Jun 042012

Gold looks very pretty, and today has a very high value. But will it be of any value at all WTSHTF?

Most preppers already have some sort of acceptance that US currency may become less universally accepted subsequent to a Level 2 or 3 event occurring.  We’ve discussed some aspects of the problems with US currency in a post WTSHTF world before.

Interestingly, one of the reasons that US currency won’t be widely used is simply because most people don’t have much real cash these days.  Sure, we might have large deposits in our banks, we might own stocks, shares, bonds, etc, and we might be able to borrow still more money from our credit cards or home equity, but most financial transactions we do these days are electronic, using debit or credit cards (or sometimes still checks) and we don’t need to actually pass over ‘real’ money for all these transactions.

And, if we did need some real money, we can conveniently get it, 24/7, from an ATM.  So most of us have only a few hundred dollars in actual cash under the bed (or wherever else you keep it).

With electronic banking unavoidably becoming unavailable in a Level 2/3 scenario, we’d all find ourselves limited only to the cash we had with us at the time the event occurred.  Some of us might be fortunate, and find ourselves with lots of cash, but with little in the form of essential supplies to live off.  We’d be cash rich, but asset poor – the cash we own would in no way reflect the new value of the things we owned or could trade.  Others of us might have little or no cash, but several years supply of essential food and other supplies.  Who then is the wealthier person – the person with cash and nothing else, or the person with a basement full of essential supplies and no cash?

So not only is there a lack of cash for commercial dealings, but also the cash that is available in a community doesn’t reflect the true wealth of the community in a Level 2/3 situation, and there would also be no clear conversion between cash and how much essential supplies would cost.

Even if an equivalent set of values was established, what happens if another person joins the community, carrying with him a suitcase full of $100 bills, but without any food or other essential items?  He would have enough money to buy all the food in the community, but who would want to swap their food they need to live on for pieces of paper with green printing on them?

This act would be a bit like, at present, a foreign country printing up counterfeit US currency and spending it.  So communities would necessarily have to in some way distinguish their community’s supply of cash from that of other communities, so that a person from another community couldn’t come in and destroy the financial base of their community.

Gold Also of No Value

Although most preppers agree that US currency will become close to useless, these same people often advocate gold as a way to store value, and as a likely future currency.  We disagree – read on for why we think gold will be of no more use than US cash.

If you want to get a real headache, read (at least) two textbooks on economics – one advocating the benefits of the gold standard and one arguing against it.  Maybe also try to find an open-minded textbook that fairly sets out the pluses and minuses of both perspectives.

If you choose to do this, you’ll hopefully form the opinion that there were and are some good features of the gold standard, but also some major limitations and problems with it.  Did the (do the) good features outweigh the bad, or vice versa?  That’s where the controversy comes in – most economists can agree on the essential mix of good and bad points, they just can’t decide which outweighs the other.

We understand and sympathize with why many people who dislike the government’s growth, largely funded by printing its own money and running deficits, and allowing inflation to eat away – to invisibly tax – the net worth of the citizens, why these people would wish a return to the gold standard, because this would limit the ability of a government to continue this type of financial growth and economic control.

But we don’t believe the underlying ‘magic’ of gold still applies as being the fundamental building block of any economy; indeed, gold has never been universally accepted as the basis on which economies can be created and compared – it has always shared that role with silver.

Much of this is irrelevant theory, however, for a Level 2/3 scenario in the future.  Some preppers say you should keep a supply of gold coins and/or some other form of gold, because it will be universally accepted as a new pseudo-currency after life as we know it (LAWKI) ends.

We disagree, for exactly the same reasons we don’t think current US currency will survive and continue to be universally accepted.  Gold and silver and all other abstract expressions of wealth all suffer from the same problems as paper money – you can’t eat them; you can’t live off them.  At present, it is true that the amount of gold/silver/whatever a person has closely correlates to what they could buy with it, because there are no shortages of anything.  But after LAWKI ends, and there become shortages of everything essential to life, the ability of gold and other precious metals to be converted into things of true value – life’s essentials – completely disappears, because there is no underlying value or use to the gold itself, except as a pretty metal for ornaments and jewelry.

