(How-To Think, Plan and Make Decisions in Preparation for When the SHTF)
Let’s have a reality check for all preppers, survivalists, and conspiracy theorists. How serious are you about being ready for TEOTWAWKI? I read many articles on the blogs about guns, food storage, politics, etc. But one thing that I read very lttle of is anything on the issue of decision making, attitude, commitment and how to think about surviving the coming TEOTWAWKI.
All the guns and food storage in the world will be of no benefit to you or your family unless accompanied by decision making, priorities, survival attitude and a survivable location. Preparations are very individual to circumstances and location. So, let’s discuss decision making and being committed to surviving TEOTWAWKI. Let’s look at the process of questioning in determining individual preparedness and the decisions to be made during the process of preparing. In much of this discussion I will use myself as an example. Understand that I am not trying to dictate any particular decision but am trying to illustrate my decision making process in the hopes of illuminating and expanding others’ decision making process in order to improve their chances of surviving/succeeding when the SHTF.
General Planning and Location
Recently, I have read several articles which had a common theme – the construction of a “retreat” for the writer and his family in the event of TEOTWAWKI. While I admire the writers’ commitment to providing a retreat for the family, I must question the feasibility of these “retreats.” In each article that I read, the “retreat” was located 2-5 hours away from the writer’s home. (At highway speeds, this means 100-300 miles away.) Given a TEOTWAWKI situation, I question whether the writers would ever actually arrive at their “retreats.” Consider this situation, TEOTWAWKI has occurred. Fuel is unavailable. Traffic is snarled ten times worse than any rush hour ever experienced. All major highways are blocked. Then ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have enough fuel to drive directly to your retreat?
- Do you have enough fuel if you are delayed in traffic or must detour or use the engine heater or air conditioner?
- Do you know an alternate route, avoiding all major highways, to reach your retreat?
- Do you know how long the alternate route will take and do you have enough fuel to make it?
- How many potential obstacles exist on your direct and alternate routes? (e.g.; other communities, bridges, railroads, weather obstacles)
- What if your vehicle is attacked while sitting in the traffic jam?
- What if you are ambushed while driving your alternate route?
- What if a member of your family, or you, are injured or incapacitated by attack or accident while en route to your retreat?
- What if, because of attack, accident or malfunction, you no longer have your vehicle and must proceed on foot to your retreat which may be 75-300 miles away? At an average pace of 12-15 miles per day? (Your trip could take 6-25 days or even longer.)
- Do you have food, water, backpacks and a way to transport children/pets who may be too young to walk that distance?
- How will you transport anyone who was injured in the attack or accident?
- How will you keep the retreat and supplies secure until you have need of it?
Any or all of these questions/situations could lead to disaster for you and your family before you ever arrive at your retreat. Personally, I believe that having a retreat more than one day’s hike (10-15 miles) from your current living residence is a recipe for disaster when the SHTF. Matt Bracken in his article on Civil War II and Kit Perez’s article on strategic relocation address this issue partially in assessing your current residence and whether it is sustainable during TEOTWAWKI.
For those who doubt my estimate of daily progress of only 10-15 miles per day, I used the progress logged by pioneers in their travels. Remember, you will be traveling with others, possibly young children. There is time spent getting organized and fed in the morning, time spent on breaks and resting, time spent finding a secure place to camp at night and setting up camp. There is time spent preparing the evening meal in time to put out the campfire before dark so that it is not a beacon bringing unwanted visitors to your camp. Also, this is not simply a day hike along a clearly marked path or sidewalk. Every advance of your party must be scouted for potential violence, ambush or obstacle. Therefore, 10-15 miles per day may be optimistic.
In the past, I did a good deal of backpacking. In my experience, using a 75-80 pound pack and hiking on existing trails in good weather where navigation and scouting were not needed, a 20 mile day was a good day. So I believe that estimating approximately 12 miles per day under adverse conditions is about right.
Upon arriving at your retreat:
- What will you do when you find it already occupied?
- Will you attempt to retake it? Absorb those who have occupied it? Or move on?
For those who currently are prepping in place, I would ask the following questions:
- What are the gun possession/registration laws in your state/county/city? This will impact what you are able to keep with you and what you are able to acquire.
- Do you have enough land for a garden and small livestock (e.g. rabbits, chickens)?
- Do you know your neighbors? Are you friends?
- What political persuasion are your neighbors?
- What religious faith do your neighbors profess?
- Are your neighbors of similar ethnicity and economic status?
- What is the murder/crime rate in your neighborhood?
- Are any of your neighbors preppers?
- How will you defend your home and family from violence and/or disease?
- Can your home be adapted to the necessary activities of a grid-down society?
