©2016 C. Henry Martens
Apocalypse Survival 101
- Mental attitude
- Assess the situation
- Define the level of risk
- Questions that need to be asked
- Location, location, location
- Skill set
- The realities in your support system
- Inventory of resources
- Odds versus priority
Apocalypse Survival 101: Location, Location, Location
The Apocalypse has begun. You know it, and you are either prepared as well as you can be, or not. Where do you need to be?
Why do I ask? Because your survival probably depends on this more than any other question. Where you are suggests your level of preparedness, your level of risk, what kind of support system you have, and if any skills you possess will be valuable.
Let’s assume you have a vast inventory of survival goods. Hopefully that means you have thought through your location already, or you may have already made a mistake.
Do people know what you have? I would not be so proud of my resources that I would have bragged them up to anyone. There are things better left unsaid. That includes to anyone from the local meth head to the Bishop/Priest/Minister. Everyone who knows what you have presents a special kind of danger. Some because they want it all… and some because they want it all, if you take my meaning.
You may take the position that what you have is to be shared. There will be people expecting that. Especially family that likes to sit around when the grass needs mowing or the dishes need to be done. In my opinion, if you are the one with foresight, then you are the one to make the decisions. Location will be a real concern if you are surrounded by family that never took preparedness seriously.
Do you have a reasonable way to protect what you have? Almost everyone needs something they forgot, and if so you are going to have to leave the premises. The best defense is ignorance on the part of those looking to acquire what you have. Failing that, a substantial concrete bunker with a steel door and/or a significant other with a big toothy dog and an Uzi are second best.
It never fails to amaze me that people will invest in a steel door with (sometimes multiple) security locks and they will have an unsecured glass window right next to that door. Perhaps you know that it is almost as easy to go through a wall as anything else. Nothing is safe from someone that knows how to use tools.
What I am saying is that unless you have the money to build a bunker, or someone capable that you trust to leave behind to protect what you have, you have no location suitable for hoarding.
There are several situations that I would prefer compared to others.
I like the idea of a hidden bunker. That means NO ONE knows you have it. They don’t know it is there. That’s difficult to do. Time and space being what they are in the pre-apocalypse world, something like a bunker usually takes a contractor to at least dig a hole. Materials are purchased locally, or a big truck arrives with a huge, odd looking tank in the middle of the day. You think the neighbors won’t take notice? Hell, even the truck driver knows, and do you think he isn’t interested in what you are doing? Gone are the days when you can kill all the witnesses like the ancient Egyptians did. But you can build or acquire a bunker. Lots of investment for a really small chance of keeping it secret, and keep in mind that anything can be broken into. Also keep in mind that no matter how well you plan, the spring can dry up or the batteries go bad, or whatever else can go wrong. Again, lots of investment for something that may only work for a short time or be known about by people with backhoes and lots of friends with guns. The one good thing is that you will probably be last on the list of people to be pillaged. Or first.
Hunkering down in place runs the gamut of possibility, as well as danger. At least you are familiar with your territory.
Living in the Projects? In an inner city neighborhood or high rise, or under a bridge? This may give you an advantage. As long as you can scavenge well or lead the mob, you could be the person to survive. If you aren’t a leader, then be the leader’s advisor. Just try to keep from being the guy on the front lines. Usually the people on the front line will have the poorest weapons and the poorest possibilities. Apocalyptic cannon fodder. If you are relegated to joining a roving band of mercenaries to get something to eat, be sure you have enough value to be at the rear of any conflict. If you are the leader, be sure you know what skills your followers have. You don’t want to waste the only person who can distill alcohol, do you? Or the one who knows how to plant a garden or fix the solar array. Pick people’s brains for information. They may have delivered a ready made survival bunker to some remote location. Information like that will be useful… for your own use or to trade.
Ahhhh… suburbia. You have a nice home, a roof to keep out the rain, and water from the faucet… maybe. With a little ingenuity you can hide a stash of goods in your house. The obvious places an intruder will look are in closets, attics, and basements, but the crawlspace will be inspected by anyone with a brain. A false wall hiding a storage space is a great idea, but something like that usually takes a larger house to pull off. A false ceiling in one of those high ceilinged rooms can hide a lot of merchandise without anyone knowing. Personally, I prefer smaller homes to shelter in, unless you have people you trust who can live on the premises with you to provide enough security.
The real advantage to sheltering in place is your neighbors if you have good relations with them. In any kind of drastic situation that grumpy old gun nut across the fence might turn out to be your best asset. Or the opposite. A gift of some small kindness might make all the difference in the world. My advice is to cultivate what you can and deal with the realities after the SHTF.
Are you rural? Have you got your own well? As long as you have a windmill or solar panels, enough power generating capacity to fill your needs, you could be in pretty good shape. The farther away from a city or major road, the better. Too close to the road? Make the place look abandoned or already scavenged. Burn an outbuilding or two and break all the windows on the side facing the road. Then close the windows from the inside with flat black painted plywood, leaving some drapes fluttering through them to make the house look forlorn. Be sure you have extra parts and the skills to maintain anything that breaks, or get to know your neighbors and find out what they can provide in the way of usefulness. Depending on how well any society is operating, veggies from a garden, eggs, or other trade goods a farm can produce could make you better off than most… or it could make you a target. Animals that you can barter, or train to pull a wagon, might be worth more than many things you valued pre-apocalypse. Those steers you were planning on fattening up for slaughter might be better used as draft animals to pull a plow or set up a freight service between towns. The down side of being out in the country is that you are isolated. I would be inclined to invite some competent friends or family from the city to join me. A crowded house is always preferred to a pillaged one. Besides that, there will be more use for labor without fuels to make machinery run.
Perhaps you know that you will be leaving your home already. You might have a designated bug out vehicle filled with a traveling stash and an extra fuel tank to take you where you want to go. Maybe pulling a mobile kitchen and sleeping arrangement. Depending on where you are, this can be a good idea. Even on the over crowded East Coast there are relatively remote places that can leave you isolated to some extent. If it gets to the point that there are mobs roaming around looking for whatever they can eat, they will probably keep to the cities until they get desperate. You can also head to friends or family that you think you might be able to trust. This assumes you will add to their survival prospects instead of adding to their burdens.
A good saddle horse and a pack animal is probably the best for getting away from other human beings. This can really get you into the remote places. There are trade offs, though. Any civilization has things you will need eventually. Becoming that romanticized mountain man is going to be nothing like you have imagined. Chewing on shoe leather when you are snowed in, shivering under every blanket you have because you didn’t stock up enough wood and the snow is now too deep to hunt or gather fuel, will be a reality check you may not survive.
There are no perfect solutions. Just like living in our present, with everyone complaining and expecting others to fix everything, those who get past all of the obstacles by their own efforts will be the ones to survive. The guy from the trusted community may find out that he is the bottom rung of the ladder and find he is donating everything to a cause he will not share in. The mountain man may find that a lot of people had the same idea, and that pristine valley with the big trout is suddenly stocked with hungry unwanted neighbors.
Have a contingency plan. Or two. And remember that the cell phones will die quickly if they are still operating at all.
Be flexible. Do what you can to make your home a place of security… but don’t forget to have options. Best to talk about it with friends and family beforehand, but most won’t take it seriously. You can bet that when the SHTF, they will be willing to talk. Still, you can evaluate those you care for in terms of what they bring to the table. In the end you may be the pack leader because you thought of something the others didn’t. Just don’t depend on luck or the generosity of others. Be proactive, because in an out of control society there will be plenty of times all you can do is be is reactive.