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A lot of hardcore preppers insist that you have a bug out bag and a bug out location. Many of them say that when the SHTF, the cities will burn to the ground. And even if they don’t burn, the people living in them will starve to death or be murdered by looters.
Personally, I don’t think things will ever get quite that bad. (The only exception would be if there were an EMP blast or a nuclear war, but that is beyond the scope of this site.) The government has contingency plans for natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. I’m not saying they’ll do a great job (for example, FEMA after hurricane Katrina), but usually order will be restored in a few days, long before people start killing each other for food.
There are also contingency plans for an economic collapse. There have been hundreds of examples of economic collapse in history, and it almost never happens overnight. Things can get really bad, but at the same time the descent is slow enough to where the government and the people can adapt and avoid absolute chaos.
So my point is: It’s not as dangerous to be in the city during a disaster as most people claim. And if things actually get so bad in the cities that you can’t survive there, you won’t be much better off in the country, anyway. I want to show you a quote from The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse. The author, Fernando Ferfal Aguirre, was living in Argentina during the hyperinflation and economic disaster it experienced in 2001. Here’s what he has to say about living in the country:
…the kind of home invasions people living in the country have suffered here in Argentina are the stuff of nightmares. The same tranquility [in the country] that people like so much works in the bad guys’ favor. You can scream all you want, but no one will hear you. They can spend days in your house raping and torturing, without worry if a neighbor saw them…
You might be planning on having guards posted 24/7 and that you’ll shoot first and ask questions later. But unless you have an army at your disposal, you could easily find yourself overwhelmed by the criminal gangs that head into the countryside. The reason there will be so many criminal gangs in the country is they know the police will be too occupied in the city to respond in time, and they know people in the country have lots of food and weapons. And sure, you could shoot everybody that steps food on your property, but that’s a good way to wind up in jail. Just because there’s been a disaster doesn’t mean the police won’t eventually be there to lock you up. You have to be realistic.
Now you might be thinking, “No way. My bug out location is impregnable. I’ll be fine.” Sure, but how are you going to get there? Even if you have an off-road 4-wheel drive truck, you’re liable to have a hard time getting out of the city. If you’re stuck on the road somewhere and there is rioting or looting going on nearby, you’ll be dangerously exposed. And what if you get to your bug out location and it’s been compromised? I do recommend having a bug-out bag in your car, but it’s more so you’ll have supplies in case it takes you a long time to get from work or school to your home.
Instead of bugging out, I suggest having great home security (see my article, Home Security After the SHTF) and creating or joining a neighborhood watch. If you get to know your neighbors really well and agree to look out for each other, you’ll be far safer than you would be by yourself in the country. People living on your street can take turns keeping watch, people will be able to scream for help, and the police won’t take nearly as long to respond. I know it’s not ideal, but nothing is ideal in a SHTF scenario.