By Daisy Luther
This summer is like a movie about how corruption took down a once-great republic and sent it barreling toward civil war. It’s about how the powerful now use deadly robots to do their bidding and how two groups of people have been turned against each other at the whims of the wealthy and the powerful. It’s about chaos and final straws and the shattering of our veneer of civility.
When the rose-colored glasses get ripped away from so many people at once, things are bound to boil over. So, in the manner of never letting a crisis go to waste, the politicians and the media and the powers that be have jumped on the Race War wagon and are flogging the horses to distract all of the newly awakened from the blatant corruption in our government.
Somehow, our beautiful, proud country has become a battle zone. Decades of abuses of power have pushed people to the boiling point. There is war on the streets of America as cops across the nation are the targets of violent attacks in response to the actions of officers who abused their power.
It’s so bad that three countries have issued travel advisories to its citizens about coming to visit the United States. The government of Bahrain used Twitter to warn citizens to “be cautious of protests or crowded areas occurring around the U.S.” The foreign ministry of Bahamas issued a travel advisory that warned citizens to be cautious due to “shootings of young black males by police officers.” The notice went on to advise, “In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate.” And finally, the embassy of the United Arab Emirates urged caution. “Please be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places when possible. Exercise particular caution during large festivals or events, be alert and stay safe.”
Regardless of what you think about how or why the events of last week occurred, it seems that the potential for violence is spreading across our nation in a way that can only be described as a pandemic. While I sincerely believe that this situation is being manipulated for power and political gain, no rational person can deny that it’s happening and the risks are very real. (Last week’s Survival Saturday round-up discusses the how and the why of the breakdown.)
Going into the weekend ahead, there could be plans for protests, which, with emotions running high, could become violent. I wrote an article about the “Day of Rage” that was scheduled in many major cities across the country. In a rather baffling turn, the article I wrote met with cries of “Daisy, you’re a racist hatemonger poop-stirring meanie” as well of accusations that I was a) lying or b) deluded. I know that I’ve hit the bigtime because I even got “debunked” on Snopes. My posts on Facebook were reported as “hate speech” and one woman, bless her fragile little heart, was so upset she claimed to have called the police about my blog. (More about that tomorrow on Survival Saturday.) Either way, you might want to check this list for places to avoid on the weekend. As well, here’s even more evidence that points toward the potential for chaos this weekend.
Pretending that it isn’t happening or hoping to hug it out is not a rational response to the chaos that is coming. I know that some cling to their misguided views on the way the world works with the ferocity of a mother bear protecting cubs, but for the rest of us, there’s this thing called reality. When we accept it, we can prepare for it.
Which leads me to a very important subject. As the situation in the United States devolves, how prepared are you really? If you had to go into lockdown mode and keep your family safely at home, how long would you last with the supplies you have on hand? If the answer is “a few days” or “a couple of weeks” you need to work on that. Immediately.
By planning ahead, we can avoid the fear, panic, and confusion that leads people to rush to the store and clear the shelves like a horde of hungry locusts. We can stay away from the angry masses, the rioters who will use any excuse to steal, and the hungry people who are determined to feed their kids no matter who stands in their way.
Whether the next few weeks lead to pandemonium due to violent protests provoking some type of martial law, a prepared mindset, a defense plan, and a well-stocked home can help to keep you and your family out of harm’s way.
Keep in mind that the decision may not be entirely in your hands. In a martial law situation, it’s not unusual for the authorities to force people to stay in their homes. Remember in Boston when law enforcement was searching for the young man who, with his brother, was accused of setting off the bomb at the marathon? Residents were not allowed to leave their homes due to a “shelter in place directive.” The directive was presented as voluntary, but if you didn’t wish to have SWAT teams pointing guns in your face during this period of de facto martial law, staying home was the only option. Some people ran out of supplies the same day. Don’t be one of those people.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the potential need to lock down. It’s a viable response to a variety of crises. For example, had the Ebola cases on US shores turned into a pandemic, a lock down period would have been the very best way to keep your family safe.
With situations of civil unrest, it isn’t as clear cut. It depends on where you live. In a small town, far away from riots and protests, your lock down area could be much greater than your own home. It could encompass your immediate community, too, and life might go on as it always has for you, aside from the need to stay just a little closer to home than before.
However, if you live in a city or suburb, it may become essential to make a decision quickly. Do you lock your doors and stay home? Or do you get out of Dodge? It is a question only you can answer. One thing that is very important is this: if you need to go, do NOT miss your window of opportunity to do so safely. If the entire city feels the same way, you’ll most likely be stuck in traffic and trapped in your car. Protesters have shut down the highways more than once in recent years, and you’ll be far safer behind the brick and mortar of your home than you will be in your car.