As we’ve asked before, who is the wealthier person after LAWKI ends?  The man with 100 pounds of dried food, or the man with 100 pounds of gold (in today’s terms, the food might be worth $1000, and the gold would be worth almost $2.5 million).

The correct answer has to be that the man with the food is wealthier (assuming food to be in short supply, which is a very safe assumption to make).  If you were starving, and you met both men on the road, and one offered you a pound of food and the other a pound of gold, which would you take?  Which would you agree to work for a day in return for receiving the item?  The food, right?

Also, exactly as the case with money, if civilization ends tomorrow, there won’t be enough gold available to provide an effective means of doing business (unless we were to make each gold coin worth a ridiculously huge amount of money).  And what would happen when a stranger rides in to town with a bag full of gold coins, enough to buy all the spare food in town?

Or what say one of the local residents suddenly strikes it rich, and finds some gold in the stream at the bottom of his property.  Suddenly there is more total gold in the community, but it isn’t represented by a matching growth in items of value to be purchased by the gold.

The only people who would take gold in exchange for items of true value would be people who were taking a gamble and betting that in some point in the foreseeable future, life would return back to close to normal, and gold would become an innately valuable metal again, just as it is now.  They’d be willing to take your gold from you, while giving you very little in return, and would trade off the low value/cost of the gold now with the hope that at some future time, life will return to normal and they can cash in their gold at ‘normal’ rates.

How to Stockpile True Value for a Future Situation

The true currency of value will be an expression of life’s essentials – maybe a ration of food or water or energy, or some sort of composite value expressing elements of all three, and exchangeable for these essentials on a known basis.

So, in preparing for an adverse situation, you’ll find yourself much better off if you invest not in what today’s society accepts as abstract expressions of wealth (whether it be cash, electronic deposits, or precious metals) but rather in items that will have direct tangible value in the future.  The most essential three items for survival will be food, water, and shelter, but with water being a relatively low value item, and with shelter being a very subjective item, we think the key products for measuring and storing value will be food and energy.

In other words, store food and store energy.  You could also store ‘meta-expressions’ of food and energy – in other words, objects that can assist in growing food and creating/capturing/storing energy.  A gallon of gas or a pound of wheat would both be very valuable, but so too would a solar cell array or a wheat mill or some farming implements.

This will become the future replacement of the gold standard – an energy based standard.  This is a much more sustainable monetary base, because unlike gold, energy is a thing of real value.

Jun 012012

Seen here in original construction in ~ 1960, and described as among the strongest structures ever built by man, Atlas missile silos are being repurposed as prepper retreats.

A converted former Atlas missile silo in Kansas, now revived as a series of one and two million dollar survival retreats, has quickly sold out, and the developer has taken out options on several more.

This article tells more about the concept, and the developer’s own website seems to confirm the project to be fully sold.

The good news, as the developer’s site says, is that people who buy into the project are already getting a share of the silo which, it is claimed, represents a $60 million improvement right from the get go (this is the estimated present day cost of recreating the silo).  What’s another million or two when you’re already getting a generous share of a $60 million silo ‘for free’?

We’ll observe our own suggested Code of Prepper Politeness and start off by saying that for some Level 1/2 scenarios, this would be an excellent temporary retreat.  And with the silo stocking five years of dried food supplies, it would seem that it should be capable of providing a temporary oasis of comfort and safety for a reasonable period of time – more than long enough for most Level 2 scenarios.

In addition to generator power, the silo also has an up to 150 kW wind turbine, and in addition to stored dry food, it also has a hydroponic system for growing plants/vegetables and raising fish.  Pretty cool, huh?

Maybe so.  But we’re not entirely sure we’d want to spend up to five years inside a nuclear missile silo, as far as 200 ft under the ground, without seeing sky or sun, and without breathing fresh air.  Now quite possibly the residents would be free to go to the surface whenever they liked, but at the end of the day, you’re back inside your subterranean refuge.

