Are You Prepared for a Worst Case Breakdown in Society?
Copyright © September 6, 2010 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
A worst case breakdown of society may not happen during your lifetime.
However, to believe that it could never happen would be to ignore history.
Every major nation on the face of the earth has experienced one or more breakdowns in its society during the past three-hundred years.
For example, in the United States of America:
The above are just two examples of a worst case breakdown in society. If you live in a nation somewhere else on the globe then you could easily add at least one or two examples from your own nation's history books.
- During the last year of the American Civil War living conditions in the southern states became life threatening on a daily basis. There was no food to eat, there were no crops growing in the fields, and there was no place a family could stay where they could truly feel "safe."
- During the flu epidemic of 1918, thousands of normal, healthy people across the entire United States suddenly got sick and a few days later they died. People became terrified and they didn't want to leave their homes because they were afraid they would catch the flu and die.
During a long-term worst case breakdown in society the bullies in each local geographical area will try to dominate that area.
Bullies can be defined in a variety of different ways but for the purposes of this article we will use the following definition.
A bully is anyone who:
Right and wrong has nothing to do with being a bully.
- Is significantly stronger than almost everyone else, or
- Is significantly more intelligent than almost everyone else, or
- Has the most powerful and deadliest weapons at his or her disposal, or
- Has some type of government or law enforcement job and they quickly enact some new laws that they enforce using martial law or deadly force, or
- Is the head of an existing "Homeowner's Association" and he or she convinces the majority of the other homeowners that they have the right to search everyone's home and confiscate whatever would be of use to their entire community.
A bully is simply someone who doesn't have what he or she wants and he or she decides that it is perfectly okay to simply take it from someone else.
A bully has no respect for any type of law, either civil or moral, unless those laws support the bully's current objective.
Food Production and Food Distribution and Food Storage
During a worst case breakdown in society food production and food distribution will come to an immediate standstill.
During a Worst Case Breakdown in Society
Any agricultural crops in a geographical area will be immediately stolen (or confiscated or requisitioned) by the local bullies, and by the local criminals, and by anyone else who is lucky enough to successfully steal the food without losing his or her life in the process.
There is not enough food stored in the entire world to keep everyone alive for more than three months if all food production comes to a complete halt. This assumes an effort would be made to distribute the food to all the starving people in the world. Every bully in every geographical region will claim that he or she is doing his or her best to get the necessary food supplies to everyone and everyone should be patient until the food can actually be delivered to them. However, this will be a lie. The bullies intend to keep all the food for themselves and for the individuals who are loyal to them and they will simply just wait for everyone else to starve to death.
The long-term problem is that the bullies don't know how to produce food, and even if they do know how, they will not actually do the work themselves. In fact, most bullies don't know how to do any type of truly productive activity that would be necessary during a worst case hard times event. Therefore, when the bullies in one geographical area run out of food they will try to take over an adjoining geographical area and the bullies will gradually and systematically kill one another off, or they themselves will starve to death.
It is not reasonable to believe that the bullies will get all the food. Normal, average people will also get a small percentage of the food. The reason is because people will not simply sit down and wait until they starve to death. They will venture out and go looking for food in the most logical places. They will begin at grocery stores, and then they will think of food distribution warehouses, and then they will consider nearby farmland and the barns and silos on those farms. They will kill the families on those farms, take everything they can find, and slaughter every farm animal and butcher it crudely on the spot leaving at least 50% of the edible meat to rot or to be eaten by wild animals and birds. Then these starving people will start searching the homes of their neighbors. If a neighbor doesn't have any food then the neighbor should not object. But if the neighbor does object then all the hungry families in the neighborhood will organize and attack that household and take their food and anything and everything else they want.
During a worst case breakdown in society there will be no respect for private property, or for the lives of anyone including very small children and infants. This is not a theory -- this is a fact. This is what has actually happened during every documented breakdown in society for the past two-thousand years. And there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent it from happening again.
When it is all over there will only be a few survivors. These survivors will fall into one of three categories:
- People who made detailed and extensive plans ahead of time to survive a worst case scenario, and they purchased and stored supplies, and they successfully executed their plans at the proper time.
