Letter Re: Possible Survival Uses of Theatrical Blood

As the Halloween season came and went, I had to accompany my  boys to the seasonal Halloween store that opens up for about 2 months in some obscure, rented building. My trip with them looked at masks, costumes and an aisle or two dedicated to make-up supplies as well. I passed by the face paint, the hair coloring and the fangs, but then my eyes spied a series of tubes containing “blood”, and then small bottles of it and even a couple of very large containers all containing the bright red, sticky, usually non-toxic theatrical blood. Being a prepper at heart, my mind usually runs items I see through a mental rubric for deciding if something has any “prepper value” for my survival or my ability to barter. Through this mental maze, there exists a matrix of questions that falls under personal defense and tactics. Could theatrical blood have any tactical value to my survival situation? Yes, I think it could. Knowing that the day after Halloween the products would be 50% off helped make it all the more affordable.

My first idea was for first aid training. My sons have practiced bandaging a large wound, pressure points and even splinting a compound fracture of the humerus or femur. All of these events were practiced clean in a very unrealistic setting where they were told to “imagine” the wound that they were working on. The addition of the fake blood would add a note of realism to the scene. The nice clean area they were bandaging gets transformed into a gooey, sticky red mess with sand, leaves and other debris from the ground worked in. As preppers, first aid could include puncture wounds, gunshots or even an accident caused by broken glass or twisted metal after a natural disaster are not farfetched at all and should be considered. Some theatrical blood, suitably applied could up the realism of the simulation by a notch or two. Emergency first aid may not give someone the time to go put on latex gloves and they may have to get the blood of a family member on them. Would they be squeamish about this?  Now is a good time to work through that. Other damages can be simulated as well. Step on an old nail and it goes right into the bottom of your foot? Cut into a finger while using a knife or hatchet? The addition of the fake blood just adds one more level of realism to the training procedures.  Beware though! Some brands of this kind of fake blood mixture warn that they can permanently stain clothing and fabric so keep that in mind when you decide what clothing you want to practice in or you may have an unexplainable red stain on your new set of Multicams  (or whatever type of clothing you practice in). It’s a good idea to do this outside to avoid any kind of stain on the carpet inside of your home that cannot easily be removed.

Secondly, I believe that theatrical blood could be used tactically. I am well aware that as preppers we might face all kinds of opposition from those who lack the foresight to set aside money and time to stock up on needed items and prepare for the worst beforehand. Basically, we want to get out to a spot, set-up a base or a retreat and just be left alone by everybody else. The truth is, the hills will eventually be swarming with all the unprepared who have some kind of notion that to survive they must flee the city and miraculously find everything they need out in the woods. These folks may have only one tactic available to them and that would be to try to take what I have worked so hard for away from me and my family. They may come at me with guns (perhaps the only plan that they have for survival) or they may have numbers on their side. They may have the advantage of better or more firepower than I can muster or a much bigger defense force than what I have available, so any advantage I have could be a lifesaver. I can imagine scenarios where I could use the theatrical blood to appear severely wounded, diseased or even dead. Situations similar to ones I have seen in Enemy at the Gates and The Road depict a desperate scenario where these ways may be the only way to be spared being shot at or harmed by marauders. If temporarily being taken prisoner or being put under guard by someone as the rest of the horde searches through your meager supplies (the rest are cached, right?), how much threat would you pose to them if you already had a horrible gut injury or a bleeding head wound? Would they pay you as much attention as they would if you were perfectly fine and uninjured? They may not even worry about you running off or suddenly rising up against your guard and overpowering him to make a getaway. Coughing up “blood” could convince a group that you are ravaged by some kind of biological malady that they don’t want any part of. A false “blood” trail could lead a tracking team expecting wounded or dying prey directly into a well-planned ambush.

These are the tactics of deception that can be employed by the disadvantaged defender. Some might take offense at these ideas and say that these kind of tactics are not very warrior-like but I would reply that when the chips are down, it’s life or death and fate has left you little choice between living another day or getting yourself killed by some half-wit who wants your can of Spam, a little deception could easily save your life, your family’s and maybe even your supplies too. – Art X.

JWR Replies: Theatrical blood is indeed useful for training moulage, but I would be reluctant to try most of your mentioned “tactical” uses, other than as a last resort. As much as possible, I advise that you keep your encounters with strangers at far shouting distance, rather than “improv theater” distance. There is always the risk that someone who is otherwise moral and upright might choose to “put them out of their misery” with a shot to the chest or head. But your mileage may vary.

Also, keep in mind that most people know that real blood dries to a brown color (because the iron in blood oxidizes), while fake blood dries to a fairly bright red.