I got asked a great question recently, and thought I would answer it with an article. A reader asks:
„I read your posts for years, I did not find myself survivalist all that time, I have read it because what you wrote about war times and similar… My question is simple, can you give couple of simple advice’s what to do in case of SHTF, without going into „prep for years“ or „build your group for years and store pile of ammo“ advices, what if SHTF tommorrow and I do not have anything like that“?
At the first it looks like simple question, something that any of us who are into prepping should answer easily, but again we are talking about man who is not into prepping at all.
So what to do?
Whole books are written about this answer, but let’s try to be short and just stick to the basics here.
What Is Going On?
You see that something is happening outside, something big, let’s say you notice that there is an emergency broadcasting on TV, and you see a huge number of law enforcement outside, and other that that you know nothing more.
Now, at this moment, you need to make some important decisions, and you’ll have to make it based on what you know, so clearly the more information you can get, the better you can make decisions.
Two important points here you need to understand are:
1.No matter what is the real reason for your particular SHTF event, there is some common elements of every SHTF event no matter if it’s terrorist dirty bomb attack, solar EMP or Romulans attacking with spaceships.
Panic, disorder, rumors, looting, chaos. So just do not expect to collect all the info. you want in that moment.
Do not wait to find out what is really happening, or let’s say do not wait to find out why things (shit) are happening. At this moment forget the ‘why’ and act.
2. Collect info. based on your small circle of options. That means (continuing from point A) that you do not need (most probably) to find out why there is looting in street next to you, why there is police force in big number, why there is no TV signal, and why there is big black smoke visible from your office few kilometers away in the city.
What you need to know is how to avoid (and what way to take) looting mob, what kind of force police is using there and what way to travel to avoid that big black smoke.
Do not get me wrong, to know why things are happening is great, but to wait too long to find out is usually bad and it is often way better to solve things in small steps.
What Actually To Do?
Go back to the basics again. Simply try to stay away from the trouble.
We said that you are not prepper, and you are in the city.
Assess your situation and act.
Your „luck“ probably in that moment is that people will probably look more how to take (steal) LCD TVs or laptops than things for shelter or defense.
Get yourself organized into simple categories, we typically have SEVEN Survival Priorities:
Try to cover each priority as much as you can.
Again, do not spend too much time in covering each one at the expense of finding yourself in a worse situation.
As you are not prepper, and you might find yourself in the middle of working day in the office when SHTF, look around yourself and see what you can use to cover each of the priorities.
For fire you can have only a lighter maybe, and, for now, you have that priority covered, for water you going to put several bottles of water in your bag.
For shelter you gonna steal a few more jackets, or emergency blanket or trash bags.
For food you’re going to take energy bars from the vending machine, for communications you’re going to take cellphone with you (and hope there is still a signal/network), for medical you are going to „borrow“ the first aid kit from the hallway in your office building, and for defense you will take a couple of knives from the kitchen or simply smash some chair and take a chair leg as an improvised baton.
So all priorities are covered.
Yes it looks poor, but you covered sections with what you got. Improvising and adapting is key here…
Where To Go?
Bug Out or Bug In?
Simply go away from the trouble, that’s it.
We are talking here about city, so huge possibility is that you are going to go outside of the city. More people means more problems.
But first thing to keep in mind is not to run from the city, it is to escape the trouble (think in small circles-steps). Rory Miller says it nicely ‘Don’t run away from danger, run towards safety’.
If that means that you need to hunker down in office building, or in rolled over school bus or wherever in the middle of the city for two days in order to safely leave the city then you are going to do that.
First and immediate task is to stay out of (and avoid) trouble in your goal to leave the city.
Maybe you going to have to spend week hiding somewhere in city, waiting for right moment to leave it. You do not know.
Point is to avoid trouble and adapt your plans accordingly to that.
Best advice for you is anticipate that there are simply no rules, but some common things for every situations are there, so:
-Stick to your plan up until to the moment when it is more dangerous to follow the plan, then improvise, adapt and modify your plan. Be ready that your plan can fall apart right at the beginning (example: if you plan to leave the city through several pre planned points and streets, and there is danger on the way, you might choose to ‘bend’ your plan and use a longer way instead)
-Violence. Avoid violence, simply like that. Violence means chance to get yourself killed, or injured. Killed means your survival story is ended, and injured means much more trouble than in normal times, remember small cut can kill you in SHTF world.
-Violence, again. When there is no other way then to use violence you have to use it in a quick and effective way, without hesitation, without rules. You’ll think about what you did later, if you have to.
-Things are (probably, or might not be) not what they look like. Police might not be police, law is not law anymore, stealing is not stealing, honor is not honor. Survival changes things.
-Prioritize things. Systemic collapse, especially first period of it, means lot of chaos, that means lot of distractions in your planned action. Always have in your mind what is your priority in the given moment. Getting from point A to point B might look easy today, but when SHTF you may find events problems and obstacles on that way that can fill one lifetime of average peaceful citizen.
Do not find yourself pulled in situations, like say going to the destroyed pharmacy seemed like a good chance to refill your medical kit, but also its a good chance to meet couple of high junkies inside who will stab you. Choose wisely what „distraction“ you will take as a good ‘chance’.
As you can conclude, for non prepper advice would be develop some plan and act. Also that does not mean that plan is to run like an idiot and get yourself killed.
Sometimes what you need is just will to survive, and based on that you will adapt and build your plan.
Have you ever had to deal with a serious situation with no time to prepare for it? Please share your stories and ‘lessons learnt’ in the comments below.