More to the point, while a nuclear blast resisting missile silo is a great place to store a missile prior to its launch in a doomsday Armageddon type conflict, we’re not so sure it is the best place to house a community of people during an extended Level 2 or 3 scenario.  What is good for missiles is not necessarily good for people – what we’re saying is that perhaps the $60 million cost isn’t quite the same as $60 million of actual value.

We see problems associated with three main areas of living in a silo in response to a Level 2/3 situation.

Energy Problems

The first problem is that the silo is an energy intensive retreat.  Almost everything requires energy to operate – you don’t even get any ‘free’ natural light or fresh air.

On the plus side, it probably doesn’t require a great deal of heating or cooling – its underground compact design is very thermally efficient, but it needs nonstop energy to power fans and air filtration units to keep an airflow through the silo and to regulate the temperature and humidity.  If it gets a bit stuffy in the middle of the night, you can’t just open a window to let some fresh air in.

Now let’s think about that lovely wind turbine/generator.  The problem with wind powered generators is they are somewhat maintenance intensive – if you ever drive past a wind generator farm, have a look and see how many of the windmills are actually turning, compared to how many are idle.  In our experience, usually about 20% of the units are out of service at any random time.

Maintenance is not so much a problem when you simply phone up the turbine supplier, and they courier the spare parts to you the next day.  But in a Level 2 scenario, that’s not an option.  You’d need to have a huge inventory of spares for the wind turbine.  Not that this is impossible, of course, but it is a reminder that wind power is far from free – indeed, in truth, it is one of the most expensive sources of energy there is.

Due to the propensity of a wind turbine to fail, we’d think it vastly preferable to have two 75 kW generators, or three 50 kW generators.  That way, the occasional failure of one unit doesn’t zero out the total power generation capability.  Back down in the silo, there’s a tremendous difference between being able to leave half the lights on, and being completely in the dark!  (Of course these are not the choices, due to the presence of diesel generators too, but you get our point, we’re sure.)

The other problem with wind power is that it is unpredictable, and when it does come, it is generally only during the day time (winds die down at night, other than in storm conditions).  The generators have a minimum speed necessary to get their blades turning at all, and a maximum speed above which they run the risk of damage – it is only when in the ‘sweet spot’ between these two limits that they generate power – in this case, up to a maximum of 150 kW, but often much less.

The wind turbine also looks terribly vulnerable.  Don’t they have tornadoes in Kansas?  What happens if a tornado destroys it?  Or just simply strong winds?  Or vandals.

If you’re building a worst case survival retreat, and investing millions of dollars in it, you don’t want to have a cornerstone of your survivability a ‘cross your fingers and hope’ strategy that your windmill won’t be taken out by a passing tornado.

So while the wind turbine/generator can help share the load when it is working, something else is needed for the times when it is off-line, under repair, or when there is no wind.

There are also some solar cells, but we’re not told how many, and these would not be capable of generating anything like 150 kW of power.  Kansas is mainly in the Zone 4 solar area (an average of about 4.5 effective hours of sunlight a day), and solar, just like wind power, works best in the day, and not at all at night.

We like solar cells.  No moving parts, little to maintain, and a long life. Indeed, if it were our development, we’d probably spend more on solar cell arrays and less on the wind turbine.  But even the best solar cell is useless when it is dark (or snowing).

Which brings us to the need for diesel generators, which they acknowledge.  It seems, from the information on their website, that each of the residential units uses all-electric appliances, and plenty of them.  How much power consumption should be planned for, and how many gallons of diesel a day will this require?  We don’t know the answer to that question, but our guess is the short answer is ‘a lot’ and we wonder if the complex is laying in enough diesel.  What is the use of all the other facilities they are setting up – hydroponics, aquaculture, and tons of dried food if you’ve got no electricity, rendering your silo uninhabitable?

Food Problems

Now let’s talk about the hydroponics and aquaculture.  This is a bit out of our depth, so we’ll just raise concerns rather than make definite statements.  In our experience, there’s a huge secret ingredient in any sort of hydroponics/aquaculture undertaking (and we’re not talking about water or nutrients and food).  We’re talking sunlight.  The concept of ‘getting something for nothing’ when growing any sort of vegetative life form only makes sense if you ignore the huge input into the growing process that comes from the sun’s energy.

