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‘When the SHTF I am bugging out man’! ‘If the SHTF you will be glad you have one of these’. ‘You won’t be able to do that if the SHTF’. ‘When the SHTF you better be prepared’! If you have been anywhere near prepping, survival, self-sufficiency or emergency preparedness content, movies, TV shows, books or blogs, you have heard someone say a sentence that went roughly like one of those above.

Do you know what everyone means by SHTF?

Just in case there are some of you out there who do not know what this handy little acronym stands for, it is S**t Hits The Fan. When the SHTF basically all hell breaks loose. The exact meaning of SHTF varies by person and sometimes SHTF is used interchangeably with TEOTWAWKI. As in ‘If there is an EMP device exploded over the US it would be TEOTWAWKI’. TEOTWAWKI is another acronym for The End of The World As We Know It which is also used to describe a million different things to different people. One thing we do know though is that when it comes to SHTF or TEOTWAWKI they both mean that bad things happen and most likely our lives will be changed dramatically in some way for some period of time.

I think one of the aspects of prepping has to be with an eye toward a SHTF type of event. We prepare for minor inconveniences like being stranded on the side of the road, or living without power for a couple of days, but with relatively simple steps these two examples are by themselves minor in the grand scheme of things. If you have prepared, there is really nothing to worry about if the power is out. Will you have to adjust and make do? Probably but if you have prepared for a power outage the adjustment could be very minor. Would you be inconvenienced? Most likely, but you will survive.

Most preppers I have talked to are at some point along an arc of preparedness. (I am copyrighting that phrase right now) One end of the arc is no preparedness at all. The other end of the arc is our individual version of being totally prepared or at least extremely prepared. I say extremely prepared because like I have written before; I don’t believe you can ever finish prepping. There should be a point when you are pretty darn set though when you compare yourself to the rest of the world.

The prepared end of the arc is our supplies, skills and gear for really bad things. This is the SHTF that people are preparing for and it is this concept that many are striving for all along. To be actually prepared as well as possible to handle or maybe more accurately, live through a SHTF event. Our preps would ideally help make that possible. The prepared end of the arc deals with Long-term and abundant food storage, plentiful and renewable sources of water, shelter from the elements while at home or in a bug out scenario and survival firearms for each member of your group. Personally, I don’t want to ever need to use my supplies on the ‘Prepared’ end of the Arc but they are there if the time comes.

What does SHTF look like?

And so we get to the big question that I have heard asked a million times. Well, not a million but a lot and that is ‘How will I know when the SHTF’? How will I know when it’s time to bug out and move our family out of harm’s way? How will I know when I need to hunker down, board up the windows and keep watch overnight? The reason so many people want to know this is that they don’t want to be caught unaware. You don’t want to be the last person trying to get out of your town before the roads are too clogged with traffic, or the one who shows up at the grocery store after they have taken everything except the mops back in housewares. Anyone who is prepping for SHTF is doing so because we want to avoid it as much as possible so knowing how to identify the actual moment that the S**T Hits the Fan is pretty important.

The problem is that unless we are talking about huge, cataclysmic national events, defining the moment that it happens is too late is difficult across the scale of everyone in the country. If a huge terrorist attack happens in Los Angeles California but nowhere else, would you as someone living in Las Vegas do anything besides watch the news? If a nuclear bomb went off in New York, would you as someone living in Tennessee go anywhere? I think the answer to almost any situation where we are asking if the SHTF moment has arrived is unfortunately, ‘It depends’.

What does this event mean to me?

There is a famous Supreme Court case, Jacobellis V. Ohio in which the subject was a movie that had been deemed obscene. The movie theater owner who showed the movie had been convicted and his case made it to the Supreme Court where Justice Potter Stewart, in his concurrence with the other judges ruling for overthrowing the case, said with respect to hard core pornography, “I know it when I see it”. There are other details which you can read here, but the point I am trying to make is that there is no universal SHTF moment or series of actions. You can’t point to a terrorist attack and say that for everyone it is a SHTF moment. Now, it most certainly will be for people involved in the event and surrounding areas of course but it may not impact you at all. If it does however, you will most likely know it when you see it.

Well, thanks that wasn’t helpful at all! Maybe you were hoping I would give you a checklist of items to look for to determine when the S had actually HTF? OK, I can do that but each of these would be examples that have to be taken in context. All of that would also need to be considered with your own personal situation. Some items to look for:

  • Loss of Electricity on a regional scale for more than one week
  • Media blackout
  • Martial law declared
  • Door to door gun confiscations – yes they have happened before.
  • Stock Market takes a dive of 10% and they halt trading the next day.
  • Bank holidays are declared and you are not allowed to remove money from your bank. If you are you are limited to a small amount.
  • Attack on US soil – This would be most likely blamed on terrorists of one shape or another
  • Virus outbreak rates that continue to go higher and occurrences start to increase in your city.
  • EMP device that causes massive power outages (multi-state)
  • Nuclear reactor meltdown
  • Natural disasters that impact you locally (fires, tsunami, hurricane, flood, etc.)

These are all examples that in the right context could be signs that we are in a SHTF moment. On the other hand, some of these could be single events that for a large part do not impact you or your family. I have said before that everything depends on the disaster and if something like this is happening to you, in your town things may be totally different from others across the country not affected. Naturally a stock market collapse or EMP doesn’t fall into that category but regional issues would. I always advocate watching the news media – not to hear about the latest starlet who is acting trashy but to get a feel for what is going on in the world. Maintain an active awareness of the news and be prepared to act fast if you get wind of events that you are considering as being a real SHTF event for you.

Will there be a national SHTF event? Who knows? It could be that we have minor SHTF events that happen to us and that doesn’t make them any less real or dire. You could have your own personal TEOTWAWKI moment that doesn’t impact anyone else and you will still need to react.

I believe we have an intuition but we have to tune ourselves to hear it. I think one aspect of that intuition is what prompted me to begin prepping and I believe that for many others out there you have that same feeling. That small voice telling you to prepare; that gut instinct that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. When it comes to your town, I think you will know it when you see it if you are prepared to look for it. Don’t expect the news, FEMA, your governor or me or any so-called expert in the world to tell you when it’s time to go. You will be able to make that decision for yourself.

‘When the SHTF I am bugging out man’! ‘If the SHTF you will be glad you have one of these’. ‘You won’t be able to do that if the SHTF’.

If you’ve been prepping for a while, you may have used some of your provisions during short-term emergencies. Perhaps you’ve used some when a storm knocked out power for a few hours. You know you’ve prepared well, because you were able to make meals without the use of kitchen appliances, and you had alternative lighting with fresh batteries. Simple things, like a manual can-opener, are additional proof that you’ve prepared well. A short-term power failure may even be a welcome change from your daily routine, and an excuse to make dinner on the grill.

On the other hand, prepping for an event that could result in societal collapse is no longer fun and games, it’s about your survival. It’s no longer a matter of settling for canned food for dinner. If we are forced to live through a grid down scenario, it’s whether or not you’ll have any food at all. It’s about dealing with starving people, who, in their desperation, will try to forcefully take what you have. It’s this possibility that drives you to take prepping to the next level.

Before you allocate significant cash resources to weapons, supplies, and survival equipment, you probably want to know what the odds are that you’ll ever need it. What is the likelihood that an event, or chain of events, could be serious enough to cause the collapse of society? Do the odds of that happening justify the significant cost of prepping for it? If you’ve never experienced anarchy, how will you know if you’re well prepared? It’s up to you to decide.

A massive and sustained power grid failure could cause a collapse of society, and it might happen in the not-to-distant future. I arrived at that conclusion not by accident, but rather by careful consideration of facts. As an Information Technology Professional I am well aware of the daily attacks on networked computer systems, and I know that cyber-criminals are getting smarter. Cyber-attacks on retailers and financial institutions are common place, as are attacks on U.S. Government agencies. With these things in mind, a successful attack on the power grid is not just possible, it’s inevitable. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”. Due to the severity of the damage that is possible, and the potential for a widespread and long-lasting outage, it’s high on my list of things that could result in a collapse of society, and therefore it’s what I prepare for.

Need more evidence? Consider this: In December of 2015, a freezing day in the Western Ukraine, a lone hacker shut down electricity to 225,000 residences. Power was restored in about 6 hours, but imagine a situation where multiple attackers attack multiple locations in a coordinated attack on the U.S. power grid. If successful, the outage would be widespread, not just localized to a specific area or region. To inflict the most suffering, the attack would probably occur in the winter months. Some communities, hospitals, and other facilities would have power from emergency generators, but only until they run out of fuel.

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Cyber-attacks on retailers and financial institutions are common place, as are attacks on U.S. Government agencies.

A successful attack on the power grid need not be a cyber-attack. Just as 911 was a coordinated physical attack, coordinated physical attacks on multiple power generation or distribution sites are also a possibility. As undamaged facilities attempt to make up for the shortage created by the damaged facilities, they would become overloaded and eventually the entire power grid would shut down. Power plants that are able to isolate themselves from the grid would function for as long as they have fuel, but you and I may not be lucky enough to be in one of those areas.

Without communications, you won’t know where they are. You may recall the movie Waterworld, where Kevin Costner searched for “dry land”, not really knowing if it actually existed. For some people, searching for a stable society with electricity would be similar to that. Just like in the movie, avoiding the “bad guys” and struggling to survive, would be routine.

Terrorists hope to inflict as much suffering as they can on America. The recent attack in an Orlando nightclub appears to have been carefully planned, with escape routes blocked. As terrible as that attack was, less than 60 people lost their lives that morning. On the other hand, a coordinated attack on the U.S. power grid would cause massive suffering and death. I choose to take the threat seriously.

As disastrous as a successful coordinated physical attack on the power grid would be, an EMP event would be even worse. An EMP event could be either a deliberate attack by an enemy, or a massive solar flare. One such solar flare occurred in 2012, but barely missed the earth. Had earth been in its path, large parts of society would have been without power for months, if not years. A smaller solar eruption in 1989 knocked out power to Quebec.

In the event of a successful attack, or a large solar eruption, unprotected electronic devices would be destroyed. This includes the modules in your car. Imagine losing the use of your car, no working communication devices, no radio, no TV, no light, no refrigerator, and you could no longer cool or heat your home. It wouldn’t matter if you could make it to the grocery store, because the shelves would be empty within two days. In the event that a widespread power outage was to last for more than a few days, it’s easy to envision panic and anarchy.

It’s not just the hardship brought on by an absence of electricity, but also the confusion that results from the absence of electronic communications, that would lead to panic. Perhaps you can live without your phone, without texting, tweeting, or email, but being unable to check on loved ones might be more than some folks can handle.

Prepare for a situation such as this with the assumption that the power grid will be down for a very long time. Widespread damage to automobiles, as well as devices that contain sensitive electronic components, make up a worst-case scenario, and it would take months or perhaps years, to fully recover. A powerful EMP event would be just that bad. With these things in mind, for me, a comprehensive plan is actually two plans:

  1. A plan to implement if I can stay in my home
  2. A plan to implement if I have to bug out by all-terrain vehicle

My plan does not include an option to bug out on foot. I simply can’t carry enough with me to survive for very long, especially in the winter months. Instead of buying lightweight camping equipment, I’ve invested in weapons, ammo, and security devices for my home and property, not to mention stockpiles of food, and water purification capabilities. If I’m going down, I’ll go down fighting. Up until that time, I’ll be comfortable in my home.

