricity is out, the way we commonly get access to our money or conduct electronic transactions is gone until the power comes back.

You could just drive to the bank and pull out as much as you need, right? Not necessarily. You only have to look to the people of Greece who still can’t get more than roughly $50 out of the bank each day. Would you want to have your cash reserves limited by what the banks could or would allow you to take out? No, I wouldn’t either and that is the main reason why I advocate keeping as much money as logical for you personally out of the banking system.

So having a supply of cash makes sense for the simple fact that you might not be able to get it when you need it most, but what could you possibly need cash for if you were a good prepper and have your fully stocked bug out bag and your BOV with a full tank of gas? I can see situations where a cash bribe might get you past security or could buy your temporary safety. There could be checkpoint guards who could be swayed to let you past if you empty out your wallet and having some cash could facilitate your escape. What about being able to purchase a ticket on a train, plane or some other means of transportation out of a country that is collapsing? It happened all of the time in Germany back before WWII. There isn’t any reason to think we in the US would be immune from needing to migrate ourselves if it got bad enough.

Cash might still be able to be used to purchase supplies if you were out ahead of the panic or were prevented from leaving. If you needed to purchase additional fuel along the route for example and you found a gas station that was only accepting cash, you would be in luck. I think the majority of people might not realize the effects of a currency collapse or revaluation of the dollar, but if you were on top of your gain, you could find someone still accepting cash that could for all intents be worthless.

How much money do you keep in your bug out bags?

I try to keep as much cash as possible where I can access it relatively quickly without needing to go to the ATM or bank. If I had to bug out I would be taking all of the cash I had with me. I don’t have tens of thousands of dollars or anything like that so weight isn’t really a consideration. Money in smaller denominations will probably be better to take with you on one hand because people might be less likely to make change. I don’t imagine anyone is going to worry about getting change for a dollar back but if you needed something that cost $5 and you only had a $100 bill that might hurt a little more. $20, $10 bills seem to make the most sense for regular day-to-day transactions where in a society like Greece, the stores are open but capital controls are keeping you from freely accessing your cash. You could use these small bills at stores to purchase food, pay for meals etc.

In a total collapse though, $100 bills might be needed or could be used more appropriately for extreme inflationary prices. If gas went to $100 a gallon, and you could find someone selling, that $100 bill could spend nicely. Flashing a $100 bill to buy your way through a checkpoint is instantly recognized and might get you through faster than a stack of $20s. I keep a mix of both, but the overwhelming majority is smaller bills ($20). I think if I had $1000 in my bug out bags that would cover me for most conceivable disasters so that is what I plan for.

I would not keep all of your money in whatever form together. I would store some in a shirt pocket maybe. Some in one pants pocket, some in the wallet, maybe more in a fake wallet, maybe a shoe or elsewhere. You don’t want to get robbed of all of your cash in one instant. Diversifying where you have your money could allow you to act like you are giving a bad guy or even a someone driving a hard bargain that you have given them all you have.

Should you take silver coins in your bug out bag?

Is silver and gold a good idea for your bug out bag?

But the other part of Sam’s question had to do with Gold and Silver. Do precious metals make sense for your bug out bag? I think they could, but the situation would need to be pretty unique I think. Some advocate buying 1/10 ounce gold coins because they are worth less than a standard 1 oz coin and they rationalize that one of the biggest complaints about having gold would be reduced. Most people would have a hard time bartering a 1 oz gold coin because they are worth about $1200 each today. Can you imagine trying to get some groceries and giving the person at the register a gold coin? Even if they knew what it was and the worth of it, do you think their manager would allow them to take the coin in the first place, much less give you the accurate change for your transaction? I don’t see that happening.

The 1/10 oz. gold coins are worth about $130 now so the change factor might be lessened, but you would still likely not be able to purchase anything at a traditional store with Gold. What about Silver? The benefit of silver is the value is much smaller. The lesser value makes this precious metal easier to purchase for preppers with limited funds and would seem to be easier to trade with because the change factor wouldn’t seem to be as prominent. You go buy $100 worth of groceries and give the person at the register 5 Silver coins. However, I still think you would have the same problem using these after the grid goes down, at least for a very long time.

Do I keep precious metals set aside for bugging out? Yes I do but I am not counting on using them in the short-term. I probably wouldn’t take more than 10 coins per person with me for the reasons I mention above and their weight.

I know that some will say that Gold and Silver always have value so their worth after a collapse would only go up. I disagree with that from the standpoint that anything you are talking about only has value if the person you are trying to conduct business with agrees with you on the value. A gold coin might be worth $10,000 after an economic collapse, but what good is it if you can’t get anyone to give you something worth $10,000 for it?

If you are talking about taking a box with all of your precious metals to another country and finding someone to give you fair market value, then that does make sense, but getting back to the Bug Out Bag scenario, I think precious metals have a low potential for usability in the days and months after some calamity and that is why I am not taking too many along with me.

That’s what I think anyway. How much money do you have in your bug out bag?

The bottom just dropped out all of your warning triggers are telling you that it’s time to pack everyone into the family bug out mobile and leave town before it

A common question when preppers begin the process of accumulating supplies and knowledge is How much ammo do I need for SHTF? Of course, if you don’t have any firearms, the question is more likely, how much ammo do you need meaning the person like me? Because anyone with a gun, in their opinion doesn’t need it, and any ammo except maybe a single box is too much. That box should also be registered with the local sheriff and kept under lock and key preferably at the Sheriff’s office.

For the rest of us who are able to keep firearms (for now) and who don’t have a problem with firearms, I wanted to give my take on how much ammo to keep. The typical SHTF scenario is not a limited disruption in services or power like what you can expect from a weather event. Although, there are a lot of cases recently where Hurricanes disrupt a community for years. (Haiti, Hurricane Sandy, Katrina) so to some of you this could be a real SHTF scenario in its own right. I am not really speaking to this threat, but you can glean some information for those who do find themselves in a weather caused event I think.

My scenario for this post is a real SHTF type of scenario where for whatever reason, any resemblance of normalcy has been thrown out the window and there is no Rule of Law or Law and Order is severely diminished. Economic Collapse, Mutant Zombie Bikers from Mars, Global pandemic; pick one. The point I want to get to is if the stores never opened again, if you couldn’t walk down to Walmart ever and get more ammo; how much would you need on hand before the collapse?

Let me first preface this with the following. Everyone’s situation is different so this is just my idea of the recommended minimum amounts. If I haven’t taken into account some of your realities, please let me know. I think this post can be a forum where we can all get more perspective from others out there.

What are the recommended minimums in your favorite calibers?

Next, this is not assuming you are going to bug out into the woods. I can already hear people saying “How are you going to carry all of that” and I completely agree that you would never be able to on foot. I am not planning on bugging out; this is my minimums for bugging in. Additionally, there will be people who say things like, what if you get killed and you have all of that ammo? The bad guys are going to get everything you have. True, but I could get killed falling down the steps or eating some bad spaghetti sauce and the bad guys would get it anyway. Any plans I make are for living, not dying. I think it’s stupid to plan for dying. Let the people burying you worry about that.

How Much Do I Need?

So, to get to the point, I mentioned in another post the Top Five Firearms You Need to Get Your Hands on, so that is my battery of arms. This included one Shotgun, One Battle Rife, One Long-Range (Hunting) Rifle, One pistol and One small game rifle. For these weapons, I have the following recommendations.

  • Shotgun
    • Small Game – 500 rds.
    • Defensive – 500 rds.
  • Battle Rifle AR or AK – 2000 rds.
  • Long Range Rifle – 500 rds.
  • Pistol
    • Defensive Hollow Point– 1000 rds.
    • Practice (Ball) – 2000 rds.
  • Small Game (.22) – 2000 rds.

For the ultimate in capability, look into reloading.

I will go ahead and explain my reasoning for these numbers and please feel free to comment with your own opinions and suggestions. I am just like every single other person in the world out there. There aren’t any SHTF experts so it is just opinions all around. You may have a lot of experience in the Army, or the Police Force but that doesn’t make you an expert any more than anyone else.

Shotgun – This weapon has two uses so the count is fairly high. 500 rounds each for hunting game and defending your home should last a long time.

Battle Rifle – This to me is your go to weapon of choice in any type of SHTF scenario and your magazines will hold more than just about any normal magazine of any of my other choices. A decent combat load is 12 magazines at 30 rounds each (12 X 30 = 360) and that is just what you can carry on you in your vest or LBE. 2000 to me is the minimum I would strive for.

Long Range Rifle – Again, this pulls double duty along with the Shotgun. A well sighted .30-.06 or .308 can reach out and touch a lot of people at a respectable distance if they are handled correctly. This can be the weapon that bags deer for dinner or picks off a zombie at 600 yards.

Pistol – This weapon is not as powerful as the battle rifle, but it will be on your side more often I imagine. Spare pistol ammo can be bartered in a pinch, but only if you have more than your minimums.

Small Game – This is my .22 and it can be used to practice with, take smaller game and varmints if you are a good shot. This ammo is still considerably cheaper than just about any other too.

