Surreptitious Suburban Survival, by Suburban Survivor

I didn’t start out being a “prepper,” I was born into it…My father was a Command Sergeant Major in the US Army, we lived on many posts and in many cities, and had to travel at a moment’s notice. So, we were always prepared for the most part as a way of life. OPSEC was drilled into us at an early age, strangers asking questions about dad’s job, deployments, etc., were reported and we “army brats,” stuck together like glue on a hot summer day. Mom, kept the home front squared away, and we always had a nice place, warm bed, and hot food, no matter what… We grew up being in the great outdoors, hunting, hiking, fishing, stalking, and shooting each with Crossman BB/Pellet guns and wrist rockets with marbles…Learned real fast about cover vs. concealment…

Fast forward to today, I am 46 years old, married to a wonderful woman who views life thru rose colored glasses at times, US Army Veteran (PSYOPS) myself. I own a small IT consulting firm that pays the bills, and my wife is a Yoga Instructor/Business Coach. We live in a golf course community on the outskirts of a large Southern city. I stay active working out, fly fishing, Krav Maga and Judo, of course Yoga…We own a Mini Schnauzer, actually, she owns us and is a great dog, she thinks she is a giant. We entertain and visit with family and friends, travel..In short, the “typical” suburban couple, with a twist.

As the title implies, we are surreptitious survivors/preppers..It has been a long journey, taking many baby steps, more to come, to get where we are today. I had to get “buy in,” from the wife, as she did not share my “worldly view,” on these matters and has come to appreciate and understand my upbringing and military background, which has driven, and continues to drive, many of my decisions.

It started a couple years ago when we sold our home, and moved into our current one, downsizing to a Ranch…How to prepare, without looking like it and alerting the new, unknown, neighbors? Like many folks, we are not in a position to buy a mountain home and boogey at the first sign of trouble, and we live in a close knit community with a decent, defensible location, typical Scottish requirements, high ground, with open space and clear fields of fire, one way in, one way out. Zero lots lines means we have neighbors 10’ to the left and right of us, homes 100m across the back, and nothing except a big pond and a couple hundred yards to the front of us…Yes, I do have range cards. Not the perfect set up, but okay.

We developed a plan and worked it, with most of the info/strategies coming from insights learned here, and other reference materials, and prior military training.

Basically is went like this: Secure the home, upgrade storage, create and promote the neighborhood PSYOP piece, (our story) and take baby steps to prepare, all under the radar..

I upgraded the basic security system to a full blown, full perimeter, with smoke and heat detectors, glass breaks and dual tec interior motion sensors installed. The garage door is alarmed and there is a Xenon strobe light that flashes when the alarm goes off, and is visible throughout the immediate area. A siren too, that can wake the dead.. Extra exterior lighting was installed too. I upgraded the lower sashes on our single windows to tempered, dual pane units for added security. After move in, I added extra deadbolts with reinforced hinges, and custom steel door jamb guards installed to prevent the easy door kick…

As a former Brinks Home Security Consultant, I learned, saw a lot of home break ins, and invasions..Also, I turned our master bedroom closet into an improvised safe room. I replaced the outward swinging hollow core door, with a solid wood door, reinforced hinges, with a keyed dead bolt that can only be opened from the inside. Once closed, it can’t be kicked in, or pulled open. It is equipped for easy 24 hr stay. The nice thing is that it really doesn’t look like a secure room; deadbolt not withstanding…I also put hardened combo locks on electrical/utility panels to deter easy turn off and send a signal that we are security conscious. I purchased a small safe, dial type so EMP is not and issue and we have enough cash, silver, and nickels to last a month or two if the banks are down. If “it,” really hits, we have other major issues to deal with.

The garage is a totally finished/insulated space and I had a stronger garage door installed, without windows. We had extra shelving installed from the ceiling and on the walls. In addition, we have several wall mounted and free standing cabinets in place to hold our, “stuff,” and keep it from prying eyes. Yes, I also store some of our firearms in a hidden, wall and floor mounted safe, painted to look like the garage walls, and covered by ladders, etc. You have to literally be right on top of it to notice it. It is also hidden by a 4’x6’x24” steel shelf unit that holds my entire “man cave,” stuff, television, stereo, and computer networking routers, switches, etc.

How to hold and hide the ammo and other miscellaneous supplies? I use paint cans with my own codes in sharpie on the lids, and bankers boxes. All nicely stacked on the lower shelves of the rack system, very innocent looking and not worth anyone’s time. These are easy to grab and go

As an IT guy, I am always receiving packages from UPS/FedEx and the like. So, having large boxes shipped is not unusual for me, and does not violate OPSEC. My wife also gets her Yoga and cosmetic supplies shipped to the home as well. We both have home based business and come and go throughout the day, random schedule and have retired, and other home based business owners and teleworkers around us for added eyes and ears.. I also use a P.O. Box for all of our sensitive mail/parcels, and haul away the cardboard boxes to dumpsters in another area, (grocery stores & construction sites) not just dumping it in our trash for all to see or snoop.