In the event that I absolutely cannot stay in my home, I plan to bug out using my ATV vehicle. I’ve taken steps to protect that from an EMP attack. While I won’t be able to carry as much with me as I would like with that vehicle, the ability to travel off-road offers advantages over a standard automobile. In the event of an EMP attack, roads would be clogged with disabled vehicles. I can easily bypass obstructions with an ATV, and travel far from a danger zone in a relatively short time. I’ll go back for additional supplies only if I feel that I can do so safely.

I have a pre-selected bug-out location, and relatives not living with me are aware of it. Should they need to bug out, they know that they’re welcome to join me. In fact, in such a situation I would rather be with people I know and trust, instead of those I happen to meet up with.

My Provisions

My list of provisions includes most of the items you’d expect to find in anyone else’s list, so I won’t discuss those here, but I have additional items and special preparations that you don’t often see in others lists.

I own a small generator, but don’t consider it an integral part of my survival plan. Generators are impractical, primarily due to the need to store large quantities of fuel. A generator would only be good for the first few days, as you hunker down and begin to implement your survival plan. Once the stored fuel is used up, and all nearby sources of fuel exhausted, generators are useless. Additionally, the noise and smell of a generator advertises your presence to those who would harm you.

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My alternative source of electricity is an off-grid solar-electric system which I described in detail in a previous post (Living in Comfort when the SHTF) on TPJ. My preps include the ability to repair any damage that may occur as the result of an EMP attack. Spare parts and test equipment are stored in a Faraday Cage to protect them. I’ve also stored CFL and LED lights, and other portable electronic devices that contain components which could be damaged by an EMP attack. I doubt that my solar panels would be damaged by an EMP event, but I have spare blocking diodes, just in case. I also have a spare inverter and charge controller. My batteries are protected from the elements, but not shielded from an EMP attack, since an EMP attack would probably not damage them.

Like my provisions list, my bug-out kit includes items that others may not have considered. Since GPS may be down, a compass is a must.

In the event that I have to bug out by ATV, and if time permits, I’ll take the major components of my off-grid solar equipment with me. I believe I can disassemble and pack the equipment in 6 hours or less. Once I’ve arrived at my bug-out destination, I’ll set up a makeshift off-grid solar electric system.

My alternative electricity preparedness is far greater than most other preppers for a reason; it’s an important component of my survival strategy. I’ve also taken great care to protect communications equipment, and to maintain the ability to provide refrigeration, lighting, and the ability to charge portable electronic devices. Having electricity for power tools would make rebuilding after a disaster much easier. Communications equipment may provide vital information, in the event that broadcasts exist. Lights can be used to help secure an area, be it a home or camping spot, unless there is reason to believe that those lights will attract unwanted attention. I’ll share what I have, with the expectation that others in my circle will share their special skills, such as hunting, fishing, trapping, medical, food preparation, construction, security, etc. Hopefully, my group will include at least one member who has the desire, strength, stamina, and know-how to maintain a large garden. My preps include seed storage.

SolarPanelStarterKit

Solar Panel Starter Kit 400W

Should I need to bug out, it’s likely that I’ll be able to find a working refrigerator/freezer, a necessity for preserving food, and to keep medicine from spoiling. However, if an EMP attack were to damage the refrigerator’s control module, I know how to bypass that, and apply power directly to the compressor. The refrigerator/freezer could then be controlled by a mechanical timer, so that the compressor doesn’t run continuously. The modification is easy to make, and I’ve included a mechanical timer in my bug out supplies.

The alternative refrigeration device at my home is a 6 cubic foot chest freezer. It uses much less electricity than my upright refrigerator/freezer, and therefore is less of a load on my off-grid solar electric system. I can also use it to make ice, which can be used in a cooler for items that need to be kept cold, but not frozen. Because the chest freezer is a simple device, I can easily make the wiring change I described, should that become necessary.

Another prep that is currently a work in progress is the storage of important survival information. Understanding that the World Wide Web will probably be down, I’m storing as much information as I can on a Kindle Fire. Subjects include; medical information, edible plants, crop production, food processing and storage, water purification, raising animals for food, maps, and so on. I prefer the Kindle Fire over a laptop or PC because of its portability and low power consumption. It can easily be charged from the accessory socket in any automobile, or with the off-grid solar system I’ve described. I’ll store the Kindle Fire in a Faraday Cage until it is needed, or until I bug out. If I bug out, I’ll wrap the Kindle Fire in aluminum foil and store it in a waterproof bag.

Understanding that an EMP attack may be followed by additional EMP attacks, my provisions include the ability to put together a Faraday Cage once I’ve arrived at a bug-out location. When not in use, sensitive devices will be stored in that.

What is a Faraday Cage, and how do I make one?

A Faraday Cage is an enclosure of any kind which includes a layer of electrically conductive material. It can be as large as an entire room, or smaller than a deck of cards. The device(s) to be protected are wrapped in the conductive material, but insulated from it by a non-conductive material. The electrically conductive material can be metal, including aluminum foil, or a fine-mesh screen. The electrical signals will not pass through fine mesh screen, but there must be no openings larger than that. There should be no hole or gap larger than 1mm, about the thickness of a dime.

A simple Faraday Cage can be made by wrapping the device to be protected in non-conductive material, such as cloth, and then by wrapping that with three layers of aluminum foil. Make sure there are no holes or gaps through which electrical signals can pass. Put that in a cardboard box, and then wrap it with aluminum foil. This provides two layers of protection from EMP signals. That might be considered overkill, but you don’t know how strong the EMP signal (the attack or solar flare), will be.

The type of Faraday Cage described above would be well suited for bugging out, but inconvenient for frequently used devices. Instead, a metal toolbox, or metal cabinet, lined with cardboard would work well. Aluminum tape, the kind used in duct work, can be used to seal holes and gaps. Steel wool can be used to better seal gaps around the door, if needed. Wrap the devices to be protected in aluminum foil, and then place them in the metal container. This method provides two layers of protection, but easier access to frequently used items.

A larger Faraday Cage can be made by using a metal trash can, or an unused chest freezer, but you might have to seal the seams on the lid or door. A device wrapped in aluminum foil, placed in a cardboard box that is also wrapped in aluminum foil, and then placed in a sealed trash can, would provide three layers of protection, which would probably be enough to protect devices from strong EMP attacks.

EMP_over_Washington_DC_MW2

Imagine losing the use of your car, no working communication devices, no radio, no TV, no light, no refrigerator, and you could no longer cool or heat your home.

After you’ve built a Faraday Cage, test it. Place a tuned-in radio in the Faraday Cage. When the cage is closed, all electronic signals should be blocked, and you should no longer hear the radio broadcast.

Conclusion

Can you live without your phone, texting, tweeting, and email? That may seem like a silly question, but I wouldn’t rule out the psychological effect of losing those capabilities.

Survival without electricity is possible, of course, but I wonder how long most people will last without it. The winter months would be very difficult. On the other hand, the ability to process and store food until it’s needed would free you from the daily task of finding food. The ability to cook food using kitchen appliances is not just convenient; it’s more discreet than cooking over a campfire, adding to your security. The availability of lighting would allow you to extend working hours into the evening, and contribute to a level of protection from those who would steal your supplies, or harm you.

Banding together with others can dramatically increase your survival odds. Many of us already have a stockpile of food, and know how to purify water for drinking, but the greatest threat to survival may come from other humans. Having one or more group members with military or police training would reduce the likelihood of falling prey to those who would do you harm. Additionally, each member of your group will need to willingly perform a set of chores that match his/her age and abilities. A portable database of survival information will help to fill in survival skill gaps within a group. Your Christian values dictate that you take care of those who cannot care for themselves, but you’re wise to weed out those who are able, but not willing, to contribute. There is no room for those who would jeopardize the survival of the group. Survival is not just about stockpiling, it’s also about producing.

If you find yourself in need of a group to join, assess potential groups carefully. Keep your assets hidden, and don’t discuss them until you’re sure you can trust the group. If the group has a very liberal mindset, they may want to take your provisions, and distribute them among the rest of the group. Make sure you understand the “rules”, and are willing to abide by them. Assess the group leader. If he/she more closely resembles a cult leader than a resource manager, move on.

Since you don’t know how strong the EMP signal (the attack or solar flare), will be, you won’t know the extent of the damage until afterwards. It’s possible that computers, TV’s, radios, cell phones, CFL and LED lights, and portable electronic devices will be ruined. Devices that do not contain sensitive components, such as incandescent light bulbs, electric frying pans, and hot plates will probably work, but none of that will matter if you don’t have a source of electricity. Without electricity, refrigerated food will spoil.

Prepping well for a power grid failure requires an alternative source of electricity, other than a generator. That alternative source of electricity needs to be robust, to facilitate lights, refrigeration, communication devices, power tools, and kitchen appliances, as well as to contribute to home heating and cooling. While a small off-grid system will give you all of those capabilities, a larger system will allow you to do all of those things simultaneously, significantly contributing to your quality of life. Most of all, the system needs to be sustainable. A mid-size off-grid solar electric system is the best choice. It’s expensive, but one such system can serve multiple families within a survival group.


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If you’ve been prepping for a while, you may have used some of your provisions during short-term emergencies. Perhaps you’ve used some when a storm knocked out power for a

Our family just moved into a new home. It’s in a great neighborhood but is rather small in size with only two bedrooms. In addition to updating the paint and replacing windows, we’ve added an outdoor shed that will serve a number of purposes. My husband works from home, which is awesome. However, it can get a little stressful when he’s taking an important call and our precocious two-year-old is running around and screaming like a crazy person. So, we started looking for some cost-effective solutions.

Our first reason for the outdoor shed was a way to create a home office space for him to work. When we really got to thinking about it though, we realized the shed could offer so much more.  In addition to building an awesome work station for my husband, we ended up adding a lofted bed, small bathroom, and kitchenette and lots of room for storage. So basically, when SHTF we’ll be jumping on the tiny home wagon.

This is how we designed our perfect prepper outdoor shed:

What are we storing?

When TEOTWAWKI hits, our plan is to hunker down. So, you better believe our hidden-in-plain-sight home office turned prepper shed is stocked full of food, medical supplies, water and ammunition.

Stockpiling too much can leave you susceptible to looters. So, we chose to store our goods in an unassuming spot – a home office shed. We built a bookcase into the wall with hidden storage and placed our canned and dry goods there. The space is cool, dry and dark and perfect for our food. We’re also storing important medical supplies and ammunition in the built-in storage space.

Solar Panels

We are millennials so when SHTF we’re still gonna really want power. That’s why we installed solar panels on the roof of our outdoor shed. If the power grid collapses, we’ll be ready. Well…at least I’ll still be able to check my news feeds.

Many see solar energy as cost prohibitive and I did too at first. I was hesitant to believe that purchasing and installing solar panels would fit into our budget. But, in the glorious age of the internet and YouTube, we quickly realized a DIY effort is not impossible and building our own solar panels was really quite doable.

A little research, a trip to your local home center and some sweat equity is all that’s required. You’ll be on your way to harnessing the power of the sun in no time and you’ll take your self-sufficiency and disaster readiness to the next level.

We live in a hurricane prone area, so in addition to building the solar panels ourselves and therefore understanding how they work in their entirety, we’ve stocked extra supplies for repairs in the event a destructive storm comes our way.

