What to Expect After a Collapse
“Apocalypse does not point to a fiery Armageddon, but to our ignorance and complacency coming to an end” – Joseph Campbell
We haven’t had too much good news in the last few years. From civil unrest and violent protests in the streets to food supply chains collapsing, from pandemics to largescale power outages, to tainted water and land poisoned from large-scale industrial and transportation accidents, threats of World War and nuclear war, the rising cost of everything to the inevitable bursting of the bubble in a global economic meltdown and banks beginning to fail, from attacks on our power grid, cyberattacks, and nuclear power plants caught in the crossfire of a massive and deadly war, and so much more, the world is on a clear path of deterioration. That doesn’t even factor in the general disaster preparedness you should have for anything from a natural disaster to a job loss or sudden, finance-draining medical emergency.
If a single event were to push the world as we know it over the edge leading to a collapse, there are things you can start doing today to prepare for that potential to ensure you survive. Making it through the days, weeks, and months following a massive disaster or a series of compounding disasters where you are cut off from outside assistance, and laws and order have broken down starts with what you do today. There are solutions to plug in today, remain safe and survive our uncertain future. Here are the 5 phases of a disaster and the 5 rules you have to follow to give yourself a chance at surviving the aftermath.
PHASE 1: ONE TO TWO DAYS – SHOCK
After any significant event, from a nuclear event (whether a nuclear power plant melt down or nuclear missile exchange), to a collapse of the banking system resulting in people making runs on the bank, people will initially feel a notable sense of disbelief. They are often dazed, wandering, or locked in their homes. You or others you know might have experienced some of this same disbelief and uncertainty when COVID spreading across the United States and residents were asked to stay home. You may have asked yourself, why is this is happening or is this really happening? During this event, it became a calculation period for many, as they sought answers as to why their world was thrown into chaos leaving them to wonder what they could do to make it through. For many, this threw them into a panic, and they comforted themselves by panic-buying beans, rice, soup, and toilet paper. They bought way more than they needed in most cases, and this caused snarls, upheavals, and collapses in the supply chain. That caused stores to put limits on purchases or sell out of inventory, exacerbating the problem. For the most part, however, these first 48 hours after a major event are marked with an uncertain and unsettling calm as people assess their situation and what just happened. For the prepared, it is a time of taking inventory and determining your safety at your current location. Do you stay or do you go before the masses make it impossible to do otherwise. If you have to get out of the area, your preparedness will keep you moving through to safer areas while others are still wandering around and scratching their heads in disbelief.
RULE #1 – DON’T GET CAUGHT IN THE MASSES
For the unprepared, after the initial event has ended, they assume help will soon come. When they realize that help may not be coming, things can turn on a dime. This is where you have to be wise with your next steps. If you’re wanting to run to the store to top off your preps, the risk involved may outweigh any benefit achieved. If you have been preparing, your best strategy is to not venture out. We would never suggest attempting a run to the grocery store or gas station if things are deteriorating rapidly. It’s just not worth it unless there’s a very compelling reason particular to your situation. You do not want to surround yourself with the frighten and unpredictable masses. Knowing that things will move out of this somewhat calm phase to the next more chaotic phase in the aftermath, the momentary relative peace after the disaster may be to get to your location and hunker down because the first week might be even worse than the initial disaster.
PHASE 2: FIRST WEEK – PANIC
This panic buying activity is really when people emerge from their initial shock from the onset of the event in question. They are emerging from an information and resource-gathering phase of their post-crisis experience. After 9/11, people were buying plastic sheeting and duct tape for windows as they feared a biological or dirty bomb terrorist attack. The shock and awe are replaced by a very self-centered compulsion to get what you need before it’s all gone. When people realize services like utilities, medical, police, and fire are offline and may not return online in the foreseeable future, their panic level will increase dramatically. So too, increases the level of crime and vigilantism. Social order is really an agreement between people under the threat of prosecution. We all agree to stop at a red light because we know failing to do so will have consequences, either by hitting someone else who has agreed to the order or getting a ticket and fine. But what happened when the police refused to go to work after Katrina? What happens when the government can merely make threats of enforcement and future prosecution from safer zones miles away? What happens when mass looting in multiple locations cannot be contained?