By the way, there’s always someone who chimes in with a snide remark about how cowardly it is to lockdown with your family in order to stay safe. If you want to go get involved in a battle to make a political point, that’s certainly your prerogative. However, my priority is the safety of my family, and as such, I hope to avoid engaging altogether.
First, get home.
If you happen to be away from home when violence erupts, your first task is safely navigating your way home. In a perfect world, we’d all be home, watching the chaos erupt on TV from the safety of our living rooms. However, reality says that some of us will be at work, at school, or in the car when unrest occurs. You need to develop a “get-home” plan for all of the members of your family, based on the most likely places that they will be.
- Devise an efficient route for picking up the kids from school, camp, or daycare. Be sure that anyone who might be picking up the children already has permission to do so.
- Keep a get-home bag in the trunk of your car in case you have to set out on foot.
- Stash some supplies in the bottom of your child’s backpack – water, a snack, any tools that might be useful, and a map. Be sure your children understand the importance of OPSEC.
- Avoid major thoroughfares. If you need to go through the city, avoid the areas that are most likely to be the subject of unrest. Listen to the local news and traffic reports to help avoid the worst areas. Take the safest route, not the shortest route.
- Find multiple routes home – map out alternative backroad ways to get home as well as directions if you must go home on foot.
- Find hiding places along the way. If you work or go to school a substantial distance from your home, figure out some places to lay low now, before a crisis situation. Sometimes staying out of sight is the best way to stay safe.
- Avoid groups of people. It seems that the mob mentality strikes when large groups of people get together. Often folks who would never ordinarily riot in the streets get swept up by the mass of people who are doing so.
- Keep in mind that in many civil disorder situations the authorities are to be avoided every bit as diligently as the angry mobs of looters. Who can forget the scenes of innocent people being pepper sprayed by uniformed thugs in body armor just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?
- Know when to abandon the plan to get home. Sometimes, you just can’t get there. Going through a war zone is not worth it. Find a different place to shelter. Pay attention to your instincts.
Prepping for lockdown
Once everyone is safely home, you need to commit to your decision to lockdown. This could last a day, a week, or longer. There’s really no way to predict it. It’s most likely that you will have electrical power throughout this crisis, but you should be prepared just in case the grid goes down due to damage during riots or attempts by the authorities to gain control of the situation.
You should be set up with the following (at the minimum – hopefully you have these supplies and more):
- Necessary prescription medications
- A well stocked pantry – you need at least a one-month supply of food for the entire family, including pets
- An off grid cooking method like an outdoor burner, a barbecue, a fire pit, or a woodstove)
- Or food that requires no cooking
- A tactical quality first aid
- Lighting in the event of a power outage
- Sanitation supplies (in the event that the municipal water system is unusable, this would include cleaning supplies and toilet supplies)
- A way to stay warm in harsh winter weather
- Over-the-counter medications and/or herbal remedies to treat illnesses at home
- A diverse survival guide, a very thorough preparedness book, and a first aid manual (hard copies in case the internet and power grid are down)
- Alternative communications devices (such as a hand-crank radio) so that you can get updates about the outside world
- Off-grid entertainment: arts and craft supplies, puzzles, games, books, crossword or word search puzzles, needlework, journals (here are some more ideas to keep the kids entertained.)
If you are completely unprepared for this type of thing, order some buckets of emergency food. Keep them in the back of your closet – they last for up to 25 years. This is absolutely the fastest way to create an emergency supply. Choose a high-quality product like the ones from Preppers Market – you don’t want to make yourself sick eating poor-quality food if you normally eat healthfully.
Try to stay under the radar.
Your best defense is avoiding the fight altogether. You want to stay under the radar and not draw attention to yourself. The extent to which you strive to do this should be based on the severity of the unrest in your area. Some of the following recommendations are not necessary in an everyday grid-down scenario, but could save your life in a more extreme civil unrest scenario.
- Keep all the doors and windows locked. Secure sliding doors with a metal bar. Consider installing decorative gridwork over a door with a large window so that it becomes difficult for someone to smash the glass and reach in to unlock the door.
- Put dark plastic over the windows. (Heavy duty garbage bags work well.) If it’s safe to do so, go outside and check to see if any light escapes from the windows. If your home is the only one on the block that is well-lit, it is a beacon to others.
