There has been a lot of concern about civil unrest and what the next few years are going to bring to us. This has made me think about how so many of us get into situations that can be avoided with a little thought and preparedness.
Avoid large crowds if times are tense
I don’t expect everyone to live with the level of isolation I do. It is a choice that has allowed me to live the life I do. I used to see more music shows and things like that but to be honest, I cringe at the thought of being in a space that I cannot exit easily or have a good grasp of the situation. This girl is not going to be in any darkened movie theaters or huge amphitheaters. I am glad I got to see Pearl Jam during better times because that probably is not going to happen again.
If you plan on going to a larger shopping center, exercise some caution
Large shopping centers like malls and Wal-Marts are not where you want to be during tense times. Over time, there may reach a point where even smaller stores require being on guard more than you might like.
During times of strife, if looting becomes an issue, remember that during the beginning of a real SHTF scenario, people are at the point where they will take items that are luxuries they desire, not the necessities that will aid the survival of them or their families. If you find yourself in a store when looting starts, you are safer and better off in the long term if you are the person grabbing canned meat and not the latest phone, laptop, or television.
Limit unnecessary trips for supplies
Are you one of those folks that will drive to town for two things that you could do without? Well, you need to get over that for SHTF. At my house, we do a large grocery and household products shopping trip in town once per month with a smaller shopping trip during the second half of the month.
Items like toilet paper and paper towels that take up the whole grocery cart we order online and have delivered. This allows us to get a bigger return for the time we spend shopping in town.
Not making a ton of trips limits your exposure to distracted drivers and the chances of running into civil unrest. There is the added benefit of less wear and tear on your car and not spending as much on gas or diesel.
Plenty of people overspend on impulse buys if they do a lot of small trips to stores because it means you have more opportunities for temptation.
People will not be in their right mind during SHTF
When times are tense, people are not focused on what is going on around them as much. Those that are easily distracted and stressed are not going to be driving as well. People also tend to drink more and consume more illicit substances during hard times. On the other hand, some people cannot get the medicines or drugs they are used to and are thus in withdrawal and distracted by mental and physical symptoms.
Avoid protest areas or any parts of town where a popular or controversial political candidate is going to speak.
If I hear on the news that someone like Obama or Trump is going to give a speech in a nearby city, you can bet your bottom dollar that Matt and I will be nowhere near that area or town. It is very easy to plan our lives out so that we don’t have the need.
I understand why people protest, but the truth is that most protests don’t do any good if the powers that be want something to be a certain way. The potential for rioting is great, and when people are very emotional, it is very easy to provoke someone without even intending to. All someone in a protest has to do is point you out and say something, and the mob mentality may mean that some very negative attention is put on you. This can be very serious or even fatal if times are edging towards SHTF or a high stakes issue is at the root of the gathered crowd.
Being too curious can get you killed or seriously hurt very fast
Even just observing the action of gathering or protest can have terrible consequences. Civilians caught up in people running or pinpointed for looking a certain way are possibilities. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time can be avoided in a lot of cases. I don’t care if you want to experience history in the making, stay home and stay safe with your family if at all possible.
Is it worth the fight?
There will be people that encourage you to join in causes or drag you into their struggles. You have to decide based on your own well being and that of your family. Will it accomplish anything worthwhile to get involved with a cause?
Violence is incredibly easy to start but hard to stop.
Think about how a lot of fist fights start. First, there is a lot of shouting and insults. Maybe there are some hand gestures. At this point, everyone could walk away but then one person shoves the other, and the violence starts.
Once in motion, it is hard to stop violence from escalating and during a SHTF scenario, it will be even harder because there is a good chance that law enforcement will not be there for you. People are less likely to stop if they think there will be little or no consequences for their actions.
By using violence, you are setting into motion a powerful chain of events that can go on a lot longer than you think.
Sometimes it is simply better to keep your mouth shut.
I have to bite my tongue a lot.
Since I have gotten more readers, people have treated me differently, and I have received attention and comments that are not always the most positive thing.
You cannot reason with everyone. There are always people that are not going to like you or will have a problem with what you stand for. On the other side of this, there are always going to be people that you don’t particularly care for or like their opinions. You may find them completely horrible but guess what?
They have as much right to their opinion as you do. The difference is how you react to others having different opinions that may not make any logical sense. I may rant to my very understanding husband, but I definitely don’t go on Facebook and let loose with how I really feel.
Pick your battles wisely. Take a deep breathe and give yourself some thinking time. Rash decisions can lead to dire consequences.