This is what makes greenhouses effective.  But the hydroponics in this silo aren’t under the open sun.  They’re probably down in the bottom of the silo.  What replaces the sun’s energy?  Probably grow lamps, right?  And what powers the grow lamps?  Yes, electricity.  Complete the cycle – where does the electricity come from?  The windmill if you’re lucky, and the diesel generator if you’re not.

So rather than being ‘free’ and something for nothing, the food harvested from the hydroponics actually has a massive energy cost associated with it.  As a quick and fun calculation, the sun’s energy is generally about 1 kW per square meter (a bit bigger than a square yard – about 10 sq ft) on a clear day.  Considering Kansas has about 4.5 hour equivalents of sun a day, that means a need for about 4.5 kWhrs per sq m or shall we say 500 Whrs per square food of hydroponic space per day.  So in a year, each sq ft of hydroponics requires 182 kWhrs of energy.

We’re going to assume a very energy efficient grow lamp of about 10% efficiency.  So now we are up to 1.82 MWhrs of electricity per sq ft of hydroponics.  Allow for some power line transmission loss, and lets call that a nice even 2 MWhrs per sq ft of garden.

Diesel fuel generates 10 kWhrs per gallon, so to provide the necessary energy for a sq ft of hydroponics would require 200 gallons of diesel a year (worst case scenario assuming none of the energy comes from solar or wind power).

If we say each person has 50 sq ft of garden, then that represents 10,000 gallons of diesel per each person’s garden, each year.  Still think those fancy hydroponic things are something for nothing?

Okay, maybe we are overstating things.  But reduce this by ten fold, and you’re still looking at 1,000 gallons of diesel or other energy equivalent for the hydroponics just to replace the natural sunlight – energy that would be largely unnecessary for above ground agriculture.

As for the aquaculture, that sounds really neat, doesn’t it, because we all think of fish as something that just magically appears at the end of our fishing lines in rivers and lakes.

But if they are to be farmed, indoors, they need lots of food and also, again, energy for artificial sunlight of sorts.  The thing about raising any sort of animal or fish is that you get massively less net food per unit of input food and energy than you do if just growing plants.  That is okay on an outdoor river or lake, because the fish get their food from other sources in the lake/river which we don’t need to get involved with, but in a closed indoor system, aquaculture is a massively less efficient way of getting food than just growing plants.  To put it another way, there would be perhaps ten times more nutrition if the residents of the silo just ate the fish food directly than if it was fed to fish and then the fish subsequently eaten.

So hydroponics and aquaculture sounds great, but in reality, they are far from appropriate in a situation where energy is in very short supply and very expensive.

Security Problems

The third concern we have might seem counter intuitive.  It is a concern about security.  You might say ‘What’s the problem; they’re living inside a structure that can withstand a nearly direct hit from an atomic bomb!?’.  And you’d be right.  But that’s not the threat they are most likely going to need to defend against.

Their threat instead will be organized or disorganized roving hordes of looters and pillagers, and people desperate to get their next meal.

Now, sure, the residents could presumably hunker down inside their silo, and pull the massive door closed behind them and lock it.  You know that no-one is going to get in through that door.

But the bad guys don’t need to open the door.  They can simply get you to open the door for them.  What happens if they start pumping water into the air intakes.  It will take time, but in a day/week/month, the water level will have risen so far that not only are the support systems on the lowest levels all now inoperable due to water damage, but the living quarters are getting successively flooded too.  Indeed, as soon as the generators and other life support gear on the bottom level fail, the entire silo becomes a death trap rather than a haven.

If the bad guys are more impatient, they could pour gasoline into the inlets instead.  Then drop a match or two.  Or, heck, why pour anything into the inlets.  Why not just block them off and wait for the air inside the silo to run out.  Those diesel generators suck in air at an appalling rate – the silo will be out of air (or power – or both) within five minutes.

The silo is not a defendable structure against active attack.  It is a passive place to hide inside and cower within, but it is not a fighting fortress that projects power and safety over the lands around it.  The underground silo does not provide protective cover for a team of defenders to repel attackers.  As such it is vulnerable to the lowest tech sort of attack of all – a passive siege where the bad guys simply wait for you to come out – and probably speed up your decision to do so by interfering with your environment within the silo.

