When societies collapse life suddenly gets a lot more dangerous. There will be many risks to your life, from a whole range of sources.
Fires won’t get put out. The water could quickly become unsafe to drink. Emergency medical care… good luck with that. When all the complex systems that hold a modern society together stop running, dangers will multiply like weeds.
The sad truth, though, is that if society breaks down the biggest danger we’ll face is our fellow humans. Even at the best of times, some people have no respect for the law or for other people; that’s why we have so much crime already.
Others have no respect for other people but fear of the law keeps them in check – for now. Take away that fear, and crime is going to explode.
Finally there are the people, probably a huge number of them, who weren’t prepared for the disaster but now that it’s happened they’re determined to survive it. They’ll be desperate to get the things they need to keep them alive, and if that means committing crimes they’ll do it.
Some will commit crimes because they think it’s necessary for their survival; others will commit crimes just because they can. Anyone could become a target for the wave of criminals that will sweep through the disintegrating nation – including you.
If you want to maximize your chances of outliving our society, you need to be prepared to survive the upsurge in crime that will follow its breakdown.
Obviously that means knowing what to be prepared for. Not all crimes are going to increase; for example there isn’t going to be a rise in wire fraud. Here are the dangers you’re likely to face:
This isn’t the most likely crime you’ll be faced with, but it’s the most serious. If society falls apart there’s a good chance someone is going to try to kill you.
There are many reasons why they might try to kill you. Some people will want your supplies and be prepared to do anything to get them.
You might think hiding your stockpile in your basement is a good idea. But here’s why you should actually never do that.
Others will be furious at all the things that have gone wrong, and they’ll be looking for someone – anyone – to take their rage out on. And of course some, freed of the restraints of the law, will kill just because they think they can get away with it.
Just watch the news after any political unrest or natural disaster, and you’ll see how quickly some people turn to theft. Riots break out after someone is shot by the police?
Every store in the neighborhood will get looted. A hurricane’s storm surge floods a city?
Even while most residents are trying to sandbag their homes or evacuate from the disaster area, others will be helping themselves to designer clothes and TVs. And that’s just a short-term social breakdown in a limited area.
If our whole society collapses, a lot of people will take the opportunity to steal whatever they can get their hands on. The first surge of looting will focus on the familiar targets – stores selling designer clothes or consumer electronics.
Then, as the realization sinks in that the power isn’t coming back on anytime soon and the government has completely lost control, people will start to wonder where their next meal is coming from. That will trigger a new, larger wave of pillaging, as every grocery store and food warehouse in the country is stripped bare.
Even the food in a big box store won’t last long, though. Pretty soon, hungry people are going to be looking for alternative supplies – and that’s when preppers need to start worrying.
If people know you’re a prepper, or they can see that your home is relatively unaffected by the collapse, you become a target. You have a stockpile of food and other useful supplies, and people are going to want to steal it.
The fact it’s your property won’t bother them by that point; unless you can stop them taking it, they will.
Some people are firebugs. They just love watching the destruction of a fire, even if they don’t profit by it.
Fire can also be used as a weapon; one quick way to drive someone out of their home is to set fire to it.
That might give raiders a chance to steal vital supplies as the rightful owner flees from the flames. Even if you’re not the target of arson, large fires nearby can scatter burning debris over a wide area.
Make sure you’re prepared to deal with fires on your property.
In the early stages of social breakdown criminals will take the chance to be temporary owners of a nice set of wheels; later on, when survival becomes the priority, the more sensible thieves will be looking for practical vehicles that will help keep them alive.
In a really serious collapse, when most vehicles are immobilized from lack of fuel, a prepper’s vehicle isn’t just a desirable target in its own right; it also tells people you have a stockpile of fuel for it.
If you’re driving in a social breakdown keep the doors locked and stay alert for potential problems. Steer clear of crowds and don’t go anywhere that doesn’t have a clear escape route.
What if you can stop them taking it? Your land is surrounded by fences that can deter casual thieves, there are alarms to let you know about more determined intruders and you’re alert and well-armed enough to drive them off.
That might persuade people to shrug their shoulders and move on to an easier target, but when all those easier targets have been plundered they’ll remember you, and they’ll be back.
This time instead of robbing you, they could try to persuade you to hand over what they want.
One way to do this is by kidnapping someone you care about and demanding your supplies as the ransom. Will you hand over your stockpile when you see your loved one with a gun held to their head?
If society breaks down you need to plan all movements on military principles. Nobody goes out alone, so they can be ambushed and seized; move using mutual support, so you can keep an eye on each other and give support when it’s needed.
This is a gloomy picture, but it’s not all bad news. Yes, if society breaks down crime is going to surge – but even if the government never re-establishes control, the wave of lawlessness will eventually subside.
Crime levels probably won’t ever fall back to where they were before the collapse, and looking around at the world today, isn’t that a depressing thought? But the odds are they’ll drop a long way below their peak.
A lot of the thieves will either starve to death or manage to pull things together enough that they don’t need to steal anymore. The thrill killers and rapists will slowly get whittled away by prospective victims who managed to defend themselves.
If you can survive that first apocalyptic explosion of lawbreaking, you have an excellent chance of making it through.
You may also like: