Here’s How You’ll Die When the SHTF (and How to Prevent Your Untimely Demise)

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

When it hits the fan…I mean REALLY hits the fan in a permanent kind of way, the most likely outcome is death.

That’s not pretty, and I’m well aware of it. I always try to be positive and optimistic, because for me, preparedness is the ultimate act of optimism, but sometimes we have to look at the numbers and face some things that are pretty terrifying. The first reality check is that some research says that only 3 million Americans are preppers.  That means that 315 million Americans are not preppers. Some experts predict that within 30 days of the power going out, 50% of Americans will be dead. Within a year, an astounding 90% of the population will be dead.

Do you want to survive such a scenario? Do you want your children to survive? When you read this information, you have to realize that it’s very unlikely that you and your family would live through a grid failure of a year or more unless you are proactive and develop a preparedness plan that takes all of these causes of death into consideration. There are several very common mistakes that preppers make, and avoiding them can go a long way toward saving the lives of the people you love.

The Top 10 Ways to Die in a Long-term Disaster

So here are the cold hard facts. One of these is the way that you are most likely to die when the SHTF, particularly in the event of a long-term grid failure. The good news is, now that you know this, you can take steps to prevent your untimely demise.

  1. You die of thirst or waterborne illness.  Most people have a case of water bottles kicking around, and perhaps a 5 gallon jug for the water cooler. What they don’t have is a gallon a day per person for a long-term emergency. Most people also don’t own a gravity fed, no-power necessary water filtration device with spare parts and extra filters. Most people do not have the skills and knowledge necessary to purify their water without these devices either.  Waterborne illness is the number one cause of death after a natural disaster. If just one person handles water and waste incorrectly, this can cause an epidemic of such deadly illnesses as Hepatitis A, viral gastroenteritis, cholera, Shigellosis, typhoid, Diphtheria and polio.  The other worry is dehydration. It only takes 3 days for a person to die of thirst.  Learn more about the importance of water preparedness HERE. If you’d like information on water preparedness in a print version, check out my book on the subject.
  2. You die from fantasy-world planning. So many preppers have poorly thought out plans for survival. They think they’ll “live off the land” and hunt, forage, and farm their way through the apocalypse, but they’ve never milked a goat or planted the contents of their seed banks. They don’t understand that gardens and crops can fail for innumerable reasons. They think they’re still in the same physical condition that they were 25 years ago and overestimate their ability to perform physical labor, like chopping wood for the fire. There are hundreds of bad strategies that will get preppers killed (in fact, here are 12 of them), and mostly it boils down to one crucial fact: it’s all a fantasy. They’ve never done ANY of the things that they think they will do for survival, or if they have done them, it was decades ago, when they were younger, fitter, and more resilient. I can tell you right now, if we had to live off of the contents of this year’s drought-stricken, deer-and-gopher-raided garden, we’d last about a week, enjoying salsa by the jarful, but little else.
  3. You freeze to death. Depending on where you live, you may freeze to death when the power goes out.  When temperatures plummet, people will become desperate to get warm, and this will lead to other modes of death such as carbon monoxide poison from improperly vented heat sources and house fires when people use fireplaces or wood stoves that have not been maintained for years. Learn about staying warm during a winter power outage HERE and begin to develop a plan that will keep your family cozy during a long-term scenario.
  4. You starve to death. Most people only have enough food to see them through until the next grocery trip.  Most people go to the grocery store more than once per week. In urban centers, it’s customary to buy your food fresh from the market each day.  If disaster strikes and you only have a few days’ worth of food, you are going to be one of those people standing in line for hours, begging FEMA for a bottle of water and an MRE to split amongst your family.  Even worse, in an extremely widespread disaster, FEMA won’t be coming at all, and you’ll be on your own, left with only what you have in your home…before it spoils and if you can figure out a way to cook it with no power.  Food poisoning, starvation, and malnutrition will be common causes of death. Learn about building a pantry on a budget HERE. To start yourself out with a speedy supply, go HERE for a variety of high quality, non-GMO kits.
  5. You have an accident involving major trauma. This is something that is difficult to prevent – that’s why they call it an accident. To up your chances of survival, always where the proper protective gear, such as safety goggles and gloves. Secondly, spend some time learning to deal with medical situations. Many communities offer free First Aid courses to get you started. Stock up on books that provide information for times when medical care is not available (this one is the very best in my opinion), and have advanced supplies on hand to deal with injuries.
  6. You get murdered when raiders or looters come to steal your stuff.  Remember the 315 million unprepared Americans? They’re going to be hungry. And the hungrier and more desperate people become, the more dangerous the world is going to be. It’s imperative that you be prepared to defend your home and family from them. If you’re one of those people who says, “I don’t want to live in a world where I have to shoot someone because they’re hungry” you just might get your wish. Because they won’t have a problem shooting you. This is one of the major reasons that preppers must be armed. The danger isn’t just from mobs of strangers.  If you tend to talk too much, your friends, extended family, and neighbors just might be the ones to kill you for your supplies.
  7. You get sick. Without our normal standards of cleanliness and the access to medical care, the likelihood of getting sick increases. Without the access to medical care, the likelihood of that sickness spiraling out of control is exponentially greater. Learn how to treat and manage sickness naturally so that you can get a handle on an illness before it kills you. This book is a fantastic reference, written with the prepper in mind.
  8. You get an infection. A silly little cut or splinter that we take for granted now could be a death sentence after the SHTF. With the possibility that your hygiene standards may drop and that you’ll be getting a lot dirtier doing physical labor, infection is fairly likely. It’s vital to immediately treat even the most trivial-seeming wound. For treating a wound, I can’t recommend this spray enough. I have used it on all sorts of animal infections that I thought would prove fatal, with 100% positive results. Because of this, we use it on our own wounds as soon as possible, too. That may not always be enough to prevent an infection however, so having the right antibiotics on hand could mean the difference between life and death. (Check out this antibiotic primer by Joe Alton of Dr. Bones fame) Many veterinary antibiotics are identical to those made for humans. You can find them on Amazon and add them to your stockpile.
  9. You die because you are fat and/or out of shape. If the Zombies approached and you found yourself outnumbered, are you fit enough to run away?  What if you had to bug out across the mountains? Would your heart hold up to the steep climb? Would your knees hold up to the descent? What if you add a 50 pound backpack? Now is the time to get yourself in shape. Most Americans lead fairly sedentary lives, sitting down to a desk all day for work. It’s not something you can fix overnight, so now is the time to increase your fitness. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the family members who will have to wait for you while you huff and puff. They’ll be killed when you slow them down. The road to fitness can start easily. If you can walk, you can improve your fitness level dramatically. This article discusses how to start out slowly and then build up your endurance and this PDF book will help you to reach a healthy body weight.
  10. You die when you daily medication runs out. This one is tougher to prevent. You can extend life expectancy by stockpiling medication but if the crisis outlasts your supply, there is a limit to what you can do. Who can forget the heartbreaking story of the diabetic girl in the book One Second After?  Don’t underestimate the difficulty for some of going without psychiatric drugs. Depending on the drug, withdrawal can be horrific, particularly if they have not been able to slowly wean themselves off. Some conditions,when untreated, can cause the sufferer to lose touch with reality and suffer a psychotic break, making them dangerous to themselves and others. Depending on the medication you require, there are sometimes natural alternatives and dietary tweaks that can help. Some existing conditions can be managed better now through lifestyle changes, which will increase your chances for survival later. For example, if you suffer from Type 2 Diabetes and are significantly overweight, improving your diet and losing weight now can reduce your dependence on daily medication in many cases. Keep in mind that some medications are okay after the expiration dates, while others can be deadly. (Learn more about pharmaceutical expiration dates HERE.) Learn everything you can about your medical condition and figure out a plan ahead of time.

