Survival Guides For Catastrophic Natural Disasters, Human Threats, Conflicts, And Collapses
We’ll Teach You How to Survive Just About Anything
Is there a massive hurricane coming your way? Not sure what to do if a raging wildfire breaks out near your home? Worried about the threat of war, terrorists, or weapons of mass destruction?
Not to worry. We’ve got you covered. On this page we’ll cover how to survive just about anything, including all of the above and more.
If you live in the West, chances are the most common survival situations you’ll come across are those where mother earth decides she wants wreck some havoc to remind us who’s really boss. Natural disasters are the most common survival scenario that most people will find themselves in – we live in mostly peaceful times, and even though threats like terrorists and mass shootings happen (more often than they should), the frequency and scale of those threats don’t compare to the dangers of hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and so forth – which we encounter every year (and seemingly more and more often).
The type of natural disaster that seems to cause the most destruction is the hurricane. Seen from space, a hurricane is an epic storm, carrying high winds and destructive forces powerful enough to destroy an entire landscape, which is why disaster preparedness for a hurricane can be essential to survival. Human cities and neighborhoods are no match for the more powerful storms. Now, not all hurricanes carry world-ending devastation with them, but when they do, cities and towns sometimes never recover. Just look to Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans as an example, or Hurricane Harvey and Houston. Both these hurricanes caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage and took countless lives. It also seems like these super storms are coming with greater and greater frequency – every year now it seems like there’s at least one category 5 hurricane that makes landfall somewhere on the coast and wreaks havoc, leaving home and lives devastated in it’s wake.
That’s why it’s crucial to know what preparations and planning needs to made to ride out the storm in the best way. We highly recommend you take the time to learn how to survive a hurricane. It might just end up saving your life.
One of the things that hurricanes can cause or exacerbate is floods. Fortunately, in most situations, floods mean property damage but are infrequently life threatening. But what if you ended up in a situation where the area you lived in was flooded, not just up to your knees but up past your head? Or what if the flood carried powerful currents that are too strong for you to resist? What if you’re in a car and the flood waters carry your car with them? These kinds of catastrophic floods can and do happen, so you’d better be prepared for them. Just because you’ve got flood insurance doesn’t mean you’re safe. Make sure you know how to survive a flood so you don’t get caught unawares.
The powerful, deadly high speed winds you find in a hurricane are only matched by the phenomena that are tornadoes. Tornadoes are a totally different kind of beast than hurricanes, but they have one thing in common – they can both cause immense destruction. Tornadoes typically occur on land, whereas hurricanes form over the water – so if you live inland and you think that you’re safe from dangerous winds, think again. They just come in a different form. Tornadoes can be monsters, giants forming in the skies and coming down to earth to wreck havoc and destroy lives and infrastructure. If you live in one of several states where a tornado is likely to strike, you should have a survival plan because one day your life may count on it. It could be tomorrow. Disaster preparedness can go a long way here. Make sure you know the right things to do to be able to survive a tornado and keep yourself and your family safe, particularly if you live in an area where tornadoes are more common.
One less common, but potentially more devastating type of natural disaster that’s on the back of many of our minds is earthquakes. Americans hve been lucky – in the past few years, there haven’t been any truly devastating earthquakes to hit the United States. Other countries haven’t been so lucky. Not too long ago, an earthquake in Indonesia killed 4000+ people. A few years before that, an even more devastating one hit Nepal and killed almost 9000 people.
With such large death tolls, it’s obvious that earthquakes can present a deadly threat to the regions that sit near fault lines. Most people know that California is constantly under the threat of earthquakes, but did you know that most of the Western states are also susceptible? It’s not just California – Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and even Utah and Idaho are at risk. It’s not just the west either – Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and South Carolina are categorized as ‘high risk’ States for an earthquake hazard. Large portions of the US are actually at quite a high risk of experiencing an earthquake in the next 50 years. Are you prepared for this? Start preparing by learning how to survive an earthquake so that you’re ready when the ground shifts out from under you.
It’ also important to be aware that earthquakes don’t just cause damage when they impact cities and towns directly. Earthquakes that happen at sea can also cause catastrophes. Nobody can forget the terrifying disaster that was the nuclear plant meltdown in Fukushima. That was caused by an earthquake, which caused a tsunami. It was the tsunami that pushed the plant over the edge and caused reactor to fail completely.The waves that hit the nuclear plant were estimated to be 49 feet (15 meters) high. That wasn’t even the highest point of the wave – scientists have estimated that the waves that hit Japan in the tsunami reached up to 132 feet (40.5 meters) high, and traveled at 435 miles per hour. Of the roughly 20,000 deaths caused by the earthquake and tsunami, more than 14,000 were caused by drowning – meaning that they were very likely killed directly by the tsunami.
