Protecting yourself and your family
We must consider two different situations. The first is if most people are prepared for a collapse. The other is if only you and a minority of people are prepared.
If most people are prepared, then security threat is that police, fire-fighters and EMS are harder to reach or impossible to reach since communication is down. Then criminals, fires, and health emergencies become more of a problem. In most locations, organizing neighborhood watches (see “Green Zones” below) should solve the problems. For instance, neighbors would organize street patrols and fire-fighting procedures. They’d also locate the people who have first aid and medical skills, and work out a way to notify them fast, perhaps whistles.
In some areas where gangs already function, the danger is that gangs would overwhelm the street patrols and whatever armed back-ups have been organized. Fortunately police, National Guard and possibly some military would eventually arrive and clean them out. Part of the reason that they’d be available to do this is that if most people are prepared they wouldn’t be so overwhelmed with other priorities.
In this situation it might be helpful for gang members to know in advance that if they do harm, they will probably be killed. It will be a martial law situation. Even the National Guard will have some very powerful weapons. No trial by jury. No prison with parole.
The situation where most people are unprepared would be very different. Now, besides the criminal element, there are a majority of desperate people who will be struggling to survive, many of them with guns. There will also be overwhelmed and stressed police, National Guard and perhaps military.
The following information is not part of this
book’s plan. These are ideas for what to do if
most people don’t follow the Grid Emergency plan.
For those who are prepared or are willing to prepare, there’s a depressing reality: The more prepared you appear, the more others will believe you have food and supplies. So setting up obvious defenses like razor wire may initially send the message that you are prepared and not to be trifled with, but later on when people are more desperate, they will think that you probably do have food and supplies, and may risk anything to get them. In other words, an early show of force such as shooting off some rounds may be initially helpful, but later on people may return with more force.
Another depressing reality is that fire will probably be used as a weapon. Gangs may issue ultimatums, such as “give us food, or we will burn you out.” They may be desperate enough to risk that. If you have a gun, you may shoot them before they start the fire. Or they might shoot you when you try to put out the fire, or escape the fire.
[Ugly possibilities like these should help inspire you to inform others so that the chain reaction of preparation spreads quickly. That way, the earlier scenario describe above takes place instead of this one. Even in this scenario, if neighbors pledged mutual aid, gangs would be less likely to attack one house if they believed they would be shot at from many other homes.]
But there are other strategies to consider. If you can deceive people into believing that you don’t have supplies, they your chances of attack go down. This means keeping your preparations hidden. You could put dead bolts on the doors that can’t be seen from outside. You could cover a broken window on the outside with something that looks make-shift or haphazard, and have solid wood behind it. You could pile some furniture or create an obstacle course just inside a door, to slow intruders down. My point here is to keep your preparation hidden.
Coming up are some more troubling situations, and some ideas for dealing with them. Before reading them, realize that:
- The grid probably won’t collapse long-term.
- This book’s chain reaction of preparation is designed to lower or eliminate the desperation so that these strategies won’t be needed.
- If the grid goes down, all these things won’t happen right away, nor will they happen to the same person or family.
- Some areas will be stabilized quickly, so you might not have to deal with a ‘war zone’ atmosphere.
Some things to consider:
1. If a FEMA camp becomes an option for you, whether to go or not would be a tough decision. On one hand you would be physically safe. On the other hand, I believe that FEMA would be unable to guarantee most people a steady supply of food, medicine and other essentials. Also, if you go to a camp, your home and property are unprotected.
2. Ahead of time, think about whether or not your home would be the best place to stay. If your neighborhood is likely to be dominated by gangs, and/or if your neighbors don’t seem like they would band together, you should make arrangements ahead of time with someone you know well, to move in with them. There’s more safety in numbers, and your supplies and knowledge would be of additional benefit to whoever housed you.
3. Children and all members of your family need to know what to do if they are not at home and the grid goes down. For instance, small children will not be able to walk home from school unattended. Also, whenever members of your family go out of town, you should make up a contingency plan.
4. Another reason to keep your preparation secret is that there are national anti-hoarding laws that authorities may use to appropriate your supplies if they find out about them. (From one point of view this is understandable since why should some people starve if others have extra food? From another point of view, if the government had a decade to protect us, and didn’t, they lose considerable legitimacy. People who prepare shouldn’t be punished for doing the sensible thing. Also, one suspects that some people in authority will favor their friends with your supplies.)
5. You should only use emergency lighting in a room where the windows are completely covered. Otherwise people will know you’re more prepared than most. Many people will put blankets over windows, to prevent themselves from being a target for random shooters.
6. If shooting become frequent in your neighborhood, you can make the equivalent of sandbags, by filling up heavy-duty garbage bags with soil, sand or rocks, and placing them on tables near windows. You could also put a tall dresser in front of a window and put bags with soil or rocks in the drawers. For morale and a sense of safety, you might want to reinforce one room this way.
7. If you are not someone who has a gun or likes guns, you must first decide if on principle killing in self-defense is okay. Most people think so, but it’s your decision. Second, it would be much cheaper and less effort to work out an arrangement with someone who knows how to shoot a gun, rather than go to the expense yourself. It’s also much more strategic for households to double up on people, anyway. It would be almost impossible for a two-parent family to defend a house adequately.
