Apocalyptic Wealth: Trading, bartering and what to prepare

We’ve all seen the movies and shows where society collapses, people have to survive when money is worthless, but have you really thought about what YOU would do realistically?  The goal of this article is to get you thinking or maybe give you new ideas of what you can trade or barter with in a SHTF scenario. 

There’s things you can start saving and stockpiling now for barter and trade later and other things that you’ll need to learn how to produce as your stockpile will most likely dwindle faster than you think and you do NOT want to be left with nothing of value when you and yours are hard up for food, medicine or other life saving items. However this article will only be for pre-collapse prepping/investing.

Pre-Collapse Prepping: Hypothetically It’s present day and you’re feeling pretty good about life, you have enough money in savings to survive most modern day issues, maybe a steady job, 401k and some trendy crypto investments to “hodl” onto, but will these things help you during a SHTF scenario?  The obvious short answer is NO.  

During a collapse, electricity on a wide scale will undoubtedly go out simultaneously, bringing down the internet, and any electronic banking, investing or savings you might have.  If you’re a millionaire only in numbers on a computer, you’ll be destitute merely seconds after the power goes out for good.  

So what can you do to prepare for this sort of situation? This is a tricky question, and it depends a lot on your current situation and means that you currently have at your disposal.  Below is a list of some realistic ways to prepare pre-collapse: 

  • Physical precious metals like Gold/Silver
    • Gold/Silver has been a main purchasing power throughout nearly all of humanity and it will undoubtedly be one during a SHTF scenario.  
    • You can start saving and hoarding your precious metals even on a tight budget as there are local stores and online stores that will let you purchase as much or as little as you can afford. 
    • Even if a collapse never happens in your lifetime a stockpile of physical precious metals will have only gone up in value and can be traded back for cash value if needed or you can give them to your children as inheritance that the government cannot tax you on. 
  • Ammunition
    • No matter what your views are regarding firearms, the fact that ammo will be worth it’s weight in gold during a SHTF scenario doesn’t change.  Keeping ammo on hand and in large quantities can not only help you survive if violently attacked, but can also serve as a very valuable trading item.
    • Different types of ammo will be worth different amounts to different people depending on what type of firearm they have to shoot it, so keeping commonly used rounds on hand is preferred.  9mm, .45acp, .223/5.56, 12ga, 30-06, .308 and .22lr are all very common and keeping any of these on hand can help you out with bartering. 
  • Alcohol & Liquor 
    • Just like Ammunition/Firearms, your personal opinion about Alcohol will not diminish its value during a SHTF scenario.  Not only will other people want it for drinking, but others may need it for disinfectant or cleaning. 
    • Unopened liquor has a nearly unlimited shelf-life so you can start collecting your booze now, but don’t open it as opened bottles of liquor usually only keeps for 1-2 years before degrading. 
  • Hunting Gear
    • Getting food will not be as easy as it once was and you won’t just be able to stroll to your local Bass Pro shop or Walmart to pick up some bow arrows, fishing pole and or small game traps, so having a much of these items stored as you can (even if you don’t know how to hunt) is just a good idea.
    • You’re surely to run into someone in a SHTF scenario that either knows how to hunt that could use your items or could teach you to hunt and you can use your own items, so in either case, it will benefit you to have them. 
  • Salt
    • Salt is important, not only to make food less bland (which will be a huge issue during a SHTF scenario), but also because it’s a mineral your body needs (especially when running low on food and dehydrated).
    • Since you most likely will not be transporting large amounts of food long distances you’ll likely use it for your own food and to barter with as most people have no knowledge of how to find salt for their use outside of the grocery store. 
    • Buy and store as much salt as you can and you won’t regret having if the occasion should arrive. 
  • Medical & Hygiene
    • This section should go without saying, but knowing that you’ll pretty much ONLY be able to get these items pre-collapse might help motivate you to get a head start on stockpiling the more important ones below:
      • Antibiotics 
      • Scissors
      • Gauze Pads
      • Tourniquets
      • Tampons/Pads
      • Toothbrushes/Toothpaste
      • Tylenol/Aspirin
      • Disinfectant
      • Ointments
      • Pain Meds
      • Rubbing Alcohol
      • And anything else you can get your hands on
  • Clothes
    • Believe it or not, clothes will become a bigger problem than you think.  Wear and tear of your current clothes will be accelerated without proper cleaning and with heavy use.  Also running to the mall to scavenge some clothes will likely be unsuccessful as you’re not the only person who will be running into this problem.
    • One way of doing this might be to hold onto some of the better clothes you no longer wear instead of selling them at the next yard sale or taking them to goodwill, this will take up space, but also won’t cost you anything extra. 