- People who survived by killing a family that was prepared and they stole everything that family had. This second group will be a very small group when compared to the first group because most of the people in the first group will be prepared to defend themselves against the people in this second group. Therefore very, very few people in this second category will actually survive. The plan of this second group of people is flawed in a multitude of different ways but they can't see the flaws and that will be the reason they will fail. Their plans will usually be based on either deception or on overwhelming numbers. The problem with deception is that they underestimate the intelligence of the people in the first group. The problem with overwhelming numbers is that a three-month supply of food for four people will only last a gang of thirty people for approximately two-weeks. Therefore the gang of thirty people will need to be constantly on the move. And some of the places they attack may only have two-weeks of food. And each time they stage an attack some of the gang members will be killed or wounded. In this type of situation, at least 50% of the time a wound will eventually prove to be fatal for a variety of different reasons.
- A few of the bullies and their supporters will survive. The only way a bully can survive is by taking that which belongs to someone else, just like the people in group two above. The bully will not work to produce the food or any other item that is desperately needed. Therefore, the bullies will gradually be reduced to an insignificant number but this can take several years. However, a bully can be eliminated in a matter of hours if the people decide to revolt.
How Will the Bullies Succeed in Dominating Your Area?
Starving people will believe almost anyone, or anything, if it gives them hope. All you have to do is to promise them something like, "A chicken in every cook pot." This was a famous slogan during the Great Depression of the 1930s. However, this slogan was nothing more than an empty promise that gave people hope. You can't eat hope but you can focus your thoughts on it. And hope will frequently keep people from doing something about their situation as they gradually starve to death.
Therefore the bullies will convince the vast majority of the starving people in a geographical area that they are truly saddened by the lack of food and they would appreciate it if the starving people would please allow them the freedom to collect all the "surplus" food in the area so it can be equally and freely distributed to everyone. Obviously the starving people have nothing to eat and therefore nothing to "give up" and "everything to gain" so they will unanimously say "Yes, please help us."
Then the bullies will explain that they will be sending out "Special Humanitarian Teams" to search everyone's home, business, and real estate to locate the surplus food, collect it, and then bring the food to a central distribution site where it can be more easily distributed equally to everyone in the area. Unfortunately, these Special Humanitarian Teams will need to be heavily armed for two reasons: (1) to protect the food while it is in transport back to the special distribution site, and (2) to force those greedy, unethical, selfish, wicked, evil hoarders who have some food to share it with all the starving people who desperately need it.
Any person or family who does not voluntarily allow the Special Humanitarian Teams the complete freedom to thoroughly search their entire home, business, and real estate will be considered to be an "enemy of the free people" and their homes or business will be burned to the ground and everyone inside will be shot. This will not be a military battle. The Special Humanitarian Teams will not risk their lives to fight these "enemies of the free people." They will simply burn their homes to the ground and shoot everyone as they try to escape the burning building. Therefore, please don't say "no" to our Special Humanitarian Teams because you will die if you do. There will be no exceptions.
As the Special Humanitarian Teams carefully search every home, business, and piece of real estate each Team Leader will make a very detailed list of everything of potential value at each location. However, during the first search the only thing that will be taken will be food. For example, the bullies may say that all food in excess of three cans of food per person, or two pounds of food per person, will be requisitioned for the good of the people. (Or the bullies may simply take all the food.)
Therefore, the bullies will gain complete control of a geographical area by using the following simple plan. But they will not announce their "entire plan" at the beginning. Instead, after the first search is over, each new search will come as a complete surprise to the people in that geographical area.
Please remember that a careful search and a detailed inventory was made of your possessions during Stage One so you will not be able to lie to the Special Humanitarian Teams at any subsequent stage in the requisition (theft) process.
- First Search: An extensive careful search will be conducted of every building and home. The Special Humanitarian Teams will compile a very detailed inventory that lists everything in every home and building that might be of potential future value to the bullies. However, during this first search only food will be confiscated (stolen) and the food will be taken to the bully's headquarters.
