A decade or so ago, a client I’ll call Will hired me to give him a list of tactics to prepare for an unforeseen natural or man-made disaster. I presented my research to him when we met a few weeks later.
After we finished our discussion, Will complimented me on coming up with so many disaster scenarios. “I should call you Mr. Worst-Case Scenario,” he joked.
I was reminded of this exchange a few weeks ago, when I began reading reports from China of a mysterious new flu virus. Apparently originating in Wuhan, one of China’s largest cities, what became known as the Coronavirus has now infected tens of thousands of people and spread to 25 other countries. While most people infected with the virus recover, nearly 1,400 have died (as of publication).
The Coronavirus pandemic illustrates an uncomfortable reality: Nature doesn’t care if you’re prepared. Pandemics spread. Fires burn. Earthquakes shake. Volcanos erupt. Hurricanes and tsunamis destroy. And a large meteorite or a solar flare could change life on earth forever.
The economy doesn’t care if you’re prepared, either. In a systemic economic collapse, perhaps caused by a cyberattack or chain reaction of mega-bank failures, much of the infrastructure we take for granted could grind to a halt in a matter of days.
How can you and your family prepare for such a worst-case scenario – either natural or manmade?
Defining a Worst-Case Scenario
The worst-case scenario is an event or series of events that leaves you and your family, along with thousands or millions of others, in an environment that roughly matches the one our ancestors lived in a couple of centuries ago. No electricity, no gas, no running water, no ATMs, no organized police force, no supermarkets.
But it would be worse than our ancestors’ experience, because we’ve largely forgotten the knowledge that kept them alive in that environment. Conditions could conceivably deteriorate to the point where roving gangs of desperate survivors hunt for food, water, and habitable shelter. Think how you would survive in the wake of an event that left civilization in ruins; e.g., a scenario like the one portrayed in The Walking Dead.
Should I Stay or Go?
This is the question you need to answer first.
That obviously depends on the circumstances. If a Category 5 hurricane is bearing down on your beachfront property, staying put could mean almost certain death. But it’s more practical in many other circumstances to stay and make yourself a hardened target. But just in case, consider buying property at least 100 miles away you can use as a vacation home and a retreat if there’s a crisis.
For most people, fleeing would be a worst-case scenario. But to shelter in place, you need to be as self-sufficient as possible. You’ll need food, water, a source of energy, weapons, ammunition, money, medical supplies, etc. And if you plan to evacuate, you’ll want to have the same supplies securely stored at the bolthole you plan to escape to.
Keep in mind the supplies you need might become unavailable or unaffordable in a crisis. With the Coronavirus pandemic spreading, for instance, surgical masks are now up to 100 times more expensive than they were only a few weeks ago.
How the Economy Will Operate in a Worst-Case Scenario
Once governmental authority over a city, region, or state ends or is severely curtailed, armed gangs are likely to take over. In the best case, they’ll step in to provide security in exchange for taxes they collect for their services. In the worst case, they’ll loot and pillage unprotected property in the areas they control.
Assuming there’s at least some economic activity occurring after the disaster, you need to be prepared so that you can buy essential goods and (especially) services such as medical care. Keep in mind that there may not be much to buy; stores may be closed, or their contents looted.
With banks and ATMs shut down, many people will resort to barter. For instance, if your child needs to get a cavity filled, you can offer a dentist a product or service of more immediate use than money. It’s hard to beat a stock of items that are likely to be in short supply in a crisis – anything from bleach to toilet paper to medical supplies. Whisky and other alcoholic beverages have also long been used as currency.
The Importance of Community
Your survival plans should also include a network of people you trust that can help you and that you can help in a crisis. For instance, what will you do in a medical emergency if you or a family member isn’t a doctor? You’re going to want to tap your network to get treated and to barter for the services you need.
People always eventually need other people. You want to establish relationships that will support you and your family during a crisis.
Preparing for the end of the world as we know it isn’t something you can do overnight. But start your preparations now, while everything is “normal.” Make a checklist of what you think you’ll need, and slowly begin to accumulate it.
If you’re looking for suggestions along this line, I recently published an Alert for members of our Nestmann Inner Circle Gold on “Preparing for the Unexpected.” To learn more about this service, click here.