9 Places to Scavenge After SHTF

James Walton
By James Walton April 3, 2018 05:49

9 Places to Scavenge After SHTF

There are many phases in a total collapse of society. In the earliest stages you will find that people are simply trying to figure it all out. In this phase people will likely still be civil with one another. There will still be resources around and people will be living off their own stores. This phase will end quickly and give way to the more dangerous parts of a collapse.

Eventually – and in a modern society it won’t be long – there will come a phase when most resources have been exhausted. You will still need resources to stay alive. At this point the scavengers will arise. If you haven’t prepared enough, or if unseen issues crop up, you might be a scavenger too.

The smart prepper will operate in a balanced world of simple, self sufficient living and scavenging practices.

Scavenging Scenario

In the chilly air of a spring morning you find yourself bundled up and walking out through a quiet lot. You are keeping your body close to an old abandoned distribution center. The threat of others is always in your mind.

You have a large pack on your back that is mostly empty. Your goal is to fill it. There is a sidearm on your hip, but the reality is you only have three shots left.

The frosty winter has exhausted much of your food stores and your home has taken a beating from the high winds of a notable winter blizzard. Spring has brought no relief. So here you are, checking every nook of this small business park. The windows are shattered and most everything is gone, but you hold onto the hope that there is a gem just around the corner.

What Will You Scavenge?

Here we are going to outline several categories of resources that you can head out and scavenge from the fallen world. I did not include food because I feel like that is always going to be high on your list when you are out scavenging.

HOME REPAIRS

Not only will your local Lowes or Home Depot be gone; it will be picked clean and likely taken up as a decent base of operations for some gang or military faction. Still, you will need a home that protects you from the elements, with a roof and walls that keep the wind and rain out. It’s vital to keep as much of your home in working order as possible. Consider scavenging things like:

  • Scrap Metal
  • Scrap Wood
  • Insulating Materials
  • Cloth
  • Gutters or Irrigation
  • Tools

Related: This Pawn Stars Negotiation Technique Will Guarantee You The Best Value For Your Items After SHTF

MEDICINES AND FIRST AID

Did you know that every business with onsite employees is required to have access to a first aid kit? Even the small law firm down the street has a first aid kit. When it comes to scavenging these types of supplies you would do well to look at these small abandoned businesses and business parks. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with what can be found in the desk drawers of offices.

WEAPONS

Whether we are talking about bullets, guns, knives or even baseball bats, in a collapsed world where scavenging is necessary you will need to be able to protect yourself against various threats. The gun shop may not be the best stop to swing by on a scavenging jaunt, but what about the distribution center for a big box retailer that is far out in the country? A lot of firearms and ammunition get sent by mail in the USA, so when the crisis hits the chances are there will be weapons among the packages waiting to be delivered. It will be this type of thinking that makes scavenging profitable.

DIY PROJECTS (ROOT CELLARS, OUTHOUSES, GARDEN BEDS, WATER CATCHMENT)

Scrap wood, metal, nails and other random bits and pieces will be crucial if you plan on DIYing yourself through the disaster. The good news about scavenging these items is that the disaster and the following collapse will likely leave plenty lying around to be scavenged.

Crumbling homes and buildings are likely to produce plenty materials to scavenge. You might still be in the market for things like nails. If you find yourself an abandoned pallet yard, you can build a whole house using the nails and wood you harvest from those pallets!

Related: 12 Essential Things You Can Scavenge from Cars when SHTF

Smart Scavenging

There will be a certain amount of risk when you head out to scavenge. Where you go and when will determine the amount of risk you face. We will look at two ways that you can scavenge smarter. You must be willing to do a little research ahead of the collapse, and learn to operate at the best time for scavenging.

Location

Long before the scavenging begins you will want to make a resource map of your immediate area. These are simple to create. By printing an area map of your location and the surrounding areas (use google maps) you can mark all the major retailers and business parts in the immediate area.

Color-coded markings and a key will help quickly identify things like medicine, food and tools.

This resource map should focus less on the big retailers and more on small stores and business parks. Your scavenging success will come down to how few people you run into, so you want to stay away from obvious places that most people will search.

Stick to smaller business parks and offices for scavenging. Look also in abandoned homes that can be watched from afar.

Timing

Another very important factor in successful scavenging is when you decide to get out there and do it. Your goal should be to move when the least amount of people are around. The time between 3am and 6am is a great window to get things done. You have darkness for most of this time frame in most seasons. Those who stay up late will be sound asleep by this time.

When planning your trip be sure to calculate your round trip. Make sure that you have plenty of time to scavenge when you arrive at your location. Don’t blow an entire trip on travel time.

9 Places to Scavenge After SHTF:

  1. ABANDONED BUSINESS PARKS AND SMALL OFFICES
  2. DISTRIBUTION AND TRUCKING CENTERS
  3. JUNKYARDS
  4. USED CAR LOTS
  5. ABANDONED HOMES
  6. CELL TOWERS
  7. MARINAS
  8. MANUFACTURING CENTERS
  9. PERSONAL STORAGE FACILITIES

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James Walton
By James Walton April 3, 2018 05:49
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36 Comments

  1. Red Rover April 3, 13:41

    Disassembly of pallets is a lot easier said than done! I learned that by salvaging oak slats from pallets that I then would plane to thickness and cut to size to make boxes for canning jars. The nails are usually spiral and nearly impossible to pull often damaging the wood in the process. One should actually try something like this before counting on it in a SHTF scenario!