Now that I have my minimums out there, how do you get started? If you had all of these calibers and had zero ammo I would try getting a little of everything as your finances allow. Don’t stock up on rifle ammo and forget everything else.

What should you do when you have the minimums? You can keep going to further ensure you will have enough or move on to your other preps that you need to check off the list. As long as you have the minimums I would spend my money on other necessities before I add more ammo.

How many magazines do you need for each weapon?

That is another excellent question. I would say 4 magazines for each pistol at a minimum and 10 for your battle rifle. You don’t have to worry about shotguns and rifle magazines are costly too. I would say 4 magazines for your long-range rifle too but that is only after you get everything else first.

Have some ideas of your own? Id love to hear them in the comments below.

A common question when preppers begin the process of accumulating supplies and knowledge is How much ammo do I need for SHTF? Of course, if you don’t have any firearms,

They’re powerful, unpredictable and the most destructive weather system on Earth. Tornadoes can devastate a town in a matter of minutes, ripping away rooftops and sending pickup trucks through the air. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA), the United States has an average of over 1,000 tornadoes recorded each year. Every state in the U.S. has experienced a tornado at some point or another, as they’re not limited to one specific geographic location. But states like Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma are hit harder than others. If you’re moving to Tornado Alley, you’ve got to be prepared for the worst. Keep these tips in mind as you set up your new home:

Plan for Shelter

Keeping your family safe when a tornado strikes calls for a durable storm shelter. In-ground and above-ground shelters offer complete protection from the elements when inclement weather rolls in. Based out of Oklahoma, storm shelter company, Family Safe, offers certified in-home storm shelters that have been F5 certified, giving you complete protection from tornadoes. Family Safe also meets the FEMA criteria concerning reliable storm shelters. Just because they’re based out of Oklahoma doesn’t mean they can’t install a shelter at your home. Family Safe has storm shelter dealers across the U.S. and they’ve installed shelters in Dallas, Texas, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Joplin, Missouri.

In addition to providing shelter from Tornadoes, these sturdy structures can also provide a safe room environment.

Shelters like this one in the garage can be installed after your home is constructed and could double as a panic room.

Plan for Communication

There are many things that should go into your survival kit, one of those items is an Iridium satellite phone. When communication goes out, your smartphone won’t be much help. Having a satellite phone in your bug-out bag is essential when it comes to weathering a storm. Iridium satellite phones rely on ground networks and 66 low Earth-orbiting satellites to establish a connection. A report by Frost & Sullivan found that the Iridium network offers the best call quality and call completion rates when compared to competitors. This is one of the reasons why the U.S. military relies on Iridium’s network. A sat phone is your lifeline in the midst of disaster. You’ll be able to call for help and check in with family and friends to let them know that you’re safe.

Of course only relying on technology is a short-sighted plan because things do go wrong. Have a back-up communication plan with relatives or neighbors to get the word out should something happen.

In addition to letting others know about your status after a tornado, it is important to receive as much advance warning of any approaching weather as possible. A good weather alert radio can warn you even if you aren’t watching the news or checking your smart phone. If you live in areas prone to tornadoes, a system like this is essential.

Practice your plan

Once you hear that tornado warning, you’ve got to take action. Having a well-established plan outlined before disaster strikes is critical to survival. Sketch a floor plan of your home and walk each room with your family to discuss how and where to seek shelter if you don’t have a secure, dedicated room described above. Identify second exits throughout the different areas of your home. Make sure that everyone knows where the fire extinguishers and first-aid kits are located. It’s also a smart idea to teach your entire family basic first-aid skills. Keep a list of important telephone numbers and contacts in a waterproof container inside of your survival kit. Store important information like the ownership certificates for your car, truck, RV or boat, your family’s birth certificates and social security cards and insurance policies in there as well.

When the sky turns dark and you spot a funnel cloud, you must take shelter immediately. Most tornado related injuries and fatalities are caused by flying objects, according to the CDC. Practice what you and your family will do to take shelter ahead of time. A tornado can happen anywhere, that’s why it’s also important to go over the best place to seek shelter, whether you’re at home, work or school.

They’re powerful, unpredictable and the most destructive weather system on Earth. Tornadoes can devastate a town in a matter of minutes, ripping away rooftops and sending pickup trucks through the

Would your family know what to do in the event of a disaster or SHTF event? Would the prepping supplies you have carefully purchased and stored away help your family survive or would they be unused because nobody knew about them?

Not that your family is inept without you, but do they know all of the plans and preparations you have made? Would they know immediately what you had planned to do in specific disasters? Would they know your rationale for making decisions you did or would they make the same mistakes you had already learned through? Would they know the dangers you had anticipated and prepare correctly for them or would they have to figure things out along the way?

The article has a cryptic title but the thought of writing down instructions for what to do in the case that you weren’t home during the apocalypse occurred to me the other day. I envisioned how best to leave information for my wife or any family members if TEOTWAWKI happened and I wasn’t there to help. The image of a grainy video tape playing of me sitting in my favorite chair, possibly holding my AR15 for effect came to mind from far too many cheesy movies. My family would be watching me as I said the words uttered by many a B-Movie actor: “If you are watching this, I must be dead” or something like that. I wouldn’t leave video behind but I could see printing a manual out and in a nod to those cheesy movies, my opening line might be: “If you are reading this, I may be dead”.

You may be in fact dead or you could just be seriously delayed in getting back to your home. We talk about people who travel for business on Final Prepper and making a journey of hundreds of miles on foot possibly with the right circumstances. If you are on a business trip and something like an EMP wiped the grid out while you were hundreds of miles away your family might not even hear from you for weeks. They might not know you are alive and trying to get back to them. The unknown in that situation would be pretty daunting to most people. The last thing they knew you were hundreds of miles away and now the bottom just dropped out. Without knowing if you would ever even make it back home, instructions you leave behind could be your plan laid out into words that they could look to for guidance and direction. While it may not make the thought of you being lost forever any easier to take, it could help them survive.

Before you begin your prepper plan

I think it’s only fair to say that your family shouldn’t be clueless about your prepping plans for survival even if you are traveling. I personally share most of my plans with my family but I don’t go into great specifics on many issues. I do understand that on some issues they hear me, but don’t care very much. Would they recall what I said two years ago during a disaster now when they could possibly very scared and near panic? Maybe, but I am sure they would need some additional details to make things go smoother if my plan is meant as the ideal for our survival.

Some people though don’t have family members that care about their preparations. Some preppers have spouses that are actually opposed to taking any steps to survive if something happens. That’s what the government is for, right? If you have a situation where you are prepping on the sly or are in some ways doing this all by yourself because of an unwilling spouse, you probably want to leave them with information they can use if you aren’t there.

As much as possible, I think you should try to get your spouse on board with your prepping plans. If you do, things will be so much better in the long run. If your spouse is with you, the rest of the family comes next. Make sure to talk about bad things happening in life and what you would do if faced with those situations. You can make these conversation topics age appropriate obviously, but share your prepping plans with your family as much as possible and then they will already know where your mind was at even if you aren’t there.

Make sure the location of this document is known. The last thing you need to do is hide the instructions from them, but don’t put this out in the open for anyone to read.

What should you document?

I have seen detailed plans for very specific things like how to thaw the well pump with schematics. If this is something that you need to pass along and have the time to do that, I say more power to you. Most of us wouldn’t need that level of detail, but each of us must take our own situation into account when you are writing down the important information that the people you leave behind might need to know.

I have broken a hypothetical set of instructions down into what I think are logical sections. Your plans might be completely different from this sample, but you can use this to create your own prepping instructions list.