When building our outdoor shed / home office / prepper paradise we asked ourselves: why not utilize the all-powerful sun when things take a turn for the worse? In the meantime, these solar panels are helping reduce our electric bill. It’s truly a win, win.

Hideaway Storage Unit in Roof

We were able to control every aspect of building this shed and therefore we opted to add important stealthy storage spaces that would be challenging for the average Joe to locate. For example, we built a hideaway storage unit in the roof of the shed. This is an inconspicuous spot where we can keep important documents and stash away extra cash.

Shed Security Measures

This shed is so important to us on many levels. First off, it’s my husband’s space to get his work done and provide for our family in peace and quiet (SUPER IMPORTANT). Second, it’s our family’s contingency plan for TEOTWAWKI. If disaster strikes, or we can no longer check social media every 2 minutes (which is a disaster if you ask me), our home remains a great spot for us to hunker down.

We’ll have access to food, water, medical supplies, ammunition, our important documents and power. You can’t really place a value on this. And that’s why it’s important to us that our shed remains secure.

There are a ton of ways to secure your outdoor shed and we did our fair share of research(also here) to determine the best method for us.

In addition to installing upgraded locks on our shed, we also opted for an alarm system with video surveillance that immediately notifies us if there has been a break in. We also fixed our shed to the concrete foundation. This helps to protect it against natural disaster like the tropical storms and hurricanes that tend to plague our area.

One of the final security measures we took was to reinforce the entry door with metal bars. This essentially turns the shed into a vault and would allow us to truly hunker down.

Key Cache

This leads to me to the final feature I want to highlight in our prepper paradise (okay, it’s a shed I know!). We all know about survival caches. This is a smaller version of just that. A key to the shed, a pill bottle and a decorative rock are all you need accomplish this final tip for securing your outdoor shed. Glue the rock to the pill bottle lid, slip the key in, dig a hole and voila! Hardly a chance your snoopy neighbor will be able to locate that key hidden in plain sight.

We have found that our outdoor shed has increased our quality of life in the here and now tenfold. Converting an outdoor shed into livable space and a prepper station was both cost effective and an interesting, fun and educational adventure for us.

We also feel confident that this space will continue to provide for our family, especially in this current age of extreme uncertainty. Securing our outdoor shed has given us a significant increase in peace of mind. We know that we are prepped for what lies ahead and that our goods and materials are safe. And thanks to those solar panels, I’ll be able to charge my iPhone to live tweet TEOTWAWKI.

Our family just moved into a new home. It’s in a great neighborhood but is rather small in size with only two bedrooms. In addition to updating the paint and

The Prepping Community’s most active discussion revolves around preparing for disasters. Not that disasters or zombies are our only focus. The broader topic of prepping involves a lot of discussion and debate on various subjects. At the end of the day though, it comes down to how prepared you are when that disaster that forms the motivation behind our prepping, strikes. We can talk tactics and strategy all day long. We can debate which firearms are best or even necessary if the grid goes down. We can plan to defend our neighborhoods from looters or scoff at the notion that something like that could be necessary. We could write tomes on a thousand ways to build a fire out of nothing more than belly button lint and a tennis shoe, but when the disaster happens you are going to be playing the hand you are dealt. At that time, you will not be able to run to the store most likely for those last-minute supplies and what you have in your pantry or stored in your basement will be what you have to ride out that disaster.

Whatever skills you have learned will be at your disposal, but those plans for that tactical pistol class you kept putting off will be just that, plans. The best intentions to take that Wilderness First Responder class that you had meant to look into for the spring would be of no value to you. The garden you had been putting off for 10 years never got created and now, that grassy patch in your backyard is still not producing anything that will keep you alive.

Time’s Up! How Prepared Are you?

One of the motivations that drive my prepping efforts is the concern that if something happened today I would only have what I have. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be that bad off, but I wouldn’t have everything I think would be ideal in my ideal situation. I also know that having a couple of years’ worth of freeze-dried food doesn’t ensure you will live through any disaster, but every little bit helps.

Prepping is a series of steps that you can take toward a set of goals. You can start at a million different places and I know that there are different situations each of us face that make our personal preparation story different from person to person. However, there are some things that I think are universal that we all need in order to live.

There are certainly other things you need to live in an ideal state. For example, the list above doesn’t take hygiene or medical needs into consideration. You certainly won’t find an entertainment option above; that is unless your idea of fun is shooting water bottles, but the list above is what I consider the most important categories for survival.

If disaster happened today, how prepared are you? If you faced TEOTWAWKI this afternoon as you pulled into the driveway, how would you fare? Try this exercise when you get home tonight. Sit down with a piece of paper, take a look at all of your various prepping supplies,  grab a pencil and ask yourself the following questions.

Before you start, here are the ground rules:

Assumptions – First off, when the disaster strikes, you are not able to run out to the store for anything. Some crisis has happened. The power is out and you are unable to leave your immediate area out of safety concerns. You are unable to bug out at the present time and are forced to shelter in place. There is no imminent danger but all services are completely inoperable.

Rain barrels are a simple way to easily collect rainwater. This can be used for gardening or for drinking after purification. Sure beats under the bed.

Water

Q. – How much water do you have stored for each person you are prepping for?

Q. – Do you have a source for water when your stored water runs out? Do you live near a lake, pond or have a stream nearby?

Q. – Do you have a means to purify your water?

How prepared are you when it comes to water?

Now that you have asked yourself the questions above, where do you stand in the water category?

    • The recommended amount of water stored is one gallon per person per day. If your water supply is contaminated like the several instances that happened, specifically Charleston, VA will you have water to drink, cook with and bathe?

It doesn’t get much simpler – just add water.
  • Water is more easily stored in larger containers, but this is a space consideration. 7 gallon water containers that stack are easy to use, carry and allow you to begin your water storage plans.
  • Water Containers should be clean and ideally have not had any other chemicals or liquids in them.
  • Unless you have a NORAD style bunker under your home, I would bet money you don’t have a ridiculous amount of water stored so whatever you have will run out.
  • Bodies of water and even rain barrel systems provide the best redundant source of water, but you will need to figure out how you will carry water to and from. I recommend a heavy duty yard cart to easily carry the weight of even a few dozen gallons.
  • There are many ways to make water safe that are detailed on several posts from Final Prepper. My personal preferred method is gravity filters. For home use that can easily handle several gallons at a time, I have a Big Berkey. If I am on the go, such as bugging out, I think a filter like the Platypus GravityWorks makes getting safe water, nearly effortless. This method could work for home too, but the Big Berkey has a much higher capacity.

Do you need to stock up more or are you OK? If so, for how long? Evaluating this list of questions myself, I admit I am not where I would like to be ideally. I have several hundred gallons of capacity, and plenty of renewable resources, but I would like to increase my in-home storage. I am also looking to increase rain storage capacity with a 250 gallon tank. Something for me personally to work on.

How prepared are you when it comes to food?

Food

Q. – How many calories do you have stored for each person you are prepping for?

Q. – Do you have a source of food once your stored food is gone?

Q. – Do you have capacity to store foods that do not require refrigeration?

How prepared are you with food?

Now that you have asked yourself the questions above, how are you doing in the food department?

By having a stable amount of food stored up prior to any disaster, you will have more time to work on those renewable sources later.
    • Averaging 2000 calories a day for a grown person who isn’t doing intense physical labor is our baseline. I know I eat more than that on any given day, but I certainly don’t need to. Inventorying your food with an eye towards calories takes some work but can open your eyes. For example, one of the easiest ways I think you can quickly and economically stock up on food is to buy 50 Lb. bags of Rice. Each bag is about $20 and has 504 servings. Divide that by the number of people in your family, then the number of times a day you plan on eating rice and you will get an idea of how many meals (at least the rice part) will provide.
    • Freeze Dried foods are sold different ways. In some cases, like with Mountain House and other backpacking friendly meals these are sold to feed one or two people so those are easy to count. MRE’s would be simple too, but if you have bulk freeze-dried foods you will need to do a little more math. I purchase mine with the understanding that I was buying a person’s rations for a set period of time so I already have that amount calculated.
  • What about canning food or keeping it after you don’t have the Sam’s Club? Do you have canning supplies? Do you have years’ worth of lids or reusable canning lids?
  • Do you have a garden that is already producing fresh vegetables, that you actually eat? What about seeds to last a few years? Have you looked at the calories of your seeds and how much that will provide assuming you have zero crop issues?

Once I went over my own inventory, I think we are pretty good in the short-term for food although, even a great garden that is producing gang busters isn’t going to be enough. Additionally, our garden plot right now wouldn’t support us so it would need to be doubled most likely. The good news is that we have the room and capacity to do that if needed and enough food stores to last.

Shelter

Q. – How close do you live to major metropolitan areas?

Q. – Do you have a safe room or other hardened structure?

Q. – Do you have backup power?

Q. – Do you have backup heat?

Q. – Do you have alternate ways of cooking food?

How prepared are you with shelter?

Now that you have asked yourself the questions above how are you in the shelter category? In my assumptions above, I said that you were forced to shelter in place so what could we consider if your home really was your round the clock location?

    • You are forced to shelter in place, but that doesn’t mean others will. If you live close to major cities, you could have to worry about the Golden Horde. How does this factor into your plans?
Being prepared means options – A small camping stove like this and some spare fuel canisters could heat meals or boil water.
  • In the assumptions there is no need to defend your property now, but as much as possible, how will you harden your home to prevent access by bad people?
  • Most backup power solutions revolve around generators and keeping a lot of fuel stored. Do you have both? Do you have a solar option that is robust enough to do more than charge a cell phone, in 8 hours? What will you do when the fuel is gone?
  • For some, cooking outside will be difficult. What if you live in an apartment? I would look into camping stoves or stocking propane for that grill on your deck.
  • Backup heat is best from a wood burning stove, but many of us don’t have that capability. Kerosene heaters and when all else fails, wearing warm layers would be necessary. Do you have plenty of each if that is the case?

Shelter is a mixed bag for me because I do live in a suburban setting like so many of you. Our home can only be made so safe and that is a concern that would require me to escalate actions according to the situation. I won’t be barricading the front door and windows with sandbags just yet, but that would be a worst case option. Cooking wouldn’t be an issue for us because I have several methods and plenty of wood. Heat would be an issue with our existing gas log fireplace. Even if the gas was out, the chimney would need to be cleaned before I could safely burn wood in there again. It does me no good to burn the house down.

The AR-15 is a very popular choice for a Prepper firearm.

Security

Q. – Do you have any experience with firearms and/or specialized training? Air-soft doesn’t count guys.

Q. – How many firearms do you have on the premises? How many rounds of ammo do you have for each caliber?

Q. – Do you have any spare parts for your firearms? What about cleaning supplies for your weapons?

Q. – Do you have force multipliers like communications, night vision, and body armor or surveillance systems?

Q. – How many able-bodied defenders do you have in your prepping group?

How prepared are you with security?

Now that you have asked yourself the questions above how are you in the security category? In my assumptions above, I said that there is no imminent danger but all services are completely inoperable so I can imagine that with that chaos, there would be danger eventually.

