A Prepping Reality Check – Part 4, by Mama Bear

(Continued from Part 3. This concludes the article series.)


There have been many articles on the blog about security and defense. Let me just throw out a few thoughts.

  • What is the field of fire from each side of your grid-down retreat?
  • Have you practiced with your family/group how to defend your retreat? Paintball is great for this.
  • Have you thought about how far you are willing to go to defend your supplies, your home, your family?
  • Have you thought about a procedure for admitting additional people to the retreat?
  • Have you thought about which of your friends/family you would admit and which you would not?
  • How will you maintain a security watch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
  • What is each person’s responsibility in case of an alert or attack?
  • How much charity are you willing to extend and how will you do so without endangering your group?
  • Are you willing to kill to defend the group?
  • What supplies/skills do you and your group have for the security/defense of the home, supplies and people?
  • How will you conduct barter/trade without endangering your group?
  • How will you enforce discipline in the group?
  • What circumstances would cause you to expel someone from the group?
  • How will you defend against the knowledge that the expelled member has about your defenses?
  • What identification codes can be put in place for use by the group?
  • What training do you and other members of your group need to be effective?
  • Do you have a detailed map of the local terrain?
  • Have you learned the local roads and alternate routes?
  • How will you perform long range patrols (LRP) for security?
  • How far can you see to keep watch?
  • Do you have binoculars?
  • Can you navigate your property/area in the dark without articial light or night vision?

Old military manuals are a wonderful source of information for operational security, light discipline and other issues. Thinking through organizational structure and putting it and guidelines in writing ahead of time may also be helpful. I have made a list of friends and family and their potentially useful skills and behavioral pros and cons as a guideline for who is acceptable and who is not. For some their skills may outweigh difficult personality traits. For others it may not. Think about this ahead of time. Medical skills may be particularly valuable. This list may also be valuable to those who succeed you.

There is a game that youth groups in our area play that is great training. The group picks a location, such as a home, and drops off several defenders. The rest of the group is taken 2-3 miles away and dropped off. This is done after dark. It is the defenders job to catch each of the incoming group before they can reach the position being defended.

Assess local resources such as libraries, medical facilities, pharmacies, stores and determine which are feasible for your use and which are not. Assess the local area for feasible locations for barter/trade.

  • Is there an existing farm market/flea market/swap meet within feasible travel distance?
  • If not, is there an area where one could be developed after the SHTF?
  • How will your group be safe in traveling to and from the market?
  • Are there alternative routes so that your travels are not predictable for ambush?


Like waste disposal, water is a critical piece of being prepared. If you are on a municipal water supply, that water will NO longer be available. What will you do to have safe drinking water?

  • Do you have water stored for at least 72 hours for your family?
  • Do you have access to a water supply other than a municipal water supply? A well, pond, lake or stream? Rainwater catchment?
  • Is your alternate water supply safe?
  • When is the last time it was tested?
  • Do you have a way to filter/purify water?
  • What quantity of water is needed for your family on a daily basis for drinking? Cooking? Cleaning? Hygiene?
  • Can you adequately supply this quantity of water?
  • Do you have a way to filter/purify water while traveling?

I purchased property with a previously installed well. The water has been tested and is safe. The well has been in existence for over a century of documented good water supply. It is currently operating on a solar pump but is shallow enough that I intend to obtain a hand pump in case of emergency as well as a spare solar pump. Although the well has been tested, I still filter the water before use. The well used to have a rod and sucker pipe system and at some point I may look at restoring that system.

  • Will you have enough water available to water your garden/livestock if necessary?

This is a concern here in the high desert because our moisture tends to come in the winter or in monsoons. So water for the garden is a concern. The well helps with that and each structure is being built to obtain runoff from the roof and store that runoff in tanks for use during the dry season.

Remember, unclean drinking water can result in the same deadly diseases as improper waste disposal.


Given TEOTWAWKI, how will you educate your children?

