Hygiene after the SHTF

I’ve seen hundreds of articles about how to survive the apocalypse by using specialized skills, and/or living off a hoard of food. However, one of the most important skills most people learn during childhood doesn’t get the attention it deserves… Hygiene!

How will you stay healthy to use those skills and enjoy all that preserved food if you can’t practice basic hygiene? Keep in mind that going to the grocery store for more soap and toothpaste probably won’t be possible. That means you’ll need to be creative when it comes to your hygiene needs[1].

You’ll find alternative methods for maintaining good hygiene after the SHTF in this article. If these methods don’t appeal to your tastes, do some research and find what works best for you. However, I think the substitutions and methods listed in this article are more practical in a survival situation.

Dental

There are many things you can do to maintain good oral health. You can conserve the supply of toothpaste or replace it entirely.

If you absolutely must have toothpaste and need to make it last as long as possible, you’ve got to stop using so much toothpaste. According to most dental experts and manufacturers, adults only need a pea-sized “dollop” of toothpaste[2],[3].

That’s a blob of about half a centimeter or a quarter of an inch!

If you have a healthy mouth, it may be a good idea to further stretch your supply of dental products by alternating your brushing and “washing”. You can double the life of your toothpaste and mouthwash if you don’t use both products every time you clean your teeth. Some dentists claim that rinsing the mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing, wastes the benefits of fluoride in toothpaste.

To do this, brush your teeth at night and spit out the foam. Allow the teeth to absorb the leftover fluoride as you sleep. And then rinse your mouth out with mouthwash in the morning, after breakfast.

But what if you run out of toothpaste?

Humans have been cleaning their teeth long before modern toothpaste was invented. Most ancient cultures used devices or solutions to get food particles out of their teeth, but I must warn you that none are going to be as minty-fresh as the manufactured paste most of us are addicted to. Be aware that some of these alternatives may cause irritation, and it may be necessary to temporarily switch substitutions.

Below are 3 lists of oral-care substitutions which may help ensure your teeth stay healthy[4],[5].

Teeth Scrapers

  1. Toothbrush (by itself, or with “paste”)
  2. Floss
  3. Toothpicks
  4. Spun Thread or “Sewing String” (substitute for both floss and toothbrush)
  5. Frayed Twig as a substitute toothbrush

Toothpaste

It’s easy to make a basic toothpaste by combining: 2/3 cup of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, and enough water to turn it into a paste. You can add peppermint essential oil to freshen your breath as well. Making and storing toothpaste may not be possible for some people. The following can be used individually:

  1. Baking Soda
  2. Chewing Sesame or Flax Seeds (then brush)
  3. Charcoal[6],[7]

Survival Mouthwashes

There are a few mouthwashes you can use as well. The theory behind these mouthwashes is to pull food particles out of your teeth and/or make bacteria residing in your mouth inert.

  1. Coconut Oil
  2. Salt & Water
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide (diluted in water)
  4. Essential Oil & Water (mix in salt for extra abrasiveness)

It’s probably a good idea to switch over to alternate dental hygiene methods when you realize civilization has collapsed, long before supply forces you to make the switch. Doing so gives you an opportunity to experiment with new methods, and it maintains that supply so you can switch back to a tried-and-true product if you suffer any side effects. If you don’t notice any side effects, you can save the minty toothpaste for when you’re going to be intimate. Or, if the new hygiene practices are working, and dates aren’t a possibility, you can trade that leftover toothpaste with someone desperate.

Soap

I wanted to be a nurse in my early 20s, before deciding it wasn’t the best profession for me. The most memorable lesson I have from nursing school was watching classmate after classmate fail the sanitary exam regarding soap and water. According to medical standards of the early 2000s, soap isn’t technically needed to make your hands sanitary between patients. Friction is what kills germs and bacteria, and you only need to rub your hands under running water. Washing with soap creates suds which generate more friction and trap the dead microbes, making it easier to rinse them off.

I did what I had to and pass the exam, but never trusted friction ALONE to maintain cleanliness.

After the SHTF, washing with soap and water will be even more important than it is today because it’s a valuable tool to ward off infectious illnesses. It may be an essential item to stock, but storage space isn’t infinite and you’ll eventually need to make your own.

There’s only one way to make soap and that’s by using lye[8], oil, and water. Making soap requires a lot of time and can be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle lye. You’ll also need some practice to perfect your recipe.

Below is a basic description on how to make soap in a survival situation, without refined materials.

