Alternative SHTF Scenarios

I’ve noticed that many members of the various “prepper” groups seem to have a narrow vision regarding how civilization may end, and some won’t consider or prep for other possible situations. A lot of survivalists have read apocalyptic books or watched similarly-themed movies and sold their souls to those scenarios. I personally think it’s a good idea to be flexible with your preps because we really don’t know what disaster we may face in the future.

The movie stars of the apocalypse genre tend to be: 

  • EMP Attack
  • World War III a/k/a Nuclear War
  • Biological or Chemical Warfare

But, how else might civilization end?

This article will cover some of the less popular methods which could end the world. This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive list of possible world-ending disasters, and I’m not going to delve too deeply into some of these theoretical scenarios. Almost all of these disasters will cause social unrest and global conflict. Others may cause instant death for some or all life on the planet, and there probably isn’t any prepping you can do to survive it (except maybe build a self-sufficient space colony). 

I should also mention that reader discretion is advised. These scenarios favor a western (USA) point of view, and some may find the two religious parts offensive[1]

Act of God

Let’s rip the Band-Aid off and start this list with Act of God.

God decides to kill or rapture all of his worthy believers and at least 1 billion people die all at the same time. The same God who “works in mysterious ways” forgot or decided not to explain why he did this, so nobody really knows why all these people died/disappeared for no reason at all.

Planes start falling out of the sky because, by some miracle, both pilots were true believers and worshiped the correct way. We lose a large percentage of firefighters and fires rage out of control across the globe. The economy suffers as workplaces start finding out that workers are gone. Some businesses close entirely because the owner disappeared. 

There are different reactions to the loss of 1 billion people:

  • 1/4 Wonders why it happened and want to avoid it at all cost. Is it a new plague? Is it a massive international conspiracy? Aliens?!
  • 1/4 Are of a different faith and have their own apocalyptic theories.
  • 1/8 Don’t care.
  • 1/8 Are uppity Bible-thumpers who got the insult of an eternity, because all their hypocrisies were laid out to the open. 
  • 1/8 Jokingly think Thanos snapped his fingers.
  • 1/8 Where are all the gays? Oh my GOD! He really did make them that way.

Other God or Goddess Attacks

A forgotten Goddess picks a random day to exact their revenge and knocks a planet-killing asteroid into the path of our planet. All temples and religious text related to this Goddess had blueprints and instructions on how to build a communications device to commune with the entity and appease her. Unfortunately, the 3 major religions ruined our chances of survival.

  • The followers of Judaism wiped out most of the Goddess’s followers during an invasion 3,000 years ago.
  • Then Christians came and persecuted the rest into extinction or conversion, and burned the last religious texts.
  • And then radical Muslims blew up the only known temple belonging to this angry Goddess[2]

Coincidently, the goddess is worshipped in India, the land of a million gods and goddesses. She happens to be one of the goddesses who protects a city block. There’s even a small temple dedicated to her, which has instructions on how to build the all-important transmitter.

BUT, Earth is destroyed before the Indians can tell others of this.

Now that I’ve got that awkwardness out of the way… let’s see how else the world as we know it could end.

Invasion

The two bad guys of the modern world (Russia and China) formalize a military alliance. They can clearly see the general incompetence of our government has taken its toll on our country and decide now’s the time to take out their strongest opponent. 

Despite multiple party changes and supposedly tighter security measures, the US Government has allowed a foreign army to grow inside the country. This army has been stockpiling supplies and ammo for two decades. Finally, the long-awaited signal is received and the 5th column is mobilized.

The attack is multipronged. The “Sleeper” or “Manchurian” Army attacks key military targets, while hackers from around the world attack our electronic and eCommerce industries. They also attack our civil infrastructure to wreak general havoc. The country is completely unprepared as the devastating strike cripples our country from within.

While the enemy saboteurs rape our economy and public infrastructure, their navies send large battlefleets to blockade Taiwan in a mock-invasion. This is only a ploy to distract our military, and it works because state of the art troop ships are allowed to sneak armies onto the American west and gulf coasts… unopposed. The defense of our country is completely dependent on National Guard units and civil militias.

Who knows what the outcome of such a war will be, but you should expect anything. Heck, the USA may launch nukes to maintain its territorial sovereignty… maybe on its own soil. 

Hostile Takeover

Similar to the practice in business, a foreign government may call-in all the debts and bonds their nation owns and force our country to default. Faced with economic collapse, the government may be forced to cede control of material resources, digital assets, or even territory. 

If our government refuses to pay, the national economy will collapse because it’s been proven that our nation can’t be trusted to honor or pay its debt. The hostile country may launch cyber or military attacks to compel us to pay, which may start a world war.

In the end, we’ll have to rely on ourselves to survive. 

This could already be happening. For the past 7 months (to this publication), China has been selling its US government debt. Such action could be a preliminary measure to a much more dramatic selloff. Or, it could be proof China is preparing for war against us.

Global Famine (Plausible/Fact-based)

Russia and China have been preparing for a future global famine for years. They’ve been hoarding chemical fertilizer and stopped selling it to other nations. For example, India once purchased most of their fertilizer from China, but now they’re experiencing a shortage and are faced with the possibility they may not be able to feed the more than 1 billion people in their country.  

We only have ONE major fertilizer plant, which caught on fire a few months ago. We have a few smaller producers, but that won’t meet the demand. 

Now, Russia is invading Ukraine, the “breadbasket of Europe”. With the knowledge of the fertilizer shortage, one has to wonder if the reason why Russia attacked. Most claim it was to stop Ukraine from joining NATO, but I keep myself updated on global politics and don’t remember hearing about any imminent entries into NATO before the Russian invasion.

Could that rhetoric be a cover to hide the real reason for the invasion… to acquire the most fertile lands in Europe? Back during the Cold War, Ukraine provided over 25% of the Soviet Union’s food production. Maybe Russia is trying to ensure it can feed its people in a future famine.