- Keep pets indoors. Sometimes criminals use an animal in distress to get a homeowner to open the door for them. Sometimes people are just mean and hurt animals for “fun”. Either way, it’s safer for your furry friends to be inside with you.
- Don’t answer the door. Many home invasions start with an innocent-seeming knock at the door to gain access to your house.
- Keep cooking smells to a minimum. The goal here is not to draw attention. The meat on your grill will draw people like moths to a flame.
- Keep the family together. It’s really best to hang out in one room. Make it a movie night, go into a darkened room at the back of the house, and stay together. This way, if someone does try to breach your door, you know where everyone is who is supposed to be there. As well, you don’t risk one of the kids unknowingly causing a vulnerability with a brightly lit room or an open window.
- Remember that first responders may be tied up. If the disorder is widespread, don’t depend on a call to 911 to save you – you must be prepared to save yourself. Also keep in mind, as mentioned earlier in the article – the cops are not always your friends in these situations.
Be prepared to defend your family.
If, despite your best efforts, your property draws the attention of people with ill intent, you must be ready to defend your family. Sometimes despite our best intentions, the fight comes to us. (Have you seen the movie The Purge?)
Many preppers stockpile weapons and ammunition for just such an event. I know that I certainly do. Firearms are an equalizer. A small woman can defend herself from multiple large intruders with a firearm, if she’s had some training and knows how to use it properly. But put a kitchen knife in her hand against those same intruders, and her odds decrease exponentially.
When the door of your home is breached, you can be pretty sure the people coming in are not there to make friendly conversation or borrow a cup of sugar. Make a plan to greet them with a deterring amount of force.
- Don’t rely on 911. If the disorder is widespread, don’t depend on a call to 911 to save you – you must be prepared to save yourself. First responders may be tied up, and in some cases, the cops are not always your friends. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some officers joined in the crime sprees, and others stomped all over the 2nd Amendment and confiscated people’s legal firearms at a time when they needed them the most.
- Be armed and keep your firearm on your person. When the door of your home is breached, you can be pretty sure the people coming in are not there to make friendly conversation over a nice cup of tea. Make a plan to greet them with a deterring amount of force. Be sure to keep your firearm on your person during this type of situation, because there won’t be time to go get it from your gunsafe. Don’t even go to the kitchen to get a snack without it. Home invasions go down in seconds, and you have to be constantly ready.
- Know how to use your firearm. Whatever your choice of weapon, practice, practice, practice. A weapon you don’t know how to use is more dangerous than having no weapon at all. Here’s some advice from someone who knows a lot more about weapons than I do.
- Make sure your children are familiar with the rules of gun safety. Of course, it should go without saying that you will have pre-emptively taught your children the rules of gun safety so that no horrifying accidents occur. In fact, it’s my fervent hope that any child old enough to do so has been taught to safely and effectively use a firearm themselves. Knowledge is safety.
- Be ready for the potential of fire. Fire is a cowardly attack that doesn’t require any interaction on the part of the arsonist. It flushes out the family inside, leaving you vulnerable to physical assaults. Have fire extinguishers mounted throughout your home. You can buy them in 6 packs from Amazon. Be sure to test them frequently and maintain them properly. (Allstate has a page about fire extinguisher maintenance.) Have fire escape ladders that can be attached to a windowsill in all upper story rooms. Drill with them so that your kids know how to use them if necessary.
- Have a safe room established for children or other vulnerable family members. If the worst happens and your home is breached, you need to have a room into which family members can escape. This room needs to have a heavy exterior door instead of a regular hollow core interior door. There should be communications devices in the room so that the person can call for help, as well as a reliable weapon to be used in the unlikely event that the safe room is breached. The family members should be instructed not to come out of that room FOR ANY REASON until you give them the all clear or help has arrived. You can learn more about building a safe room HERE. Focus the tips for creating a safe room in an apartment to put it together more quickly.
Even if your plan is to bug in, you must be ready to change that plan in the blink of an eye. Plan an escape route. If the odds are against you, if your house catches on fire, if thugs are kicking in your front door… devise a way to get your family to safety. Your property is not worth your life. Be wise enough to accept that the situation has changed and move rapidly to Plan B.
If trouble comes to your neighborhood and you decide to stick around, stay home.
It’s the number one way to keep yourself safer from during a civil unrest situtation. If you find yourself in an area under siege, the odds will be further on your side for every interaction in which you avoid taking part. Every single time you leave the house, you increase your chances of an unpleasant encounter. Nothing will be accomplished by going out during a chaotic situation.
