Here are 10 places you might not know exist (as a resource for supplies in a time of disaster) -- but they do, and they could be a gold mine of supplies in a post apocalypse for successful scavengers.
Keep in mind that traveling will likely be an important aspect of surviving in a post apocalypse, and so a number of recommendations below will have to do with getting out of Dodge and to somewhere safer (that's the hope of getting away, isn't it?)
In the early days, grocery stores and gas stations will be the first places to run dry, as well as camping supply stores and military surplus stores.
Gun stores will be raided as well (though not all of those raids are likely to end well). Hospitals and medical clinics will be next. As the days and weeks pass, and refugees and other survivors make their way for more remote suburbs and smaller towns, in a number of areas several places will serve as good places to get supplies and other resources -- just depends on who is thinking that day, and realizes these places exist, and then gets there while there are still supplies to be had.
1) Fuel Battery and Fuel Station
-- A fuel battery is a place where an energy or industrial related company stores large tanks of diesel, unleaded gasoline, and other fuels and chemicals. Some of these (especially corporate owned fuel batteries and fuel stations) may be abandoned following widespread disaster. (I'm referring here to a complete collapse of society ... not just a regional national disaster that may strike in the near future ... it is very illegal to steal fuel from a fuel battery or industrial fuel station ... this is only after a collapse, as stated above.)
Expect a large tank battery to be surrounded by fence and each tank may have a lock on it -- but only a padlock. Have a tool for cutting off locks so that you can open the main valve and gravity will then push fuel from the bottom of the tank and out of pipe leading to a loading dock (where fuel trucks load during normal operations).
You'll also want a tool for cutting through fence -- just in case the gate or doorway into the tank battery doesn't use a padlock.
If the electricity is down in the region -- as is to be expected in a post apocalypse environment -- you won't be able to turn on the pumps to run fuel -- you'll have to bypass the valves that lead to the pumps (pumps run off electricity) and instead turn the valves so that you can get fuel from a pipe not connected to a pump. In other words, you bypass the pump (which isn't running) and manually get your fuel.
If you learn how to read valves at a fuel battery, what I'm telling you will make sense. It's as easy as turning on 1 - 3 valves and possibly turning off 1 - 2 other valves. Now you have potentially thousands of gallons of diesel and unleaded gasoline at your disposal.
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(When working around gasoline use non-sparking tools, do not turn on lights or electronics (fumes can ignite and explode from small sparks inside electronics) and of course don't smoke or have any open flame nearby. Wear rubber gloves and protective glasses as well when working around large quantities of fuel.)
Public school "bus barns" (where buses are parked), city buses and county vehicles, and even state department of transportation facilities are likely to also have small fuel stations where their employees who drive state vehicles fuel up. So, when gas stations run dry in the first few hours or days of a widespread disaster, you now know where to go as a back up plan for getting fuel, and extra fuel, and then getting out of Dodge.
A 100 gallon, or even just a 45 gallon fuel transfer tank, for example, are commonly used by people throughout the construction, industrial, agricultural, and farming industries (for hauling diesel fuel -- if you need to haul gasoline, you will need a gasoline approved fuel tank). Keep one of these tanks filled with fuel somewhere nearby for a rainy day -- or better said -- for having fuel to help get you of Dodge when those gas stations close. (A smart move would be to keep this spare tank(s) of fuel hidden - no sense in advertising to the neighborhood that you have extra fuel stored at your home. Remember - those people who didn't prep might have it in their heads to simply take your fuel from you, if things get crazy in the world.)
2. Railroad Facilities
- A large quantity of the nation's retail products are shipped by trains, where it is then off-loaded on to semi-trucks and driven to a warehouse for storage, or potentially driven straight to a retail location. Many trains carry non food products like coal, lumber, and oil, so you may have to do some searching to find the food resources you are looking for -- and of course have the means to get inside a rail car.
