In past segments we have talked in general terms about what you can expect to occur after any type of natural calamity or disaster. We have stressed the need to be prepared for times when the public services and supply lines that we now take for granted become limited or completely unavailable to us. We have also touched on how to plan ahead to ensure your family’s safety, whether it be by grabbing a bug out bag and leaving the affected area or by sheltering in place with the survival supplies you have accumulated beforehand.
We have even discussed the need for being discreet about any doomsday prep activities you engage in so that you will be less likely to become a target after an event occurs that is capable of causing society to unravel. Today, we will delve deeper into the physical safety aspect by discussing what you can do now to ensure your family’s physical safety in the aftermath of a natural calamity or other devastating event, including weaponry and how to mount an effective defense using common household items.
When Normal Becomes Abnormal
Increasingly prohibitive gun laws and societal trends have created an environment where many Americans no longer routinely keep a weapon in their home for personal safety reasons. Most feel that modern security systems coupled with local law enforcement are enough to keep them safe and in normal circumstances, that is considered to be an acceptable assumption.
In the event of a natural calamity or disaster capable of disrupting communications and the electrical grid, however, this assumption becomes invalid and dangerous. Countless homes and families who once felt secure and protected will suddenly be left with only the locks on their doors and their own self-defense capabilities for protection. Even worse, any situation that leaves your home without the protection of local law enforcement is likely to continue to devolve quickly and become even more dangerous in the hours and days afterward.
The Three Parts of Maintaining Physical Safety in a Newly Dangerous World
While your physical safety during a natural calamity event could definitely be threatened by the event itself, it is far more likely to be caused by the actions of another human being. Within days or even hours, hunger, thirst and fear can cause average, non-violent citizens to react aggressively toward others, especially in a situation where they feel they have nothing to lose.
In addition, some members of the population will take advantage of a disaster situation to engage in violent behaviors, including abuse, rape and murder when freed from the threat of the legal system. To give your family the optimum chance to survive and thrive during the aftermath of a disaster, the following three things will be required:
- situational awareness to quickly recognize potential threats
- an ability to avoid potentially risky situations
- an ability to mount a defense when necessary
Developing a Baseline
Using situational awareness to enhance your physical safety begins with understanding what is normal and what isn’t. If you are planning to shelter in your home during a disaster event, begin now to observe your neighborhood and general area to determine what activity is normal and which people belong there. As you observe the daily happenings, you will soon develop a sort of instinctual baseline that will help you quickly identify suspicious activity or people who could present a potential threat to your family’s safety.
Avoid the Fray and the Fight, When Possible
While most people routinely prefer to avoid confrontation during the best of times, in a survival situation, keeping a low profile can be an excellent survival tactic. The looting and violence that were widespread after Hurricane Katrina and during the recent racially-motivated riots in Ferguson, Missouri are prime examples of the chaos that will certainly develop in the aftermath of a natural calamity scenario.
Families who plan to shelter in place during the days or weeks that follow a disaster event can adopt proactive practices that will help them keep a low profile and avoid attracting unwanted attention that could become violent. Some of these include:
- staying away from crowded areas
- venturing out only in groups or during the early morning hours when most are sleeping
- concealing valuables or weapons when around others
Defending Your Family and Your Home
While purchasing guns and ammunition and becoming proficient with them is a valuable addition to any survival plan, there are now many areas of the country where restrictive gun laws have made this difficult or impossible to do. This is why all good doomsday prep plans should also include measures for defending the family with commonly available items. As you look around your home for potential weapons and strategies for defense, focus on items and ideas that can inflict a severe level of discomfort or fear that will cause most attackers to hesitate or flee. Here are some ideas to consider:
- aerosol cans or bottles of harsh chemicals formulated to clean ovens, clear drains or kill insects can be as effective as pepper spray when sprayed or splashed into the face of an attacker
- a hefty can of soup or vegetables knotted into the toe of a tube sock can create an effective handheld club to swing at an attacker
- baseball bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs and even mops and brooms are effective weapons to strike out at an opponent and force them to move away
- garden implements, especially sharp-edged hoes and shovels can inflict serious pain on an attacker
- lawn darts, ice picks and steak knives can be duct-taped to sturdy dowel rods or wooden stakes to create a weapon that can be used from outside the reach of an attacker
For close range attacks, common household tools and items such as scissors, razor blades, screwdrivers, wine corkscrews, keys and other small, sharp objects etc. make effective weapons that are readily available, yet easy to conceal in the home or in a pocket.
In addition to creating effective weapons, your ability to keep your family safe will likely be more successful if you have instituted some defensive measures and strategies to keep from attracting the attention of an unsavory person. These measures include:
- staying indoors or within the area of a privacy-fenced backyard to avoid unwelcome attention
- keeping shades and drapes pulled to keep others from seeing into your home
- avoiding creating loud noises that attract attention
If the natural calamity or disaster event lasts more than a few days, you may also need to deter people from trying to gain access to your home. The following ideas can help you slow down or stop someone from successfully breeching the perimeter of your home.
- barricade doors and windows that cannot be easily defended, such as basement windows, full-length glass doors, windows that can be reached from the ground and garage entrances
- insert screws into window frames to prevent them being slid open from the outside
- create nail strips by driving sharp nails through a piece of board and then placing it sharp side up on pathways and areas where a thief or attacker would likely step
- string thin wire or fishing line tightly across entrances, exits and gates to create a barrier or tripwire effect
Becoming more aware of your surroundings and developing good strategies for defending your family and your home are important parts of becoming prepared to handle anything that may happen in the future. Even if a teotwawki scenario never occurs, many of the common sense ideas we have offered can be used in daily life to enhance the personal safety of the family you love.
In this installment we have focused mainly on keeping your family safe while sheltering in place after a natural calamity occurs. In the sixth installment we will focus on the special doomsday prep needs of an urban family who must be prepared to bug out quickly and head to their safe haven before total chaos erupts.