If food shortage or famine were to occur, we would be caught completely off guard. Only a few people in the USA have experienced true famine. That’s something poor nations have to deal with, “it can’t happen here”.

If global famine were to occur, it’ll be up us to provide our own food. We will have to grow our own food, or live off our own stockpiles and hope things normalize. 

Economic Collapse

We may already be experiencing the beginning of such a collapse. The news media is abuzz with supply-chain shortages and inflation is spiraling out of control.

Covid-19 forced everything to pause and the economy hasn’t been able to recover from the consequences of that shut down. The workforce either died or decided it didn’t want to work anymore. To make up for the worker shortage, major companies started offering outrageous wages for unskilled laborers. These companies gave people who didn’t earn an advance degree $25 per hour, plus sign-on bonuses.

And don’t think there won’t be consequences to that! 

Gas prices were recently out of control and nobody seems to know why. Despite the fact they’ve been making record profits, the major oil companies tell us to believe them when they say they have “no control over the price of gas”. These same companies ARE NOT increasing production to help alleviate the pain at the pump either. They’ve been laying off employees, despite benefiting from governmental policies intended to promote job growth. 

That’s some trust-worthy behavior… 

Regardless of the industry, companies have to make money and woo investors. Those higher wages and fuel costs can’t affect the bottom line or it will spook investors. That means consumers have got to pay more to make up for the deficiencies. We’re already seeing higher prices in some products and the prices are only going to get higher. To make costs seem normal, companies are trying to trick us by using “shrinkflation”. 

Neo-Civil War 🔪 🗡 

Our country is split on ideals and morals, which somehow coincides with which party you vote for. Both parties have somehow convinced their followers they care about certain social issues, and most of us have swallowed that load of bull… hook, line, and sinker.

  • The Elephant Party panders to the moral or religious values of certain people, while the other claims to care about social reform. 
  • The Elephant Party claims to support independent and self-sufficient people, while claiming the other party wants to take freedoms away. 
  • The Jackass Party seems to tax and regulate everything, while the other party has historically been good for business. The fact the Elephants benefit from previous taxes imposed by the Jackasses is just an added bonus they’re working to repeal, but never get around to doing so. 
  • The Jackass Party appeals to those tired of endless mass-shootings and police brutality, while the followers of the Elephant Party are depicted as backwards or out of touch with the rest of the world. 
  • And Independents who agree with both sides on the major issues get demonized as racist or classist by Liberals, and branded as immoral or anti-business by Conservatives. 

A new civil war will pit us against each other. Old grudges will fuel a bloodlust of murders before local authorities can establish control. Communities will become isolated and those who don’t fit in will be ostracized, exiled, or killed. 

We will have to rely on ourselves for survival and we could be drafted to fight in a civil war we never wanted. Whoever controls the nuclear codes may decide to use them against our own people to stay in power. 

We are our own worst enemy.

Devastation to Orbital Infrastructure 🛰 

Something destroys all satellites and the resulting orbital debris makes it impossible to re-establish space-based services such as: GPS, internet, telecommunications, TV & radio broadcast, Spy Satellites, etc… This will affect society in different ways.

Individual

The first thing people will notice is the internet and GPS suddenly stopped working. Maps don’t exist anymore, so drivers will start getting lost when traveling to new destinations. Streaming services can’t function without the internet and people will have to find other sources of entertainment. Credit cards won’t work because POS terminals can’t verify the availability and transfer of funds.

Economic

The loss of internet and long-range communications means people can’t work and offices give their employees the day off. Eventually, the economy will collapse because almost every aspect of business is completely dependent on the internet.

Society

Access to centralized or global news sources is cut off and disinformation is allowed to spread unchecked. As we saw in 2020, the lack of entertainment/work will cause all those idle hands to take their frustrations to the streets. Our civilization is already polarized and such a disaster could easily push us into a Neo-Civil War.

Natural Cosmic Event ☄️

An extinction-level event could come from space. An asteroid or comet could strike our planet and cause a new ice age. Crops won’t grow and the population will have to rely on greenhouses and UV or “grow” lamps to grow food. 

Those with alternative and renewable sources of electricity may be capable of surviving such an ice age. A possible government response to such global cooling is to give companies the freedom to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to PROMOTE global warming. 

After all, it’s terraforming. 

The possibility exists that our planet could be completely destroyed by a space object or event.

  • A massive interstellar asteroid moving at relativistic speeds could strike Earth and bust it like a bullet does fruit.
  • An in-conveniently directed gamma-ray burst could fry the planet to a crisp.
  • A black hole could enter the system and devour our planet or fling it out of orbit.
  • Hell, a Giant Space Fish could eat our biologically rich planet as a tasty snack before swimming off to the next star system.

Alien Invasion

There’s a vast universe out there. It’s ridiculous and a bit arrogant to think humanity is the only intelligent life in the entire universe. Should an alien civilization make “first contact” with us, we should look at human history to predict the outcome. Almost every time an advanced civilization encounters a lesser one, we’ve either exterminated or subjugated them.

Do these situations sound familiar? 

  • “Cowboys & Indians” (Native Americans)
  • Afro-Slavery 
  • Homo sapiens vs Neanderthals (theoretically)

Don’t believe all those Sci-Fi movies that show how lowly humans manage to repel the alien invasion, despite being ignorant to the sciences that drove the aliens to our planet. Any civilization capable of interstellar travel has a technological edge over us and an alien invasion would probably end with our extermination. 

Natural Disasters (Terrestrial)

Regardless of the natural disaster, history has proven we cannot rely on our own government to help us. 

It will be up to us to ensure our survival. 

Super Volcano 🌋 

Scientists have been telling us the super volcano under Yellowstone is overdue for a major eruption. If it were to blow, the dust ejected into the atmosphere will create a new ice age and cause famine. 

Earthquake 🌎 

A devastating earthquake could happen along a fault-line. The resulting devastation could destroy entire cities and ruin infrastructure. Entire industries will be affected and the supply chain may not be able to recover. 