  1. Make lye by collecting white, powdery wood ash in a bucket or container with holes on the bottom. Make certain there’s a water-tight container beneath the ash bucket.
  2. Leach lye out by pouring water over the ashes and allow the mixture to drain into a container below. Leaching may take an entire day, but doesn’t require much attention. The captured lye-water should be light brown.
  3. Boil the lye-water down for several hours until it’s incredibly thick. If you have 1 gallon of lye-water, the refined lye will be about 1 cup.
  4. In a separate pot, melt or warm about 1 cup of leftover meat fat or cooking oil (or both).
  5. Add the warm lye into the oil/fat and mix while boiling for about 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat and stir for a full minute, every 10-15 minutes. Do this repeatedly until the soap is golden-brown and has a thick consistency (this can take hours).
  7. Optional: Now’s the time to add any extra ingredients, such as: herbs, essential oils, coffee grains, or salt.
  8. Pour mixture into a mold and cover with a towel.
  9. Allow to cure for at least 1 week.
  10. Remove from mold and cut soap into bars. Consider using cupcake molds or something similar to eliminate this last step.

That’s the basic soapmaking process. I loathe providing specific recipes because there’s no telling what materials you’ll have after the SHTF. Search the web if you need detailed or specific recipes.

I’d like to mention a couple alternatives to soap:

Sand

People in desert cultures have used sand to clean themselves for millennia. Even in modern times, sand baths are common in poverty-stricken desert communities, because water is too precious to waste on bathing. This may sound gross to westerners, but the abrasiveness of sand does work to absorb or scrape off body oils and dead skin.

The primary problem with a sand scrub is it can’t effectively kill and remove microbes. That means your hands may not be sanitary for cooking or first aid. Another problem with sand baths is it takes much longer to cleanse an entire body, than it does with a soapy bath or shower.

Oil

Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians once bathed using oil. They slathered oil onto their bodies and scraped it off to remove dead skin and dirt.

Roman gladiators sold their oil scrapings to fans because it was thought it enhanced sexual vigor in men and was an aphrodisiac to women. Who knows, if you’re young and sexy maybe you can sell such scrapings. If not, then I’d probably reuse the oil as a fire accelerant or an ingredient in… soap.

Soap wins in the end! (Just kidding.)

Feminine

If your family includes females at or around menstruating age, you should be prepared if/when they have a period. Women have been going through menstrual cycles since the dawn of time, so this isn’t a new problem. We’ve coped with periods long before tampons existed and will continue to do so after the SHTF.

Tampon substitutions may include:

  1. Washable cloths, rags, or clean clothes you don’t care if they stain (like socks).
  2. Unused or sterilized sponges.
  3. Toilet paper or paper towels.
  4. Gauze bandages[9].
  5. You can also learn to live with it and use nothing.

Even if your family doesn’t need them, it’s a good idea to stock a couple boxes of tampons to trade with desperate people.

***

I’ll close this article by quoting a phrase my father repeated throughout my childhood: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Good hygiene is immensely important during a survival situation because it helps stave off illness. And, if you’re single, maintaining good hygiene may help attract an intimate survivalist partner.


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

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read on this blog, website or in any linked materials.

This article is part of a series about survivalism and being prepared for anything, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore established medical practices or avoid potentially expensive treatments. Always survive to use your skills another day by using the medical services currently available.

[2] Harris Dental. (2013, January 28). How Much Toothpaste Should You Be Using? Retrieved from Harris Dental: https://www.harrisdental.com/blog/how-much-toothpaste-should-you-be-using

[3] Arm & Hammer. (n.d.). How Much Toothpaste Should You Use? Retrieved from Arm & Hammer: https://www.armandhammer.com/articles/how-much-toothpaste-to-use

[4] Gold Coast Holistic Dental Care. (n.d.). Find out 6 easy ways to keep your teeth clean in a natural way. Retrieved from Gold Coast Holistic Dental Care: https://gcholisticdentalcare.com.au/top-6-to-naturally-clean-teeth.html

[5] Smilepoint Dental Care. (n.d.). What can I use instead of toothpaste? Retrieved from Smilepoint Dental Care: https://www.smilepointdentalcare.com/what-can-i-use-instead-of-toothpaste/

[6] Charcoal: Extra caution must be used when using this method of oral hygiene. I reluctantly list charcoal as a toothpaste substitute because it requires skill to safely produce. The lye in ash, which may be present in charcoal, can harm your teeth and gums.

