It’s widely considered to be a given that there will be massive problems with people looting, stealing and assaulting others to get what they need in the wake of a major disaster.
This isn’t just something that preppers have made up or even something out of a fiction writer’s imagination; this has proven to be the norm, over and over again, throughout a wide variety of disasters, cultures and time periods.
That’s why self-defense is such an important part of survival. Just surviving in a post-disaster world is bad enough; but there are those who will see the wreckage and confusion as an opportunity.
Others, who might not otherwise be prone to criminal activity, will be driven there out of desperation. Desperate people do desperate things and having a disaster befall you can make just about anyone desperate, especially those who are unprepared.
Dealing with This
There are two, maybe three different ways of dealing with this, unless you want to call giving up an option. Those are:
- Getting out of Dodge and away from other people before it’s too late
- Defending your castle with superior force of arms
- Making it look like you’re not worth attacking
I see a lot of people picking the first and second options above. But those aren’t necessarily the best options. While bugging out is a great idea, it’s only a great idea if you have a prepared and stocked survival retreat to go to. If you can do it, more power to you; but if not, then bugging out should only be your last resort.
Option two is also something to only be used as a last resort. While you may reach a time when you are forced to defend your home, that should be another last resort, possibly to be followed up by bugging out.
There’s always a chance in you or a family member being wounded in a firefight and even if you win, there’s nothing that says they won’t come back with even more people.
All it would take is for them to spread the word that you have something in there worth fighting for.
This leaves option three as our main mode of operation, without eliminating the other two possibilities. But those are backup plans. So, just how do we make it look like we’re not worth attacking? By covering our tracks, especially those which have anything to do with prepping. Some people call it OPSEC, the military acronym for “operational security.”
Related: Home Security Tips From A Military Expert
For most of us, there are a lot of tracks to cover. While this list may not be totally complete, let’s look at some major important areas:
Pre-Disaster Covering Your Tracks
Hiding your tracks actually starts long before the brown stuff hits the air movement device. The moment you start prepping, you need to start covering your tracks.
Everything you do needs to be done in a way to hide it from those who might want to see what you are doing and ultimately might want to take your preps away from you.
Buy in a Deceptive Manner
Ordering up a truckload of groceries and having them show up at your home is definitely going to attract attention.
My parents did that, not as preppers, but to save money buying semi-wholesale. It attracted a lot of attention then, and would attract a lot of attention now.
Worse, it’s the type of attention that causes people to remember that you have lots of food. It’s much better to buy in small quantities, gradually building your stockpile. This can either be during your regular grocery shopping trips or special trips just to buy prepping supplies.
Either way, avoid being seen carrying in 10 cases of something that you got a good deal on. Go ahead and buy it if it’s a good deal, just don’t let anyone see you carry it in. Put the truck in the garage or backyard to unload it.
Hiding Your Preps
Hiding what you’ve bought doesn’t just mean making sure nobody sees you carry it in; it has to include how you store things as well. A true stockpile is going to fill an average bedroom. That’s not easy to hide, especially if you stack it on shelves where everyone can see.
Ideally, you should have a room in the basement to store your preps in, preferably a room with a locking door.
But even if you don’t, there are lots of places around the house you can hide things; such as under the beds and behind other things in your closets.
Related: 10 Good Spots To Hide Your Food In A Crisis
I’ve even gone so far as to stack up cases of food and cover them with a table cloth to look like a small table in the corner of the room.
Covering Your Tracks Once the Brown Stuff Hits
Covering your tracks before the disaster hits is just the first part of the game. Once the disaster strikes, it’s going to be even harder to hide what you’ve done and how you are surviving. People’s senses will be on high alert, so things that may not to attract attention normally, could very well be one during such a time. Attracting that attention is something you just don’t want to do.
The last thing you want to do is let people see that you are better off than they are. If they see smoke coming from your chimney, while they’re freezing, they’ll probably come knocking on your door, asking if they can come in to warm up.
That same idea can be carried across to anything that you have, which they don’t. So you want to make sure that everything you do, from turning the lights on to taking out the trash is either hidden or done in a way that looks just like what everyone else is doing.
Applying the Grey Man Theory
What I was just talking about, looking like everyone else, is often referred to as the “grey man theory.” The idea is that people don’t notice what’s not noteworthy. You don’t notice the family sedan driving down your street, because cars like that drive down your street every day.
