While The Getting’s Good – Move Fast and Early

while the getting's good

Once again we have to admit, there’s a funny thing about survivalism, prepping, and disaster preparedness: we’d do well not to tempt fate by actually wishing for a thing we spend so much time imagining, to happen. Between getting a little obsessive and perhaps even a little bored with the daily humdrum of life, it really is there, that little corner of our being that kind of wishes we could forget the old bills, commute, tax forms, cubicles, and even the normal frustrations of many human interactions.

This is why you can be a prepper, or just be basically prepared, without hunting out a property in the deepest woods you can find and digging three stories beneath the surface to build your own hermit’s bunker. Although we do not look down on anyone who chooses to do that. We hope they invite us sometime to check it out!

Beat the Rush

But down to the specifics. In recent times, from hurricane Katrina to the California fires in Sonoma County, many people made the mistake of staying in their homes when they should have gotten out.

Those who got out when everyone else was, ran into traffic and jams and probably felt they should have stayed home. During Katrina, many got out, got through the traffic, and ended up in a shelter in a football stadium that devolved so quickly into filth and chaos, all the people there had accomplished was to trade one very bad situation for another. Things could have easily gone a lot worse than they did.

The flip side is, if you load up the car and hit the road at the first wisp of smoke or clouds in the distance, you’re going to feel like an idiot pretty fast when it turns out your home wasn’t even close to the danger.

One nice, easy tip to follow is getting in the habit of filling up your gas tank any time it’s around half empty. Or at least do that during fire or hurricane season. We can’t predict earthquakes in advance, but then again, the big one’s taking out the roads, anyway.

But because it’s easy to google a full list of tips, and to use common sense, in case you haven’t noticed: we’re not here to make click bait repeats of the same thing that’s already been done. Besides, if you’ve got a disaster kit and a go bag already, then you’re prepared except perhaps for the imagination part. Which is our favorite aspect of the whole thing.

Even Those Who Have Prepared...

So, back to those enormously unlikely, yet equally intriguing end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios. Say the comet is going to hit, but you’re on high ground above the tsunami zone. You’ve got a sturdy home in a neighborhood, and perhaps you’ve even gone a little beyond the typical preparedness. Maybe you’ve even already got one of those pre-fabbed survival bunkers hidden underneath your yard, with chemical toilets, large drums of clean water, air vents, MREs, a generator, cots, a gun rack with ammo, hunting knives, music collection, and a perfect stack of books from your own personal List of All Things.

Even then, you’ve got to be ready to bug out. If an event comes that’s so bad you actually need to move from your kitchen, bedrooms, living room, and den to hunker down in your cozy, hidden shelter, well then they may be so bad you have to turn your back on all that investment, and never look back.

We believe, by far, the most frequent single reason for this would be the human element. If a foreign army has invaded, or a gathering horde that started out as small gangs of bandits, they more than any of nature’s other predators will use all their senses to find you. A freeze dried meal of chilli mac rehydrated with boiled water can attract a hungry human almost as much as a dog. Real fast, in an end-of-the-world setting, hungry men and women will learn to scout and scan for any telltale sign of supplies and gear. There may be no better visceral description of this than in McCarthy’s The Road, both in good ways, and terrifying.

Just say things have gotten so bad, you actually have taken the time and effort to place out dangerous traps around your property. If you don’t have a group of defenders working with you, all those may do is protect you against the first scouts, but their screams, if they reach the ears of others, are only going to signal you have something worth protecting. Sorry, we know it’s gruesome and unrealistic, but you don’t need much imagination to know that’s the way it could be.

And this gets to one crucial point that has been underlying our entire discussion of staying or going. That old expression, “no man is an island,” is hilariously annoying to some of us prepper types. We want to be solo! We love the idea of total self-sufficiency. It’s one of the rabbit holes that branches good and bad, the endless what-ifs of out-thinking some imaginary future gang of brutes, of secret doors, escape tunnels, camouflage, and brilliant fake outs.


The truth is, we wish everyone kept a year’s supply of foodstuffs on-hand at all times, and if a true calamity ever hit, the people who are going to have the best chance will be the ones who start sharing. The reason to stay is if you have a community of people who are all motivated by the same basic blend of honest selfishness, honor, and concentric circles of loyalty ranging outward from their family.

Nobody expects you to give up your last bag of dried beans or flour if you’ve got mouths to feed at home, but if you have the means to save, help, protect a few lives from the minute things go bad, resist the urge to hoard. Jeanne DuPrau wrote a dystopian novel called City of Ember, for a younger audience than our typical crowd. But if we can recommend the Little House books for grown adults, we can recommend this one, too. Perhaps you saw the movie, with Bill Murray playing the character who succumbed to the hoarding demon. We talk of rabbit holes, good and bad … the good ones filled with unpredictable imagination, like dreams that give us hints of what we need. The bad are like possessing demons, and for every prepper who likes to obsess a bit, the quickest trap is falling in love with things, instead of people.

A survival bunker is meant to be a safe, secure, comfortable place, as is your home. What rational human being wants to leave that for the hardship of fate on the road? But the real trick to survival is to recognize: just as it is all too human to form a gang that just takes, the good guys can, and must at one point or another, group up, too.

If you’ve got full packs, weapons and ammo, the supplies you need to drive, or walk and carry, the only reason not to go beyond temporarily getting yourself ready to, is if you’ve also got a place where good people can build a life. Where more than one shelter can support a person or a family. Otherwise you’d just be waiting for the end.

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