[7] CBC Life. (2019, June 19). Surviving in the wild: How to transform campfire charcoal into a teeth-cleaning powder should you need to. Retrieved from CBC: https://www.cbc.ca/life/video/surviving-in-the-wild-how-to-transform-campfire-charcoal-into-a-teeth-cleaning-powder-should-you-need-to-1.5181928

[8] Lying Lye-less Recipes: There are lye-less recipes available online, but they’re lying or misleading you. Most of these recipes call for a “soap base”, which is basically soap that’s been through the dangerous lye reaction. Soap bases may be concentrated allowing for other ingredients (fragrance or dyes) to be added.

[9] Gauze Tampon: I personally don’t like the idea of using a wound-care product you may need later for something that’s not life-threatening.

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.

Useful Survival Pets?

This is the third installment dedicated to pets in survival situations. People have thanked me for my previous articles related to prepping for our pets’ food and healthcare, but I’m sure this one will be more controversial and less popular. I’d like to go over which pet species will be the best and most useful companion after the fall of civilization? The most obvious winner could be “man’s best friend” (dogs), but the utility of other animals may surprise you.

I’ll start by stating that all animals can serve a basic function when it comes to emotional support and general entertainment. However, some creatures tend to be more useful than others beyond emotional attachment. If a civilization-ending disaster occurs, it’s important to recognize the value your pet can offer to the survival of your family and objectively determine if it serves as an asset or more of a liability. The information provided is based on the average or typical behavior exhibited by certain animals, and many readers will probably think their pet is the exception[1].

The purpose of this article is to remind readers that hard decisions may be necessary to ensure your family’s survival. Living as a survivor or struggling as a victim starts with being able to objectively assess the usefulness of objects, living or otherwise. When it comes to pets, that means deciding to keep, release, or make a hard decision. Reading this will hopefully make you more aware of your pets’ abilities.

Fish

Unless you have a self-sustaining fish farm, fish may be the most useless pets after the fall of civilization. All fish need oxygen, but infusing the water with it may be impossible without power. You may be able to use a solar water pump and create a “waterfall” to get the same effect, but even that may not be enough to supply their needs.

If there’s adequate oxygen, how are you going to feed your fish? Most require special food you probably can’t acquire anymore. Once you run out of fish food, those fish may best be used as food for other pets or as plant fertilizer.

Don’t wait for your fish to die before serving them as food for other pets either. There’s no telling exactly how or when the fish died. For all you know, the fish could have been killed by a bacterial infection brought on by a weakened immune system or contaminated water. Feeding it to another pet may be too great of a health risk, which means the safest thing to do with a dead fish is bury it in your garden or compost pile.

If you can keep your freshwater fish alive, the waste they produce can be used to provide nutrients in your garden. Simply clean the tank as you normally do, but pour the waste-water into your garden instead of down the drain. Don’t do this with saltwater because it will kill plants and ruin the soil for years to come.

What if you’re child has a pet fish?

Lack of power will probably cause the fish to die sooner than expected. When it happens, the best thing you can do is hold a burial in your garden. Doing so will keep your kid happy, and the fish will be reused as fertilizer. Maybe you can soften the loss by telling the kid a story about how the Native Americans once used fish to nourish plants, and/or explain it as part of the circle of life.

Reptiles

Most reptiles live in tanks their entire lives, and won’t be useful in a survival situation. You won’t be able to such a pet and it may be necessary to release it into the wild. Hopefully, it will adapt and hunt for its food.

If you have young children, tell them the lizard or snake ran away and is having a good time hunting in the wild. You can even make a token effort to look for it. Once the search is over, make sure the kids understand that your property has other reptiles which may look like your former snake, but those are wild and deadly. 

Rodents

Hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, squirrels, and rabbits are all rodents used as pets. They can technically eat anything, so food may not be an issue. But if you have a mating pair, they can create more mouths to feed. This in itself is problematic because some rodent species will eat their own babies if there isn’t enough food to go around.

Another problem with rodents is they tend to be small and fast. It’s easy for a pet mouse to get loose and lost somewhere in the house. They can die from pesticides intended for bad rodents from outside, or escape and become yet another wild pest. Should this happen and you have kids, you’ll need to tell your kids something similar to the reptile story:

“Mousey is having a grand time foraging in another neighborhood. Our property has other mice that look like Mousey, but you can’t play with them because they’re wild and carry diseases.”