But if the Batmobile were to drive down your street, you’d notice it.
Dressing in “tacticool” clothing and driving a pimped-out bug out vehicle is the opposite of being the grey man. Rather, you should be driving some average-looking family sedan, preferably in some easy-to-hide color like grey.
Rather than wearing those tactical pants and a plate carrier, wear jeans and a t-shirt. Do whatever you can to blend in, even if that’s difficult to do.
Related: 11 Survival Tricks Learned from Homeless People
Using Deception & Camouflage
Some things are too big to hide by putting them under the bed, like sand for filling sandbags and the huge quantity of water that we really need. You can’t hide solar panels or a wind turbine either. But you can find ways of making the sand and water look like they are perfectly normal and can give other reasons besides trying to go off-grid for having solar panels on your home.
I used to be an engineer and am still a great tinkerer, so it’s fairly easy for me to be deceptive about my “projects.” My neighbors think I’m a bit eccentric, so when they see me installing rainwater collection or a wind turbine, they just figure I’m experimenting again. They’ve grown to expect that from me, so when they see it, they don’t think anything of it.
When it comes to storing water, the best way to camouflage a water tank is to use an above-ground swimming pool for one. That sand for sandbags can easily be kept in a sandbox for the kids, or in my case, the grandkids. The same idea works for other things as well.
One of the biggest challenges for us in this regard is our weight. If the people around us don’t have food, then they’ll be losing weight.
But if they see us plump and happy, it will be a dead giveaway that we have food to eat. That’s not exactly something that we can hide.
The trick here is to put ourselves on a low-calorie diet, as if we were trying to lose a lot of weight. I’d recommend something like 1,500 calories a day. If that’s all you’re eating, you will lose weight, even if it isn’t as fast as they do.
Even so, it will appear to those around you like you’re having troubles too, even if yours may not be quite as bad as theirs.
Mask Cooking Odors
Speaking of food, one of the big ways we need to cover our tracks is with cooking odors. I doubt anyone is going to be cooking steaks on the grille, but other foods create their own odors. That’s dangerous.
As I was referring to earlier, people’s senses will be on alert, so they are much more likely to smell those cooking odors; even the mild ones. You’re going to have to do some experimenting with the recipes you’re planning on using during that time, to see how strong an odor the produce.
Related: 5 Ways To Cook When SHTF Without Attracting Attention
Then, once you have an idea, find stronger smells that you can use to mask them.
For example, chlorine has a strong odor, so opening a bottle of bleach, while you are cooking, can help hide the smell of the food.
Another thing that can help a lot is cooking n enclosed containers, so that steam doesn’t escape. A solar oven is great for this. Then, before opening it, take it inside to open, where the smell of the food will be trapped indoors. The same thing can be done with pressure cookers and other cookers that seal in the steam.
Hide or Burn Your Trash
Trash can be a dead giveaway about your life. You’d be surprised what people can learn, by looking through your garbage. There’s the obvious things, like the box for the big TV you just bought, and there are the little things, like packages that tell what sorts of foods you like to eat.
The easy solution for all this is to burn all the packaging you can. Watch out for plastics and Styrofoam, as they can put of poisonous gases. But paper and cardboard can easily be burnt in the fire. Even those plastics can be melted, making them unrecognizable and unreadable.
Light & Noise Discipline
Imagine seeing a neighborhood, with only one house that has lights on.
It would be pretty obvious, right?
Well, if you’ve got lights on or are watching a movie, running everything with the power you’ve generated from your solar panels and wind generator, everyone is going to see it and hear it.
Even a little light peeking around the edges of the windows is going to be obvious, when you’re the only one who has it.
Related: How To Become Untraceable When SHTF
The simple solution is to put blackout curtains over your windows, when you’re using lighting indoors. If you’re going to watch that movie, don’t just do the curtains, keep the volume low too. Whatever you’re doing that shows you’re better off than others, has to be kept hidden within your home.
Deceptive Bug Out
Your need to cover your tracks won’t end if you bug out, it will increase even more. From the time you leave your home, you’ve got to assume that people are going to be trying to follow you. So you want to make sure that you don’t leave a trail for them to find. Start out in the opposite direction and then loop around. Stick to hard surfaces, where you won’t leave a trail. If you have to go off-road, then try to get back on a road or other hard surface as fast as you can.