Good news: nearly all of these deaths will be preventable

Now that you know how you’ll die, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it. Almost every cause of death mentioned here is entirely preventable.

What will save you when an epic disaster strikes is what you do now to prepare for it. Make education and good health your mission now and you’ll not only survive the SHTF, you’ll thrive against the odds.

What do you think are the most likely ways people will die? What are the best preventative steps we can take ahead of time?

Note: This article was written with the unprepared or the beginner in mind.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company.  She lives in the mountains of Virginia with her family. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • It’s so sad.
    Most people that lived through the Great Depression are dead. Many who listened to their stories are dying or are caught up in living today’s hurried materialistic lifestyle.
    If you can find any alive, listen. My husband grew up in extreme poverty in Appalachia. He trapped with, hunted and fished with, and learned so much from all the old-timers. He had to. There were no jobs in this very rural area…you had to do a bit of everything just to get by. If you did not hunt and fish and grow food, you were hungry. Wages never kept up with inflation and food costs. Almost all his best buddies, the old-timers, are all gone now. He said no one wanted to know what they had to offer. None of the younger guys would listen or hang out with them. Travis did. He also took care of them as they got older, bringing them fresh squirrels, catfish, venison, and veges from our garden when they could no longer get out.
    What they have to offer is lost. No one listened. Some is captured in the FoxFire series.
    I guess we will have to re-learn those hard lessons when the time comes. It’s a shame.

  • When you think about it…3 million preppers is one heckuvan achievement. Ms. Luther, both you and I were alive when the Wall Street Journal used “survivalism” as a go-to smear for goldbugs.

    Yes, smear. Back then, preppers or “survivalists” were so isolated that they either kept it quiet or else overcompensated by yelling. I’m not one to advocate resting on one’s laurels, but a vibrant prepper subculture is one huge victory. As I’m sure you know, fringe movements usually stay fringey or die out. By this relevant standard, prepping’s been almost unbelievably successful.