Some rodents can be useful… as food. North Americans once hunted and trapped rabbits and squirrels, and South Americans eat guinea pigs as a delicacy. If you have multiple rabbits or guinea pigs and the space and know-how to start a “rabbit” farm, then you’ll have a ready source of protein for years. The hard part is convincing your family to look at Fluffy as dinner, and not their best friend.

Birds

Most birds are entertaining and pleasant to look at, and some larger parrots can pop open a beer for you. But let’s face it, most birds are a luxury and will be a constant drain on your resources. More power to you if you can afford to feed a pet bird, but consider what others will think if they figure out you own a living luxury item. 

If your neighbors are suffering from starvation, such a symbol of wealth and abundance may cause resentment. Even if you’re barely making ends meet, the simple fact you own a bird will cause your neighbors to think you’re sitting on a mountain of food. They may attack or steal your supplies thinking they’re justified doing so because, obviously, you have more than enough and you’re a vile person for holding out on them. 

Luxury birds may be worse than useless, but chickens are useful “pets”. Hens can lay eggs for your breakfast, and to replenish your chicken population. And when they get too old to produce eggs, you can eat them. 

Chickens are low maintenance because they eat almost anything from table scraps to spiders. They only require access to water and a safe place to roost. However, chickens will attract thieves and you’ll need to address that problem appropriately[2].

I’d like to finish the bird-section by mentioning falcons, owls, and other wild birds. They aren’t commonly used as pets, but these wild avians offer passive benefits by naturally reducing snake and rodent populations.

Cats

I personally love cats, but they don’t provide many immediate benefits to your family in a survival situation. They don’t follow orders or commands unless they feel like it. They won’t go on a walk with you, and they aren’t great guard dogs either.

Think of why we have sayings like: “Herding cats” and “Scaredy cat”.

While cats may not be immediately useful, they do offer a lot of passive benefits. Cats have been known to hunt and kill pests like mice and other rodents. Such rodents eat food crops, are infested with fleas, and may harbor diseases. Some larger rats are dangerous to small children and love eating the fingers of babies and toddlers.

The problem is how we use or treat cats. The usefulness of a cat is wasted if you’re just going to keep it as a house pet. It can’t kill pests if it’s trapped in the house, but it will start hunting on its own if you let it out. After some practice, a cat can acquire much of its food through hunting and may not be as dependent on you for its daily survival[3],[4].

Our family had an indoor/outdoor cat, and I know the greatest reward a cat can give you is:

  1. Love and affection by day.
  2. Peace of mind at night.
  3. And the occasional gift at the door to “enjoy”.

Dogs

Dogs will almost certainly be the most valuable pet in a survival situation. They are loyal, follow commands, serve as security, and can be trained to help around the house and farm. Dogs of any breed or age can help us psychologically cope with tragedy as well.

However, what many people deem valuable dog traits in today’s world, will be more of a handicap after the SHTF. Popular “toy dogs” are bred to be cute accessories and aren’t as helpful as larger breeds. Toy dogs aren’t completely useless, because most still have superior senses of hearing and smell. Those senses can be used for foraging, and make them great living alarms[5]. Just keep in mind that small dogs, inherently, aren’t physically capable of defending your family. They’ll try their best, but the little ankle-biters can’t do much damage compared to larger dogs.

Larger dog breeds are the best companions to have in a survival situation, simply because they can do more than smaller dogs. Large dogs are great defenders of property and do so by: sounding an alarm to warn you if a stranger is approaching, as well as intercepting and/or attacking intruders. They can herd livestock and help you hunt or retrieve prey. Some can be trained to pull small carts or wagons, sometimes without any supervision.

The overall utility of dogs over other animals cannot be overstated. They are loyal, follow orders, and will put their life on the line to defend their family. Dogs will be one of the most valuable members of your family after the SHTF, but they require training and practice. Which means you must use them as the valuable workers you need them to be… and not as mere toys.

My Pets?

What kind of pets do I own and how do I rate their usefulness? I have a parrot and a small dog, and already know they won’t be as useful as other pets. Here’s how I assessed their utility.

Parrot

He’ll make a good 1-time meal, but I need to keep a happy home and won’t mention that again. The bird’s immediate utility is limited to entertainment and keeping my boyfriend happy. We could use his droppings as fertilizer for a garden, and his feathers can be made into beautiful ornaments, fans, or feather dusters… if we can find someone interested in such crafts.