Polar Reversal 🧲 

According to the latest science, the poles shift on average once every 300,000 years. We are long overdue for a polar flip because the last one happened about 700,000 years ago. 

Some scientists have reported that Earth’s EM field has been weakening over the past few years and think a flip may be eminent. Unfortunately, these flips don’t happen overnight. The EM field, which protects the planet from solar radiation can last decades or centuries[3]

With so much polar fluctuations, it stands to reason our entire navigation system may need to be updated to compensate for the chaos. Compasses will be useless because polar “North” or “South” could appear at multiple locations at the same time. 

Navigation Satellites may be affected as well. If not by the confusing polarities, then by the diminished protection from cosmic rays. The EM field protects those satellites in orbit as well and systems will begin to fail as the EM field weakens. 

Speaking of diminished protections…

With the EM Field being drastically weakened, it’s possible that going outside could be a hazard to your health. Partying on the beach could be a thing of the past. If this were to happen, a single day with “the guns out because the sun’s out” could cause cancer. Meaning, our health system will have to focus on treating various skin cancers.

Finding a date with perfect skin will be hard too.

People will be forced to move underground as they seek protection from the sun’s harmful rays. This won’t be practical for most people and those who aren’t prepared, will turn to the government for help. That government won’t be able to help everyone and people will start turning on each other for protection. 

Unda tha Sea 🌊

We know more about space than we do of what happens below the ocean’s surface.

Let that sink in.

We know more about objects that are billions of miles away, lightyears away, than what happens here on this planet. For all we know, there’s an advanced oceanic civilization below the depths and we won’t know it until they make contact or send their squid and octopus troops to attack!

Octopussy… ROFL!

The British recently announced that octopi are sentient creatures, and they’re masters of disguise. They’re so good at hiding, divers can swim right past without knowing. An oceanic empire employing the natural talents of octopi could easily disguise or camouflage their cities against land-based observation. 

Or, an underwater civilization could mirror the actions of most fish and sea animals. Their version of a city could be a fleet of migratory vessels. IF our sonar were to detect these “cities”, we’d assume they’re a pod of whales or a school of large fish. 

You know what…There MUST be a reason why North Korea keeps launching missiles into the ocean. Maybe they’re fighting a war against the Crustaceans and we don’t know about the war because of a massive international government conspiracy.

I just thought of this, but our government could be hiding vast underwater cities for our civilization’s elite. It’s possible, we’ve had the technology for half a century

Anyone remember SeaQuest DSV? Same concept.

Slow Flooding

The polar ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising as a result. We’re already seeing how this is flooding historic cities like Venice. As more coastal cities are inundated with water, populations will migrate to dryer lands. 

Larger nations can handle an exodus of large people. Look at how Poland is handling the over 5 million refugees. However, there are limits to how much a society can absorb. Such a migration caused by flooding of coastal cities will cause strain on infrastructure and grate on the tolerance of local communities. 

There will be a point when local communities say no more and start turning people away. Those refugees will have to move on to less developed or desirable lands. If they survive, they’ll have to live in tent-cities or shanty towns. They may even become completely dependent on the government for support. Crime will be rampant in these new ghettos.

Or they’ll ignore the wishes of locals and invade. We already see something like this in the form of homelessness. That’s probably what such an exodus will look like. 

There’s millions of acres of government land for people to evacuate to, but most of that land is undeveloped or completely uninhabitable. I expect the government to claim “Eminent Domain” on desirable private properties to support refugees before they develop government lands.

Civil unrest will ensue regardless of whether flood refugees remain homeless, move to shanty-towns, or the government takes control and reallocates lands. 

***

I don’t have a crystal ball telling me what will happen in the future, so I’m prepping as best I can for what I know I can prepare for. I admit to having a few personal favorites of what I think are more likely to cause a SHTF situation. I think an EMP attack is very likely, but also think it could be used as a “Pearl Harbor” to a third world war.

Of the other possible civilization-ending disasters, I believe that famine (all by itself) is the next likely situation we may face. We already see the signs of how climate change is making the breadbaskets of the world less reliable, or how we’ve been unable to export/distribute vital food resources, and there’s already supply shortages on certain foods.

One last thing. Survivalism is a serious subject for most preppers or people in our societal group. You can probably tell I had some fun with a few of these ideas. I did this because, all work and no play make Survivalist-Sam a dull-boy.


[1] Religion: It is not my goal to bash anyone’s individual beliefs. I believe in myself and things which can be proven. If you want to believe stories which, have been told and retold over thousands of years, which may have originated from someone tripping on hallucinogenic compounds… That’s your prerogative and I’ll thank you for keeping your hurt feelings to yourself.

Pray for me if you’d like, but use your inside voice.

[2] Other Gods: I’m an equal-opportunity kind of person, and don’t discriminate against religions or superstations. All of the activities listed as being done by the 3 major religions are historically accurate.

[3] Buis, A. (2021, August 3). Flip Flop: Why Variations in Earth’s Magnetic Field Aren’t Causing Today’s Climate Change. Retrieved from NASA: Global Climate Change: https://climate.nasa.gov/ask-nasa-climate/3104/flip-flop-why-variations-in-earths-magnetic-field-arent-causing-todays-climate-change/

Survival Pet Bathroom?

I’d like to end my recent focus on pet survivalism by mentioning another problem you may face if civilization were to end… waste. How are you going to take care of the natural urge to expel liquid or solid waste? This is easy in today’s world. All we have to do is let the dog poo and pee in the back yard, or take it out for a walk.

Depending on the civilization-ending disaster, your pet’s bathroom habits may not change. Even if cat litter runs out, your cat can easily use something else like sawdust, fine wood shavings, or dried sand. Cats can be retrained to poo and pee outside, but they won’t do it on-demand like dogs.

What if there’s a chemical or nuclear attack?

If such an attack were to happen, your pet can’t go outside because they’ll track in deadly chemicals or fallout. That means you’ll need to retrain your pet to poop and pee inside the house or bunker. This is easy for cats because they can use a litter box, but will be very hard on dogs who’ve been trained to never potty in the house.