  • The first point: no one will get out of this world alive! I think that if hard times really come (I lay odds that they will.) the biggest killer will be people being overwellmed and giving up. As they say if it comes to “root hog or die” too many will not be willing to do what it takes to survive. So many people are so fussy about their diet they won’t be able to bring themselves to eat porcupine or what ever. Then there is the lack of skills and physical condition and all the other things mentioned in the article. So if you want to live out your full days have a can do attitude starting right now.

  • Howard,
    Funny you should mention porcupine. I shot one a short while back, mistaking it for a garden-thieving woodchuck. Skinning it was a bit dicey (good to have leather gloves), but it tasted pretty much like squirrel. Yes, people will have to get over their personal food-fussiness issues.

  • Only 5&6 will be elevated risks for me, I am not really sure what you could do about these. Even with the best medical preps and defenses in a SHTF our need to do so many physical things we do not need to do now without the safety net of modern trauma services and or public safety make attack from raiders or injury a real possibility.

    • Most of those bodies will be in urban areas Ross. my best friend and I were talking about bodies piling up here in flyover country and the conclusion was twofold: it takes to much energy and calories in a SHTF scenario to waste on dead people ( including me as well ) so we decided to throw the bodies into one of three local lime quarries. Won’t be too many corpses around here I’m guessing.


      • Bokashi is an ancient Asian form of “hot” or anaerobic compost used to quickly and safely decompose dead bodies (animal or human) that was historically used following mass death events like tsunamis or epidemics. It stinks to prepare but probably not as stinky as a mass of rotting corpses!

      • We’re lucky here in FL, what with the ocean on three sides and several hundred square miles of swamp land in between. Both make super-convenient corpse disposal sites. The fish and gators will appreciate the free meals.

        Also makes #3 above moot.

      • That is what the coyotes, buzzards, and occasional couger (4 legged) are for in my area…

    • Not to mention the rats and bugs feeding off them, carrying more disease. If you have a religious bent, look up the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (No relation to the legendary Notre Dame football players!) You will find War, Famine, Plague and Death. Personally, I don’t think I have much chance, but I aim to last as long as I can. And that’s all we can do under the best of circumstances anyway, so I’ll be prepped as best I can and try not to worry about things that are beyond my control.

  • Hello again Daisy. Always enjoy your posts because they are to the point and super informative.

    I don’t worry too much about the water issues. There is a crik 40 yards from my house and I have plenty of filtering devices or can boil the drinking water.

    What concerns me is that I can’t run ( more of a shamble ) and have never run from a fight in my 55 years on this planet. That doesn’t mean i have a death wish but along protracted run would cause me a heart attack even though I’m only 15 lbs overweight according to the guv BMI numbers.

    I was raised by my grandparents who survived the Great Depression and served in WW2 and have listened very closely to their tales of survival. They’re all gone now but their lessons ( and that of other seniors ) live on within us.

    I learn something new all the time from these sites and other creative and smart people who I cultivate as friends.

    One of the most important aspects of survival in a SHTF is to have a like minded group with different talents and skills. For instance I have two neighbors who are invaluable in many ways. One neighbor and I split the labor and cost of raising chickens for eggs and meat. He’s also a pretty danged good mechanic. The other neighbor works all 4 four of my raised bed gardens and tends the blackberry and mulberry trees in exchange for veggies and fruit while I can everything up and am a pretty competent carpenter and electrician.

    It works for us.

    Luck favors the prepared!

    One other thing for the survivors of the SHTF event. Learn how to play guitar, harmonica, flute or drum. Life is music and music is life. hard times require a creative outlet and there is nothing more joyous than coming together and making some noise!


    Snake Plisken

    • Mr. Plisken,
      I have been enjoying your insight and comments for quite sometime. I was wondering if you wpuld care to start a discourse outside of the blogworld?
      Pam Baker

      • Ms Baker, I am always interested in reaching out to other persons who can impart knowledge and insight. Don’t care how old they are or their station in life, we all can learn little tidbits or a eureka moment from each other.

        Best to you and your family and feel free to contact me via email.

        [email protected]

  • I wore out my body stacking 100 lb sacks of potatoes and fertilizer when I was a young farmer. All I’m good for now is sitting guard. At least with my insomnia no danger of me falling asleep. Most prescription medications are limited to a three-month supply by law. While I can live without my medications I don’t have the stamina to go anywhere. I have prepared for a three-month reset. If there is a total collapse you all will have to go on without me.

    • 🙂 Like you daddio7 my body is pretty well worn out but my mind is sharp.

      Life occurs to folks like you and I and hopefully we are wise enough to live and learn and not repeat our mistakes of our youth.

      I would be honored to have a person like yourself guarding our properties in the wee hours of the morning.