We can keep the parrot alive for years because he’ll eat pretty much anything us humans can. However, he can get loud sometimes and I fear he’ll be discovered by hungry neighbors, who may end up resenting us for wasting perfectly good human food on a bird.

Dog

I’m not going to lie. Our small dog is spoiled rotten, but will be more useful than the bird. He has a great sense of smell. If there’s a chicken wing in a bush, that dog will find it. But I don’t think we can reliably use that skill in a survival situation. It’s possible he can be trained to forage for certain plants, but training takes time, and most of that time should be used working on defenses and growing food. Plus, I’m pretty sure he’ll try to eat what he finds before we get a chance to harvest it.

His hearing is impeccable, and I’m sure he’ll be a great guard dog. He’ll have no problem alerting us of intruders, but won’t be able to intercept or attack. I fear that he may be too good at sounding an alarm, and will be the death of us should we need to hide and keep quiet.

Which pet species will be the best and most useful companion after the fall of civilization? All animals serve a basic emotional support function, but some creatures tend to be more useful than others. If disaster strikes, you may be forced to objectively assess the usefulness of your pets and decide if you should keep, release, or make a difficult decision.

Some people will deem such an evaluation as monstrous and may shun you for not sharing the same values they hold. It’s not wrong. They simply aren’t as mentally prepared as you are, or they haven’t fully transitioned to the new normal. I fear most of those people will refuse to evaluate the usefulness of their pets before the damage to the family stockpile is already done.

Always remember that hard decisions may be necessary to ensure your family’s survival.


[1] Unique Exceptions: I could retire if I earned money every time someone told me how my point of view or subject is wrong because of their unique situation.

  • I’ve got a neighbor who can walk his cat like a dog. It’s an amazing sight to watch, but not typical behavior.
  • If your pet is the top performer of your household… that’s great, but it’s not normal.
  • If you’ve been able to train an army of piranhas to jump out of water and walk on land to eat intruders… that’s great too, but definitely not typical.

[2] Violence Disclaimer: I must remind readers that I do not condone violence, law breaking, or vigilante justice.

[3] Biggers, S. (2019, July 1). The Importance Of Cats For Prepping and SHTF: Here come the survival kitties! Retrieved from Backdoor Survival: https://www.backdoorsurvival.com/the-importance-of-cats-for-prepping-and-shtf-here-come-the-survival-kitties/

[4] Sung, W. P. (2019, May 23). Why Do Cats Bring Gifts to Their Owners? Retrieved from PetMD: https://www.petmd.com/news/view/why-do-cats-bring-gifts-their-owners-38127

[5] Dogs for Foraging & Living Alarms: No dog will naturally know how to forage for specific plants unless you train them, which will take time.

Some dogs may not be great at alerting you to intruders either. Depending on breed, the sense of smell or sound may not be as advanced as other dogs and it may not detect an intruder until it’s too late. Some breeds aren’t biologically capable of producing a bark loud enough to be heard at long range (which is important if you’re working in a field).

Survival Petcare

The first thing I need to say on this subject is that I’m not a veterinarian[1]. This article isn’t intended to be the animal version of Gray’s Anatomy and won’t discuss every possible ailment to befall pets. The objective is to provide a few examples to serve as reminders that pets can become ill or suffer from infections, and reiterate that it’s your responsibility to treat them as best you can. 

Treating illnesses isn’t going to be easy because our pets can’t speak and tell us what’s making them sick. A dog can’t walk up to you and say my tummy hurts like a child would. The only warning you may have of a stomach problem will be when the dog pukes on the ground. Similarly, animals can’t complain about having chest pains and there won’t be a warning until a heart attack happens.

This may sound harsh, but it’s important to realize early-on that you may lose your furry family member without any notice. Fido could be fine and dandy when you leave the house to forage, only to return to find him on the floor… dead. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but you should be prepared for it nonetheless.

Now that I’ve got the morbid part out of the way, let’s assume there’s nothing terminally wrong with your pet. What happens if he gets sick?

There probably won’t be many veterinarians around after the fall of civilization. If there are, those specialists will likely be repurposed to serve as human doctors and won’t have enough time to help household pets. Depending on the rules of the community, they may be forbidden to “waste” resources on non-essential animals. 

Even after things calm down, I don’t think veterinarians will be able to commit resources to household pets. If vets are allowed to work on animals at all, they may be forced to restrict their services to the maintenance of productive farm animals. 

