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One of the best ways to learn how to deal with a SHTF situation is from real-world examples of how the average person deals with them and which threats are most essential to protect from to ensure their survival. There were plenty of SHTF scenarios this year that we all can learn from. I’ve chosen a handful of the best examples that provide intriguing lessons for even the long-time prepper.
These cover a huge range of scenarios, from military conflict, to flooding, to financial collapse. Although, they aren’t always the most extreme scenarios. After all, one part of prepping is preparing for the small crisis that we could simply survive a lot better. But, others are truly the life-altering experiences that few of us will experience more than once.
Where SHTF This Year Around the World
In May 2017, ISIS affiliated forces called the Maute militants attempted to take the Phillippines’ city of Marawi. The siege continues, and martial law has been declared. As of a few weeks ago, the death toll is over 500 (380 of which are terrorists). ISIS has set up snipers and traps that have limited the success of the Philippines’ military response.
There are parts of the city where civilians may have been executed. Australia has provided support, including surveillance of the city, but no one has a complete picture of what is going on there. Rumors are being published about the situation. Unfortunately, at least one analysis suggest a similar siege could happen again.
If you think you and your community would be able to hold out in a besieged city, you would have to deal with some very gruesome events. Some of those living in the Philippines before the siege have decided to support ISIS. The government has had to bomb their own city. The militants have stockpiled weapons and don’t seem to be running out anytime soon.
Plenty of people chose to run from the situation instead, some as late as three days later, which is where we can learn a lot. It’s important to know generally when you would bug-out during a SHTF situation, depending on what kind of situation. These people would have done better with bug-out-bags, and a way to communicate with their scattered family. We have cellphones, but many of us need to know the number for our kid’s school or daycare, so the school can prep them to go.
Then you have to consider where you’ll end up both during a short-term and long-term situation. Some in Marawi do not plan on ever returning to the city. Also, they may be forced to flee further, if the ISIS siege spreads or is repeated. For Americans, this is a good reminder to have bug-out locations planned not just a few cities over, but also a state, and a few states over.
2. Sri Lanka
It’s not unusual for Sri Lanka to suffer a dengue outbreak, but in 2017 they had their worst ever. There were 89,885 suspected cases of dengue. The potentially deadly infection is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Three to fifteen days later, symptoms develop, usually including fever, headache, pain, vomiting, and a skin rash. In some people, it will also cause bleeding, low blood pressure, and death. There is no treatment, only supportive medicines.
The government had to mobilize the army to try to limit the spread of the disease. Mainly, they had to clean up rotting garbage, which had become breeding grounds for mosquitoes in the wet conditions. The lesson here is that our high standards of hygiene in America are our best protection against the spread of many diseases. But, when SHTF, few people really know how to maintain hygiene, including disposing of their garbage, waste, and dealing with their existing plumbing. That’s something every prepper needs to have a plan for, that and a general pandemic plan.
One more thing, dengue causes a fever, yes, but you should never use NSAIDs (like asprin) to treat it, because these thin your blood. You’re already suffering severe blood loss. What’s the lesson to be learned from this tidbit? If you’re not familiar with the disease that’s become an epidemic, you need to seek out medical advice, even if that means listening to radio. You should only treat a new illness without some kind of medical guidance if you absolutely have to, because even everyday medicine, like aspirin, could make it worse.
The United States doesn’t experience outbreaks of contagious disease on the scale of undeveloped countries. But, we still have our share of problem diseases and illness. One such illness is the measles. This June, Minnesota alone has experienced more cases of measles than our entire country did last year. Twenty-one people have been hospitalized already in the state, four of those were vaccinated. That seems like a small number, until it effects someone you know. Hopefully, none of these people will die, but there is the possibility, especially for children and the elderly.
When you think about it, that’s the way many people relate to SHTF events. They don’t think it can happen to them, until it does happen to them, or someone they know. Who was prepared for the first time their power went out? Hopefully, your parents experienced a bad power outage and impressed upon you the need to prepare after you left the nest. The best thing we can do is learn from our personal experience, and learn from other’s personal experience.
Take Gaye’s relationship to vaccines. As she’s said before, she wasn’t sure about vaccination until one of her own children came down with whooping cough. It’s a terrifying experience you never want to go through. Personally, I didn’t think twice about vaccines until my best friend in high school came down with a painful case of mumps, because her parents hadn’t vaccinated her. If I hadn’t had vaccine, and if it hadn’t worked on me (the MMR vaccine is effective 78 percent of the time for a single dose, 88 for a second) I could have gotten the illness too.
Even if you’re fully on-board with vaccines, there is another lesson here for you. Is there a SHTF situation that is in your “blind spot?” Make sure you’ve considered all of the SHTF events that you want to be prepared for, not just those that are most convenient or fun to prep for. And if there is a disaster you know could happen, but you’re reluctant to prep for, consider why.
As a last tidbit, it may interest most preppers to learn that you can get vaccines which aren’t necessarily recommended by your doctor, but which you might want to invest in as part of prepping. There’s vaccines for cholera, tuberculosis, shingles, yellow fever, and so much more.