    Reply to this comment
    • A. April 3, 14:44

      So true about this, pallets are almost impossible to take apart. I did see someone on youtube take a reciprocating saw, and saw through between the slats to cut through the nails… that would be about the only way.

      Reply to this comment
    • Lonejack April 3, 18:03

      Great observation.. But, don’t discount it, last resource.

      Reply to this comment
      • tlm April 4, 22:34

        Pallets are easy to take apart but do not use a hammer or nail puller. Take another board and put between the slats pop upwards from the bottom of the slat and the nails will unscrew a little at a time.

        Reply to this comment
  2. Liz April 3, 13:52

    Consider getting a “truckers Friend” for a multipurpose tool. A spiral nail is a fencing nail It was designed to stay in.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Powderhorn April 3, 15:48

    I live on a limited budget, so prep is what I can make with a little imagination and very low cost. I mostly have hand tools that I picked up at auctions, some as little as $1.00 or less. Good to almost New condition. Then got to thinking about trade goods. Anything that I could replace simply. To conserve ammunition, I thought of a bow and arrows. Tops and bottoms of tin cans can be easily cut into arrow heads. Heavier plastic can be used for fletching and thread to tie. I used some old thin doweling to attempt and found the 3/8″ hardwood dowels to work best for arrow shafts. I did buy a break-down recurve bow, but used twisted, small animal gut to make a backup bow string. It works. Not well enough to replace professional arrows, so I began stockpiling those. Again, auctions and good sales at small hardware stores.

    Thank you for providing a source of free information. I appreciate it.

    Jack V. Smith

    Reply to this comment
  4. Jake the Pup April 3, 15:53

    I have found that wet (I mean wet not damp) pallets come apart much easier than dry pallets. Maybe that doesn’t make sense but it makes a notable difference. Also, I made a L shaped fork from 1 inch square tubing that really works well. I put a 5 foot handle on it for some real leverage. You can see several variations on YouTube.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Powdrhorn April 3, 16:24

    Use the oak for firewood. It burns longer and you can pick the nails out of the ashes. Pine or dogwood pallets are easier to pull nails. Because the wood is softer they don’t burn as long and being soft they aren’t as pretty if they have been used.

    Reply to this comment
    • Johnny3h April 3, 19:01

      BUT… Be careful to NOT expose people, pets, and livestock to pallet smoke as many, if not most, are chemically TREATED to slow deterioration!

      Reply to this comment
    • Hexpert April 3, 23:25

      Tried this before, but it makes the nails very soft so they bend or break very easily. Less than half the recovered nails were usable. I even tried supporting the shaft with pliers whilst hammering them in, but it made no difference

      Having said this the fence I built with them is still standing nearly 20 years later

      Reply to this comment
      • Patd07 April 4, 16:40

        Take the nails get them red hot then immerse them in oil to harden them again

        Reply to this comment
        • Claude Davis April 5, 13:13

          That will work, but it’s probably easier to just find a hardware store and pick up a box of nails. Tempering metal isn’t that simple, and there might be better things to spend your time on. In a pinch it’s worth a shot, though.

          Reply to this comment
  6. Brett April 3, 16:40

    The items to bring with you is important. Tools, bags, cordage, liquid containers, duck tape, etc might all be very useful when scavenging. Especially if you hit the motherload. If you do hit the motherload, you may have to hide some of your booty to come back and get. Materials and tools for this would be handy.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Prepper In Training April 3, 16:46

    Valuable locations for various supplies could include feed stores, sale barns, and veterinary clinics. Tools, batteries, various fencing and repair items, and medicines and bandages can all be found there. These places may be picked clean early, but they may still be worthwhile for a scavenging trip.

    In a true SHTF situation, even animal medicines may prove useful. Before considering any “alternative” medicine, be sure to research the heck out of it. Get a medical encyclopedia for the dire situations, but while you have the time now, remember – “Google is your friend”.

    Also, feed stores may have batteries left for the poor man’s taser (cattle prod). Spend some time looking for the useful items: traps, rope, solar power, self-help books, etc.

    Being in a rural area, I am fortunate to have access to several auction houses that specialize in junk sales, but remember the saying that One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. When downsizing, people often do not think about how useful some of their junk actually is.

    Reply to this comment
    • pbpossum April 3, 22:43

      The animal medicines—I have not had any type of health insurance since 2008, & sometimes need a little antibiotics for an ear infection. I have tried various ‘Fishmox’, ‘Fishpen’, ‘Aquamox’, and the like…..on both me and non fish species. No problems….. they have really been a life saver (not to mention $$$)

      Reply to this comment
  8. Lonejack April 3, 18:06

    I’d like to add one point. You should also think about Scavenging in pairs. 1 as a watcher and one as a scavenger.