A Silo Protects Against An Irrelevant Risk

In reality, there is only one scenario where you need to be inside a nuclear bomb-proof refuge, and that is immediately prior to a nuclear bomb being set off close to you.

But how likely is that to be the case?  Figure on – absolute utter maximum best case scenario – having maybe 15 – 20 minutes warning of an incoming ICBM strike.  The total time from launch initiation to detonation is typically 25 – 30 minutes – by the time a launch has been detected, trajectory/target confirmed, and the chain of command has decided what/how to respond, and whether to advise the public, most of those 30 minutes will have already gone.

Will you be able to – within that shortest of times – stop what you’re doing, round up family members (some may be at school, some at the office, some at the shops) and then all of you somehow magically get from where you were to the open fields of central Kansas (not far from Salina), into the silo, and the door shut behind you (and all the other families too) prior to the bomb going off overhead?

Even if your family is on an ‘every man for himself’ system where each of you have to make your own way to the silo in an emergency, would you, yourself, with no other delays be able to get there in, say, 10 minutes?  Only if your normal residence, school, office, shopping center, etc, are all within five miles of the silo.

In other words, when responding to the one risk the silo is uniquely well qualified to protect you against – a nuclear attack – it would actually be useless, because (assuming you’re not always within five miles of the silo normally) there’s no way in the world you’ll get to the silo before the bombs go off all around you.

Level 2 But Not Level 3 Protection

Don’t get us wrong.  There is plenty to like about the silo, especially if you live close to it to start with (who lives close to Salina, Kansas, though!).

If you ignore its defensive weakness, and if you accept at face value the claims that it has enough food and water and energy for up to five years (depends, we guess, on energy consumption rates, how much energy can be provided by the solar and wind power, and the number of people who make it to the silo), then – all going well – $1 million buys three people five years of comfortable Level 2 survival, or five people get three years (there is 15 man years of food included per $1 million unit).

But what happens when the last drop of diesel is burned, when the wind turbine can’t be repaired any more, and the dried food supply is exhausted?  What happens when your Level 2 situation (ie a situation where you live off dwindling finite stored resources) becomes a Level 3 situation, requiring an ability to live indefinitely and sustainably into the future with what you can grow/create yourself.

We think it is obvious, at that point, that the silo dwellers will have to return to the surface.  The solar cells won’t supply anything like the energy needs to make sub-surface living acceptable, and without abundant energy, we have grave doubts about the viability of the hydroponics, and without massive stored fish food, we don’t see the aquaculture as being too sustainable either.

So, some years after TSHTF (and assuming your silo retreat wasn’t overwhelmed by looters prior to this point), the million dollar investment means that you’re back on the surface, with nothing and nowhere to go.  Your hole in the ground has become, sadly, just that again.  A dark, dank, lifeless hole in the ground.

A Better Alternative – The Code Green Community

Code Green is developing an alternative approach to providing shelter, safety, and survival for a Level 2 and Level 3 scenario; an open above ground community rather than an underground silo.

Sure, it will be vulnerable to nuclear attack, but our location, in rural Idaho, is not somewhere likely to experience any nuclear bombs landing, and as our comments above illustrated, if there is to be a nuclear attack, the chances are none of us would have enough time to get to a nuclear hardened shelter anyway (how quickly can you get to Salina, KS?).

Retreat units are available at a range of levels, or you can have your own built exactly as you wish.  Basic condos with a year of food, water and energy for four people, plus a generous plot of land to use as you wish, start at $250,000; free-standing units are of course more expensive.

Best of all, a Code Green retreat is a dwelling that you can spend time in and enjoy as part of your normal life.  Come spend your summers there (or your winters, for that matter, too).  Indeed, for people able to consider this, come and become part of our year-round community.  Become a small farmer or rural shop owner, enjoy a lovely lifestyle with no need to worry about needing to ‘bug out’ in an emergency.  You’ve already bugged out!

