I have nearly thirty years of law enforcement experience. That experience was gained as a local police officer, a deputy Sheriff and finally as a state trooper. The last decade or so of my trooper career was spent as a crime scene investigator for a state police agency. I only tell you this for you, the reader to weigh the opinions and statements that will follow. This experience serves as my only true “skill” as I’m a terrible carpenter, plumber, cook, welder, gardener or nurse! What follows is my small contribution to the “how to” lessons for a prepper that are contained within this blog.
Law enforcement experience has shaped my preparations. I always had a “storm kit” ready as I lived in an area that is prone to summer tornadoes and severe winter storms. But after working a security and anti-looting detail in a city of 35,000 people that had been devastated by a tornado, I rethought my preparations and increased the food, water and medical supplies that it contained. I saw first hand that rescue, recovery and a return to normalcy takes time. In addition, after 9/11, we were required by our agency to keep water and emergency rations in our patrol vehicles.
Even so-called routine occurrences such as a traffic crash can take on survival tones if it occurs in a remote area or during a blizzard. I once helped search for an elderly woman that simply ran off a road and moved down a steep embankment into a grove of trees. All she had with her was a cell phone but after phoning the police, but she couldn’t tell them where she was. She only knew that she was somewhere between two towns that were twenty miles apart. We had difficulty using the phone company to triangulate her position so we drove in the area with our sirens on until she heard us and advised the dispatcher. That was a decidedly low tech solution to an everyday problem.
The woman was not physically able to leave the car and it was winter. If she had not been able to call for help, she might have succumbed to hypothermia before anyone discovered her car. What would happen if this same situation was after TEOTWAWKI?
While as a police officer, I was always conscience of security matters in and around my home and my focus was anti-crime. In other words, I prepared as best I could against a burglary or a home invasion scenario. It is only within the last few years that I have given considerable thought to major civil unrest due to an economic situation, the likes of which most of us have never seen. Another prime concern is a grid down scenario for an extended period of time. Both of these threats seem to become more real each day.
Within the last five years or so, many things have changed globally, nationally, locally and within my own family. I took a friend’s recommendation and read Patriots and it changed me deeply. I have shifted my thoughts and energies to serious preparations that I would not have even thought of before.
Another significant personal change was my retirement. I was lucky to be able to retire early and moved to a retreat area that due to OPSEC will remain unnamed. My wife and I built a home with an eye toward growing older and the changing social landscape. I began making personal choices for my family’s safety in the long term.
First, our house appears to be “normal” and does not attract undue attention. No heavy duty gates or fencing or anything unusual. A closer inspection does reveal a heavy gauge metal roof and fiber cement siding for some fire protection (we live in the woods). A looping perimeter lane provides a three hundred sixty-degree firebreak around the house. Hose bibs and hoses are found on all sides to provide some water for minor firefighting. Rain water collection barrels are also present.
The house is situated on a commanding hill (always take the high ground) with a large, cleared area between the house and the dead-end road we live off of. A gravel drive is the only way into the property. Ever try to sneak up on someone surrounded by gravel? I’ve also installed some “force multipliers” such as driveway alarms to cover different routes and a house alarm system. A whole-house generator was permanently installed and is fueled by a large, underground propane tank.
Another force multiplier is a dog. Don’t be so worried about which breed, you only need to be made aware of noise or movement you can’t readily detect. About any healthy, trained dog will do. Few people are willing to have a “guard” dog but any dog can be a “watch” dog, they just need to let you know that something requires your attention. A dog is a cheap, reliable security system.
Our home armory consists of twelve gauge pump shotguns, identical service rifles and forty caliber semiautomatic pistols. Others have their own opinions, but I have chosen these weapons for performance, reliability, simplicity, parts and ammunition availability. I have sold fancier and more expensive guns to purchase these choices.
Any cop will tell you that a 12 gauge pump shotgun is an awesome attention getter and a truly devastating weapon at 50 yards or less. Buy a couple and get a variety of shot shells for everything from hunting to home defense. Two and four-legged squirrels have fallen to this time-tested weapon!
As for service or patrol rifles, I’ve opted for .223 as I can rarely see farther than 200 yards in our hilly and wooded environment. There is no real need for a long range rifle in my region. In addition, I can throw plenty of .223 downrange if needed. This choice would change if I lived on the Great Plains or in the middle of a flat cornfield.
I will not argue about a .45 Model 1911 being a good combat pistol. I just like a .40 to have a few more high velocity rounds available that also do a tremendous job of creating a huge wound channel. I’ve attended many, many autopsies and base my choice upon that experience. I also remember my department’s transition to a Glock sidearm and seeing all the shooters on the range line shooting consistently better groups with the well-fitted Glock. Whatever firearms you decide upon, you MUST be familiar with the weapon, how it functions, how to clean it and how to shoot it. Post-TEOTWAWKI, you will also have to know how to fix it.
Political winds blow in different directions. Buy ammunition. Buy extra magazines for the guns you now have. Do it now. Read this paragraph again!
Of our preps, water, food and fuel take the most space, time and effort. We have endeavored to stock for a year but are you ever really done? I used the LDS web site as a baseline for our food preps. We are to the point now that we only purchase more supplies if it’s a bargain that we can’t pass up.
We have bug-out-bags stocked and ready but given our situation, we will probably “bug in.” We can go mobile if we need to however and I have stocked our vehicles with “get home” bags as well. No one knows where they might be at a crucial time. If you live in an area that does not allow concealed carry or vehicle carry of a loaded firearm, consider pepper spray or other alternatives. Be innovative, how about a can of foaming wasp spray? It’s legal to have in a car, it sprays several feet and administered at an attacker’s face, would give him pause to reconsider his plan and time for you to escape.
Mental preparedness is the most important. You must know that there are people among us that are just simply evil. Most folks are securely insulated from crime and it’s ugliness. My guess is that the tougher things get, the more evil will become apparent to us. I cannot overemphasize the cruelty that some among us possess. We must be prepared to deal with viciousness and violence in a most extreme manner. Ever wonder what will happen when prisons cease to pay their correctional officers? Governmental units may stop paying law enforcement entirely, placing us on our own in confronting crime and criminals.
While stockpiling food, water, ammunition and precious metals are important, perhaps it is time to communicate with your family about security and their response to attempted attacks. Spend some quality time learning about the firearms that you have and practice using them at a range environment with an emphasis on safe handling. Please, no accidents now or especially after TSHTF.
Like fire safety drills, conduct intruder drills if the front door is breached, or the rear door, or the dining room window. What should you do if you arrive home to obvious signs of a burglary? At least run some scenarios in your head and use the phrase; “What if?”
Lastly, lets briefly discuss communication. In my experience, communications are usually the weak link of any operation. If anything can go wrong, it will be with some aspect of communication. This can be low tech such as not repeating exactly what is to be relayed to someone else or high tech like a hand-held radio not working and thereby isolating its operator from receiving or transmitting any further information.
Our special response team had a series of hand signals to fall back on if our radio communications went south. Our patrol officers had verbal cues to alert other officers to a dangerous situation without being overt. My point is to develop a communications plan that certainly includes some sort of radio communication for distance and backed up with additional visual signals to relay vital information to others in your family or group.