As Kit Perez addresses in her article on strategic relocation, if your neighbors are too disparate from your beliefs and practices, then you should probably reconsider your commitment to where you live and begin to search for a location more conducive to survival as those neighbors may very well be the first threat to your survival. At various times in my life I have lived in large cities such as Toledo, Ohio and Tucson, Arizona. Then I got serious about surviving the coming collapse. I researched various locations and settled on a location in northeastern Arizona that is geologically relatively stable, has few weather related hazards/disasters and a very low population density.
I moved to a small town (approximately 3,000 people) but quickly realized that even here there was a higher threat level than I was comfortable with. In part because the community is split between those who are members of the LDS Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), most of you know them as Mormons, and those who are not. The split is about 50/50. The LDS Church teaches us to have a year’s supply of food on hand and to store water, fuel and clothing to the best of our ability. I personally have heard people in the community state that there was no reason for them to prepare because if anything happened, they would simply go and take what their Mormon neighbors had stored.
I decided that having next door neighbors who knew I was a member of the LDS church and a prepper was more threat than I wanted, especially living in a two by stick house that was not designed for defense and was vulnerable to most weapon calibers. So I relocated again. Now I live completely off-grid, out of sight of any county road, at the end of six miles of jeep trail, and my nearest neighbor (>2 miles away) is also a prepper.
Let me pose a few questions here in considering the structure in which you live or plan to live once TEOTWAWKI happens.
- How bullet resistant are the walls of your living structure? Remember that most calibers can penetrate 2-3 inches of wood and 2 by stick construction has less than in inch to stop a bullet.
- How strong are the doors and door frames? Many can easily be kicked in.
- What field of fire is there from each window?
- How many people will it take to defend the structure in all four directions simultaneously? Do you or will you have that many people in your home?
- How fire proof is the structure and the surroundings?
- How easy will it be to heat/cool the structure in a grid down situation?
Although an earthship is very labor intensive to build, it is also inexpensive, very bullet resistant and fire resistant, easy to heat/cool and strong. Other building methods that may meet these standards include adobe, rammed earth and log construction. With the resources available in my area, earthship became my choice. Logs are relatively rare here in the high desert. Adobe is feasible but requires lumber to frame the adobe bricks and considerable labor and time in fashioning bricks, then stacking and building. Rammed earth requires considerable lumber for framing in the construction of the rammed earth that then is removed when completed. The tires which provide the framing of the dirt in constructing earthships are available for free here from the local waste company. In fact, they even deliver them, 500 at a time, for free. Dirt is plentiful on my property and the only lumber is for framing doors and windows and constructing the roof. As an additional benefit, earthships with a metal roof are virtually fireproof and I live in an area where the most likely natural disaster is wildfire.
I have modeled much of my lifestyle after the Amish in order to minimize dependence on electricity and fossil fuels. After almost seven years, I am finally going to be putting in a small solar system for limited refrigeration. For lighting I use Luci® lights and kerosene lanterns. My phone and laptop charge in my truck. Water heats on my stove (propane right now but switching to wood). Eventually I will use a wood-fired water heater. The adjustment in living standards once the SHTF will be minimal.
I have an extensive garden, a 12’x16′ greenhouse (built from salvaged scrap lumber), goats, sheep, hogs, pot belly pigs, a horse, rabbits, chickens, guineas, turkeys, ducks, Great Pyrenees and cats (for pest control). I buy very little from the grocery store. Between the animals and garden I have most of what I need other than some staples. I have also put up a year’s supply of food. Although I do want to increase my supplies of sweeteners and grains. And am planning to enlarge the greenhouse this year.
For those who would object that it is not financially feasible, let me describe my circumstances. At the time of the second move, my husband had recently died and my only income was from disability. I received a $13,000 inheritance. I was able to find 120 acres of undeveloped grazing land with a well for $40,000. I put 25% down from my inheritance and put the balance on a 10 year mortgage which is now almost paid off (early). The first year I lived in a tent. Then I acquired a small travel trailer which I still occupy while building earthship barns and eventually a home. I have a garden, greenhouse, a pickup truck, livestock, and a year’s supply. This has all been done on an income of only about $1,100 per month, plus a bit from odd jobs.
So do not tell me “IT IS NOT FINANCIALLY FEASIBLE!” It all depends on how committed you are. In assessing your commitment, ask yourself:
- How essential is that $100 a month bill for cable or satellite television?
- Do you really need the latest and greatest iPhone or other gadget?
- Do you really need the car payment on the newest model?
- How much have you spent on clothing in the past year? (I buy the vast majority of my clothes from thrift stores and yard sales. Amazing deals!)
- Can your grocery bill be decreased? Cheaper cuts of meat, cooking from scratch, etc.
- How much did you spend eating out at restaurants in the past month?
- How much do you spend on video games, movies and other entertainment?
Look carefully at each penny that you spend and whether it moves you forward towards the priorities in your life. If it does not, reassess whether you should spend on that item?
(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 2.)