The units have windows that open and which you can see out, reasonably normal doors that when you step through take you into the outside fresh air, and if the Level 2 situation becomes a Level 3 situation, they give you the basics to start an ongoing new sustainable life, as part of a supportive community of like-minded souls.  Contact us for more details.

Jun 012012

The Prepper’s Nightmare – A jam-packed freeway trapping him in the city he’s trying to evacuate.

One of the things we think about and try to anticipate and prepare for is how to leave our normal residences and ‘bug out’ to our retreats in a Level 2/3 situation.

There is a general assumption that in such an event, all roads out of the town/city we live in will be jam-packed with everyone else, all fleeing the city, too.  This makes intuitive sense – but the intuitive sense is based on an assumption we shouldn’t make.  This assumption is that everyone else will be thinking like us and acting like us at the same time.

Let’s face it – few people think like us or act like us today, and so it seems unreasonable to assume that immediately after TSHTF, there will suddenly be a city-wide conversion to our mindset and values, and everyone will lemming-like follow everyone else, and stream out of the city simultaneously.

We think – we don’t know for certain, of course, none of us do; but we think/hope that the reality of how the public will respond to such an event might show much less uniform consensus of opinion and action.

There are several reasons for thinking this.

1.  Home is the Safest Most Welcoming Place for Most

Firstly, if something massively life changing does occur, most people’s natural instinctive reaction will be to retreat to their place of greatest comfort and safety.  For people with no retreat awaiting their arrival, that place will be wherever they currently live, or maybe with other friends/family, who are probably located somewhere in the immediate vicinity.

Children may choose to return to their parents (eg college kids), and grandparents might choose to move in with their children, but these would most commonly be movements within the local area.  If they involved longer travel, the movements probably wouldn’t be initiated immediately, and in any event would most likely be from one major city to another major city – unlike us; we’ll be moving out of the cities entirely to our more rural retreats.

Not many people have refuges elsewhere that await their arrival, so both the ability and the urge to evacuate will be very low in most people’s minds.

2.  Waiting for the Government to Save the Day

Secondly, most people will passively expect ‘the government’ to ‘do something’ to save them.  It will take days or even weeks for it to be apparent that the government and its resources are stretched beyond breaking point and unable to provide the care and assistance they need.

Most people have become so conditioned to expecting any type of help for any type of problem to be available close to immediately, just by calling 911 in an emergency, or some other type of support organization in less dire scenarios, that it will take some time for the ugly reality to finally be accepted for what it is, and for them to realize that they are truly on their own.

As an amusing related thought, while most people expect the government to do something to help, they have also become accustomed to some government inefficiencies and delays, so the first few days of nothing happening will be accepted without panic or overly great concern.  With annoyance, yes.  But panic, probably not.

3.  False Reassurance from Public Figures and Media

Thirdly, if any type of central authority and government functionality survives whatever the Level 2/3 event is, their immediate response to the population as a whole will be a calming one, telling people to stay calm, not to act rashly, not to rush out and buy up all the food and resources they can, and to patiently wait for the authorities to impose a new form of order and structure.

There is no way any politician or other public official will ever willingly or prematurely say ‘I relinquish all my power, I have completely failed and am unable to help, you’re on your own’.  Neither will they say ‘OMG!  It is the end of the world as we know it!’  Instead they’ll utter meaningless platitudes advising people to be calm and patient, and reassuring us that the authorities are rushing to do all they can to help.  In other words, ‘Trust us, we’re from the government, and we’ll be there to help you – real soon now’.

The main stream news media will adopt their mantle of false statesmanlike behavior and will also counsel their audiences to remain calm and trust in the authorities.

The few people who realize the truth are more likely to ‘get out of Dodge’ as quickly as they can, on their own, rather than to make the process of getting out of Dodge more difficult than it might already be, and so they can be first to find an alternate place to settle in for the duration of the emergency.  If anyone does make public their concerns, they’ll be jeered at for being defeatist or alarmist.

4.  Inability to Evacuate

Some people simply won’t be able to evacuate an area, whether they want to or not.

This might be because they don’t have transportation, or the transportation they do have is inadequate, or because they have insufficient gas in their tank to drive more than a very short distance.