Whether is was a matter of sneaking up on prey to catch their next meal, sniffing out enemies who might be nearby so that they could be avoided, or planning a sneak attack on enemies, one of the most notable skills that native people had was stealth.
When Europeans came to the New World, they were often amazed at how native people seemed to be able to walk through the woods almost without sound. When you consider the amazing hearing of most animals, it makes you wonder just how hunting parties managed to get close enough to their prey to make a kill!
In the times before the white man walked in the New World, there were no telescopes, no long-range rifles, no binoculars. How did native people manage to get so close to game and avoid their enemies?
1. Walk silently
It seems backwards to most of us, but indigenous tribes know that walking silently means walking toe to heel, not heel to toe. The native way of walking was to take smaller steps (no more than three feet or so) and place the toes on the ground first. The weight of the body should rest on the back leg. This allows you to check the noise value of the ground you are about to step on. This way, if there is a twig hidden under leaves, you will feel it with your toes before it makes much of a sound. This enables you to change your footing, if needed.
If the ground under your toes appears (and sounds) like a quiet step, you can now put your heel on the ground and transfer the weight to your front leg. Once your toes are on the ground, roll on the outside of the foot until your heel is firmly in place.
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This is the exact opposite to how most of us walk, and it will take some practice if you hope to acquire this valuable skill. Practice on a wide range of surfaces. Once you think you have the hang of it, get a friend to turn their back on you, while you sneak up behind them. See if they can hear you or if they can tell when you are within “attack” range.
2. Be ultra quiet
While walking toe to heel is considered to be the main stealth skill, there are other things that matter. For example, no matter how silent your feet might be, if you are singing, talking, whistling or even breathing loudly, you will be heard! This is one reason why native people learned the songs and whistles of native birds. They could signal one another with natural sounds that few would suspect.
Being aware of noise makers on your person is another factor to consider. Your equipment, shoelace ends tapping on your shoes, nylon pants rubbing against your legs, a clanging water bottle or rifle, all make noise that, while it might not be much, will sound like a trumpet in the quiet of the woods.
3. Watch your posture
Most people walk with their backs hunched forward and their heads up. This will naturally put most of your body weight on your front foot, which you don’t want. Learn to bend at the knees and keep yourself as low as possible while still keeping the upper part of the body erect. Yes, this means leg strength, so you might want to consider doing more squats to increase the strength of your thigh muscles.
While you are bending at the knees, keep your hands and arms at waist level. Use your hands (palms down) to balance and further help distribute your weight. In the dark, or even in places where the light level is very low, this can help you avoid smacking low tree branches. Picture the form: knees bent, torso erect, hands spread wide between rocks or trees. This is the perfect position to pounce upon unsuspecting prey or move quickly if you are suddenly ambushed.
4. Breath differently
If you have ever watched a horror film and watched someone find a great hiding space, only to give it away with their labored breathing, you will find that this is a true fact, not just a movie stunt.
Of course, you need to breathe, but be aware of how loudly you are breathing. Many people find that they can breathe more quietly with their mouth open.
Another trick that indigenous people used was not staring directly at the person or animal until they were within range and ready to attack – believing that humans and animals could sense, somehow, that someone is watching them.
If you are not in a position to shoot or if you simply want to avoid being seen and your prey looks at you or even in your general direction, do not assume you have been spotted. Freeze right where you are. Eyes will quickly catch movement, but objects that are stationary, not so much.
Depending on your skin tone and what your purpose is, you might want to consider the lighting. This is why most native people painted their face and upper body (even their horses) with streaks of black and dark red. This helped them appear more like shadows. If you have very light-colored skin and will be in a low-light area, you might want to cover it with some streaks of dirt. While an animal might not recognize a shadow, a person surely will. Be aware of your position in the sunlight to avoid projecting a human shadow. Many native tribes tried to keep the sun on their back as they knew that most animals, and people, will turn their faces away from direct sunlight.
5. Check the wind
While you most likely could not smell a deer or a person (unless that person was using perfume or lacked deodorant) until you were almost upon them, almost all animals have a better sense of smell than you. If the wind is chasing your scent directly to your prey, even an average deer can smell you coming from half a mile away! All the stealth in the world won’t help if your prey can smell you coming. Check the wind, no matter how slight, and be certain that you are upwind!
by Daisy Luther
If disaster was a human named SHTF, it would be that person who takes delight in dropping by unannounced and seeing you at your worst: still in your PJs, out of coffee, and taken utterly by surprise. The kind of person who takes advantage of your unpreparedness to ask to borrow the keys to your new car while you’re still in shock at his arrival. The kind of person who acts surprised that you’re surprised and makes you feel like 12 kinds of an idiot for being surprised. The kind of person you must always plan for like an unpleasant in-law, whether you want them to come by or not.