There are many items that other preppers would potentially add to this list, but to keep this from becoming a short book, I’ll stop here.  Remember, skills you learn will always be worth more than physical items when it comes to preparing for a SHTF scenario, but a combo of both is the best plan.

Becoming more self-sufficient: Getting started and staying motivated

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year or so, you can probably see for yourself how unpredictable the world has become.  The COVID pandemic woke a lot of people up to the cold hard fact that you can’t just rely on consumerism to provide and feed yourself consistently.   

It may seem like a minor inconvenience to show up at the grocery store one day and not be able to get a few key items that you need, but it’s telling of what it might look like during a more serious situation that can very well happen to anybody. 

Venezuela is currently experiencing the scenario that I am talking about above due to a mix of political and economic stress brought upon by their adoption of socialism.   Their money devalued to the point you can find it in the gutters,  food shelves mostly barren and if you can find it, it’s prices have inflated to the point only the wealthy can afford it.   What would you do in this type of situation?  

In lieu of recent events my wife and I have recently decided to start becoming more self-sufficient.  We live in a small neighborhood about 30 minutes outside of St Louis, Mo.  Our home is almost the stereotypical one family house (minus the picket fence) with a front/back yard and a garage.  The rest of this will be applied to similar settings so if you live in an apartment or have other arrangements you’ll need to adjust your methods, but there’s still some good thought provoking parts that might interest you. 

For my home I have some grand plans that my wife may say is a bit lofty, and she’s probably right, so we’ve decided to take it slow, not only so we don’t overwhelm ourselves, but to also use this as a learning experience for us both.   If society really starts to break down and you have a long period where you need to provide for yourself and your family, the knowledge of how to do so will be the most valuable thing you have, considering the internet may not always be available to you to pull information from. (keeping physical books on hand is one of my backups to work around not being able to access the internet). 

Below are some steps that I recommend to get you going in the right direction, taking into account resources, cost, time and labor. 

Planning: Not only do I consider this one of the easier and funner parts of the process, but it’s also one of the most important.   At this state you can really envision what you want and what is actually possible for you and your current/long term situation. 

You’ll want to ask yourself questions like: 

  • Do I have the time and space? 
    • Whether you have a farm or if you have an apartment, there are ways you can start becoming more self-sufficient.   There are plenty of articles and books on how to do just that, but you have to set aside time to learn the methods that others have worked so hard to record.  
  • What would really benefit me and mine if resources become hard to get? 
    • Here you should think about how you’d start to save water, grow food and what things YOU can build or create that just might save your life when you need it most like Water collection, a garden that produces a good amount of food or simply shelter and heat if you live in an area that gets cold for months at a time. 
  • Prioritization
    • Now that you have an idea of what you need and where you’re going to put these plans into place it’s time to prioritize your work.  The more time you spend planning the greater this list will grow.  It may seem daunting at first, but this is why taking the process slow is so important.  Not only is the work you’re doing potentially life saving in an emergency, but it’s also A LOT of fun, so enjoying yourself during the process is key for my wife and I.    
    • You wouldn’t want to start buying seeds and plants for your garden if you haven’t even tilled up your yard yet and if you’re on a budget prioritization will be key in ensuring you don’t break the bank during the process. 

Getting started: Again, this process should be fun for you and anybody else that is helping you.  If it feels forced or if you’re stressing out too much about it, you’ll be less apt to doing it regularly.  Remember, motivation will get you started, but habit keeps it going.  