- Second Search: The bullies will explain that no food has been distributed yet because of attacks on the food distributions trucks. (Note: This could be the truth or a complete lie and it really doesn't matter because the end result will be the same.) Therefore, the Special Humanitarian Teams will now conduct another smaller search based on the inventory from the first search. All extra ammunition and firearms will be requisitioned for the use of the Special Humanitarian Teams to help them protect the food and to prevent the theft of that food while it is being freely distributed to the starving people. The Special Humanitarian Teams will decide which firearms you will be allowed to keep when they visit you. You will not be left completely defenseless. The Team will leave you some type of firearm, such as a single-shot pistol or bolt-action rifle, and up to a maximum of ten rounds of ammunition for that firearm depending on the number of people in your household. However, if a Special Humanitarian Team is not able to find enough firearms and ammunition to adequately protect itself, then the Team may take all your firearms and ammunition and the Team may not leave you anything except some instructions on how to build a very effective spear by tying a kitchen knife to a broom handle. If you will please just cooperate then we can start delivering the free food to you very soon. However, please remember that anyone who resists will be shot.
- Third Search: We apologize that no food has been delivered to you yet. Our Special Humanitarian Teams have used up all their fuel during the first two searches. Therefore, all extra fuel, equipment and supplies will now be requisitioned. This will include gasoline, diesel fuel, propane, solar power systems, wind turbines, water filtration systems, and anything else us bullies decide to take at this time.
- Fourth Search: We realize that some of you have not yet received any free food. (Note: The truth will be that at least 99% of the people will have received nothing to eat from the bullies.) Therefore all items of value, such as silver, gold, and jewelry will now be collected. This will also include family heirlooms, such as a small sterling silver candlestick that has been in your family for 120 years. A married person may keep his or her wedding ring if the spouse is still alive and if the wedding ring weighs less than a specified amount and the wedding ring does not contain a precious stone. This is absolutely necessary so us bullies can purchase additional food supplies for all you starving people who have not yet received any free food. Anyone who resists will be shot.
- Fifth Search: Any item still on the original inventory list that us bullies want will now be collected. For example, we may decide that we want that new Hummer that only has 3,000 miles on it because it would be really useful in helping us distribute the free food to all you starving people.
- Sixth Search: The food distribution effort has been going slowly and you haven't received any food yet because we need more volunteers. Therefore, the Special Humanitarian Teams will now be collecting all the individuals who would be useful to our community's humanitarian effort. This will include all extremely attractive teenage girls, and all very strong teenage boys. It may also include some exceptionally attractive married women in their twenties or thirties and all able bodied men who can do forced labor. (This will also include men who might eventually decide to resist and fight back because of all the injustices done to their families.)
Anyone resisting at any stage will be immediately shot, along with everyone in their home, and their home will be burned to the ground.
Note One: The leading bully or bullies will not leave their fortress of safety. They will convince others to do the dirty work for them. At first the overwhelming vast majority of the individuals on the "Special Humanitarian Teams" will truly believe they are performing a valuable and necessary service for their community. However, as time passes, most of them will gradually realize the truth. But by that time they will be committed because the community will know who they are and they will no longer be trusted because they shot and killed too many people who initially resisted. From that time forward their only hope for long-term survival will be to remain loyal to the bullies. This was the plan of the bullies to begin with and everything is working exactly the way the bullies originally intended.
Note Two: The only way to stop this type of "organized crime" would be to decapitate the head of the snake. However, the head bully will usually be an extremely brilliant person and the vast majority of the people who will be working for him or her may not actually know who he or she is because he or she will be working through a "spokesperson." Even the spokesperson will frequently not realize that he or she is not really in control but that he or she is actually being controlled by a significantly more intelligent bully. When things eventually fall apart and the bully system is destroyed the spokesperson will receive the blame and the punishment of the "free people," and the real bully will usually escape, which was the real bully's plan to begin with. Therefore, to quote and paraphrase one of the famous Star Trek movies, "Resistance will be futile."
How Long Will the Food Last?
