Survival Dog Food 🐕 

We love our fur-babies, but they often slip our minds when making plans or stockpiling food and supplies. Just like humans, our pets have the same basic needs for: food, water, and shelter. Most “Preppers” have water and shelter already, but what about petfood?

Before moving forward, I’d like to warn readers this article is heavily focused on dogs. Many families have other types of pets, but more families can relate to owning a dog than other pet species. The information in this article may be interchangeable if you own a cat.

What can you do to prepare? 

It’s best to continue feeding your dog the same food it’s accustomed to. Buy a surplus of dogfood and use or rotate your stockpile as supplies age. Dry dog food has a long shelf-life, and stays fresh even after you open the bag. According to a few articles I’ve seen online, the average shelf-life of unopened dry dog food is 1 to 1.5-years, and maybe longer under pristine conditions[1].

The same articles claim dogfood will stay fresh about 1-2 months after you open the bag[2]. I think it takes my dog the same amount of time to go through a bag of food. We’ve got another bag of food at our vacation retreat, but I’ve got no clue how old that bag is. He eats it just like the kibble at home, so it must be fine.

My dog has never complained about his kibble being stale…

What about when it gets desperate?

You’re running out of dog food, but pet stores were looted a long time ago. You know there’s no interest in resupplying or reopening stores based on living luxury items (pets), especially when people may be desperate enough to eat dog food! What can you do?

Can you make dog food and/or switch your pet’s diet to something else?

Making Dog Food

You can make “dog food” yourself, but it won’t look like the old kibble you used to feed your dog. It’ll look more like human food and the dog may not know the difference. 

I looked at the list of ingredients from my dog’s bag of food[3], and the first 11 items seem normal enough. They are: Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Soybean Oil, Brown Rice, Dried Beet Pulp.

The rest of the ingredients are vitamins and additives to enhance flavor or extend the shelf-life. With this in mind, it probably won’t be too difficult to make something your dog can eat from scraps and common pantry items.

To me, the ingredient list roughly translates to:

  1. Meat
  2. Chicken Meal (Ground Bones & Skin or Scraps)[4]
  3. Puréed Vegetables
  4. Egg
  5. Animal Fat and/or Oil
  6. Rice (Most people don’t have access to barley)
  7. A finely ground multivitamin

I don’t like providing recipes in my articles because there’s no way to know what ingredients you’ll have after the SHTF. Specific recipes can be found online, but be prepared to adapt the recipe to fit what supplies you have access to.

Changing the Diet[5]

Dogs evolved to be carnivores and scavengers, so it’s theoretically possible to transition them from kibble to meat-based scraps. Be aware that transitioning to a new diet will require a lot of patience and care.

Switching your dog’s diet can be as simple as 3 steps:

  1. Gradually introduce food scraps or homemade dog food to the kibble. This has the added benefit of extending your supply of dog food.
  2. If the dog doesn’t have a negative reaction, gradually increase the scraps being substituted per serving.
  3. Continue the process until only a small percentage of food is kibble.

A few things to keep in mind regarding changing a dog’s diet:

  1. Don’t replace kibble with meat-scraps overnight. Transitioning from kibble to a different diet “cold-turkey” could make your dog sick, and may cause unnecessary food waste if the dog can’t handle the sudden transition.
  2. If your dog gets sick during the transition, it may be because the process is moving too fast for it to handle[6]. You may need to reduce the ratio of new food per serving. Find a happy medium and maintain that ratio for a week before moving forward with the replacement process.
  3. You don’t want to waste supplies, so continue using a small amount of kibble with each serving until the manufactured food completely runs out.
  4. You may be tempted to start converting your pet’s diet immediately after the SHTF, if only to extend your dog’s food supply. This may not be a good idea if you have several hundred pounds of dog food stockpiled. After all, you’ll be supplementing your dog’s food with your own. Also consider that you don’t know how long your dog will live. If it dies suddenly, you’ll be stuck with a bunch of pet food you can’t consume.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your dog can’t successfully switch over to a new form of food without getting sick. Some of the nutrients are getting absorbed into their system, but it may not be enough and you need to be prepared for the possibility your dog may not survive. On the flip-side, don’t be hard on your dog either. It’s not the dog’s fault the world has gone to shit.

DO NOT Ration Pet Food 

You must feed your dog the same amount of food, at the same time of day. You can brag about how smart “Fido” is to your neighbors all you want, but he is not capable of rational thought[7] and won’t understand why you aren’t feeding him enough.

Rationing dog food will force the pet into survival mode and it will compete with you for food. The behavior of a starving dog will change quickly. First, it will scavenge for scraps or other food to make up for the deficiency. When that doesn’t work, the dog will seek targets of opportunity and attack weaker family members to get their food. There’s nothing scarier than seeing a loving pet, suddenly bare its fangs against a vulnerable child eating or playing on the floor. 

***

It can be difficult to prioritize what to stockpile in preparation for an emergency or disaster. It’s easy to focus on human needs over our silent partners, so don’t panic if you haven’t done much to ensure your pets are taken care of if the SHTF. Just remember that you can take steps to address this issue if disaster strikes.


[1] Spinney, K. (2019). Dog food does go bad, but there are ways to help keep it fresh longer. Retrieved from Fansided: https://dogoday.com/2019/02/12/dog-food-goes-bad-keep-fresh-longer/

[2] Cammack, N. R. (n.d.). Pandemic: Considerations for Pet Food Bulk Buying and Shelf Life. Retrieved from NorthPoint Pets & Company: https://northpointpets.com/npp-journal/pandemic-considerations-for-pet-food-bulk-buying-and-shelf-life/

[3] Full Ingredients List: Hill’s Science Diet for dogs with sensitive stomachs:  

Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Soybean Oil, Brown Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Pork Liver Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Flaxseed, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Oat Fiber, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.

[4] Nestlé Purina PetCare. (n.d.). What Is Chicken Meal in Dog Food? Retrieved from Purina: https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/nutrition/what-is-chicken-meal-in-dog-food

[5] Medical Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor or any kind of medical professional. The information presented is for educational and informational purposes only, does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

[6] Sick Dog: Transitioning food too quickly may cause illness. However, the dog could have eaten something it wasn’t supposed to like: grass, a small toy, dirt, etc. It can’t hurt to scale back the transition process to be certain the new diet isn’t the cause.

[7] Rational Thought: Social media constantly provides us with examples showing that some humans don’t possess the ability to think rationally.

Dealing with Squatters

You survived the immediate effects when the Shit Hit The Fan (SHTF), and bugged out. By preparedness, skill, fortune, or a combination of everything, you manage to survive the trip to your new home… only to find it infested with squatters.

What should you do?

What used to be called “squatters-rights” won’t exist after the SHTF. These trespassers have put their grubby paws all over your gear and are mooching off your family’s supplies.

What you do to remove these trespassers depends on the situation. Some people may want to remain as “moral” as possible by evicting the trespassers. However, sticking to your morals shouldn’t come at the expense of your life, and you need to be prepared to exterminate the infestation.

The rural community has a lot of good and decent people, but I know from experience that it has a lot of trash too[1]. Keeping this in mind, I’ve listed a few ways that may help you overcome this situation.