You’ll have to train the animal to use the bathroom only at one approved location and guide it there repeatedly. You also need to keep an eye on your pet until you’re certain it’s comfortable with the new habit. If it can’t follow its training and the urge gets too great, the pet’s natural instinct is to find someplace discreet to hide the mess and avoid getting in trouble.

Please keep in mind this retraining will involve a lot of trial and error. Your pet is unlearning old habits while trying to learn new ones, and will benefit from positive or negative reinforcement. I’m sure your pet will do its best to learn new habits, so don’t be too harsh with the negative reinforcements during this transition period. Afterall, humans created the mess they’re in.

What about my dog?

I live and work in the heart of a major city and regular dog-walks aren’t always possible. My dog has used puppy pads his entire life and won’t need to be retrained. However, I fear the day we run out of those convenient puppy pads. I guess he can use leftover newspapers, but the paper won’t be delivered after the SHTF, so what happens when that runs out?

Maybe we’ll dedicate 2-3 towels for him to use and rewash them daily?

***

Think of how your pet will do its “business” if civilization were to end. Depending on the situation, it may not be “business as usual”, and you’ll need to help them adapt to the new situation.

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.

Separated when the SHTF 

It’s always great to have a plan and know what you’re going to do if “The Fall” happens. But most plans I’ve read online or in books seem specifically tailored to single people.

Why is that?

Most people have some sort of a family, whether it be a spouse and/or at least one child? 

What’s the plan if you are separated from them when disaster strikes? Don’t think for an instant that it’ll never happen… I’m surprised more people haven’t accounted for this situation in their disaster planning, because a lot of things can cause your family to be spread out across an entire city.

In a best-case scenario, it takes missiles from the eastern hemisphere a little less than 30 minutes to reach targets in the continental United States. However, if an attack comes from a submarine, it could take about 10-15 minutes to reach their targets. Also, consider that our government will probably move at a snail’s pace because they don’t want political backlash if it turns out to be a false alarm[1]. That means, you have less than 10-30 minutes to get out of the city.

So, what would cause your family to be separated during a disaster? 

Life… That’s what. 

In most families, parents work and children are at school throughout the day. That’s two or three different locations everyone who matters could be located. If a disaster strikes and you can’t contact your family, you need to have a plan so you’re not wasting time running around like a chicken with its head cut off. 

Assuming you have something resembling the average “nuclear family”, I’d recommend you plan to have one parent collect the survival gear and get your vehicle ready to make an escape. The other parent, preferably female (or feminine), needs to focus on getting your children out of school.

This can take forever. Actually, getting your kids is going to be the greatest time-suck in your bug-out plan because history and bad parents have taught school officials to drag their feet. 

The reason why I recommend you task the mother or feminine partner with this duty is because they tend to appear less threatening during emergency situations than males or dominant partners. They tend to exude a combination of nervous and worried emotional energy, which makes people more sympathetic. They also tend to chat and relate with staff, and that relatability may get the kids out faster.

A feminine person can say, “I’m so worried about the situation, I just want my family to be at home.” As opposed to most dominant males, who find it difficult to do the same thing. Men may appear to be more aggressive than women in the same situation. They tend to radiate anger and frustration when under pressure, and isn’t ideal when they’re forced to work with slow-government-employees.

The school may refuse to release a child to a parent who appears to be overly nervous and panicked. If this happens, the parents should switch out and try a different approach. Maybe a different face will convince the school to release your kids.

If the school refuses to release your child after two attempts… then you need to do what’s best for your family. You may have to decide, as a family, to extract your children by any means necessary[2]

This is a survival situation and minutes can mean the difference between life or death. The chances of your family’s survival reduces with every minute that school official wastes. 

If you’re a single parent, your job is twice as hard because you not only have to collect your kids, but also the supplies you’re going to need. If this is the case, I recommend you pick up the kids first because they can help you pack. If the school will not release your kids, you got that attempt out of the way. That means when you head home, you know what extra supplies you may need to bring back so you can successfully extract your child.

Who knows, maybe things will have cooled off enough that your appearance won’t be as threatening when you return. Or perhaps the staff will have a change of heart. Or, maybe another parent put the school in its place. It doesn’t matter how you get your kids out of school, you just need to keep in mind that it’s going to waste most of your family’s precious time. 

Skeptical Relationship 

What if you’re in a relationship with a skeptic who will not listen to your emergency plans? What if they don’t take it seriously and refuse to commit those plans to memory? Or, what if they are the type of person who is so worried about you, they’ll do all the wrong things when the SHTF? 

Well, there truly isn’t helping everyone. You just have to tell them your disaster plans and hope they remember the plan. 

I happen to be in a relationship with a skeptic, and we sometimes find ourselves separated by about 100 miles because of home remodels or work. 

If I were the one to be out of the city, I will not go into the city looking for my boyfriend. Forget all those heroic movies where the lone man or mother saves the family. That’s a hopeless endeavor in real life, and I don’t want him to do the same for me if the situations were reversed. 

If I’m trapped in the city, I will hike or bicycle it out to the bug-out spot… and he should do the same. 

IF he wants to come to my aid, then MAYBE it would be a good idea if he tried to meet up with me mid-way. But that will require a lot of luck…

I can’t stress the importance having a bug-out plan. However, not all plans are made for the same type of family. You need to make your own, or adjust published plans to meet your own family needs. Always keep in mind that the longer it takes you to get out of a major city, the less likely the most important people to you are going to survive.

***

Next time, I’ll post a few of my bug out plans. Yes, I have multiple plans.


[1] False Alarm: Remember the false alarm that happened in Hawaii in 2018?

[2] I would like to remind my readers that I do not condone violence, nor do I recommend that you commit any crimes. You need to use your best judgement when it comes to your family’s safety.

Religious Groups Will Take Over

If an apocalyptic event happened that causes our civilization to fall, religious communities will almost certainly try to take over. If they don’t succeed outright, they’ll still be the dominant socio-political force in the land.