      Best regards,

      Snake Plisken

    • The 3 month supply of meds is an insurance company type of policy. I take levothyroxine (thyroid med.) and I can only get a 3 month supply, but, as I say, if I pay for it myself and avoid involving the insurance, I’m good to go. Also, ask your doctor to write you a script for a full year in adition to your regular script. If he/she says no, there are other doctors out there.

  • Great post. Wish more non-preppers would get the picture. I’ve done my part with the friends and family. Didn’t make a huge deal about it but if they come knocking, they better have skills and/or supplies.
    You set up the article in a very clever manner.
    Honestly, I don’t think we will have a massive grid down event but it is more likely we’ll have some sequence or a “perfect storm”, if you will, type of event that may domino out of control.
    I do believe, with every fiber of my being, that being prepared for an emergency means that such an emergency is less likely to happen or if it does, since you are prepared, no longer makes it an emergency. Just a change in plans.
    P.S. good to see Mr. Plisken’s input. I’ve always enjoyed his insight and advice.

  • I’m living in an area (WV) where we’ve lived through a Dericho (many had no power for 10-14 days) and a chemical spill that shut down our water supply for weeks. These events have shown me what an amazing community we have. That said, the issues you bring up are fantastic for even these situations. We often think of when the SHTF but both of these incidents were minor, considering. A lot of us talked about what those in a more urban setting would have done. We had no incidents of violence or looting. Just neighbors helping neighbors. The biggest issue with our beautiful Appalachian lands is the pollution from all of the chemical companies. How can you filter out the chemical to make water safe? We can’t even eat the fish from our rivers.
    Really enjoy your blog,Daisy!

  • Hello All! I am a completely newbie prepper who plans to tap into the many resources on this website. That being said, a question that is starting to make me lose sleep at night is do I have time? My husband, 3 year old son and myself have had a rough few years and fell on hard times financially. We are slowly getting back on our feet, but it obviously takes financial resources to make a solid SHTF plan. My husband feels that we should be focused only on getting online work and leaving the country yesterday to try to live somewhere cheaper to make our money go further. This is the nutshell version of course. So again, we are a family of 3 that needs to make a plan, get enough food, water, medical supplies (I am an nurse which is helpful here), firearms (and training for me), etc on a limited budget before the SHTF. Bug in or bug out? Thoughts?

    • Hi Lisa! It’s never too late to get started and you have a lot of things going for you. First of all, your skill set is excellent! Secondly, as a couple you are both on board. The value of these too things cannot be overlooked.

      Online work is not always the easiest. I’d suggest that you look for jobs in your respective fields in a less expensive area and then transition to self-employment. You may find that in a cheaper area only one person needs to work, leaving the other person with enough free time to do all of the prepper stuff. I’m a big proponent of bugging in whenever possible. The logistics of a bugout mean that you may not always make it to your location. The journey is always a risk.

      You have a lot going for you and if you create your plan and follow it, you’ll do just fine. Check out this book to help in the creation of your plan: It will take you through a preparedness journey, step-by-step. If you use each chapter for a week of preps, you will be well-set in just over a year.

      Focus on frugality to free up the money for necessary supplies and training. 🙂 This is also a nutshell version, but I have a good feeling about you guys!

    • You don’t need expensive training to learn to use your firearms. If you check at a gun shop (not a sporting goods store that ALSO sells guns), you may find the employees at the store are happy to show you how to handle the weapon safely, how to clear jams, aim it and shoot accurately. I do NOT recommend buying off brand, cheap weapons, as your life will depend on reliability. Glock pistols, while not pretty or fancy, are reliable–most police officers in the developed world carry them for a reason. Stay away from Jimenez or Taurus as reliability with these “popular” brands can vary with the weapon. They’re only popular because they’re cheap. For small game hunting a Ruger 10-.22 using factory magazines and without “tacticool” after market add-ons will serve you well and you can leave it to your grandkids. The manner of aiming, handling, clearing jams etc for this rifle will be the same for all semi-auto rifles you may acquire for defense against 2 legged predators. Because they don’t have the scary rep if the AR-15, you might consider a Ruger Mini 14. Again, avoid non-factory magazines or add-ons. Good luck!

  • Daisy, hepatitis A is not life threatening, I contracted it in 1978 and I’m fine. No meds, just a clean lifestyle.

    Re: Hygiene
    Don’t forget the name brand incontinence pads and briefs. Generics don’t absorb well enough and some people go through 3-4 per day.

  • P.S., I forgot to mention that eating anything that crosses your path in a SHTF scenario could be worse than not eating. I’ve heard of people eating armadillo and saying that it tastes just like chicken. Maybe so, but dillos carry leprosy. ?

  • Please take heed. We may soon look back and say ‘These were the Good Old Days’.

    Examples using Sam’s Club.
    Enriched White Rice $15 for 50 lbs.
    Black Beans $10 for 10 lbs.
    Unlimited quantities are available today.

    Imagine the torture watching your loved ones suffer greatly and saying to yourself, ‘If I had just spent a lousy $200….’