  • Do you have books that can be used to teach them to read and write?
  • Do you have a stockpile of paper and writing utensils?
  • Do you have a way to teach mathematics, history, government?
  • Do you have a Bible or other applicable scriptures, a copy of the Constitution?
  • If the government has disappeared, do you have the knowledge to assist in reconstituting a government and teaching your children civic principles?

Our family has always homeschooled and has books and textbooks packed away that can be used to teach traditional school subjects as well as practical subjects such as gardening, blacksmithing, leatherwork, carpentry, etc.


Even in a grid down situation with all the backbreaking labor necessary to survive, as people we still need to have fun.

  • What board/card games does your family enjoy?
  • What musical instruments does your family play?
  • Do you have those instruments?
  • Do you sing? Dance?
  • Do you have copies of music to be played or sung?
  • What about paper based role playing games?
  • Do you have toys for children?
  • What traditional toys/games/dolls can you make for children?

Our family particularly enjoys card games and Dungeons and Dragons, so we have those stashed in our year’s supply.


For me, spirituality is major part of being prepared. Yes, I attend church on the Sabbath and go to the temple as often as I can. But my testimony and spiritual strength must be based internally for those times when attending church and the temple will not be practical. Without spiritual strength a critical component of surviving is lost.

  • What is your spiritual base?
  • Does your family have a spiritual home?
  • Do you have the resources (internally and externally) to maintain your spirituality?
Mental Health

Stress will be a constant when the SHTF. Hunger, change of circumstances, death, injury, violence, cold, heat, tiredness, muscle aches and pains, et cetera will all contribute to a high stress level for everyone.

  • How will you relax?
  • How will you deal with those who are stressed?
  • How is your current mental health?
  • Are there issues in your mental health that you have not dealt with?
  • Are their members of your family with mental health issues that need dealt with?

The stress after TEOTWAWKI will only increase/aggravate mental health issues. It is better to deal with them now and become as mentally/emotionally healthy as possible while counselors and professionals are available.


All the preparations in the world are no substitute for attitude, however. What is your attitude?

  • Are you determined to survive?
  • Will you do what it takes?
  • What if you are caught away from all your preps?
  • Will you give up?
  • Will you find a way to improvise, adapt and overcome?
  • What if you lose a family member to violence or disease or injury?
  • Will you allow your grief to take you as well?
  • How far are you willing to go to survive?

Many who have spent thousands of dollars on preparing for TEOTWAWKI will not survive because they will not have developed the mental toughness necessary for hard decisions. Many who have no preparations will survive because they have that mental toughness. Mental attitude is crucial to survival of whatever circumstances may arise when we are grid down. For example, a close family member shows up at your retreat showing symptoms of illness. Are you strong enough to keep them in isolation away from the retreat until they are well or die or do you let them in and potentially endanger the entire group?

A family with several children comes asking for food over and over. Are you strong enough to either take them into the group where they work and contribute in exchange for food or to cut them off to prevent starving members of your own group?

Brainstorming potential situations and deciding now how to handle them can be of great assistance once you are operating in emergency mode.

Situations like this will arise frequently and can be the survival or death of your group. The mental toughness to make these decisions begins now!


I reiterate that this article is not meant to dictate decisions and/or choices for anyone. It is only meant to stimulate thought and questioning about the preparations and decisions each of us is making. I believe that only through questioning, thinking of what if situations, and discussing individual methods of devising solutions can each of us prepare to the best of our ability. Personally, I intend to not only survive but prosper during the coming apocalypse and can only hope that many of you have that same determination.

Topics to think about that I have not addressed in this article include what skills or products can you learn, store or produce for trade/barter? What will you use as a means of currency (silver, gold, junk silver, notes)? What will your group or community do about law enforcement of some kind or community defense?

I pray that each of us develops the spiritual, emotional and physical preparations to survive the coming situation and that we continue to share our knowledge and experience on this journey.

P.S. After writing this article I came across an excellent book on the topic, titled Beyond Collapse. It is available as a print-on-demand book and also available online as a PDF download, for free.