  1. Introduction – If you’re reading this I may be dead. You can use whatever words you want to in this section obviously but the introduction should be an explanation of what the instructions are for and what to do in your absence.
  2. Evaluate The Crisis – This part is important because some people freak out unnecessarily. Is this a regional event? Are communications affected? Is the TV still working? Are people dead outside? The urgency of their actions could vary greatly with the crisis. Using guidelines based upon your own prepping priorities there should be logical decisions you can make based upon what you are seeing.
    1. Short or Long Duration – Assuming there isn’t wide-spread catastrophe is this disaster short-term as in a natural event like hurricane, tornado, flood excreta or is this something more protracted and longer with no end in sight?
    2. What is affected? – What infrastructure is impacted? There are triggers that you can analyze to see if you need to act immediately or can try to wait out the crisis in your current location.
    3. Last Minute Preps – In some situations, there is a chance to run out and obtain last minute supplies. What are the risks of this? Do you have cash stored if credit cards and ATMs are down? What stores and supplies should be at the top of the priority list?
  3. Do you need to Bug Out? – This is a complicated subject but going back to the list of triggers, what decisions does the person reading this need to consider? How long can they expect to last with the supplies you have on hand? Do they have a place to go? Could they get there? Is it worth the risk traveling at this time?
  4. Security – Hopefully the person reading this knows about any firearms you have, where your ammo is stored and combinations to the safe. Do you have weapons hidden? Do you have platform considerations they need to know about? For example all of your pistols are .45 Glocks and our tactical carbines are all AK47. This information could be a detail they need to consider when looking for additional ammo or bartering with others for bullets. What provisions do you have for home security and defense? Do they have an appreciation for how desperate people could become and standard safety procedures to prevent unwanted contact with hostile people?
  5. Shelter – Heat and Cold – assuming there is no power, what can be done to heat the home? Do you have heaters stored somewhere? Where is the fuel? How do you light that Kerosene heater and keep the house vented? Where are the tents? Do they know how to set them up?
  6. Food and WaterHow much food and water is stored? How many people will this feed? For how long? Do you have any food hidden in caches somewhere? How will they cook the food without power? Do you have stoves or gear to cook over a fire? Water filtration is a big one. Do they know how and why they should filter the water, optional sources for collection like rain barrels and how to disinfect with calcium hypochlorite if necessary?
  7. Sanitation – What do you have planned for sanitation if the toilets stop running? Do they know where your portable toilet and stash of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and lime is?
  8. Power – What are your backup power options? Do you have a generator and do they know how to start it? Do they know how many electric devices this machine will power so they don’t expect every appliance in the house to run off a 3000KW generator? What about solar chargers, inverters to be run off a car battery or other options you have?
  9. Communications – It’s great that you have all of the Ham radio gear you need, but do they know how to use it? What repeaters are programmed into your handsets? How should they monitor their communications? Is there anyone they can trust and what frequency and call sign do they use? Additionally, you might not be able to communicate with them to tell them you are OK and headed back on Route 80. They should know how to communicate their intentions if they have to leave before you get back for a hopeful reunion.
  10. Homesteading Skills – Gardens, livestock and anything that needs to be considered for long-term disasters. Do they know how often the chickens need to be fed? Do you have survival seeds stored somewhere? Do you have plans for harvesting game locally?
  11. Money/Finances – Where is the money stored that you kept hidden? What guidelines should they follow for using each after a crisis?

This list could be 10 times as long, but these are just some ideas I came up with off the top of my head. Your instructions should fit your plans and resources.

Where should you keep this prepper master plan?

As corny as it sounds I would stick this information in a binder with a big label on the outside that says something like “In Case of Emergency”. Make sure your wife, kids and any relatives who you trust know where this is. The information you put in here could save their life.

Now, I don’t expect everyone will write down as much detail as is needed on every single subject. Each could be its own book and there are great preparedness books out there. I recommend everyone have several resource books on-hand to fill in the holes and answer questions you might have forgotten.

The job of making sure your family is taken care of doesn’t end when you leave the house. It’s your responsibility to ensure they know as much as possible in order to survive. Sharing information with them if you are delayed in coming home could save them.

Would your family know what to do in the event of a disaster or SHTF event? Would the prepping supplies you have carefully purchased and stored away help your family

Disasters, both big and small, bring on a range of emotions. These emotions can include fear, confusion, uncertainty, anger, and others. Include with those emotions the possibility of danger and dealing with a situation you may not have dealt with before and you could experience panic.

What is panic? It is a state of emotional being that causes you to act uncontrollably, freeze, shut down and/or react in a dangerous or illogical manner. In other words, it means you are unable to think well enough to act properly. Panic is not going to help you in a disaster situation.

In this article, I will help you learn how to recognize panic, combat the onset of panic, and react in a logical and helpful manner in spite of your initial emotional state. With some practice, you can prepare now so that when emergencies happen, you will be able to lead and less likely to panic later.

Panic is an extreme state of fear, terror, dread, horror, anxiety, etc. It will either cause a bad reaction to a situation, or even worse, to freeze and not react at all. We’ve all been uneasy, anxious, or afraid. Panic is an extreme onset of these emotions. If your mind is racing, your body is tensed, your heart is beating extremely fast, and you can’t think straight, you are well on the road to panic. So, what can you do?

If you feel panicky, stop and take a deep breath. Calm yourself and think through the situation. Determine your priorities and then act. Easier said than done, for certain, but there is a three-step process to help you with situations you can reasonably expect. You must Predict, Prepare, and Practice.

PREDICT future scenarios

Determine situations and scenarios that may occur, from most likely to least likely (i.e. severe weather and nuclear war, as two possible extremes). List them out in order from most likely to least likely. Then decide what your reaction should be. Once you have decided what your reaction should be, decide what you will need to react to that situation. For instance, for severe weather, have appropriate clothing and know where the best place in your work, home, etc., is for you to shelter from that weather.

PREPARE now to keep family safe

For each of the scenarios you predicted above, determine what you will need to act appropriately. For instance, in the severe weather scenario, have appropriate clothing where you can get to it. Whether this is warm clothing, rain gear, rubber boots or other gear, obtain it and put it where you might need it. You may wish to place some gear in the trunk of your car for commuting or trips. You may want to pre-position extra gear at work or keep an emergency poncho in your briefcase or backpack. The point, get what you need and put it where you need it. A warm coat and gloves left at home, do you no good if a blizzard hits while you are at work.

PRACTICE situations you may face

This is a critical thing to holding down panic. For each of the scenarios above, practice what you would do. For severe weather, have a tornado drill and have your family all go to the safest room in your home. For a fire at work, take a walk down the emergency escape route (as long as you don’t trigger any alarms). For things you absolutely cannot practice, think through the scenario and decide what to do ahead of time. You can’t practice for every possible situation, but if you spend the time practicing for likely scenarios, you will practice keeping calm and thinking through the situation, then acting accordingly. You’ll find that even in scenarios you may have never practiced, you’ll be much calmer, and a calm person makes better decisions. That brings up the importance of preparedness training.

Do your family members, employees and associates know what to do in the case of an emergency? Sure, you’ve probably done a fire drill or two, but what about other emergencies or disasters? Are you always going to evacuate the building like you would for a fire? Probably not.

In some emergencies you’re safer if you stay inside, at least temporarily. For example, what if a chemical spill happens near your building or home? If you just run out into the street, you may run right into the fumes. Emergency responders can help you decide which way to evacuate, and when is safest. If there is civil unrest or a riot going on out in the street, you may want to wait until it subsides or the police direct you to safety. The same thing applies to terrorist attacks, as you don’t want to evacuate your building right into the line of fire.

In other types of emergencies, you won’t have time to evacuate the building. Do your family members or employees know what to do if a Tornado approaches, or if an earthquake occurs? Knowing where to go ahead of time can make the difference between safety and possible life-threatening injuries.

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

Staying in place is generally a good strategy when there is more danger outside than inside. Staying inside is known as “sheltering in-place.” Sheltering in-place is usually a temporary method of staying safe until the danger subsides. For example, if a tornado warning is in effect for your location, it is safer to shelter in-place until the danger passes and the warning is cancelled or expires. Also, the place to shelter is not next to a big plate-glass window!

Still, there are emergencies where it is absolutely advisable to get out of the building as expeditiously as possible, such as a fire or gas leak.

The point is, the time to decide what to do is definitely not when the emergency occurs. You should think through the different types of emergencies and what your best course of action is for each. This is where emergency preparedness training comes into play. If you take the time to inform your family members, neighbors, or employees, you can ensure their safety, and therefore your own.

Everyone should be trained on what to do for each type of emergency. They should be taught in which emergencies to evacuate and where to meet up to ensure everyone got out safely. This will help the first-responders know if they have to rescue anyone and how many there are.

In addition, train your family members or employees on when not to evacuate. Examples include earthquakes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, etc. They should also know where, in particular, to shelter. For tornadoes, an interior, windowless room on the lowest floor is best. For earthquakes, however, choose a sturdy door-frame or shelter under a sturdy, non-glass desk or table.

The whole point of this article is to emphasize that everyone must be trained to:

  1. Understand the dangers and hazards that may occur in their location
  2. Know what to do in each particular case, including where to go
  3. Actually practice what to do in these situations.

The way to do this is to work through a Basic Plan for your business or organization, including your personal organization, your family. Then practice it!

Remember the three Ps: Predict, Prepare and Practice! Doing these things will help you learn how to keep from panicking. Perform the three Ps as much as you can, and you will be in a much better position to hold down panic and act accordingly. It may just save lives!

Disasters, both big and small, bring on a range of emotions. These emotions can include fear, confusion, uncertainty, anger, and others. Include with those emotions the possibility of danger and

Many times through the years I have stumbled into prepper articles or discussions about the best firearms to have for SHTF. There are always different perspectives and I myself have shared my own opinions about what I think are the top 5 firearms every prepper should have. Naturally this assumes firearms are available to you legally and you don’t have any ethical problems with the thought of using them if needed for their intended purpose. Training in the proper use and safety of these firearms should go without saying.

But invariably, somewhere in the conversations about the best caliber or whether or not the AK is better than the AR, someone will bring up the concept of air rifles as an alternative to more traditional firearms. For many years I dismissed this advice out of hand because I assumed that anyone who thought it was a better idea to use an air rifle for survival was either anti-gun or had some element in their personal lives that prevented them from owning a firearm. A real gun instead of a toy…

I never really delved into this subject and it was a recent email from a reader of Final Prepper that prompted me to look into this topic further, if for no other reason than to fully state my opinion and let the world give me their thoughts on this subject.

