If all the stores were closed

Would You Die If Store Shelves Never Restocked?

I read the following question the other day from Steve Quayle. “Would you die if store shelves never restocked?” I thought, wow, that’s getting right down to it… Maybe the ultimate modern-day survival question.

Every single person who has entered a grocery store at some time during the past two years, has witnessed it. Shortages. Supply chain strains. As a result, Prepping and Preparedness is no longer fringe. No sir. Rather, it’s common sense!

Oh my goodness. Remember the great toilet paper shortage of 2020? Talk about panic… And the horror of the possibility not being able to wipe one’s ass with soft Charmin TP?!

Consequently for many, that was the great awakening. The realization that we do depend on “the store”. And the realization that there are complicated supply and distribution chains that bring inventory to those shelves.

What If Store Shelves Never Restocked? How Long Would You Survive?

I’m not talking about ‘just’ grocery stores. Instead, ALL stores. The nightmare scenario. The question is presented solely to get you thinking. To imagine how long you would, or might, make it.

The question was inspired by current events of this time. Energy shortages. A dollar collapse. Runaway inflation. Ukraine-Russia-NATO conflict. The notion of WWIII. The threat of nuclear Armageddon. Major cyber attacks against infrastructure including the electric power grid.

Would you die if store shelves never restocked? The question was meant as a kick in the ass to those who may be needing one – for preparedness sake.

Think It Through

Think it through. It will most definitely identify holes in your own survival preparedness. At the very least, it will reveal a number. How long… A month? Two? Six? A year? What about after your own inventories run out?

How long can you sustain your household without ‘stores’ being open? What if something that’s integral to your self-sufficiency plan breaks, and you need a replacement part or repair? No Tractor Supply Store to run to. No Home Depot or Lowes to get what you need. Say it ain’t so!!

Scary thoughts huh?

Do I think something like this is going to happen, where all stores will be empty? In other words, a sort of Mad Max scenario? No. I hope not!! However, I do believe that prices will continue to rise sharply. And I do believe that shortages and scarcity will generally be our future ‘normal’. To what extent? I don’t know. But, we sure are living in uncertain times! So, it might be a good exercise to think about.

As always, consider your water supply. Think about how many calories worth of food that you actually have in storage. Then, seriously look at what you may be able to do to replenish, or be more self-sustaining.

For example, I am expanding my garden production this Spring. I will preserve the extra, which will be most of it. I will be considering the calories output from my gardens, and doing the math to see what that really means (compared with a 2,000 calorie per day consumption).

Re-examine my spares. I will first look at critical systems around the homestead. What if ‘this’ or ‘that’ should break? Can I get it going again? Time to go through the shop to see what I got…

Anyway, food for thought.

[ Read: Food Storage List For 1 Year ]

[ Read: DIY Long Term Food Storage ]


  1. Wont die because the shelves dont get re stocked, but we are dependent on water from the county, the climate here swings wildly and at the moment we are in drout, so without water we are screwed, i have an un potable source but it is finite if there is no rain, it can be filtered and boiled or chlorinated to drink etc, we will not be as bad off as most but who knows, if its just store shelves we will be ok, if its bedlam I have my doubts.

  2. SHTF Checklist
    Food Yes
    Water Yes
    Shelter. Yes
    Firearms Yes
    Ammo. Yes
    Medical. Yes
    TP. Yes
    Murphy’s Law. DAMN!
    I think we would survive for a while until Murphy showed up and then it would be down to pure luck. Nobody can plan for Mr. Murphy.

    1. Romeo Charlie:
      “Murphy” ahhhh yes, good ole Murphy.
      Something to think on….. Invite Murphy to your Homestead for a few weeks, or even a few days.
      Take time to look around and really think about Could’a/Should’a/Would’a happening to make things blow up.
      Go over each of your items in your “Check List” and totally take those items out of existence, much as Murphy could.
      I know people get tired of me saying it, but do a few days or a few weeks doing a “Lights Out”.
      Completely disconnect from EVERYTHING besides what you have.
      Most find it a real eye-opener.
      Also, go over the things you have not thought of….. I don’t know, how about Roof Patch or maybe Feminine Hygiene (Got a Wife of Daughters?). Or how about how you going to feed the Chickens and Rabbits that are going to feed you?

