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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Planning to Survive Alone

UrbanSurvivalSkills received the following comment or e-mail (can’t remember which) but I have taken out key words in order to provide some OPSEC to the writer who we’ll call “Bob”. Bob wrote,......I have been reading your site for several months now. I am a retired military engineer, I served 30+ yrs. I have always been a closet "survivalist". I served nine tours in various parts of the planet and am very much aware of what can happen when things breakdown. Now while I agree with 90% of what you say, especially about survival being a team effort, my question to you is this: What can a single individual do to prepare, and what advice can you give to someone who through circumstance must go it alone? I have stocked food, guns are no problem and I reload for everything but shotgun. I have no stock of precious metals and frankly I don't think gold or silver would help much except in the very short term. I keep cash on hand and do pay attention to news items (mostly financial news) I think I am about half way to the level of preparedness I want. In a crisis what measures should I take for security? Other than the obvious electronic options (all requiring power sources of some type) what should I take into consideration? Thanks for your comments. Regards Bob

UrbanMan Replies: Bob, you’re an old guy like me. That alone gives you an edge because you’ll think through your situations and develop your requirements from that and not act as hastily. It’s a given that the fact is Survival is a team sport,…. but you are alluding to having to go it alone. If you do not have the ability to build a team there will be some priorities for you as an individual survivalist. A couple of those priorities may be:

Your survival location needs to be very secure. Remote area, defensible ground, observable approach routes, covered and/or concealed Bug Out or escape routes all carry a bigger importance as you may have to rely on them more quickly than a larger team. This may have to be an austere environment if you expect to ride it out without compromise. Be careful about brushing out or reducing sign off of normal roads that lead to accessing your place. You can leverage your security using mechanical and electronic means for early warning devices. Since you have a military engineer background as well as the availability of numerous publications, you can simply fashion early devices from mousetraps, trip wire and flashlights and/or snap caps….particularly to cover approach routes and dead space. You may be able to wire a solar panel and disguise it well enough, maybe with remote cables, to power a game camera that will send a picture over the air to cell phone or lap top.

Commercial or field expedient spike strips may help you protect vehicle capable routes to your location. These would need to be placed at a location that a vehicle would travel in order to setup, assembly or otherwise attack you. This really goes for any mechanical early warning device.

In the event of a catastrophic collapse with absence of civilian or military law, command detonated home made explosive devices may be a force multiplier for your situation. Although I would always caution people against violating state and federal laws governing explosive devices. Maybe an explosives license is in order to be legal. People reading this post – do not think I am advocating the violation of any existing BATFE regulation concerning explosives or destructive devices, because I am not. However, I would assume that in a total collapse scenario the inhibitions against breaking such regulations and federal law may not be a concern to some people.

At the very least I would have some solar power generating capability and an AM/FM/UHF/SSB type radio if not a full blown HAM radio setup. This will allow you to stay abreast of the situation as well as not feel too isolated.

As for cash and/or precious metals…..I would re-consider having at least some silver to go along with your cash on hand. This would be primarily for emergency purchases at, or just after, the collapse beginning, or further into chaos of it all. So I would convert some of my cash holdings to silver. It will at least hold it’s value when paper fiat currency loses it’s value.

Items for barter would be good also. Consider small items that when you normally buy 2, buy four, such as butane lighters, socks, boxes of band aids, iso-alcohol, soap, heirloom seeds, batteries, etc.,…the list is endless. These small items would allow you to travel longer distances, enhancing your security and better protecting the location of your place, if and when to go make contact with other people.

The following books may help determine early warning and booby trap solutions for your safe area. Good luck.


  1. When I think of someone going solo, I think of staying fast and mobile. I would think that the hope would be, in a SHTF situation, to stay low until some sort of normalcy came back to society, then join the living.

    I picture a heavily forested area with plenty of moving room and maybe several areas to hold up in...some caches along the way etc....

  2. Solo is a nono. If this came from a younger man, I'd be suspecting some sort of Rambo dream. Based on your credentials, I'd guess you know full well you're capable of doing all the necessary tasks. But even a bad migraine could lay you up for days. If your survival team doesn't contribute much in the tactical sense they can still bring you water till you're on your feet. And, there's something to be said about protecting and providing for others as a reason to keep going, psychologically...

    Team or not:

    Holding up in a secure location is one thing. But arming the perimeter to the teeth only tells raiders you got something worth taking. If you want to be left alone you need to be invisible. Think sewers and abandoned cars. If you must go out at any point (at night mind you) probably want to grab a crutch/stick and fain a bad cough. Look like you're about to die soon anyway, and you just may be left alone.

  3. It depends... When NASA was experimenting to find the ideal size of a team to go to distant planets they discovered that there was only one team size that worked; two people. If it were three people or more the experiment ALWAYS ended with two or more teaming up against the minority. ALWAYS! If your team were all close family members with a strong leader and no psychopaths then maybe more then two would work. Unlike the fiction real life is full of sex, jealousies, envy, anger and revenge. Could you bring a single man into your group? Can you bring a casual friend into a group of close knit relatives. Would the women in your group accept an 18 year old attractive girl? Would the alpha male of your group accept a younger alpha male? The most likely SHTF situation we face is economic. Not WW III (which really makes everything we might plan useless), not zombies but maybe civil unrest, probably some threat both at home and when you are out and about. Planning to bring a bunch of macho guys into your group because you think you will be in extended fire fights is probably suicide to you and others in your family.

    As far as the chances of survivng if you are alone I can only say google "Ishi". It isn't exactly a success story like a good fiction survival story might be but it does show you that an individual can survive, evade and live in a hostile environment. Do I advise it? NO! But it is a better choice then making a team with members who might value your property or women more then they value you.

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