Sam writes:

There are many that would like to make a bug out bag but can’t because they may be on a fixed income or in debt e.g. college students or retired. However, Harbor Freight Tools offers some free stuff using coupons that can be used to put in a bug out bag, and anyone can buy a good pack back at any second-hand store for $3 to use. I give Harbor Freight 5 stars for having up to 12 free things that can be used in a bug out bag.

Any prepper should be able to have a high power air rifle if they can’t afford a .22 or other if they chose to bugout so what is a good inexpensive air rifle that someone on a fixed income can buy to use in a SHTF or to bugout with? I would like to know what TPJ recommends or do a story so everyone can read.

First of all, thanks for the email Sam! I always appreciate good information, like the tip about Harbor Freight and for the question about the air rifles. So as I read the question from Sam, I think he (I assume this is a he and Sam is not short for Samantha. Damn both our gender confusing monikers!!!) is bringing up a couple of points. First, that a high-powered air rifle is a cheaper alternative to even a .22. The second is that this high-powered air rifle will be used in a SHTF/Bug Out scenario. I am sure there are other issues and I will try to address my thoughts around each in this article.

Why do so many people recommend an air rifle for survival?

Cost – Air rifles for survival seem to make sense to a lot of people for some very compelling reasons. Most air rifles do cost less than even the lowly .22 Rimfire rifle out there. You can get a brand new Ruger 10/22 Semiautomatic for between $250 and $350 depending on where you shop, but I have found sales on brand new, perfectly capable .22’s for much less. You can also find deals at gun shows that are even less than that. I picked up a perfectly good .22 at an auction for $100.

Air rifles come in a wide array of calibers just like regular firearms but for the purposes of this discussion I’ll stick with .177 calibers. That is the size most of us young kids grew up shooting in the back yard. Why not go up in size to .22, .30, .045 or even .50 caliber (yes they make .50 caliber air rifles)? For a couple of reasons; first off, in some locations; when you go over .18 caliber the local law enforcement usually considers that to be a “firearm”. Some locations regulate according to the muzzle velocity. For an air rifle to fly below this requirement you are looking at muzzle velocities generally below 500 feet per second in some areas. There are air rifles that are much higher power than that, like the Gamo Whisper Silent Cat Air Rifle which has a muzzle velocity of over 1200 FPS!, but if you are purchasing an air rifle that is viewed by law enforcement as a firearm, you are filling out paperwork just like you would have for a .22 so one advantage of the air rifle disappears. Additionally, the larger calibers go up in cost considerably and we are trying to stay on the more economical side here for Sam. I don’t consider the Benjamin Bulldog .357 which is arguably “high-power” and able to take down larger animals in contention for this article for the main reason that its cost is right about $1,000. Not ideal for the prepper on a fixed income.

1200 FPS with a scope for less than $140.

Quiet Operation – Air rifles use compressed air generally or a spring mechanism in some cases but usually in both they are far quieter than a regular rifle. Some models like the Gamo above even have a suppressor included making them even more quiet. An air rifle, it would seem would allow you to hunt without making your presence known in a wider area and this could have great benefits to the average prepper who is trying to stay on the down low. You wouldn’t want everyone who is hungry and possibly starving themselves to hear a loud gunshot and lay in wait for you to come walking back to camp with your prize only to take it away from you.

No license/background check required (normally) – This goes back to my previous point above. As long as you aren’t going into the more powerful air rifles which demand higher muzzle velocity, there isn’t usually a background check for someone buying an air rifle. This could have advantages to people who due to their background may be prevented from legally purchasing firearms.

What is an air rifle good for?

So the first question comes back to do you need an air rifle for survival and to answer that question, I want to look at some things air rifles are good at. The first is hunting small game. By small game and in consideration of our caliber limitations that do not require licensing (with caveats) that means birds, squirrels, possibly rabbits and other animals in that size range. For someone living in a city that has an abundance of birds or rodents, an air rifle could make an excellent choice for a survival tool especially if that state doesn’t allow firearms of any kind or severely limits your ability to purchase them.

880 air rifle kit includes safety glasses, 4×15-millimeter scope with rings, 500 Daisy pellets, and 750 BBs – $60

Air rifles are great to practice your shooting skills or to teach younger shooters the fundamentals without too much worry of accidents (“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.”). Shooting air rifles is a low-cost sport too because the pellets can be purchased for less than $5 for 250. You can purchase 2400 BB’s for that same price and as far as I know, the government isn’t stocking up on pellets and BB’s just yet.

Quiet operation is another non-trivial benefit of air rifles for survival situations as stated above. You don’t get too much quieter even with sound suppressors than air rifles.

What is an air rifle not good for?

Going back to the initial question about great air rifles for survival and in consideration of something that is cost-effective and doesn’t require licensing, what are the arguments against an air rifle? Do air rifles make a good bug out survival option? I don’t really think so in most cases for the following reasons.

Not good for long-range – This is subjective I know but most air rifles in the category we are talking about above aren’t going to be highly effective past 50 yards. Even at 50 yards, you will have drop on that pellet so you will need to know your weapon and compensate accordingly. Could you kill a rabbit past 50 yards with a pellet gun? Maybe and I know that some of this comes down to the skill of the shooter, but the weapon does have limitations. I think the rabbit would take off before the pellet reached it because sound travels faster than the average muzzle velocities we are talking about here, but again I am generalizing to some extent.

Not good for larger animals – You simply aren’t going to be killing larger animals with the lower caliber (cost-effective) air rifles. Could you shoot birds and squirrels all day and feed yourself? Sure you could, but what if birds and squirrels are few and far between? What if it’s winter time?

Velocity of up to 1,200 fps with PBA Raptor ammunition; 4×32 air rifle-scope – $99

Not acceptable for self-defense – Firearms for me, even more so in a SHTF scenario when I am forced to bug out are primarily for self-defense. This is the two-legged kind of predator I am talking about here and you aren’t going to defend yourself with a pellet gun. You might fool someone from a distance, but you would have to be extremely lucky and that luck would run out if you had to shoot at someone and all they heard was pftt.

Firing multiple rounds quickly – For shooting a single squirrel in a tree or a bunny sitting there next to your garden, single shots are fine in most cases. Most air rifles are single shot. You have to pump them or cock the charging handle after each shot. There are some manufacturers that have something resembling a magazine so you don’t have to reload, but you aren’t able to fire semi-automatic. Also, your velocity can decrease if you shoot too many shots too fast. Rapid fire isn’t recommended.

Air Supply dependent – Some models used compressed CO2 air cartridges. What if you run out of cartridges? Other models use a pump-action and I personally have witnessed these wear out over time and become less effective. That was with me shooting my air gun occasionally. If this air rifle is your main source of food, could the seals and parts wear out more quickly? Additionally, temperatures affect the air cartridges. Ideally, they are used in warmer temperatures, but not too warm or the cartridges can explode.

I do believe air guns have their place. I have one in my home, so I guess I would have to answer the question two ways. I wouldn’t ever choose an air gun as my go-to bug out firearm unless I had no other options whatsoever. Actually, if this truly was a SHTF scenario and I had no firearms, getting my hands on a weapon would be just about my first priority.

Do I think an air rifle for survival would be better than nothing? Yes, and there are some good models shown above, but I think even a .22 would be better and with some searching you can find a .22 rifle (maybe used) for about the same price as a good air rifle. At least you would have something more suitable for self-defense and taking larger animals.

Now its your turn. What do you think?

Many times through the years I have stumbled into prepper articles or discussions about the best firearms to have for SHTF. There are always different perspectives and I myself have

Hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean runs from June 1st to November 30th with a sharp peak in activity from late August through September. It was precisely this time period that Hurricane Katrina descended upon the gulf causing a still unknown number of deaths and over 108 billion dollars of damage. The resulting chaos and horror shocked and moved millions of people to lend assistance in the aftermath of this tragedy. After the storm left and the cleanup process began, millions more began to make preparations for themselves so they wouldn’t be faced with some of the tragedy the victims in the gulf had to live with.

Ten years later, the effects of Katrina still linger. The towns impacted are still not completely restored and may never be as they once were. The anniversary and season should be an opportunity for anyone who lives in areas prone to hurricanes to reflect on their preparations and make sure they have what is needed should a hurricane be forecast in the future. The list below isn’t exhaustive but I think it covers most of the bases that a good hurricane survival guide should account for. If you have taken care of the items below you will be much better off than many who survived hurricane Katrina. This list could end up saving some lives.

Should you stay or should you evacuate?

The decision to stay or evacuate needs to be evaluated early and often. At a certain point in the storm, you will not be able to leave. Deciding quickly and before the storm is too near, based upon your circumstances and the forecast from the weather experts is best.

The strength of a storm is one indicator of the severity of the damage you can expect. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is what is used to define and classify hurricane strength.

Category 1 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 74-95 MPH

Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

Category 2 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 96-110 MPH

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

Category 3 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 111-129 MPH

Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Category 4 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 130-156 MPH

Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Category 5 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 157 MPH or higher

Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

If you do decide that you will be evacuating, there are some other considerations.