Under normal conditions, people of faith are just like ordinary Americans. They hold very strong beliefs and political views on a few major subjects, but hold many of the same values as modern liberals when it comes to the majority of our laws and common social etiquette. Individually, they aren’t too dissimilar to Agnostics and Atheists either. It’s the greatness of our nation’s justice system and the availability of information, which maintains this harmony.

However, that respect for thy neighbor will disappear once the centralized government is gone. Things will start getting bad once rural communities are forced to come together as a group. There won’t be reliable sources of media to provide news and information to the shocked and stunned survivors. You’ll be amazed at how quickly people will ignore rational thought and start believing any story or rumor. It only takes one person of authority and influence to turn a good Christian community bad.

Let’s consider the ingredients that can make such a terrifying dystopian nightmare happen.

  • The location where most conservative Christians live.
  • Lack of centralized oversight and control, coupled with a newfound ability to abuse power.

Location, location, location!

The United States has a “Bible Belt” across the southern and rural states, where conservative Christians tend to live. This “belt” stretches as far north-east as Virginia, then goes down to Florida’s panhandle. You can feel the spirit in the vast middle-of-nowhere regions of Texas, and the belt snakes up to Salt Lake City. There are other pockets of isolated religious communities everywhere in the country, but the “belt” is where they seem to be concentrated in the United States.

Aside from a few scattered minuteman missile facilities and silos, there’s virtually nothing of strategic importance in these rural areas. Nobody’s going to waste a nuke on a small town or village out in the middle of nowhere, like Lufkin, Texas. Heck, I doubt anyone would try targeting our missile facilities since they’ll be empty by the time the attack hits them.

It stands to reason that small towns and rural communities will be safe from the attack, but accidents and mistakes in targeting can happen… Barring any bad luck, these communities will rise from the ashes of our civilization.

They were once meek, but will seek to inherit the earth if left unopposed.

A Shocked & Stunned Population

The apocalypse just happened! People are going to be assaulted by a cocktail of extreme and stressful emotions. They will be shocked that the world as they know it has ended. They grew up in a society with computers everywhere, even in their pockets. They grew up knowing that information and entertainment can be had at any time of the day. Now they can’t even turn on a TV, and the only radio they own is in the car that probably doesn’t work anymore. Emergency services were available at the touch of 3-buttons on a phone, but now the phones don’t work.

Yes, the occasional natural disaster caused all of us to suffer some time without our technological tools and toys, but everything returned to normal within a few days. Nothing is going to be “normal” again, and people are going to be brought to a mental breaking point once that realization sets in.

Ordinary people will recoil in horror at the knowledge of their, and their loved ones mortality. People will start dying of treatable chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. People will start dying from easily curable diseases and infections too.

And what do you do with the body of your most cherished loved one? In the past, you’d call 911 and the paramedics would declare the death and take the body away to be processed by professionals. All you needed to do was arrange for memorial services, and then pay for it.

Now, it’s all up to you. You have to accept the responsibility and summon the energy to: dig a hole, drag or carry your loved one to it, and bury the body of the person you loved. You’ll be so focused on surviving, that a proper memorial service may be impossible. You may even wake up the next day to the horrific realization that you didn’t properly dispose of the body, and animals dug up and desecrated your beloved family member.

It will take people a couple weeks to fully realize and accept that things will never be normal again. That sort of paradigm shift can shatter a person’s psyche, and make them more susceptible to radical influences and manipulation. This can happen to the best and most rational of us.

And, this is happening to people all across the country.

The Rise of Religious Communities

The secular government won’t be around to keep these communities in-check anymore, and ambitious religious leaders will use this disaster as a perfect opportunity to seize control and spread their dogmatic ideals. It’ll be easy, and will probably happen several hundred times across the country.

The majority of these survivors are already inclined to believe in immaterial forces based on faith alone. The apocalypse may be the only proof necessary to make them loyal followers of a religious leader. Then you have the remaining population of shocked and stunned survivors who, ordinarily, wouldn’t believe in superstitions and things of a spiritual nature. But some will latch onto any idea, or person of authority which claims to provide salvation, answers, and hope.

A small minority of strong-willed or intellectual people will be left who won’t “see the light” and “come into the fold”. This minority can grow as more people realize what is happening and shake the religious influence, but I doubt this will happen. Humans like things to be easy, so the minority will probably shrink as ever-growing desperation or blatant threats of violence forces them to conform.

There are several things a leader will do to rise to power and solidify their authority. He[1] will start with speeches, then perform “good” deeds, and scapegoat others to maintain his hold on power. 

Speech and Preach

The religious leader will first claim their connection to divinity by reminding community members that they have been warning us this was coming for years. Expect speeches like the following:

The leader will start the speech in a modest and self-deprecating manner.

“In his divine wisdom, God chose to share his vision with me. Me, a poor wretched soul…”

Pause for dramatic effect before continuing with a scolding tone.

“He instructed me to spread his warning that a day of judgement will come. That our society will be punished for its sins of pride, lust, and greed. You didn’t heed those warnings then, but now you remember…”

The leader may dust off a few of the “Armageddon” chapters and verses to claim it was further ordained in Revelations[2].

The leader will close the speech in a way that solidifies his power and influence by instilling the belief that their community was spared from the apocalypse because they are the chosen, righteous, people. The speech will change to have a powerful and inspirational tone.

“God chose me to be here to help guide you through this time of great turmoil. You, his most devout followers are his chosen people. God’s wrath struck down the heathens and sinners, but he chose to spare you from his divine judgement. Us chosen few were spared to carry out his will, and we must work to rebuild this nation in His image!”

The speech might be slightly different, but it should carry the same meaning. You’ll be amazed and disappointed at how many people will be influenced by such a speech.

I hope I didn’t just write a future theocratic dictator’s speech.