  • >>>Some experts predict that within 30 days of the power going out, 50% of Americans will be dead.

    I’ve read this sort of conjecture frequently and doubt it. People are tremendously resilient, but should the crisis last 90 days maybe so.

    Survival in a metro area will be really tough – out in the woods – not so tough. We are a more self-sufficient òut here. Still, it won’t be a cake walk.

  • One thing that weighs almost nothing but might provide access to water from hose bibs on storage tanks or even large commercial bldgs is a sillcock wrench. Home style hose bibs have a valve handle you can turn, but others require different types of handles to open the valves and release any water left in the storage tank or pipes. A sillcock wrench will offer four adapters that will enable you to open the valve and get water. In a total collapse it may not be possible to get water from a Walmart garden dept hose bib, but if one’s personal “collapse” merely involves homelessness, the sillcock wrench may be a lifesaver.

  • I enjoyed taking the Wilderness Medical Responder training. It’s designed for trauma response when you can assume help is a long way away, as it would be in a SHTF situation. Now I’m working on learning more about herbal medicine to respond to everyday ills.

  • While I really dislike sensationalist, misleading, and (in this case just almost) fear mongering, the article is very, very good.

    I do not necessarily agree with the order of the dangers, if they are in highest to lowest rank. And I would combine some into fewer categories, and add a category or two.

    Death due to water issues I do think should be at number one for most major disasters. Anything that takes down the infrastructure means municipal and many private water resources that depend on electricity will run out of potable water very quickly. Even if power is on and water can be pumped, if something happens to a treatment plant, they will probably shut down the water system. If they do not, very likely contaminates will get through that will require at-the-tap treatment, probably purification.

    Many, perhaps even most, rural (not developments in rural areas, but people living a rural lifestyle with their own infrastructures for the most part) will have water available. They may have to go to manual or back up power system to get it, if it is a well or any other system requiring a pressure pump. But unless it is a well, or safe water already collected and stored in a cistern or tank, it could be problematical if all of them will be able to use their other local water supplies. Not likely, except some very extreme circumstances, but well casing can fail, the aquifer dry up or be diverted, the aquifer can become contaminated with biologicals, chemicals, and in some areas, salt water.

    As for open water sources such as springs, creeks (criks for we’uns from the south), streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and reservoirs, all of the above can happen to them, too. However, the one I worry about the most in the majority of potential events that could cause a major infrastructure failure and worse is that every one of those otherwise pristine, beautiful, life-giving fresh water sources is going to be mobbed by dozens, if not hundreds, and in cases, thousands of people. Desperate people. And desperate people do not have good sanitation habits. And they are careless. And they are angry. And they are frightened. All of which will lead to a variety of contaminants getting into those waters that the locals are depending on for their back up.

    Of course they can still be a backup at least in most cases, by simply purifying the water. You may have to be rather more clandestine in getting to the water, collecting the water, and escaping with the water. You will not want to try and purify it on the spot. So have ‘raw water’ containers as well as potable water containers that you will not get mixed up.

    I do not intend to scare anyone or discourage them with what I just typed, nor with what follows, but I do want people to think about things carefully. Thing things through. Think about the worst cases that people talk about in reference to each subject. (Worst case as in still a case that can be dealt with, not a doomsday no one will survive worst case.) And then think outside those boxes those people have been putting you into and think about the situation yourself, outside of those boxes and any you may have already put yourself into. There are many, many ways to wind up with the same result or goal. Do not limit yourself to a tiny handful. And do not let the fact that you do not have what is needed to do some of the things you figure out. This is now. Get the stuff. Get the training if needed. Do the research. Modify the plan if necessary. But do not say, “That’ll never happen. And it probably wouldn’t work, anyway. So, why bother?”

    Bother because it could save your life. You might not be able to find what you need when the time comes that you need it, so you will not know if it will/would work anyway. But I stress again. This is now. Prepping means making plans and having things that you will need if something happens. Part of the plan should be finding things after the event occurs. But only those things you cannot get now. And not because you would rather go to the movies six times a month instead of three.

    Okay. On to some more points.

    Number two is fantasy world planning. This could actually be number one, as not having water available long-term and pretty much depending on fate to provide it when you stored water runs out is a fantasy. And, personally, I would simply call the whole thing Stupidity rather than fantasy planning. Though that is pretty harsh, even not considering PC. Because many of the people that do these things, or do not do, as the case may be, are not necessarilly stupid. Though some are. In the sense of simply not having a very high IQ which is not under their control or their fault. Cannot blame them for not prepping. That is just the way that aspect is.

    Others, probably the majority that do not prep, fantasy world or other world, are simply uneducated. In the sense of knowing and understanding history, human nature, mother nature, our planet and our solar system and the ways in which these can impact our lives in a very negative and often quite harmful way. As long as they are open to learning, they usually come around to at least some level of prepping, even if they deny it vehemently and call what they do something else.

