Joe and his group thought they were prepared for anything. Their provisions included three shiny new SUVs parked in a secure garage and guarded by a sophisticated alarm. Each member communicated with the others using military-style hand-held radios. Their communal bunker was outfitted with scanners, CB transceivers, and signal boosting antennas.
The armory held 20 weapons, including sniper rifles, tactical shotguns, and several 9mm pistols. Most were equipped with laser sights. Night vision goggles were stored nearby. A locked vault held 10,000 rounds of ammo for each firearm, along with multiple high-capacity magazines. In one building was a miniature clinic stocked with antibiotics, pain killers, and electronic diagnostic equipment. There was even a medical library stored on CDs.
The compound’s exterior was monitored by wireless cameras that fed images to a server set deep in the compound. The pantry held enough rations to provide each member with 2,000 calories a day for 18 months. Solar battery banks and a generator fed by a local stream stood ready to provide the compound’s power needs, should the electrical grid go out.
To pass the time, Joe and his group had stocked high-definition televisions, hundreds of DVDs, and two gaming consoles. When the poop finally hit the fan, they thought they would be living high off the hog for at least a year without breaking a sweat.
They were wrong. When the crisis finally occurred, it came in the form of a massive solar flare, one that fried the electronics in every piece of equipment they owned. The SUVs would take them nowhere. The radios and scanners were useless, the medical library was inaccessible, and the TVs and gaming devices wouldn’t play. Even the solar array/generator setup was useless; its circuits were burnt to a crisp by the sun’s temper tantrum. Want to guess how long Joe and his buddies made it without any of their fancy gadgets?
This sad story illustrates a critical error many survivalists commit when planning for the big day. They forget how incredibly fragile modern technology is, and how much it depends on the infrastructure set up by corporations and the government. Without the Internet, centralized telecommunications, and an electrical grid, most devices made in the last few decades would be little more than paperweights.
Given these sad facts, what is the average prepper to do? Here are some guidelines that should underlie any realistic approach to staying alive in truly tough times:
- Minimize your dependence on technology. Use smoke signals and stones arranged in patterns to send messages. Buy vintage autos, ones that are free of onboard computers and other high-tech junk. In a true survival situation, a VW Bug from the 60s will do you a lot more good than a modern truck with a dead computer chip. Even better, get a bicycle or a horse. Forget TV; read paperbound books instead. Play cards or board games rather than video games. Do as much as possible while the sun is up, because when it sets you’ll be hitting the sack. Learn to appreciate silence, because the natural world is a quiet place.
- Add a black powder weapon to your preps, like the venerable Kentucky rifle, and use it like the pioneers did theirs. Learn to cast your own bullets and make powder from bat guano and other natural sources. While you’re at it, make sure you know how to set traps, make compost, and grow vegetables from seeds found in nature, not the kind you buy in the store.
- Keep some sort of currency around for barter purposes, one that will carry some weight in the post-apocalyptic world. Hard chocolates, tobacco products, and even coffee beans will be more precious than gold in such a society. Use these to trade for the items you truly need, like a metal pot to boil water in or a shot of penicillin.
This may not sound like much fun, but following these tips will keep you alive while others are floundering helplessly. And, if you live long enough to see the return of technology, then you will appreciate its comforts more than ever before.