Keeping people from following you to take what you have is mostly about not leaving them any sign along the trail. Skilled trackers can do a lot, with very little. A footprint or tire track tells them much more than we want them to know. So the key is to make sure there are no footprints or tire tracks. For that matter, don’t just throw the trash out the window, as that’s like a sign pointing right to you.
Deceptive travel also means that you don’t just head in a straight line for your destination. Rather, you want to go by a zigzag route, which will eventually get you there. But avoid traveling any distance at all, where you are going directly towards your survival retreat, until the very last minute.
Even then, as you arrive, circle around the shelter, checking for other tracks and doubling back on your own trail to make sure that you didn’t leave any tracks of your own.
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I don’t know what the long-awaited SHTF moment will look like. Everyone seems to have a favorite scenario and are preparing accordingly. My guess is that whatever it might be, will be a surprise to all of us. The best prep is to avoid the fan altogether so the “S” doesn’t get on you. A lifestyle of simple self-reliance, removed from all the crazy-noise, surrounded by family, trusted friends and neighbors is the best humans can do. A great number of commenters here are religious folks so I offer this: Revelation 18:4 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues”.
While agree with the sentiments you’ve expressed, the verse you quoted doesn’t really apply because it is about coming out of the apostate church, Babylon.
And yet how many people can define sin from the Bible itself not their interpretation not pastor hubba bubba not Pope secret keeper whatever title they want to have.
The bible defines sin quite qwll but most ignore it. The term is an archery one it means to miss the mark. they only had a mark to aim at no 9 8 7 ring you hit the mark or you missed it. God gave adam and eve rules and they sinned they missed the mark and God had t go kill animals and covered their sin. The first sacrifice. God has given us rules in order to have fellowship with him. If we miss those rules by an inch or 5 miles we have broken the rule how many times can you paint a tire black before it is black. God does not care about the degree of your sin. but by sinning you separate your self from Gods presence the only to change that is to be washed clean by a sacrifice. Christ became our sin and gave us his righteousness. once we are made clean we are good to go into the presence of God.
I am True Believer, and our founder had a similar experience. He saw “a serpent covered in scales of glass, and in each glass glowed an image of all that lust and greed and cruelty could satisfy” Our founder cried out at this, even though he had been warned to SAY NOTHING.
The serpent will eventually devour itself. Just gotta stay the heck out of the way
I can read the “engineer” in you – very good formatted article – you hit most of the major high points with the space you’re allotted …
only thing I’d stress is more of a combo #2 & #3 >>> there’s a time for OPSEC defenses and there’s time to make sure the bad guys don’t think your place is a pushover – that’s an invite to a party you don’t want ….
glad to see you hit on cooking odors – disappointed the engineer in you couldn’t come up with better solutions for long term cooking needs – it’s an everyday OPSEC problem that could last years – something like masking wouldn’t be much of a practical solution for very long ….
If you are cooking up a storm of something that’s going to smell delicious and take a while to finish, throw some cinnamon sticks in a small pot and keep it heated. The wonderful scent of cinnamon will permeate the premises and mask whatever else you’re up to for several hours. Need more time? Throw in a few more cinnamon sticks.
Sorry Peggy but cinnamon is an attractive scent to hungry people.
Kind of defeats the point of masking cooking smells from hungry neighbors.
Peggy G – They’er going to expect you to serve dessert as well as dinner if you add that cinnamon to the pot!
Peggy: You’re on track, but need to cook something nasty to cover what you are planning to serve. Pearl S. Buck loved china, and one book detailed a serious famine. The women in the story cooked manure to cover what little she had. But, yes, they were eating manure to survive. It’s called reindeer salad, BTW 🙂 niio
Why hasn’t anyone thought about how indoor canabis growers mask the smell of canabis?
They Don’t bother. They get buy in from their neighborhood by whatever means. Same with other illegal operations.
Thats why “Unnamed Sources ” is such a common phrase.
Masking cooking odors is a challenge when folks are hungry. It assumes you live somewhere close to others you don’t trust.
When some people during the Holodore hid food in the woods they made sure to eat it out there And return back to the village with some found wild crafted foods to “share “. If followed they would be searching for wild crafted foods and if needed FORGO going to their food cache that time.
Grey Man gives people disinformation that they can believe to mask what they are really doing.
Rather than trying to hide your food maybe while things are Not SHTF you make allies of trustworthy neighbors. Trustworthy friends are a blessing during bad times.