      Just saying, maybe this CRAP going on right now should be a wake-up call to really REALLY review what/where/when/So-On we all are in the Preparedness arena

      Murphy is not really all that bad of dude, as long as you know how to handle him

      1. NRP & Blue,
        our lights out weekends consist of going down to the river and camping. not only is it lights out but it clears the mind and soul of the outside BS. we’re going soon.

      2. – NRP & Blue,
        Thank you, but we did our “Lights Out” week or ten days last Valentine’s Day around these parts. Did just fine, if a little bit annoyed doesn’t count. LOLOL
        – Papa

        1. Papa Smurf:
          Good deal.
          I would bet most “without” power for 7-10 days would be in a world of hurt.
          Imagine LA or ant major city with Zero Power and nobody coming to help for even a week, all alone for months.
          Sure hope it don’t happen but again History has a way of telling us a story.

      3. Just did 14 days of lights out. 4 ft of snow on top of it. We had no problem at all. Of course I had gas for the Genny so that helped. Water would be the problem. I can get it but it would be a lot of work without a vehicle to haul it in. Couple of miles away

        1. Poorman,
          you can melt snow. just say’in.
          deep wells are not cheap. it cost us about 4k to have a 100ft well put down with no pump, just a cased in and capped curb well. i have two good pvc well buckets a pulley and a LOT of rope. i can pull 2 gallons out at a time. and its good water.
          it’s good insurance. money well spent, and i sleep better at night knowing that it’s there.
          does anyone here know how to spell barter. water could become a precious commodity.
          i sometimes wonder if it will become something i will have to constantly defend. i wish i had the money to put one down about a mile from my house and let everyone fight over it.
          if things truly go south there will be nobody in or out of here for a month.
          plan for the worse and hope for the best. i think thing’s are going to work out. the wild card is the leaders mental states, but i believe others will intervene before things go to far. they have families to. we went through the same things in the late 70’s . cold war, inflation, people could not even buy gas, the pumps were empty, cars lined up for miles, and we got through it. the Jimmy Carter years.
          we elected Ronald Reagan and within a year everything was back to normal. ya’ll remember. i do.

        2. Scout
          I store about 600 gallons of water in 55 gallon barrel plus about 50 gallons in the house. It’s long term I worry about. I have a river pond and a lake all within a couple of miles but would still need to haul it home

  3. This makes me think of Cuba, Castro took control, the US blocked all imports leaving the Cuban people to fend for themselves. The Cuban people (NOT THE GOVERMENT) were very resourceful keeping their vehicles and appliances working. I don’t know if we can do the same with most things being computerized but I’ll bet we’ll come up with something!

    1. In today’s world, shopping carts have become to most important mode of transporting your goods. Innovation at it’s worst especially when the wheels come off.

  4. What is worse – if the shelves are empty or they are full but inflation has made it too expensive for you to buy. Window shopping when hungry can be torture.

    1. I was thinking the same thing Hermit,,,

      When it gets to the point that all yhe paycheck is taken up by fuel to get to work and power and water with little left over at the end,,, thank the Lord it would take a bit for us to get there but i know families that is the reality, sad

    2. Think we all understand that a large percentage of todays woke generation….will not do without, so taking something is just Black Friday specials 24/7

  5. Basic necessities like medical services will be hard to find. Medicine and first aid supplies if not stocked will be in the utmost importance and even a well stocked supply will not last.
    Like all food currently stocked, it will not last. I believe the farmer who has land stocked with meat and poultry, maybe a small pond for fish and a garden would last a lot longer than me. Once food has ran out there will be trouble. Desperate people do desperate things.
    Anarchy will be visible, be prepared to defend your life and you’re loved ones.
    Will it be like in the movies? I’m sorry to say that it will be much worse. Once basic necessary supplies are gone the looting, rise in assault, robbery and all around chaos will begin. People will not want to leave their homes in fear of becoming a victim but if they stay they know they will die. Choices made during critical times will be life or death. Millions of people will flee the city in search of food and water. Once the electric power stops so does water.
    People think ” well I will just get my rifle and go get a deer”. I’m sorry to say that will not work. Why? Because EVERYONE is thinking the same thing. Can you imagine thousands of people swarm to the woods looking for meat at the same time? No, trying to hunt food will not last either.
    The only way to survive long periods of time is to have land, like I said above.