With Family

If your family bugs out and finds someone squatting at your new home, here’s a possible solution:

  1. Tell the family to take key positions and cover the property.
  2. Walk up with proof of ownership (utility/tax bill, deed, keys, etc.).
  3. Announce your presence while approaching… fully armed and ready for anything[2].
  4. Introduce yourself as the owner and warn the squatters of the snipers covering the property.
  5. Show proof of ownership and ask the squatters to leave.
  6. Allow the squatters no more than 5 minutes to vacate[3]. This gives them enough time to collect personal items before leaving, but also reduces the chance they’ll try stealing things or attack.
  7. Make it very clear they’re not welcome and should never return. You may want to remind them of the crime they committed and the fact that you could have killed them, and they shouldn’t squander this second chance.

If Alone

  1. Go to a vantage point that oversees the property.
  2. Spy on the squatters to verify how many there are and plan your next step.
  3. Remain at your vantage point and announce your presence to the squatters. Let them know you’re the owner and demand they disarm. Be prepared to kill if they don’t immediately comply, or if they do anything suspicious.
  4. Attach your proof of ownership to a rock and toss it toward them.
  5. Once they review the proof, tell them they have 5 minutes to leave or you’ll start shooting.

A couple things to remember regardless of being alone or with a team:

You could try ambushing the squatters, but the risk of discovery is high. Even if you spring a perfect ambush, the squatters may panic and draw weapons, forcing you to kill them. If you end up killing the squatters, you’ll need to dispose of the bodies and defend your actions should anyone come to investigate.

Whatever you do, don’t let the squatters convince you to let them stay. These people broke into your home and stole, not just your belongings, but the whole house too. They’re not to be trusted and if you’re dumb enough to give in to their pleas, you’ll wake up to a knife slitting your throat.

Neighborly Plan

What if the squatters are well armed and look a bit too dangerous to confront? What if your family still hasn’t come to terms with the new reality and you know they aren’t prepared to shoot anyone? Or, what if the family dog barks at everything it sees and blows your cover?

I know, that’s a lot of “what ifs.”

If you happen to be friends with your neighbors, or have always been friendly to them, you could ask for their assistance in reclaiming your property. If you’re friends, they’ll gladly help you. They may even feel a bit guilty for not noticing and taking action to prevent this from happening.

But what if you aren’t exactly friends, but have always been a good neighbor? They may not be as eager to help you, but I think they’ll come to your aid regardless. For starters, most people living in the country have deep-rooted morals, and helping a neighbor in need is just something you do. After all, they’d expect you to do the same thing for them if the roles were reversed. Another reason why they’ll come to your aid is because it’s in their best interest to keep undesirables as far away from their home as possible.

Anyone who breaks and enters a home to steal resources is undesirable, but it takes real scum to steal the whole house!

What if you don’t know your neighbors or they aren’t willing to stick their necks out for your family? You may need to offer a portion of the supplies you recover in exchange for their assistance, or commit to remove the squatters yourself[4].

Personally, I think asking your neighbors for assistance is the safest plan, but you may find yourself in a situation that makes it impossible to get their assistance. If that’s the case, you should fall back on the other plans I’ve described.

A Few Words of Caution

Revenge

If you evicted the squatters and told them to move on, you must keep a constant vigil. They know where you live, how your property is set up, and how many people you have. It’ll be easy for them to return 1 or 2 days later and retake your home for themselves. It’s in their best interest to prevent you and your family from trying to retake your property again, which means they’ll probably kill you.

This is especially true if you’re alone, or didn’t have neighborly support when you confronted them.

Gossip

The squatters will tell their sad tale to anyone they see. They’ll describe your home and how “cruel” your family is. As they tell and retell the story, it will become even more exaggerated. People will eventually start believing that your family is selfish and is sitting on a mountain of food. They’ll come asking for hand-outs, and may think they’re serving justice if they attack your uncharitable family.

Heavy-Handed

It may seem like it’s in your best interest to eliminate the problem entirely, but this may have consequences too.

  1. Foremost, is the inconvenient fact that you’ll need to dispose of the bodies. Doing so will take time and energy away from moving in and setting up your own defenses.
  2. If your neighbors come to investigate, you’ll need to defend your actions.
  3. If an entire family is killed in the process, it may be seen as excessive. Technically, you did the right thing to reclaim your property and your neighbors won’t do anything against you. However, as things get progressively worse, those neighbors may start seeing you as a monster and may not come to your aid in the future.

Remember that your actions may have far-reaching consequences for your family later on.

Inside a Neighborhood

What if the neighborhood collectively decided it needed to loot your home and take everything of value? And then gave your home to some stranger to boot!

If you had to pass through security, chances are the authorities already know your home was looted and they allowed new tenants to move in. If the neighborhood leaders are halfway decent people, they would have recorded an inventory of supplies taken into the public record with the intention of returning the confiscated supplies, with interest, at some future date.

With this in mind, the leaders should have a plan for welcoming homeowners back into the community. The leadership should publicly announce your family’s return and apologize for looting your home. Once the current occupants are moved out of your home, the least they can do is return a portion of your supplies from the local food bank… regardless of how scarce food and survival equipment may be.

All of this needs to happen on the same day, or the next morning if the family arrived at night.

What if the neighborhood refuses to return your property?

I can think of a couple reasons why the neighborhood leadership may not want to return your home. One is legitimate and the other because of pettiness or greed. Both are shitty situations to be in and I’ll describe the possible scenarios which may challenge a family.

Legitimate Cause

The only legitimate reason for not returning your property is if it’s located at a strategic location or it’s essential to the community’s survival.

Maybe your home on the hill is in the center of the neighborhood, making it the perfect warehouse to store the food and supplied they stole from other abandoned buildings. Moving all that inventory to another location will require too much time and energy, and there’s a chance some of the supplies may get “lost” during the move. Once the move is complete, who knows if the owner of that building will return. They’d have to go through the process all over again.

It’s a terrible situation to be in, but it makes sense for the neighborhood to temporarily keep your home.

Illegitimate Reason

But what if that bitch of a neighbor, Karen[5], somehow worms her way into ruling the neighborhood? She’s always given your family grief over planting two apple trees in your yard. Now that society collapsed, she can’t believe her luck to be living next to such a valuable food source, and the disaster eliminated that bothersome family in the process. She can’t wait to pop open your house to see what other treasures it may hold.

Karen convinced the neighborhood to claim “eminent domain” over your home and physically rubbed her hands with delight as she watched her cronies inventory food, water, and other useful equipment. The trees can’t be relocated, so she moved one of her supporters into your home to maintain control over that resource.

But dammit! Your family’s inconvenient return threatens to undo all her hard work and planning. Karen doesn’t feel like she needs to return your property and wants to keep it… for the community.

What can you do?!

Whether the neighborhood claimed your home because of its strategic location, or someone’s pettiness and greed. The neighborhood leadership has all the power in this situation and your options are limited. If they truly need your home, they’re going to keep it. I envision a couple things may happen and I’ll use the previous scenarios as an example.

A New Hope

If the community offers to move your family into someone else’s home, you should provisionally accept the offer. Your home may not be strategically important forever, which means your family may be able to reclaim it later.

The Empress Strikes Back

A shrewd dictatorial leader will disarm your family upon entry, under the guise of a security procedure while they verify your identity and claim to the home. This will keep the family from killing Karen when she announces that you aren’t allowed to move back into your home. She’ll publicly claim to cherish you as a beloved neighbor, but the decision is ultimately out of her hands. They did an emergency review of the community’s supplies and there simply isn’t enough to support another family. Your family must leave and go somewhere else. Maybe things will improve and they can let you move back.

