Post Collapse Survival
Survival following a major SHTF collapse is nearly impossible to fully prepare for – being impossible to ‘know’ ahead of time what exactly might happen and to accurately quantify it. Due to the many variables involved, there is no single formula that will fit while designing a fully functional preparedness plan.
Having said that, so long as we have done ‘enough’ preparation, and know and understand ‘enough’ about the skills and requirements of self sustained (or semi-self-sustained) living, so long as we live in a relatively low risk region (e.g. low population density), and are healthy and of able body, and most importantly… know how to adapt to changing conditions — we stand a chance…
The following is a list in no particular order of subject areas to consider while living and surviving post collapse.
Add your own additional comment regarding further categories to adopt:
Housing / Shelter
Depending on the type of disaster or extent of collapse, people may or may not be living in their original homes. Some (or many) may have left the area either because they were forced to, or conditions became dangerous or very difficult to survive there. Temporary shelter or housing may be prominent in areas. Having the ability, know-how, and materials to make (adapt) shelter may be life saving – even if only temporary between point-A and point-B. Most of those who become displaced will have an extremely difficult time on the road until they find some means of semi-permanent shelter.
Those who have prepared with an adequate food storage will have an inventory to draw upon. The food will last as long as you’ve prepared for – so consider more than just a few weeks in your pantry. Ultimately, a one-year supply is a modest goal. Diversify. Canned food, dehydrated food, freeze-dried, some processed foods, bulk legumes and grains, salt, sugar, etc. The thing to remember (and to know ahead of time) is that your food storage will run out eventually (presuming an ongoing collapse). You will either need a plan to sustain yourselves beyond your storage food supply, or you better hope the collapse resolves itself back to the good times before.
Without water, you will not survive for long. Beyond 3 days to a week and you will surely be gone… Be aware of where the sources of water are around your home (other than your tap water faucet). Have a plan to obtain water and get it to your home or shelter. You will need to purify it, so have the means to do so. A drinking water filter. A method to boil water. Also, your garden will not grow without water, so if you live in a region that does not get adequate natural rainfall to sustain crops, you better think seriously about how to overcome that issue. Obtain the materials to install rainwater capture from your roof or other. Keep adequate containers to store and transport water. Water is heavy.
I will be critical that rules and procedures be established to safe guard proper health during a time of collapse, when normal sanitation (and disposal) methods relating to food, water, garbage, trash, and sewage may be disrupted. Proper management of toilet facilities during times of emergency may have a greater affect on your health than any other single element of sanitation. Bacterial infections such as typhoid and dysentery can be just as devastating as the original disaster. Keep bleach for disinfectant (or a means to make your own bleach). Know the ratio of bleach and water for disinfecting surfaces. We take sanitation for granted today. Got toilet paper? What would you do without it? Get the idea?
A collapse/ breakdown that changes life as we know it (and our distribution of all sorts of foods) will eventually result in poor nutrition for many people who are consuming ‘whatever’ foods they have available to them. Multivitamins and Vitamin C will ward off deficiencies and things like scurvy, for example.
When the grocery stores are not accessible (or are minimally stocked), sources of food might (mostly) only be available from small scale (as opposed to big agriculture) gardening and farming (just like the ‘old days’). Storage and possession of non-hybrid seeds will be essential for production of sustainable crops (non-hybrid seeds produce plants during subsequent years the same as the original). Hybrid seeds will not produce quality fruit after its first generation – while their saved seeds will not produce well the following year(s). Experienced gardeners and farmers will be worth their weight in gold. Learning this valuable skill is one of the first practical skills that any prepper should accomplish. It is not as easy as you migh think. If you try and start your first garden after the collapse, you will most likely fail. It takes a few (and more) seasons to figure things out. Knowing someone who knows how to garden will be a good thing…
Hunting, Foraging, Livestock
Not everyone is skilled at hunting and the subsequent process of properly and safely preparing the animal as food to be eaten, or to be preserved. Wild animals suitable for meat will likely deplete quickly, depending on the extent of disaster. Those who raise farm animals will have a valuable commodity. Chickens and their eggs will be a source of food. Foraging for edible wild plants could produce surprising results if one knows what to look for and knowing what is safe to eat. Fishing in lakes and streams will produce food. Most people however will probably be forced to become mostly vegetarians.
Disposal of Garbage and Rubbish
Garbage will decompose and breed bacteria, attract insects and animals. Compost for your garden. Be aware that bacteria can kill you, especially without antibiotics.