    • When bad times happen, bad people do bad things. I know that sounds trite, but it is one of the most easily predictable human behaviors. Chaos and fear will cause irrational behavior and even deadly attacks can be viewed as justified in the eyes of a mother with hungry children. Charity and grace is something we have addressed in other posts, but you will need to be able to defend yourself if you truly expect to make it through TEOTWAWKI. If you do not accept that simple principle, you will be taken advantage of.
Gerber eFECT Military Maintenance Tool
  • You have to be able to use any firearms you have. That means three things to me.
    • You must have the will to use them if needed to defend your life.
    • You must know how to use them properly in high stress situations.
    • You must have ammo to use them at all.
  • There is strength in numbers. No matter who that group is, generally speaking the more people you have to defend yourself, the better able you will be to defend yourself.

Security is one area I think I am pretty well off in one sense but still have a way to go in a lot of other ways. My “group” is largely my family and not a bunch of Navy Seals. We have training and capacity, but it isn’t like I have a bunch of guys who will go screaming off into the woods to attack anyone. Security for now will be focused on defense and I still need to work on offensive capabilities and training.

What’s your score?

Yes, this is a nod to the scoring system that National Geographic’s Doomsday preppers had on it, but that system was problematic to me. Even so, I think it does make sense for each of us to try and figure our how long we could survive. I put my own efforts at well over a year but that is what I think on paper. Reality gets a vote so I could be wrong. We could have some pest infestation in our garden, or while I was taking a siesta, deer could eat all my tomatoes. You never know, but starting to visualize where you are now will help you get to where you want to be.

So the question is, how prepared are you?

The Prepping Community’s most active discussion revolves around preparing for disasters. Not that disasters or zombies are our only focus. The broader topic of prepping involves a lot of discussion

 

I am vegan and I have no intention of being vegan in SHTF. However knowing some tips and tricks about the vegan diet might help us all out when the worst happens and the shelves empty forever.

For most people likely the idea of having to eat an exclusively vegan diet is their idea of the apocalypse! No more bacon and beef burgers. Leaving aside the other valid reasons to embrace a vegan diet before SHTF this article is a none expert’s view on how to eat better if there are no more open stores and the only meat for miles is the odd rat.
Personally I plan on eating that rat in SHTF but I was recently asked to put together a how to article on how to be vegan in SHTF if meat, fish, dairy, and/or eggs are unavailable. I would argue that meat food preparation is the easiest of all if you embrace the SHTF and accept that Costco is gone forever and so is McDonalds. You should have plenty of meat sources stored and have a good idea of how to hunt and trap those local rats.

Having been vegetarian for 12 years and vegan the last 5 years I know how to eat well without animal products. I also know, and this is a critical point, that small amounts of meat and fish go a long, long way. While grabbing that tin of meat balls and eating it dumped over your white rice might work in a short-term SHTF in a long-term event what a waste! Use a tiny amount as protein is readily available from nature and using a huge intake is not necessary. More on this later.

Eating vegan means variety and eating a wide range of different vegetable sources. Eating vegan using the available produce in our modern world is easy and tasty. In SHTF this won’t be the case but nor will it be the case for anyone eating any other type of diet.

What Can Go Wrong with Being a Vegan?

Nothing much as it improves your sex life and general longevity but certain things can easily become dangerously low using a vegan diet. These pre SHTF include calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids (Read more here). The occasional rat takes care of calcium (hum, rat bones!), iron, and zinc. In fact your garden (you have plans for one and have seeds and know how to save them, right?) will almost supply everything you need.

Zinc

This needs to be taken care of as it is essential but how to get it when there is just no meat or stores anymore? Soya beans grow easily even in southern Canada so growing them and knowing how they can be used and stored is an essential skill. Green peas also are easy to grow and help with zinc. Nuts need to be found, prepared, and stored. I have acorns and black walnuts in my area. You need to know what you have in yours and how to harvest, prepare, and store these nuts. It is labor intensive and a skill.

Calcium

Spinach I hear you cry! Popeye had this as his source of strength. Yes and no. It is high in calcium but that calcium is bound to oxalate which renders it hard to absorb. For this reason use it as it is easy to grow and tasty but also grow rocket, cabbage, parsley, and kale (Bet you have been waiting for kale! Preparing tips after this this section). Use these heavily in both SHFT and now. Cow’s milk is very; very good at blocking calcium absorption which is why very few vegan females have osteoporosis.

Iron

A normal vegan diet supplies plenty of iron despite the myths. Just eat a lot of dark green vegetables. I became anemic (lack of iron) about a year and half into my badly thought out vegetarian diet and I suspect a lot of preppers will as well in a long-term SHTF. Eat those vegetables, eat them a lot, and eat them daily.

B12

This vitamin is infamous in vegans yet most vegans and almost everyone else know next to nothing about it. You will need supplements and fortified foods. However gardening in good quality soil and regular rotation of the fields will introduce some B12 into your body if you do not mechanically scrub the vegetables. This is not a reliable source so long-term you need to eat small amounts of meat. Fortified vegan foods and grains work well now but in long-term SHTF I plan to use my rat traps!

Can you fish in SHTF? Fish and the problem with a source for Omega 3 mainly goes away.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid

Black walnuts are essential in SHTF and a good long-term supply of chia seeds is helpful. You can get Omega 3 from soya beans and leafy greens but it is unreliable. Can you fish in SHTF? Fish and this issue mainly goes away. Salmon run near me and I plan on grabbing them in the Spring and dehydrating them for the year.

Vitamin D

This is of no concern in SHTF as the time in the sun throughout the year will generally give you adequate amounts. Eating the occasional egg also removes any worries about this. Know where the local birds nest and eggs are on the menu in the early Summer.

What Might Be Lacking in a Vegan diet in SHTF?

Top of my list is Vitamin C as I do not live in Florida. There’s no issue at present as trucks and trains bring me lots of oranges but in a long term SHTF I need sources found in Southern Canada.

So wild strawberries and blackberries I will have to find, harvest, and store. But what can I easily grow to cover this one? Orange trees won’t work. Have seeds and grow bell peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and leafy greens. One of the go to foods in SHTF needs to be parsley. Easy to grow, looks like nothing worth plundering, and full of vitamin C and calcium. Most people might add a sprig for decoration or a sprinkle on their slab of meat but as a vegan I can tell you it is awesome chopped up and added to salads and rice. Eat lots of it.

Protein.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “so how do you get your protein?” I would be very rich. My diet is loaded with it and yours is probably in excess if you eat meat. Protein in excess is very bad for the kidneys. Peas, beans, amaranth, millet, and dried pastas are full of it. Eat a wide variety of vegetables and this one is taken care of. I said earlier I would mention vegan ways versus business normal. Well I bet you have tins of tuna and Spam hidden away in your stock pile? Add a tin to a lot of rice and eat over 2-3 days. Before each meal chop up and throw in available greenery. Protein now is not your concern.

Time

A vegan diet without a decent blender (Vitamix or BlendTek) is nearly impossible. I do plan some solar power to use mine but without one preparing food will be a massive time commitment. Cook in bulk and add the greens each meal. Have excellent knives and have the ability to sharpen them every time you use them.

What do you need to know now about vegan diets?

Have seeds and know where you will grow them

Have seeds and know where you will grow them. For me I plan to grow a lot the first season after the first Winter post SHTF. I cannot see much point defending a garden from hungry people. Up here in Southern Canada they will die in the first Winter and afterwards trading and survivors should be friendly.

My main foods stored are vegan with long-lasting tomato sauces, pastes, etc. and pastas (fortified). I have a fair amount of tinned fish and meat as I think sticking to being a vegan in the SHTF would be deadly. Like foreign vacations the vegan diet is great for you but in SHTF won’t be available or would be dangerous. Vegans need lots of different types of intake to stay healthy and that just won’t happen easily in SHTF.

Powered greens and vegan powders are generally very expensive and I can see no use for them at all in SHTF. For me they are not a part of my planning but research them and they might be a bridge for you. I prefer actual real preserved foods than using this sort of thing. Collard, Swiss Chard, and Kale all dehydrate easily under glass in the Summer and can crush up and packed tight into a glass jar. Even without canning this source of green stuff lasts 8-12 months. Have lots of glass jars with air tight lids.

One thing you might not know is that Kale and Swiss Chard and Collard greens come in different varieties. Have a wide selection of types not just one type. Another tip is decent knives and remove the stems and only eat the leaf. Good scissors work very well in preparing leaf vegetables. The stems are very bitter. I think people hate Kale because of this basic preparing error. Kale is actually really tasty.

Amaranth

This is a seed that thinks it is a grain and a good one. It is complete protein and should be part of your pre SHTF garden. Grows tall and has colorful red leaves so put it around your place not just in the vegetable garden. It does well in drought and heat. For fun in SHTF you can pop it and have popcorn around the camp fire. Boil the seeds for a strange but okay porridge or use as a type of pasta/grain.

The leaves are a decent addition to any meal and the root can be eaten if the plant is mature though I have not tried the root. Plant it around the neighborhood as it acts like a weed and no one else will know to eat it in SHTF as red means danger!

Quinoa is a similarly useful crop and I am growing my first this year.

The obvious is the Three Sisters and history is something we all need to focus on. Again my tip is different types of squash, corn, and beans. The more variety the less chance of a crop wipe out and variety is the spice of life.

Anyhow I hope this gave you food for thought

  I am vegan and I have no intention of being vegan in SHTF. However knowing some tips and tricks about the vegan diet might help us all out when the

Preppers try to plan for all manner of situations in which their lives or health could be in jeopardy. We take steps to mitigate the bad effects of disasters so that our family will be as least impacted or safe as possible. When we start to make plans for situations where one or more members of our group are separated from us, the possibilities are endless. How do you prepare for every conceivable option possible for someone who is away from you? Is the main goal for those away, to get to your location? Do you rendezvous at a central location or are they supposed to wait to be collected? When do you know it is time to go? What rules do you have to consider breaking to survive?

This is further complicated when the person you are making these plans for are your children. For most of us, our school age children are away from us for a large block of time each day. Naturally, we would feel better if our kids were with us pretty much all of the time so that we would feel more in control of their safety but that isn’t possible for the majority so we have to make plans to include disasters occurring when our children are separated from us. This article is going to discuss how we can start preparing your children for disasters and equipping them with tools, skills and a plan for reuniting with you in the event of some crisis.

As a parent myself, I have given a lot of thought to the concepts and concerns I will present here, but I don’t have every answer and obviously I won’t be able to identify every possible scenario you could face. However, I think we can all take some practical steps that anyone could start with that could mean the difference between life and death should your children find them separated from you regardless of the event. I will also try to address concepts for different ages. You can’t expect a baby or even a younger preschooler to be able to do much in the way of thinking for themselves the same way you could a child in middle school or someone in high-school although some very young children have survived disaster.

Equipping your child for survival

Any self-respecting prepper has some form of EDC gear on them at all times. If you are new to the term, EDC stands for Every Day Carry and it is simple tools and gear that could help you survive. Some items in our EDC could help our children just as much as they could help you so I think it is also a good idea to equip them with gear they could use in a disaster. Obviously, children going to school aren’t going to be packing a concealed carry firearm or a knife. Most would be prevented from even having a lighter also, which may be a good thing but what can they take with them to aid in their survival?

What EDC gear should children have?