  • Know where you are going – Don’t hit the highways without a plan or expect you will just find a hotel down the road an hour. During Katrina, hotels were completely booked hours away from New Orleans in all directions. Having a friend or family member within a reasonable driving distance would be better.
  • Don’t wait until the last-minute – Roads out-of-town during an evacuation quickly become clogged with traffic. There are accidents, people run out of fuel and the whole interstate system can become a giant parking lot. If you are leaving, make sure you beat the crowd. In addition, make sure you have a full tank and plenty of additional fuel. You may not be able to get to a gas station for many hours.
  • Plan on delays in coming back – Even after hurricanes have passed road conditions or security concerns can delay people from getting back to their homes. If you are forced to evacuate make sure you have proof that you live in your home. This can be as simple as a couple of bills and your driver’s license with your current street address.
  • Lock house – This may sound obvious but before leaving you should lock your home up as tightly as possible and make preparations for debris.
  • Let friends, relatives, and neighbors know where you are going – It is a good idea that someone knows where you are headed. This can be the people you are going to stay with or family members in other states. You don’t want them worrying about whether you are still alive if they aren’t able to contact you. Knowing you left before the hurricane hits will ease their mind and let them know hopefully how to reach you later.
  • Turn off power at the main breaker box – This should prevent any electrical damage that could be caused if your home is flooded.

Flooding is a major risk in hurricanes. Even well after the storm has passed.

Assuming you are staying put, you can expect services to be out and it helps to take some steps ahead of any outages to deal with issues as they arise after the hurricane.

What supplies do you need for a hurricane survival kit?

  • Water – At least one gallon per person for two weeks.
  • Food – Make sure you have at least a few days, better a month’s worth of food for each person. Your individual bug out bag is tailor-made for a short-term scenario like this and each should have many of the supplies on this list already.
  • Generator – A generator is perfect for situations like hurricanes as long as you have enough fuel. I would make sure to have at least a weeks’ worth of fuel on-hand but you likely won’t need to run your generator non-stop. You can store fuel for a very long time with a good fuel stabilizer. If the power is out you should not connect your generator to your home without a power transfer system. Ideally, you cut off power to the city electric and switch your home over to generator power. This will prevent anyone from working on the line from getting electrocuted by your generator.
  • Battery operated radios – The simplest way to hear the news in a disaster situation like a hurricane is a good weather radio. This will not only warn of any additional approaching storms or floodwaters but keep you up to date with the situation outside your neighborhood if you are unable to get out. Spare batteries are a must.
  • Cash – No power means no AMT machines. Make sure you have a good amount of cash well before you are unable to get it out of the bank. This can make purchases after the hurricane much easier if credit card machines are down.

    A well-stocked first-aid kit, not a box of band-aids it’s a must in emergency situations.

  • One month medicine – Need any medicine to stay alive? Make sure you have enough stocked up to ride out the rebuilding process. Your local pharmacy might not be open for several days or months if they are struck directly. I would also stock up on your basic pain relievers and anti-inflammatory as well as any children’s fever-reducing medicines you could conceivably need.
  • Can opener – Sure you can open a can without a can opener, but it is much simpler if you have a manual can opener to get to all of that non-perishable food you have in the pantry.
  • Flashlights – I recommend headlights for close-in work like seeing what you are cooking, making your way through a dark building or assisting others. Headlamps allow you to be hands-free. They are perfect for most situations, but a backup high lumen flashlight will really cut through the dark and could help in rescue situations.
  • First aid kit – Every family should have a very well-stocked first aid kit. Moving around after a hurricane can cause injuries like burns or major cuts. You will need supplies to dress these wounds and keep them free from germs.
  • Charcoal/gas for grills – Grilling out is usually the best method of cooking when the grid goes down. Take those steaks out of the freezer and have a big party. After that, you can make pretty much any meal with the right cookware and some imagination on a grill.
  • Plastic tarps – Tarps are very light, cheap and useful. They can be used to keep you dry, temporarily patch roofs or keep the sun off your head. You should have several tarps around for general use.
  • Tools/wood/nails – These can be used to close off windows or make repairs after the storm is over.
  • Baby supplies (diapers, wipes, formula) – The little ones need supplies too. Make sure you have a month worth of items they will need just in case.
  • Cleaning Supplies – You will still need to clean up and if you don’t have any running water, some simple cleaning supplies could make the job easier. If your home is damaged from flooding you will need a lot of bleach to disinfect everything that has come in contact with the floodwaters. Disinfecting wipes, rags, scrubbing pads, sponges and cleaning gloves.
  • Mosquito repellent – Hurricanes never happen when you want them too. In hurricane areas, you will likely still have hot sticky days and the mosquitoes will flourish in any flooded areas. Make sure you have plenty of repellents to keep them at bay.
  • Water filtration method/system – I prefer to always have a backup water filtration system that I can use for my family. I do have water stored, but eventually, you may need to find sources and filter the water so it is safe for drinking. I have both a Berkey Light filter and Platypus GravityWorks. These two are dead simple to use and filter a lot of water quickly.

Do you have a pet survival kit?

You can’t forget about your pets either in a time like this and they should be taken with you if you decide to evacuate. You don’t want them left to die as so many were in Hurricane Katrina.

  • Make sure they have a collar with identification (rabies/Tag) so if you are separated, they will know who your pet belongs to. I would also add a tag with a (if found call) written on it.
  • Carrier if your pet is small enough and a leash regardless.
  • Plenty of food for two weeks minimum
  • Bowls for food and water – Collapsible bowls can be used in a pinch and take up less space.
  • Any medication your pets need
  • Poop bags for dogs. A litter box and spare litter for cats
  • Can opener if your food is in a can

This list isn’t everything you could possibly need, but hopefully, it is a start and helps some of you to be more prepared for hurricane survival if you find yourself in that situation. Please let me know your ideas to add to this hurricane survival guide. Stay safe!

Hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean runs from June 1st to November 30th with a sharp peak in activity from late August through September. It was precisely this time period

Preppers stockpile water, food, security, and health care items for TEOTWAKI or even a lesser SHTF event. This is wise, but it does nothing to address the angst in the hearts of those seeking meaning in their lives. The argument could be made the meaning preppers are searching for is the ability to satisfactorily provide for their families, to which I say is only one side of the coin for people such as myself. What’s missing is a sense of genuine accomplishment in day-to-day living – a sense what I do matters in the grand scheme of things. This is not ego in a grandiose way such as building the pyramids or being wealthy or famous; rather I have been a productive human being, have not squandered my time here, and have improved the lives of those around me. I seek to feel and to be useful and to be in charge of my own life by living deliberately.

(Originally in this part of the article I wrote about 800 words detailing my disdain for the rat race aspect of my job, my frustration with the economy, and my revulsion towards the decay of American society and government overreach [reasons to wish for societal reset] but no matter how I edited it I sounded like a whiny Communist angry at “the man”. My thoughts are much more complex, but suffice to say, I hate the way our country has made it quite difficult for a person to be his own master. I have thus omitted it in order to better focus on the benefits of homesteading.)

Above I cited the Wikipedia reference for Walden by Henry David Thoreau which also succinctly summarizes the chapter “Baker Farm” thusly:

While on an afternoon ramble in the woods, Thoreau gets caught in a rainstorm and takes shelter in the dirty, dismal hut of John Field, a penniless but hard-working Irish farmhand, and his wife and children. Thoreau urges Field to live a simple but independent and fulfilling life in the woods, thereby freeing himself of employers and creditors. But the Irishman won’t give up his aspirations of luxury and the quest for the American dream.

I agree with Thoreau and see most of us as John Field caught in the rat race because we’ve been promised that piece of cheese. I would choose to do with less if I could start over; yes, I would choose to work smarter, not harder. As I have entered my thirties I have realized what key element is missing from my life: the lack of real, tangible freedom to be my own master. You see, the regular work-a-day world is like slot cars. You keep going, don’t rock the boat, and eventually you’ll reach the end. SOSDD as we used to say in the military. We’re pretty much expected to toil away to make other people rich (help them fulfill their dreams) while they toss us paltry wages to keep us appeased. If you can save enough from the tax man to eke out a little fun here and there, the tax man will be sure to reap the remainder from your heirs when you die.

I don’t believe this is the way we’re supposed to live for several reasons. First and foremost as a Christian, I believe the Bible shows us God’s intended plan: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” Gen. 3:19. I believe this means we’re supposed to physically toil for our daily bread. Does your job require toiling? If it doesn’t, I bet you have a desk job like mine – one which is entirely unhealthy and killing us as we spend 1/3 of each day doing it. We abuse caffeine, get bathed in electromagnetic fields, sit, snack mindlessly, stare at computer screens (I have five), take work home / don’t leave work at work, use mobile devices, and wear ear buds (a double whammy). I don’t believe God intends for us to get cancer from the work which He commanded us to do, yet I can sure believe it’s a consequence for us deciding yet again to do things our own (“easier”) way.

Secondly, even if there is no God or no mandate to till the earth, our western way of life is not sustainable. Most preppers acknowledge this and see a complete collapse as a real possibility because of it. Going back to the articles which inspired me to write this one the discussion of “bug-in vs. bug-out” was breached and I’m throwing my hat into the ring on behalf of team homesteading. It’s sort of the best of both worlds in that: a) it’s your home so you don’t have to go anywhere unless under direct threat because; b) you’re probably somewhat removed from urban centers right from the get-go.