Without today’s modern medical methods, systems and hospitals, a simple cut could kill you. It’s wise to learn the basics of First Aid. Perhaps take a First Aid course. Get a book on the subject. It will be of great benefit to have someone in your group who is adept in this field. Keep a well stocked quality First Aid Kit and supplies. Understand that in a post collapse world, avoiding injury is a very big deal. Be careful in what you do. Understand risks and avoid them.
The key to understanding the extent and potential duration of a disaster is getting the right information. Depending on the disaster, TV and Radio stations may be off the air in your region. Other locales may be different. If power is out, you can count on most major media outlets and transmitting stations to only last as long as their generators. If you are out of power, then only battery operated radios will work. Consider solar chargers for your batteries. Have a portable AM/FM/Shortwave radio. Consider 2-way communication radios. Amateur (Ham) Radio is another method of communication or listening to reports.
Without power, other methods of heating your home will become necessary. Alternative energy sources may keep your furnace running (until you run out of fuel), while wood burning stoves will last forever (so long as you have wood). Consider how you will overcome this problem (worse the further north you live).
Light and Power
Generators will be useful until the fuel runs out. Solar photovoltaic panels will provide power from the sun and will power devices and battery banks up to the capacity of the panel systems and battery banks themselves. If you live on property with running water, a hydro generator system may be an alternative. Wind power, although better in certain parts of the country, may be yet another source of power. Understanding electricity and implementing alternative energy systems is a very specialized skill. If you are already skilled in this field, consider establishing an alternative energy system for your home now. If this is beyond your skill set, consider paying to have this done if its within your means.
Cars will become useless once their gas tanks are empty. Most disaster scenarios involve a loss of electrical power, which means gas pumps won’t work. If there is electrical power, gasoline may be in short supply due to demand. Consider keeping a bicycle and plenty of spare parts. Keep carts and wagons for pulling materials around. Remember that water is very heavy for transporting. Keep your vehicle’s fuel tanks on the full side all of the time. Keep some extra fuel stored safely at your home location. Use fuel additives like STA-BIL or PRI-G (PRI-D for diesel) to extend the life of your stored fuel to one year (generally).
Most people in today’s modern society have little or no real practical survival skills. Those who do, will be of great value to those who do not. This will help with bartering (assuming they have something to trade). Learn practical skills. Get hard copy books on the vast variety of subjects surrounding self sustained living. Learn about the skills that you think you’ll enjoy. No one person can know it all, so just learn ‘something’.
Health and Strength
It is very important to be in good health and strength going into a disaster/ collapse situation. Life will likely become physically strenuous and those who do not have the strength and stamina will have a very difficult time without lots of assistance. If you’re not in the best of shape right now, do yourself a favor and do what you need to do.
One of the most important subjects of surviving a long-term collapse will be that of security. Especially important in the beginning while the desperate and dangerous are still among the crowd, and particularly critical within densely populated regions. The issue will generally become less as the crowd ‘thins out’ over a longer period of time.
These are just a few subject areas – a starting point – to get you thinking about it while imagining, planning and preparing for life after collapse. There are many additional related subject areas, and I’m curious to hear all your opinions of those with regards to a long-term societal collapse…
Excellent article Ken,
You have covered most of my thoughts for post event. Only one thing I could add is , in the food storage. Is being able to store , those success of a surplus garden. And being able to do that without today’s modern conveniences.
I’m inline with your thoughts of knowledge and skills, I think these will be true wealth in a post event.
I grew up on a farm in the Midwest. Our family was very self reliant, gardening, livestock, and food storage and processing meat was part of our “normal” way of life. I still use many of these skills and am expanding on them for a post event. By collecting the necessary tools and equipment to perform food storage and meat processing without power. Just in case!
After that major SHTF event, survival will completely depend on gardening skills as everyone points out. Until gardening skills are acquired, one item I seldom see as an item to store up before hand is fertilizer, such as 13-13-3. Fertilizer will be needed until the gardener learns how to make and use compost. Nitrogen production by gardening is hard to do.
The other part of that equasiin is that the manure from the animals is indespensible as fertilizer, the nitrogen content in manure is much higher than most compost, something else to remember is that adding manure to compost can be hazardous if you make compost tea, there is a lot to all of that and post collapse isnt the time to get food poisoning from using improperly processed compost to make a tea for foliar application, not with all veggies but with regards to greens that may be eaten raw its worth being cautious,
I have enjoyed and learned from your posts on this site. Maybe we will meet someday, have a handshake and remember each others names. Hopefully in Reno over a Crown on the rocks.