  • Changing your life habits is an important part of this process.  Lot’s of people like to claim they “don’t have time” or “I’m just too busy” when in reality there’s plenty of time, but you may have to cut some “less important” aspects out of your life like going out with friends every weekend or bing watching T.V.  Once you get into the habit of getting out in the sun and dirt you start to realize how fulfilling it is to do work that benefits you directly by your own hands and going back to binge watching T.V. or going out drinking will not seem as important.  
  • Set aside specific times that can/will become regular habits.  My wife and I use weekends for this.  Instead of saying “I’m bored, what do you want to do today” we are already excited to head out to the backyard to weed our garden or plant new plants.  Not only is it healthier for the both of us, but it’s also been great for our relationship to spend quality time together and build something together that will benefit our family. 
  • Start small.  As I said before, it can be a daunting task, so stick to your prioritization list.  One example could be “This weekend I’m going to till the plot that I plan my garden to be” or “I’m going to purchase the wood to build a raised bed”.  With each small step you complete, the closer to your self-sufficiency goals you will be.   

Keeping it going: Like I usually say, I’m not an expert on any of this stuff, I just have an active passion for it and I’m extremely excited to produce and maintain something that is completely my own and for my family’s well being.  This passion of mine is my motivator for keeping it going and repetition becomes habit.   

  • Start thinking long-term.  Once you get going, whether it be a large garden or a water collection system you should start thinking of how you’ll store this stuff for practical use.  Do you plan on canning veggies for use during the winter?  What happens when my water collection tanks freeze up?  Do I need a fence to keep out critters from eating my crops?  There’s lots of problems to solve, but if you get into the passionate mindset about your plans it becomes not so  much a problem, but a learning event for you to experience.  

The process of becoming more self-sufficient is an ongoing process that never ends, so get used to learning new things, but keep in mind that the things you’re learning is knowledge that fewer and fewer people possess that can be invaluable when/if the time comes.  You may find yourself listening to podcasts on homesteading, watching youtube videos on gardening or simply collecting “How To” books for reference in case of a disaster.  Many people have different hobbies, but learning to become more self-sufficient becomes less of a hobby and more of a skill the longer you practice it.  Good luck with your future projects!

Warning Signs

“Why couldn’t I save them?” I said in a tired voice.  “What could I have done differently?”  Beating myself up for things I couldn’t control, out loud again.  No one was around to hear me, so what did it matter.  Should I have trusted my gut earlier or was there nothing I could have done at all..NO, there is always something different you can do, I know this now.     

Sitting in the cool damp garage on my family’s abandoned farm I pondered, again, as to how all of this happened, how did I go from a middle aged, family man with a good job and great friends to nearly nothing in such a short period of time?  I guess it wasn’t that short, but it seemed like it was, considering all that has happened since “the day”.   

Looking back to the warning signs that I used to call them, and attempting to pinpoint an exact time that it all started is nearly impossible, but a few indicators stood out in my mind.  I think I first started getting “paranoid” as my friends would have said, when we all started turning on eachother.  There were other earlier “signs” that I noticed, but that was me looking at the world from nihilistic colored glasses, I never hoped any of it would come true.

I adjusted my old folding camping chair, staring out of the garage towards the field on the side of the dilapidated farmhouse listening like I did during this time of day.   I would usually hear the birds in the spring, cicadas during the summer, geese in the autumn with silence and wind during the winter, that was the loneliest season.  Occasionally I would hear other noises besides birds, insects and loneliness, such as vehicles, shouting and gunfire, those noises are what has me listening so intently. 

Getting back into thought and replaying the events that caused this, what I consider, the beginning, hanging out with my wife and friends.  That was the last normal day I think I’ll ever have again..

My wife and I had a great group of friends at that time, something we always wanted for ourselves but was never able to while moving around when I was in the Army.  Making long term, local friends, was very hard for both of us.   After serving 10 years, multiple combat deployments and an honorable discharge we decided to settle down in our hometown and focus on our kids, friends and family.   

We hung out with our friends almost weekly with drinks, laughs and stories.  We were a mix of ideologies, religions, politics, and sexualities.   We all had very different backgrounds and experiences of where we came from and how we were raised, but that’s why we all liked each other, we could “argue” about nearly anything and never let it get personal…nearly.  