But if you are going to invite people in, you must have complete confidence that they will not turn the gun on you and take your supplies. You must also set firm limits ahead of time for who stays with you. Everybody has several people that they care about. But they can’t all come to your house to live. In other words, if you recruit person ‘A’ because he has a gun, he might want to bring in his friend ‘B,’ who wants to bring in her friend ‘C’… It’s another brutal decision, but it needs to be made clear ahead of time.
8. In principle, shooting to kill should be a last resort. But in a war zone situation many people might adopt a Wild West mentality, or decide to shoot first and ask questions later. I strongly advise against letting fear or a cavalier attitude taking over. Besides the danger of killing an innocent person, there’s the chance that a friend or family member of the person who was killed might come back and burn down your house. Or if the person is wounded and gets away, he or she might seek revenge. It would be very hard to prevent your house from burning down: If you go outside to put out a fire, you risk being shot.
Other reasons to avoid killing are having to bury the body, or not being able to bury a decomposing body because it’s too dangerous to go outside. For these reasons, and on principle, I very much favor non-lethal means. (See the next three points.)
I read a survivalist book in which the author implied that if the grid went down it was a-kill-or-be-killed situation, or basically survival of the most ruthless. I don’t think that’s automatically true.
First, almost everyone can go 30-40 days with no food at all. When you have no food, at first there are major hunger pains, but then the body begins to burn fat and the hunger pains lessen dramatically. You won’t have too much stamina for physical labor, but you will be able to function. So, one or two days without food, or even two weeks, does not make it okay to kill people for their supplies. It’s still murder.
Secondly, a lot can happen in 30 or 40 days. My belief is that the government would be able to bring in supplies sporadically in some locations.
Third, every death, especially at the beginning of the crisis, sets the tone. This is why right at the start of the crisis, even if most people don’t have supplies, it’s critical to organize people and make the case for mutual cooperation.
9. Assess your home or living space for defense. Where can people force entry your home? How can you prevent access, or slow down access? If you can’t slow down access, can you at least create an alarm with empty cans stacked up? If you have a fence or some perimeter, how can you make it more forbidding?
10. Set up passive barriers, “funnels” and alerts. Both outside and inside your home or apartment you want to set up barriers that prevent entry. You also want to funnel or direct people away from blind spots. For instance, if you have blind spot near an unattached garage, you might want to put something there or block it off so no one can shoot at you or observe you unnoticed. You can also use string and cans with rocks or metal in them to create noise when someone trips over the string at night. If you create different sounding set-ups, you can immediately know at night which side of the house intruders are on.
I don’t recommend creating traps such as covered pits with broken glass, or boards with nails that will puncture someone’s foot, because, as mentioned, people might retaliate with fires. But you may decide it’s worth the risk, or you may create hazards that just trip people or somehow repel them.
Immediately after a grid collapse, I would think of some creative ways to booby-trap or defense myself and family, but not set them up unless the situation deteriorated. For instance, a blanket could be hung a few feet inside a door so that you would know someone had entered but they would have no idea of what’s behind the blanket, giving you a brief advantage. Or floor boards could be removed just inside a door, causing them to partly fall through the floor and get stuck. Perhaps a blanket could be suspended above a foyer and set to drop or be pulled down on an intruder. Bizarre things could be hung up or suspended to distract an intruder, giving you a few fractions of a second of an advantage. — You can gain some temporary advantage since you can arrange things in advance.
11. A can of hornet and wasp spray can be used to deter people non-lethally. ($5) The cans will emit a stream that can reach 15-20 feet (designed to spray upward toward a hive.) Sprayed in a person’s face, it will not permanently destroy their vision. Consider this as non-lethal means to deter rape, kidnapping or theft. – Someone might initially be angry enough to burn your house down, but you should make it clear to them that you chose to do this rather than kill them outright. — Put the spray can in a place centrally located on the ground floor so you can get at it fast. Consider having family member test-practice by aiming and spraying at a target outside.
12. If you have decided that it’s acceptable to kill in self-defense, you should mentally prepare yourself to do it without flinching. If I had children to protect, and the grid was down, I would mentally visualize and rehearse different situations, so that once I determined it was necessary and appropriate, I would not hesitate.
13. Watch for diversions. A group may create noise or use gunfire to draw you to the front of your home, and then try to gain entry somewhere else. Or they may send in a child to get you to open the door.
14. Watch for imposters. Some people may claim they are from the government, or are National Guard, etc. But having camouflage uniforms and automatic weapons does not mean you are official.
15. As mentioned food should be divided up and hidden. Other important survival equipment and important personal documents should also be well-hidden. Because of the danger of fire, systematic searches of your home, and/or a forced-evacuation one option might be to bury food or precious materials in a sealed 5-gallon pail.
16. If the grid collapsed because of an EMP, I would personally wait a few days before breaking out emergency lights, smoke detectors, or other electronic devices. That’s because a sophisticated attack may involve multiple EMPs. I think that this situation would be very unlikely, but I would play it safe.
[This ends the preparation section for a worst-case scenario.]