It’s been almost a year since the Louisiana flooding of August 2016, but there are still on-going lessons from the situation that every prepper needs to hear.
It was the worst flooding the area has experienced in over 500 years. Even those whose homes were outside of designated flood areas had damaged property, or complete loss of home. Thirteen people died. At least 60,000 homes were reported damaged.
The obvious lessons are that you should be prepared to bug-out due to flooding, even if you don’t live in a typical flood area. Another lesson is to store more than a week’s worth of supplies. One flood survivor, Jo Lee Misner, told CNN that he had enough flood-proof supplies in his home for a week– but that wasn’t enough.
Further, let’s dig a little beyond the obvious lessons we learned from this disaster. During the event, a group of volunteers called the Cajun Navy attempted to rescue people. When they refused to pay a small administrative fee to become recognized authorities, Louisiana State Senator Jonathan Perry warned they had to stop rescuing people, or they would be stopped by law enforcement.
It’s not just local government that can become an obstacle to rescue efforts. Two nurses that volunteered during the crisis said Red Cross threw out various donations, including food, medicine, and clothing. A Red Cross spokesperson denied that happened, but admitted they do “turn down,” donations for various reasons, including if it didn’t come from a “certified” kitchen.
The key lesson from this disaster is that bureaucratic red tape isn’t disappearing just because there’s a disaster. If you’re a kind soul who plans to donate, either call ahead to the organization, or walk around and hand it out yourself.
This gulf country came under a blockade from its neighbors this June. The country was accused of supporting terrorism, by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, inciting violence and harming the stability of the overall region. Whatever you think of this claim, the average citizen in Qatar was faced with the possibility of a financial crisis.
If goods from a group of countries were cut off to America, it’s possible such a situation could develop. It’s much more likely that we would face a financial crisis of another sort though. If there were early warning signs of this crisis, what would you do?
One man living in Qatar turned to Reddit to look for answers, and his situation is very informative. There were two primary concerns he was facing: how to protect his savings from the potential inflation, and how to have some cash on hand that is more stable than the local currency: the riyal (remember, in these situations debit and credit often stop working) He was limited, as US dollars, euros, and pounds were already not available in Qatar. The suggestions on Reddit ranged from buying Swiss currency, Japanese currency, bitcoin, and gold for savings storage (making sure those exchange fees were as low as possible) to buying consumer goods for trading purposes.
That’s all great advice for if you’re not in America, but what if you are? Getting cash, or items that can be used for bartering, is still solid advice. Protecting savings by converting them to another currency is not really an option. As the global reserve currency, American dollars are usually the safest bet, and there isn’t too much you could convert your currency into to protect it from a collapse of American dollars. Maybe Russian or Saudi Arabian currency, but it would depend very much on the situation.
A better solution is to buy gold or silver. Get in early if you can, as they’ll rise during any crisis. Sure, there is the option of bitcoin, which will see faster gains than gold, but its not nearly as stable as gold. If we’re talking protecting investments, instead of making short-term investments to profit, then gold is ideal.
Of course, protecting your savings isn’t the only matter you need to worry about if there is a financial crisis in the states. You need to make sure you can take care of your basic needs without relying on too many outside forces. You can find more details about this here.
If there is one SHTF situation you need to be aware of, it’s the crisis in Venezuela. There has long been political tension in the country between the socialists and their opposition. Throw in a power-hungry Supreme Court, stagnating oil profits, and a President who is determined to cling to power while others are intent on ripping him down, and you get this desperate situation.
Political suppression, extreme currency devaluation, and a dire food and medicine shortage resulted. The situation is not getting better, with some noting the country is heading to civil war and their neighbors are doing nothing about it.
The best lessons in this for American preppers are on the small scale. Families just trying to survive this are caught in a horrible grindstone between the two factions. Many preppers have considered how they would deal with an oppressive police force, but in Venezuela even civilians have organized themselves into a “police force” which is also dangerous to average people, depending on what they think a citizen’s political beliefs are.
Independent news has been shut down, reminding us of how important a long-range communication plan in. Grocery stores are usually empty, but they do get occasional food shipments, which has kept the desperate people crowding around them daily. The last place I would want to be is in those lines. Those who have items to barter and some family or neighbors they can trust are at an advantage.
Yet, perhaps the best lesson to be learned from Venezuela is the feeling of stagnation in the country. The Nation points out that, while many are suffering, mass starvation is not happening. The rich are still comfortable, the poor much less so, but still alive. No one wants to talk about politics, and no solutions have been offered in or outside of the country.
We think about SHTF events as extreme, acute disasters that are over fairly quickly. But this doesn’t have to be the case. And, the longer the disaster, the more optimism and energy drains away from the survivors. One Venezuelan man said, “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We’re fucked.” It’s easy to understand his sentiment, and harder to understand how horrible it feels and how bad it is for your survival chances. Morale issues always seem tacked onto a prepper’s plan– but they are truly essential.
Whether you’ll be facing small or large SHTF moments in the coming months, we hope this list has given you something to chew over that will help you survive.
Remember, prepping isn’t an achievement, it’s a process. There are always new things to learn from, and changing conditions to look out for.
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