Our core friends group fluctuated in size with newcomers and a few that didn’t make the cut, but there were usually about 5-6 of us at each gathering, usually at our house as it was pretty central to everyone, also we had the kids..

Just like usual, we all sat in our normal seats around our patio table with the glass top.   Smoking, listening to music and talking about current events was the norm.   We learned a while back not to get too deep into conversions about politics or religion and we tried our best to respect each other’s point of views or we’d deflect the conversation to something more pleasant, but that wasn’t possible that day.

We didn’t usually watch T.V. when we hung out unless it was a funny video we wanted to share with the group, but that day there was a “Breaking News” report and we were all curious about it so I turned it up.  With tensions already high in the country with mounting political discourse, we assumed it would be more of the same as the term “Breaking News” lost its credibility a few years prior as the media seemed to use it for just about everything. 

“Limiting Freedoms For The Greater Good” was the headline on the screen below the young reporter staring back at us.   He was speaking of the ridiculous legislation that’s been in the process of being passed going on 2 years up to that point.  “The SAFETY ACT is now in effect after the unprecedented and unchecked law was passed, outraging many and splitting the country in two”  said the solemn faced reporter.  A few of us were elated by the news and the rest of us looked on in disbelief.  

To me and many others, the SAFETY ACT was meant only to limit what we as citizens can do, track us more effectively and in a very real sense, take away our individual freedoms.  Not all of us thought this way though, many were more willing to part with their freedoms if that meant saving more people economically, physically and medically.  There’s pros and cons to each way of thinking, but only one leaves you helpless in the end. 

As the reporter spoke, those of us who opposed this law (or should I say package of laws) started arguing with the others.  I pleaded with them to understand what this would mean for their everyday life and how detrimental it would be to their freedoms, but they said I was being dramatic and that this is the best outcome for everybody in the country. 

After debating the particulars as long as we could, our friends started leaving to head home.  We hardly ever ended the night on a sour note and it was awkward while my wife and I silently cleaned up what was left, so we could relax and process what was happening. 

Once in bed, I decided to look up what the new “law” actually states online and to my horror, discovered that it’s broad strokes of interpretation could mean just about anything to anyone.  This wasn’t a law as much as it was a declaration of control over everyone with phrases like “For the common good” and “general welfare” being used to justify each and every measure they wanted to take.

Still not believing what I’m reading I looked up news coverage on the topic, but they didn’t seem to have any better information than I did.   It almost seemed like every station had the same message, some even using the exact same verbiage like a script was given to them.       

With my military background, and being a casual “prepper”, my wife knew all too well how worried I was.  We talked about realistically what might happen vs the worse case scenarios and decided we’d play it by ear.  Hope for the best & plan for the worst.  I laid in bed, mind spinning and decided to process the rest in the morning. 

The days and weeks following are when things started to unravel..for everyone.  Protests regarding the new “law of the land” erupted across the country and under the new law, if whatever you did was deemed “against the general welfare and safety of the public” you were handled accordingly, what that actually meant was unknown.  The news reports seemed to omit answering the questions we all had.  Fear was now ruling over the population.  

As weeks went on they enforced new guidelines’ and rules by law enforcement officers who now resembled my old Army unit more than the traffic cops.  If you go to the DMV or any necessary official building, guards would be there, checking your ID and “Social History”, just a brief once-over to ensure you were not speaking out against the powers that be.  They didn’t have the manpower to check everyone’s accounts in depth, but the algorithms and AI served that purpose, constantly scouring the internet in search of “prohibited terms” that “goes against community standards” that might “Jeopardize the well-being of the greater good”.  If found in violation, you would be visited and interrogated, followed by god knows what.  

We now had to get our information from word of mouth since most people knew that mainstream and social media was mainly propaganda and also monitored heavily by the state.   The people who didn’t see that, or pretended not to see it, are the ones I blame for our current state of affairs.  We could have stopped it if we’d had just worked together, but I guess that’s the problem with ideologies. 