That sort of violent upheaval reaction follows the realization and acceptance of the fact that the lights aren’t going to come back on, the water may be tainted, and the police are overloaded. Many places around the world have been in this spot before. This is also when the Guard or military is pressed into service, assuming the disaster is confined to a specific geographical area and doesn’t involve the entire country or nation. When the military is brought in, you’re under martial law, and your only safe place is locked away and hidden from sight. Even if it doesn’t get that bad, the realization that services will not come back, that safety is less than guaranteed, and that the agreed-upon social contract is defunct leads to widescale panic. Expect runs on banks, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and other places where resources can be had. Understand that these resources are quickly depleted because most businesses do not have an on-hand inventory of anything that would last a hungry population beyond 72 hours under normal demand. If everyone in your city or town went out and filled their gas tanks on all their cars, your city or town would be out of gas by day’s end. If everyone panic-bought food resources at the grocery store to get them through an uncertain future, the shelves and stock rooms would be empty within hours. If everyone panic bought the lumber to board their windows, generators, utility lights, or whatever other hardware and equipment they perceived they needed from their local chain hardware store, the store would have empty aisles in days and some items within hours.
Realize that different disasters will bring about different levels of service failure. Police or fire might still exist, but they cannot reach your area. Municipal water and gas might still flow through pipes to you, or the water may be tainted and the gas shut off to avoid explosions from damaged pipes. Electricity may be down for an estimated period, or there may be no hope of it being restored anytime soon. You must assess these things by the available information you can gather. Understand that depending upon the severity of the disaster, sewage, and human waste may be piling up, people may be wandering in search of food and water, and there may be corpses of humans and animals beginning to decay. It really depends on the type of disaster. While much of that is unrealistic for a severe storm that knocks out utility services for over a week, it is entirely possible in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, hurricane, cyclone, or other mass casualty events where help may be a ways off, or not coming at all.
Because you are more prepared than the average masses, your evaluation should assess whether your current location is sustainable. Do you have what you need? Is your habitat safe? Will it remain safe when others are in full panic mode after realizing civility and order are gone, and it’s every man for himself?
RULE #2 – STAY OR GO?
You need to evaluate this rule at every phase– the lead-up, disaster, and aftermath. Even before an anticipated disaster strikes, you must determine if evacuation is possible and doable. You may need to leave in the aftermath, but roads may be impassable. You must consider this rule the days before the disaster (if it’s an event such as a hurricane you can see coming), during the disaster, and after the disaster.
As with many of the rules I will provide you here, evaluating your strengths and weaknesses before, during, and after any disaster comes down to the 3 Ps – Proximity, Preps, and Plans. What is your proximity to the disaster or danger resulting from the disaster? If you are too close or the disaster is heading your way, you must decide quickly whether to lock down in your shelter or leave while you can. What are and where are your preps? Did the disaster strike while you were on the other side of town, or are you at home with your preps? What are your current plans and future plans? Survival is about options. Plans and forethought provide you with options. When your options are narrow and few, your survivability is in jeopardy. Sometimes you have no choice but to hunker down and wait it out–that may be your only plan. Use that time to develop or implement your post-disaster plans. Always try to have plans A through C to keep your options available. Use the 3 Ps – Proximity, Preps, and Plans – with every rule and at every phase.
PHASE 3: FIRST MONTH – EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF
In small-scale disasters that are manageable, order at some level will be re-established. Maybe the lights will come back on, and some services will be restored along with a schedule and timeline for further restoration of services. Perhaps a curfew and citizen-assisted patrols will re-establish a livable calm. Maybe the disaster zone is cleared, and most everyone has migrated to a safer location. In most cases, that’s what happens. In most disasters, you can get to this point– a restoration of order– when there is the hope of recovery and restoration.
There are disasters, however, where there isn’t even a sparkle of hope on the horizon. Rescue services go from “we can’t go in right now” to “we aren’t going in.” even if they aren’t as blunt. This is the “Everyman for Himself” phase, where it is often more dangerous than the disaster that preceded it. When you have resources and others do not, you are a target. When the smell of good cooking or the sound of a generator floats on the breeze through the neighborhood, good people will come and hope you share. Bad people will come to take their share.