    1. WildBill 1889, “Can you imagine thousands of people swarm to the woods looking for meat at the same time?” and when they can’t get any they will turn on each other. A “war” will break out in the woods in the blink of an eye.

    2. Going to the woods and get a deer would only help for a bit. Do ya know how to skin it. Butcher it preserve it. Even if you do you have at best a couple of weeks to a month of meat

      1. Poorman,
        ah yea, most here do. some here may not have ever done it and that’s OK, none of us were born with the knowledge. it’s just one of those things that you just can’t learn without hands on experience.
        you can, can the meat in jars and it will last for a few years.
        if you haven’t tried canning foods yet you need to check into it. it’s the best way to preserve meat for long term, IMO.

        1. Scout. I wasn’t directing my comment at anyone here it was staged as a question.
          I can do all of those things as well as can the meat or salt it down. I just laughed at the comment on how people think hunting is just that easy

        2. Poorman,
          yea, hunting or farming can be hit or miss at best, i love those idyllic paintings of the cabin by the lake with the deer standing out in front. it ain’t gonna happen in real life, sorry. people need to plan ahead for the lean times. it’s going to be root hog or die for most.
          when times are good put back some for the lean times, they come and go.
          i have planted a large garden for years, most years it does well, we have had had some bad ones also. you can have the nicest garden and then a hail storm comes through and beats it into the ground. that has happened to me. put what you can back for tomorrow because we don’t know what will happen next week.
          good luck!

  6. Live in Florida and live like a Seminole…or Amerind…on a beach…which is walking distance to one of our massive game preserves, lakes and many rivers and fresh water springs, where more edible wild plants grow than in any other state…where it does not snow and you can eat the alligators, which you attract by using slow Democrats as bait.

    1. That all sounds good. However, I’m curious how the efforts towards survival would be hindered or endured during the long months of high dew-point temperatures with no AC (assuming a grid-down in this particular hypothesis). I suppose humans have done it all along, prior to the days of AC, so, a matter of adjusting to it? Sweat. Lots of it…

      1. – Temperatures in the big sandbox sometimes in the 120-130 degree range. American GI’s tolerated that and even temps that were 10 – 20 degrees more inside armor vehicles. You might not like it, but especially if you are young and healthy, you can deal with it. Us older folks can learn to deal with it if need be. Just go slow, stay hydrated, and spend as much time as you can in the shade.

        I have dealt with a lot of heat injuries. Be sure to check urine every time. It should be roughly the same color as apple juice, not too light and not too yellow or dark. Keep your shirt and a broad-brimmed hat on.

        – Papa S.

        1. Papa Smurf

          Do you live in AZ? My husband built houses there in the 80’s. It was extra hot on that concrete slab. I walked barefoot, once. More like hopped. lol

        2. – Nope, west Texas. DW tried walking on AZ blacktop once, at midnight, barefoot, when she was about 16. I am told she had blisters on the bottoms of her feet.
          – Papa

      2. Survived 22 months of that kind of weather in SE Asia from 1966-68 so as long as there aren’t a ton of mosquitos, leeches, snakes and other crawlers to deal with, it’s manageable!

      3. Ken J.,
        it’s all about how a house is built. i live in the deep south, have a small 1600 sqr ft house that is built L shaped with front and back porches, 12 windows and 3 doors and 12 ft ceilings.
        we can open all of the doors and windows in the middle of summer and stay comfortable, not cold but cool. it only takes a breeze and we have a good wind that blows through. people in the south call them dog run houses and they are built that way for a reason. it works
        it’s a bugger to heat in the winter. thankfully we only have about 2 months of winter and 10 months of summer.
        it’s also what you get use to.
        i could never live where snow stays on the ground for months.

      4. Fishing in the glades years back you could catch a small gator with a bobber. For some reason they were attracted to the red and white bobber. Looking like a log they slowly would creep up and Bam crunch there went the float. Was looking for bass though and not pulling in a gator or a water moccasin. Bad dudes those snakes are! Edible though.

