Stay if plan to already have what you need.
Scale back your lifestyle beforehand, since you’ll have to be very frugal with everything you own.
Learn to preserve and plan ahead for food.
Consider the likely energy load for what you’ll need, then make sure you can generate that much power.
If you make a bunker, plan ahead.
Expect some things to disappear first when a crisis happens.
If society falls apart, live sensibly and avoid unnecessary risks.
What makes staying better?
Depending on your situation, staying after a disaster may be the best idea:
- You may have nowhere else to go.
- You might have stockpiled so many things that it makes more sense to stay.
- It may be a better idea right now to stay, and then be ready to leave later.
If you plan to stay somewhere, make a “base” of operations, which often means living on a homestead and building an underground bunker.
Make sure you live in a remote enough region that you can survive off the land if the supply chain and electricity are permanently down.
You’ll need a gun or other deadly long-distance weapon (such as a crossbow):
- Even if you’re a pacifist and don’t have ammo, you need it to make even-powered negotiations and defend your things.
Contrary to many fictional stories, you’ll only survive with friends:
Make sure you’ve stockpiled paper guide books for the situation and skills you plan to use.
Since everything will become much more scarce, you’ll need to be more frugal with everything you have.
History has shown that society still uses some form of currency and never completely moves away from the concept, so you’ll always need tradable items.
Contrary to many fictional stories, you’ll only survive with friends:
As much as reasonably possible, consider how you can cut down on civilized living:
- What food and items can you make or grow yourself?
- How much do you need certain creature comforts?
- What parts of living are completely irreplaceable, where you’d have to venture into town to get them?
Make sure your anticipated lifestyle fits how you naturally function:
- You should have an expected way of life that matches your natural skills.
- If you’re not a particularly good shot or aren’t particularly quiet, don’t expect to learn hunting.
- If you’re impatient or aren’t very good at gardening, don’t become a farmer.
- Generally, knowing mechanical skills and people skills beforehand can take you very far.
The more you’re preparing for future possible risks, the less you’re living for right now (when there’s no present disaster):
- Very often, people are so consumed with full-blown preparedness that they forget to find happiness in the present moment.
- You should want to make lifestyle decisions that prepare you for a disaster, not because you’re afraid of something.
Plan ahead, since seeds today can become next year’s food.
Generally, aim for high-calorie foods with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Factor in water weight, since more water means less nutritional yield and higher chance of spoiling.
Measure the likely energy load (in kilowatt-hours) you’ll likely need:
- Heating and air conditioning
- Hot water
- Clothes washing and drying
- Oven, stovetop, and microwave
- Computer and TV
- Mobile devices
- Interior lighting
- Outdoor floodlights (for security)
- Vacuum cleaner
- Paper shredder
- Conveniences like a massage chair, espresso maker, electric toothbrush
Cut down on electricity needs whenever you can, since generating it can be expensive in a crisis.
If you’re using a heat source that relies on the environment (e.g., heat pump, hydroelectric), it may redirect during the disaster, so plan ahead.
Generally, people make bunkers to keep living in their house, but want a backup plan.
A bunker is only as safe as all of its components together:
- The passageways into it, meaning you’ll want at least 2 to allow somewhere to escape through.
- The structural integrity of the bunker, which should account for flooding and earthquakes.
- Its public visibility, meaning that its entrances should be hidden from the main road.
- Make sure you have a bunker security system (such as traps outside), and make sure to never travel the same way to get to it.
Keep your emergency provisions safe by ensuring your bunker has your survival equipment.
Do a cost-benefit analysis for how you want to use the toilet:
- For a low-water solution, get a marine/RV toilet.
- Build a septic tank under your bunker, which you’ll periodically need to pay to empty out.
- The easiest, low-tech version is to dig a hole, set an outhouse, plant a tree and cover when it’s full, and repeat.
- If you have the stomach for making your own system, and plan to grow your food, make a composting toilet.
Some supplies are utterly impossible to find in disasters from panic-driven hoarding.
Since you’re stuck in the area, get items to barter later (especially food) even if you don’t plan to use them.
Items tend to go missing in an approximate sequence:
- Bottled water, water filters/purifiers, and bleach will always disappear first.
- Liquor, especially hard liquor.
- Canning supplies like jars, lids, pressure cookers, and pectin (disappears rapidly because there’s normally a low supply).
- Canned foods, without any discrimination.
- Jerky and other long-lasting meats, though roadkill does have more nutritional value than a packaged beef stick.
- Any staples like rice, beans, wheat, flour, yeast, and powdered or condensed milk.
- Any grains marked for human or animal consumption.
- Gardening supplies like seeds, gardening books, and tools.
- General gardening tools like brooms, shovels, rakes, pitchforks, pickaxes, and hoes.
- Grain grinders.
- Salt that can preserve meat.
- People will quickly hide, hoard, steal, slaughter, and trade chickens, goats, cows, pigs, and any other livestock.
- People will rapidly catch and remove the local wild game from the surrounding area, or inexperienced hunters will drive them away with noise.
- Convenience drinks like teas, coffee, sports drinks, powdered drinks, instant, ground, or bagged drinks.
People will also quickly scavenge a variety of other useful things:
- Anything that makes fire or a light source
- Health and personal care items
- Camping supplies
- Multi-use household supplies
- Convenient containers to carry and hold things
- Any “survival” supplies like gas masks and body armor, mostly by people who don’t understand survival
- Once hospitals, urgent care, and veterinary clinics shut down, more advanced medical and surgical equipment.
- Odds and ends for vehicles and dog maintenance
Traveling around is naturally dangerous when society falls apart, so practice more caution than you normally would, since people think less rationally in a long-term crisis.
Use common sense:
- Fiction likes to glorify looting, but many people still own things and will shoot you without discussion for stealing it.
- If your instinct tells you something is unsafe, but it seems like a great opportunity, be very careful.
Do your business in the daytime:
- Police and emergency services will be spread thin (if present), so avoid criminal elements by getting things done in the daytime.
- Alternately, you might be the criminal, in which case it’s best to do it at night.
Gasoline will be difficult to get ahold of, so don’t expect a truck will always be useful, but a bicycle with an attached wagon will always work as long as you can repair it.
Very soon, after a few months, scavenging out in the wild will make more sense for many of your staples.