Deeds

Speeches alone won’t be enough to persuade some people to follow and remain loyal to a leader. The leader will have to perform deeds to entice more to join as followers. They will establish the church as a bountiful provider by pooling the resources of the community and distributing supplies to those in need.

If the church hasn’t wrested control from a secular community, it will passively proselytize in the sidelines by providing “care packages” to the poor and needy. This simple deed makes their church look good and gives them a chance to speak and engage with potential converts. Alternatively, if the church already has a firm grasp on power and control over resources, the leader will distribute rations during church services. They’ll organize communal housing and dining for the homeless. They will preach during meals and before bedtime in an effort to indoctrinate those benefitting from the services being provided[3].

All of these tactics ensure the followers become and remain dependent on the church for their survival. Their continued safety and well being is linked to obedience to the community’s dogma, and violators will be punished by withholding supplies or being exiled from the community.

Being self-sufficient may not protect you either. Depending on how insecure (or evil) the leader is, he may see your independence from his church as a challenge to his authority. You’ve proven that you can support yourself, and can be a highly valuable member of society. He can’t have you showing his flock that it’s possible to live outside of his influence. He needs to get rid of this challenge by either converting you into a productive follower, or eliminating the threat to his authority.

He’ll send his followers out to convince you of the error of your ways. They will use words and incentives to entice you to convert, and if that doesn’t work… threats. They will force you into the fold by terrorizing you and your family. And if all else fails, they will eliminate your family to serve as an example to others.

Scapegoating

Things won’t be sunshine and rainbows all the time. The actions of the leader may cause misfortune to fall upon the community, but you’ll never hear that. No. The infallible leader will do everything in his power to distract the followers attention away from his ineptitude, and onto scapegoats. You’ll hear things like:

“Yes, the Smith family is suffering from hard times, but they brought this upon themselves when they chose to ignore the abomination living in their home! God is punishing them for not casting out that sinful harlot of a lesbian daughter[4]!”

“God wants us to love thy neighbor and to give alms to the poor, but he is angry at us for aiding heretics.”

The leader may use this as an opportunity to get rid of competition or those who have spoken against him. In this type of situation, the guards may drag out a few of sinners or Satan-worshipers, who conveniently have had their tongues cut out so they can’t sway the community with their evil words (or defend themselves).

“I have sad news to report. We’ve discovered that Satan has been filling our ears with vile lies, and has seduced some of our most respected community members to do his bidding. These sinners have poisoned our well water with disease and they must be punished.”

Or the leader will rally his followers against an external threat. The threat could be another community that will not follow his dogmatic belief system. This tactic serves to blame the external threat for all of the community’s problems, and he gets rid of the challenge to his authority.

“Our crops are being sabotaged by those who hate our devotion to God. These nonbelievers revile in our misfortune and will do anything to make us turn our backs to God’s loving arms. We must root out this evil! We must fight the infidels![5]

If there’s a rival crack-pot religious upstart who wrongfully thinks he’s the Second Coming of Christ, substitute the last sentence with:

“We must slay the false prophet!”

Scapegoating doesn’t have to be limited to times of hardship, it can be done during the good times too.

Birth defects are going to happen, especially after radiation or chemical exposure mutates our genes. Unfortunately, most of the survivors aren’t going to have much scientific knowledge and will probably believe the defects are of supernatural origin. Meaning, birth defects are going to become marks of Satan or signs that God is punishing a family for some misdeed[6].

What can we do if faced with such a nightmare?

In short, hope and pray I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. Barring a cynical thoughts & prayers approach, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of survival when a totalitarian religion, or religious figure takes over. You can either speak out, blend in, or hide; but you should always be prepared to defend yourself.

Speak Out

Let’s say you live in a community of people with moderate values, and only a few devoted Christians. People start holding town meetings after the dusts settles, but the church leader and his followers start proposing some radical changes to the town’s laws. You should speak out early on to nip the religious movement in the bud before the vile takes root. There are others who share your reasonable point of view, and fear your community will repeat history by persecuting anyone who is different. They only need someone to voice that first objection.

The bad thing is, if you push too hard against bigotry, you run the risk of becoming a target yourself. These religious types always have henchmen who do their master’s bidding and respond to his suggestions. The henchmen will attack or kill those who threaten their rise to power. You’ll need to make sure your closest neighbors are on your side, or generally like you for being a good person. They’ll be there to warn you when the attack comes, and may even jump to your defense.

Blend In

Maybe you stayed in your basement a little too long and found out the religious fanatics took over while you were sheltering. You climbed out of your basement and emerged into a nightmare. That first time you traveled to City Hall, you saw people hanging from trees with signs showing their sins. You know you can’t fight the establishment, so you need to hide what you are and blend in.

Enter the community with the knowledge that every single person is watching you, so be careful with what you say, how you say it, and how you act. They will watch you for any weakness or sign that you aren’t a true believer. Do not volunteer much information about yourself.

With that said, you mustn’t isolate yourself from the community either. Being seen in the community has its benefits. The more people that see you, the less they’ll suspect that you’re hiding a secret. You’ll need to attend community meetings and remain in contact with your neighbors to make sure you know what’s happening. Being aware of what’s happening will help you get ready to defend yourself should you find that you’re part of a group being targeted for persecution.

Another good way to blend in is to display historic symbols of conservatism and hate. If you can find a Confederate flag[7], hang it outside where the locals can see it as they pass your home. This will help to convince the hillbilly survivors you’re one of them, and definitely don’t hold any liberal values.

Having a cross on your property can help ward off fanatics too.

Hide

If you own a large wooded property that’s hard to access, you could try hiding. This depends entirely on how self-sufficient you can make yourself. You need to be able to grow your food, purify or distill your water, and scavenge from nature. You also need to scare trespassers away to make sure nobody knows what you have hidden away. Firing a warning shot at a trespasser should do the trick, but if it doesn’t, you may have to resort to more drastic measures.

Just know that if too many people go missing in or around your property, the community will unite and converge upon your home in a mob.