Our plan is based on making it thru the first 72 hrs to couple weeks, then bugging out if things look like they’re getting worse, to a close friends place in the mountains a couple hours away..In the meantime, we need to be able to manage/survive in place..We have been buying foodstuffs from the local grocery store, big box stores and online to stock up. A mix of everything from soups, to MREs, Mainstay Rations to five gallon buckets, pre-packaged, freeze dried food and 25 lb bags of rice and beans.. Everything fits into the two interior pantry closets and/or on the garage shelving in five gallon buckets bought from Lowes for just that. You can’t tell that we have enough supplies for 3-6 months, depending on how we ration, and how charitable we feel. We purchase from several of the advertiser here on the blog site, our little way of giving back.

Water was another issue to tackle, as we are on city supplied water and gas, electrical…So, taking the advice here, I did the following: Bought a small 3 person hot tub, 300 gal, that we actually use quite often, and use the minimum and natural sanitizers. I also refresh the water every 3 months. This gives us approx 75 days of water if necessary. I have an REI filter system with extra cartridges and bleach to clean. We also have the 40gal water heater to drain, a 100 gal Water BoB and 12 gal of water on the floor of a pantry, more to be added. In addition, I have the pond in front of our home to draw from. Got water covered I think.

I have a propane grill with three 20 lb tanks, and plan to buy a large, 100 lb tank..That should cover us for a little bit. Our home uses gas for cooking, so we can manage eating until the Gas Co goes south and the gas stops flowing…

Fuel for autos is handled by always keeping the tanks ½ full, having two 5 gal containers, and knowing where there are two, 1,000 gal diesel and unleaded gas tanks nearby that are left unlocked and available for siphoning if necessary. I recon at night while “walking,” the dog…I can get gas…

I have not gotten the electrical covered yet, am in the market for a portable generator to power the HVAC/fridge, basic stuff, as I am not allowed to install en exterior, fixed, tri-fuel generator due to HOA rules…That is the next “big purchase,” and it too, will fit into a space in the back of the garage, created for it, and accessible quickly if need be.

I have developed two 72-hour kits for our autos, that we take daily, The wife’s stays in her car, because she parks in the garage. Mine, goes in and out of the trunk daily, as it parks on the driveway and I do not want it stolen. I have totally sanitized my car, no decals, nothing visible to steal, no personal info on anything inside the car. A police friend told me not to worry about it, since cops can determine instantly if it is yours or not and rarely ticket for such things. Our kits are in nondescript backpacks and contain everything to easily survive 3-6 days on the road..

There are: three 3,600 cal Mainstay rations, 100 oz camel backs with purification tabs, rain gear, Eton radio, shelter, fire, tools, etc…You get the idea. I also included a pair of fence pliers, in case we have to cross fences, etc., I’d rather cut them than climb over/under..They also make a good improvised weapon…I added a Cold Steel AK-47 folding knife, a robust, brute of a folder, that is legal carry, but effective at camp stuff and CQC if necessary. There is also a folding wrist rocket and steel ball bearings for 2-4 legged pests..

The Eton radio has a crank, and USB ports to power our cell phones, and GPS units, and I keep extra cables in the bag. If SHTF, texting will be the way to go, and you’ll need to charge your gear. This does it nicely..

I have slowly changed my wardrobe to be more covert and tactical in nature, thanks to pants, shirts and shoes from 5.11 Tactical. There are a couple of LEO stores and I regularly go in and buy and item or two here and there, always paying cash…

I have swapped my Swiss laptop bag for a Maxpedition Tactical unit, and have it stocked with various and sundry first line survival gear. Expensive, but worth every penny.

Now, on to the other piece put in place, or should I say removed: Social Networking sites and the like. I have gone dark, deleted several online accounts, to reduce my exposure and data points…Remember, I’m an IT guy, know firsthand what is collected on us, and how we, in many cases , make it so much easier for “others,” to glean info about us. Think it thru..How much data do you put on Facebook et al; about your firearms, hobbies, etc.?

My business does not depend on such online sites and found that it was taking more time and energy that they were worth to maintain.

Yes, we have been stocking up on other supplies as well, per JWR’s preparedness course materials, and recently bought the fish meds from Amazon as a recent article suggested…

In closing, I feel we are in pretty good shape, compared to most around us, not up to snuff on some other folks here, but again, meeting the goal of: Surreptitious Suburban Survival.