This ultimately means you will have to treat your pet as best as possible, with what’s available. 

Pet Meds

After a civilization-ending event happens, many veterinarians will close shop and you won’t be able to get specialized pet medicines. So, what do you do if your fur-baby gets sick?

You may be limited to treating the symptoms and hope they naturally recover. Thankfully, a lot of the medicines designed for human consumption can be used on animals without many side effects. It may be a simple matter of changing the dose. 

For example, if a pet is licking one patch of skin, it may indicate an allergic reaction. Most vets advise owners to give Benadryl (or generic equivalent) to treat such allergies. The vet normally advises how much medicine to give, but if the trained professionals don’t exist, it’s your responsibility to estimate the amount all by yourself. 

The directions for drugs are based on human consumption and caution must be used when giving such medicines to an animal. If your pet weighs about the same as your kid, the child dose may be appropriate to use. If smaller than that, you may need to use half the suggested child-dose. 

A few words of caution:

  • If your pet’s the size of a squirrel, maybe you shouldn’t risk an overdose. 
  • Do not use topical creams because it may not be safe for internal consumption, and you almost certainly won’t be able to prevent pets from licking it off. 

Generally, use the common-sense most ordinary people possess.

What about fleas?

How do you treat your dog for fleas? From what I’ve read, the best method is prevention, prevention, prevention. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Bathe your pet regularly (not a viable option for cats).
  • Plant flea-repelling plants like rosemary and mint.
  • Make an herbal flea collar.
  • Mix a tablespoon of vinegar into your pet’s drinking water (test to ensure the pet doesn’t shun the water).
  • Don’t let your pet outside.

After a Flea Infestation

If you have a furry pet, a flea infestation may be inevitable and it’ll seem like you’re fighting a war on multiple fronts when it happens. Not only do you have to eliminate the infestation from your pet, but also from the environment. Many natural remedies for the home require sprinkling baking soda or salt into fabrics to kill the eggs and larvae[2],[3].  

Below are a few of the direct home remedies for treating dogs with fleas:

  • Spraying it with essential oils such as: eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary.
  • Bathing it with any of those same oils, vinegar, and water.
  • Spraying it with vinegar & water.

Vinegar seems to be the most effective treatment according to most of the websites I’ve browsed. If none of these treatments are possible for your household, you may be forced to keep your pets outside… or learn to live as a flea-bitten rascal.

What about Heartworms?

You need to accept the possibility there may not be anything you can do about this parasite. We’ve been told for years that heartworms are inevitable, and that’s why vets tell us to treat dogs monthly for this parasite[4]. If those normal treatments aren’t available because of disaster, that means over time an infected dog will die because the infestation will become so great it can’t properly pump blood through its body. 

With that said, I’ve read from various sources it’s possible to treat your pet for heartworms by feeding it: Pumpkin seeds, carrots, coconut, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and chamomile[5],[6]

If you run out of regular dog food and/or make your pet’s food, adding these ingredients to your pet’s diet can be done with little effort. 

Below are some common symptoms of an uncontrolled heartworm infection[7]:

  • Mild Symptoms: Occasional cough or tiredness after moderate activity.
  • Severe Symptoms: Dog may look unwell, cough persistently, and get tired easily. Dog could have trouble breathing or even show signs of heart failure (wheezing coughing, bloated belly[8]). 

I’d like to finish by reminding readers that if your pet has a life-threatening condition, nothing can replace the medical expertise of a veterinarian. You are responsible for your pet’s medical treatment nowadays, and that will be the case if civilization were to end.

It’s your responsibility to use the professionals if they are available. I hope this article serves as a reminder of your responsibility and that alternative options exist if the SHTF. You are their “first responder” and will have to treat them as best you can, with the materials you have. 


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

If you or any other person (and/or pet) has a medical concern, you should consult with a health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on a blog, website, or in any linked materials.

[2] JetPet Resort. (2021, March 1). 30 Ways to Naturally Prevent and Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs. Retrieved from JetPet Resort: https://jetpetresort.com/blog/dog-care/30-ways-to-naturally-prevent-and-get-rid-of-fleas-on-dogs/

[3] DePino, M. (2022, March 31). 9 ways to get rid of fleas on your dog naturally. Retrieved from BetterPet: https://betterpet.com/how-to-get-rid-of-fleas-naturally/

[4] Heartworm Hoax: Some websites I’ve seen have veterinarian authors who claim your dog probably doesn’t even have heartworms. That’s because heartworms are transmitted between infected animals via mosquitoes. Dogs in a major city way not be susceptible because of all the pesticides and chemicals, whereas a dog in the country probably has heartworms given the swarms of mosquitos in rural areas.