Now let's do a little math.
Don't like the above math? Well let's change the numbers and be more optimistic as follows:
- Let's assume that a prepared family has a three-month emergency food supply.
- Let's also assume that for each prepared family there are 99 other families with one-week or less of food in their homes.
- If all the food of the one prepared family is distributed equally to all the other 99 families, then each of the other 99 families will receive an additional one-day's worth of food.
- Therefore, after about one-week all 100 families will begin to starve to death.
- After about three more weeks, or a total of four-weeks, all 100 families will have died of starvation (if you do not consider cannibalism).
Still don't like the above math? Well let's change the numbers and include all the food stored in every local grocery store and every local food warehouse. Current estimates are that each geographical area has about three-days worth of food within its geographical boundaries. That means there is enough stored food to feed everyone in each geographical area for approximately three-days. If the food distribution network comes to a standstill, then there will be no more food. On your own, please add three-days of food for every family to both of the two above math examples and see what the revised answer is with all the stored food added into the original equation. (Note: Some people may not believe the math in this example because they look at all the food in a big grocery store and they know that if they had all that food then their family could survive for several years. What these people don't realize is that they are not the only family that depends on that grocery store. There are usually thousands of families shopping at that store every week, and the food supplies in that store would not feed thousands of families for very long. The truth is that the food would only last about three-days if every family got an equal share of that food. This is the reason the bullies will attempt to take control of the food. The bullies do not want to share that food with anyone because then the bullies would also starve to death in a very short period of time. Therefore, to make sure that they live as long as possible, the bullies will keep the vast majority of the food for themselves and for the individuals who help them to defend the food once they have it under their control.)
- Let's assume that a prepared family has a one-year emergency food supply.
- Let's also assume that for each prepared family there are only 49 other families with one-week or less of food in their homes.
- If the food is distributed equally (due to voluntary charity, or requisition, or confiscation, or theft) then each of the 49 other families will receive an additional one-week's worth or food.
- Therefore, after about two-weeks all 50 families will begin to starve to death.
- After about three more weeks, or a total of five-weeks, all 50 families will have died of starvation.
Still don't like the above math? Then let's include all the stored food in the entire world. According to a variety of different estimates there is about a three-month world wide food supply if the food was shared equally with everyone in the world. Even if you assume that each government allows half of its citizens to starve to death, there would still only be a six-month food supply for the remaining one-half of each country's citizens.
The above math is the reason that bullies will attempt to confiscate, requisition, or steal all the food within a geographical area. And once they have the food in their possession they will not be distributing it for free to anyone for any reason, even though they solemnly promised to do so before they got control of the food. The bullies aren't stupid and they completely understand the above math but they have no intention of sharing this basic knowledge with you because then you wouldn't voluntarily go along with their plans.
Therefore, if you are one of those individuals who has decided not to prepare because you expect your charitable neighbors to feed you, or you expect the local bullies to feed you, then the chances are very high that you will starve to death during a worst case breakdown in society.
If the bullies succeed in gaining control of all the food in a geographical area then nobody is going to take any of that food away from them except through the use of deadly force, or if a person agrees to become a willing slave and do whatever the bullies command. Unfortunately, the bullies will not need too many slaves so please don't expect to get one of these highly sought after and very desirable "starvation wages only" slave positions.
The bullies will also realize that their days are numbered unless they can somehow grow more food. Therefore, except for a few doctors and repairmen, almost everyone who hasn't starved to death and who can still do a day's work will be put to work by the bullies in one way or another in growing food. The wages will be one day of food for one day of work. If you don't work, you don't eat. If you don't like the job assigned to you then there are 10 other people who do want your job. If you try to steal some of the food you are growing then you will receive the death penalty. If you try to work outside the established bully system to grow your own food then you will become an easy target for anyone and everyone who wants your food and the bullies will not do anything to protect you. And you won't be able to protect yourself because the bullies now have all your firearms, and anyone using a firearm will be reported to the bullies for not complying with their original demand to surrender all weapons and ammunition.
