In a collapse, not all looters are created equally. There will be varying degrees of how far a person is willing to go to survive. But even the best, most honest of people will be desperate for food and water. It’s a good idea to consider who might be approaching your doorstep before trouble shows.
Stan, the Family Man: He has loved ones that he desperately wants to protect. He ignored the hassle of preparedness. He even ignored FEMA’s suggestion of storing three days worth of emergency food and water. Money has been tight once his hours were cut since the economic slow-down. He’d thought about selling the jet skis and investing in storage food, but it was just too depressing. Now a wide-spread emergency has decimated grocer’s shelves in a matter of hours. Water is scarce and there are rumours of many in the area getting sick after drinking non-purified water from a nearby lake. The toilet won’t flush, sewage has backed up in the tub and there is no electric. Communications are down and he and his family are without hope. The first two days, he’d held out hope that help would arrive. But it hasn’t and his family is hungry and thirsty and frightened. Stan has always paid his dues, and would normally never think about stealing from others. But, that was then. He must do whatever it takes to provide for his family. The cooking smells coming from across the hallway of his apartment building has set a plan in motion. Survival has come down to them or him…
Toni, the Prisoner: When the lights went out, security at the prison was compromised. Most of the jail guards left for home at first sign of trouble. Now, the tables are turned and Toni and several other inmates have escaped. Toni and his group are on foot, but that doesn’t present a problem because their rural location offers plenty of opportunities. The farmers in the area have fruits and vegetables ripe for the picking. Several in the vicinity raise horses. Now that he and the other inmates broke out of prison, Toni considers himself lucky; the problem of food and transportation is solved…once he and the five other inmates have overtaken the family they’ve targeted.
Scorpion, the Gang Member: Scorpion, a member of a major gang is, mad at life and knows he’s entitled to survive because he’s young and strong. He’s willing to do whatever it takes without remorse. He and his home-boys have plenty of fire-power and ammunition: the tools of their trade. They can’t wait to take what they need, just for the sheer sport of it. And it’s proven to be as easy as stealing candy from a baby. Several home invasions produced more than enough food, water and medical supplies. What didn’t interest them was grabbed and sold on the black market to desperate customers. The best part is they didn’t even have to leave the city. There’s more than enough to keep the gang well fed. Along the way, they’ve picked up an arsenal. Ammo is now so plentiful, it’s moved past need and has been sold for more than what gold and silver is fetching. The few police combating the looting and killing don’t have the manpower to take down his gang, and they’re on a rampage.
John, the Tactically Trained: For the past two days, John has had to watch his neighbors go into meltdown. They’re without food and water, as is John. One of his neighbours is a diabetic with no way to get insulin. They can’t call their doctor—cell and land line phones haven’t worked for days. Plus, the roads are in complete gridlock. The gas stations ran out of fuel within 24-hours of the crisis and many frantic motorists trying to flee ran out of gas, or experienced car problems, leaving their vehicles to clog the roadways.
John feels for his neighbour, but he has loved ones. They are his number one priority and he’s run out of time. John and several of his hunting buddies have decided it’s time to search for survival goods, taking their ATV’s. John’s military training now comes in handy. As leader of the group, he knows to head outside the suburb he lives for the boonies where it’s more likely there will be plentiful food and water and preparedness goods. They’ve agreed not to hurt anyone, so long as they’re allowed to take what they need. John knows what to look for: the sound of a generator or lights shining through windows. This is his signal a home-owner is prepared. During the day his group listens for the tell-tale sounds of a generator, a chainsaw, or a motorized vehicle, which isn’t hard to do now that the grid’s down. For days, things have been eerily silent. At night, John and his hunting buddies look for the tell-tale glow of lights reflecting from windows. In no time, they have what they need and will return to this rural goldmine on an as-need basis.
Brenda, the Naysayer: Brenda laughed when her co-worker, Sarah, shared her prepping plans. Now, the streets are over-run with desperate folks. The stores have been looted. Grocers, sporting good stores and gun shops were the first to get hit. But there have been plenty of TV’s, computers and high-ticket electronic items pilfered, even though they’re no good to anyone at present. The family car has an empty gas tank, but she’s in good health and so is the rest of her family. It’s just blind luck Brenda knows where Sarah lives, and the awesome part is she isn’t far—only a couple of miles away. Her family is into bicycling, so the problem of transportation is solved; They’ll just zip past the gridlock, baring looters, that is. The rest of Brenda’s plan lies with the knowledge that Sarah is kind-hearted.
She’ll put Brenda and her family up until order is restored, which from the looks of things could be a long time. Brenda and her husband throw what little they have in their pantry (what they can handle weight-wise, anyway) into backpacks and pillowcases. Next, they clear out the medicine cabinet. They tried to use their ATM card for cash just yesterday, so they wouldn’t show up empty-handed—they’d never want to be seen as free-loaders—but the grid is hopelessly crashed, so no luck there, and all businesses are closed, including the banks. But Brenda doesn’t necessarily see that as a deal-breaker. She did everything she could, other than fill her pantry and get preparedness goods. And besides, Brenda has two adorable kids…how can Sarah say no?