If this happens, you’ll have no choice but to move on.

Return of the Famil-i

People like Karen always make enemies, and your situation may be the last straw. The community should be appalled by Karen’s decision to deny a family their rightful home and banish them to certain death. Such an injustice could spark an uprising to remove her and her allies from power. If the community has a daily newsletter, the headline story may look like this:

Karen and several members of the neighborhood committee suffered various accidents overnight[6]. Nobody knows how or why this happened, but one local preacher suggests it was punishment from God for the sin of pride and not showing charity to thy neighbor. In other news, the new interim government reconsidered the decision to exile our neighbors, and would like to extend a warm welcome as they move back into their home.

If an uprising doesn’t spontaneously occur overnight, try moving into an abandoned building near the neighborhood and “squat” there until a regime-change happens. Maybe the new leadership will be more welcoming and reverse the decision.

***

Squatters are a nuisance in today’s society and will be a bigger problem if the SHTF. If you find yourself plagued by such locusts, evaluate the situation and evict or exterminate them. But do so in a way that ensures your safety and doesn’t cause you to be a pariah to the community.

It will be hard to hold desperate people at gunpoint and tell them to take a hike, but it’s not your problem what happens to them. You made the investments necessary to be prepared and these criminals shouldn’t benefit off that hard work.


[1] Trash: I have first-hand, second-hand, and gossip-pel experience of this sort of people. They’re usually drug addicts, people who’ve been in and out of jail, or ignorant “bumkins” who think it’s okay to do whatever you want because Officer John-Paul’s my cousin and will smooth everything out with the law.

Humanity may award a Nobel Prize for removing that part of the gene-pool.

[2] Ready for Anything: If these people were desperate enough to break into your home, they may be desperate enough to attack you to keep the property.

[3] 5-Minutes: 5 minutes may seem harsh, but these moochers have been stealing your valuable resources. They may have already lowered your chances of survival. Who cares if they leave some of their belongings, consider it rent.

[4] Unneighborly Neighbors: If your neighbors refuse to help you reclaim your property, you should probably keep them at arms-length. Anyone who allows such a crime to happen next to their home should not be trusted.

[5] Karen: Our society has turned this name into a pejorative term for entitled or demanding women. I once knew a loving and caring woman named, Karen, and feel a little guilty for using the term in this article. However, it is a common and relatable term which best describes the loathsome neighbor I’m envisioning.

I apologize in advance to anyone who may be so named.

[6] Accident: Remember readers! I do not condone or advise the use of violence or breaking any just law, nor do I of vigilante justice.

Rural Neighborhood v Wilderness

Where do you think is the best place to bug out to when the SHTF and you’re faced with a survival situation?

Which is the best and safest location for your family, a rural neighborhood or the wilderness? 

The idea of living in the wilderness or somewhere in the woods is self-explanatory, but what exactly is a “rural neighborhood”? I define a rural neighborhood as a small residential community, located at least 50 miles away from a metropolis, and outside the limits of any nearby town or village. These are places where county laws apply. Some communities matching this description are gated or have restricted access. 

Which is safer?

Both options have pros and cons, and I’ll try to cover everything you may face at each location. 

Pros & Cons for Both

A rural neighborhood and a shack in the wilderness are ideally located to escape the immediate effects of a devastating attack. Both are remote enough to reduce, if not eliminate, any direct impact from a chemical attack. And both are probably safe from follow up attacks as well.

If a biological attack were to occur, being so far away from a major population center may help insulate your community. However, this will only slow the spread of the contagion because members of the community may be exposed through work in a nearby city or metropolis, as we’ve seen with Covid-19.

The only way a rural community will stand a greater chance of being protected from a biological attack is if a massive nuclear assault happens at the same time. The immediate reduction of population caused by the nukes, when combined with the disease, will hopefully slow or stop it before contaminated survivors reach your community. Remember that no community is 100% protected, and one day the disease will reach your community.

I just hope our failure with Covid-19 and its variants don’t haunt us when a true biological attack occurs[1].

Another good thing about both locations is that your neighbors will likely possess firearms. Having armed neighbors adds to the area’s overall security, and serves as a deterrent against would-be robbers, looters, and vandals. A local militia can be formed to protect the community from hostile outsiders who may attack or steal resources.

Rural Neighborhood – Pros

More Eyes = Security

Ordinary people are less likely to commit a crime if someone is watching, because the possibility of intervention is too great. Even if nobody is present, the threat of witnesses coming out of the woodwork has prevented many crimes in the past. However, you shouldn’t rely on these passive security concepts once people start getting desperate.

Defense

Once supplies run out and ordinary people become desperate, raiders will come and try to take what little resources your community has. Thankfully, your neighbors will probably be armed and will make it easier to form a militia to defend the community. 

Point of Entry

Most rural residential communities have limited entry points, which should make it easier to predict where intruders may enter. With that said, don’t focus your entire defense on the obvious points of entry. You need to interview your neighbors to locate commonly used trails and start patrolling those areas. 

Vacancies

Another benefit to a rural community is that many of your neighbors probably don’t live there permanently. Those neighbors have a home in the city and may not survive the journey to their second home. This adds to the looting potential[2]… I must stress that the community, as a whole, must agree to break into vacant homes to loot and distribute any resources found within. Everything must be transparent, and an accurate account of supplies acquired must be recorded. 

There can’t be any question as to what was taken and later distributed because that will cause suspicion of hoarding or favoritism. I’d also recommend the community be prepared for the possibility that an owner may return. If that happens, the community should reimburse the owner for the “lost” resources. 

Rural Neighborhood – Cons

What makes a neighborhood safe, can also backfire…

You must remain vigilant against busy-bodies because those are the neighbors who’re most likely to stir shit up and rally others in the community against whatever the cause of the day is. They will try to organize community programs and publicly shame those who don’t participate in their pet projects.

The danger you must watch out for happens when those busy-bodies try to force an entire neighborhood to pull resources, just to carry their dead-weight. If these people are given any position of power, they may trespass onto your property to conduct a “safety check” or “resident survey”. That may sound innocent, but they’re true goal is to spy on you and your property and see if there’s anything valuable worth stealing[3]. When public shaming doesn’t work, they will rally your most desperate neighbors into a communist uprising against you.

Everyone’s a Capitalist when times are good and they have a nice 401k, but when the SHTF, they all think it’s a grand idea to be a Commie.

The Wilderness – Pros

Seclusion

The chances of someone finding your home in the middle of an overgrown forest aren’t very high. This inherent seclusion adds to security because would-be looters can’t steal what they can’t find. Even if your home is in the open desert, the likelihood that someone will trek out to your remote hideaway are low[4]

Secret Domain

Since there’s so few neighbors, that should mean only a few people know the lay of the land. You and your family will know where to stash supplies and where to hide if being pursued. Ideally, this should also mean you’ll know where the best places are to set up boobytraps.

Living off the Land

Living in the wilderness means you’ll have more land available for foraging, hunting, and farming. If you have an acreage in the woods, you can lay out traps for small animals and forage for nuts, berries, and other edible vegetation[5]. You can clear some land to grow a farm, or use a natural clearing.

Room to Expand

If you’re the trusting sort or know someone trustworthy with the skills to survive, you may have extra space so they can move in with you. I’m not willing to take that risk with a stranger. At least not until I know the person’s character and have developed some sort of working relationship. 