What if there’s an emergency and you need to travel into town to trade for supplies? This is very risky. It’s a religious leader’s job to know everyone in their flock. It’s how they empathize and gain the trust and devotion of their followers. If you come out of hiding for any reason, you run the risk of being seen as an outsider. The leader may have you followed back home. If it’s found out you live within walking distance to the town, they’ll never leave you alone.

Always be Prepared to Fight

Fanatics are irrational and will turn on you in a heartbeat if they think it will make them look more devoted to a religion or leader.

Always be prepared to defend yourself in town.

Always be prepared to defend your home.

Always have an escape plan when the mob turns against you, because you can’t fight them all.

Is there no hope for the future after they take over?

You should always hold tight to a small kernel of hope. Even in a community full of devout fanatical followers, there will always be moderates or generally good people who don’t approve of the crimes being committed by the leader and his followers. They’ll be hard to find because they’re hiding their true beliefs, just like you are. You might not know who they are until they discretely approach you. The identities of these people may surprise you, because they may be better pretending to be a fanatic than you are (or they’re spies).

Just know that you are not alone. One day the leader will screw up so badly the closet-liberals will rise up against him. You need to stay alert to these opportunities[8] and be ready to speak out. It only takes one voice to encourage others to speak up. And don’t forget that accidents can happen too. The leader is merely mortal and will probably die from disease. The organization is most vulnerable during the transition between one ruler to his heir.

Just know there are risks involved with opposing the leader and his followers. If you are caught helping persecuted people escape, you’ll probably suffer the same fate as them. If you stage a revolt, you must be prepared for the probability that you may die in the act. And if the revolt fails, leaders of this type tend to make examples of entire families. Things truly must be horrible enough for you to risk it all, for the chance your family can have a better life afterward.

Another thing to remember is that this nightmare won’t last forever, and you may be able to wait it out.

What’s left of the country’s military and political leadership is still battling for its survival against an external enemy. Once that enemy has been neutralized, they will focus on reestablishing control over the country.

There’s also the possibility that we’ll lose the external war and be conquered. In either case, the religious nut-job will lose his totalitarian power. I’ll finish under the assumption our country will successfully fight off the external threat and will work to reestablish control over our country.

The problem with religions is that they tend to divide more than they unite. Even religions that follow the same core belief system, further divide themselves based on how they worship or which texts they decide to prioritize. Some even create their own lore or origin story, setting themselves further apart from the other religions. And the largest dividing factor of all is the belief that each of them is the true and correct religion, and the others are wrong or blasphemous. 

This divisiveness will be further compounded by the lack of communication. The various religious leaders will be so entrenched and drunk with their own power, they’ll react violently when a slightly different religion or sect is encountered. Unless they give up their belief system and conform, the opposing religious community is an immediate threat to the leader’s authority and connection to divinity. Both leaders are going to have this mindset, and if the threat isn’t removed, it will undermine the leader’s authority in perpetuity.

If any semblance of a federal government is ever reestablished, the conflict between religious communities or the inherent lack of cooperation will help ensure that no single religion has the upper hand in a nation-wide political system.

Thankfully.


[1]He” – The majority of religious leaders will almost certainly be male. Most radical religions are patriarchal by nature, and fanatics are more willing to follow a strong man.

[2] Armageddon – I think the majority of the end-of-days verses are in the “Book of Revelations”, but I haven’t read a Bible since I was in elementary school.

[3] Indoctrination Services – We already see this type of passive recruiting with the homeless who rely on church-based charities for shelter and daily meals.

[4] Lesbian Daughter – I do not condone hate speech. This statement is used to describe the possible method by which an evil person may victimize others to achieve their agenda.

[5] Fanatical Speech – Don’t fool yourself into thinking this can’t happen here in the US-of-A. We have fringe groups that are arguably the Christian version of Al Qaeda, who think every single Muslim is trying to eradicate people of Christian faith. The same people think it’s okay to punish Jewish people for the treachery of Jesus Christ.

[6] Birth Defects – This has been happening to people with albinism in Africa for centuries. Even today, albinos are hunted down for their body parts because, according to witchcraft rituals, they can promote wealth, power, and sexual vigor.

[7] Symbols of Conservatism and Hate – I do not condone hate-speech or the proliferation of paraphernalia intended to intimidate or make any group of people feel uncomfortable or in danger. The survival strategies are designed to maximize the chances of surviving in this hypothetical nightmare-scenario.

[8] Opportunities – Religious leaders can get overconfident in their selection of people to victimize. They will focus on easy targets like: homosexuals, other religions, and probably other races. You’ll be surprised at how many people will accept this. But their faith in the leader will be shaken if he targets someone who’s obviously innocent like a child, or possibly a mentally disabled person. You should speak out when they target people like these.

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).

Post-Apocalypse Markets

How will we operate businesses and trade after World War III, or if a catastrophic attack or disaster befalls our country? The local economy is going to have to focus on producing or trading products needed for survival. That means the most important products and services are going to be things that can immediately be used for everyday household needs, and probably won’t stray too far from that. 

Where will you find a market to trade goods? The surviving malls of the old civilization have been turned into palaces for highway barons and their minions[1]. Most supermarkets have been looted and damaged so extensively that it’d be impossible to secure your inventory. So, what does that leave us with?

Flea markets!

After everyone abandons the major cities and metroplexes, after the initial chaos settles, and when communities start coming together, the once forgotten flea market is going to become the new mall or trading hub. Why?

  1. They exist out in rural areas, which aren’t going to be targeted by a foreign enemy.

I mean, come on! Who’s going to waste a nuke on Woodville, Texas, or a small village called Swartout?!

  • There won’t be any reliable electricity, and these places with outdoor pavilions are going to be perfect to serve as the malls of the post-apocalyptic future. Some of the more upscale flea markets are wired for electricity, and a generator can be hooked up allowing the market to operate at night. 
  • Most flea markets are structured in a way that makes them easily defendable. The rent and protection fees vendors will be forced to pay landlords will help fund the market’s security.
  • Plus, it shouldn’t be too hard to convert some of the stall-pavilions into make-shift housing for vendors and security personnel. 