    • Water – No person should be without water. You can easily slip a BPA free water bottle in their backpack every day. This will provide them with at least some measure of water should something happen. Even if a child is in grade school they know what to do with this. Older children could even pack a water filter like the Sawyer Mini. This is incredibly lightweight and packs small but they will now have an almost limitless source of clean water if needed. Naturally, they will need to recognize situations where this filter is needed and instructed in how to use it properly.
    • Food – Children don’t need three days of freeze-dried food in their packs, but a few snack bars would keep them fed for a while. The trade-off is when these get eaten every day and need to be replenished, but that does ensure they stay fresh…
    • Shelter – I don’t think anyone is going to pack a tent or sleeping bag every day, but you can give your child a small emergency blanket. These are cheap and lightweight. Again, they will need to know how to use this and when it is appropriate. Probably the best way to prepare your children is to have them dressed appropriately for the weather conditions outside as opposed to dressing for indoors. By this I mean you need to know what the weather is supposed to be and have them dress for possibly spending a long time (overnight?) in that weather.

A loud whistle can call for help and is heard much easier than screams.

  • Security – This is tough for any kids going to a school, but for younger children you can get them a very loud whistle so they can signal for help. Older children may be able to keep some items in their car, but again this varies according to the age and maturity level of your child. I think any middle school and high school age children should be able to carry a pocket knife or multi-tool, but if the rules forbid that, you are limited.
  • Health/First Aid – There aren’t many children who are going to be able to patch themselves or anyone else up who is seriously injured, but small first aid kits with a few Band-Aids and some hand sanitizer could allow them to take care of small cuts and could help morale by giving them a sense of accomplishment. Older children should know the basics of stopping bleeding by applying pressure until the bleeding stops. Teenagers could easily deploy blood stopping bandages and save lives. I would probably leave the combat tourniquets at home though.
  • OtherDust masks, bandannas and even gloves and sunglasses could help your kids in certain circumstances. The problem then becomes putting this in a form that won’t be lost, played with or forgotten. I recommend putting all of these items in a small bag that stays in their backpack with instructions to use only in an emergency. Again, the bag will have to be where they can get to it for it to do any good. What about fire? I think it is more important to teach your child how to build and start a fire than it is to give them a lighter. Lighters aren’t going to be allowed in school. You could give them a ferrocium rod and separate the striker but that could lead to issues with the school authorities also. Maybe a blastmatch would get past the objections of the teacher who might not even know what it is used for, but you will have to decide if that makes sense. The bigger problem is knowing what to do with either tool if you need it. You can’t just take a lighter to a leaf and have a fire (that is controlled).

Just having the means to build a fire isn’t enough. It is more important to teach your children how to make a fire.

The items above are considerations for school, but what about if your children are on a camping trip or spending the night with friends? There are different situations you could augment supplies switching one thing out for another but in my experience that gets neglected, then forgotten quickly. I think it is better to have one system that they always have, know how to use and carry with them. That doesn’t mean that I don’t change what my child has if they are planning travel that is of a significant distance or longer duration than a single day at school.

Teach your kids what to do in a crisis

Steven, A Final Prepper reader sent me the following question that just so happened to prompt this post and echoes thoughts I have had as well as a father.

I have been wondering what would happen if TEOTWAWKI happened while kids were out-of-state on a school trip or similar situation. Do parents go on a 2-week trek to try to find/fetch them (if they even know where they are)? Do the trip leaders try to march a bunch of children home with no supplies or shelter? Are the families permanently separated until communications are restored? What if both the parents and kids were headed for the other and passed each other on their trips? How does one group know to stay put, and the other to move without communications?

The scenario Steven describes is a nightmare for any parent but a real possibility in a disaster when you are separated by any significant distance from loved ones. It reminds me of the exact plot-line of the short-lived TV show Survivors which you can watch on Netflix. In that show a mother and child were separated when he was on a camping trip and TEOTWAWKI happened. It worked out (naturally) but in real life millions of people have been orphaned in various real-life disasters that didn’t result from TEOTWAWKI, but war. If you want a sobering look at how that takes place in reality, watch The Good Lie.

As with everything I hypothesize on this blog, it really depends on the disaster, the people involved and the resources they have.

What is the TEOTWAWKI scenario? For example, if you had a 17-year-old son who was on this out-of-state trip with his high school and an EMP destroyed all electronic devices in the world (just bear with me) but didn’t cause direct loss of life, you wouldn’t be able to communicate with him. He might have even been en route to his destination so you likely would not have any accurate idea of where he physically was at any time. Would you leave your wife and other children at home to worry while you set out on foot to find him? What if instead of being 17 he was 14? What if your child was only two hours away by car? What if they were only 9 years old?

Being separated from your children is a nightmare scenario for parents in a crisis.

There are a million variables when we start talking about TEOTWAWKI and each family is different. What if you were a single parent and your son or daughter was only 50 miles away. Would you leave thinking you could find them? Now, if it wasn’t TEOTWAWKI and some regional disaster occurred, I would be in the car right away most likely.

For me and I am saying this while there is no TEOTWAWKI and my children are thankfully fine, I think in the scenario above I would stay home and pray for his safe return. Ideally I would have told him before leaving (and equipped him) that if the worst happens, he is to come back home. I would hope my 17-year-old son and whoever he is with would make it back to a known location (our home) using the skills and perhaps some of the gear listed above to survive until he made it back. As a father I might want to run after him, but I would be leaving the rest of my family defenseless possibly. Would I rather try to possibly fail to find one son, or lose potentially the rest of your family? These are hard questions that I hope none of us will ever have to answer.

So keep your children by your side and never let them leave. Seriously, we have to let our children venture further from the nest as they grow. I might not want this to happen because I can think of a million scary reasons how it could go wrong, but we do have to live life. Our children need to do the same. If you children are older, approaching adulthood, you will hopefully have instilled some of your beliefs in them already and equipped them with some basic survival skills. If they are younger, you should be working out worst-case plans with the people they will be in charge of them while they are away. You can make a joke out of it. “Hey, if the world ends and zombies start attacking, you are getting my kids back to me, right?”

I have tried to teach my children what to do in a crisis that happens when I am in the same town as them but there are only so many scenarios you can run through. I have talked to all of my kids about what to do if they were lost, something happened in their schools or they were in a place where a gunman was killing people. I can’t be there with them all of the time so I do what I can, worry occasionally and pray a lot for their safety.

What would you as a parent do?

Preppers try to plan for all manner of situations in which their lives or health could be in jeopardy. We take steps to mitigate the bad effects of disasters so

Have you ever wondered what you would do for work after the end of the world as we know it? There are many ideas out there and we have even mentioned a few of them on Final Prepper in past articles. Most of the ideas seem to start with the view that there will be a total collapse of the grid. When that happens, anarchy will reign supreme for some undetermined time. After the chaos is over, we will go back to living like it’s the 1800’s or close to that with no authority or social control in place anymore. In that kind of world where none of the technological advances are working anymore, what would you do?

Like I said, there have been a lot of good ideas posted on prepping blogs. Some people recommend blacksmiths or leather-working and those both sound like excellent choices if you have the skill and equipment. Surgeons, pharmacists and mid-wives will always be needed I think, as will people who can grow food, fix things that aren’t running and build things that need to be built. Anyone who is handy and has some imagination would seem to be able to offer something of value in this new imagined world in return for payment of some form. I imagine the world’s oldest profession will somehow find a way to survive even in a world of collapse.

Your average marketing executive, social worker or accountant will likely be up a creek without a paddle unless they have some other skills to offer. One job that I started thinking about was the job of a hired gun. If you have nothing but tactical training and the tools of the trade I can see a potential job for people who fit that bill.

Who would need a hired gun?

Hired guns have been in practice for eons. The bible talks about Amaziah hiring “100,000 valiant warriors out of Israel” so we can safely assume the practice wasn’t new even back then. The ten thousand were a group of mostly Greek mercenary units pulled together by Cyrus the Younger to attempt to take the throne of the Persian Empire from his brother, Artaxerxes II. The Swiss Guard has as part of its history service to the French where they were known as “the best contract troops money could buy”.

Do you envision yourself in the role of hired gun or mercenary?

People throughout time have needed protection or muscle to fight their wars. The form of the force or amount of protection would seem to depend on a couple of factors but the bottom line was you got what you could afford. When we are talking about the end of the world as we know it, payment could be as simple as food and shelter. Many of us talk about hunkering down in our homes with our stored provisions of food and riding out the chaos that we can imagine in a real collapse scenario but not many of us have a large enough force assembled to keep what we have safe if we are attacked by superior numbers. It wouldn’t take too many people or too much training to force a family of frightened, sleep deprived and stressed individuals out of the illusion of safety in their home which would then become the property of the invading force.

I could easily see the value in paying trusted, skilled, principled individual’s wages to help me defend my home and possessions if I had the means to do that. Could you?

What skills would you need to have to be a hired gun?

Since I am midway through this article, I should step back and state clearly that I have zero experience with this subject and anything I am writing today is just a simple thought exercise. I have never been a hired contract killer; likewise I have never hired anyone to run security for me, so I can only guess at some of the possibilities here. By the same token, I am imagining a world that has been set back to the 1800’s which also takes some mental creativity and artistic license. If you do have experience please join the conversation in the comments below.

Now, getting back to the article, what skills would make you worthy of employment as a hired gun? I can rattle off a list of military disciplines, skills, experience and schools that the mere attendance of would have made you a certifiable tough guy, but until you had a small village under your control, I would assume anyone hired to be protection would also serve other purposes too unless the threat of violence was imminent. Imagine you and your ex-military buddy were forced out onto the road due to some horrible circumstances. You have skills taught to you by the armed services of your country and you had essential gear for bugging out; battle rifles, bulletproof vests, enough camouflage to look respectable, night vision goggles and a good bit of ammo.

You wander through the countryside and come across a homestead during the course of your route away from the conflict and are lucky enough to meet the rancher who owns the land. After some very guarded pleasantries, he shares that he could use some help protecting his land and family. He would provide room and board for your loyalty.

What jobs could you have to do?

Now in my imagined doomsday scenario, you aren’t manning guard towers all day and sniping bad guys from 600 yards. You are there to provide muscle when needed, but the majority of your days would likely be occupied by other tasks. Your hired gun status is really only for when that gun is needed. Most of the rest of the time, it is your strong back, your calloused hands and maybe in some part, your companionship that is more likely what you will invest.

You probably thought you would be guarding the perimeter and keeping the other people who wandered through the rancher’s territory in the Golden Horde at bay and dealing with gangs who appeared to take some livestock or the ranchers’ wife and daughters. Maybe that could be the role of someone lucky enough to fall into this line of work, but I doubt that would be a full-time job.

Your job might even evolve over time where the first responsibility would be to set up those guard positions and fortify the house as much as possible. You might be teaching people how to shoot accurately, setting up range cards and developing SOP’s for dealing with various situations. You could be tasked with reconnaissance and information gathering where you would go out into the countryside to analyze approaching threats or coordinate resources. You could have much responsibility or very little until you were needed.

What if you wanted to hire someone as your security force?

Admittedly, this whole idea requires a lot of factors to fall into place to even work. For starters, we would have to have some cataclysmic event that rendered most of the world out-of-order. There would need to be lawlessness and people intent on protecting what is theirs with the resources on hand to ensure that happened. What are some of the other problems with this scenario?

  • Who would supply the ammunition you needed for practice and defense?
  • Would you have access to the ammunition or would you need the rancher to get it?
  • What if the rancher asked you to do something that you didn’t want to?
  • Are there other “defenders” that you have to worry about?
  • Are you able to leave at any point or is this contract for life?
  • Will you honor your commitments?
  • What if the rancher is killed?
  • What if you decide you want to leave to start a new life?
  • What if the rancher kills your friend?
  • What if the rancher isn’t really all that nice and wants to kill his neighbor and take their lands?
  • What if there was a local law presence and your actions as a representative of this rancher ended you up in front of the local law with a murder charge?