Not as exciting as weapons and James Bond stealth but 2 families working together will be more secure.
Smells other than cooking smells might become an issue if the sewer systems are not working and water is limited enough that people are not bathing or doing laundry.
I live in a populated area, regularly someone comes to my door to sell me pest control service, roofing, solar panels or garage doors. If I answer the door, I always put on thick the poor old retired person fixed-income story. It isn’t far from the truth but I emphasis the lack of resources. If any of these guys does remember me in the future when there is lack, my guess is that I wouldn’t be the first person for them to visit for help.
Smart Disinformation Sagebrush Lin. Sadly thugs still find pleasure in hurting helpless people BUT Disinformation helps keep the thieves away Living the part of a mostly loyal drone of the system actually gives you real freedom to live. Once you get the “Eye of Saron ” off you, you have freedom to act .
Between “Karen’s ” ratting you out and proud LOUD people telling the World what THEY are going to DO the “Eye of Saron ” has gotten Lazy .
Michael, I like your phrase of, ‘living the part of a mostly loyal drone of the system’. There are various aspects of my life that I do only because it makes me more anonymous. It has given me a nice sense of freedom as I am sure that I am not noticed very much.
Just wanted to know what SHTF really stands for.
Busi: Sh*t hits the fan.
Just saw this
Yeah troll that was happening to us at Lowe’s literally every shelf has a blueprint will we call the planogram what’s supposed to go there and so you could have I’m just using this example you have five items are supposed to be on the shelf but you can’t get three items in because they’re not getting produced so the two items that we did have two brands whatever we would just spread them out just to fill the shelf but you know what I mean it’s this is been going on months if not at least a year or so that that’s been the process of doing things in the store.
Which side note is the best way to get your hands on supplies right now is to get a retail job honestly. When paper towels were hard to come by and we had a shipment come in the manager would basically pull one bundle of paper towels one package whatever her employee in a 30 counter where the big ones are he would set one item per employee aside you know hey come get it you know we still had to buy it wasn’t free or anything and I’m just using that as an example
Yeah I really enjoyed the article and the writing and I can tell you I appreciate the fact that you kept the PG-13 example Brown matter hitting the fan or something I can’t remember off the top of my head as opposed to what others would say even just using an acronym.
I was discussing the gray man with a friend of mine not too long ago this is pretty much everything we talked about so love it
What appears to be a large extended family purchased a house and some land a few miles down the road. They keep to themselves, which is very much respected in these parts, not sure I’ve ever seen an adult on the property, see kids now and then. The 1st thing they did after moving in was build a dozen raised vegetable beds, fence in a separate barnyard with a chicken coop and stock shelters. Their chickens free range in the barnyard with a couple of turkeys, some geese, goats and sheep. Always have half a dozen vehicles there. Pretty cool setup, obviously prepper/homesteaders still keeping jobs. Nothing grey about their setup but it looks like a bad place to attack.
A big part of our entertainment is driving around the backroads, most of rural Texas looks like a bad place for the popularly imagined gangs of starving city folk to invade, now that the Trump flags have faded the common flag is either the Come And Take It flag or the white banner with a black AR15 silhouette. Sadly, undeveloped land these day is asking 16,000.00 an acre, anything with utilities available runs 50,000 to 100,000.00 an acre. What a world we live in.
Judge, Up north here, where all the Californians have run to hide, the newer population boost has changed the quality of life so housing prices are dropping down. My house had more than doubled in price from about 2016 but I would expect that it will start to go down, as 80% of those selling have had to lower their prices.
As Will Rogers once said about land, “they’re not making any more of it”
The comment in the article about losing weight is valid. A few years ago, I was talking to my left coast relatives about putting extra food aside. They don’t believe in preparedness, even for a short power outage, let alone for a long term situation. I was told by them, that they will just look around for someone who looks well fed and get food from the well fed looking person. Even though we might be close relatives we are not close at all politically. Because of that, they have few kind feelings toward me and would not feel bad about taking advantage of me.
I guess the lesson is that not everyone will be a altruistic and fair as one would hope – even blood relatives. Those who are preparing for a show of force to protect their own, are not wasting their time.
Exactly; well said. Knowing The Word is more important especially in these last days.