When you prep, don’t just set a few 72-hour kits of food and some bottled water aside. That’s a great start for anyone, but you have to also consider your operational security and the security of your location. In urban and suburban environments, people often live right on top of each other. Even if you prep, it doesn’t mean others have. Self-isolation and keeping a low profile is the best that you can do until some order is re-established, even if that’s a new order and the old order will never return.
If you get through the first month and you are still in proximity of danger, your preps are running low, or your plans are few beyond staying safe, fed, and hydrated, it’s time to follow this next rule.
RULE #3 – PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS
If you’re a month into a disaster and no help has arrived, the amount of attention you give to rationing your supplies will be even more crucial. But let me emphasize that you must be doing this from the first day. Water usage, counting calories, and just being aware of your overall usage of your inventory will matter more than ever if you’re this far into a post-collapse situation. If you aren’t cutting down trees, moving rubble, or struggling to travel across the landscape but are tucked away and hidden in your home, realize that your caloric intake does not need to be as great. If you are engaged in one of those high-energy endeavors, realize your caloric needs will be greater than the minimal baseline to avoid starvation of 1,200 a day for women and 1,500 a day for men.
We can’t stress the necessity of having enough stored water, even if you live off a well in your backyard. We doubt anyone in East Palestine, Ohio, is drinking their well water after toxic chemicals leaked into the water after the train derailment. Also, municipal water supplies are frequently damaged in disasters, or the water becomes tainted. Have the means to boil, filter, purify, and treat water and have enough stored water to provide for everyone in your family, including pets, for at least three weeks.
PHASE 4: TWO MONTHS AND THE FUTURE – REBUILDING
If you make it this far but are still deep in the aftermath with no sign of recovery, you can give up on any recovery coming your way. A disaster of this length is commonly referred to in this community as an SHTF event. That means the government likely will not be re-established. Norms and social order will likely not be re-established. Food and resource supply chains will likely not be re-established. You have to accept that you will be going it alone, rebuilding on your own, and relying upon whatever community you built before, during, or after the initial disaster. Were you part of a social club like a scouting group, a church, a hobbyist group, mutual assistance group, or a club? They may have organically come together to help each other. If you were part of a mutual assistance group, you are in a better situation than most because your group will already have 2 of the P’s– Preps and Plans.
It is likely that at the two-month or more mark, makeshift services like police, fire, and medical may have been restored at a very basic level depending on strong your community is. It is natural for people to come together after a disaster for their protection and survival. It’s also natural for groups to form who are more of your marauding and lawless type. These two forces will conflict with each other, and your area may resemble a war zone or high crime zone at times, even as your thoughts need to turn to rebuilding, re-establishing food and water resources, and restoring whatever else has been destroyed by the disaster and aftermath.
At the two-month mark and into the future, if you are going to stay in an area, you have to figure out how to rebuild and restore a livable order for yourself and your community, but you have to genuinely evaluate your situation. For example, how close are you in proximity to danger or to a safer locale? Is everything fine in the next state over? If so, maybe it’s time you plan to try and get there. What’s the status of your preps at this point in time? Those who weren’t prepared at all are either dead, gone, or taking from others, and the population has dwindled along with the resources. If you are out of supplies or running low, you may have no choice but to leave or regroup. And then there are your plans. Is there even a plan for the future, or will you need to find somewhere else to make your plans? If you have been in a constant lockdown or martial law period or there is still a nuclear or biological threat that you are waiting out, you will need to be calculating when it is safe to re-emerge or flee to safer areas. Always be planning a range of possible next moves.
RULE #4 – PREPARE ACCORDING TO YOUR SITUATION
What are the most likely threats in your area? Have you given that much thought before? Do you live next to a large industrial or manufacturing facility? Do you know what chemicals they likely use? Are they consistently being cited for safety concerns? If you don’t know these things, try to find out. Do you live next to a train track that regularly carries hazardous chemicals? The residents in East Palestine just learned that painful lesson. Does your area have a history of earthquakes, tornadoes, or other natural disasters? What’s the worst event of this type in the historical record? We did a video on the channel providing a detailed risk assessment tool to help you in your research when evaluating the most likely threats in your area which we’ll link to in the description section below.
