Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Many people prepare for emergencies that can happen every day, and preppers go a step farther and prepare for natural disasters. These situations are relatively short, and eventually outside aid arrives to help the community rebuild. But have you ever thought about what you would do if there was a total societal collapse?
What a Collapse May Look Like
There are several reasons that a country or even our global civilization could collapse, and if that were to occur, there would be little to no outside help coming. Look at the world around you. Now imagine if nothing worked the way it was supposed to.
There may be no power, no running water, no heating or air conditioning, no refrigeration, limited or zero medical support, no police officers, no firefighters, no internet, no cell phones, and no way to restock any of the shelves.
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How a collapse will look at the beginning is anyone’s guess as it would depend on what caused it and how long a government could maintain the illusion of control. The first few days or even week could be nothing more than confusing and unsettling as people try to figure out what is going on beyond the reassurances they are given by officials.
But as the availability of resources dwindles, and no real answers or solutions are presented, things will drastically take a turn for the worse. Below is a very brief overview of how a collapse may look in the first 100 days. Please keep in mind that the sequence of events and their timelines are subject to what initially caused the collapse.
The First 24-72 Hours
This period may be the calm before the storm as people don’t fully realize what has happened nor its long-term effects. People’s sense of normality will still be intact, but it will quickly start being questioned. If there are any supplies you feel you must have, you should get them within the first day. This is because stores will still have supplies and for the most part, people will remain civil.
After the first day, venturing out on your own will become more and more dangerous. By day three, power and running water may be intermittent or gone, the shelves at food stores will be empty, and you will start to see unlawfulness.
The End of The First Week
By the end of the first week, you will see a dramatic increase in unlawful behavior, electronic transactions will most likely not work, paper money may or may not be accepted, and some people may begin leaving their homes due to the lack of resources.
Week Two Through Four
By this point, emergency services will be gone as the people that serve them will have left their positions to take care of their own families. In certain areas, there may be a mass exodus of people looking for safety and supplies. Many people that were in hospitals or dependent on a certain level of medical care and medication will have passed away.
Widescale riots and fighting in the streets will be a common occurrence. The only running water available would be those fed by gravity systems, but since many of those are dependent on pumps, they too are probably already empty.
By this point, the only way to get what you need will be through a bartering system. Money will be worthless, there will be no rule of law, criminals will have taken over certain areas, and estimates are that up to fifty percent of the affected population will have died through illness, dehydration, starvation, medical dependency, exposure, and violence.
Surviving The First 100 Days
To be blunt, the first 100 days after a collapse will be brutal. A collapse will be widespread and far-reaching. Depending on the circumstances of the event, there may be opportunities for supply drops and other aid from outside resources, but no government can help all of its population at the same time, so this shouldn’t be something that is relied upon.
No matter what the event is that causes a collapse, you will always need the basics to survive, and that is where you should start.
One of the only ways to get through such an event will be to prepare for it beforehand. There is just no way around it, and you may be surprised with what my first recommendation is.
This topic hasn’t been talked about much as discussion about gear and supplies always overshadowed it. However, it has been gaining traction more recently, and for good reason. During a collapse, it would be extremely difficult if not n impossible to survive the first 100 days if you are in poor health.
Stress levels will be higher, you won’t be eating or sleeping well, physical activity may increase, and preexisting medical conditions will worsen due to the lack of medical care and the inability to obtain medications.
You can’t expect your body to overlook years of neglect and suddenly jump to attention. The number one thing that you can do to better your odds of survival is to take action now in regards to your health. Start eating better and exercising more.
You will need a place to live that protects you from the elements as well as any other outside threats. If you are reading this, then it is highly likely that you already have somewhere to live, such as a house or apartment, but the home too needs to be prepared. Every point of entry needs to be reinforced and always secured. Environmental control will also need to be addressed if you live in an area that experiences temperature extremes.
On average, a person needs two to three liters or roughly one gallon of drinking water per day to be comfortable. So for 100 days, a person will need one hundred gallons of drinking water at a minimum. Of course, this does not include water for cooking, washing clothes, general cleaning, and hygiene. Double the amount of water listed above per person to take care of your needs.
Water faucets or the processes that clean our water will not be working, so when the collapse first happens, fill as many containers as you can with water. Storing water is great, but it is just as important to have the supplies available to filter and purify water for everyone in your group. This is in case something happens to your water supply, the event goes on longer than you anticipate, or you must leave the area where all your supplies are.