Starvation, Plague, and Death
If you are already disgusted with what you have read above then please don't read any further. The remainder of the information in this article is not for a person with a gentle spirit.
During a Worst Case Breakdown in Society
During a worst case breakdown in society all charity will quickly come to a complete halt. This will have nothing to do with anyone's good intentions. It will be the simple mathematical result that there will not be enough food for everyone.
The overwhelming vast majority of the people in every geographical area will starve to death, or they will kill one another over scarce food resources. And there will be absolutely nothing a family, or a government, or a religious organization can do to prevent it.
However, at the beginning of a worst case breakdown in society all of these groups will attempt to relieve the suffering of their neighbors but they will quickly run out of resources. When those resources are exhausted, then the people who were receiving the "free food" will become an uncontrollable mob that will destroy (burn down) the homes of the families who originally gave them some free food, and the government distribution centers that gave them some free food, and the religious organizations that gave them some free food. They will sincerely believe that these groups are holding back on them and therefore they deserve the punishment that is inflicted on them. It will never occur to this mob of people that the food supplies have actually been completely consumed and that there is simply no more food to give away.
After the mob grows tired of burning down buildings and other peoples' houses, the mob will break up and everyone will go home. They will not go home because they want to. They will go home because they will be exhausted and they will be too hungry to continue destroying the property of others.
Starvation is a slow process but in the early stages it weakens a person's mind and body. A person quickly loses the ability to think clearly and rationally and they start doing things they would never do if they weren't starving to death. For example, a well-fed person would never think of killing and eating a rat. But a starving person will eat almost anything, including things they know they should never eat. This will lead to a variety of illnesses and plagues that will sweep through and devastate every geographical area.
After about three or four months, the death toll due to people killing one another over a can of food, and through starvation, and through plague will drastically reduce the population within every geographical area.
When that happens there will be two major groups of survivors: (1) individuals who are just barely alive (skin and bones), and (2) individuals in reasonably good health.
Most of the people who are preparing for hard times have not seriously considered the above and they will not be intellectually prepared for it.
However, now that you have read this short article, if the above does happen during your lifetime, then at least you will not be completely shocked by the events as they unfold.
Who Will Survive?
Most people are familiar with the medical decisions that must be made on a battlefield. There are only a limited number of medics and medical supplies, and those medics have been trained to always help the wounded soldiers who have a very high chance of survival if their wounds are simply cleaned and properly bandaged. But those same medics are also trained not to invest time in trying to help a wounded soldier who has no chance of survival because his wounds are too extensive. By doing what they were trained to do, the battlefield medics are able to save the maximum number of lives based on the time and resources they have at their disposal.
A worst case breakdown in society will be very similar to the above battlefield analogy. Since food production and food distribution will come to a complete halt for several months (or several years), there will simply not be enough food to keep everyone alive. Decisions will therefore need to be made on who gets the available food and who does not. These types of decisions will be made by the bullies in each geographical area. If a person has a skill the bullies think is very desirable, such as a medical doctor, then the bullies may allow one or two medical doctors into their small group as slaves.
However, the vast majority of us don't have any special skills that would be of any immediate value to these bullies. Therefore, if we desire for our families to survive then we must take matters into our own hands and we should make plans now to purchase and store a reasonable level of supplies to get our family through a worst case breakdown of society.
Or we can simply say that we would not want to live in that type of world and we would prefer to starve to death. This is an easy statement for a healthy person to make. However, if you are one of those individuals who believes this way then may I humbly suggest that you put your convictions to a simple test. Don't eat anything for three-days. However, please drink lots of water during this time or you will die. At the end of a three-day fast without any type of food, or any type of calories, or caffeine, then honestly evaluate how you feel and then decide whether or not you would be content to gradually and slowly continue to die of starvation. If you decide this is not the way you would like to die, then perhaps you should start making preparations right now so your family at least has the chance to survive.
Just like the battlefield medic, any family that is prepared will need to make decisions on who they can help and who they will not be able to help. This type of decision is one that is best made by each individual family and it is not something that should be forced on or dictated to a family.
