The subject of having a retreat separate from your actual home is a controversial one. Some feel it is the only viable alternative while others question its value. I find myself among the latter. If the retreat is located in a small rural community far enough away from your present home to do some good, what is the probability that you will reach it safely in a time of crisis? Will you be able to drive through the roads clogged with frightened, angry and possibly violent people? Is your vehicle capable of making it without any roads? Will there be enough fuel to get to your destination? And will you find someone else already there, willing to fight for what they have found? Face it, getting to a distant retreat in a time of crisis could be difficult at best and depend on a great deal of luck. And making the decision to leave for the retreat would be a most difficult one. On top of that, a working retreat takes years to develop adequately.
What about storing all of your stuff in your current home, planning on packing it all up and taking it with you when the crisis develops? I’m afraid this has even less chance of succeeding. The amount of supplies that you would want to survive when you got somewhere safe can be enormous. Thinking that you will have time to pack it up and the capability to move it ahead of the panicked masses is wishful thinking.
The only safe and sane solution for those living in major metropolitan areas is to decide now, no matter what the resulting difficulties, to relocate to a suitable location as soon as possible. True, it could mean substantial changes in lifestyle. But not anywhere near as drastic as staying put might mean one day. Everything done now will greatly lessen the impact later.
The definition of a retreat can also be broader to include any hidden shelter and could include basements or even a secret spot in the wilderness.
I have read Survival Retreat, The Modern Survival Retreat, and Urban Survival by Ragnar Benson. All of his books are worth a read and offer varying perspectives on survival theory. I’m sure there are loads more books on the topic since I read those books many years ago. The notes that follow are from these three books by Ragnar:
- Survival Thermodynamics: When burning calories to obtain food, don’t expend more energy/calories than you will receive from procuring, preparing, and digesting it.
- The best defense is obscurity, unobtrusiveness, and silence.
- Don’t let it appear as if you have anything valuable at your retreat.
- No matter how well-armed or hardened your retreat, you cannot hold out even briefly against a well-trained, well-armed military force.
- Don’t become a refugee. You must not put yourself into the care of government agencies or NGO’s.
- Never give up your ability or desire to defend your freedom.
- Stay in the terrain you know and defend your territory. (Evacuate only if you have a plan and a place to go to.)
- Try to avoid conflict in your region.
- Don’t openly harbor political targets and don’t let your retreat become the center for any sort of resistance movement unless absolutely necessary.
- Don’t have raiders operate out of your retreat if possible. If they are captured, enemies might be traced back to you.
- Make a plan and stick to it even when its weaknesses start to show up.
- Two years is typical for destabilization in a collapse. Expect things to break down for longer.
- List what you need to stay alive. Make sure you have it and know how to use it. Also, consider articles of personal encouragement (music, art, books, etc.).
The rest of this post is traditional survivalist fare. In general I would suggest preparing in a way that allows you to take in outsiders. To create abundance so that you can share and help your fellow humans. To be open and caring. But you may find yourself in a situation where hiding away and closing off your social group to outsiders may be the decision you make. The following considerations are for a situation where you would want to isolate your group.
- Think about how to use the geography to your advantage. In times of war high ground might be used as an observation post or mortar position. Tall buildings will also likely become gun positions, and mortar/rocket launching positions.
- In cities, the sewers are the first area secured by military forces because of their strategic role. Avoid them and cities in general.
- Can you close off your area by taking out a bridge, closing a road, cutting down some trees, knocking over a building?
- Where will the access routes be?
- How will you deal with the cold?
- High water or flooding?
- Insect and animal disease?
- Waste: Cooking and waste smells often give away hideouts. In standoffs the police may cut off sewer service and try to get their victims to give up due to filthy conditions. Living with waste can be very demoralizing and unsanitary. Have a plan to deal with waste within your retreat.
Top Dangers (roughly in order of importance):
- 1) Hunger and Thirst
- 2) Disease
- 3) Fire
- 4) Thieves, refugees, people (armed and organized or not). Ex-military renegades could be a major problem. Think of what has happened in Africa…
- 5) Natural disaster clusters, and patterns of planetary crises or Earth changes, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, and severe thunderstorms, etc.
- 6) NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Warfare) threats – (useful items include: decontamination suits, filter breathing apparatuses, survey meters, dosimeters, Geiger counters, clean up equipment, shielded sleeping area, provisions for protecting food and water, and necessary medical supplies)
- 7) Occupying army
Getting to your retreat:
Have three different ways of getting to your retreat from where you may be at any given time (work, home, etc.) using independent forms of transport.
Learn how to use many types of transportation in case you need to take a vehicle to get to your retreat. Learn to fly, use boats, drive trucks, buses, subway trains, motorcycles, etc.
Stay informed: if the banking system starts to fail coupled with failures in the food distribution system, look out. Um, yep. Check.
- Blocking off the routes a mile or so away from your retreat by blowing up a bridge, placing burned out buses and trucks, piles of rubble, downed electrical lines, or even having a group between you and outsiders who will duke it out with intruders.
- Using fifty pounds of roofing nails on the roads can prevent vehicles from entering your area or placing some heavy electrical wires up around can deter helicopters from landing.
- Having an unhealthy-looking unkempt person come up to visitors ranting and raving can send people away.
- Putting out signs of death and destruction (radiation levels, chemical contamination), covering the area in smoke, warning of the plague, etc. may be worth a try.
- You could try placing carcasses out in the roads down the way to discourage intruders.
- Don’t set traps in a way that leads to your retreat or causes people to think that you have something valuable to hide.
Consider ways to camouflage water catchment, buildings, gardens (avoid planting in rows), animal pens; these will give away your location. Consider turning out livestock to graze at night under close supervision and possibly keeping pens far away from your retreat.
Maybe don’t stack up your wood in a pile or hang your laundry out on a line, keep it hidden.
Maintaining your zone (ideas):
- If you are faced with a standoff, communication with the outside public may be critical. If you cannot communicate it will be easier for the intruder to kill you and if it’s the police/government they can put whatever spin they want on it.
- You may want an alarm system for thieves (electric, dogs, geese, guinea hens)
- Form protective associations with allies.
- Lay out spiked sticks at an angle in the earth or barbed wire.
- Do regular patrols.
- Have sentries.
- Have a plan of resistance with a basic defense network. Know clearly when to attack and under what circumstances.
- Don’t fire from your retreat unless absolutely necessary and then do so from from scattered hidden positions within your area that are hard to pinpoint.
The notes from Ragnar’s books are from a time before the threat of universal surveillance by drone or satellite as Bill Gates is planning. If biometric identification like facial recognition is linked to satellites then it may be near impossible to hide anywhere on Earth. This would effect the strategy one would employ to stay free. Our concern then shifts from the wandering zombie hoards to the eyes in the sky. Such technologies must be stopped if we are to remain free.
Reading & Resources
4) Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival by Jack A. Spigarelli
The first book on this list will give you a good foundation of knowledge to stay alive, the second is a great tool for your broader community, the third to help you consider preparations for a major social meltdown, and the fourth to solidify your food storage program. These four books will give you a well-rounded overview of preparedness. From there you can read books that specifically address topics that you wish to explore further. Good luck.
survivalblog.com – good articles.
Chelsea Green – great publisher of homesteading books.