The average adult needs roughly 2,000 calories a day. This comes out to 200,000 needed to get through the first one hundred days.
Unless you have a backup power supply that can last over three months, do not rely on packing a freezer with a bunch of food. Instead, mix up the food supply with canned goods, dry goods, emergency food options like dehydrated food, foraging wild edibles, and growing your food. Hunting and fishing are always an option, but caution should be used because other people will have the same idea.
Also, you may be able to fill your caloric needs during this time, but your nutritional needs may be just as difficult to fulfill. Stock up on bottles of multivitamins to help maintain a healthy balance.
As I have mentioned throughout this article, medical support will be difficult to come by. You will need to be ready to address as many medical issues as possible and have plenty of supplies on hand.
A good place to start is to look at the contents of a first aid kit and bulk up on those supplies. Fever reducers, pain and allergy pills, as well as other medications and ointments. You can never have enough sterile bandages, gauze, pads, and anything else to deal with wound care. Everyone should also have a few books in their library that outline how to deal with a wide array of medical problems.
Lastly, do not forget about the specific needs of people in your group. It may take extra work and resources to accommodate and prioritize their health concerns, but it will be essential. For example, if someone requires insulin, then part of your medical plan should be finding a way to keep it cool. This is just one of those little things that can easily be forgotten until it’s too late, so remember to customize all your plans for you and yours.
Security is going to be something you will need to be vigilant about 24/7. It would be a dangerous move to let your guard down when surrounded by people that are hurting, in need, and desperate.
How you decide to handle security will be your choice in terms of whether to render aid to outsiders or stay hunkered down. They both have their pros and cons, but here are some general tips that everyone should abide by:
- Have a way to always defend yourself, whether this be using a tool or having learned to physically handle yourself.
- Always keep your home secure, and if there is more than one person in your group, set up a schedule for security watches.
- Look the part and blend in if you must leave your home.
- Limit the information you give out about your situation (how prepared you are and your supplies). This starts before an event ever happens.
- Limit light sources at night.
- Limit smells from food by only cooking when necessary and not using spices.
Dealing with sanitation is a very important matter that everyone will need a plan for. There are several options when dealing with human waste.
The first option, though not my favorite, involves using the toilet as you normally would. After you are done with your business, water is then poured into the tank to flush it. I would only recommend doing this if there was no other option available and if you had plenty of extra water. (For example, if you have a plentiful source of water on your property.) Several gallons of water per person per day could be wasted on this task, so do so sparingly.
Another option is to build an urban survival toilet. Basically, it’s a bucket with a plastic bag in it. However, you only want to do this if you have plenty of plastic bags, and you’ll need to bury the bags in a deep hole away from your home. Dig the hole in an area that is not frequented, and be sure it is away from any water or food source. Similarly, a composting toilet can easily be set up with some buckets filled with natural materials.
I know that this is a subject that people don’t want to think about, but 100 days of human waste will cause some real health issues if not addressed.
It is also important to have supplies and plans for maintaining proper hygiene. A lack of hygiene practices will cause health issues, make you more susceptible to illness, and will generally make you feel less than one hundred percent. This means you should have plenty of hand sanitizer, soaps, toothbrushes and paste, and general cleaning supplies.
This is yet another reason to have plenty of water stored away. Chances are that you will not be able to go to the doctor if you become ill, so you need to do everything that you can to stay as healthy as possible.
Set Up a Network
Realistically, the only way to survive a collapse by yourself or in a very small group is if you are located far away from a city and your setup is sustainable.
For obvious reasons, you will have to go outside of your home at some point. If you live near or in a city, you need to set up a network of like-minded people that are willing to work together, share resources, and protect one another. People are an extremely important resource, and moving forward without them is unrealistic.
The best way to assess your situation in anticipation of such an event is to imagine it happening right now. If at this moment everything went dark and you and your family had to survive with the supplies you have and the knowledge in your head, could you do it?
This isn’t the time to be overly confident but to take a good hard look at your situation and be honest with yourself. By being honest in your assessment, you can determine where your deficits are and fix them while you still can. Thanks for reading and stay prepared!
What are your thoughts or questions on surviving the first 100 days after a collapse? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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