Due to not all people always filling their tank all the way to the top when they stop for gas, it is a fair guess that fewer than half the cars on the road, at any given moment, have more than half a tank of gas in them, and most of those people don’t have any additional gas supplies at home.

Like it or not, most people are limited to being able to drive no more than one or at the most two hundred miles, purely due to having insufficient gas.

Realization of Reality Will be Slow and Gradual

We are keyed up with our bug-out bags, our bug-out vehicles, and have already mentally accepted the possibility that life as we know it could end without warning at any time.  We would not have so much mental inertia to overcome, and would not need to do so much prior to commencing an evacuation from the city.

We can be out the door and on the way to our retreat in a very short period of time measured in possibly minutes, and certainly no more than hours.  But most of our neighbors will still be wondering what happened, and what will happen next to restore life back to normal, watching us from behind their curtains as we back our car out of the driveway or parking lot on the way to the main road out of town.

We have tried to think of Level 2/3 type events that would result in an instant mass exodus of people, and we’ve not been able to do so (can you?).  Just about every event is likely to see most people wait in the safety of their homes for some magical government agency to come and ‘make things right’ for them.

The only possible exceptions we’ve come up with are things like tsunamis or nuclear incidents.  But we keep circling back to the issue – where would people go to instead?  City dwellers look to their city services for support, not to farmers in the countryside (if they even think of such people at all).  The countryside, to many city folks, is ’empty’ and lacking in support resources.

For those people who aren’t quite so passively peaceful, if they don’t have somewhere to go that offers better safety/security/survival, it will take them more time to get sufficiently motivated to turn their back on their homes and lives and hit the road, going who knows where – possibly ‘from the frying pan into the fire’.  In a major/national Level 2/3 event, there will not be any obviously ‘better’ places to evacuate to.

For example, a failure of the electricity grid – many people will think ‘There’s no power anywhere in the country, so it makes no sense to leave my home and city, because nowhere is any better off’.  That is false reasoning, as you well know.  These people aren’t thinking ‘Not only is there no electricity, but soon there will be no water or food either, and there’ll be riots and looting as starving people do whatever they can to find food in a city that has none’.

But the time to educate your neighbors of the fallacy of their reasoning is not then.  Now, you can gently attempt to share your beliefs with them.  But after a Level 2/3 event, the rules have changed, and they are now on their own, because you too are on your own, with only the support of other participative members of your prepping community to count on.  Anyone else is dead weight, is ‘overhead’ and merely stretches your scarce and precious resources further.

A Situation When Traffic Might be Jammed

About the only situation we can think of which would cause a worst-case scenario would be some sort of evacuation call by the authorities – activating the ’emergency broadcast system’ (do you even know what that is and how it would work?) sort of thing and compelling everyone to urgently evacuate an area.  Perhaps this could be due to a tsunami expected to hit in some hours time, a hurricane in some days time, or a nuclear power plant becoming uncontrollable.

What other types of catastrophic events would have enough lead time to allow for a warning and people to respond to that warning?  We’d be lucky to get 15 – 20 minutes warning of an incoming ICBM;  and probably less by the time the warning finally reached us directly.  An earthquake or solar storm/electricity grid failure – probably no warning at all.

Should You Plan for the Best or the Worst?

Now for the really ugly question.  Should you plan your bug-out strategy based on a best case scenario – ie, empty roads, a full tank of gas and plenty more at as many freeway gas stations as you care to stop at, and a fully working vehicle?  Or is an essential part of prepping the initial assumption that things will not be ‘best case’ in any respect?

In other words, on a continuum from a pleasant Sunday afternoon drive, without the traffic at one extreme; and a grueling overland trek, fighting off crazed hordes of zombies at every turn at the other extreme; where do you decide to set your own marker for the degree of planning and preparation necessary?

That’s a decision only you can make.  But we will say that if you’ve had sufficient foresight to invest potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe even millions of dollars, in a remote rural retreat, it would be a terrible shame if you didn’t spend a few more thousands/tens of thousands of dollars to guarantee your ability to make it to your retreat in adverse circumstances.