    There are some (too many) that are influenced by people whose agendas include the reduction of the population, world domination (geez, that sounds corny), civilian disarmament, dependency on their concept of government, and a bunch of other things, so they do not just downplay the need for prepping, but demonize it to the point where those that are following them will avoid prepping like the plague and do whatever they can to get those they know are prepping int trouble.

    Then there is that small element that are the ones influencing the above that prep themselves to a massive degree, often using public money, and attempt to keep everyone else from prepping.

    Until a person does the due diligence research, and comes to their own conclusions about why prepping is needed, and how to go about it for their circumstances, they will fit into the fantasy world (ergo: stupid) prepping category no matter what they might do to try and prep, or not prep at all. Because without a solid, well thought out, highly flexible and adaptable plan, and the means to impliment it, you are going to die in any major event.

    Freezing, at number three, is pretty spot on. It does depend on where you are when the disaster starts, whether you can get somewhere else in a short timeframe when it starts, what the season is, and what the disaster is because there are some situations where freezing to death would require being locked into a commercial freezer for a few hours. And then, other times, places, and situations, it will be a bigger killer than lack of potable water. And often faster. Maintaining core body temperature is one of the primary survival necessities. Because, like water, but more quickly, when you do not have it, your brain ceases to function in a manner that will allow you to make decisions and do things that can or might save you. Once you reach that point (with cold or lack of water), you are likely to do something that gets you killed, rather than the actual cold (or lack of water).

    Going outside with no clothes on. Forgetting to light the burner after turning on the gas. Slicing yourself open because of the lack of dexterity and not even noticing it. Forgetting to drink water or eat food. Saying something to someone that will prompt them to kill you. So, yeah, not maintaining core body temperature is a big one. (This includes keeping the core body temperature from getting too high, as well, do not forget.)

    Starving to death is at number four. If I had it on my list at all it would be way down near or at the bottom. It takes a long time to starve to death. Especially compared to most of the other things that can kill you. Now, there are two reason I see for keeping on the list, if much lower. One is that when you reach a point where you are still capable of thinking and acting at least somewhat rationally, you are likely to do some very stupid things to try to get food. And if you do get food, do stupid things with it, such as eating it all at once, not checking to make sure it was actually edible, making sure it has not been tampered with (poisoned), or gorging and making yourself sick and upchucking it all, thus losing all that nutrition.

    If you get to the point, without dying first of course, where you are in the same condition as someone that has gone too long without water or let their core body temperature get too high or too low, and can no longer make rational decisions, you will do something stupid that will get you killed before you get a chance to actually starve to death.

    I will skip number five for the moment and go to number six. Getting killed by raiders, looters, JBT (Jack Booted Thugs) of several varieties, neighbors, strangers, and a cornucopia of other possible people. This is the way many people will die, for sure. Some because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some because they chose to fight a battle they could not possibly win. They did not hide when they should have. They did hide when they should not have. They ran when they should not have. They did not run when they should have. They let people know they were preppers and had supplies. Someone they knew told people that they were preppers and had supplies. And sundry other reasons.

    While there are circumstances that will not be survivable, including confrontations with bad guys, most of the scenarios that could get you killed are either avoidable, can be mitigated, or can be dealt with in a variety of ways. Again it comes down to due diligence research on what could happen, when it might happen, where it might happen, and how to deal with any of the combinations. Praying is a huge help. But it is a help, not the solution. You will need to put some thought into this one and decide what you plan to do in various situations that could occur. And have the means to carry out the plan.

    Now, for number five and seven through ten. I would group all of these under one title. Health, hygiene, and safety. Anyone that intends to survive very long after the loss of the infrastructure, means dealing with all three of these aspects is extremely important. You need to prevent everything you can, have alternatives to infrastructure-based solutions, be able to treat or otherwise deal with whatever it is using those alternatives, and, in general, get into and stay in the best physical and mental condition you possibly can now, with provisions to do the same thing after the event. Because not doing any one of them could result in your death and the deaths of others.