Once the bombings of federal buildings, political assassination and other chaos started becoming a regular occurrence, my wife and I decided it was time, time to take the kids and disappear for a while.  There hadn’t been much time to see our friends since this all started and we wanted to tell them goodbye before we left for what might be indefinitely.  Two of our best friends, whom we’ve known for years, left two weeks prior to visit family down south, but we lost contact with them after their cell phones went dead.  They should have been home a week ago.  I still haven’t seen or heard from them to this day. 

We decided to gather our remaining friends to plan one last get together.  Since we lost contact with our other friends, we are left with four others who haven’t left the area just yet, they however, are more sympathetic to the new system and seem to have bought into their rhetoric completely.  This still wasn’t enough to make us see them any less than friends, but we sure wished they could understand what was happening. 

After a day of packing up to leave, we sat down at the table with the glass top and waited for our friends.  When they arrived the mood was not the same, we were all apprehensive, and after a few minutes of talking about current events the apprehension turned to malice, at least it seemed to on their part.  After we told them our plan to leave and circumvent the powers that be, they became withdrawn and made an excuse as to why they needed to leave.   My wife and I looked at each other knowing they were cutting ties with us and we probably won’t see them again.  Our hearts hurt because of it. 

We decided after our friends left to finish getting our things together and leave in the morning for my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the Tennessee mountains where things didn’t seem as bad.  The kids were packed and we did our best to answer the questions they had without instilling too much fear in them as we were already scared enough as it is.  

“We should have left right then and there!” I said to myself angrily as I stood up to stretch..  “We should have drove through the night…”.  Would that have even helped though?   Would that have just delayed the inevitable? 

Replaying this next part of the timeline haunts my dreams at night and my lonely mind in the day, especially during winter.  There’s no getting around it, I lost everything that day and there’s no way to forget it.  A mixture of hate and despair come over me as I replay it in my mind for the thousandth time. 

(Thud Thud Thud!)  I wake up to hear someone banging on the front door loudly.  My wife wakes with me, she had the same bewildered look I had on my face. 5:45am reads the digital clock on my nightstand.  “Who’s here so early?” I said.   While dressing, I grab my pistol as I’ve made it a habit lately to have it on me given the lawlessness and corruption going on locally and nationally. 

As I walked through the hallway littered with packed bags, I think of all the memories we’ve made here, everything from celebrations to just hanging out on the couch and watching T.V. together.  It was the definition of a “home”, warm, cozy, full of love, which is why I was so angry we had to uproot and make another home someplace else.  

When I get to the front door, I peek through the small glass window in the center of the door to see who was there.   Dread overcomes my soul when I see who’s standing there.   Not one, not two, but nearly fifteen armed, and what look like soldiers/police standing on my front lawn.   Before I opened the door I turned to yell for my wife, but she was already standing beside me and could see for herself the severity of the situation.  Knowing I was outnumbered I placed my pistol in my boot underneath my pant leg. 

“What are you going to do?” my wife said.  Looking back at her, I took a second before answering to study her beautiful blue eyes.  The sun was peeking through the small window in the door and the orange morning light traveled across her worried face.  I snapped a mental picture to memorize her face as the future was uncertain.  That was the best decision I ever made besides making her my wife. 

(Thud Thud Thud!)  “OPEN THE DOOR!  By order of the SAFETY ACT you MUST open the door NOW or we WILL come in by force” said the voice standing outside of my door.   “I’m coming out!” I yelled, so as to not trigger them firing on me when I opened it, as they all looked on edge themselves. 

Walking out onto my porch, looking at all of them staring at me I said calmly “What is this all about?  The one in charge that knocked replied “An anonymous report on the SAFETY ACT Tip Hotline reported that you and your family are  planning on traveling outside of your restricted area to defy SAFETY ACT guidelines.  Do you mind if we come inside and have a look?”  I stared at him in anger, angry at who I assumed tipped them off, and angry that I can’t even ask to see a warrant, as the SAFETY ACT supersedes any warrants that would have normally been required. 

“Do I have a choice?” I said back to him.  Looking offended he replied “No, you don’t.” and nodded to his officers to enter my home.   I didn’t bother resisting as this would only give them an excuse to use violent force.  I was a young soldier once, and I remember the feeling of having the power, the training and wanting to use my new dangerous skills in the real world, so I know the danger of giving them an excuse. 