The Wilderness – Cons

Access to Medicine

Having a home in the wilderness means getting help during an emergency will be much harder than living in a community, which may have a doctor and medical supplies.

If you’re bit or stung by a venomous creature, or have a heart attack, you could die before reaching medical assistance. Or, if you slip or trip down a steep hill and break a leg, you will have to perform first aid and make the journey to the nearest known medic… in agony. 

If you suffer a minor injury and don’t know where to find treatment, you may be forced to let your body heal itself. Humans have been getting injured for millennia and the body knows how to put minor breaks back together again[6]. The drawback to letting a fracture heal without professional assistance is that it may not heal correctly.

Security

Living in the middle of the woods will help keep your home hidden, but the rough terrain will mean that any intruder willing to venture into the woods could come from any direction. It’ll be up to you and your family to ward off those intruders and secure the property. 

Remember when I said that raiders will eventually come to steal resources? Living outside of a community means you may be on your own to defend yourself when they attack. If there’s some sort of radio or sound-based alarm system[7], help may not arrive fast enough to save you and your family. 

Squatting

If you don’t own the land, you’re technically a squatter. What used to be called “squatters-rights” won’t exist if the SHTF[8]. If the original owners of the property show up and demand that you leave, you have the moral obligation to do so. You could try to negotiate with the owner and ask to stay a bit longer as a guest, but be prepared to leave if they refuse.

Alternately, what happens if it takes several days to reach your bug-out location and you find squatters living on your land? It’ll be up to you to evict these trespassers who’ve been mooching off your hard-earned preparedness. I’m writing an article on this subject and hope to post it in a week or so.

***

There are many advantages and disadvantages to living out on your own or within a community. You should be cognizant of the problems you may face when making your bug out plans or buying a property with this type of scenario in mind. 

Personal circumstances may make it impossible for you to choose where you’ll evacuate. Especially, if you cannot afford to purchase a second home or property, or don’t have family to take you in. Regardless of the situation, it’s always good to be prepared for what may happen… wherever you end up.


[1] True Bio-Attack: Some people hypothesis that Covid-19 was a soft attack against the western world. I will only mention this possibility because it certainly seems interesting that China and other totalitarian countries fared the best during the outbreak.

[2] Disclaimer: I do not condone or advise anyone to commit any crime.

[3] Resident Survey: When I lived in a large apartment complex, I once caught a maintenance worker inside my home “checking for water-leaks”. The overly nervous worker finished his token search and left. I noticed some things were missing, and changed the locks on the door when the facility said it wasn’t going to do anything to fix the problem.

[4] Desert: I’ve always been a huge fan of Frank Herbert’s: Dune series. While becoming a “desert creature” has a certain appeal, I’m too “water fat”. There aren’t any nearby deserts to make it practical, so I’m not trained to survive in a desert environment.

Much of the information contained my survival articles will not apply to desert survivalism.

[5] Edible Vegetation: If you don’t know if it’s edible, DO NOT EAT IT. That includes but is not limited to: fungi, berries, flowers, nuts, or any other part of a plant (root, leaf, or stem). Nature can be tricky, some parts of a perfectly edible plant can be poisonous.

[6] Medical Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and any perceived advice in this work needs to be regarded at the same level as an “old wives’ cure” or as part of fiction.  

[7] Alarm: Bells have been ringing for millennia. They’ve been used to warn of pending attacks, natural disasters… and dinner.

[8] Squatters-Rights: This legal protection of criminal trespassers should never have existed in the first place.

My Bug-out Plans

In this part of my Practical Survivalist series, I’ll share a few of my bug-out plans. Yes, I have more than one plan. I think it’s important to have multiple plans because you may be faced with different types of situations and need to have a general idea of what you need to do when faced with each scenario. However, you should be prepared to alter your plans as the situation demands. As Helmuth von Moltke the Elder once said, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”[1]

Please notice that my plans are specifically tailored to my current living situation, and a family of one spouse and no children. These plans may not specifically apply to a situation you may face with your family. These plans should be used as examples only, and modified to suit your needs.

Plan #1: Primary Plan

If my boyfriend and I are both at home, if/when the alert happens[2] I’ll grab my bug-out bag and some other essentials (like a bicycle), and then run to the car[3]. While I’m doing that, my boyfriend needs to get our pets ready to travel, and grab any essentials he needs. That includes:

  1. Collect any personal essentials he can’t live without for years to come.
  2. Put the leash on the dog and lock him in his carrier.
  3. Try to corral the bird into his carrier.
  4. Grab as much pet food as he can carry.
  5. Take everything he can carry down the stairs to the first floor or the car.

This needs to be done in less than 5 minutes.

When he runs out with the pets, I will run back inside for more supplies that I may have forgotten. I’ll tell him to stay with the car because it needs to remain running and we can’t risk turning it off[4], nor can we afford to have it stolen. 

I’ll take the stairs back up and grab whatever he packed or left, along with any last-minute items I think will be useful.

By the time I get the car pulled up to the front of our home, my boyfriend should have everything downstairs and ready to be loaded. If he isn’t downstairs, I’ll have to wait for him at the car because we can’t leave it unattended. If I’m stuck waiting for too long, then as a last resort, I’ll turn off and lock the car. I’ll take the stairs up to find out what the fuck is taking so damn long, and help solve any problems he’s facing.

If the problem is an unruly pet, we may have to leave it behind… Remember, this is a survival situation and every minute it takes for us to evacuate, reduces our chances of survival.

When we’ve loaded the car, we’ll drive as fast as possible away from the city and hope we have enough time to get out of the blast radius[5]. Or, hope the car can get us as close to our new home as possible before it breaks down (EMP) or runs out of gas.

Once we reach our destination, we’ll unpack the car and stash everything into our new permanent home. The new reality will not have registered on any of our neighbors yet, so we’ll take this opportunity to drive out and get whatever supplies we can while it’s still relatively safe.

If the car becomes disabled during this plan, we will salvage as much as possible and walk the rest of the way. This contingency will be similar to Plan #2-A, which is the next section.

Plan #2-A: EMP with Family

What if there’s an EMP and the car doesn’t start. If an EMP occurs and we aren’t a charred cinder, then it’s possible that was the attack. If so, it’s possible we don’t have to worry about nukes raining down from the sky[6]. Hopefully, that means we have more time to bug out since we no longer have a working car. Let’s hope, but never assume this, and remember that…

We need to leave the city as soon as humanly possible!

Similar to my core plan, we need to grab all supplies that are portable and load them onto bicycles. We probably won’t be able to take everything we want, but we can use the handlebars (and any mounted racks) to hold what supplies we can manage. Hopefully, the tires haven’t dry-rotted and the tires are good to go, because that means we have an easy and silent way out of the city.

If we’re unfortunate and the tires don’t hold pressure, we’ll have to use them in a different way… as carts. We can distribute the weight of our supplies and pets onto the bikes. Using the bicycles as make-shift carts will help us travel on foot further and faster, all while staving off exhaustion just a little bit longer. 

Let’s not kid ourselves. On a trip as far as 80-100 miles, you will get: tired, worn out, and probably bruised or blistered. To combat that inevitable exhaustion, I plan to use every chemical advantage at my disposal during this journey. That means we will use pain killers to suppress any soreness, and “other prescription drugs” to ward off exhaustion[7]

Wait! I have a question.