      5. Hey Ken been down here working landscape Install for years in South FL… I am 40+ yo now.
        You get use to the heat. Best recommendation for everyone even up in the Great White North…
        During periods of High Heat and Humidity get all your labor work done in the morning cut off by 1030-11am.
        From there rest in the shade rehydrate sip on some warm bourbon. Remember you will not have AC to cool your internal core down so you need to watch your heart rate. As soon as you feel it elevate while working in high heat and humidity stop for the day and rest. Listen to your body.
        Didn’t you know that water comes from bottle purchased at Wally world?
        Most people will drop dead down here in FL when the Bottles of water run out. They will drink from a ditch get sick with Diarrhea, dehydrate and die within a few short weeks. Natures cure for the ignorant masses. That is the positive outlook when the shelves run empty for me.

      6. Ken, You are correct…July, August and September…the heat and humidity suck. But looking back in Florida history, you work early in morning, then take a siesta( Spanish for NAP ) or under roof cover work. Then go back to work as evening cools. There are plus and minus to all locations. Hurricanes and no advanced warning except for barometers, negative. Lots of water, long growing season and fish will make Florida very livable. Plus we have a great Governor and now considered the freest state in the union. IMHO

      7. Ken I grew up in central Illinois and the summers were brutal heat with 90% plus humidity and we did not have air conditioning. If we had a electrical fan we were happy as the peas in a pod. Heat and cold ranges may be damm uncomfortable but there are always ways to seek relief.

    2. Would you really want to eat something that’s chomped into one of those?

  7. i wonder what would happen at the large stores if the grid were to go down. plenty of product but no way to purchase the items through the systems. they have plenty of items but no way to run the registers. food riots ?
    that could get real ugly real fast.
    people can live off of a lot less than what they think they can. been there, done that. it was hard but it’s doable. throwing out leftovers will be a thing of the past for most.
    it’s spring time, time to get those gardens planted!
    ya’ll be careful and stay away from crowds.

    1. scout…

      With the grid down, and no electricity, the stores will all be closed. But they will then be quickly looted, probably first by their own employees.

      Then the food distribution warehouses will be hit…and I imagine there will be a few fire-fights around some of them, as some tribes have already planned to capture them.

      It will be pretty exciting….until enough people die off.

      1. Been working on being this self sufficient for the last5 years. Having a trusted group is a huge plus. Everyone is responsible for a seperate task or have a particular needed skill. Going to the store is a huge convenience and really a time saver. If you ever watched that program “naked and afraid” they spend most of their day looking for food and drinking water. That’s a good indication of what’s in store for most people. The loss of convenience is what I would miss most. Certain foods and fruits as well. There should be enough spare parts around to fix equipment. Junk dealers will rise up again. A barter system and information networks will pop up in your area. OH was right about being involved in your local community. I have invested alot of time and effort locally the last 5 years. It was never about making money. It’s about the relationships I made. We are the first people that get called when someone needs help. First one they call when they get rid of equipment or are selling land or supplies. That’s how we got our big greenhouses. A neighbor heard about them being sold. One needed to be taken down. The other was in a building on pallets. I knew about it before it was even advertised. Folks were a casualty of covid lockdown. Didn’t try to take advantage. Paid fair market value for them. Bought my neighbor a big bottle of his favorite whiskey as a thankyou. Like I have said for a long time. Build relationships locally. Now is a good time. People are more apt to being open to networking with you now because of current events. Be the go to person in your AO. Let folks know what you can do. Let them know what you might need. You will be amazed what folks will help you with. I’m constantly amazed by the opportunities that I am offered. My advice is be willing to be the extra hands that a neighbor needs. It gives you an opportunity to ask them about stuff you might need . Could be anything. Just make sure it’s a win/win for all involved…

    2. Actual events, when cash registers couldn’t be used the idiots called all their friends and it turned into a free-for-all. The one I heard about was maybe three or four years ago? Pre COV, anyway. Another, the EBT system went down, same result.

      1. Yes I remember that because my POS SIL called me crying that registers wouldn’t accept her EBT and her children were going to go hungry and I needed give her cash noooowwwww boo hoo hoo hoo.

        So I packed up a weeks worth of food preps, complete with recipe cards, and dropped them off to her. But she didn’t want the food because she preferred this other brand of pasta sauce, and this other type of cereal, etc. so I shrugged, and said “enjoy being hungry.” And I left.