As they pushed past me my wife was already making her way up the stairs to get the kids.  Before I was able to follow her inside two officers took me by each arm so I wasn’t able to move.  My mind was spinning with ways I could get out of this, but I wasn’t able to think of anything.  I was truly hopeless in that moment and I still am today because of it.  I kept pleading with the officers holding me, asking what was happening and begging them to listen to me, but they only looked forward and didn’t say a word.

After two minutes they start coming outside, first the officers who searched my house, followed by my crying wife in handcuffs and my frightened children escorted by a woman officer that wasn’t dressed in body armor toward a white van.   “What you are doing with my family!”  I screamed directly at the officer in charge. “You and your wife are being charged in violation of the SAFETY ACT.  Your packed bags and digital messages confirmed the tip from the hotline.” he said without remorse.  

Watching my wife being escorted to a truck, she sees our kids being put into another vehicle.   Shaking off the officer escorting her she sprints towards our kids while yelling for them.  Another officer sees her doing this, grabs her and throws her to the ground so hard it nearly knocks her out.  After seeing this my blood boils and I start to fight the two officers escorting me, with tears running down my enraged face I use every muscle in my body to try and make it to her, to do anything I could to save my family.  The officer in charge wastes no time in using his taser on the small of my back.  

The last moment I ever had with my family was watching them be shoved into separate vehicles while they screamed.  “Help us Dad!” my kids said followed by sobbing from my terrified wife.  I fell unconscious after that.   Nothing will break a good man faster than seeing his family helpless and scared.   

I started regaining consciousness, but I was now in the back of a moving van, my hands were zip tied together.   I had one guard with me in the back and one driver in the front.  I could hear the chatter on their radio saying “SAFE 2, this is SAFE 1, Proceed to reassignment center with the minors OVER”,  “SAFE4, take the woman to extermination center BRAVO319”, SAFE 3, get rid of the man, OVER”.   

Thinking of any imaginable way to get out of this situation,  I realized they did not find my pistol in my boot after they knocked me out, I guess with all the commotion and me being unconscious they didn’t think to check.  I only had one 17 round magazine, so they needed to count.   A murderous feeling and disregard for these men’s lives took me over for their participation in detaining my family unjustly. 

Knowing my van would depart from the convoy route soon to “get rid of me”.  I waited until we pulled off the main road.  Knowing my home town I knew we were on a back road about 1 mile away from the main strip.  There wasn’t much traffic back here and it might be my only chance.  I crossed my leg over my other leg to get better access to the pistol. The guard in the back didn’t seem to care, he was only about 24 and was looking out of the window.  I knew I only had about 10 seconds to kill him and the driver before one of them could radio for help. 

I waited for the driver to slow down at the stop sign so we wouldn’t crash.  Fueled by anger and fear and without hesitation, I drew my gun, shot the driver through the window in the base of his skull and turned immediately to the scared guard who connected eyes with me before I pulled the trigger.  I fired 3 more times to make sure he was dead.  After taking a breath and realizing what had just happened I knew I had to keep moving.  Grabbing a knife off of his vest I cut off the zip ties and grabbed his radio as well as the drivers radio and extra batteries.  I take one of their vests, rifle and spare magazines as well.   

For the next few hours I made my way through the backroads on foot, hiding from any vehicle I heard coming until I found a blue car idling, no one was in it, so I took it.  As I drove, I tried thinking of what to do, what can I do?  I could hear more talk over the guards radio, they found the van with the guards bodies and they knew I was on the run.  They also knew I had taken the radios and weapons.  

I don’t know if they said it specifically for me to hear, but they announced “All Stations, Detainee 01984 is at large, armed and dangerous, shoot on sight, notify all Law Enforcement and public site guards that he will be looking for his family.” BREAK   “He will not be able to locate them without access to the database, commence drone search of the area and report back. OVER.”  That was two years ago..

Now here, on this abandoned farm, I’m helpless, thinking of ways to get my family back.   By this time the kids would have been introduced to mandatory “re-education” classes for “displaced children” of the state.  My wife, I can only assume, was killed shortly following our capture.  There’s no way to know, no place I can inquire about it without being killed.  I miss them more than I can’t bear it.  If it wasn’t for the possibility of maybe one day seeing my kids again I would have already taken my life.  