[5] PetPartners. (2021, February 10). 6 Natural Ways to Treat and Prevent Worms. Retrieved from PetPartners: https://www.petpartners.com/blog/pet-health-and-safety/6-natural-ways-to-treat-and-prevent-worms

[6] Chamomile: Chamomile may help treat or prevent other types of worms and parasites.

[7] Henriques, J. (2021, December 12). DIY Heartworm Treatment For Dogs. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-heartworm-treatment/

[8] Bassingthwaighte, D. E. (2021, December 12). Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs: A Holistic Approach. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/congestive-heart-failure-in-dogs-holistic-treatment-options/

Dealing with Squatters

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

What should you do?

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

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

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

With Family

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

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

If Alone

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

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

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

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

Neighborly Plan

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

I know, that’s a lot of “what ifs.”

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

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

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

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

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

A Few Words of Caution

Revenge

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

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

Gossip

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

Heavy-Handed

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

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

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

Inside a Neighborhood

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

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

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

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

What if the neighborhood refuses to return your property?

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

Legitimate Cause

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

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

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

Illegitimate Reason

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

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

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

What can you do?!

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

A New Hope

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

The Empress Strikes Back

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

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

Return of the Famil-i

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

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

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

***

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rural Neighborhood v Wilderness

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

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

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

Which is safer?

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

Pros & Cons for Both

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

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

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

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

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

Rural Neighborhood – Pros

More Eyes = Security

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

Defense

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

Point of Entry

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

Vacancies

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

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

Rural Neighborhood – Cons

What makes a neighborhood safe, can also backfire…

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

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

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

The Wilderness – Pros

Seclusion

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

Secret Domain

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

Living off the Land

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

Room to Expand

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

The Wilderness – Cons

Access to Medicine

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

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

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

Security

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

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

Squatting

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

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

***

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Bug-out Plans

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

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

Plan #1: Primary Plan

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

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

This needs to be done in less than 5 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan #2-A: EMP with Family

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

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

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

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

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

Wait! I have a question.

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

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

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

Plan #2-B: No Car, No Family

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

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

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

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

Or the remains of those stores.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Red/Blue Pill 💊

If you have an account with any of the major social media platforms, you’ve likely seen one of the many different versions of this Matrix-style red/blue pill question[1]. Most people who comment or respond to these types of posts answer with their choice and provide a brief reason to support that decision. But when I recently encountered this post, I found myself thinking about the inherent question and what consequences each decision may hold.

A quick note from the author: The points made in this story are best suited to someone who was a child during the 1990s, or earlier.

Red Pill

I noticed that most of the commentators who chose the red pill said they’d go back and use their knowledge to play the market or win the lottery to get rich and have the best of both worlds. The thing most of these commenters are missing is the red pill says: “restart your life at age 6 with all the knowledge you have now”. That doesn’t necessarily mean restart AND GO BACK IN TIME, with all the knowledge you have now.

Now think about it, would you seriously want to retain your knowledge and restart at age 6?

  1. You can’t drive 🚗
  2. You can’t work, so how are you going to support yourself? Do you honestly think your parents want to re-raise you? Are they even alive? If not, you’re going to be a ward of the state. 
  3. All your current credentials are useless and need to be re-earned because nobody will believe a 6-year-old graduated with a bachelor’s/master’s degree 🎓 That means…
  4. You have to suffer through school all over again. You’ll have to endure over 12 years of droning teachers who teach nothing to prepare you for life as an adult (things like laws, crime & punishment, how to do taxes, etc.). 
  5. You can’t vote 🗳
  6. Health-wise, reverting back to the body of a child with all the knowledge you’ve amassed may cause problems. Consider that your body is still growing and developing at age 6. All your current knowledge may force your brain to rapidly establish neural connections and grow new wrinkles. If left unchecked, all that quick growth could cause a tumor[2]
  7. You can’t drink 🍷 🍸 🍹 🍺 🥃
  8. You need to consider sexual relationships too. Since you have the knowledge of a full adult, are you technically a “Pedi” if you have sex with another person your physical age? On the same subject, do you really want to “date” adults who’re attracted to kids your age (think really hard about what normally happens to their victims).