PHASE 5: THE FUTURE – KNOWN & UNKNOWN
If you make it beyond the 3-month mark and are in the rebuilding phase or still getting to that phase, understand that your world will likely never return to any semblance of the way it was before. Understand, too, that whatever plans you had that got you to this point may not be tenable in the future. After the three months of what you need to survive is used up, your world may be so significantly changed that it’s a very different prep you must rely upon. That prep is your accumulation of skills and knowledge. Your skills and knowledge are the known, whereas the future is your unknown. Here we suggest that after this blog, you review our video on 3 Months Is All You Need As A Prepper, which we will link to at the end. In that blog, we go into much greater detail about what you need to survive the first 3 months after a disaster and why after 90 days, it will entirely depend upon your skills and knowledge.
We’ll be honest with you, having a year’s supply of food and water for yourself is great, but it is absolutely not a guarantee that you will ever see the disaster’s first anniversary. Disaster may strike when you are in the next town over, and you may be cut off from your supplies altogether. Too many intangibles accompany a disaster of that magnitude, from compounded follow-on disasters to marauders to makeshift governments to a sudden case of appendicitis or some other acute medical emergency. Understand that your survival beyond 90 days will come down to your previously accumulated skills and knowledge. Those are your most vital preps beyond 90 days. Those are also preps that cannot be taken from you, so read that blog 3 Months Is All You Need As A Prepper, which we will link to at the end of this blog.
RULE #5 – INFORMATION
Being informed is gathering the information you need to make 3P decisions (Proximity, Preps, and Plans). This is done through observation, communications like radios, Internet, broadcasts, or other electronic-dependent sources. The second part of rule number 5 is knowing what you need to know. If you depend solely on YouTube videos or the internet to learn the skills you need to know, you will be in trouble. Develop skills as a core prep, but also have physical manuals, maps, guides, and printed materials to learn from and continually inform your decisions. Do you know how to forage for food from the wild while others depend solely on canned and mylar packaged food? Do you know how to garden and have seeds to do so? Can you build a precipitation collection system or a solar water distiller? You might not have all the prepping equipment you need. You might not have the space for what you’ll need for the full range of possible disasters, but if you have tools and some know-how or resources to learn from, what you know and can know will get you through the unknowns of the future. What you know before disaster strikes will allow you to pivot in uncertain and unknown times. For instance, you should have paper maps and understand evacuation routes, areas of safety and resources, and the like, but disasters can dramatically alter landscapes. Maps can be rendered almost entirely useless if you don’t also know how to read maps, navigate with a compass, and travel without vehicles. Know what you need to know before disaster strikes, and know how to keep informed after it has.
For disasters, you have five distinct human behavior phases: shock, panic, everyman for himself, rebuilding either with a group or by oneself when it is safe to begin that process, and the unknown future. You also have five rules for surviving. First, take advantage of the calm before and the shock phase after the disaster to get to safety or, if safe, get what you need, though you should be prepped. Second, assess whether you should stay or go every day before and all the days after. If a toxic cloud, flow of lava, wildfire, army, or flood is coming your way on day 3, you should get moving. You will know through the information channels you established before any disaster and your observations in the aftermath. Continually evaluate using the 3Ps whether you should stay or go. Third, have at least 90 days of preps and equipment. More is great but less than that will drastically reduce your chances of survival in a long-term, catastrophic SHTF disaster. Fourth, prep for the disasters you might face, but definitely prepare for the ones you will likely face. Finally, the fifth rule is to prepare skills, knowledge, and non-electronic resources to help you navigate, rebuild and ultimately survive in an unknown and uncertain future. If you understand the five phases and the five rules, your odds of surviving go way up.
As always, stay safe out there.
THE 3 VIDEOS TO LINK:
3 Months Is All You Need As A Prepper – Here’s Why
8 Overlooked Ways to Communicate When the Grid Goes Down
10 Great Depression Skills That Will Pay Well
Free Risk Assessment Tool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AODaE92HjSo