Will You Be A Victim?
Desperate families, prison inmates, gang-bangers and free-loaders will be out there during a full-on collapse. The first thing you want to do is to get prepared so that you aren’t one of them. Next, how you handle desperate people and whether you come out on the other side alive has a lot to do with planning beforehand. Here are some pointers. Hopefully, you have some of your own to share by commenting below:
- The “Vacant Home” strategy: Many people plan on making their home look unoccupied in an attempt to protect themselves from looters. In grid down, you don’t necessarily want to have your home appear vacant. The average person won’t risk getting shot when they believe a home is occupied. It’s better to keep them guessing, and that also includes NOT telegraphing your preparedness.
- You will be an instant target if you’re running a noisy a generator, or driving a vehicle, or using a chain saw when your area has drawn looters or worse. It sends a message: You’re prepared and you have goods they need! It’s best to forgo the obvious. Some generators are built to run quietly. Is yours? If not, when looters are in your area, use only tools that won’t draw as much attention like a tree-felling ax, and cease running a noisy generator until it’s safer to do so. Keep vehicles parked, and gas storage out of site. Some things that you can do are to add supplementary mufflers to your generator, build a sound dampening enclosure, build an underground sound dampening enclosure, and only run your generator during the noisiest parts of the day, if possible.
- Don’t light up your home in grid-down! Now is a good time to fit your windows with black-out curtains. Even using a piece of material that’s secured—possibly with duct tape, so light doesn’t escape and alert people outside, will do. Whatever you do, test, test, and test again. Test your black-out provisions now when there is plenty of ambient light and test them again if the grid goes down on moonless nights.
- Cooking odors will attract anyone with a growling stomach, including neighbours, looters and worse. Keep canned goods and MRE’s on hand for times when looting is rampant.
- You must have the means to defend yourself. Guns and ammo may be the pivotal deciding factor between who comes out ahead: Toni the prisoner or Scorpion the gang banger, or you and your loved ones. It will be necessary in times of unruliness, when people are frantic to survive, to patrol your home, whether it happens to be in the boonies or in the city. This, often times, requires a trusted group. It may become impossible to protect a location with just a husband and wife due to the heightened demands on your time that during normal times is not an issue. This is a separate post, however, because of all it entails. Look for the post soon!
- Either have stored water or a safe route to get it and keep a high-quality water purifier on hand. During a collapse, sanitation will go south. Never risk drinking non-purified water. (David’s Note: I plan on purifying any water that I have stored rather than relying on my container cleaning and water preserving skills to keep us safe.)
- Have a backup plan for toilet use and basic hygiene, as we talked about in this article: http://www.secretsofurbansurvival.com/1470/grid-down-water-and-sewer/
- Put aside medical supplies. Should anyone in your family or group be inured, medical aid is unlikely to show during a crisis. We’ll talk about what you’ll need specifically in an upcoming post.
- Keep several ABC fire extinguishers that will handle all types of fires. Do not expect to be able to contact the fire department for help. (David’s note: We also keep a LARGE supply of baking soda, aloe, and other first aid items for burns. One of these items is anbesol…which is for teeth, but contains .9% lidocaine. Solarcaine is aloe and .5% lidocaine and it works well also. You can buy lidocaine cream without a prescription at a 5% concentration >HERE<http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001F8HY0U/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=surviveinplac-20)
- NEVER depend upon land line and cell phones to work when a crisis strikes. If you doubt this, you only have to look at the Japan tsunami, or Haiti, or Katrina. Have a back-up plan, always—which we’ll be covering here in an upcoming post. (David’s note: Never underestimate the power of randomness in a large scale disaster. On 9/11 in NYC, the network that Blackberries operated on was the only one that was reliable. After Katrina, friends doing security contracting weren’t able to use cell phones, but were able to use land-line phones even though the water was 6 feet deep on the ground floor and the cables were under water. In Hawaii, the night that the earthquake hit Japan and a tsunami was expected to hit Hawaii, cell phone circuits were busy, but I was still able to email, tweet, post updates, and surf the web over my data connection on the same phone that couldn’t make a call.)
- When possible, a large dog is worth considering. It’s long been known by police that a large, serious-sounding dog will stop the bad guy. Problem is, he’ll just look for easier targets. You must provide for their survival, just as you have your loved ones, which will mean plenty of dog food. In my book, Survival: Prepare Before Disaster Strikes, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1927360099/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=surviveinplac-20 I shared a work-around for those who can’t keep a dog. Just having a beat-up, large dog collar, worn water and food bowls, and a heavy duty chain trailing on the ground WILL have the bad guy thinking twice about attacking your home. After reading this section, a wise-cracking Alaskan friend suggested a chewed up moose leg.
- Divide and avoid being conquered. Split up your survival goods in as many ways as are practical for you. Some people will have more options than others, depending on their living situation and how willing they are to hide things in places that many would consider to be completely crazy. Splitting up and hiding your survival goods will allow you to sacrifice stashes if necessary without giving up everything.