How are we going to ride a bicycle with a dog in a carrier? Alternately, how are we going to hold onto a pet with one hand while riding an over-encumbered bike?

We aren’t. If we’re riding the bikes, we must be able to balance. The bird’s carrier can be used as a backpack, so that part is easy. However, the dog’s carrier is too bulky. We’ll have to put a leash on the dog and feed him a Benadryl, before sealing him into a backpack. This may sound inhumane, but it’s the best option available to us[8]. I will carry the dog because I can’t trust the boyfriend’s bleeding heart to not cause unnecessary delays.

Hopefully, the Benadryl will force the dog to take a nap in the bag.

Plan #2-B: No Car, No Family

This plan is similar to Plan #2-A. If I’m alone in the city and the car either isn’t here or doesn’t work, I will try to follow the primary plan in combination with “Plan #2-A”.

Since I’m alone, I will need to be more conservative with my loadout. If the dog is with me, he’s getting put in a bag (like the previous plan). I should be able to handle the bird carrier on my back, but if he’s too stubborn to get in his carrier, he may get left behind. 

I know it’s horrible to leave a family member, but this is a survival situation and every minute wasted means your chances of survival drop.

If my bike’s tires don’t air up, I’ll try the other bike we own. If neither hold pressure, then I’ll use the most useful bike as a cart and walk to our new home[9]. That bike will likely be mine, because it’s a hybrid road/dirt bike and the tires are easy to find in most stores.

Or the remains of those stores.

Regardless of the bike-situation, I will follow the same escape route.

Aided as such, I should be able to reach the bugout location in about 18 hours using the bike as a cart. The time may lessen greatly if I can ride it, or increase depending on road conditions or potential robbery of the bicycle itself.

If the bike survives the journey, then my family can use it while travelling to market or patrolling the neighborhood.


[1] Moltke Quote: This quote is almost certainly simplified from the original German quote.

[2] Alert: I’m not fully confident that we can rely on an alert to warn us of an incoming attack. Our government will probably react to an incoming threat at a snail’s pace, because most government officials want to avoid political backlash if a threat turns out to be a false alarm. Remember the false alarm that happened in Hawaii in 2018?

[3] Leaving Home: If you live in a building that has an elevator, don’t use that elevator when bugging out because you may get stuck inside (and help may never arrive).

[4] Leave it Running: According to a few articles I’ve come across, it’s possible that the car will remain operational if it’s running when an EMP happens. Alternately, it may have been a fluke that the car started and we don’t want to smack lady luck in the face when things work our way.

[5] Speeding: Again, I do not condone breaking the law… but if nukes are flying, do you honestly think the police are going to chase you down when their own families are at stake. And, if they do chase you, do you think any community will find you guilty for simply trying to save your family… given the “new reality”.

Heck, that community may lynch the officer for such a wasteful expenditure of resources.

[6] EMP as the Attack: I’m a big fan of the Fallout Franchise, but I’ve got to admit that I’m more worried about an EMP attack than a full-scale nuclear exchange.

[7] Blitz: Just like the Nazis of World War II, we’ll use “medicine alternatively” to get to our new home without stopping.

[8] Doggy Bag: I know there are bags designed to hold dogs and other small pets. Some even allow the dog to stick its hear out to enjoy the breeze. There are two things which don’t make this a possibility:

  1. I know our dog and getting him into one of those breezy carriers will either take forever, or he’ll fight us tooth and nail (literally, because he’s a dog).
  2. We are maxed out on storage and storing another carrier in our home is not possible.

And frankly, at least I’m making an effort to save every single member of the family, human or otherwise. A lot of families will just abandon their pets because transporting them is too hard.

Making a Living After the Apocalypse

In a previous blog I described how agricultural products will be the most important commodity in the new world. So much so, whatever currency is used may hold a foundation based on calories, and non-edible products will be traded based on the perceived caloric value.

Your main goal in this new world is to survive. To do this, you need to make sure you can feed your family and fight off those who would steal from you. But, how do you make a living if you don’t have a green thumb?

In this article, I’ll outline what I think will be the easiest ways to make a living after the fall of civilization. I’ll describe what you can make or grow to trade for food or other valuables. Certain products or services can be produced with little effort, some will need a certain level of skill, and others will require skill and specialized equipment.

Don’t Bother with These

Let’s start with what you should avoid. Precious metals and jewelry aren’t going to be worth much. You can’t eat a diamond ring, and they don’t have much utilitarian value. Precious metals can be worn as jewelry and that’s pretty much it. Speaking of which, I personally don’t recommend wearing jewelry. You’re basically inviting people to steal it from your cold, dead fingers. I recommend you hide any jewelry you may possess or discover and maybe use it to trade with later.

I don’t think there will be much of a market for new clothes, since there’s already an overabundance of clothing. Clothes will likely be abandoned and free for any passerby to take. However, once the economy has stabilized and clothes become scarce, there may be a market for new clothing. I just don’t think much profit can be made as a seamstress[1] unless you’re doing it in your free time as entertainment.

Passive Products

There are a few things that can be produced or grown with little to no effort on your part. Some herbs and vegetables can be grown “wild” and thrive without human intervention. Plants like: green onions, mint, potatoes, ginger[2], mushrooms (starter spores required), some peppers, and some established trees.

Most of these foods will grow year-round.

You can raise chickens and produce honey almost wild too. However, both require an investment in shelter and you need the proper skills to harvest the final products.

If that’s not enough, or if you tend to kill plants and animals just by looking at them, you can forage[3] for your food. There’s plenty of food to be found growing in the wild. You can find: wild tree nuts (acorns[4] & pecans are easiest to identify), loquats, dandelion greens, clovers (save any 4-leaf clovers for luck), roses, carnations, honey, and psychedelic shrooms (medicine/trade).

If done properly, you can easily survive on passive foods and trade any excess you produce.

Mid-value Products & Professions

If you can make products from raw materials or provide services no one else can, you may earn enough to be part of the new middle-class. I don’t think people will get rich making these because they’ll have to pay suppliers for the building materials and maybe pay to distribute the products. 

Preserves

If you have the knowledge and have the equipment, almost any food item that can be dehydrated and made into a powder will be valuable. Foods like grains, potatoes, corn, and nuts are the most common and easiest foods to dehydrate and turn into powders.

Pretty much anything that’s made into a powder will last forever, and that longevity will make preserved foods great cash crops. The only requirements to preserve dry foods are… to keep it dry, and don’t allow humidity or pests to infest the food.

Don’t be too reliant on conventional crops. It’s not likely you’ll live near a region that grows food grains like wheat. That means you’ll need to think outside the box [5] and convert what you can produce or harvest into equivalent products. If you have pecan trees growing more or less wild on your property, harvest those nuts as they drop and use them as a flour alternative[6].

Food will quickly lose its value when things settle down and supply stabilizes. But I still think you can gain wealth manufacturing and trading food.

Soap

Hygiene products will be extremely important to prevent diseases and infections. Simple bars of soap only require 3 ingredients and can be transported easily, but require time to make (and you’ll need some practice to perfect your recipe).

Regular customers of soap makers will be medical facilities, Laundromats, and, if they exist, communal baths. Although, I have a lingering fear that many people will forego bathing. We’ve seen this happen with various degrees during the Medieval period, (also known as the “Dark Ages”).