My third consideration is both providing for my family and for my own personal fulfillment as a human being – not ego, mind you, but the peace one finds in doing what he knows is right and good in life. Living the homestead life is work. Not work like you go to work, living is your work. You work all day from sun up to sun down so that you can eat for that day or the next. I’m not talking about hand-to-mouth, per se, but there’s not much room for error unless you’ve got a good root cellar full of wonderful meat and vegetables you’ve canned after you hunted, fished, or farmed. One might ask what’s so fulfilling about that, to which I say if I am going to work all day it might as well be for my family’s direct benefit, rather than to help someone else attain their dream in exchange for after-tax fiat currency.

It is for these reasons that I see homesteading as a viable method to rediscover purpose without a massive die-off related to a reset event. I’m also not talking about going back to the middle ages (though I do have a great desire to do so myself and would in a heartbeat via living history museum if I could). I’m not above using a gas chainsaw over an axe. Modern amenities can make life easier and even speed your progress towards your prepping goals. Three years ago I caught a stomach bug and was out of commission for three days. After unrelenting bouts of nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating, fever, and all the other pleasantries I wanted to do nothing else but die. I had the conveniences of modern hydration, medicine, a warm and safe place to sleep, television and a loving wife who nursed me with all the kindness of an annoyed porcupine, but I was ready to end it all to escape the misery. I don’t want to be without modern medicine and have to cauterize a wound with a red hot knife, a biting stick, and some whiskey. But what I wouldn’t mind is knowing how to sew up a small wound and have the peace of mind that I could do those things if I really had to – whether to save my own life or that of someone in my family.

Many TV shows show us (often contrived) homesteading scenarios. One of the better ones, in my opinion, is Alaska: The Last Frontier. It follows the 2nd – 4th generations of the Kilcher family on their land in Alaska. What I like about this show is the constant work the families are shown doing from mucking chicken coops, to thawing frozen tundra to dig a new outhouse hole in the middle of winter because they slacked in the summer, to smoking fish, to making soap. Yes, it’s TV and designed to entertain, but there is truth shown here ready to be gleaned by the keen observer. I don’t think I’m ready to jump on the rewilding bandwagon just yet, but even they can teach us something.

What are your thoughts on homesteading? Is it realistic? More hype than substance? Are you too late in the game to attempt it?

Preppers stockpile water, food, security, and health care items for TEOTWAKI or even a lesser SHTF event. This is wise, but it does nothing to address the angst in the

 

The phrase “guerrilla gardening” was first used in 1973 in New York City, when Liz Christie and her Green Guerrilla group transformed an empty private lot into a vegetable and flower garden for community use. While not legal it was not challenged, and eventually became part of the NYC Parks Department.

Guerrilla gardening today can be done for either personal benefit, or as a form of activism to draw attention to urban blight. In our case, I will discuss guerrilla gardening for survival.

I got the idea for a little guerrilla gardening last year, when I read this Survival Blog post and decided to give it a try in two places – my own backyard, and an abandoned farm not too far from home.

I had never grown field corn before last year, but in the mid-West you see it grown everywhere for cattle feed. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, being able to grow corn for your family would be vital their survival. Why? Because it’s easy to grow, packed with calories, and lasts for several years once harvested.

Here’s how to test the technique in the backyard:

  • Select the area of lawn to be converted to corn field. Make sure it is fenced in, or otherwise kept clear of pets and toddlers for a few days.

Do you have the skills you need to be your own source of food if the grid goes down??

  • Chop holes in rows every 12-18”, plant a couple of corn kernels about 1” deep, and cover with the chopped dirt. Water in the seeds, and the next day spray the whole area with glyphosate (Roundup) prepared as directed on the label. The grass dies before the seeds sprout, and within ten days the corn sprouts should be poking out. Thin the ranks once they get a couple of inches tall.
  • When the corn stalks get about a foot tall, plant two climbing bean seeds (like dried pinto beans from the grocery store) a few inches away from the stalk; the bean plants’ roots fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn-stalk, and the corn stalks provide support for the bean plants so they get more sunlight. Beans and corn together provide an excellent nutritional base of carbohydrates and protein. Also, if you can plant another set of bean seeds a couple of weeks before bean harvest time in late July/early August, you may be able to get a second crop harvested by corn harvest time in October/November.

By the end of the growing season, the grass and weeds rotted away, and I had an established garden area. I tried this on my lawn last year (on about 100 sq ft), and I was able to harvest 16 pounds of field corn, and 6 pounds of pinto beans, for a total of about 35,000 calories. Since my family of four needs about 8000 calories a day, I would need about 85 of these plots to cover their needs and have seed corn/beans for the following year. That’s only about 0.2 acres – smaller than most subdivision lots! If you were able to get a second crop of beans, that would provide you with calories to spare, or some extra beans to trade to your neighbors.

This was lawn in the spring of 2014, before converting to corn last year.

Naturally, in a SHTF scenario, I would like to plant more to account for bad weather (like the monsoon season we are having in lieu of summer this year!), infestations, or thievery by two and four-footed critters.

This is where the true guerrilla gardening comes in.

There is an abandoned farm at the end of our subdivision street. The rumor is that it is owned by the subdivision’s developer, but he is in jail on drug charges for a long time, and so any further development is in limbo. Maybe you have seen a similar fallow field or empty lot around your neighborhood that you could control if things go to hell.

An abandoned farm in our neighborhood

Residents occasionally hike through some parts of the farm, so there are trails that wind around the edge of the field, but the tall grass and thorny bushes stop most people from going through it – all the better for me.

Around the first of June, I put a bag of field corn, a hedge trimmer, and a bulb planter into my backpack, and took a little hike. I selected a patch of field that was mostly tall grass for ease of planting, and got to work. Although I was nervous as hell about getting caught, I chopped the grass as low as I could in a 15’ x 15’ square, and threw the grass to the side. Then I got busy with the bulb planter, punching holes in the dense grass root systems, and pushing in the corn seeds. The next day, I packed in a small sprayer loaded with glyphosate, and sprayed the whole area. Within two weeks, I had little rows of corn seedlings.   Yay, it worked! When they got about a foot tall, I planted the bean seeds as described.

That’s the good news, but here is the bad news – within a week, I noticed that the grass next the plot was flattened, and the tops of my little corn plants were being nipped. Deer! Those little bastards found the seedlings a tasty change of diet, and are doing their best to commandeer the crop.

So here is what I have learned –

Deer like to snack on corn and beans in bed (rear left).

  • It would be too expensive to fence my little plot now (about $100), and fencing would draw unwanted attention.
  • If I were to guerrilla garden post-TEOTWAWKI, I would do it with whatever surviving neighbors I could trust. We would use fencing acquired after the disaster, and/or take turns patrolling the field until the seedlings matured and were less tasty. This would also provide us an opportunity to hunt deer drawn to the plot, and put some fresh meat on the table. I have also heard that human urine is a natural deer repellent, but I haven’t tried it yet.
  • I need to stock up now, to be prepared to implement this plan.
    • Fifty pounds of feed corn costs about $5 at a feed supply store, should germinate adequately, and covers about an acre and a half. You could trade or give some to your trusted neighbors that will be part of your guerrilla gardening group.
    • 50 pounds of dried will complement the corn, and is good for eating if gardening doesn’t work out.
    • A variety of other garden seeds – tomatoes, cabbage, and other foods that can be kept/canned.
    • About a gallon of glyphosate and a couple of sprayers.
    • A couple of bulb planters, trowels and/or shovels.
    • Adequate firearms and ammo for guarding the crop and hunting deer.

While it is a little late in the season to expect to harvest, why not try it anyway soon near you? Better to learn now what works than later!

  The phrase “guerrilla gardening” was first used in 1973 in New York City, when Liz Christie and her Green Guerrilla group transformed an empty private lot into a vegetable and

Do you have an awesome bug out vehicle already sitting in the garage of your remote bunker somewhere miles away from the nearest highway? Do you have a fully stocked Bug Out Bag crammed under your desk at work with all the supplies you need including 200 feet of rope to shimmy down the windows of your 8th floor office? Do you have an entire craftsman tool cabinet full of medical supplies loaded up and ready to roll into action? If your AR-15’s are all oiled and neatly stacked in the family safe, if your camouflage is pressed and neatly hanging in the closet and everyone knows where their favorite flavors of MRE’s are, but nobody knows the reason for these supplies, you might have a problem.

As preppers we can easily tick off a lot of needs. We need to prepare. I need to get additional tactical training. Our family needs more medical and first aid training, not to mention a larger garden. We need to be more self-sufficient. We need to know more about living off the land and on and on. Like I said in other posts, prepping is a lifestyle not a destination so I don’t have too much faith that the Needs in my life will ever go away. I should always need something if only to learn more, give more and think more. Needs only stop when you stop living and I don’t plan to do that anytime soon, but what we need to do before almost any other prepping activity is just that. PLAN. It is great if you have that gear I mentioned above, but if the SHTF, do you have a SHTF Plan?