3. Trucking Facilities
- In a post apocalypse, a lot of trucking yards may be simply abandoned and dozens of semi-trucks and tractor trailers just sitting there, a number of them potentially loaded or partially loaded with goods originally destined for a retail establishment. You may have to cut off a lock (or even torch off hinges if a particular tractor trailer has a lock you can't cut off) to get inside to a trailer's contents.
- What if you have the means to simply drive off with a large semi truck, trailer and all? Realize this -- there are going to be a lot of abandoned trucking yards and warehouse distribution centers following a widespread disaster. Not many people are going to stick around at a job when most of the region is in chaos.
If the day comes that you find an abandoned semi-truck in your travels, realize that it doesn't take a lot of skill to drive a semi in a post apocalypse environment (there shouldn't be many people on the road, right?), but it does take the know-how to start a semi-truck and be able to get it rolling down the road safely.
A semi-truck in the modern day typically has an "air brake" system and may have a 10-speed, 13-speed, or 18-speed transmission. This refers to the number of gears a semi-truck has to shift through manually.
To take a semi-truck: Feel that the manual stick is in neutral, and push in the clutch, and then turn in the key (a semi truck's emergency brakes, which are standard, will likely already be set, ensuring you don't roll when you push in the clutch.)
When the truck starts you'll hear an ongoing warning sound and see a light on the dash as the truck's air brake system fills with air. Do not try driving your truck yet -- continue to let the air brake system fill with air until after the warning sound turns off. If you take off too early you will not have brakes.
Look for a yellow knob on the dash board (typically next to a red knob, which when pressed in releases the brakes on the trailer so you can drive). Push in the yellow knob to release the emergency brakes (as you do you'll hear air move through the air brake system -- that is common as you operate a semi.)
10-Speed: Low Range and High Range (your first five gears will shift like a typical car -- which will take you from zero up to 25 mph or so. You'll then flip a switch "up" on the stick to "high range" and shift into 6th gear (which is in the same position as first gear, and then on through the gear pattern up to 10th, which is for cruising at highway speeds). To slow, downshift from 10th gear, through each gear, to sixth gear, and then flip the switch on the stick to go back down into low range. Now shift to over to 5th gear, and back down to 3rd gear. Often a semi can start from a stop in 3rd gear, unless you're on a hill. Then you need to be in first gear to start going.
13-Speed: Here's a video tutorial on shifting a 13 speed (similar to a 10 speed).
Good rules for driving a semi: Travel slower than you would in a car or truck, and give yourself a lot more "room" for braking.
Use the "braking effect" of the engine to slow the semi-truck down, using your brakes as little as possible. This will keep your brakes from over heating and allow you to use "down shifting" as a means of slowing your semi-truck.
A fully loaded tractor trailer will slow down faster than an empty trailer -- which is one reason truck drivers prefer to drive with weight on board -- it's safer than an empty trailer typically and easier to slow down.
There is a lot more to know in all about the safe operation of a semi-truck and trailer, but in a post-apocalypse environment you may find yourself having to "wing it" when it comes to whatever you encounter -- and probably not everything you do will be that safe anyway.
Be alert and play it safe as much as possible and try to use common sense so as not to put yourself or others in danger, if you don't have to.
- Will it be possible to fly an airplane in a post apocalypse environment? That just depends on where you might find a distant airstrip and small plane. A number of wealthy folks have homes on private islands and estates in the hills and some have small airplanes that may not take a lot of knowledge to fly. A number of land owners in areas of agriculture may also own a small plane known as a "crop duster." During a time of chaos and evacuation and people heading for the hills (or Fema camps -- yikes), airfields and small planes may simply be abandoned, never to be flown again until you come along.
Due to the dangers of flying (take offs and landings, for example), it would be smart to consider learning how to fly now well before a "post apocalypse". With a small plane, you may be able to get yourself a couple hundred miles in just a couple hours, or over a mid-size mountain range, or simply to an island off shore, depending on your location and where you might be heading to. (Learning to fly a plane isn't for everyone -- maybe you someone who knows how to fly? That could be a good place to start).
6. Commercial Agriculture
- You may find an easy way to "live off the land" for a few days or weeks at a time may be to camp or hide out nearby an area of major agriculture. Thousands of acres of land may be plentiful with crops such as corn, wheat, potatoes, fruit and any of a wide range of common produce. There is a good chance in a time of collapse of vast regions of the country to be without power or operating vehicles -- commercial agriculture is typically expansive and calls for machinery, tractors, and a number of workers to harvest the land. If these machines and tractors aren't running, huge swaths of land are likely to be unharvested due to the lack of man-power and those machines that make wide scale agriculture in the modern day possible. If you live in a region near or distant to commercial agriculture, consider a travel route that would take you to where large areas of crops may remain unharvested.
Keep in mind that a nearby community (or once distant band) of people may be trying to stake claim to the area and they may see you as an intruder or bandit. Survey the crops from afar and if an area of commercial agriculture looks abandoned, it probably is. Keep a low profile just in case you're wrong and some bad elements consider the area theirs.
7. National Guard Armory
- Many small towns and mid-size cities have a national guard armory, with several military vehicles and weapons kept on site for the areas current enlisted national guard to have access to in a time of crisis. In the days following a widespread national crisis that includes attacks or invasion from a foreign army, you may find that officials at your local national guard center may be quick to dole out weapons and ammunition to citizens in need of weapons to resist or fight back against an invading enemy.
Of course a draft may have been issued, calling every able man (and possibly women) to join the military. We have seen a draft in a time of war before -- and those were wars where the U.S. was not in danger of a fall. So be ready -- we may see a draft again. But of course by then it may be too late to make any real difference in a sealed fate for the former United States of America.
8. Pharmaceutical Shipping Yard
- Drug stores are likely to be cleaned out in the first few days ... however a shipping yard may carry large quantities of supplies before they are finally cleaned out as well a few weeks later. Pharmaceuticals may also be shipped by air freight (commercial jet), so a mid-size or major airport that's been abandoned may have 1 or more planes carrying pharmaceuticals. Good luck getting inside an abandoned jet -- of course when there's a will, there's a way. Once inside, you may find common medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, more powerful pain killers and various antibiotics and other medication.
9. ATV / OFF-Road Shop
- The closer you are to the suburbs, and of course a major city, the more chances exist that highways may be knocked out (major earthquake(s) or war, for example), and roads either impassible or blocked by empty vehicles abandoned as people trapped in grid lock simply walked away from vehicles.
An ATV, dirt bike, or buggy from your local off-road dealer can offer you a way to get around roads and other places that no car or truck may be able to easily pass through. If you get your hands on one of these following a collapse, a couple containers for carrying fuel or even just filling the tank after either siphoning gas from an abandoned vehicle or filling up at a bulk fuel storage battery (see top of article) could get you a hundred miles away from where you are starting.
It would be better to consider traveling in open country because the sound of your engine could give some bad elements time to arrange an ambush up ahead in the distance, if you were traveling through a neighborhood, for example. So stay in open country and keep moving -- in other words, don't stop -- otherwise someone with a rifle might land a bullet from a nearby vantage point.
By speeding through open country, you can help reduce the chances of encountering those bad elements in close quarters (such as a neighborhood), giving you a chance to pass right on by and out of the danger zone.
10. Community College
- Believe it or not, a community college (or even large university if you are in a city that's been abandoned following a collapse) can have a number of technical shops where you may find a wide range of tools, possibly bulk fuel (heavy equipment operations shop), and even a number of plants, seeds, etc. in the school's horticulture building.
It might be smart to camp and live far out in the hills during a time of collapse, but if you need supplies a community college or university may have a lot of resources to aid your new life as a survivor in a post apocalypse.