There really are a million different ways this could play out and after all these words I still understand that these hypothetical scenarios can never be answered to the satisfaction of all concerned in all cases. The best I can offer in situations like this are my own thoughts which on occasion pose more questions than answers. These are the types of things I think about.

What do you think? Could you foresee a Wild West world where you could be hired on to a larger home to help them protect what is theirs? Would you do it assuming you had nowhere else to go? Would you be a hired gun?

Have you ever wondered what you would do for work after the end of the world as we know it? There are many ideas out there and we have even

When our society collapses, so too will unlimited access to clean water, quality food, and medical care. Most diseases that have long been eradicated in the developed world will once again rear their ugly heads, and many will die. Preparing now will ensure that we and our loved ones have a better chance of surviving.

WATER

One of the first things to go, regardless of the cause of collapse, may be access to clean water. Bacterial infections (such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid), protozoan infections (such as giardia and cryptosporidiosis), parasitic infections (such as schistosomiasis), and viral infections (such as polio and hepatitis A) will arise primarily due to fecal matter in the water, and even water from the most pristine high-altitude streams will not be safe to drink without treatment. In the emergency preparedness classes that I taught, I collected water from a scummy pond. With an abundance of algae, it was very green and contained a lot of solid matter. I made for samples for demonstration purposes: 1) passed only through a coffee filter; 2) boiled; 3) distilled; 4) treated with bleach. Without revealing the treatment methods used, I asked the class which water looked best and safest to drink. Hands down, everyone chose the clearest, cleanest, purest looking sample—the water that was only passed through a coffee filter. The boiled, distilled, and bleach-treated samples were all off in color. It was at that point I realized that once the collapse begins, we need to be prepared to purify all of our water ourselves, and not rely on anyone else.

Platypus GravityWorks 4.0L Filter System can make 4 liters of water safe to drink in minutes.

FOOD

While illnesses arising from impure water will start quickly after collapse beings, increases in cases of food poisoning won’t be far behind. There is a wide variety of bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses. Some will only cause vomiting and/or diarrhea; others can be fatal. Of course, that is the case even now, when all is apparently well in our world. However, when people become desperate due to dwindling food supplies, they will also start eating food they normally would have tossed out. And they may become less cautious about the hygiene standards for those preparing the food. The pathways for potential contamination are numerous:

  • contaminated water used for washing or cooking;
  • under-cooked meat;
  • infected people handling food;
  • food held too long at improper temperatures;
  • botulism, not only from improperly canned foods—commercial or home canned, but also from baked potatoes baked in aluminum foil and then left at room temperature;
  • poor hygiene among food handlers.


To prevent illness, use only purified water for food preparation, cooking, and washing dishes. Carefully wash all produce. Cook all foods thoroughly. Enforce rigid hygiene practices for all food handlers. Practice strict observance of all guidelines for home canning. Don’t permit strangers to prepare your food. And don’t save leftovers—practice cooking what will be eaten in one meal.

MOSQUITOES

The incidence of malaria and yellow fever will definitely surge, as also will in all likelihood cases of zika, chikungunya, and dengue

Mosquitoes can carry bacteria, viruses, and parasites, making them an efficient vector for the transmission of dozens of diseases. While they pose a much greater threat in tropic and subtropical climates, mosquitoes range throughout North America. The most serious diseases spread by mosquitoes in North America at this time are western equine encephalitis and eastern equine encephalitis. However, in a grid-down situation, where municipalities are no longer actively combating mosquitoes and when filters and chemicals for backyard swimming pools are no longer being used, the mosquito population will increase astronomically—as will the number of diseases and cases. The incidence of malaria and yellow fever will definitely surge, as also will in all likelihood cases of zika, chikungunya, and dengue. To reduce chances for mosquito bites, wear clothing that fully covers the skin, eliminate open sources of water, utilize window screens and mosquito netting where possible, and apply mosquito repellents to exposed skin.

ACCIDENTAL INJURIES

As the society we have been raised in regresses to the 1800’s, as access to unlimited amounts of clean water and quality food decreases, and as people start working more physically, the number of accidental wounds and injuries will increase. As good nutrition decreases, the ability of the body to fight minor infections will also decrease. Simple scratches, even hangnails, will have the potential to become life-threatening. The first line of defense is to maintain strict personal hygiene—keep your skin clean. Second, make sure your tetanus vaccine is current.

Third, wear protective clothing always. This includes sturdy shoes and socks and gloves appropriate to whatever task you are performing. Fourth, whenever there is even the most minor of scratches, cuts, or wounds, practice thorough cleansing of the affected area, apply antibiotic ointment, bandage carefully, and change the dressing frequently. And get into these habits now.

COMMUNICABLE DISEASES

Careful hand-washing and avoiding crowds will go a long ways towards avoiding infection, as will keeping current on vaccinations. For those illnesses that breach your defenses, make sure you have an area that can be used for quarantine. Have a generous supply of plastic sheeting for sealing windows and doors, as well as medical gloves and N-95 masks. In addition, store antibiotics commonly used for treating strep throat, scarlet fever, and pneumonia, in addition to others routinely used for conditions to which you are susceptible.

VERMIN

While lice and bedbugs don’t necessarily transmit disease (they may), they do make people uncomfortable with either the itching or the mere thought of their possible presence. Don’t share personal items such as combs, brushes, sheets, or towels. As with most diseases, prevention is easier than treatment. However, consider adding some lice treatment supplies to your storeroom, just in case.

As society collapses, so does the government’s ability to provide services such as garbage collection. Mice and rats will be living the high life. So that they do not enjoy their newfound prosperity at your expense, have plenty of bait and traps for them.

MALNUTRITION

As the new normal lingers, malnutrition will become increasingly common. As a group, we have a reputation for having gathered and stored food to see us through to the other side. However, we can’t store food for everyone and we need to be prepared to improvise if for whatever reason our supplies run out.

Most nutritionists agree that a ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fats is healthy. However, what we actually consume varies widely, with women more likely to consume more carbohydrates and less protein, and the opposite for men. When the grid goes down, we’re going to be spending more time in physical labor, and our caloric and nutritional demands will change, sometimes drastically. And sometimes, people will have to make do with what they can find for food. So here we’ll address what various deficiencies in the diet look like and what can be done to remedy them.

The symptoms of protein deficiency are varied and non-specific and include weakness, fatigue, and reduced immune system function. Symptoms of carbohydrate deficiency are similar to those for protein deficiency but also include depression and mood swings. Symptoms of fat deficiency (which can occur even on overweight individuals) are similar to those of carbohydrate deficiency but also include reduced brain function and an increase in skin problems. And fats are essential for the body to be able to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E.
In the developed world we have been blessed for so long to have ready access to a widely varied diet that we have not seen manifest the effects of vitamin deficiencies for the most part, or at least those deficiencies due entirely to diet alone. Even when things fall apart, it will be a long time before we see problems with vitamin A and B deficiencies. When we run out of fresh or preserved fruits, problems with vitamin C deficiencies will likely arise. Teas can be made from pine needles or rose hips, or juice can be made from wheat grass to provide this essential vitamin. Vitamin D occurs naturally in only a few foods—generally fish and eggs. Most vitamin D in a North American diet comes from fortified milk and grains. When these dietary options become limited, just make sure to get at least a few minutes of sun each day, exposing as much of the skin as reasonably possible, and without sunscreen.

As variety in the diet and as food in general become restricted, conditions caused by dietary mineral deficiencies will present themselves. The best prevention will be raising your own vegetables and fruits and including whole grains and beans in your diet. Add in some eggs from your flock of chickens and use iodized salt and you’ll be well covered. For times when growing vegetables due to the season or due to having to leave your home is not possible, stock a generous supply of vitamin and mineral supplements for everyone in your family.

MEDICATIONS AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES

MegaFood – Men’s One Daily, Supports Energy Levels & a Healthy Stress Response

The aforementioned diseases will be making a comeback. That’s just what happens when societies collapse. While we are pretty powerless to stop that collapse, we can dramatically increase our chances of making it to the other side by ensuring a clean water supply and ready access to good food, and by observing strict personal hygiene and sanitation.

However, some illnesses and injuries are still bound to occur. It is important to stock a variety of OTC pain relievers including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium. These will effectively help with most of our minor ailments. For those killer headaches that come on hard and strong, have some children’s chewable versions of these pain relievers. They are more expensive, but they begin acting in about half the time. Benadryl is useful not only for allergies, but more importantly for insect bites or stings.

Despite medical and governmental counsel to the contrary, don’t throw out unused prescriptions. Of course, they can only legally be used by the person for whom they are prescribed, but you never know when they may come in handy again. Long-term studies have shown that most medications, providing that they are stored in a cool, dark place, retain their efficacy long past the posted “best by” date. The most notable exception to this is the tetracycline antibiotics, which should never be used past the date given on the package.

As people experience changes in their normal diet, stomach and intestinal upsets are bound to occur. Peppermint tea has been used for centuries to calm upset stomachs. Anti-diarrhea remedies should be available for mild cases of intestinal upset, but in severe cases of diarrhea, as will happen with cholera and dysentery, more will be needed. Electrolyte replacement solutions like Gatorade or Pedialyte take a lot of shelf space and storing an adequate supply gets expensive. Make your own using the following recipe:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt substitute (potassium salt)
  • 1 pack of sugar-free drink flavoring (Kool-Aid packet, or something similar—it’s not necessary, but especially helpful when trying to get someone to drink as much as possible)

In addition to the masks and gloves already mentioned, also stockpile a generous supply of:

  • Bandages in all types and sizes;
  • Topical creams such as triple antibiotic, hydrocortisone, Benadryl, and silver nitrate;
  • Betadine or iodine;
  • Mineral oil;
  • Epsom salts;
  • A wide variety of medical tapes;
  • Alcohol wipes;
  • Cotton balls;
  • Your favorite cold, cough, and flu remedies;
  • Essential oils you have found useful.

Also obtain a few medical books such as Physician’s Desk Reference and The Ship’s Medicine Chest and Medical Aid at Sea (get an older copy from the 1980’s or earlier—with the advent of satellite and cell phones, a lot of advice in later editions has been to “call the mainland” for help).

Cleaning supplies will be critical in maintaining safe environments post-collapse. Unfortunately, bleach doesn’t have a long shelf life, and neither does peroxide. If you are among those thinking you’ll be able to make “one last run,” include these items on that list. Rubbing alcohol, soap, and vinegar last forever. What many people don’t realize is that white vinegar is a great disinfectant for almost all hard surfaces, and true apple cider vinegar (with the mother) has numerous medicinal uses. Storing several gallons of each (depending on the size of your group or family) would not be excessive.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way

And finally, antibiotics. While sanitation and clean water were rated number one in a survey concerning the greatest medical advances in history, the discovery and development of antibiotics were a close second. When the collapse is in full swing, it may well be easier to find a doctor who knows how to prescribe antibiotics than it will be to find the antibiotics themselves. They may become worth their weight in gold.

However, it is very difficult to find a physician who will prescribe antibiotics for you “just in case.” Federal regulations make this a very risky activity for the doctor. Fortunately, there are two ways to work around this problem. There are several companies online that sell a wide variety of fish antibiotics. While there is some debate about whether “fish” antibiotics are safe for humans, it is generally acknowledged that the “fish” antibiotics and “human” antibiotics are coming from the same manufacturer. They look the same because they are the same. Unfortunately, the “fish” antibiotics can be a little pricey.