Laundromat

Many people may turn their noses up to this, but another profession could be cleaning clothes… from piss[7]. Urea from, well, urine has been used to clean clothes since ancient times. The process is much the same as it’s done today, and I’ll briefly describe it since it’s such a gross-sounding task:

  1. Add clothes and cleaning agent (urine) into a container and agitate the clothes. Agitation was done by stomping on the clothes in ancient times.
  2. Thoroughly rinse the clothes.
  3. Hang the laundry out to dry. I imagine the sun and breeze airs out any lingering urine smell.

The launderer could charge a premium to wash clothes with scented soaps. Another upcharge could be to offer an expedited service to rapidly wash and dry clothes by using precious electricity to machine-wash and dry them.

Going into Labor

Labor is a mid-value product too. You can lend your hands to help on the farms, work to construct buildings, or labor on an assembly-line (if any factories or workshops exist).  Your earnings will always be capped at what your boss can “pay” for your labor, which may be as simple as food and housing, or other valuable supplies. Remember that food and housing are scarce and valuable now that millions of newly homeless people are roaming the countryside. You may make more money if you already know a trade like plumbers or electricians. But don’t bank on this because the raw materials (power and water) may not exist.

Quick Cash

Tools will be the gold bars of the post-apocalyptic world, but they won’t make you rich. You can make a quick profit by trading any tools you don’t need. Alternatively, if you need them for work, keep them under lock and key. You should be prepared to defend your tools and even kill for them, because people will try to steal them for a quick “buck”.

What are the best ways to get rich in this new world?

The cash-crops, so to say, are going to be commodities required to power technology, luxury products satisfying vices, and medical labor. All of these are going to require knowledge or skill.

Energy

If you don’t have a green thumb or don’t have anything edible growing wild, then maybe you can make and sell luxury items like fuel and alcohol. There won’t be a reliable supply of energy, and your local gas station won’t be getting a resupply. The refineries will almost certainly have burned down and if they haven’t, there won’t be any labor to operate them.

If you happen to be lucky enough to live in an area that still has working pumpjacks that produce oil, it may be possible to refine it. That is, if someone in your community knows how to do it[8]. If you have the knowledge and are able to make a simple refinery powered by fire and horses, you’ll be rich. 

Some generators and cars can operate using ethanol, which is easy to make by fermenting food waste. You just need a container for the food waste, bacteria to allow fermentation to occur, and something to distill the alcohol (ethanol) out of the mash. You may need to redistill the alcohol to achieve a higher ABV.

Liquor & Wine

Of course, you can sell your ethanol as a beverage commonly known as vodka or white-whiskey, or moonshine[9]. You can charge a premium for whiskey aged in wood barrels.

I think wine will be pretty hard to make and sell. If you can’t find or make a still, you may have no other choice but to rely on wine as an alcoholic beverage. First, you have to grow the grapes, or other sugary fruits like apples, pears, or peaches. Then, you have to keep yourself and others from eating the fruit. If you still have fruit, you’ll need to pulverize and ferment it. Once fermented, bottle it.

It sounds easier than distilling, but the hardest part to wine making is getting past the first 2 steps: growing and not eating the raw materials. Distilled liquor, on the other hand, can be made with leftover food waste.

Another use for ethanol is sterilization. You can sell or trade your high ABV liquor to medical professionals for “money”, food, drugs, or services.

Medical

If you happen to be a doctor or nurse, you’ll be a very valuable member of society. Medical professionals will be hard to find, and any community will guard and treat these professionals well to ensure they’re happy. Medical supplies will be scarce or non-existent, so a good doctor will need to know how to treat ailments using herbs. A good doctor in this new world will need to know how to manufacture drugs as well.

When the civilization-ending disaster starts, most medical facilities aren’t going to be concerned about payment. A triage system will quickly be put in place, but I don’t think hospitals and emergency clinics are going to be concerned about payment until resources become scarce.

As medical resources run out, payment will be demanded up front. Food will likely be accepted, but the most valuable forms of payment will be fuel, cleaning supplies, and sterilization materials (alcohol). Facilities or private practices will maintain the triage system as a standard practice, even after things calm down and we get used to the “new normal”. It simply doesn’t make sense to waste time and resources to treat people who are going to die regardless of medical intervention, or even those who cannot contribute to society.

A wise government or medical facility will socialize medicine to ensure medical treatment is available to the community. This is smart because the medical staff can provide a list of drugs and materials that are running low or are depleted to the community. The local government will be in the best position to ensure the medical facility has the fuel necessary to operate, and can scrounge or trade for drugs and other resources. And the government can easily provide security to the facility.

Ironically, socialized medicine may win in the end. The caveat being medical staff will be required to adhere to strict government rules dictating who they can treat and how.

Drugs

Criminals who made and sold drugs prior to the apocalypse, may find their craft newly legalized if they can retool their operations and make useful drugs for doctors. Any excess drugs can be sold to other communities. Don’t forget the inconvenient truth that there will always be a market for recreational drugs, but be careful with the new laws.

The laws of the local community can go one of two ways regarding the sale and use of recreational drugs: legalize or ban. A devoutly religious community will likely outlaw such vices and severely punish (kill) those caught in the manufacture and distribution of drugs. Whereas, a moderate or practical community may allow the manufacture of recreational drugs, if they aren’t sold within the community.

If the community doesn’t have a specific policy, the authorities will likely turn a blind eye, if you make it worth their while. Don’t be naive and think that bribery won’t exist. Bribery has always been the oil that lubricates government since the dawn of human civilization. Some countries legalize and profit from bribery by renaming it to permits. Some politicians accept bribes in the form of campaign contributions, and charitable donations to organizations they may have a stake in.

The Oldest Profession

Prostitution will still exist, and may even thrive now that centralized state or federal laws are no longer enforced. If the local community doesn’t ban it, we may see the rise of brothels. These brothels will cater to all of your sexual needs, both hetero– and homosexual. As always, be prepared to pay more for male prostitutes.

Why will men be paid more in yet another industry? I remember seeing a documentary several years ago about “straight” porn actors who describe their pay as 10 times that of women[10]. The reason is because they are rare, and it’s an exotic taste[11], and men are willing to pay more for discretion to hide the fact they sought the services of a male prostitute.

It’s going to be a rough life for female prostitutes, and it’s going to be even harder for male sex workers. Willing gay men are going to be hard to find because they’ll die at a much higher rate than women of the same profession will. Just like women, they’ll have to endure the usual risks from abusive clients, jealous lovers, and sexual diseases. But on top of that, the religious fanatics won’t have anything to stop them from murdering gays en masse, and don’t forget about opportunistic gay-bashers who will prey on gay sex workers to prove something to themselves or their peers.

We live in a very accepting and inclusive world now[12], but that will change once civilization falls. Religious communities are going to be common and we need to expect a return to the historic religious persecutions of people who don’t fit with the dogma. Prostitutes are shunned by the major religions, and gay prostitutes are going to be double-negatives in the eyes of fanatics.

Straight men won’t have much work, because women have historically patronized brothels or individual prostitutes less often than men. There may not even be a demand for straight male sex workers.

Of course, if you follow this career-path, you’ll have to worry about the local laws. Just like drugs, the community will either allow or ban prostitution. If you happen to be in a religious community, expect the penalty to be death or worse.

***

Producing and trading these products or services will help ensure you can survive and can help generate income or wealth (or the post-apocalyptic equivalent). Some will be fast tickets to wealth, or they’ll make you a target for exploitation by any potential overlord. 

Let’s hope for a not-so-grim outcome.

