In Military planning and preparedness in general there’s nothing as dependable as “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” That’s Murphy’s Law at its most basic.
However, as well as being reliable, Murphy’s Law is also amazingly flexible. You can adapt it to suit any situation, and apply the general principles to detailed problems. It works especially well when you’re thinking about a SHTF scenario. In this situation, a whole load of stuff has gone wrong already; everything else is just waiting for a chance to join in.
Just to remind you that every bad situation can still get a whole lot worse, here are Murphy’s Laws for all your main post-collapse priorities.
No guns = No rights
When society collapses the law goes with it, and democracy only works if everyone’s prepared to accept losing. If the losing side have all the guns they might not see why they should accept losing.
Some of your preparation is only useful if you failed to prepare
It’s great that you know how to light a fire by rubbing two sticks together – but it would be even better if you’d packed more matches, and stored them in a waterproof container. Knowing fallback techniques is always useful, but they are fallbacks – not your top priority.
If it has circuits, EMP will happen to it
In the 1970s an EMP attack would have been a pain. Now it would be a disaster. We rely on electronics more than any previous generation, and that makes us more vulnerable. Even your washing machine will die when the power surge hits. Have lower-tech fallbacks for all essential devices.
You can pay with gold – if anyone’s selling
Don’t base too many of your post-TEOTWAWKI plans on buying stuff with gold coins. You might find that the people who have the food and ammo you want would prefer to have food and ammo than shiny metal. Gold has no inherent value – just what we assign to it. You can’t eat gold, after all. You can eat food. Which would you rather have?
If you can’t protect it, it’s not yours
The people who beat their swords into plowshares always end up plowing for the people who didn’t. And if you have food but no guns, you’ll be hungry – or dead – when someone with guns but no food turns up.
Your 30-day food supply isn’t.
Beware pre-packed emergency food that claims to deliver a 30-day supply. That’s based on minimum daily calorie requirements. In an actual SHFT situation you’ll need a lot more energy. So that “30 day” supply is probably good for about two weeks.
Meals Ready to Eat aren’t
You can eat MREs with no preparation at all – just rip the bag open and dig into that cold goop with a spoon. The problem is, after a few days starving to death will start to look pretty tempting. They’re much better heated.
Use by dates are guidance, not rules
The date on the can doesn’t matter much. Don’t look at what year your beans were supposed to expire – check to see if they’re a funny color and smell off. If a can is well looked after and still sealed, its contents will stay good for years.
Hungry friends are not friends
It doesn’t matter how well you get on with your neighbors. If you have food and they don’t, they’ll try to take it from you. That doesn’t make them bad people – but it does make them a threat to your carefully prepared supplies.
There is no dog food. There is only food.
We know, getting stuck in to that tin of Pedigree Choice is not an appealing option. But what if the alternative is hunger? Dog food is high in protein and fats. Thoroughly cooked, and with some seasonings and vegetables, it will keep you alive. Not happy, but alive.
Your store of water is too small
Any store of water is too small. It doesn’t matter how carefully you’ve calculated how much you’re going to need – your actual consumption will be higher. A store of water is vital to get you through the initial crisis, but you need to have a plan to process more.
Your safe well isn’t
Well water is generally pretty safe. It’s naturally filtered as it percolates from the surface down into the aquifer your well draws it from. That filtering isn’t fool-proof though. Some contaminants can get through – and the water can even pick up more from the rock of the aquifer. Filter and purify well water.
Water will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no water
Bartering is going to be an essential skill after the SHTF, but some things are just too important to rely on trading for them. Water is the #1 example. If it’s in short supply nobody is going to let you have some of theirs, no matter what you offer them for it.
Related: 25 Skills You Can Trade After SHTF
We’re one EMP away from a third-world water supply
You know how, in large parts of Africa and Asia, water is unsafe and riddled with bacteria and parasites? Welcome to America three days after society collapses. When the treatment plants shut down and refugees are using the land as their restroom, our water will be just as filthy.
Every river has a dead sheep just upstream from where you’re standing
If you don’t live in a sheep-raising area, don’t worry; the gods of disorder will supply a dead deer, cow or dog instead. The water might be sweet and crystal-clear, but something has died in it. Drink that water without filtering or boiling and you might be next.
Renewable energy isn’t
Solar panels, wind turbines and waterwheels will all generate electricity for you – and the energy sources they draw on are renewable. Unfortunately, the equipment itself isn’t. If your photo-voltaic cells get damaged you’re not going to be able to make replacements. Even a wind turbine is more complex than it looks. Stockpile spares.
Related: How to Build Your Own Solar Panels
You don’t have enough wood stockpiled
Oh, your woodpile completely surrounds the house and you have to go in and out through a hole in the roof? It doesn’t matter; you still don’t have enough. One cold snap and the rate you burn fuel will rocket. Take every chance to collect more, even if you already have tons. Here’s how to store and stack firewood the right way.
Green wood – nature’s advertising
If you burn green wood you’ll send up a smoke signal telling everyone where you are. This is another reason to have a huge stockpile; you can burn the seasoned stuff while the green wood you just cut dries out.
Electricity is a luxury. Yes, really.
Even if you have a generator and plenty fuel for it, you can’t rely on having electricity 24/7. What if a large group of hungry urban marauders moves into your area? Do you want your lit-up windows showing them where valuable supplies can be found?
If it’s obsolete and works, it’s not obsolete
A rusty old wood-burning stove salvaged from the town dump is nowhere near as good as a modern gas range – until the gas company is swept away by mass disorder. If it needs a supply of energy you can’t provide yourself, it won’t e working after the SHTF.
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