    As for as things I would add to the list are:
    1) Overconfidence in one’s abilities and general prepping skills, their plans, and what they have stored.
    2) Single scenario planning. Where a person only focuses on one possibility, being convinced that it is the only thing that could possibly happen. And planning for that one thing, to the exclusion of everything else.
    3) Doomsday thinking. Prepping for many of the small things, but making absolutely no preps, and in some cases doing things that will make things worse, if various other things happen. Things that they have decided cannot be survived, or are not worth surviving. (This is often because whatever it is can be expensive to prep for, involves actually having to do something to prep for, or is likely to get them ridiculed by people in their circle, which they cannot stand.)
    4) Trusting the wrong people. If just one person knows you are a prepper and they tell anyone else, it will probably come back to haunt you, and quite likely get you killed. It is not always a matter of direct trust. There are thousands of trustworthy people that simply have no concept of operational security. For themselves, and especially for others. And love to talk about interesting things. They would never intentionally tell someone something that would get you hurt, but cannot understand that other people can read between the lines pretty good and can often discern that the person is talking about a prepper and just who that prepper is. It is much better not to put someone in a position where they have to be cognizant of not saying or doing anything at all that could cause you problems. It really is not fair to them.
    5) Going ‘cheap’. Being frugal, going for the best value, and saving money are, or should be, a natural part of a prepper’s lifestyle. But going cheap is definitely not. It can get you killed just as quickly as a bullet to the brain. If you depend on cheap gear that winds up failing in a critical moment in a dangerous situation, you are going to regret it as you die. Now, a cheap price can simply be a good value. A cheap price because the item is inferior, flawed, poorly designed, poorly made, or good quality but damaged and not replaced due to expense, is simply asking for serious problems. Good value, not cheap, is the way to go for most things. There are things, such as direct life-sustaining or life-saving items, that should be the best you can possibly afford, even if you have to delay the purchase of some lesser items.

    6) Lack of awareness. A person can have a million dollars worth of gear, hours upon hours of training, and the best prepper MAG around, but if he/she is not aware of what is going on around them, chances are they will not make it long. Part of all training should include situational awareness, for sure. But it goes much further, literally, than what is right around you. Preppers need to know what is going on in and around their neighborhood, their work neighborhood and facility, the town or city in which they live and the one where they work or go to school, or their kids go to school or visit, their county, their state, their region, the entire country, neighboring countries, the borders and shorelines, the entire world, and the entire solar system. It is not a bad idea to know what is going on in the entire Milky Way Galaxy, either.

    It is not that difficult to do, nor expensive, nor all that time-consuming. But if you do not know what potential dangers are out there, whether they are approaching, their probable and possible effects, and how to deal with them, you will, at some point, be caught unawares and be at high risk, and possibly killed because you ‘did not know’. “I didn’t know.” is not going to be much of an excuse if it is not you that dies, but someone that you care about. From a washed out road due to a busted water main, to a killer on the loose in the area, to a tornado warning in the area, to the alert on a weather radio that there are incoming missile warheads and for everyone to take cover, knowing about any and all of them means you can take precautions that could save your life.

    One last things. About the numbers of preppers. I do think the three million prepper number often quoted is probably not too far off. Low, but not a great deal. Of preppers. People that call themselves preppers. However, I know a large number of people that do not call themselves preppers, some of whom despise what they consider prepping, but pretty much do everything I do in one way or another, but call it something else. Homesteading. Off-the-grid living. Back-to-the-earth lifestyle. Green living. Environmental-friendly-living. Practicing self-sustaining living. Sustainable farming. And a whole bunch of other names. But they do almost everything preppers do. In some version or aspect. But, heaven forbid, they are NOT preppers.

    I think they could run the numbers up to as many as ten million people.

    Just my opinion.

  • I think a major threat is fire. Whenever there’s been a blackout, I’ve been ready to bolt with an overnite bag. If you live in an apartment building, if the blackout lasts long enough, your neighbors will do insane things like fire up a charcoal grill or hibachi in their living rooms for heat and cooking. And candles, why oh why do people light their homes with candles, which is a great way to set your apartment or house on fire. Also, looters love to set stores on fire after looting them, and in a city, the fire can spread. If the firemen feel like working, fine; if they decide to stay home and take care of their own families, not so fine. So I think fire is a great threat.

  • 300 million dead?

    Eating porcupine doesn’t sound too bad compared to the enormous numbers of disease carrying rats, fleas, lice, parasites, etc., and epidemics, pandemics, outbreaks that will result.
    Know of any good Rodent cookbooks?

    And if you survive, there’ll be Occupying Forces to fill in the power vacuum if nothing more than for the natural resources you’re bugged out on, after they enslave or cull you.

    • Older editions of “The Joy of Cooking” actually have a section on cooking game, in addition to canning basics and other handy tips. And yes, squirrel, possum and raccoon are all there.

  • WHY would I want to live in a world gone totally crazy with ALL of these things happening, no power, death all around, criminals all over and all of that chaos everywhere, why?????
    The world as we know it would NEVER be the same again. Millions would be dead. No medical care, no grocery store, no supplies, are you serious? Who in the right mind wants to survive in a world like that. NOT ME…I would be better off dead. It’s NOT the physical that matters for eternity anyway, it’s our “SPIRITUAL” health that matters…Our thinking is messed up. We seem only to be concerned with the here and now physical aspect of life, but life ends, and the spirit lives on for eternity.
    I would NEVER want to survive in a world like what you describe, too stressful to try and survive by roughing it everyday 24/7. No, not for me. I am too sane and have to much common sense to endure all of that. Prepping has it’s good points, and some of the fittest may survive, but for me it wouldn’t be worth the effort or the expense.