We use a Kawsaki Mule around the farm , it is better on fuel economy than a lot of 4 wheelers , also have fuel stored with Sta-Bil included , I rotate this fuel every 4 months , also it is the non-ethonal fuel , as consensus is that ethanol fuel is rougher on smaller engines . The Mule has a 401 cc engine , it is select four wheel drive , two wheel drive or semi -posi drive , it can haul approximately 500 lbs of anything you can put on it , we network with our neighbors so we pretty much only have to go short distances off property , this is a good transportation system , because if it gets as bad as I think it will probably get none of us will go too close to local towns , just close enough for long range recon . As for food we are good , seeds in preps , as for being able to obtain fuel , I bought a military surplus fuel hand pump that has a 30 foot plastic hose attached to the feed that drops down the fill tubes at gas stations , it is durable , it is the type the military , and some government agencies still use . We have a pond , as do a number of our neighbors , the ponds are stocked with mature fish , and quite a few turtles , we are over run with jack rabbits , white tail deer are very common here , we raise chickens and goats , so eggs and goats milk are not a problem , we not only have preps for ourselves but we our cats , dogs and yard critters . Security is , like you stated paramount , we have common caliber designation , but if you have a odd ball caliber you have to stock that for yourself , even at this time we have a neighborhood watch , even though we are rural . We have a lot of medical trained folks , ex military , ex law enforcement , we even have a blacksmith in our area , so we are good there . The rest goes pretty much with your list . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .
Next to water, I would have to say that security is the second most important concern. Without it, your home, food stores, livestock and all your other preps can be taken away from you. Your preps are totally useless to you if you can’t keep them from being taken from you. Maybe you can’t guard them 24/7. There are other options like caches stashed in various locations, or booby traps to protect certain areas. I even have booby traps ready to deploy in our home should it be apparent that we are outnumbered and may have to run.
One aspect of sanitation that few stories spend much time on is the number of dead bodies (including animals) which will have to be addressed. In most other forums where this is discussed, burning seems to be the preferred method (as was used after the 1900 Galveston hurricane and of course during The Holocaust).
Bodies do not burn well at all. As accelerants may become scarce, one might have to rely on their own fire-building expertise (pyre).
It is also recommended to have a quantity of lime on hand for those times where building a fire would compromise your OpSec.
Handling bodies should not be taken lightly. Masks, shields, gloves and other HazMat protection should also be prepped.
get your self right with God..so If you don’t make it till the end…You will make it in the end.
Amen. This is the most important prep of all:
Where will YOU spend eternity?
The only name under Heaven, given to man, by which he can be saved:
I live in a subdivision with a central sewage system. Our system is not gravity fed. It must rely on electrically powered lift stations. When these stations cease to function you will have an unmanageable backup which will inevitably overflow back into homes. I have considered digging down to my sewer line and installing some type of gate valve to prevent this. Any other ideas?
Although I don’t have one (no need in my situation) there is such a thing as an inflatable sewer-line ‘plug’. They make them for various size pipes. Apparently you would open up a ‘clean out’ closest to where your sewer line exits the home, and insert this plug into the main pipe and inflate it – which seals the pipe…
I found this on Amazon:
“We used three of these in our garage drains in between two sewer floods from city lines that caused backup in our house lines. Our drain openings are 3″ and these worked perfectly. Easy to install/remove and can take a lot of pressure.”
‘Cherne’ Test-Ball 3-Inch Plug
What you are looking for is called a check valve. Only flows one direction.
I think a check valve is for water supply, not sewer lines.
Actually they can be used for both. They *do* require pressure. Won’t work on a gravity based system. The last time I used one was on a sump pump. Didn’t want the ‘stuff’ using gravity to come back.
It is actually called a backwater valve and if you wish to install one, a code official must approve in a lot of localities. Hope that cleared up the differences.
Great article and comments. I commute 40 miles to work so we can live in a secluded little valley and raise chickens and horses. Consider a dualsport motorcycle for another transportation option. A good second hand one can be had for around $2000. They are pretty fuel efficient, and when the roads are blocked by traffic or trees, you can go around most obstacles. Many also can be fitted with hard saddle bags to carry quite a load.
Put a folding bicycle in your trunk, along with your 72 hour pack and a stainless .380 auto. Make sure you include map and whatever seasonal equipment/clothes/shelter you may need. A small two-way, protected from emp, would be handy, too. Your wife and you may be at work when it happens, both of you may be 20, or more, miles from home…and in opposite directions. Hopefully, any kids are not bussed to school!
Another thing that I do is I have a binder that I call my “how to” guide. I practice the skills in it till I am good enough to use the skills in there. It is handy to have another in case you forget something in a skill you are trying to use.
You know an old non working microwave is a great place to store your Ham gear or 2 way walkies to protect from an EMP event. Don’t forget the power supply.