Therefore you should have made a decision about this issue long before an actual decision needs to be made during a worst case breakdown in society. If you have family members who have worked hard all their lives, and they would be an asset in helping to rebuild society, then this is the type of person who more closely resembles the wounded battlefield soldier who only needs to have his or her wounds cleaned and bandaged in order to survive. But if you also have some family members who have rarely worked at a steady job, and who have spent most of their lives on welfare, then this type of person may more closely resemble the soldier who has wounds that are too extensive to survive even if you invested a significant amount of your time and a significant amount of your limited resources trying to help him or her.
How to Protect Your Food Investment
Even if the bullies don't come looking for your food, your neighbors will.
History has repeated itself so many times in the last two-thousand years that it would be naive to believe that people will simply just starve to death without doing anything and everything they can to survive.
Therefore, in a worst case breakdown of society, if you intend to remain in a fixed location, then you will need to be very ingenious about where you store your emergency food supplies.
The following suggestions may help you to select an area, or areas, at your current residence where you could hide some of your food (and maybe some firearms and ammunition):
The best way to ensure the success of the above strategy is to put about 95% of your emergency food in two or more of the above locations, and then hide the remaining 5% of your emergency food where it could be found by someone who was doing a very careful search of your home. When your 5% emergency food supply is discovered, there is a good chance you will have satisfied the needs of the person or persons doing the search and they will simply take that food and leave. However, you should beg and plead that they please leave some of that food with you in order to create the illusion that they have found all your emergency food.
- Below Ground: If you have a yard, or some property that belongs to you, then you may wish to bury some of your food. This would be a reasonable option if: (a) you have mild winters, and (b) you could dig a hole in your yard without any of your neighbors seeing what you are doing. However, if you have long winters and the ground freezes to a depth of one-foot or more then burying your food would not work because the food would freeze, and then thaw, and then freeze, and then thaw and the food would be ruined. But if the frost line in your area is six-inches or less, and your neighbors can't see the spot where you intend to bury your food, then this is a very reasonable option.
Before we look at how to bury food pails and cans of food, let's first look at how an "emergency blanket" could be of use in this situation.
Emergency Blanket (52" x 82.5") (also known as a "space blanket" or as a "solar blanket"): For approximately three-dollars you can purchase a thin flexible foil "emergency blanket" in the camping section of many stores, including most Walmarts. The emergency blanket is designed to reflect a person's natural body heat back onto the person. However, it can also be used to help protect your food from freezing during the winter months. If you unfold the emergency blanket and place it directly on top of your food buckets or cans, then the emergency blanket will be an insulator that will help to prevent the freezing cold from penetrating too quickly down into your food. The reason is because the bottom of your food buckets or plywood box will be resting flat on a layer of earth that is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10° C). The bottom of the food buckets, or the plywood box, will be absorbing the natural warmth from the earth and transmitting that warmth up into your food. But heat rises and the emergency blanket will help to keep the natural heat of the earth inside your food buckets or plywood box. The emergency blanket may only make a few degrees of difference during the winter but those few degrees could keep your food from freezing.
- Food Pails: If you have the five or six gallon pails of food (food buckets) that have been properly sealed, then you could simply bury the food pails with the top of the pails at least six-inches below the top of the ground. You should line the inside of the hole with a heavy-duty tarp or with a sheet of thick plastic. Then put your buckets into the hole on top of the plastic. Then unfold an emergency blanket and place it over the top of the buckets and push it down around the outside edge of the group of buckets as far as possible. Then cover the tops of the buckets, and the emergency blanket, with the rest of the piece of plastic or tarp. In other words, the original tarp or plastic should be big enough to completely surround your buckets on all sides, and their bottoms, and their tops. The plastic should be at least 4 mil thick (7 mil would be better). Black plastic is better than white plastic because a small piece of black on the ground will not be noticed as quickly as a small piece of white on the ground if a wild animal, or dog, digs a small hole directly above your food pails. After covering your food pails with the tarp or plastic, shovel the dirt around the outsides of the pails and pack the dirt very firmly into the hole using the wood end of your shovel. Then shovel the dirt on top of the plastic above your food pails. Step on the dirt and press it down firmly. Level the ground so the extra dirt is distributed as evenly as possible in the immediate area. For example, if you dig a 36-inch wide hole then spread the dirt out over a 54-inch area to make the ground appear more level in that spot. Depending on your area, you could bury anywhere from four to six food buckets side-by-side in a single large hole. Four buckets could fit in a two-by-two pattern, and six buckets could fit into a two-by-three pattern.
