Many people wonder how well they ought to prepare for emergencies such as pandemics, nuclear war, lack of food supply, and other civilization-ending SHTF scenarios. As hard as the internet tries to answer the question once and for all, there is no consensus.
- Bug in, or bug out?
- Which kind of gun/ammo is best?
- Are gold and silver important or waste?
- Build a permanent prepper home, or take to the woods?
The vigorous debate will go on, but a good answer is going to be highly personal and based on your situation and goals. Here I will discuss some of the major variables that help us to make those personal decisions about how to prepare.
What is Your SHTF Outlook & Event Duration?
If you expect events to disrupt the economy, financial system, food supply, and for government to fall apart, with no solution for several years at a minimum, and perhaps several generations or more at maximum, then your prepper strategy has to include permanent plans for self-reliance. A major nuclear war or supervolcano eruption could cause this type of SHTF Emergency.
This scenario is where living standards regress to the pre-industrial era. Some technical devices may help you for a while, but repairing them won’t be easy, so you better be able to do without all computers, phones, radios, and engines. This is truly the pessimistic SHTF scenario. And, it gets worse. You will need to plan for self-defense, as hungry masses will steal your sheep and vegetables from your land if they know you have them.
Team Up For Survival
You will likely need to join a small family or tribe for mutual protection, help taking shifts on lookout duty, and because survival is optimized in a small group of dedicated & conscientious team players with diverse skill sets. A water source will be essential, either from open water, or a shallow water table that you can access with a hand pump (about 20-30’ max), should electric not be available to run a standard submersible well pump or in case your pump goes bad and replacements are not available. These are but a sample of the possibilities to prepare for in a long duration SHTF event.
However, if you expect that most emergency SHTF situations will require only a short respite from society, such as a few months or a few years, then you can adopt a completely different prepper strategy. The COVID 19 / Coronavirus scare of 2020 falls into this category. You probably do not need to worry as much about raising animals, hunting, or growing crops, because you can easily store enough food to last that long. Fresh food is nice, but not essential.
Technology Is Not Dependable
You also can perhaps rely more on technology in some scenarios. For example, should the power grid go down, you may be able to buy fuel and run your generator. Or if the economy still functions to some degree, then you may be able to buy replacement parts for some vehicles & gadgets. The money system is less likely to collapse in most short term situations, so you may find that you don’t lose your regular home in the city. Your bank may still function well enough to allow you to buy online, pay bills, and protect savings, making a move to gold & silver unnecessary.
Physical Health & Age – Now and After the SHTF
We need to be realistic about what lifestyle we can thrive in. If you remember your younger days when you went camping, hunting, and fishing, but now you’re 55, have low back pain from sitting at a desk for 30 years, and you may be even older when the need to bug out arises, then you better have a plan that doesn’t include you carrying a 50 lb pack or stalking deer for food.
Older people, and those caring for young children, say, under 8 years old, need to prepare for a slower pace of physical activity, and a more or less stable living situation such as a cabin, bunker, or hobbit house. However, if you are younger, healthy, and single or can move with a small tribe of friends that you trust, then you may do better in a flexible, mobile lifestyle.
Types of Prepper Scenario
A pandemic like COVID 19 requires you to avoid contact with people. A foreign invasion requires us to unite in defense of homeland, organized in small guerilla groups of minutemen. A nuclear war or supervolcano will kill many plants & animals, disrupting food chains, and may require that you have a permanent underground shelter with years of food stores. So if you want to be prepared for anything, then you have to make several contingency plans and be ready to adjust to circumstances. Your greatest asset is a good plan. And your other greatest asset is your brain!
Financial Situation Before SHTF Scenario
If you are wealthy, you will have more options. No sense in complaining about it – make the best of your situation either way.
With more money, you can buy land ahead of time and build a prepper shelter on it to use during SHTF. If it’s a nice enough place, you will even enjoy using it as a vacation home in the meantime. However, you will also want to preserve wealth, and that is historically challenging when we look back to other situations where monetary systems reset.
Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail
Historically, this happens during the worst of times, but much wealth is stolen by governments when they run out of options to finance recoveries. I almost always advise keeping a portion of your wealth in gold or silver. However, if you’re going to bug out on foot, then you don’t want to allocate more than a few pounds of your pack weight to such things that don’t directly keep you alive, so that will limit your ability to carry great wealth. You will want to buy everything you will need ahead of time and store it at your prepper home because, after the SHTF, your paper money accounts might disappear faster than you can turn them into real assets. Plan and diversify into real assets!
Alone Solo Escape
If you are not wealthy, less strategy is required. Simply walk away from your leased apartment on foot, abandon your possessions you can’t carry, drive as far as a tank of gas will take you, and strike out on foot from there! You should still invest ahead of time in a good firearm and plenty of ammunition, a high-quality backpack, a few sets of outdoor clothing, hiking boots, and have a plan for water purification, medical kit, and other necessities. Make sure your bushcraft skills are always well-practiced.
Making Strategy Decisions Fit YOU!
My main point, in summary, is that your prepper strategy during a SHTF scenario must reflect you, your skills, your resources, age, health, your family or tribe, your outlook, and overall vision & expectations. NO WONDER everyone on the internet can’t agree!
For further reading, the Sensible Survivalists posted an article with many additional resources that you should check out called “The 10 Most Realistic SHTF Disaster Scenarios” which I highly recommend.