A long time ago, a friend and I were standing in line, and it was taking too long because, quite honestly, the people in front of us were complete idiots. So my buddy lights up a cigar. And not just any cigar, but a great big fat capitalist pig cigar, like the kind Winston Churchill smoked, only my friends were the size of a horses leg and smelled liked barbequing snow tires.
That line cleared out way before an employee showed up to tut tut at my friend.
If you wanna cover up the smell of food cooking, have some old tires on hand. Just sayin’
Good to know!
Yep, yep, and nope. No cellar, but when coming home from bi-weekly shopping trips, the truck goes in the garage. Some food, Misfits, is delivered, but that’s the only open openly packaged as food. Other stuff comes comes in WalMark boxes, or the mail. niio
Red, this is COMPLETELY NOT on subject. But.. Thanks for all the good advice and soothing words you have offered to me recently. Your aid (as well as others like Judge and Sagebrush (and others) and my prayers have calmed me down and allowed me to re-focus. The husband (the foundation and strength that God gifted to me) sat me down. With the Holy Bible and a list of scriptures, he reminded me of why we have nothing to fear. Then he and I spent the entire day fortifying our defenses. We put drop bars on the doors and put some film on the windows (supposed to stop them from breaking). We have more to do. Tomorrow we are going to the range after church to get back to training. I let fear sidetrack me. ‘I can’t waste ammo training’. We have to train so my husband reloaded extra. My fear spell is over. Now I am more focused then ever. Thanks again my friends!!!!!
Red, sorry for your recent loss. I have no words that can help. But I would enjoy any story you might want to share about your brother.
Tee: when I dream of the boy, he’s laughing at all of us for mourning. Peace to you, and thank you for the love God put in you.
Judge, Sage, Miz Kitty, ClergyLady, these are our sages, our wisdom. There are others but too many to be named. niio
Red, please accept my condolences. Even when we know lived ones are in a better place, our hearts hurt because they are not still on this side with us. Glad you have had dreams of him laughing :0)
Thank you. niio
Great info. I hadn’t thought of the losing weight component. The thought that came to mind is keep and wear over sized clothing when the need to portray that image. Just make sure you took the price tags off LOL. Consider going to a garage sale now and get used things like sweatshirts and pants, tees etc. Stash away in the attic to get some stink.
Just a couple of things. I did not read every comment, so some of these thoughts may have already been expressed.
1) One of the pre-situation preps to reduce cooking odors giving you away is to either add a greenhouse activated carbon filter to other stove exhaust hood if you are sure you will be able to run the fan in the hood, or go ahead and make a clandestine cooking area with 12v or 5v lighting and ventilation. Build it so the airflow can be easily controlled and directed so it comes in at the bottom of the cooking area and all of it is directed up, through the activated charcoal filter and then out through an assembly that disperses the air through several concealed outlets. This is a filter made into a 3″ to 12″ duct, not a flat filter. It makes it easy to set up this kind of system.
2) Although my weight has not varied much as an adult, I have always been heavy. I worked outside, often in cold weather and needed room to layer clothing, so many of my clothing items were purchased to fit very loosely. And since I do not like tight clothing anyway, even my clothes that were not intended to be worn with warm underlayers, they were still very loose. This has given me quite a collection of ‘fat’ clothing that I can use to make it like I am or have lost quite a bit of weight. If I am careful I can wear things in a succession that makes it appear I am losing weight over a period of time corresponding to what is happening in the situation. I almost never throw clothing away unless it has been completely shredded or so soiled that it cannot be cleaned adequately (both of which have happened due to the types of work I have done at times), so I have enough different types of clothing to maintain a gray man appearance as well as looking like I am losing weight due to a lack of food.
3) If you have supplies, not just food, away from where you live or are holed up, never take the same route to the items. Always head off in a different direction than the direction to where your final destination will be. Each trip though, return to your place the same way you left, during the last part of the trek. You do not want it to be obvious you are trying to mask your travels. Always leaving and returning from different directions gives away the fact that you are trying to hide something away from where you are living.
4) If at all possible, at least part of the time, head for a place where there are other people that are not a danger to you, that has some good hiding spots that are very private, but from which you can see the area well. Keep a change or two of clothing hidden there and change clothes after entering when you are sure no one is watching and then exit when no one is watching. Then reverse the procedure on your way home. This can be very difficult method when things are really bad, unless there are large ruins that are being used that have the necessary hiding places. When it is the type of situation where there is still a great deal of activity but you want to mask some of your movements, the method can be used.
Just my opinion.