    • Amen! I’m too old to ward off the great horde that will be around us everywhere. looking to save themselves, no matter what. I will have some strong sleeping pills that will turn out the lights, permanently!

  • Regarding diabetics and insulin: Diabetes doesn’t have to be a death sentence at TEOTWAWKI. Unfortunately, most diabetics and their families assume it is and do little to nothing to prepare to live.

    However, it can be done. Insulin can be a DIY project, albeit a bit more involved than most. Insulin was first made in the 1920s, where researchers had nothing more unusual than what is found in a high school chemistry lab today. Type-1 diabetic Eva Saxl and her husband DIY’ed insulin in WWII China and saved her and about 400 other diabetics in Shanghai.

    Here are two links to their story.

    And here’s how to make insulin:

  • I too am amongst the most prepared in my immediate circle of friends/family. It has been a tough slog just to get to the limited level I’m at. My household might be able to ‘survive’ for a few months on the food/water I have accumulated and the food garden would provide another week or two, if we’re lucky–it’s a lot of hard work and patience, to say the least, to achieve food production in quantity and nutritional value sufficient for a few people. Fruit trees take years to mature and produce in quantity. Weather rarely cooperates. Pests (from rabbits to squirrels to insects) tend to get a good portion of the spoils. Being in a northern clime shortens the growing season and potential harvest. Then there’s the psychological factors of your friends/family who hold tightly onto the technocornucopian narrative that ‘progress’ will continue in perpetuity or that ‘government’ will solve all our problems…there’s nothing to worry about…you need to relax…go see someone about your anxiety…you need medication.

    While none of us can predict the future with any accuracy whatsoever, our pre/history shows pretty convincingly that complex societies always ‘collapse’. Whether that collapse will be slow like that of the Roman Empire (centuries), or relatively quick like Easter Island (decades), one thing is likely very certain: when the electrical grid goes down, we’re mostly all screwed. The skills and knowledge necessary to live without the energy ‘slaves’ of today’s electronic technology and just-in-time food distribution systems have been bred out of us (replaced by a focus on math, science, art, drama, music).

    The fallout will be something to behold…

  • I used to be a prepper and have since relaxed my intentions. Once it was made obvious to me that in a grid down situation we are going to have a lot more to worry about than eating, drinking, hygiene and protection. You see, if the grid is down for any length of time and I am talking weeks not months, there is this problem we have of nuclear reactors. They are outdated, require continual maintenance, and all this is dependent on the current power grid. Their emergency backup power sources will last weeks at most. They are impossible to power down, therefore it will be simply a matter of time before they Meltdown. Think Chernyobl and fukishima. Okay 50% of people die in the first 30+ days, who is going to go to work at the nuke plant when they are trying to feed and protect their family-assuming they are even alive and a prepper? No one will. Without continual cooling from water pumped by grid power it will be Fukashima times 400. The radiation released into the atmosphere will pollute the entire northern hemisphere and no life forms will survive. I used to think a bunker was a good idea, now I’m thinking carbon monoxide.
    All of our reactors could be converted to Thorium as fuel rather than the current uranium. Thorium would provide just as much power from these reactors, it is a cheaper more abundant element, and it would have the ability to shut itself off if the power were to be cut off to it. Unfortunately for us, and our kids, there is no political will to do the right thing and convert them now while we can. Hubris is man’s destiny. spend what time we have left helping your fellow man and reading your bible, that should be your preps.

  • Your #1 reason to die is not completely correct. The 1 gallon a day, per person, of water is an emergency personal water ration amount, not your total water need for the long term!

    Talk about living in a fantasy world ( point #2), this is part of it.
    To many Preppers have been mislead about the emergency ration amount of water and the living amount of water needed..

    The actual amount of long term water needs is at least 20 liters (5.28344 gallons) or more per person, per day!
    This is the minimum amount you need you live on for a sustained amount of time.
    It varies by the location you are in, what foods you are cooking and how clean you want to be or how often you want to wash your clothing. This will greatly affect your health .

    Where does this number come from? From Refugee organizations. This is how they determine camp sizes and location.
    They also stipulate that the water source should be less than 200 meters (218.723 yards) from your residence. Due to the inherent water transportation problems.

    So factor that into your Prepping planning also, as well as sustainability of the water supply.
    ( Just because you have a well or creek means very little. Your neighbors may be on a local water service, when that stops, they may go back to using their old well or creek. Dropping water levels dramatically. Not to mention Droughts.
    The same goes for urban lakes and ponds, when 10k to 100k people sudden find that it is the only local source of water, it could dry up quickly.)

    Now refugee camps are very dirty, unsanitary places, relying on medical supplies to fight the camps diseases. So when SHTF and those medicines are not available, expect to double that water needs amount to about 10 gallons per person, per day, for better hygiene and health.

    Estimates vary, but, on average, each person uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day, for indoor home uses. So 10 gallons is not that much, and dropping even to that amount, will be a real culture shock.

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