    Also, a very valuable skill would be sign language.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Miss Kitty April 3, 19:09

    Group scavenging would definitely be a plus, especially if you are going after heavy stuff. Pallets are really heavy.
    A couple other places to consider would be empty offices – office workers always have snacks in their desks- and the dump. Before tshtf most dumps would have had a swap shop and separate areas for furniture, building supplies, glass items, etc. Any small business including thrift shops would offer a variety of goodies and would mostly get overlooked by the majority of looters. Depends on what you need, but most looters are going to be going for brand new top line merchandise. If you’re not as picky you can make out very well “shopping locally”. I would like to see an article with some practical suggestions on how to get your pickings home. I’ve got ideas, but new info is always appreciated.😸

    Reply to this comment
  10. Steve April 3, 19:51

    Dont forget those already made solar panels at all these bridges and substations. They are ready to go and not very large. We have them all around us. Even some signs on the highway have panels.

    Reply to this comment
  11. SherBear April 4, 00:48

    Don’t forget schools. Nurses office, janitorial supplies and tools, toilet paper, lost & found filled w/sweatshirts and gloves, cafeteria. A treasure trove.

    Reply to this comment
  12. IvyMike April 4, 00:51

    Talk about scavenging, there is an area south of Dallas, TX called the Inland Port. Tens of thousands of acres of warehouses and truck terminals fed by endless trains (if you’re out in the country you’ll find no greater prize than a disabled train) arriving from the west coast ports and the Port of Houston, this is a major logistics center for just about every major retailer in the country. Two day supply of goods in the city? If our society collapses without a devastating nuclear exchange this will be the new power center, the greatest source of wealth in North America.
    Richard Matheson wrote a book in 1954, I Am Legend, the original of all zombie apocalypse tales, and a great intro to prepping and scavenging. Neville has to go from 0 preparedness to a desperate struggle for survival in a matter of days. And he does just fine until the government reemerges…

    Reply to this comment
  13. Miss Kitty April 4, 03:13

    Maybe movie theaters for some food and other supplies? Hotels? Definitely craft stores! And garden centers! On a much darker side nursing homes might be a good source of medications, but it might be just too heartbreaking. Look at what happened during Katrina.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Wannabe April 4, 15:42

    Should always assume a potential area to scavenge is already occupied so may need to do some reconnaissance to make sure it is safe. Someone may not take too kindly to others coming in and stealing their claim.

    Reply to this comment
  15. TheSouthernNationalist April 4, 18:48

    The time to locate the areas, print out google maps, and learn your way around is now while the grid is up and running. If you wait until SHTF or grid down it will be too late.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Red April 4, 20:55

    Buy a pair of bolt cutters now – For later. They are the master key to many things. A set of lock picks would be worth gold!

    Reply to this comment
    • Claude Davis April 5, 13:07

      Lock picks are very useful things to have – if you know how to use them. They’re small, light and don’t cost much, so they fit easily in a bug-out bag or EDC kit (but check the law where you live…). Make sure you practice with them before you need to use them for real, though. There’s an art to it, and if you don’t have the skill already you can easily waste a couple of hours prodding at a lock when bolt cutters or a hammer would have dealt with it in seconds.

      Reply to this comment
  17. Damien April 5, 01:40

    I hate to say it as it sounds ghoulish, but old people’s retirement complexes/apartment buildings and hospice care homes. Food medicine bought in bulk for the residents, groundsmans/handymans tools somewhere on site for repairs and maintinance, detergents and cleaning gear readily available. Worst case scenario, little resistance… ghoulish, but worth remembering

    Reply to this comment
    • Miss Kitty April 5, 05:00

      Already beat you to ghoulish! Little resistance, but even worse to find people dying from neglect. Don’t know if I’ve the stomach for that.

      Reply to this comment
      • Damien April 6, 03:02

        In that case, should our paths cross, you stand watch and I’ll throw up later 😉
        Or…school run? Kids would all be collected by parents by the time we get there, teachers wouldn’t hang around, there’d be similar stock of food (canteen/cafeteria) meds (first aid items at least) and tools (plumbing, wood work, garden) + zero resistance. On the down side, we might both end up hurling chunks (I have bad memories is school food 😉

        Reply to this comment
    • Smokies Hiker April 7, 17:38

      No way I could EVER steal from someone’s mom and dad! There are other sources besides the weak and frail you can take from. I’ll hunt, fish and do whatever is needed for myself and family, and give whatever I can to those in need of assistance. Just because there is a SHTF episode, doesn’t mean we become an animalistic society to our elderly population! I should be able to “get by” while I help someone who isn’t as strong as I am.

      Reply to this comment
  18. Miss Kitty April 6, 04:12

    LOL Damien! Hurling aside, schools are a good choice because you might find epi-pens and asthma meds in nurse’s office, both of which are going to be at a premium after tshtf. Lockers might yield a few goodies as well. Libraries and bookstores are good too for all kinds of diy info as well as entertainment. Maybe churches? Many have food pantries or soup kitchens. Any building can potentially yield good pickings.

    Reply to this comment
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