From what I hear from rogue radio stations, the country as a whole has been turned into a complete police state, if you don’t do exactly as they say, when they say it,  they make you disappear.  There is no justice, only chaos and control.

Listening like usual, I feel the temperature drop, it’s now late fall, a colder breeze brings in a draft and I shudder when I hear the wind picking up, followed by silence.  

Ask yourself these Survival Questions: Prepping with purpose

I don’t claim to be an expert on survival or prepping in the slightest, but I do feel there are some important hypothetical questions that you should ask yourself that forces you to go through the thought process of certain scenarios.  Just by thinking through some of the questions below, you will help yourself act quicker and with more confidence when/if these situations should arise.  

Take at least a minute and think through what your actions would be on each of the questions below given your unique location, circumstances and company that will be with you. 

  • What “Emergency” scenario do you believe is most likely to happen that would constitute snapping into survival mode?
    • Everyone has their own idea of what’s going to bring about the collapse of civilization as we know it.  Some feel it will be a natural disaster like the super-volcano underneath Yosemite National Park erupting, others think it could be nuclear fallout from nuclear war, and some like myself, feel it will be a mix of war/inflation/and civil unrest.  Given your personal beliefs on the current political, natural and social climates, what do you feel is most likely?  Determining this will help you plan more accordingly. 

  • Will you Bug-Out or will you Bug-In?
    • Depending on your location, situation, capabilities and overall plan you’ll need to determine whether it’s best for you and your group to stay where you are or if you’re going to leave for a better area.  Not only do you have to determine that, but you also need to determine what your “trigger” point is.  When do you make that call?  Is it when chaos is ensuing around your town or will it be before then so you can travel safely? 

  • Who are your party members? 
    • Who will be with you?  These people will most likely be your close family like children, spouse, mother, father etc, however you might have different priorities like close friends who you trust more.  Making this decision requires a little homework that is tied to the next question.

  • Do all of your party members plans/priorities align and will there be conflict?
    • Once you pick your ideal party members, you must find out from them as to what their personal plans are.  They, just like you, may have not yet went through this thought process and they may need to make this same determination for themselves before answering.  If possible, when you have your “ideal party members” in one place, ask these important questions to get a rough agreement from the group.  This can also be a fun (maybe a little morbid) party conversation. 
  • What skills can your party members bring to the table? (Is your groups skills well rounded)
    • While narrowing down who will and won’t be in your group, it’s important to theoretically divy out jobs and duties that are best suited for each individual..  Obviously if you have a nurse or doctor in your group they would be most helpful in assisting with the inevitable medical situation that WILL arise.  Same would go for a former service member who is good with security or a farmer who would be integral in helping grow food for the group.  Everyone has a skill they can bring to the table as long as they are willing to contribute.

  • How do you plan for security and protecting yourself as well as those that you love?
    • If you don’t have that experienced military member in your group with a bunker full of ammo and weapons, how do YOU plan on keeping you and your group protected from outside threats?  What kind of threats are most likely given your location, population and surroundings?  In what ways can you protect yourself?  Do you have a firearm, do you have alarm systems, do you know how to NOT make yourself a target to threats?  The decision on how to best protect yourself varies from individual to individual based personal beliefs, skill level among other factors.  Knowing what you will do to protect yourself is a must nonetheless. 

  • What medical issues should you prepare for if you can’t see a doctor or go to the hospital?
    • Medical is often overlooked as people are becoming more reliant on hospitals and doctors, but when SHTF there won’t be many options other than your own know-how. Some things to think about besides basic medical emergency care is what your special medical care/supplies might you need for yourself or your group. Do you have a condition that might require specific meds? Does someone in your group require insulin? This topic should be looked at carefully by each member and made known to the entire group so people can keep an eye out for these items during “supply runs”.