Rethink your bartering philosophy
A lot of people think that they are going to be part of this incredibly vibrant barter economy during hard times or SHTF. The truth is that when there is violence and civil unrest going on you want to avoid bartering as long as you can. Preppers would do well to plan for enough supplies to stay at home and shelter in place for a month or more if possible.
You don’t want to feel like you need to go towards the trouble just to get an item that you should have a good supply of anyway. Bartering during SHTF is not going to be fun.
Think about how it would be if you had to go to a sketchy drug deal and you will have a better idea of the danger and uncertainty of bartering for even the most basic items.
Start thinking about what you have and what you need now and add to it as you can. Even those that are hardcore preppers and think about it all the time often find areas they can improve in or holes in their preps when they review. None of us are perfect preppers that have it absolutely all together, we are all merely at different stages and vary in abilities.
During a recent interview, I was asked if we had other homesteads we barter with, and the answer is no. I do not have anyone around me that I can have that type of relationship with. Either those around me don’t produce enough, or I simply don’t know them. I didn’t go to public school around here, so I don’t know a lot of people close to my age either.
Plan alternative routes to and from work and school
In most cases, there is more than one way to get to, and from the places, you frequent daily. Having an alternative route planned and knowing the area is useful for many situations and natural disasters. Sure the alternative route may take longer under normal circumstances, but during an emergency, it may actually be faster. Even if the alternative route takes 2-3 times as long to get you to your destination, it is better than getting hurt or risking your life.
Think about the risk that people take when they pass you on the highway. Matt and I see people race by us to save a few seconds, but in the end, they don’t save any time at all because the same stoplight catches them and they are right there with everyone else, waiting for that light to change. They risked a ticket, the safety of themselves and everyone on the road, and gained nothing. Everyone loses in this case.
Don’t prod the bear. Remember past differences and those that may have a problem with you or a family member.
During times of unrest, people can be tense. If you have people that have a problem with you or a family member or you have had trouble with someone’s behavior in the past, you need to be aware and try to avoid them and definitely do not do anything to intentionally antagonize them. I am not saying let people abuse you or your family in any way but do what you can to avoid potential interactions that could be escalated.
Remember that some wounds and slights fester over time and while they seem forgotten, even 20 years down the road, they can come up again, especially if someone is very stressed.
Blood debts can go on for generations.
Some people never forget.
Remember, don’t get on the bus! NEVER!
During the beginning of a SHTF scenario, people will be vulnerable to persuasion and scared. Consider that for some; this will be the only time in their lives where they have experienced true hardship, hunger, or even major pain. A pretty darn bad day during good times is nothing compared to a good or average day during a major situation.
It is important not to let this cause you to make decisions that could completely change your life in an instant. Regardless of your opinion on the true nature of FEMA camps, they are there. During times of crisis, people may be offered what seems like a blessing. Food, shelter, warmth, someone looking out for you, medical care, etc., are powerful motivators.
NEVER go with the group to a really big camp or shelter if at all possible. Stay in control of your destiny and that of your family as much as you can! It may be harder at first or even for a good while afterward but in the long term, think about what is best not what gives you short term comfort and satisfaction.
Even if the intention of FEMA is initially good, conditions can deteriorate quickly. If you are boxed in with a bunch of other people and cannot get out, then you are imprisoned. It is a slippery slope friend.
Hurricane Katrina and the Superdome Disaster
Sure the Superdome was never meant to be a home for a lot of people like a FEMA camp but it is an example in modern times of the horrors that can occur when a lot of people are thrown together with limited facilities, food, water, and law enforcement that ignored pleas for help because that is what they felt they had to do.
- Drug and alcohol use was rampant. The Seattle Times reported those taking shelter complained of crack vials all over the bathrooms
- Rape and sexual assault were frequent, and plenty of incidents were either not reported, or when they were reported, it was too late to get any evidence
- There was more than a few suicides. One man jumped 50 feet off a balcony because he thought his situation was so hopeless.
- Bathroom facilities were not adequate, so there were feces and urine all over the place. Hygiene quickly deteriorated, and people got sick
- The Superdome was patrolled by an outstanding 500 National Guard, but they mostly patrolled the outside of the Superdome, keeping that inside from leaving. That’s right; you could not leave even if you wanted to. They were literally being held captive by armed troops.
- Some people did get airlifted out due to major medical problems and chronic conditions. Others had to stay.
Consider that all these terrible things happened during a time when things were not as volatile and tense as they are now in the USA.
If a disaster like Katrina can lead to this level of human rights violations, what do you think it could be like at a FEMA camp during SHTF?
Katrina was bad, but it wasn’t SHTF for a whole country.
Samantha Biggers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.