        She didn’t really need the food (especially since I knew her EBT was refilled on the 15th of the month). She was just trying to scam me out of cash.

  8. everyone calm down, we all know that walmart will come to the rescue, they always stock their shelves fully, no one makes a run on food items at walmart, everyone is cordial and nice and everyone just buys what they need…….hhahhahahhah

  9. I’m cracking up here IMAGINING what “DW” might stand for!!!….using “the” before DW is a clue!!! Thanks for the humor.

    1. Ya, got to be careful with some abbrevs,,,
      JC says FWTB,, i thought it meant something ENTIRELY different than id did

  10. A good article for outside the box thinking.

    Seems as if right now, the pain is setting in on being able to afford what is available, along with the scarcity.
    Then, the closures will come.

    Overheard a co-worker say, her mom when to the store, over the weekend
    (didn’t hear what one)
    Took in $7 worth of returnable cans,
    and didn’t have enough for a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. Both items were over $4.

  11. Calories for sure. Mr. and I would be ok for a year anyway maybe longer. With others in the mix who knows.

  12. – One of the heat injury incidents I dealt with years back was my (female) Colonel suffering a heat stroke. Yeah, it can happen to anybody if you don’t pay attention.

    This was during the largest peacetime Mass Casualty Exercise ever run, happened at Fort Hood. Four of us, all male, loaded her onto one of those green canvas Army litters and headed for the shower point at a run. Loosened or removed her clothes, were getting soaked, then looked around and realized that we were the only males in the showers. We did have a couple of the twenty or thirty young women in the showers assisting us in taking care of her.

    I have the utmost respect for those nurses who put their personal embarrassment aside to assist in a medical emergency.

    There are still a couple of hospitals in west Texas that if I walk in, I will get a shy little wave or a wink from a nurse. Maybe one of these days I will tell DW why.

  13. SoulSurvival,
    -Proverbs 19:15 Laziness brings on deep sleep
    an idle person will suffer hunger.
    God feeds the birds but He does not drop the worm in it’s mouth. they have to go get it.
    our politicians–For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it. Hosea 8:7

  14. My family would probably survive at least a year. But it wouldn’t be fun. DH and I would probably involuntary do the intermittent fasting thing and lose weight. The kids would not be happy because they only want to eat snacks.

    But we’d survive.

    1. I didn’t think that I was a picky eater until I spent half of Dec. in the hospital on a very limited diet. Creamed soup (2 varieties) red or orange jello, vanilla or chocolate pudding, oatmeal and a couple of varieties of some sort of fake ice cream. Turned out I’m a little pickier than I thought.

  15. In regards to a grocery store shutting down,
    Wouldn’t we all be better off?
    Fake meats, injected fruits and veggies, that have injected, who knows what.
    Added color, added preservatives.
    Genetically modified meats, if truly meat.

    What all kinds of hidden poisons are added to our daily intake?

  16. How long could we survive if all of the stores closed? If it was just a question of how long my family could survive without going to the store, while the rest of society still had the option to go, the answer would be a significant amount of time. The problem is, if no one else could go to the store, either, then society as we know it would end. I live close enough to a good-sized city that I’m sure I’d be overrun before too much time at all. My stores would be stolen or the house would be burned down by some idiot. That’s even if all of us neighbors banded together for protection. If we did this, I’d also be sharing even more of my stores/seeds/etc.

  17. I am betting the change in diet will cure my diabetes. No stress from work will eliminate high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Losing weight will cure my sleep apnea according to the Dr. Still 6’0 195lbs is borderline obese according to their chart. Close them today and let me quit my job. I’ll probably live longer.

    1. I am with you! If I did NOT have to work, my stress levels would be entirely relieved. Then I could concentrate on all my wonderful hobbies; growing food, raising poultry, making home remedies, quilting, canning, teaching my grandkids, and many more things…
      Quite certain several family members would make it here and join the party. We “prepped” for ALL, so with those that might not make it here, we will be fine for an extended period of time…years, for sure.

  18. I’d echo Wendy’s comment about the impact of others being a factor. If no one entered our area, and we just had to make it on our own, we’d have a good shot for quite a while. It would be intense, and every waking hour would be focused on tending or securing life’s essentials, much like it used to be waaaay back when. Our biggest challenge in that scenario would be livestock feed, but we’re working on that. Sure am kicking myself that I didn’t just bite the bullet and pay to have my tractor moved out here; I suppose when things get bad enough, much of the work of growing food will need to be fairly low tech anyway.