The only problem I can see is getting products to that market. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 21 million horses in the United States[2]. Nowadays, horses, donkeys, and other draft animals are endangered here in the USA. According to Pete Gibbs[3], a Texas A&M University animal science professor, the Houston area has one of the highest concentrations of horses in the country, with a population between 150,000 and 200,000. We’ve become so dependent on the almighty car, we don’t have the draft animals to produce the “horsepower” needed for agriculture or transportation.

There’s a reason why automobiles are advertised as having varying amounts of horsepower.

I always liked a scene in Things to Come[4] when the Airman lands and the community leader arrives on a convertible car being pulled by horses. I thought it was funny the first time I saw the movie, but that odd sight may very well be the stagecoach of the future. We will need to return to using animals to power our new agrarian society and to bring those products to market. 

Dollars will be worthless.

The new economy will be based on barter. If you want a certain product, you’ll need to trade something of equal or greater value… and more often than not, you’ll need to trade with greater value.

Inequitable trading is to be expected. Recall that a centralized economy doesn’t exist anymore. There is no reliable currency, so it makes sense people will want to trade their products for greater value because of this unreliability.

Whatever you do, do not accept any immaterial currency as trade. Currency only works in an insulated environment controlled by someone who has power to enforce the stated value. It also needs the faith of people who believe in the inherent value of that currency. None of that exists any more.

You may be able to trade currency with one person, only to find out it’s worthless to another. It’s also easy for that same person you originally traded with to turn around and say they aren’t accepting cash or currency as legal tender anymore. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who’s as gullible as you to accept that currency in turn when that happens. 

Recall that I previously mentioned currency only works in an insulated environment? In this new world, you may encounter specialized currency at a sealed market. In this situation, you trade goods the community needs for a posted amount upon entry and receive a locally accepted form of currency, which can only be used inside the borders of the market. Expect the person issuing you the new currency to take a cut of your trade as a fee. (The local government has to make money too.)

If you encounter this type of system, you need to make sure you spend all of this new money immediately. If you have any cash left over, use it to buy something that has a stable value, like non-perishable food.

Nothing is certain anymore. A change of leadership could happen, or counterfeiters could flood the market. Whatever the cause, the accepted form of payment can change overnight and you’ll be left with nothing of value to trade the next day.

I’m pretty sure food will become the new unit of account for currency, akin to what the “gold standard” used to be. If the new markets are smart, they will base the currency on the common knowledge of caloric count. and may give special dispensation, or increase in price, to foods which provide a boost to certain vitamins and minerals. An example would be bananas, which are high in potassium. If you’re operating a distillery in the post-apocalyptic future, it’d be beneficial to grow bananas as well as distill alcohol. You could resell the bananas as a hangover remedy[5]

What’s going to be sold at these markets?

Food will be the most important products being sold at the market, and you might not find much else until the local economy gets stronger.

Eggs and live chickens are light and easy to transport, and will be the first proteins or meat to be traded. I emphasize that chickens will be traded alive, because there won’t be power to refrigerate and preserve butchered meat. The best way for the new markets to cheaply “preserve” meat for days is by selling it live.

I don’t think many hens capable of laying eggs will be sold at the market. It doesn’t make sense for the farmer to sell something that’s making money or ensuring the survival of his or her family.

Livestock will be another early addition to the market. Horses and donkeys will cost a fortune because they can provide transportation and power to work the land. You may be able to find goats at the market too. Demand for goats milk and cheese will plummet. Most Americans don’t have a taste for either, and storing the dairy products will be next to impossible without electricity. Farmers will need to sell off or cull their stock when it becomes apparent they can’t feed all the animals on the farm. You can buy them for the meat, or if you can get a male and female, purchase to start your own farm.

You may find the same situation with pigs. There will be too many mouths to feed and no way to quickly preserve the meat. Both pigs and goats can eat pretty much anything, so feeding a small number of these animals won’t be much of a problem for a survivalist farmer. If it does get too hard to feed them, then it may be time to host a meat-lover’s party.

Fuel may show up at the market at some point. I’m not sure when it will appear though. Most people with petroleum gas or propane may try to hold onto it to power farming machinery or generators. Barring hoarding for personal use, I’m pretty sure fuel will get confiscated by local governments to power emergency vehicles, or possibly provide a dramatically scaled down form of public transportation.

A Word of Caution

What if you want to start a business and open a shop? That’s very enterprising of you, but drill this into your head now:

Don’t set up shop at home!

You’re basically inviting people to come to your house and look at what you’ve got. The majority of your shoppers are probably honest, but you need to expect that with every 10 customers, there’s probably 1 thief scoping out your home to rob later. If the “business” gets burglarized, so does your family.

It’s much safer to sell things at a market. Yes, you’ll have to pay rent on your stall and you may have to pay a security surcharge on top of that, but it’s worth it in the long-run.

***

Money as we know it will be worthless after a catastrophic attack or disaster befalls our country. So, how will we conduct business and trade? Our redefined economy will be based on barter and locally defined currency exchanges. Flea markets will be the perfect foundations to establish markets to buy, sell, and trade goods.

Check my blog later for the next part of this post-apocalyptic series. I plan to describe what you might do for a living after the collapse.


[1] A wise slum-lord will take over a mall with a jewelry store, and use the gold, diamonds, and other precious metals as a form of currency to pay an army of desperate soldiers.

[2] ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance. (2007, September). The Educational Programming Guide for Going Places. Retrieved from Park City Museum: https://parkcityhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Teacher-Background-Information.pdf

[3] Crowe, R. (2006, January 18). Riders rearing up over new horse restrictions. Retrieved from Chron: https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Riders-rearing-up-over-new-horse-restrictions-1889342.php

[4] Menzies, W. C. (Director). (1936). Things to Come [Motion Picture].

[5] I’m sure there’s a Ferengi Rule of Acquisition related to this.

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