SHTF doesn’t generally drop by at the most convenient of times, nor does SHTF care about your prepping excuses. In fact, SHTF thrives and grows exponentially under more adverse circumstances.
So, suck it up, put on your boots, and power through it – SHTF doesn’t care about your prepping excuses.
- SHTF doesn’t care about inclement weather – snow, hail, tornadoes, pouring rain, and hurricanes all just add to the party atmosphere for SHTF.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you sprained your ankle, broke your leg, or are otherwise less than ambulatory. If you have to bug out without a vehicle, you have to bug out, regardless of your injury status.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you decided to start prepping after you take that trip to Disneyworld (because how can you do it before? That trip is expensive!!!!)
- SHTF doesn’t care that you are on a boat in the middle of the ocean, regardless of what you paid for the luxury cruise. (Check out recent ill-fated Carnival Cruise of the Triumph if you don’t believe me!)
- SHTF doesn’t care that you had planned to get your vehicle repaired. You have to evacuate regardless of the leak from the oil pan, the condition of the brakes, and the funny noise in the transmission.
- SHTF doesn’t care that the entire family is ill with the stomach flu. The entire family will just have to pause to throw up while bugging out.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you need new hiking boots and that you just haven’t had time to get to the store and buy them. You’ll be walking through the apocalypse in the ratty ones with the sole half torn off.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you planned to buy some emergency food with your next paycheck. You’ll be dining on a can of peaches and some stale crackers.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you always use electronic banking. If the ATMS are down and you have no cash, you cannot buy anything.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you had planned to get the propane tank refilled and now the propane trucks aren’t running because of the ice storm that has turned your neighborhood into a mini Arctic Circle.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you used all your ammo at the range and Wal-Mart has been out for the past month.
- SHTF doesn’t care that both the store and Starbucks are closed because of a power outage and you are totally out of coffee because you didn’t build a stockpile.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you are wearing high heels when your car plummets to the bottom of a ravine – you still have to climb out.
- SHTF doesn’t care that the pharmacies are closed because of a pandemic and that you have no OTC medications or home remedies – if you catch the virus, you will suffer through it without medicine to treat it. And so will your kids.
- SHTF doesn’t care that your truck is almost out of gas and the local gas stations have closed because of the disaster. If you have to bug out, you may end up walking instead of driving.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you are depressed because you just broke up with your spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. SHTF doesn’t care if you’re in a funk because you lost your job or your dog died. S happens when S happens.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you have made a rock-solid plan to get in shape – as soon as the weather warms up. You’ll be sucking wind as you hurry up that hill in the cold.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you are visiting your in-laws, the most unprepared people on the planet, and you failed to put some emergency food, water, and supplies in the trunk of your car.
- SHTF doesn’t care that your wood is not dry. It’ll bring you a blizzard if it wants to bring you a blizzard.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you have 300 pounds of beans, wheat berries, and rice but failed to plan on a way to cook them.
- SHTF doesn’t care that you don’t know how to cook over an open fire without inflicting 2nd-degree burns on yourself.
- SHTF doesn’t care if you have only a week’s supply of toilet paper – if the crisis lasts longer than a week, things will be progressively less pleasant regardless of your intention to purchase more Charmin.
- SHTF doesn’t care you planned to reinforce your door frame, install a metal security door, and build a safe room – if thugs arrive to invade your home, your hollow core doors will serve as a minor inconvenience instead of a deterrent.
- SHTF doesn’t care if you think guns are bad and scary. Rest assured, if you don’t have one, the people coming to take your supplies will.
- SHTF doesn’t care if you think “doomsday preppers” are bat crap crazy, if you don’t believe the fecal matter is headed towards the oscillating device, or whether you think it’s all an alternative media conspiracy theory.
Whatever your excuse may be, you may rest assured, it could easily be on this list. And SHTF won’t care about that either.
You probably already know the things that you should be doing to prepare for a disaster. How will you feel if you procrastinate doing them and your family suffers because of it? Most of the time, it’s an inconvenience, but in some cases, a lack of preparedness can mean the difference between life and death.
If you need help and motivation, check out this course, which was designed to boost your prepper mojo in a hurry. The world is increasingly more dangerous. The signs couldn’t be blinking in brighter neon. It’s time to get prepared. No more excuses. Disaster won’t wait to strike until it’s convenient for you.