    Factoring in civil unrest changes that assessment considerably. There’s a reason famine/war/disease go together. At that point, it’s prep+resolve+mr. murphy+God’s plan.

  19. It’s not food I would be worried about. It’s my DH heart meds. Without them being available from stores (pharmacies) I’d be alone here.

    1. Look up herbal remedies that might help for his specific condition, things you can grow in the area. Try them out now, while the others are still available, with his doctor’s active cooperation, if possible.

      In any case, better to know the possible alternatives.

      1. Lauren, I have a few herbs put away, such as Hawthorne berrries and leaves from Mountain Rose Herbs. Makes a tea. I’m hoping to order my own bushes for the homestead here as I guess it grows just about everywhere. (Gotta get on that). He’ll also be eating a TON of beets, lol! I do need to do more research. I think SOMETHING will always be better than nothing.

  20. I’ve lived on our food storage since last September. I purchased cheese, butter and milk when necessary. Since I have (lots of) canned powdered milk, that’s one down. No butter or cheese purchased since I dug into the big freezer.

    However, the water continued to run. That’s the big one. If water continues I could go for quite a while. If it stops, I’m sunk.

    There’s a stream that used to run about 20 feet from our house, but they forced it underground to build subdivisions. It empties into the river a few miles away. In an emergency I suppose I would be digging that out to make a sort of “well,” as would thousands of other people. I sincerely hope I’m gone before that becomes necessary.

    Would I die if the store shelves never restocked? Eventually. But not as long as there’s water, a place to plant, and seeds.

  21. If the power grid went down permanently with the stores I would be screwed long term. I am sitting pretty for a max of 2 months and then holes in my preparations start rearing their ugly head. Stored water would go first and at some point I have a pool and hot tub but that would eventually run out, then Heating fuel, cooking fuel, and gas for cars. After 4 months the diet would suck as it would be rice, beans and oatmeal. after 1 year food would be gone and we would have no way to easily irrigate our garden (nearest reliable water source is .5 miles away). At some point the water filters and pool shock would be expended and we would have no fuel left to boil the water. Zombie hoards would probably be the biggest long term issue. I could handle small groups but we would be just a speed bump for a big enough group.

  22. Would I die if the store shelves were empty and never refilled? Well, I hope not. This is a survival blog after all. Life would not be pleasant or easy but I think most would survive a good long time.

    1. I agree Calirefugee,,
      I would bet many folks would actually be a whole lot healthier as a side effect. Im still having a hard time seeing the actual downsides, some sure, obvious, the unprepared, but really, around here, things would be pretty good i imagine, walking or taking the horse to the local open market that would be on every day all day to trade for fish or some vegetable or thing that we needed, working the garden, hunting, actually talking to all the neighbors,

      Ya, maybe im being way to idealistic, but why not

    2. Thats the thing, just because the stores were empty, doesnt mean life will come to an end, life finds a way,

    1. Agreed 5.56 – at least not in the short term. However if the “I did that” supply chain went down for a long, contracted, period of time there is the possibility of nationwide chaos in our country. Never mind the illegals pouring in at the border. The suburban idiocy led by BLM and ANTIFA propaganda would no doubt erupt into something ugly. We cannot overlook the fact that we have a very dangerous, dementia-ridden hand puppet in the WH. If anything would go wrong, it will be on Herr Biden’s watch. Just saying.

  23. “The harder you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you.”
    Being hard on yourself is not eating that second slice of pie, or even that first slice.
    Being hard on yourself is using a walk behind mower rather than a riding lawn mower.
    Being hard on yourself is taking an evening stroll rather than sitting down in front of the TV.
    Being hard on yourself is putting 2% milk in your coffee rather than half & half.
    “…and life will be easier on you.” You will be more physically fit with better muscle tone and likely in better overall health. …In a better position to survive whatever comes along.

    If store shelves never restocked… “The Off-grid lifestyle” would become a comparative cake walk. “Off-grid” can be a lot of hard work, but you still have gasoline for your chainsaw and log splitter.

    Got Sisu?
    We’re going to need it.

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