I’d like to close by saying that while I use a nuclear attack as the cause of the fall of civilization, it’s important to remember that chemical and biological warfare can have the same effect. A chemical attack can render entire cities uninhabitable until the agent has been cleaned, or enough time has passed that weather has disbursed the toxic chemicals. The same may even be true for biological attacks, but biological warfare is much messier and harder to manage (as evidenced by our democracy’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic).


[1] Fun Fact: The male version of a “seamstress” is a “seamster”.

[2] Ginger – Some  caution should be taken with growing ginger, as other wild tubers can easily be confused as part of the plant.

[3] A word of caution regarding foraging: You absolutely must know how to identify plants, or you could kill yourself and your family. The same can be true for gardening. It’s possible to accidentally pick and eat the poisonous parts of edible plants, or unknowingly pick a poisonous weed from your garden and eat it.

[4] Acorns – Acorns need to be processed by boiling out the tannins. You will need to boil them and replace the water several times, until the water is clear or the acorns aren’t bitter. You can remove the tannins from acorns using cold water as well. The process is similar, but will take over a week to achieve the same product.

[5] Thinking outside the box is probably the best survival practice anyone can have.

[6] Pecans fall from the trees with an external shell, protecting the shell we’re familiar with. Remove both, and pulverize them to dehydrate the “meat” using the sun or an oven. This can be ground down into a fine flour.

[7] Laundromat – I’m  pretty sure I learned this from one of my history teachers. I remember someone asked how the ancients kept their clothes clean, and the class was grossed-out to learn they used pee. I had a very subtle reminder about this method of cleaning laundry from a show I binge-watched recently, Plebs.

[8] I think a crude (pun intended) explanation of refining is distillation of oil to make different gases at certain temperatures. I’m not a chemist or an oil expert, by any stretch of the imagination, so I’m sure there are other processes I’m missing. Refining oil is very dangerous, and if not done by an expert can cause severe injury or death.

[9] Moonshine is just vodka or whiskey that hasn’t been taxed. Also, there’s no real difference between spirits distilled as moonshine and vodka.

[10] Male Porn Stars: I want to say it was I’m A Porn Star: Gay 4 Pay, but I’m not sure.

[11] Rare & Exotic: Free online porn and services like “OnlyFans”, made it more readily available and reduced the demand for male sex actors.

[12] Inclusive World: 10% of the population has been the standard calculation of LGBTQ population in the country for nearly 2 decades. But if you consider the fact that many men who like having sex with the same sex, don’t identify as either homo- or bi-sexual; or those who just want “fun”, the percentage is almost certainly twice that… and that’s not counting all those other sexual identities (there were over 100 when I graduated from college in 2018).

Shopping/Looting List

If you are lucky enough to survive the initial blasts from a nuclear attack, you will likely be forced to loot or scavenge for resources in order to survive. Let’s not kid ourselves.

  • There will be no government.
  • No assistance or aid is coming.
  • The emergency number, 911, will be a joke or footnote in stories we tell our grandchildren.
  • We will be on our own.

We already know this will happen, because we’ve seen the government fail in other regional disasters like Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana (2005), Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (2017), the government neglected Lake Charles, LA after Hurricane Laura hit (2020), and since mid- to late-2020 regional and city governments on the west coast have had chronic difficulties with controlling protesters, or depending on your perspective, rioters and anarchists. Arguably, the government failed in managing the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. These past failures will be minuscule in comparison if the nation suffers a nuclear attack.

Law and order will be nonexistent, and everyone will be looting department stores for chances to improve their wealth. You need to be smart and immediately “shop” to improve your chances of survival. You need to act fast because it won’t take long for people to stop looting for greed, and start looting for need.

This looting list is focused on acquiring supplies for someone who is leaving the cities, and not hunkering down. You should focus on getting out of the cities as soon as possible. Law and order will be nonexistent, the supply chain will disintegrate, and there will be millions of desperate people trying to grab what little resources are left. This is a recipe for disaster and violence. Scavengers will try to break into your home in an attempt to steal your resources, and they may even kill you for what supplies you may have.

Major cities are going to be the worst places to be on the planet, so get the hell out of Dodge!

That may be easier said than done, because not everyone has property outside a city. If you’re fortunate enough to have a vacation house, you already know where your evacuation spot is. If you don’t have additional property, pick a direction and start walking out of the city. You’ll likely hear other people say where they are heading, and you can take your chances with camping out near them.

The sooner you hit the road the better. I’d say you need to leave the city immediately after the attack and only stop to collect supplies. Keep in mind that once supplies run out in the cities, there will be a mass exodus of people trying to reach the newly establish “rural” communities and resettling will be impossible.

Below is a list of supplies I would grab immediately after a nuclear attack… assuming I survived.

Electrolyte Mix

This will help your body retain water and replenish electrolytes lost in sweat and urination. You can use this to help temporarily reduce the amount of water your body needs to survive, but only for a short period of time. Nothing can truly replace water for long periods of time when you’re constantly exerting yourself. Be sure to focus on stockpiling the mixes, and not the drinks themselves. You will likely need to walk out of the cities to safety, and you won’t be able to carry gallons of bottled drinks very far. The mixes weigh next to nothing, and you can mix them with clean “fresh” water later.

Pain Killers

Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or the store equivalents are always a good idea to have in an emergency. They will never be in stock again, so get the biggest bottle of each, Aspirin will help if you have a heart condition, Ibuprofen & Tylenol will help with inflammation. Plus, you can trade these pills for other items.

Cold Remedies

Any cold and flu remedy can be priceless should you get sick in the future (and you will get sick). Having a cold and flu remedy will help you be a productive member of whatever society or community you happen to find yourself in.

Rubbing Alcohol or Sanitizer

You need to have a way to clean wounds (which will happen at some point in the future). Rubbing alcohol is best, but you can grab sanitizer as an alternative. Rubbing alcohol can be used as a fire starter of last resort when you reach your destination too. Don’t waste it as a fire starter while travelling, because I’m pretty sure there will be an abundance of fires along your evacuation route.

A Weapon

Guns and ammo will be the first to go, so don’t bother trying to get either. A bow or crossbow kit will do just as fine, but there won’t be many in stock. I’d grab a BB gun and a container of BBs people are going to focus on real guns and will often overlook lesser weapons. You can use the BB gun to hunt small animals… even domesticated animals (pets). Another benefit to having a BB gun is it looks very similar to a real rifle. If you’re lucky, you may be able to trick an attacker into believing you’re armed with a deadly weapon.

A knife will be the most valuable weapon or tool you can get. As a tool, you can use it to craft wood or sticks into spears and primitive arrows. You can use the knife to skin and clean animals you shoot or capture too. As a weapon of last resort, you can slash and stab the knife in an effort to defend yourself.

Please remember that you are trying to get to a safe area to live out the rest of your life. Ideally you should sneak out of the city and to your evacuation zone without drawing much attention to yourself or family. This means that you really don’t want to be a “Rambo” rampaging through the city and countryside. That will only paint a target on you.

However, if you insist on taking your chances at becoming a post-apocalyptic Highway Baron. You will need to be ruthless. You will need to resort to barbarism even worse than was recorded in World War II, you will have to be as ruthless as biblical nations and eliminate all those who stand in your way. All the while making sure your own people don’t turn against you and kill you in your sleep. The ideal person who would fit this role will likely come out of the newly opened, unlocked, and unmanned prisons.

