The Ultimate Home Protection Guide (Part 2): How to Stay Safe During Societal Breakdown
By Jeremy Pollack
What is A Societal Breakdown?
A societal breakdown is any large-scale situation in which a particular geographic area experiences a collapse of social services. For instance, during a natural disaster, services such as police and fire departments may become temporarily unavailable or severely limited in access. As we have seen in various incidents, a temporary breakdown of social services can lead to looting and various other crimes. In this case, it is necessary to protect oneself and one’s family, as well as one’s home, in order to stay safe and survive until services have been restored. A far more unlikely scenario is the total or long-term collapse of society, such as in apocalyptic scenarios. Since the latter is quite unlikely, the bulk of this article will address home protection during societal breakdowns that are temporary.
Surviving Societal Breakdown (Short-Term): Stay In the Home
1) Emergency Prep Kit
First thing’s first: having an emergency preparedness kit is a critical element of any home. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it, but don’t be so naive as to think a prep kit is unwarranted. This kit should have everything you need to survive for 3 to 5 days while you wait in your home for social services to be restored, for roads to be cleared, and for your location to become safe again. You can check out survival kits here.
2) Create a Staging Area
Once you realize that social services have become temporarily unavailable and that you must remain in your home to stay safe while the situation is repaired, it will be important to immediately create a staging area. Gather all emergency supplies, including your emergency prep kit, weapons, food, etc., into one area on the ground floor (assuming the ground floor is safe from flooding). Take an inventory of all the supplies you have and anything you are missing so that you can search for it in the home, if applicable. The staging area acts as a quick-access location to determine what you have and what you are lacking, so you can make a practical plan for survival and protection for the next few days. Leave everything in the staging area while social services are inaccessible; this will be your primary living quarters.
3) Barricade (if necessary)
Should the situation become severe, wherein nearby homes are being looted, for instance, a barricade might be necessary. To keep intruders out of the house, you will need to reinforce windows and doors with wooden or metal props; also, place large, heavy items in front of entrances, along with several obstacles, such as couches, dressers, etc. This may not ultimately prevent all intruders if they really want to get in, but it will at least make it more difficult and therefore potentially deter some would-be looters who are not totally committed.
In the event of a barricade, you will want to leave one easy-access exit available. Leaving one exit unburdened by obstacles will make it possible for you and your family’s quick escape should that become necessary. Remember, you want to barricade intruders from coming in but not barricade yourself from getting out if you have to.
The easy-access exit should be an a-typical exit (i.e. not your front door); it would preferably be a first-floor window or potentially a garage door or back door. That way, you can barricade the the typical entrance/exit points. The easy-access exit can also be a second- or third-floor window, as long as you have a roll-out fire escape ladder stored in that room.
It is also recommended that the easy-access exit be visible from your staging area if possible; since you have not barricaded it, you’ll want to be able to watch it for possible intruders.
4) Designate a Safe Room
One room in the house, preferably a ground-floor room, should be designated as the “safe room.” If the situation gets worse -- if the barricade does not work and intruders are entering the home -- the plan should be for all household members to quickly make their way to the safe room in which they will barricade themselves.
Once a safe room is designated, you will want to set up various obstacles, like chairs, tables, etc., en route from the home’s main entrance areas, like the front door, to the safe room. This way, it will be more difficult for any intruders to quickly follow you as you get to the safe room. Also, make sure there are some barricading obstacles staged on the inside of the safe room, so you can place them quickly in front of the door if the safe room becomes activated. Weapons, extra food, and water should always be staged in the safe room, in case you have to barricade yourself in quickly without stopping for supplies in your staging area.
5) Practice Safe Room & Exit Drills
Now that the staging area is stocked with all necessary living supplies for several days and you have designated your safe room, one activity to occupy your and your family’s time is PRACTICE! Practice safe room drills, whereby everyone is prompted to quickly escape together to the safe room, barricading yourselves in. Also practice exit drills through your easy-access exit, in case of fire or if the safe room is not a viable option during the home invasion. Practice these escape drills with the family a few times a day during the crisis until public safety is restored.
Surviving Social Collapse (Long-Term): Leave the Home
As stated earlier, this article is meant primarily to be a home-protection guide in temporary societal breakdowns, a much more likely scenario than long-term, total social collapse. While I have an expertise in self-defense, I will not pretend to have an expertise in what has commonly become known as survivalism. That is because I tend to think of myself as a realist, and in my estimation, and my hope, I believe apocalyptic scenarios are highly unlikely (of course, some might disagree). What I will note is that in the event of such a scenario, the following self-defense/combative skills should prove useful. Hence, I would suggest learning about and training in:
Room clearing. The ability to safely “clear” a location can certainly be useful when needing to secure shelters that you come across while traversing a socially collapsed landscape.
Weapons training. A proficient ability to use all weapons you carry in your go-bag as well as any weapons you may find on the street, including sticks, edged weapons, stabbing weapons, and firearms.
Self-Defense training. A general knowledge of empty-hand self-defense and empty-hand defense against the above-listed weapons will be critical.
Defensive Awareness training. Developing a constant awareness of possible weapons, shields, blinders, obstacles, exit routes, and advantage points. You’ll need to think like a hunter and like the hunted.
Beyond these minimal points on self-defense, if you are interested in or concerned with preparing for total social collapse, I would recommend buying books or watching videos on the subject by survival experts who are much better informed on the topic than I am.
Hopefully, none of these scenarios will ever become necessary to engage in. However, it is better to be safe and prepared than sorry. I hope this article provides some guidance in protecting your loved ones and your home. Good luck and stay safe!