I am unable to make my home self-sustaining. So, unfortunately, my family will probably become refugees in a true SHTF scenario. My focus presently is in becoming desirable refugees rather than shunned refugees. The key is minimizing any negative impact (extra logistics of all sorts) and maximizing any positive impact (filling in weak spots) to someone that is geographically fortuitous. I was challenged to figure out how a small family could best become a wanted commodity when food is tight and security isn’t. I determined the key for us was that everything carried needed to be dense in value. Density equals mass divided by volume. In our case, mass would be the battered value of the item; volume was limited by the size of our packs. We can’t carry enough bulk food, but we can carry items that will have an excellent post-SHTF (bartered) value, an example would be trading batteries for an illuminated-reticle or starlight scope in exchange for food. Keeping our packs small (but danged heavy) will give us an additional advantage if we need to make a small camp.
Skill sets are valuable. I am fortunate to have become a physician. Talk about (trading) food for thought! I am trained in Internal Medicine, so much of my skill set depends on a working infrastructure, that is, availability of medications, imaging (X-rays, CT, MRIs and the like) which will be useless once the grid goes down. To make up for that, I have been certified in ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), the former being far more useful in extended emergencies. Further, I have also trained in mass casualty scenarios. I have been stashing typically needed and well tolerated medications in a FIFO set-up in my home, from antibiotics to blood pressure pills. In a legally gray area, I have some potent narcotics (barter/ransom/medical use). I also have a good stock of scalpels, retractors, Celox and the like to maximize my worth. The first lives my first aid kit may save might be my family’s. My skill set will be in demand, and I hope with the other positives below, worth enough to take in extra mouths to feed. But I recognize, perhaps better than non-medical people, that the quality of medical care will quickly revert to the level practiced before the advent of antibiotics and other modern pharmaceuticals. Think Civil War or WWI where a gut-shot was a death-sentence. Garlic may have some ant- microbial properties, but it pales compared to a few doses of modern antibiotics. Being a doctor in a SHTF scenario may be like being a sailor in the middle of a desert: lots of knowledge but only able to apply a small fraction of it.
My wife is an educator and now teaches special needs kids. If the Collapse is a bad one, kids will still need to learn, and there is more to teaching than just putting material in front of kids, as anyone that homeschools will agree.
Those are our special skill sets. You can never have enough skill sets, and we plan to further develop our skills.
Our two children are too young to be useful for anything except giving us joy, . And dirty laundry.
We have been buying weapons in standard calibers – 45 ACP, 5.56, and 22LR. I have given myself the luxury of owning a PS90. I rationalized the purchase by the fact that it supports a 50 round magazine of 5.7 rounds and bridges the gap between a pistol and a longer rifle. In reality, it looks really cool. Four mags on my hip (and one in the rifle) gives me 250 rounds. In an urban/suburban location, which will be the most difficult part of our journey, I do not see a need to shoot over 100 m. Most action will likely be under that, and that is the niche for the PS90. Additionally, it’s bullpup design keeps it short and maneuverable in a vehicle without sacrificing accuracy (it has a 16 inch barrel). More importantly, we have packed way about 150 pounds worth of ammo in our G.O.O.D .bags and another 70 lbs in our BOB’s. We have so far two extra ARs and three Glocks for barter/trade. We don’t have a weapon for the 22LR, but either we will (Ruger’s 10/22) or it’s for barter. Our bags are meant to carry the lead at the sacrifice of food. It may be easier to barter rounds (heavy but small) for food (light but large). If we do make to the hinterlands, having our ammo added to the favorably situated ‘castle’ will be a bonus. My wife and I both shoot accurately to 200 m, and well enough at 300 – 400 m to keep the philistines away. We continue to practice our shooting skills by range time and class time. We will get far.
I’ve begun a ‘collection’ of survival knives and high quality folders by buying two at a time (again, two is one, and one is none). They will be needed en route and, like ammo, possess an excellent weight to bartered value. My guess is that knives will lost or broken and there will be a demand for them. In the same category, are redundant Katadyn water filters kits. Extras were purchased because they are small and will barter well. Bolt cutters were bought because they will be useful traveling and also in barter. Bic lighters, assorted tiny screws for spectacles with jeweler screwdrivers , rechargeable CR123 and AA batteries, extra Gerber multitools, quality compasses, 550 cord, several small but bright flashlights (Fenix brand – 1 or 2 CR123 batteries and they pump out over 180 lumen and fit on a keychain or a rifle), two Old Testaments, and 2 American flags fill the small spaces in the gear. We keep thinking on how to improve our “stock” and get more bang for the buck with ‘value dense ‘ items. I thought of the extra eye-glass screws after having my own come apart just as I got to work and spent a miserable day squinting. Someone missing their glasses won’t function at near capacity and the eye glass screw may be the equivalent of the nail that caused a horse to be lost, then a rider to be lost etc.
We also have our own gear and clothing, using the layer approach with an outer hardshell in camouflage. We both have packed two pair of extra boots, either for the long haul or barter.
These items get thrown into the trunk along with our Camelbaks, and our mountain bikes (with extra tubes and tires) go on top supporting a few jerry cans of gasoline lashed between them. If we can’t get to a refuge with available gas or the roads become impassable, then we load the bikes up and ride/walk until we are welcomed.
If we’re lucky, the Collapse will wait until we can move to a more geographically desirable location and all these purchases will remain useful while we focus on new needs (stored food, long term water and power and etc). If not, I have improvised a plan that adapts to our situation and hopefully will change our refugee status to a valued team-member.
This is written in part because there has been no view from the prepared refugees. There may be more preppers without a safe haven than those able to develop a safe haven, not because of any deficit or laziness on their part, but because of reality. In addition, all preppers cannot move to a sparsely populated area in the US for if they did (imagine merely 10% of NYC, LA, and DC doing so during by the end Obama’s administration), those areas would no longer be sparsely populated! So think of what you can carry that can be bartered for things you can’t carry and that will make you into a valuable team member.
I have worked hard to become a doctor (and perhaps even harder to remain a doctor is this crazed system) and to be able to give charity rather than receive it. If I am to receive the charity of shelter from someone who is able to do so, I will be sure that we do more than just pull on own weight. We will add security, in the short and long haul.
So if TEOTWAWKI happens, keep a lookout for strangers who may have much to offer. But for the grace of God, it might have been you unable to live in a geographically desirable area and looking to add to an established sanctuary.