The other option is ordering “human” antibiotics from an overseas pharmacy. These are much less expensive than the “fish” antibiotics available in the United States, even after you factor in the shipping. I can’t compare companies, as I have only used alldaychemist.com. I have ordered from them several times and have always been pleased with the service. However, they have a nasty habit of calling you frequently to remind you to place another order. So when you have to provide a phone number, make sure you give them a number for a phone you rarely use. (FYI: When you are asked if you have a prescription for the medication you are ordering, just say “yes.”)

Based on my family’s history and recommendations online for what to store, the list of antibiotics in our storeroom includes the following:

  • Amoxicillin (strep throat, pneumonia)
  • Erythromycin (same uses as amoxicillin, but safer for pregnant women and children, and safe for those allergic to penicillin)
  • Doxycycline (same uses as amoxicillin, but for those allergic to penicillin/amoxicillin, cholera)
  • Ciprofloxacin (anthrax, urinary tract and prostate infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, diverticulitis, dysentery, typhoid)
  • Metronidazole (diverticulitis—when combined with ciprofloxacin, some STDs, giardia)
  • Cephalexin (strep throat, pneumonia, staph infections—but not MRSA)
  • Azithromycin (respiratory infections, skin infections, ear infections, STDs, cholera, cryptosporidiosis)
  • SMZ-TMP (some respiratory and urinary tract infections, especially useful for MRSA)

Again, these antibiotics should not be acquired with the intent of self-diagnosing and self-treating our illnesses. They really should only be utilized with a licensed physician’s recommendations.

We all know a collapse is coming. History teaches us that all these diseases will be making a comeback. Being prepared won’t guarantee survival, but it will greatly improve our chances.

When our society collapses, so too will unlimited access to clean water, quality food, and medical care. Most diseases that have long been eradicated in the developed world will once

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

When non-preppers think about how to survive the end of the world, they usually think about hoarding supplies, finding a secure place to store them and hunkering down to wait it out. It’s a nice fairy-tale, but in the real world, when SHTF, true survivors have to know how to hit back.

While it is important to stock up on supplies that you might need to survive TEOTWAWKI, having all the supplies in the world won’t help you if you can’t get to them when an apocalypse event strikes. What about defending all your supplies from desperate people trying to get them? What about protecting yourself and the people you care about? What if a flood or fire break out and you end up stranded with nothing? Even if you do manage to make it back to your supplies and feel safe, what happens when the inevitable occurs and your supplies run out?

Fitness is the First Step to Survival

The truth is, prepping is about skill and knowledge, first and foremost. Knowing what matters most is the true key to apocalypse survival, and having the skills to do whatever it takes to keep going isn’t about buying stuff; it’s about building your skill-set. That’s why the first step in learning how to prepare for the end of the world is always getting your body ready to handle whatever might come your way. In reality, every moment is an opportunity to train for the end of the world.

The Elements of Physical Fitness

Diversify your training to see the greatest results.

Endurance. Strength. Flexibility. Creativity. These are the essential elements of apocalypse survival and training. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities in your everyday life to increase your overall capacity to execute these skills – if you make the time for it. Here’s a quick guide on how to physically prepare for SHTF:

  • Endurance. There’s just no way to build your stamina without getting after it, every day. Endurance is quite literally a marathon sport. Even if it starts with a simple walk, find a way to get moving and keep moving every day. Aim to continually increase the amount of physical activity you do, the kinds of activities you try and their level of difficulty.
  • Strength. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to strengthen and tone without a ton of equipment, while there are a range of targeted activities like CrossFit and Krav Maga that can help you home in on and improve your weakest skills.
  • Flexibility. It may not seem very tough, but staying limber is essential to staying alive. Stretch while you strengthen, and you’ll be able to do more and recover faster after intense physical activity.
  • Creativity. Diversify your training to see the greatest results. Try different combat methods and improvise with the environment around you to identify your strengths and weaknesses while making it easier to respond effectively, whatever your situation or surroundings.

Apocalypse Training Techniques

Learn how to defend yourself in a lethal situation without a weapon.

Ultimately, fitness training for SHTF situations is about applied knowledge, not book learning or simulations. The people you’re fighting against when SHTF won’t follow the rules of sparing or good sportsmanship. At TEOTWAWKI, you’ll be fighting for your life with whatever you have available. That means you need to be prepared to fight on all fronts.

Train in three ways for maximum effect:

  • Functional Training. Use what’s around you to build practical strength, like tires, ropes and more. This idea is the cornerstone of CrossFit and parkour training.
  • Combat Training. Learn how to defend yourself in a lethal situation without a weapon. Mastering a martial art that’s specifically designed for tactical fighting like Krav Maga can be your greatest protection in an apocalypse situation.
  • Tactical Training. Firearm training is a no-brainer. Having a gun won’t help you if you don’t know how to properly use it or don’t consistently practice and improve your shooting skills.

When deciding how to build your skills in each of these three areas, think about the ultimate goal of any technique you learn. Your primary objective is to survive, not simply one-up your assailant. Find tactics that will help you stay one step ahead of an opponent both mentally and physically. Approaching your training this way is how to survive the end of the world. Survival isn’t about winning a trophy or a championship belt. It’s about making it out alive.

Tactical Survival Training for TEOTWAWKI

Focus on developing the kind of skills that will serve you under pressure when preparing for the end of the world. PHOTOGRAPHER: Lauren Harnett

If you really think about it, it makes sense to focus on developing the kind of skills that will serve you under pressure when preparing for the end of the world. You won’t be facing rainbows and words of encouragement in the end of days. When training with firearms, spend the majority of your time building and practicing fundamental skills so they become natural reflexes when you’re fighting for your life, rather than focusing on tricks and complicated techniques that will take time to recall.

The tactics you have to think about are the ones that will do the most damage when it’s time to make a split-second decision in a fight or flight situation. It’s better to stick with tactical techniques that complement what naturally happens in your body and brain when adrenaline spikes. This means sticking with methods that retain your accuracy and control, even when you’re under serious stress.

Practice the Basics. Then Practice Differently.

The tactics you have to think about are the ones that will do the most damage when it’s time to make a split-second decision in a fight or flight situation.

The first key to effective firearm use is mastering the basics, including your stance, grip, target acquisition, sights, trigger control, follow-through and ability to disarm an opponent. Here’s a quick breakdown of each and what you should focus on to improve your fundamentals.

  • Power Stance. Improving your overall fitness level will help you find a stable, mobile and balanced stance when shooting your gun, but it takes practice to find the power stance that will protect you from recoil, while letting you stay agile, aggressive and in control.
  • Grip. Make your grip firm, tight and with your thumbs curled down. Firearm expert and master trainer Massad Ayoob calls this the “crush grip,” and it’s one of the five elements he considers most crucial to have in your arsenal before firing a gun (Ayoob, 2012).
  • Target Acquisition. This skill covers the rapid vision transition that must occur after you’ve spotted a target and before you shoot. Practice adjusting the focus of your eyesight from a natural target to your sights quickly so you program the movement into your eyes’ muscle memory.
  • Sight Alignment and Picture. Two essential yet separate elements of proper shooting, sight alignment requires that your front sight be centered between the rear sights with your rear sights horizontally aligned, while sight picture is the relationship of your sight alignment to your target for accurate execution. Understanding the relationship between sight alignment and picture takes practice and depends on your individual gun.
  • Trigger Control. Your grip will go a long way toward improving trigger control, which is the act of pulling the trigger without pushing the nose of the gun up or down, jerking the trigger or otherwise disturbing your aim. Smooth and consistent squeezing is key.
  • Follow-Through and Reset. Follow-through is about squeezing the trigger until it stops moving, while reset is about getting the trigger ready to fire again. After your follow-through, practice releasing the trigger to the point of reset and firing again. Sometimes, the trigger break and follow-through positions are the same, sometimes not. Your trigger reset is rarely the same position where the trigger rests when untouched. Practice to determine both the follow-through and reset positions of your specific guns.
  • Disarmament. Whether you’re facing a knife, gun or concealed weapon that you can’t identify, you have to know how to disarm an assailant coming at you with a weapon – not only to protect yourself from other people, but also to anticipate how someone else might try to disarm you and prevent it.

There are a few simple drills that can help you get the basics ingrained in your brain, round out your shooting skills, and give you the confidence and versatility you need to shoot well when SHTF. Remember to practice shooting both moving and still targets, work with both two-handed and one-handed grips, and incorporate movement into your tactical training. If you aren’t shooting, move.

You should test out different kinds of firearms, including rifles, shotguns and handguns, and practice drawing and shooting them all until you find the weapons that work best for you. Your gun will do you no good if you can’t draw it fast enough and shoot it accurately. Practice in low light environments, try shooting multiple targets to improve your agility, and practice safely shooting from behind cover and concealment. All of these techniques can give you a huge tactical advantage in a lethal confrontation.

Mental Readiness: The Real Key to Apocalypse Survival

Having a strong mind and body and the right functional, combat and tactical training will go a long way to getting your ready for TEOTWAWKI – much more than stockpiling supplies can ever do.

Mental preparation is about conditioning yourself to handle the inevitable emotions during an apocalypse. Fear, concern, hopelessness, helplessness, defeat. Being better prepared than most can itself be a liability, since you can’t save everyone and trying to could ultimately end your own life. How will you determine when to stand firm, when to offer help and when to move on?

Mental preparedness doesn’t mean being weak. In fact, working on assessing, identifying and controlling your emotions will improve your ability to stay assertive, aggressive and in control instead of breaking down in the face of disaster. Often, appearing aggressive is enough to keep weaker would-be threats at bay, without the risks of direct engagement.

Having a strong mind and body and the right functional, combat and tactical training will go a long way to getting your ready for TEOTWAWKI – much more than stockpiling supplies can ever do. I hope this article gave you a good understanding of where to put your focus to really prepare for SHTF. If you get after it and train to improve a little each day, you’ll be better prepared than most when the end of the world arrives. Good luck.

When non-preppers think about how to survive the end of the world, they usually think about hoarding supplies, finding a secure place to store them and hunkering down to wait

In the Prepping community there are some topics that draw familiar responses from people of all walks of life. Naturally I am guilty of throwing out my own clichéd responses to these core concepts from time to time – hopefully with enough of my own opinion in there, also hopefully unique enough to warrant someone spending five minutes to read or share what I have written. This either draws a lot of comments or none. You can tell how controversial your post is by looking at the comments section and we have some great readers who are very experienced and just as opinionated if not more than I am. When an issue is drawing a lot of comments there is a great debate going on that is usually pretty civil and always interesting.

One of the debate threads or concepts that I frequently see has to do with this prepper mantra that Skills are better than stuff. For those who haven’t heard of that phrase before, it is simply the idea that you can have all of the supplies in the world but if you lack the knowledge of either A) how to use those supplies or B) alternative ways of accomplishing the same thing without those supplies, you are in a worse position.

On the surface this makes perfect sense. Let’s take a firearm for example. You can spend $1200 on the best AR-15 in the world, tricked out with the best weapon light, laser guided night sights, the best AR-15 scope, complete with the best camo paintjob. In the end, that AR-15 might be the most awesome weapon in the world and end up costing you more than most of our first cars. That Rifle represents “Stuff”.  But, if you don’t know how to hit the broad side of a barn with that expensive piece of metal and plastic, are you better off? If you can’t effectively clear a jam, reload under high-stress environments and accurately engage targets out to at least 100 yards (Skills), what good is it? What good are you?