Imagine a wall of water 100 feet high, travelling at more than 400 miles per hour, and how much destruction that could cause. Japan is undoubtedly an advanced, developed nation, and the affected areas had no answer at all for the force and power of the tsunami. Tsunamis are absolutely terrifying, and people who live anywhere near the coast should definitely have an emergency plan ready to survive a tsunami. While they aren’t all that common, what they might lack in frequency they definitely make up for in the total destruction that they can cause.
Volcano eruptions can also be caused by underground activity. You don’t need to be told about the dangers of volcanoes – everybody can understand the effect that burning hot magma can have. Most people have heard of Pompeii and what happened to that ancient city when the volcano erupted. If you live anywhere in the vicinity of an active volcano, here’s how to prepare yourself to survive a volcano eruption.
Even if you don’t live near an active volcano, volcanic eruptions can still effect you. Have you ever heard of a supervolcano? Supervolcanoes are exactly what they sound like – massive volcanoes that have much more potential for destruction than the volcanoes you typically see erupting. While typical volcanoes will have an effect on nearby regions, a supervolcano has the power affect entire continents. In the US, there is one supervolcano that geologists are increasingly worried about – the Yellowstone supervolcano. In the event of the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano, it’s estimated at three quarters of the US will be blotted out by ash, and that anyone in a 100 kilometers of the explosion would be killed almost immediately. A supervolcano eruption is truly an extinction level event, and in that sense your odds of survival are slim no matter how prepared you are. Nevertheless, you can improve your chances by being well prepared. If you want to maximize your odds of living through a supervolcano eruption, read up on how to survive if the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts.
Now that we’re on to the topic of things like magma and ash, let’s talk about fires. Specifically, wildfires. It seems nowadays that every summer we hear about dangerous wildfires that are burning out of control despite the best efforts of firemen and other first responders. Whether it’s in California or Brazil, it seems like wildfires are happening more often and burning hotter than ever. While these fires typically don’t cause a huge amount of deaths (the 2018 wildfire in California killed 8 people), they cause a vast amount of property damage – burning over hundreds of thousands of acres and destroying hundreds or even thousands of homes. If you live in an area where wildfires can occur, make sure you know how to protect your home and your life by making sure you understand how to survive a wildfire.
On the other end of the spectrum from fire is snow. Snow isn’t just a nuisance that you have to shovel out of your driveway in the winter. In the right situation, snow can be life threatening – particularly when it’s rushing down at you from a mountain top at extreme speeds. That’s right – we’re talking about avalanches. Avalanches typically won’t affect you if you’re at home (unless you live on the side of a snowy mountain), but they are a definite risk you should be aware of if you are hiking or in the outdoors near a mountain that is covered with snow. The more rural the area you’re in, the more you’re at risk of getting caught in an unexpected avalanche, so this knowledge is even more important for more experienced at daring outdoorsmen. Discover tips on how to survive an avalanche in this article.
There is a slightly different kind of natural disaster that looms over us at all times – one that doesn’t necessarily cause the physical destruction that some of the forces above can cause. Nevertheless, this kind of disaster is one that keeps health care professionals up at night. That’s right – it’s the risk of some kind of epidemic (the spread of an infectious disease through one community or region), or even worse, a pandemic (the spread of an infectious disease through the whole world).
The last genuine pandemic happened in the early 1900s – the Spanish flu – and that one killed 50-100 million people. Before that we had various iterations of plague, cholera, and so forth. So it’s very clear that a pandemic can quickly rack up an extremely high body count. You might think that the risk of this happening today is much lower than it used to be thanks to improved medical technology – but you’d be wrong. In fact, we’re more at risk of a pandemic than ever before. This is thanks to the increased concentration of populations in cities and urban areas, as well as the overuse of antibiotics, which is helping to make bacteria more resistant to our best weapons against them, increasing the chances of drug resistant bacterial infections. Viral infections are equally dangerous, as the vaccines that we have can’t keep up with the mutations of deadly viruses. Scientists seem most concerned about a deadly flu emerging that is highly infectious – something that is similar in nature to the bird or swine flus that we’ve all heard about relatively recently. Learn what you can do to prepare for the next pandemic/outbreak by reading this article on how to survive a pandemic flu or viral outbreak (also, here are some things to increase your chances in a pandemic).
As we know by names like ‘avian flu’ or ‘swine flu’, diseases don’t just affect humans – they impact animals as well. One of the key factors in the spread of a potentially deadly avian flu is the way that we raise chickens in factory farms – where they are in extremely close contact with each other and often sickly due to virtually zero movement and the total lack of a healthy environment to live in. In fact, a tremendous amount of what we think of as normal human activity can have negative effects on animal populations, whether directly or indirectly. Think about over-fishing, the destruction of animal habitats, and pollution. Many species in our ecosystems are facing extinction due to human activity, and many more will be added to endangered lists in the near future. What happens when a mass extinction of a species occurs? There’s no way to know. In some cases, we might not be affected at all. In other cases however, the results could be catastrophic. It is impossible to predict the effect that an extinction of a particular species will have on other animals and on humans, because there are too many variables. How does it disrupt the food chain? How will it affect the ecosystem of plants and animals that surrounds it? What we do know is that mass extinctions will likely have some major effects on human society, potentially causing famines and other major disruptions in our way of life. So you’d better be as ready as you can be for an event like this. Learn how to survive a mass extinction on this page.
Next we’re moving on to threats from space – and no, we’re not talking about aliens (they wouldn’t count as a ‘natural disaster’). Have you ever seen the movie Armageddon? That’s what we’re talking about here, and the name of the movie is fitting considering the likely level of destruction and decimation we’d face if a large enough object hit the earth from outer space. (It’s actually not one of our favorite survival movies though – a bit too cheesy. We actually have a full list of what we think are the best realistic survival movies.)
Luckily for us, scientists and other experts have done the math and there are no large chunks of space rocks headed our way in the near future. That’s not to say that it could never happen. Not too long ago, there was some worry in the astronomy community that the asteroid Apophis would hit the earth in 2036. That risk has since been ruled out, but there is still a chance that it will hit in 2068. There are a number of other asteroids that could impact the earth in the next 100 years with varying degrees of probability. While it’s not the most urgent of concerns given the state of our world, it makes sense to at least be aware of how to survive an asteroid collision.
Asteroids aren’t the only type of space object that could impact earth. Another possibility is of a comet collision, which brings many of the same risks of damage and destruction that an asteroid impact would have. Comets are distinct from asteroids in that they are made up of different materials – while asteroids are primarily made up of rock and metal, comets are primarily made of ice with some other stuff thrown in. Still, when it comes to big chunks of debris that impact the earth, it doesn’t make much of a difference what an object is made of – the effects will be catastrophic in either case. If you want to be totally prepared to survive all the types of space rocks that could impact the Earth and wipe out humanity, learn how to survive a comet collision, read this article.
How to Survive in the Wilderness
Wilderness survival depends on several factors: Climate, weather, terrain, and what survival supplies you happen to be carrying. Without the basic knowledge for wilderness survival, you can be dead in just a few hours. But with the right wilderness survival skills and a handful of *essential* survival supplies, you can count on survival. A few highly effective survival skills — shown in the articles below — can go a long way in a survival situation!
The first and most deadly killer in the wild is temperature. Humans cannot survive for long in either extreme heat or extreme cold. When it comes to the US, you’re more likely to find yourself stranded and alone in the wilderness facing conditions that are too cold rather than too hot. The reason is that most outdoor activities in the US involve mountains and hills (think hunting, hiking, etc). It’s not very often you’d go out into the dessert as an outdoor activity, but it’s very common to go into the mountains – where the air is colder, particularly if your excursion occurs towards the end of a calendar year. Survival in freezing conditions is no easy feat – there are a variety of skills that you need to ensure you make it through, including understanding how to construct a shelter, build a fire, finding food/water, and so forth. Cold conditions can lull you into inaction – when the human body gets cold enough, it starts to automatically shut down, which will lead to feelings of drowsiness and lethargy. To learn how to fight off the cold and endure through dangerously cold conditions, you need to understand how to survive extreme winter.
On the flip side, if you’re dealing with extreme heat, your priorities will be different. Fire is much less important, and although shelter is still crucial, it serves a different purpose. Your number one priority if you’re stranded in a hot, dry place is to locate a source of water. The real danger of extreme heat stems from two factors – firstly, your body will sweat more, meaning you’re losing water faster. Secondly, in extreme heat, it becomes much more difficult to find water. It is the combination of your body losing water faster than normal and the lack of water available that is most likely to kill you if you’re stranded in a region that is excessively hot. If you want to better understand strategies for dealing with extreme heat and dry conditions, make sure you brush up on how to survive in a desert. Many of the skills we outline about desert survival will also transfer to other situations where you might be dealing with conditions that are blazingly hot.
Another place where people often find themselves lost and stranded is in the mountains. We’ve all heard stories of hikers gone missing, or mountaineers who are caught out by weather. If you’re someone who enjoys the outdoors at all, this is definitely something that could happen to you, no matter how prepared you are. In fact, it is often more experienced hikers and hunters who end up stranded – and that’s because they are more likely to go off trails, or to venture deeper into the wilderness where other people are less likely to go. Make sure you know how to survive in the mountains so that you’re prepared for the worst to happen.
We’ve also got a guide on how to survive in the Rocky Mountains specifically if that’s your neck of the woods. This article is more relevant to a situation where there’s some kind of natural or man-made catastrophe and you’re forced to escape and hunker down in the Rockies.
While America does have areas that could be considered extreme, many other countries have even harsher environments. Think of the Sahara desert and it’s enormous size, or the harsh, freezing conditions of countries like Russia or Siberia. Also keep in mind that if you’re in another country, help may not be on it’s way as quickly as in the US (if it’s coming at all). Not all countries have park rangers and emergency services on par with the US after all. If you’re stuck in a true worse case scenario – in another country, in the harshest conditions possible – what do you do? We took inspiration from the book “The Long Walk” and the movie adaption “The Way Back”. The book (and movie) are the true story of a Polish man who escaped a Soviet gulag and walked 4000 miles in the harshest conditions to get to safety. We took lessons contained in this true story and put together a guide on how to survive in extreme conditions (like Siberia, Russia, etc) where there is no aid or rescue on it’s way to help you.
We’ve focused primarily on the elements so far, but being in the wilderness presents a number of other dangers. For example, if we’re stranded in the wilderness without equipment, we go from being at the top of the food chain to just another piece of meat for predators. Granted, most animals tend to prefer avoiding contact with humans, but nevertheless, the threat of wild animals is very real. Most animals are much more equipped to survive in the wilderness than humans are – they tend to be faster, they naturally camouflage better, and their sense are more acute than ours (particularly their sense of smell). Without a plan or an understanding of how best to deal with encounters with wild animals, you’ll very quickly find yourself in a very precarious position. Find out more about how to survive an encounter with a wild animal and make sure that you don’t fall prey to a predator. Predators like wolves tend to avoid humans, as they understand the danger we pose to them. However, if the pack is desperate, or if you are wounded and they can smell blood, all bets are off. If they decide to come after you, wolves are very dangerous because they hunt in packs and have extremely keen senses. If you don’t want to end up as wolf-food, make sure you know what to do to survive a wolf attack.
Another important factor to take into consideration in the wild is the availability of medicine – or rather, the lack of medicine. It’s difficult enough to survive in the wilderness while healthy – but the situation gets even more dire if you happen to fall sick. This risk is exacerbated by the fact that you’re much more likely to get sick in the wild. Think about the risk of drinking water in the wild, or the fact that your body might already be in a weakened state due to a lack of resources, not to mention the risk of infections, poisons, and diseases carried by insects like mosquitoes. In short, if you’re stranded in the wilderness for any extended period of time, you will need to find ways to treat yourself and nurse yourself back to health. In short, you’ll need to learn how to survive without doctors or pharmacies by relying on herbal remedies and supplements.
Man Made Threats
Natural disasters are obviously things we as survivalists and preppers need to be ready for. That being said, natural disasters have always happened, and will continue to happen until the end of humanity and beyond – and so far, the human race has lived through them. While natural disasters occur with regularity, they aren’t literally world-ending or country destroying. The same can’t be said about certain kinds of man-made threats. Humanity has created weapons that could quite literally erase human life from this planet. Right now, there are enough nuclear weapons in the arsenal of various countries to destroy the planet several times over.
When we think of planet destroying weapons, our minds turn first to nuclear warheads – and for good reason. Nuclear weapons are humanity’s most destructive creation. If you’re caught in the blast zone of a nuclear bomb, you have virtually no chance of survival. Even if the initial blast doesn’t kill you, the radiation will soon after – unless you’re prepared. It’s hard to imagine any preparations being enough to help you survive a nuclear bomb, but if you’re not caught in the initial blast, having access to a fall out shelter, supplies, and medicine will almost definitely be the difference between survival and a slow and painful death. As the world gets ever more chaotic and geopolitical tensions rise once again after a few decades of relative peacefulness, it just seems like good sense to start preparing yourself by learning how to survive a nuclear attack. After all, if a nuclear attack does happen, it will almost definitely be some kind of surprise attack – and a true survivor is someone who is ready for any eventuality.
So, say you’ve survived the initial blast and have adequately prepared yourself so you don’t die from radiation poisoning in the first few weeks or months. What do you do next? After any nuclear bomb is dropped, there is the initial impact, but there is also everything that comes after it. A prolonged period where just going outside means exposure to radiation. The plants and animals that survive the blast will also be irradiated, making hunting and foraging impossible. The days will be abnormally dark as the sun is blotted out by ash and smoke, and temperatures will be far lower than is normal. This period after first impact is what we call a nuclear winter. If you want to not only live through the first few months, but make it through all the aftereffects of a genuine nuclear attack, you should make sure you’re aware how to survive a nuclear winter.
When we think of nuclear attacks, we normally think of powerful nation-states bombing each other – for example, if someone were to attack the USA, the first culprits that come to mind would probably be large powerful countries like China or Russia. But nuclear bombs can take many forms. Technology is advanced enough that a nuclear device could fit into a suitcase or other similar sized container. Granted, the initial explosion would likely lack the explosive force that we typically imagine when conjuring up thoughts of nuclear war in our heads. A dirty bomb is most likely going to be some kind of explosive device that has been rigged to radioactive materials, making it functionally quite different from an actual atomic bomb. But the damage caused could ultimately be similar. The real danger when it comes to dirty bombs or nuclear suitcases comes much more from radiation fallout than from the explosion itself, but the scariest thing about the potential for these small scale nuclear attacks is the complete lack of warning. With traditional nuclear bombs, there is likely to be some kind of warning, as these weapons need to traverse oceans and continents. With an improvised nuclear weapon, all it takes is a single terrorist carrying something that’s roughly suitcase sized. Learn how to survive a nuclear terrorist attack or dirty bomb so you know exactly what to do if you’re ever unlucky enough to be caught in the vicinity of this kind of attack.
One effect of nuclear attacks that we haven’t discussed is the EMP effect that comes with the detonation of any kind of nuclear bomb. We won’t get into the science of it, but any genuine nuclear explosion will cause an electro-magnetic pulse which has the effect of overloading electrical devices, causing them to fail. In a genuine nuclear attack, the lack of access to electronic devices would probably be the least of your concerns given the many other challenging hurdles you’d need to overcome to survive. Also, chances are that the blast itself will have damaged the grid enough such that even without the EMP effect, electricity likely wouldn’t be available. But did you know that EMPs exist (and can be weaponized) outside of the context of a nuclear bomb? That’s right. There are conceivably devices out there that can take out all working electronics in a town or city. Learn how to survive an EMP and be prepared for a world without power.
It’s also important to keep in mind that nuclear bombs aren’t the only kinds of weapons of mass destruction. There are also biological and chemical weapons that you need to think about. Despite the many rumors and stories about missing Cold War weapons, for the most part, nuclear weapons are extremely hard to access, and nuclear attacks coming from other nations is still relatively unlikely due to the Mutually Assured Destruction that would inevitably follow. On the other hand, it is virtually impossible to stop radical terrorists from attempting to produce their own chemical or biological weapons. Nuclear reactors designed to create weapons can be spotted by satellite and come up with many tell-tale signs. All it takes for a chemical or biological weapon to be developed is a group of determined (or coerced) scientists and a lab. A biological or chemical weapon may not wreak the same immediate havoc as a bomb, but ultimately these kinds of weapons could prove to be just as devastating for society. Think about the panic that something like avian flu can cause – now imagine that same kind of flu, but designed to be deadlier, more easily transmitted, and more resistant to treatment. That’s the kind of scenario we could be looking at in the event of a successful biological attack by terrorists or foreign forces. If you don’t already know what steps you might take to survive this kind of attack, then you had better start getting prepared and learn the steps needed to survive a chemical or biological attack.
Outside of WMDs, there are still plenty of dangers out there in the world, both from terrorists and foreign foes. A conventional missile strike may not be something on the top of your mind, but if you take a moment to think about it carefully, many countries that are our allies are under constant threat of missiles and bombings. Think of Israel, or South Korea, or Taiwan. All it would take for the US to be a target of a missile strike is the escalation of one of the many conflicts where the US is committed to defending our allies. Suddenly we’re at war with Iran, or North Korea, or China, and a missile strike suddenly becomes a real and very genuine threat. In order to survive a missile strike or aerial bombing, we can look towards our British allies in WW2 for inspiration. Communal bomb shelters, improvised shelters, and bunkers are the answer, along with having adequate supplies to meet your needs for the duration of any possible bombing or missile strike. Learn more about how to survive a missile attack here.
While we’re on the topic of potential death from above scenarios, a relatively modern innovation that could easily be weaponized by our enemies is the drone (more officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs). Many fancy technological types believe that drones can revolutionize the world. For example, they could be used to deliver medicines and lifesaving supplies to incredibly remote regions, or be used to completely change the logistics networks that dominate so much of the global economy. However, we all know that humans are incredibly good at turning what should be useful, positive technologies into weapons – and drones are no exception. America has certainly played it’s part – drone strikes have become a potent weapon in the American military arsenal. It should be obvious then that terrorists and foreign forces will also be looking at using drones as weapons. If you want to be ready for when (not if) this eventually happens, make sure you understand how to avoid and survive a drone attack.
Another possible scenario where all of us would be in grave danger is a conventional invasion. It may seem unlikely, verging on impossible, for any country to mount any kind of successful assault on the continental US – but geopolitical winds can shift in an instant, and most Americans are blissfully unaware and thus unprepared for being under attack by a foreign state. If this were to happen, it would most likely come from a larger, authoritarian country with a powerful military like China, or more likely, Russia. Russia in particular has shown that it’s willing to invade other countries in order to annex land and take resources. Vladimir Putin is a dangerous man who’s capable of anything, and he is undoubtedly a product of the Cold War. Who was Russia’s prime foe during the Cold War? America. While a Russian invasion of the United States is certainly unlikely at this point in time, who knows what might happen in the future. Take the steps to better understand how to survive a potential Russian invasion the United States by reading this article.
While a full scale invasion of the US by a foreign power still seems like a very remote possibility, nowadays we are actually constantly under threat from a different kind of attack. In recent years, there have been mass shootings in malls, schools, hospitals, churches, synagogues, festivals – sadly, the list goes on and on and on. The threat of a mass shooting exists anytime you’re in a public place where people gather (which is pretty much anytime you’re outside of the house) – but terrorists are likely to focus on places that we take for granted. For example, at a mall. What’s more American than spending a day at the mall? The goal of mass shooters is to make a statement – their goal is not just to kill as many people as possible. Their goal is to make us scared to do everyday things, and to instill as much fear as possible. If you are unfortunate enough to be caught in the middle of a mass shooting on a day out to the mall, would you respond appropriately? If you’re not sure about your answer, you should make sure you read our article about how to survive a mass shooting at a mall.
Another common target for terrorist mass shooters is schools. They target places where children are because it is the most psychologically damaging to us as a society. We don’t need to tell you how frequently school shootings happen – it seem at this point that one occurs every few months. Make sure you know what to do and how to survive a school shooting so that if you ever find yourself in this situation, you can maximize your chances of surviving.
We also have some expert advice available on dealing with shootings. If you want to absorb lessons from the very best, read this article about how the Israeli Defense Force trains their soldiers to survive shootings. The IDF is one of the most experienced and lethal armies in the world (as they are under constant threat and surrounded by countries that are natural foes), and you’d do well to absorb the lessons that they pass on to their soldiers.
Outside of shootings, another way that terrorists can attack us is with homemade or improvised bombs. Nobody can forget the horror that was the Boston bombing in 2013 or the Paris Attacks in 2015 (which included both bombs and mass shootings). Further back, there was the Unabomber, and the Oklohoma City bombings.
Not to mention the times that a potential bomber has been stopped, or failed because the bomb didn’t go off as they intended (think of the underwear bomber, or the attempted Times Square bombing). These examples are just the ones we know about – who knows how many potential bombing plots law enforcement have stopped without the public being aware of them. Make sure you know what to do if a bomb goes off near you by learning how to survive a bomb at a public event.
It’s not just bombs and shootings either. as well know all too well, one strategy that criminals and terrorists always have on their minds is hijackings – in particular, hijacking planes. The combination of a large number of captive hostages and the inaccessibility of a plane make it an ideal situation for anyone looking to take hostages and negotiate from a position of relative safety – after all, the authorities can’t shoot down the plane without also killing all the hostages. To be perfectly blunt, in a situation where your plane is being hijacked, you’re unlikely to make it out alive. This is especially true nowadays, where governments are much more likely to shoot a plane out of the sky – after all, everybody knows what happened on 9/11 – planes can be extremely dangerous weapons when hijacked by radicals and fanatics. The key to survival is to prevent the hijacking from taking place to begin with. If you’re ever unlucky enough to end up in this situation, it would prove useful to know how to survive a hijacked airline.
Societal Breakdown, Crime, and SHTF
We’ve talked about threats from terrorists and foreign nations. But what about the threat from the people around you? What about the government? What if everything goes wrong, not due to foreign powers or radicals and fanatics, but because the fabric of society itself tears apart? These scenarios are what preppers call SHTF (Shit Hits the Fan) scenarios. The truth is, if a person is desperate enough, he or she will do anything to survive. That’s often what leads to crime. If enough people are desperate, then civil society breaks down and chaos ensues. Are you ready for the total collapse of society?
One of the scenarios that could lead to a breakdown in society is a major disruption to our everyday lives. All of us rely on electricity, on clean water, on roads and planes and trains. All of us rely on things around us functioning properly. One thing in particular that we as Americans totally take for granted is the readily available supply of food – at the grocery store, at restaurants. We even have food readily available in gas stations and pharmacies! Everywhere you look, there is a surplus of food. But what if all of a sudden, food was readily available? What if, due to drought, or pestilence, or economic collapse, that all of a sudden, agricultural production in the US drops to zero and we lose the ability to buy food from other countries? Suddenly, the giant surplus of foods in stores all across the country start to dwindle. Stocks don’t get replaced. We find ourselves in a famine the likes of which we’ve never seen. Would you be able to survive this? It’s probably fair to say that more than 99% of Americans would find themselves completely clueless about what to do if they found that they couldn’t buy food any more. They haven’t stocked up supplies, and they have no clue how to obtain their own food in the wild. Ensure you’re not one of the clueless by brushing up on how to survive a famine.
Another plausible scenario that would lead to a societal breakdown is the destruction of the US government. This could happen in a number of ways – via foreign influence, or the threat of civil war, or a financial crisis of unprecedented scale. In any case, if the government falls, then SHTF would follow soon after. It doesn’t matter if it’s caused by a nuclear bomb falling on the capital or from internal strife that gets out of control. The point is that you should be ready when it happens. Keep in mind that no civilization lasts forever – eventually, they all collapse. It would be arrogant and naive to assume that United States as we know it today will continue to exist in perpetuity. The only question is when it does happen, will you be ready? Be prepared by learning how to survive a collapse of the US government.
Let’s now examine the other extreme – the government doesn’t collapse… instead it becomes too powerful. If anything, this is a more realistic situation. We’re all aware of the constant government overreach that occurs, regardless of which party is in power. Freedoms are being eroded and both the government and corporations are collecting vasts amount of data about each and every one of us. With the way the world works nowadays, we’re practically living in a surveillance state and we aren’t even aware of it. What if the US government takes a wrong turn, and America becomes a true police state, where law enforcement and the military become the weapons of oppression for an authoritarian government? Ensure how you can stay free and learn how to survive martial law.
If you ever end up in a situation where you’re on the run, (for example, in a situation where an unjust martial law has been enacted), chances are you won’t just be evading humans and high tech tracking techniques. One of the most effective ways to track someone (even in a world with GPS, satellites, drones and so forth) is to use tracking dogs. Their sense of smell is unparalleled and once they have your trail, it can be virtually impossible to lose them, especially if you’re primarily travelling on foot. If you want to be prepared for a situation where the authorities have become oppressors, it’s a good idea to learn how to survive a dog attack and evade tracking dogs.
It’s not just the breakdown of government that can lead to a collapse. We came awfully close to a collapse in 2008 with the financial crisis. If the next economic crisis is even worse and more acute, anything could happen. Virtually nobody who’s still alive has memories of the great depression, but its effects were extremely destructive for millions upon millions of people. We could very possibly live through conditions like that again, and almost nobody except the millionaires and billionaires are prepared to weather the storm. An economic crisis may not be the worst of the scenarios that we’ve laid out in this article, but the probability of something like this happening is far likelier. Make sure you know how to survive a stock market collapse so you don’t lose everything when it inevitably happens.
Regardless of what the cause is, if society fractures and the government breaks down or ceases to function, then you’re likely going to end up in a situation where you need to fend for yourself. There’s no police. There’s minimal access to the electricity, heat, or water. All the things that we take for granted are either gone or severely disrupted. You may think you’re prepared for this kind of situation, but surviving the collapse of society goes beyond just stocking up on supplies. Do you really know how to survive the collapse of civilization?
There are a number of scenarios that could occur after a societal collapse. Either cities, towns, and other communities band together in cooperation to survive and maintain a semblance of civil society (in which case, we’d possibly see the rise of feudal states within the country). The other (and likely much worse) alternative is total anarchy. True anarchy is where it’s literally every man for himself. Perhaps you’ll have your family with you and you’ll manage to stick together, but outside of that, in a state of anarchy, pretty much everybody else is a potential threat. Prepare for a true SHTF situation by learning how to survive total anarchy.
In any situation where society is truly headed towards a complete collapse, chances are you’d fare better in the countryside than in any kind of urban area. In the wild, you can forage for food and clean drinking water, you have access to resources (lumber for fire, herbal medicines, etc), and most importantly you’re less likely to run into other people. If you’re stuck in a city or a town in the midst of complete catastrophe, you’ll probably be in grave danger, because in urban areas, resources are often highly concentrated in specific locations. Pharmacies hold all of the medicines. Grocery stores hold all the food and water. Everybody in the area knows this – so when disaster strikes, people descend on these central locations, eager to get their hands on supplies. What happens when a large group of people congregate, all with mutually exclusive goals (to obtain as much supplies as possible for survival)? That’s right. Total chaos. Violence. Blood on the streets. That’s why, if you live in an urban area, you’ll want to come up with a plan for getting to safety, away from other people. That means having an evacuation plan, and knowing exactly what you’ll need to make the journey. You can ensure you know how to survive a catastrophic urban disaster by reading our evacuation survival guide for cities and towns.
Imagine you’ve made it through whatever disaster it is that brings the the government down and collapses society. Perhaps you’ve successfully evacuated to a safer area, and you’ve got enough food and water to survive for the time being. You’ve done everything right so far. The next thing you need to do is be ready to defend all that you’ve obtained. In a situation where there is no laws and no social norms, people will begin to behave badly. Just think about what happens in big cities when there’s an extended blackout – peoples inhibitions about theft and vandalism seem to go out the window. Now imagine a world where there are literally no consequences – where you can take what you want from whomever you want without any threat of punishment – and think of the violence and chaos that could occur. This is what you need to defend yourself from, because although you aren’t out to hurt anybody else, the same might not be true for those around you. You need to make certain that you know how to survive in a violent post apocalyptic situation so that you don’t just make it through a disaster, but that you can stay alive after the disaster.
You may think that the people in your town or city are harmless, but with a large enough gathering of people, a crowd can quickly turn into a mob if the conditions are right. Whether it’s at a political gathering, a festival, or even at a football game – any time there is a large group of people gathered, there is potential for a riot to break out. With political and cultural tensions as inflamed as they are these days, the likelihood of riots seems higher than ever. Be prepared for dealing with the dangers of mob mentality by ensuring you know how to survive a riot.
Even if you don’t ever encounter a SHTF situation, that doesn’t mean that your survival awareness and skills won’t ever be put to the test. Just because you’re not caught in a world-ending disaster, that doesn’t mean that you’re safe. Just think about the amount of crime that goes on in America’s streets – in certain sections of the country, it could be argued that we are already living in a sort of dystopia. If you want to know what to do if you’re ever at the risk of becoming the victim of a crime, make sure you know how to survive a violent home invasion and how to survive an armed robbery.
In any kind of survival situation, whether it’s a natural disaster, an attack by an enemy or oppression by our own government, one of the most vital survival skills you can have is the ability to lead, and the ability to work in a team. Having people on your side and looking out for you should increase your chances of survival exponentially. Another way to put this is that when it comes to people who work well as a group, the sum is always greater than the parts.
Just think of something as straightforward as keeping watch and being alert. By yourself, it is impossible to on guard all the time – everybody needs to sleep after all. With just one additional person, you can take turns keeping watch while the other sleeps – which means you’re able to massively reduce the chance that you’ll ever be ambushed or surprised. That’s just with one additional person. Imagine if you can work well in a group of 5 or 6, and how much more effective you could be when it comes to survival. That’s why you need to learn how to use teamwork and leadership to survive.
Finally, we have a fun article that teaches you how to survive the end of the world where we teach you how to live through the top ten armageddon scenarios (including surviving the robot uprising, an alien invasion, and a zombie infestation!)