  • Does your party include infants and elderly and how do you plan to care for them?
    • Recognizing your limitations early on can help keep you out of difficult situations when the time comes.  Knowing if you’ll be limited on movement and physical help from slower party members like the elderly & infants will help you make the most educated choice on hard decisions you will have to make. 
  • If you are bugging out, what vehicle will you use and how will you maintain that vehicle?
    • Deciding to leave the comfort of your home and security is a BIG decision, especially when chaos is already happening outside.  Many factors will come into play with this complicated decision.  Knowing that the last thing you’d want to happen is to be stranded on the side of the road with limited supplies, gas and no transportation and threats could force you to meticulously plan that decision out.  Will you have enough fuel?  What’s your plan if a tire goes flat? Will there be more than one vehicle in your “convoy” or group?

  • How do you & your party plan on keeping everyone fed and supplied with water?
    • Regardless if you’re Bugging-In or Bugging-Out, food and water are going to be a constant need.  The bigger your group, the more food and water you will need to sustain yourselves.  As you make these preparations, please do a little research on how people/humans react when faced with starvation.  People, even close friends can/will turn on you when faced with no other option.  

  • Will harsh weather be an issue for you and your party?
    • Your climate, location and time of year may very well dictate if you should or shouldn’t Bug-Out or Bug-In.  If the time to make that decision happens to be in November and you live in Montana, you might just want to head further south to warmer climates, I personally wouldn’t want to ride out a long winter with limited supplies.  

  • How bad is crime overall in the area you place to Bug-In at or Bug-Out to?
    • Assessing the crime rate in the area you plan on staying at is very important.  If you live on the south side of Chicago you probably don’t want to Bug-In there, same goes for some rural areas in the middle of nowhere that might have a history of “bad locals” that may decide to take advantage of their new neighbors. 

  • What is your backup plan?
    • “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather”, this is especially true when it comes to the chaos of emergency prepping.  Having a detailed plan like your main plan is ideal, but at least having an idea of what your backup plan might look like can save you time thinking time when initial plans fall apart, as they often do. 

  • Are you prepared to say NO to people outside of your group?
    • Once you have a plan and become halfway organized, others outside of your group will notice this and see you as either an asset, their last chance or a target.  Maintaining the integrity of any group in a survival situation is hard enough as it is.  Making the hard decision to refuse or help an outsider could have detrimental consequences, so choose wisely.  

  • How will you react to authority?
    • When society starts to crumble it most likely won’t happen all at once, there will probably be a gradual decline of some kind resulting in local or federal authorities attempting to “fix” things.  Their attempts may or may not be in you and your groups favor.  If you’re trying to make it to your bug-out location and they tell you that they’re taking everyone to special camps for “your safety”, you may or may not wish to go with them.  I for one have read a history book before and would prefer to risk it on my own verse being lumped into a group or rely on another group for my protection.  This will be a decision you’ll need to assess while it’s happening. 

  • How will leadership work in your group?
    • No matter the size of your group, you will need some kind of leadership and organization.  If it’s just you, your spouse and your kids this decision will be easy, but if your group consists of multiple family members and friends you’ll need a more pragmatic approach that at least the majority of the group agrees with.  Things like enforcing everyone pulling their own weight, and punishments for outsiders and members may need to be ruled on by a committee or elders as the judicial system will likely be non-existent at that point. 

  • Are you prepared for a “slow” descent into an emergency prepping scenario?
    • As I said earlier, when SHTF it most likely will not happen all of a sudden, it might be painstakingly slow, but what does this mean? Think of “hyperinflation”.  In a hyperinflation scenario, your income, savings and food may slowly be depleted due to circumstances surrounding simple items like milk, gas and other essential items becoming too expensive for the average person to buy.  Many people will be in this scenario together, mass panic will occur and you’ll be forced to make the decision to Bug-Out or Bug-In when others tell you you’re “being dramatic” or “things will get better soon”.  That decision is yours to make, but waiting too long to make that decision can mean life and death. 

In conclusion, everyone’s circumstances and scenarios are and will be different given your individual resources, location, climate, group and other factors.  Just by reading this and asking yourself these questions you’ve already made yourself more mentally prepared than the average person who has never walked though these scenarios before.  Remember to take a moment here and there to talk about these scenarios with your close friends and family that could potentially be in your group if things are to go south, you won’t regret it.

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