Skills are an important part of being prepared for any situation.

In the example above, you would be much better off with a relatively cheap, hand me down .22 rifle and the skills to shoot a target and hit it accurately in a variety of situations. The prepper who can do that will spend less and be better off relatively than the prepper who spent thousands in this case. Additionally, if you can effectively shoot that .22 you would probably be able to use any weapon to a better degree than the prepper who simply bought their way to the highest levels of tactical nirvana.

Are Skills better than Stuff

In many cases it is clear to see how having skill is a particular area is highly advantageous over simply having the means to buy stuff. We use this argument all of the time to temper the thoughts of some preppers that feel compelled to wear out their credit card to get the latest prepper gear and supplies and go from zero to prepped in a single Amazon.com transaction. Skills are better than stuff in many cases, but is that a universal truth like some preppers seem to rely on when admonishing their fellow preppers?

Before I get into that side of the argument let’s take a look at a few skills that I believe we can universally agree are wise for any prepper to have in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. Todd Walker over at Survival Sherpa exemplifies the best part of the Skills mindset for me and his articles are full of amazingly creative and practical tips for making do without many of the conveniences we rely on. Our “Stuff”.

The bottom line is that if we did go through TEOTWAWKI, I would want a guy like Todd on my side. He has great articles that speak directly to skills such as:

Daisy Luther is another blogger you likely already know over at her site, The Organic Prepper and she also has great skills based articles like:

And there are hundreds more skills based articles out there in the world of Prepper Websites. There are millions of them. How to make a fire, how to forage for wild berries and how to tan hides, build shelter or create your own water filtration system to homeopathic medicine. Skills are important and some skills can’t be easily replaced, but I maintain that some “Stuff” isn’t easily replaced by skills either, so we should find a balance.

Living with nothing more than the essentials for survival is tough.

When Stuff is better than skills

If you strip any “Survival Expert” naked and throw them into the woods on their own – I imagine most will be able to “Survive” but unless you are planning on being naked in the woods, why wouldn’t you try to increase your advantages in any place you can?

Canning is a skill that is handy even now when the grid is still up.

Going back to my earlier example with firearms. The Skills purist might say that you don’t need a modern firearm if you have the skills to build a bow. You don’t need to stock up ammo if you can make arrows, a spear or a flint knife. I will concede that knowing how to do that is valuable, but limited knowledge in a lot of scenarios. The average person isn’t Robin Hood so the idea that you will easily defend your family from marauders with guns while you are hiding in your debris shelter doesn’t seem realistic to me. Could it be done by some? Sure, I guess but we are talking about millions of people who read Prepping blogs like Final Prepper. Do you think we should all take a wilderness survival course and not put away any provisions?

“Your supplies will run out”! and I completely understand that argument too. Even if you have stored years’ worth of Freeze-Dried foods in your underground bunker, eventually it will run out. Wouldn’t the person who can forage for wild food, trap animals with snares and “live off the land” be better suited for a TEOTWAWKI world? It sounds compelling, but I don’t necessarily agree completely with that line of thinking in all cases.

I know food, ammo, batteries etc. are finite and they will run out, but living off the land is hard, prone to injury and leaves you exposed to more (elements, people, fallout?) bad things than the person who is trying to hunker down and live off their supplies for as long as possible. You may survive off the land if you walk out there in good weather, with nothing but your 10 C’s for survival,  in good health – provided there aren’t millions of others trying to do the same thing. Surviving isn’t the same as thriving. I know we humans have been on this planet for a long time, most of that time has been without any of the stuff we rely on now. However, we didn’t live as long, had much harder lives and there weren’t as many people on our big blue dot as there are now.

Skills also can’t replace communication like radios, at least not in anywhere near the same effectiveness. Sure you can learn how to train carrier pigeons, but C’mon! Who is going to do that? Skills are also not going to help you whittle a power supply out of a piece of Hickory so wouldn’t Solar panels be a good use of Stuff in a survival situation? What about light? Sure you can make a fire with your bow saw and create a nice torch with pine resin but is that better than a tactical flashlight with rechargeable batteries and a solar charger?

Just my thoughts and I am always curious to hear yours. I believe there is a balance to be found between skills and stuff. I think you need to have both in good measure. What do you think?

In the Prepping community there are some topics that draw familiar responses from people of all walks of life. Naturally I am guilty of throwing out my own clichéd responses

Many Preppers get into the lifestyle of prepping, trying to solve a problem. The individuals and scenarios each person has in mind while contemplating their own unique problem are a different as any can be, but the problem usually is the same. We are all trying to avoid suffering needlessly when we don’t have to. Preparedness can be summed up simply in my opinion. It is the act of taking proactive measures to mitigate the risks to life of disasters. We prepare so that if something bad happens we can be ready to stop it, to avoid it or to live through it. The “IT” is different for each of us. Everyone has their own version of something bad but many preparedness supplies can address the needs of numerous bad scenarios because at the end of the day, prepping is all about staying alive.

Frequently, as we begin planning for those bad scenarios, we envision all manner of horrible problems that we could face with our family. Perhaps the direst and most drastic vision we can collectively focus on is some form of Apocalypse. This is the worst movie plot imaginable, a Mad Max world where it is literally Hell on Earth and survival is pictured as every man for himself. The Road and Book of Eli and dozens of other prepper movies paint the picture so well of a bleak, dangerous landscape. The apocalypse is usually planet-wide and can be the result from many potential factors but the actual definition of what an apocalypse is varies according to every person’s interpretation. Without splitting hairs, we can likely all agree that an apocalypse is the worst prepping problem that any of us can imagine facing.

Some call it TEOTWAWKI and that is a good acronym, but can we have a true apocalypse without it being ‘The End of the World as We Know it’? Could most of the life on earth be wiped out or lost due to calamity without the world coming to an end? Maybe I am taking it too literally in this context, but I am not planning for the end of the world. If that happens, we will all be gone anyway.

But an apocalypse is something that you could still live through, right? At least that is what many of us seem to be prepping for. What could life be like after the apocalypse and why do so many preppers need to adjust your thinking about the probable facts of life we all plan on living through.

So you lived through the Apocalypse, now what?

Premium Family 72-Hour Kit – Emergency Disaster Survival Kit

Let me start out by saying that I may be just as guilty of thinking the way I am going to address here as anyone else and frequently, my thoughts on prepping tend to evolve or shift with something in the news. I have been known to write on the same subject from a couple, maybe contrasting viewpoints and I just chalk that up to some of the duties of writing a prepping blog and learning like so many others as I go. I don’t have too many prepper ideas that are set in stone and have been known to change my thinking occasionally.

Case in point is this one. Most of my preps to date have been what we should realistically categorize as short-term preparations. I have an amount of food stored up and the means to grow my own going forward if the conditions are favorable, but I am not guaranteed food forever. I have water stored up to last me through short-term emergencies and methods to collect and treat additional water in virtually limitless capacity provided it rains, but that doesn’t guaranty I will always have water. I have shelter options, a suitable amount of weapons and ammo stored, first aid supplies and medicine enough to last a while and knowledge in the form of books to teach myself or others a plethora of skills should I choose to read them, but all of those things guarantee nothing. I have prepping supplies but what does all that mean?

You may be thinking that all these supplies I have are meaningless if they are swept away in a house fire and you would be right. You may be saying to yourself, well that just proves that stuff is irrelevant; skills are what you need to focus on for survival and I can see that argument too, but everything above assumes that the situation will never change.

Life will keep moving after the Apocalypse

Preppers seem to be planning for these big problems in our lives that we can foresee coming down the road. I have talked openly about an Economic Collapse but I still think that even globally that would not be something we could say was an apocalyptic event.  Whatever event you think could bring on that Mad Max scenario, war, famine, plaque, global warming, solar flares, earthquakes, meteor strikes, our preparations are at best going to last a short while. If you are amazingly prepared and also very fortunate, maybe you will live a couple of years after the unknown event has wiped out most of society. But what then?

Too often I talk to commenters and even other prepping bloggers who seem to have the thought that all we have to do is live through the initial chaos of our apocalypse problem and then we will be free to live out our lives in peace. As if we just need to survive the initial die off and then everyone left will be the ones ‘who were prepared’. Do we assume that the ones who were prepared will be free to just go back to farming our land? I don’t see this happening in history at all and even if it does, the initial period will likely not be months or years but decades. Are you prepared to survive on your freeze-dried food for that long?

Do we assume that the ones who were prepared will be free to just go back to farming our land?

Two thoughts I have on this are that first of all, it won’t just be the ones who were prepared that survive. It will be those who want to survive that live and many preppers will die just as quickly as those who weren’t prepared at all. Give me a desperate individual with nothing to lose and put them up against a scared neophyte with a basement full of supplies who believes in their own superiority without any practical training and expertise and I would bet on the desperate individual every time. The most well-armed ‘prepper’ in the world is nothing without the will to shoot when necessary and the good fortune not to be shot in the back first.

The second thought is that people throughout time have formed communities and eventually those communities need more resources. When they need more resources, that usually means that they have to expand their territory. If someone is in the way, there could be conflict. Where there is conflict, usually people die. Life in the apocalypse won’t be any different. Eventually you will need to form up with a larger group unless you are living in the trees or a cave somewhere. You can’t expect to just while your days away in peace and happiness growing a small garden and tending to your livestock while your solar power generator charges each day and allows you to watch your DVD collection that was stored alongside the DVD player in your Faraday cage forever.

Prepping isn’t a permanent solution

Goal Zero 23000 Yeti 400 Solar Generator

Preppers sometimes seem to have the attitude (and again, I have been slightly guilty of this myself on occasion) that we will by nature of our preparedness survive longer than anyone else. Perhaps that may be and many steps of preparedness certainly place us in a better position to do so in most situations, but nothing is guaranteed in life.

Prepping in my mind gives us an incredible advantage that many people don’t have, but it isn’t a superhero suit. Our prepping supplies don’t imbue on us any magical charm that will keep bad things from happening and even if we do outlive most people we are simply back to square one in a new game. When it comes to anything resembling apocalypse, your preparations if you are lucky will allow you to live for a while longer, but there won’t be any rest at that time. You will just advance to the next round and hope your planning, skills and preparations can continue giving you advantages over the next person.

As preppers, we need to be equally concerned about the other side of the disaster, not just making it through it when we are talking about Apocalypse. We need to plan not only on surviving, but rebuilding. What remains to be rebuilt will depend on the disaster I guess. In an apocalypse, it will probably be everything from our local level on up. This could take a huge amount of time and even if we make it to some rebuilding period, life as we knew it won’t ever be the same. We should all look at our prepping supplies, skills, plans and strategies as tools we hope to use to get us to that place where we have another opportunity to survive.

Prepping is a great lifestyle to practice and it has benefits from simple run of the mill problems to end of the world as we know it scenarios, but it is not a solution in and of itself. Prepping gives you a leg up, but you still have a part to play. There will still be difficulties even if you do make it through and knowing that going in may better prepare you when you come out the other side. Hope I see you all there.

Many Preppers get into the lifestyle of prepping, trying to solve a problem. The individuals and scenarios each person has in mind while contemplating their own unique problem are a