Let’s play devil’s advocate and consider what could happen if you took the red pill and did travel back in time to your 6th birthday, with all the knowledge you now possess.

If you’re a millennial, there’s no escaping school because “No Child Left Behind” ended in 2015. That means you’ve got to slog through all those classes… all over again. However, you may perform a lot better because you learned everything already. You may even qualify for advanced placement classes, and maybe an academic scholarship later in life.

The technology we have today doesn’t exist. Do you think you can live without being able to post an update every day? Be honest. When I was a teen, LiveJournal and Blogging were THE only social media methods. LiveJournal and Blogging!!!

Also consider that access to immediate information may not exist, so you’ve got to keep any petty snowflake ideals you may harbor to yourself. People were no-nonsense back then and that kind of behavior would have earned you a black eye. 

Another thing to remember is that childhood punishments were much harsher during and before the 1990s. Nowadays, children are getting PTSD from “time out”. So don’t be shocked when you have to physically re-live an actual spanking.

Many commentators said they’d play the market or win the lottery to get rich. If you want to try winning the lottery, you’d need to remember the exact numbers and when to play them. You’re just a punk kid and can’t buy the ticket, so you need to convince someone to buy a ticket with those numbers. And then, you’d need to ensure you can benefit from those winnings. It’ll be easy for an adult to walk away with your lottery money, or if family, to squander your winnings.

It’s too risky to use the winning numbers too many times, because sooner or later, someone is going to find out you have advanced knowledge of the winning numbers and either ruin the scheme or kidnap you for the information. So, just to be sure you win the lottery, you’d have to remember or save the winning numbers until your 18th birthday. That’s 12 years…

But what about playing the market? Again, YOU ARE A CHILD. You can’t buy stocks. If you walk into a Charles Schwab, the employees are going to call the police to report a missing child. If you have nice parents, you may be able to convince them to buy stocks using your allowance money. Don’t hold your breath though.

Most Americans didn’t know how to buy stock way back when. Heck, people still thought Charles Schwab branches were banks in the early 2000s. Plus, the cost to buy anything in the market was so prohibitively expensive it detracted most potential investors.

Yes… good luck getting your parents to go through all that trouble.

Blue Pill

I’d personally choose the blue pill, because it seems simple enough. It’s just $10 million in cash, but even that isn’t without risk. For starters, how are you getting this $10 million in cash? Does it come with a receipt from a non-illegal entity? Or, is this money going to magically materialize out of thin air? 

If you can’t legally point out where the money came from, you’ll need to keep your new-found wealth a deep, dark secret. You’ll need to find a way to discretely spend it or “launder” it into the economy[3]. That means you’ll need to pay for everyday things using cash. If done wisely, you may be able to build an entire house with cash. But you’ll need to trust the workers not to take your money and run.

You’ll need to store all this cash for a really long time. Which increases your chances of getting robbed, and maybe even murdered for your money. Which also means you must hide it all away at various locations and remember where everything is stashed. 

If you receive the $10 million via direct deposit or wire transfer, then the source had better be legitimate. If not, a couple things that may happen. If the transfer came from an unknown or unconfirmed source, the bank will probably think it was an error in the system and void the transaction. Meaning, you instantly lose the money. 

Although, if the money is transferred from a known source, regardless of where the money came from, the government will be alerted and it will investigate the transaction[4]. If the government finds anything it doesn’t like, not only can it freeze your assets, but you may face time in prison. 

 ***

Overall, I think the blue pill is a safer option. Sure, there are risks with getting $10 million in cash, but the red pill has way more long-term annoyances and risks associated with it to be worthwhile. Not to mention that you’d have to grow up and endure hormonal changes and acne all over again.


[1] Wachowskis, T. (Director). (1999). The Matrix [Motion Picture].

[2] Tumor: Note that I’m NOT a medical professional. This is a hypothetical possibility and is not based on any science. If anything, consider it a nonsensical musing along the lines of: “everything may cause cancer”.

[3] Laundering: I’d like to remind everyone that I do not condone any illegal activity and any perceived instructions regarding how to commit a crime are hypothetical, and should be considered partly as a work of fiction.

[4] Investigation: I had a college professor who gave all her children $10,000 as a gift because she has more money than she can spend. She came home one night to find that our government ransacked her home as part of an FBI investigation related to funding terrorism.

The annual gift tax exclusion was $10,000 back then. Now, it about $16,000.

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.