The intent of this article is to act as an introduction with some thoughts and primers for moving your family or group in high threat environments. It is not intended to give all the answers and that would be beyond the scope of this short piece. The type of environment envisioned is a post-collapse situation where there has been a breakdown in law and order. To clarify, this article is not concerned with the sort of ‘bug-out’ movement that families may conduct in response to a localized natural disaster, where you have to get in your car with some basic equipment and move out of the impacted area. Rather, this is directed at those who find they have to move locations after a significant societal collapse has happened.
As background it is clear that to read the conventional prepper wisdom to survive any coming apocalypse you need to be in a fortified self-sustaining retreat somewhere out in the boonies, with three years of food in the basement and the ability to grow food plus animals. This is the gold standard; you will be really well positioned if that is where you are with your preparations. The reality for many is that they simply do not have that. For whatever reason, they may be in an urban or suburban environment. They may have nowhere else to realistically ‘bug out’ to. They may have a goal to achieve the retreat, but not be there yet, or have bug out land that is fairly basic and requires them to move to it following a collapse. So there may be a reality gap between those that have achieved the gold standard of location and preparations, and those that are not there yet. What I am really concerned about here is a collapse of society, the veritable ‘TEOTWAWKI’, where it all goes to chaos, the ‘SHTF’. For most of us who are not at the ‘gold standard’, we will be left to survive where we are, in our suburban homes or whatever applies to you. Now, it is true that some will be better set up than others. Reasons include location, such as an inner city one bedroom apartment versus a big house on several acres in a sub-division, or the amount of preps that you have: food supplies etc.
Everything depends on the situation and the threat that emerges, including your own personal and family situation and preparations. One key thing is not to make assumptions now, but to remain flexible. My advice is not to ‘head for the hills’ by reflex, because unless you have somewhere to go you will be out there with the rest of the refugees in the chaos. If you even have a minimal amount of preparations at home you should shelter in place and make do the best you can. This should be a low profile shelter in place where you set yourself up to draw minimum attention to yourself as the waves of chaos pass. You may be sheltering in a basement with your family, for example. Of course, if the threat changes, then you will need to adapt to it. An organized gang of well-armed marauders going house to house in your neighborhood would be an example of when to make the decision to bug out. Be flexible and don’t go the opposite of the ‘head for the hills’ mentality and die in your basement simply because you did not want to pack up and go. However, I think that it is given that for anyone sheltering with supplies in this way there will at some point come one or more challenges such as home invasion from outside groups. This will also probably apply to those in rural retreats at some point as the horde fans out looking to survive. Be ready to respond and defend yourself against these challenges as necessary. Think of how it will likely be after the event, not how things are right now. Those in the rural retreats will probably have a rude awakening when they realize that the horde has reached them and the demographics have changed!
I think that there are two main things that you have to achieve, phases if you like, in order to survive in the long term:
1) Have enough stores, firearms, tactical ability and numbers if possible, as well as a covert location in order to survive the event and the initial chaos and disorder. This is a short to medium term goal.
2) Long term, you will need to be able to live in a protected sustainable community. All prepper stores will run out in the end and the only solution to survive and thrive is to be able to produce food and protect your people and your resources.
So, unless you started in a sustainable protected retreat, you will have to survive where you are until such time as you can get to one. Remember that in a full TEOTWAWKI scenario there will be mass panic and chaos as people try to find food and survive. There will be a huge population die-off and there will likely be a delay of a year or two before food can be produced. You have to survive from the one to the other. Even after the die–off there will still be good and bad guys out there. Good guys probably living in those sustainable retreats or locations, bad guys marauding and living off what they can loot and pillage. There may be other complicating factors, such as civil war or foreign invasion. I use the TV series ‘Jericho’ as an example of this.
So, if you survived the event and were not already in that ideal retreat, you then have to move. Did you hide and protect your bug out vehicle with a supply of stored gas? Are you going to have to walk, or use other modes of transport? The key thing is that your group will have to make it to somewhere where they can be accepted by a current sustainable community, or move onto land where they can create one. This will involve travel of some sort and also the ability to defend your group while moving from A to B. If it is true TEOTWAWKI, then it could go on for years and you may have to travel to establish a farm somewhere. If you are going to be taken in by a community or small town that is sustaining itself, then you have to show your worth in some way. This can also become relevant to those who find themselves in the ‘gold standard’ prepper retreat location, because some of the factors may change to make that position no longer tenable. So, at some point it may be relevant to all that they will have to move in vehicles in a post collapse environment. Some good feedback that I have received is about communities in good defendable locations and the potential to take in good people after a collapse. The reasoning from one prepper was that although the community needed to be defended, good people could be screened and admitted and lodge with some of the elderly folk who have land but lack physical muscle to get things done. It smacks of a return to an older model of society where communities and villages mucked in together and children were looked after by the whole village while others worked the land.
If you have to conduct vehicle movement in a post collapse environment then you will need to assume an extant threat. Such a threat will take the form, in simple terms, of armed groups and individuals who will seek to impinge on you and your family’s freedom, property or life for their own ends. There could be road blocks, ambush, mobs, tricks and all sorts of threats. You will also have to consider the extent that any law enforcement remains active, which could also include emergency or martial law. For example, if you are moving you will have to assess the situations as they appear and decide whether you are facing a legal checkpoint (i.e. military/law enforcement) versus perhaps an illegal roadblock with bad intent versus perhaps an ‘illegal’ one with simply defensive intent, such as one set up by a community militia to defend a town. The types of threat are numerous and to fully define them is also beyond the scope of this article; suffice to say that the means (firearms) are out there and the intent and motive will exist for the ‘bad guys’ to wish to do you harm. This is particularly true if you are moving with supplies in a collapse situation. Therefore, you will need to consider the adoption of defensive tactics and capabilities in order to mitigate against the threat.
Please put out of your mind any assumptions that you may have already about how you will move in this kind of environment. I am not advocating the use of children as ‘shooters’, the open display of weapons out of car windows, or even the positioning of a ‘shooter’ in a sunroof. In short, this is not about going ‘Mad Max’. You will need to consider the ‘profile’ that you adopt, which means how your vehicle packet appears as you are moving along the roads and at halts, and will also have implications for the professionalism that you display. You can adopt either a ‘high’ or ‘low’ profile (or posture) and I would advocate that in this situation, as a family or group of civilians moving in a potentially hostile post collapse environment, that you adopt the lower end of the profile scale. This does not impact your defensive capability, and it could be said you make you a more inviting target if you look ‘softer’. However, you do not want to incite action against you by hostiles and there may well still be elements of military or law enforcement working out there and you don’t want to find yourself arrested or engaged by these elements because you yourselves are seen as a lawless threat. This is not a discussion about creating tactical teams or quick reaction forces, which I have written about elsewhere and will be useful in other circumstances; it is more about mitigating risk to a family or friends group moving cross country.This is a guest post written by Max Velocity – You can visit his website here.