- Canned Food: If you have canned food then you could bury several cases of canned food inside a plywood box that you build. You could build a nice plywood box using two sheets of 1/2 inch thick plywood that is 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. The finished plywood box would be large enough to hold approximately 1,200 cans of food (normal 15-ounce cans), or approximately 147 cans of freeze dried or dehydrated food in the big #10 cans (or one-gallon cans). First cut both sheets of plywood in half so you have four pieces of 4 feet by 4 feet plywood (four feet square). Then cut two of those pieces in half so you have four pieces of 2 feet by 4 feet of plywood. Finally, cut one-inch off two of the small pieces of plywood so you have two pieces of 2 feet by 47-inch pieces of plywood. (Note: Most lumber stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe's, will cut the plywood for free, or for approximately 25-cents per cut. I suggest you let them cut the plywood because they will give you an almost perfectly straight and square cut and the cut pieces will be easier to move and to load into your vehicle.) Coat each piece of plywood with a good quality water seal. Coat the inside, the outside, and all the edges with the water seal. Wait at least three-days for it to completely dry. Use 1-5/8 inch long exterior wood screws to assemble your plywood box together. Drill the screw holes using a 7/64" drill bit. Assemble the two 48-inch long by 24-inch high sides to the outside edges of the two 47-inch long by 24-inch high sides. Remember the plywood is 1/2 inch thick so the 47-inch long side will become 48-inch long when it is attached to the two 1/2 inch thick pieces of plywood. Then screw a 48-inch square piece of 1/2 inch thick plywood onto the bottom of the four sides. The four sides should be flush with the outside edges of the bottom square piece of plywood. Now dig a hole that is at least 30-inches deep and line the inside of the hole with a 9-foot by 12-foot heavy-duty tarp, or with a piece of black plastic that is at least 4 mil thick (7 mil thick would be better).
If you discover that your ground is too hard to dig 30-inches deep, then you could dig 18-inches deep and change the depth of the box from 25" tall to 13" tall by cutting each of the side pieces from 24" to 12" tall. (Note: The extra inch is due to the top and bottom of the box.) Then you could purchase one additional sheet of plywood and cut two more tops and then you would have enough pieces to build two separate underground wooden storage boxes.
Place the partially assembled plywood box into the lined hole. Fill the plywood box with cases of canned foods, or plastic tote boxes full of vacuum sealed food, such as white rice. Wrap each case of canned food in a piece of black plastic cut to the proper size, and use two-inch wide clear packaging tape to enclose the case of food in black plastic the same way you would wrap a birthday gift. Also tape a short description of the food item to the outside of the plastic. When the plywood box is full, unfold an emergency blanket over the entire top layer of food cans. Then place the 48-inch square lid on top of the box and screw the lid onto the box. Place a brown, tan, or dark green new shower curtain, or shower curtain liner, on the top of the plywood box. Then cover the shower curtain and the plywood box with the rest of your tarp or piece of plastic. Then shovel the dirt around the sides of the box, and then onto the top of the box. Level the remaining dirt on top of the box and on the ground beside the box to make the hole disappear. (Note One: Do not use pressure treated plywood for food storage. Instead use good quality regular plywood, then water seal the plywood, and then protect the outside of the plywood box with a tarp or plastic, and the top of the box with a shower curtain and a tarp or plastic.) (Note Two: The "shower curtain" was not needed on the plastic food pails because the plastic pail lids are naturally waterproof. However, the shower curtain is recommended for the plywood box because you will be burying the box below ground and the shower curtain will help to prevent the rain from making direct contact with the top of the plywood box.)