  1. Great article.

    Training, as opposed to learning, is creating a controlled environment in order that the trainee can, in the future, perform a critical activity. You don’t learn how to defuse a bomb, you’re trained to do so with equipment that won’t kill you when you inevitably fail as you’re being trained. You learn that Columbus’s discovery of the New World was in 1492, but this knowledge (or lack thereof) will not help or hurt yourself and others. You can learn on your own, but few things can be self-trained to the level comparable to that of guided instruction.

    I love the list of tasks because it highlights the need to do all of those things BEFORE TSHTF. If not, now we’re “learning” to defuse those bombs in a very non-controlled environment which could be fatal to yourself and others. I think most of the readers here understand this, it’s getting Cousin Joe and Uncle Bubba to understand that you can’t just buy an AR-15, a 500rnd case of Wolf .223, six mags, and $1500 worth of #10 cans from Costco and call it good.

    1. Yep, as Col. Jeff Cooper says, “Owning a gun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”

      Carry on

  2. Wow Mama Bear, excellent four-part series.

    “Brainstorming potential situations and deciding now how to handle them can be of great assistance once you are operating in emergency mode.”

    This sentence is not just great advice for post-SHTF living but every-day living as well. Everything from what to do when Bambi runs out in front of your vehicle at night, to what to do when your house catches fire, to whether you’re really going to put a .357 hollow point into that intruder’s chest and make Clint Eastwood’s day, all have to be thought out way ahead of time so in the heat of the moment, instinct takes over when there is no time to think.

    I hate it in the movies when a situation is going down and 99% of the people are just screaming, yelling, and panicking. That’s probably not too far from the truth and as you point out, if we don’t think all of these things out ahead of time, we’re going to be in trouble. When the grid goes down in a Carrington Event, or we see the mushroom clouds because the new hypersonic weapons don’t give world leaders the reaction time we had with slow-poke ballistic missiles, we’ll be saying, “Wow, I never really thought this would happen,” and it will be far too late to be coming up with our plans then. We’ll be just like those people in the movies screaming and panicking not having the slightest clue what to do next, wasting precious moments because we failed to think ahead.

    Looking forward to your next article, whenever that may be. 🙂

  3. Mama Bear,

    Thanks for the articles . They are very stimulating and are wonderful food for thought and discussion as we move forward into the roaring twenties.

  4. Michael Z,
    Wonderful points! It will be the Bubbas that suddenly realize how foolish they’ve been that will make up part of the problem when things get bad. I believe much of the Golden Horde will thin in the cities before they try to leave.

  5. Mama Bear, another outstanding installment to the article!
    Thank you for all the work you put into writing it. I’m now focusing on parts of the lists you provided for us. My immediate concern is for the mental well-being of myself and particularly my mom and dad who are dealing with Alzheimer’s. My mom is really having a hard time dealing with not going out anywhere . This is stressful for me when she has temper tantrums about not going out. I’ve spent the last several days/weeks patiently explaining to her how serious this virus is to her , my dad , myself and others in their age group (80’s) . I’ve ordered extra games, activities and books for her so she can cope better with this .

    Thank you again for all the information

  6. We are using your series as the centerpiece of our family discussions tomorrow night. Thank you for the questions and framework, we will use this to structure our tabletop exercise.

  7. For many many years people used outhouses and didn’t die. I would think in a city situation they wouldn’t be a viable option but if you had a half acre or more I would think you would be ok. If dug nice and deep they don’t fill up quickly. Having lime to cut down on the odor and flies would be really good. I’ve heard you can use wood ashes too. As to contaminating the water, most wells are quite deep and it would take a lot for the sewage to reach them. But of course, common sense would dictate that you place it as far away as possible. Probably in a subdivision it would be better to have a communal one. If you burn the toilet paper it will last a very long time. I spent time in an orphanage in Mexico. They had dug theirs a long time before and it wasn’t nearly full and there were at least 100 kids there.

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