So, good luck with that.

Potassium Iodide (130 mg)

This has been approved to help reduce the absorption of radiation since the 1980s. According to the Wikipedia page related to this chemical (Wikipedia, n.d.), “potassium iodide cannot protect against any other mechanisms of radiation poisoning, nor can it provide any degree of protection against dirty bombs that produce radionuclides other than those of iodine [Iodine-131].” Also, don’t try to get the benefit from eating iodized salt. You’ll poison yourself with the salt before you can get the recommended dose.

Sleeping Bag (Preferably Weatherproof)

A sleeping bag will be essential. You will need a place to sleep so you can stave off exhaustion and bugs or other vermin. Hopefully, you can get your hands on a weatherproof bag, so you don’t have to worry about it getting soaked if it rains. Also, about the rain, you will want to avoid that for the first few days after a nuclear attack since it will be raining fallout. And while we are on the subject, do not drink from rivers or streams for at least a week because that’s where the rain goes on its way to the nearest lake or ocean.

Water Filtering Straw

A water filtering straw will be indispensable and far preferable to bottled water. The most well-known brand is LifeStraw, and they even have a high-volume gravity version. I would grab that, plus as many replacement cartridges and individual straws as I can carry. I previously cautioned against drinking from rivers and streams for at least a week because of fallout, but there are many places that contain water, which may not have been contaminated by radioactive rain like water heaters and toilet tanks (I know, yuck). This straw will help you safely drink from those sources.

Even if it is within the first week after the attack, I would consider using the straw to drink from a large pond or lake (preferably a lake). I read from a government survival manual several years ago (I don’t remember the exact book), that large bodies of water will likely be safe to drink from as the radioactive fallout will likely be very low given the large volume of water inside a lake.

Of course, use your best judgement. You may not want to risk drinking from any body of water if you see an extraordinary number of dead fish floating in the water or washed up on the bank.

Cigarettes

I don’t smoke, but I would grab as many cigarettes as I can carry. These are luxury items many people are addicted to. Cigarettes will be worth more than gold once the supply of cigarettes runs out, and smokers will do or trade anything for a few cigs. They weigh next to nothing, so try grabbing as much as you can carry.

Bicycle or Functioning Transportation

The EMP burst from nuclear detonations will fry the computerized components of our cars. They may not be comfortable, but older cars are more likely to still function than any car built in the 21st century.

It’ll be pretty hard to car-shop for a classic car after a nuclear attack, so your best bet at acquiring motorized transportation will either be a motor bike or a simple ATV (3 or 4-wheelers). These are simple mechanically driven machines, and do not rely on a computer to operate. They are very gas efficient and if you are grabbing one of these, be sure to grab a spare gas tank or two. Be sure to get gas as soon as you can… IF the gas pumps even work. If pumps aren’t working, then you may be shit out of luck until you find a way to get some gas. Having a supply of gasoline will always be a problem, but you should have some success siphoning gas out of disabled and abandoned vehicles.

Barring a motorized vehicle, try using a bicycle to get out of the city. Your legs will never permanently run out of power (I apologize in advance if you happen to be paraplegic). You can transport a lot more supplies on a bicycle by hanging things on the handlebars. Even if you get a flat tire, you can still push a bicycle much more easily than a motorcycle or ATV. A bicycle may be the best option because they are easier to repair than any motorized vehicle.

Another thing to consider is a bicycle will move silently down the street. People will be desperate to hitch a ride on an ATV or motorbike, or even steal it from you. You can hear most ATV and motorbikes a mile away, so you don’t want to draw much attention to yourself when everyone else’s car is disabled.

Water

You’d think water would be at the top of my list. Nope! Please recall this article focuses on surviving a nuclear attack, by escaping to a safe location. While water is a very important thing to have in case of emergency, it weighs a lot. If given the choice between water and any sports drink (Gator- Power- aid, etc.), I’d choose the sports drink. The sports drinks will contain electrolytes necessary to function while you are exerting yourself trying to get to safety.

I ride my bike long distances and use a CamelBak on those trips. In a situation like this, I would fill it up with as much water at home and raid a major grocery store for sports drinks, on my way to safety. Take care not to attempt to raid convenience stores, because the owners are almost always armed (with guns) and will defend their inventory. A major grocery store will be operated by employees who do not have a familial stake in the business and will abandon it as soon as they grab all the food, water, toilet paper as they can carry. While at the store, I’d drink as much of the water as I can from my pack and secure a bunch of sports drinks. Then I’d either dump my water or pour as much electrolyte drinks into the pack as it will hold. I’d grab a few extra bottles and some small water bottles as well.

If the store is out of water and sports drinks, try for the electrolyte mixes or even bottled tea. Tea is made out of water. It’s the primary ingredient. You will also reap the additional benefits of some caffeine to help your body get to safety.

Do not get bottled coffee. Yes, it’s main ingredient is water, but coffee has been shown to cause dehydration. It’s a mild laxative too, and may force you to stop to shit somewhere. You may also want to avoid coffee because it typically contains about twice the amount of caffeine as most teas. You will likely be stressed by the attack, and you may be a little dehydrated. Both of these conditions will cause your heartrate to increase dramatically. You don’t need to be drinking something that will increase your heartrate even further.

Red Wine

Red wine has shown some, as in very little, benefit in helping cope with radiation. This can be used to supplement the Potassium iodide, and to drink to celebrate your initial survival. The alcohol will help calm nerves and may serve as a sleeping aide. Drink in moderation as alcoholic drinks will cause dehydration.

Hard Liquor

Similar to cigarettes, hard liquor is a luxury item many people are addicted to, and you can use it for trade. You can use liquor as medication too. Alcohol in liquor will help calm a person having a panic attack and can help as a sleep aid. It’s not ideal, but liquor can even help sterilize a wound if rubbing alcohol isn’t available.

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There are many other items you could consider grabbing in a catastrophic disaster like a nuclear attack. The best thing you can do is be prepared well beforehand by having a stockpile of supplies at your evacuation point, and only rely on scavenging or looting while evacuating to your safe spot. You could even make or buy a preassembled “bugout bag” to save you time (and maybe save your conscience).

I would caution you that looting will be fine immediately after an attack, but theft will quickly become a capital-offense once small communities reorganize to self-govern without a central authority or overarching legal system. The laws and processes we once enjoyed will be replaced with a practical system of justice akin to the “wild west”. If you are caught stealing vital supplies from the community, you will likely be punished severely or even killed.

I personally think the new communities will have a 2-strike system: public flogging on the 1st strike and then hanging on the 2nd strike. Although, it stands to reason these communities may resort to hanging thieves on the first offense to serve as an example to others.

So be sure to keep your newly developed kleptomania in check once you reach your new home.

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Here’s a basic list without the explanations describing their importance as survival items.

Shopping/Looting List

  • Electrolyte Mix
  • Pain Killers
  • Cold Remedies
  • Rubbing Alcohol or Sanitizer
  • A Weapon
  • Potassium Iodide (130 mg)
  • Sleeping Bag (Preferably Weatherproof)
  • Water Filtering Straw
  • Cigarettes
  • Bicycle or Functioning Transportation
  • Water
  • Red Wine
  • Hard Liquor

I do not condone criminality. The intention of this article is to educate, and definitely not to promote or entice anyone to steal or loot in any normal circumstance.

References:

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Potassium iodide. Retrieved from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_iodide