- A Walk-In Closet or an Oversized Closet: Reduce the size of the closet by building a false wall, or walls, inside the closet to make the closet a little smaller but not so small that it will attract attention. Hide your food behind the false wall. Then give the entire inside of your closet a fresh coat of paint to better disguise the new false wall(s).
- A Room with Two Closets: Use one closet for your emergency food storage. Then remove the food closet door, install some 2x4's where the door once was, and then put a piece of sheetrock over the old doorway. Paint the sheetrock and the wall the same color. Unless someone has been inside your home before they will not know that particular room once had two closets.
- Hallway Closet: Some hallways have a closet that could disappear. Use the above method to make the hallway food closet disappear.
- A Room with a Bare Wall: If you have a room that has a bare wall without any windows or doors, then it might be possible to build a false wall approximately 10 to 12 inches in front of the bare wall. This would provide you with 10 to 12 inches to stack cases of food from the floor to the ceiling the entire length of that wall. You would then need to add sheetrock, or paneling, and a baseboard to that new false wall so it matches the other three walls of the room. When you are finished, no one but your family should be able to notice that the room is now just a little smaller than before. (Note: Paneling would be the preferred wall covering because you could hold the 4-foot by 8-foot panels against the 2x4 lumber studs using a few small finishing nails in each panel. Then when you wanted to gain access to your stored food you could remove the panel directly in front of the food you needed, remove some of that food, and then reinstall the panel back in its original position.)
- Basement with a Bare Wall: If your home has a basement, and one wall of that basement is a bare wall, then you could use the above method to hide your food.
- Large Open Area Basement: If you have a basement that is one large open area, then consider converting it into three or four separate rooms, and install a "false wall" in one or more of those rooms to hide your food. Or you could put a hidden closet between two closets between two rooms in the basement. The hidden closet should be between the two visible closets.
- Crawlspace Below Your Home: Some homes have a crawlspace below the first floor. If you enter this crawlspace area you will notice the exposed floor beams of the first floor. If you move to the farthest corner of the crawlspace and install a 1/2 inch thick piece of plywood between the floor beams so the plywood is flush with the bottom of the floor beams, then you could stack some food on that plywood. Do not simply nail the plywood to the bottom of the floor beams because it would be too easily seen. The plywood must be cut so it fits between the floor beams and then nailed into that position. The piece of plywood should be no more than 48 inches long because a person cannot reach more than about 24 inches to get to the food. Both ends of the plywood shelf should be left open so you can reach into the space to get your food. You will probably need to build several of these 48 inch long plywood shelves at the far corner of your crawl space to provide enough space to store a reasonable portion of your emergency food supplies. Store your emergency food in plastic totes or inside some type of thick plastic wrap before putting the food onto the crawlspace shelf. Wear protective clothing and leather gloves when retrieving your food because spiders and other critters will gradually find and decide to use this space. This is a reasonable option if you can get to the crawlway access door without being seen by your neighbors. If your neighbors have a nice view of the entrance to your crawlway space then this option would not work because they could see you transporting lumber and food into the crawlspace and they would have a pretty good idea of exactly what you are doing.
I realize that some people will consider the above suggestion deceitful. However, please allow me to remind you that you paid for your emergency food and it belongs to you. All you are doing is trying to prevent the theft of your property. There is a big, big difference between voluntary charity and the involuntary confiscation of your possessions by a bully.
The reason I have taken the time to write this article is because I suspect most people have never done the above math and therefore they have an unrealistic vision of how things will unfold in the event of a worst case breakdown in society.
In closing please allow me to repeat what I mentioned at the very beginning of this article - - there is a chance that a worst case breakdown in society may not happen during your lifetime.
However, if it does happen, then all the planning and supplies in the world will not help you survive unless God is on your side.
Therefore, in my opinion, the most important preparation step is to get right with God before anything drastic happens.
Then pray on a regular basis that God will watch over you and your entire family.
Also please remember that God is interactive and He expects us to do our part, just like Noah and Joseph did their parts.
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Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com