We've never been more reliant on the power grid, and as technology has advanced our entire way of life has become intertwined with a need for a never-ending source of electricity. But what happens if it goes down? Let's face it, the infrastructure behind the grid is dated and will often drop out following a storm, but what about a larger-scale disaster? This is where things get a little nasty. Once batteries start to die and we're not able to tune in to the latest news on our phones, the inevitable downward spiral into chaos begins. Initially, things seem hopeful, but as the days pass human behavior will change, following a set of steps that have been seen again and again in crises around the world. Should you ever find yourself stuck in the middle of a disaster, it's up to you now, there's no authorities to call to save you. Have you thought about how you will keep your family alive?
The first seven days Immediately following a crisis, there will be a massive outpouring of public support. The public will bond together to make it through the disaster, and you'll start to notice a few inconveniences. Supermarket shelves will be emptied, but there is still hope that the supply chains will continue to flow, and they will be restocked over the coming days. Your immediate security is probably not in danger at this point, as everyone you see is still in a compassionate mindset looking to help each other make it through the crisis. If the disaster is localized, a search-and-rescue effort will be staged, and it's from here that the danger starts to rise. As hours turn into days, the general population will begin to realize their dilemma. You're all stuck in an increasingly desperate situation. After Hurricane Sandy it took just a couple of days for people to begin dumpster diving looking for anything and everything that was edible. Once this level of desperation hits, what do you think happens to the people who consider themselves above eating garbage? They aren't going to hesitate breaking into a grocery store to ‘take what they need,’ and if they know what you've got stored you've also got a target on your back. Once the shops have been wiped out, where do you think they're going to turn next?
The first steps towards protection It goes without saying that owning a gun is one of the primary ways you can protect your family, so long as you're able to aim and shoot effectively at a target. The dealer you buy the gun from will be able to provide recommendations on the best firearm to purchase, as well as where to get training and become an expert. Having a gun is useless if you don't know how to use it. Remember that whilst it is best for you to follow the local firearm legislation in your city or state, the criminals are going to be armed via the black market, and can put you at a serious disadvantage when you need to protect yourself. If you're not a fan of your local laws and guidelines, in the long run it may be better just to move to a state that is a little more liberal.
Rethinking your neighborhood Once your home is defended, and you've got a means to protect yourself, the next step is to think a little bigger. Consider the layout and characteristics of your neighborhood, looking for vulnerabilities and ways marauders could gain entry. You probably aren't going to be facing an armed military force, for the most part it'll be lone looters and semi-organized gangs who have banded together for survival. Think about how you're going to create fortified positions, where would be an ideal place for rooftop sentries, and who you will be able to bring into the group. The more people you have, the larger the area you can secure.
Observation points and fields of fire Being able to see an approaching enemy is critical. It gives you the upper hand, especially if you can see their approach and remain unseen. Using the information gained, you can form a better strategy of your next move. You probably aren't going to sound the alarm for a full-scale assault if a 5 year old kid is wandering into your zone, but three trucks packed with guys sporting military surplus gear and armed to the teeth will be a different story. Look for the highest elevation you can reach, with areas that offer as close to a 360° view of the area as possible. Decide beforehand on the ‘kill zones,’ so that if you do need to open fire there's no chance you will injure a neighbor or a key resource.
How to respond to a threat Forward planning is crucial, and you need a plan for when people arrive. Do you give food and water to lost wanderers, and how are you planning to respond and attack if they open fire? Your best chance of survival is to be prepared, thinking through each possible scenario and the appropriate response for that situation. This also helps keep each member of your team on the same page.
Keep your communication alive Assuming they still work, providing handheld radios to each member on your team allows you to stay in constant contact, and be aware of everything that is happening in your neighborhood. This gives you an advantage over opponents who aren't equipped with the same tech, but you need to be careful because anyone in the area with a scanner will be able to listen in on what you're saying. The FRS radio's typically advertise a range of 20+ miles, but I've found that the interference within a neighborhood from the houses makes this closer to a mile.
A plan for retreat No matter how good you believe your defenses to be, you never really know what you will come up against. Perhaps it's a far larger force who are better trained and equipped, and staying to fight means certain death. Forget the heroic last stand that you see in the movies, you need a plan of escape. Figure out your retreat plans in advance, so you know how to get your family to safety once it becomes time to run. Of course, once you reach the safe house and you're secure, you can begin plans to take back your property from the attackers. Protecting your family once the grid goes down is simply a matter of planning. The team here at APE Survival hope you never have to face a situation like this, you never know what circumstances may arise that turn people into savages. Being ready for the grid to go down will help you defend your family from the people who were too lazy to plan for themselves.