Why do you need to have a plan?

Having a SHTF Plan for what you would actually do if the SHTF is the very first thing you need to do and it will accomplish a couple of things. First, it will help you take into consideration your current state and responsibilities. Most of the preppers I talk to have some driving idea that makes them want to be better prepared for whatever life throws at them. It could be they are worried about an Economic Collapse, or it could be something as simple as a winter storm. All of the people you see at the grocery store right before a big storm want generally the same thing that preppers want. The only difference is that they wait till the last minute to do anything about it. These last minute shoppers who wipe out the grocery store shelves are thinking about the storm and how they need to prepare just like you and me. The lesson I am trying to preach is that we know storms come every year. We know that the power could go out. It could get really hard without some of our normal conveniences and we need to plan for that well ahead of time. Having a plan will help you think of all these things that the people grabbing the last gallons of milk off the shelf are thinking of, but you will have the benefit of doing it while you are calm and the lights are still on.

The second thing a SHTF Plan will do is give you a checklist that you can use to both purchase supplies you need or plan on amounts of items you should have stocked up appropriate to the amount of people you are preparing for. Which leads to the second point.

Who should be included in your SHTF Plan?

Most of us aren’t single bachelors or bachelorettes. Humans are social people for the most part so when we talk about taking care of ourselves during a crisis, there is almost always someone else involved. This might be a girlfriend or boyfriend, parent, children, sibling or elder relative. It might just be your best buddy Joe. When you start to put everything you need to account for in your SHTF Plan you will also need to expand the scope out to the others in your prepping circle of influence. Water is one of the first items to check off on this plan but you need to take into consideration how many people will be using that water. Fortunately, water is just about the easiest survival prep that you can plan for. One gallon of water per person, per day. So for 4 people for 1 week you would need to set aside (4 X 7 = 28) gallons. The amount of water you need to store should be the first and easiest thing in the plan in terms of supplies.

For myself, I have a family. We also have 2 relatives within a short distance so I am already planning on my family plus 2. Then you have to consider pets and other relatives that might show up if the disaster allows and timing is right so my plan could have to adjust to an additional 8 people if I was truly prepared. In reality, I have started with my immediate family and I am building up from there so the extra 8 is a goal, but not yet a reality. The point is that having a plan will help you come up with these numbers.

It may be that your SHTF plan involves others at a different bug out location. In this case, the food and water requirements might need to be allocated differently and as opposed to storing these all at your present location; caches at your alternate location or hidden along the route might be needed. In this situation the plan will likely involve several families and be much more collaborative than a simple plan you scratch out on the back of a notebook.

Where are you planning to go if the SHTF?

Since we mentioned an alternate bug out location above, the plan will obviously need to take that into consideration for two main reasons. First, who will be at this location you are planning to go to and how will you get there. The first part is usually when we get into trouble as larger groups start to intermingle because it is hard to stay civil in a high stress environment and even harder to accept rules that you might disagree with. Tempers can flare and in a situation where your plan is to bug out with Joe and his family to his hunting cabin in the woods you could be in for a nasty surprise. Joe’s wife Lisa might have told three of her friends who all show up with their families and plan on eating the supplies you and Joe have stocked up.

To be equitable, Joe could be the problem too. Once you show up, Joe might not be as accommodating as he once was. If the stress and fear is high enough, Joe might greet you with a sawed off shotgun and tell you to turn your fully loaded suburban around. Anything like this can happen regardless of any plans you have made with Joe, your oldest buddy since kindergarten even with a plan. Having a plan isn’t going to guarantee that people won’t change their minds. The best SHTF Plan in the world won’t keep you from getting double-crossed, but the sooner you and Joe can agree on a plan and the longer that your family and Joe’s family works on, discusses and debates the plan, the better off you will be.

If your plan is to shelter in place, then you usually only have to worry about the disaster coming to your street. This could be the weather/event or it could be your neighbors that you have to consider. Which leads to…

What do you need to consider if the SHTF?

This is the real meat and potatoes of the plan and isn’t easily constrained to a paragraph or two. For me, I lump almost everything survival related that I “need” into 4 main categories; Water, Food, Shelter and Security. My survival plan takes all of these into account based upon how many people I need to consider in my plan and where we are planning to be then multiplies those figures by the duration I am planning to be prepared for. This is just the baseline, but it is something you can easily build off of because the essentials are there.

So, let’s say you have to take care of 4 people and you are planning on sheltering in place. You live in a decent sized city, but not a large metropolitan area and you want a plan to initially cover 1 month of not being able to access any other supplies. You would know that at a minimum you would need 120 gallons of water to keep 4 people alive and healthy for 30 days. Next you would need to plan on 30 days’ worth of food for 4 people taking various considerations like food storage if the power goes out. Depending upon where you live and the time of year, shelter could be a very real concern. If you lost power or the ability to heat your home in the middle of winter, what would you need to do?

Assuming you check the box on the essentials, you have to consider security. If you are living through an emergency that lasts 30 days, there will be others that are living through that emergency too. There will be people who haven’t made any preparations to survive for a month without daily trips to the store. There will be yet others who simply want to take what you have and it is possible with the right circumstances that you could have to defend your home and protect your family from these people.

Security is another large subject, but we cover a lot of those aspects on Final Prepper so I won’t go into specifics here.  I would recommend you have something in the way of security to deal with the potential for these situations and add this to your SHTF plan.

How will you take care of X if the SHTF?

Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”  Are you going to be able to plan for every conceivable option? Are you going to develop the most perfect prepper checklist in the world that accounts for every single variable known and unknown to man? No. What you can do is start with a good plan though and the sheer act of planning will open your eyes to a lot of different potentials. For me personally, I have discounted a lot of different scenarios from happening to me and haven’t planned specifically for them because I don’t believe there is a high likelihood of anything similar happening to us where we are at this time.

Planning has given me the opportunity to make these mental arguments with myself and discuss things with my spouse. We have had the ability to think about things in a way that I wouldn’t be able to as easily or as effectively do in a crisis mode. If there was a genuine crisis, I would revert to action based upon the preparations that we have already made. Most of us would do the same but the good thing about the plan is that I have already had these thought exercises. I have already stored away provisions that could be used in any number of different emergencies and we have thought about a thousand what-ifs already. Even if a disaster I wasn’t expecting occurred, the plan would be what we could fall back on. If everything failed and the plan had to be thrown out, we would still have the experience of thinking through the problems we could encounter if the SHTF and that would give us a huge advantage over others who wait until the last minute. Make a plan now and I guarantee that your life will be easier no matter what life throws at you.

Do you have an awesome bug out vehicle already sitting in the garage of your remote bunker somewhere miles away from the nearest highway? Do you have a fully stocked

A violent mob a tad over 1,000 strong is blocking all outbound traffic on a major freeway leading out of downtown, your car is stuck in the snarled traffic and night is approaching. What are you going to do?

You were just about to pull into work on a Monday morning when an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) leaves your car sitting in the middle of the street on a downtown city block. How are you going to move?

Record breaking 100-year flooding is quickly rushing towards your neighborhood, and you have heard the bridge to safety is already under 3 feet of water. Where are you going to go?

Civil unrest, the breakdown of society, perhaps Martial Law, or the absence of the Rule of Law, are all possible consequences of any number of doomsday scenarios, or even breaking points themselves. Solar flares or tactically deployed strategic nuclear weapons can emit an EMP capable of destroying on-board computers and sensitive electronics in vehicles manufactured after 1980, while damaging the power grid and basically returning modern technology to the peak era of horse and buggies, the butter churn, and the quill pen. Major natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, and wildfires can be severe, quick, and unannounced, potentially forcing you into an immediate need to evacuate, sometimes without the luxury of vehicles, boats, or other modern modes of transportation.

What is your current level of prepper conditioning?

Being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, swarmed by an angry mob can reduce a city to foot traffic, and potentially put you in direct physical danger. Think about Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas, Milwaukee, or Reginald Denny, the truck driver during the 1992 L.A. Riots, whose beating was caught by a news helicopter:


Fight-or-Flight instincts right? We are all familiar with that clever little quip. Are you capable of fighting back? Against multiple aggressors? For a sustained period of time? If not, are you capable of the flight option? Can you escape those aggressors? Could you outrun them in a sprint, through an urban environment, and continue to lose them over a sustained longer distance? What if you do initially outrun the aggressors, but are eventually caught and then forced to defend yourself? Fighting fresh sucks enough, try fighting when you are already fatigued. It is important to consider your level of prepper conditioning before you are facing a disaster.

Many of us have our everyday carry (EDC) gear, whether on our person or in a small easily accessible bag of some sorts, at all times. Others have a get home bag (GHB) or bug out bag (BOB) loaded with tools, gear, emergency food supplies, and even defensive items, either in our vehicle, at work, or otherwise ready to grab and go at a moment’s notice. Have you ever shouldered that pack and walked any distance? Even if you know a route to get home without consulting your Google maps or in-dash navigation, have you ever actually walked it? How far is it? What type of footwear do you have on? Dress shoes, high heels, flats, sandals, all not good choices for long walks. Have you done so in inclement weather? What if your planned route is impassable (consider the angry mob presence, or flooded roads/trails)? How heavy is that pack again?

Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack Military Style MOLLE Compatible Tactical Backpack Bug Out Bag

Sheriffs offices, fire departments, and other emergency management professionals do their best to warn residents of impending danger from natural disasters, and will assist in pre-planned evacuations often designed to allow ample time for you and your family to be removed from your residence safely. However the timing of natural disasters is not always so convenient and officials may not be available to help you, individually. You may have to load up your valuables and find a road out, but without the knowledge to move forward, a safe route may not be possible in your family car. Can you hike out of your neighborhood on foot? Are you a strong enough swimmer to tread water for extended periods of time, or even swim across a pond or lake to escape the danger? If you have small children with you, are you capable of carrying them to safety as well? Can you push a heavy object out of your way, lift an item off yourself or a loved one, pull yourself over an obstacle, or negotiate a series of uneven, loose, or otherwise treacherous terrain to find safety on solid ground?

What do all of these have in common?

How long do you expect to survive a SHTF event?

All of these scenarios are examples of easy ways your ability to survival the initial blow of shit hitting that proverbial fan will depend upon your physical ability and conditioning. If you have ever been in a fight, even in training, sparring, bag drills, or other controlled environments, you know how quickly you can fatigue. If you have not, just find a large pillow or something else soft to punch, and hit it as furiously as possible – as if your life depended on beating that pillow – for about 30 seconds, then assess your heart rate, breathing, and perspiration. They are probably all up quite a bit. Rest for 10 seconds then do it again for a minute. Then sprint out your door to the end of the block, and do it again for another 45 seconds. Rest for 5 seconds and go ALL OUT for a final 10 second surge. Then run a lap around your neighborhood and reassess yourself when you get back home. Go inside for a glass of water, you earned it – then defend yourself against that last attacking pillow for another 30 seconds. Get the point?

Fatigue from fighting is very real, and very quick. If you are not big on hand-to-hand combat, but have read a couple of books, or seen a movie or two, or practiced kata or other sequenced movements such as are commonly trained in karate and taekwondo, then you may not know how your body will actually stand up to the massive expenditure of energy required in a fight. Need somewhere to start? Look for a local gym and sign up for a free test class in Krav Maga. Condition yourself.

If you have ever been in a fight, even in training, sparring, bag drills, or other controlled environments, you know how quickly you can fatigue.

If your prepping relies heavily on the use of EDC, GHB, or BOB gear, you should not only be intimately familiar with every piece of gear you carry or plan on carrying, but you should be even more familiar with what it feels like to actually carry that gear. As the crow flies, I work 10 miles from home. My regular commute covers 15 miles. Pending any alterations in safe passage following an incident, I expect my trip home could range upwards of 20-30 miles. At 6’4” and about 225 lbs with a GHB weighing in around 24 lbs dry, I have a little room for 3 liters of water while keeping my ruck right around 30 lbs. With a little intimate road time, proper footwear, a series of blister/heal cycles and rubbing my shoulders raw from straps, I know what pace I can move at and how long I can move like that. Toss in variables of being loaded with an unplanned item, or extra gear I happen upon, and I also know that I can double upon that coupon and keep going. How do I know that? Walking around the neighborhood, simple day hikes on the weekend, or a good backpacking trip are all good places to start. Or jump straight up for a good sense of what added stresses could feel like on your psyche and your body, and look at completing a GoRuck event (Google it, it is worth every dime). Condition yourself.

Not sure what will be required of you before, during, after a natural disaster? Ask anyone who has lived through an earthquake, wildfire, tornado, or flooding. Look at the Cajun Navy in Baton Rouge, LA. Think they have it easy in their boats? I guarantee they end their day plum tired from the physicality required to help their neighbors. Strangers even. If you cannot push yourself off the floor, could you push a standard home office bookshelf off yourself? If you cannot perform a single pullup, could you pull yourself up and over a large item like a refrigerator blocking the doorway out to safety? Say your kid, spouse, or loved one is unconscious or otherwise unable to walk to safety themselves, can you carry them – even if for just a short distance to get out of the house? Could you drag them even? Can you hike out from danger, run away from danger, swim to safety, or simply walk down the road, for miles, until you find refuge? No, you do not need to go to the gym, eat protein bars and post-workout shakes. Try some simple body-weight exercises. Pushups, pullups, squats, planks. YouTube any one of those, find progression exercises for them if you cannot do them strictly now, and work your way towards them.

Take care of your conditioning now before life takes care of it for you

Get up and move, if even a little. Go for a walk, swim at the rec center, ride a bike, anything. You have a busy schedule. Work. Family. Life. A daily set of push ups, pull-ups, squats, and planks can be done in as little as 5 minutes. You have spent far more time than that just reading this little 1600 word article. You probably spent more time than that navigating the internet to find this article. You may even spend ten times that amount scrolling through Facebook feeds, or news articles, or simply sitting on the couch watching glimpses of your favorite programming between chunks of commercials and advertising. That’s fine. Just slip off the couch and do 10 push ups during a commercial break. Even once a day. How long does it take to walk around the block? Twenty minutes? Take the dog. Can you run a couple of miles? That doesn’t really take too long either? Be like Nike…Just Do It. Swim at the pool? It takes longer to drive there, rinse off afterwards, and drive home than it does to actually swim even just 500 meters. Condition yourself.

No, you do not need to go to the gym, eat protein bars and post-workout shakes. Try some simple body-weight exercises. Pushups, pull-ups, squats, planks.

Surviving is just the first step to survival. If you struggle with the basic physical abilities to easily get through some of the things I have discussed above, what good will the 2 years of food, hundreds of gallons of water, or thousands of rounds of ammunition do for you when the shit hits the fan? That stockpile will just be a jackpot for someone more conditioned for a survival situation than you. Someone like me who comes along later to find the money you spent, thinking you were prepared, when a few simple daily efforts could have made a far bigger difference in your life.

Are you free of addictive substances, habits, or vices? Quitting smoking is hard enough today, without other stresses, and with the assistance of any gum, patches, or other tricks to take the edge off. I know. I have done it. I cannot even imagine how weak-minded I would be a few weeks after SHTF to come across someone trading a pack of cigarettes…I probably would have sold the farm for it if I hadn’t already quit. Many prepper philosophies out there advocate for even non-users to stock up on alcohol, tobacco, and coffee to be used as trade items later on. The thought being that these little trinkets will have substantial value in bartering systems when regular supplies have long disappeared or been consumed by former smokers, drinkers, and coffee addicts. If you make it that far after the SHTF but cannot turn down a smoke, a drink, or a cup of Joe, you are just begging to be taken advantage of.

Is your body accustomed to the diet you plan on sustaining yourself with post-SHTF? Yeah, bust out the beef stew or chicken with salsa MRE, throw it in the nifty heater and lean it against a rock or something, and you’ll be a member of the “these are actually pretty good” crowd. Now eat them every day for two weeks. How has your stomach felt? How are your bowel movements? Are you paying attention to calorie intake versus expenditure? During the crucible for the Marine Corps, you are given just 2 MREs over a 54 hour period when you cover 48 miles with 45 lbs of gear, navigate 36 “warrior stations” and 29 “team building exercises” all on 6 hours of sleep. I had food left over afterwards and don’t remember going number two at all, but made it just fine. If you eat three MREs per day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ll “survive” alright, but your guts will hate you.

Can you perform the daily physical duties and manual labor required in your long-term survival plan? If you currently work on a farm or ranch, in most construction trades, oil field operations, logging, or other physically intense professions, you probably do not need much of this information at all. If you do not work in one of the above, or a closely related field, go spend a day with a family member, friend, or neighbor who does work in one of those fields and tell me how you feel the next morning. Manual labor is real. If you think the post-apocalyptic world is ripe with clerical positions, business analytics, or private consulting firms, think again. Your air-conditioned office, break rooms, water coolers, hour-long lunches, and paid vacation and sick leave are all gone. If you want to get by now, it will all be on your shoulders. Day in and day out. If you cannot weed a garden all day, you will starve. If you cannot walk the countryside gathering wild edibles all day, you will starve. If you cannot climb to the top of a ridge, check a trap line, or take down some big game and carry it home, you will starve. If you cannot gather firewood, build or reinforce a shelter, haul water, move gear – over and over – or potentially even engage in defensive postures, struggles, or all out battles, where does that land you in your new world?

Condition yourself early and often. Move. Eat right. Live right. Easiest, cheapest, most sustainable preps out there. I appreciate any and all feedback and dialogue! Know a little about anything in any of these areas, share it, talk about it, and get the thought trains rolling. Disagree with me, let me know why. Look for more to come on my conditioned prepping, from SHTFit. I am totally open to your ideas, I may even flat-out admit it and incorporate your thoughts into my own conditioning approaches. In the end, we should all make sure we are Fit for when the Shit Hits.

A violent mob a tad over 1,000 strong is blocking all outbound traffic on a major freeway leading out of downtown, your car is stuck in the snarled traffic and