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When the SHTF, life will change pretty drastically. And not for the better. We spend all this time preparing and planning, because we survivalists understand just how bad it's going to be. In a post-collapse environment, when there are no rules, real life is going to be far worse than anything we've imagined in cinema or a novel. People are the bad guys.

The law will no longer protect you. The police and authorities will be looking out for their own families first, and the only person who truly has your best interests at heart, is you.

To ensure you and your family have the best chances of staying alive after a crisis, you'll need to follow a number of rules. These are guidelines to help you understand and overcome the challenges you will face, so pay attention. They may just save your life.

Keep your head down

We've talked about the grey man concept in other articles, and you should already have a good idea of what it means. If not, it's a simple idea. You want to be as unremarkable as possible. You want to be forgotten as soon as you've passed by. You want to not draw any attention as you go about your business. So, don't give anyone a reason to probe or learn more about you, don't do anything to raise suspicion, and don't let it slip just how well you've prepared. Keep your head down and blend into the crowd. There are people out there looking for the outliers they can take advantage of. Don't be one of them.

Don't go out alone or unarmed

It stands to reason that a single person is more vulnerable than a group, and by venturing out alone you also put your wife and kids back home at risk. So, don't do it. If you need to head out on a supply run make sure you travel in pairs, so you've got an extra pair of eyes and ears to watch your back. Just one other person could make all the difference, especially if you're both armed. Always, always carry a firearm with you, and ensure you've got backup weapons and ammunition just in case. And be prepared to use them. The bad guys will shoot first, and you will need to react quickly if you want to survive.

Make your plans common knowledge

There's no point having a survival plan if no one else in your group understands what you're planning. Let your family in on your plans, and be honest. Knowing they’ve got enough food stored will help calm their nerves, and most importantly, ensure they can follow your communication plan. Whenever you're heading out, make sure to tell your family where you're going, when you're expected back, and where you'll go if there's trouble. That way they know how to get in contact with you again if you do happen to get separated. Because you never know what may happen once the SHTF.

Be wary around new people

It stands to reason that you need to keep your distance when meeting a stranger. Pay attention to everything they do, from their eye movements to what their body language is saying. If you've got business, get it done fast, so you can get back to a safe and secure location as fast as possible. I'd also recommend having a spotter to watch for a potential ambush, or any other people closing in on your destination. It's a simple trap technique where the attacker lulls you into a false sense of security before their second wave of troops approaches on ambush. Don't let your guard down around new people.

Find the ulterior motive

The second move when you meet a new person, is to uncover what it is they want. People don't travel or wander for no reason. So be street smart and figure it out. Perhaps it's something simple, like food or water or medicine that you can trade for. Maybe they're scouting for a new location, or a family they can exploit. Be ready for this too. Once you understand what it is they are after, you can take steps accordingly.

Be prepared to be brutal

In a lawless society there's a few things to watch out for. It sounds horrible but there will be groups of men looking for women, and they will take what they want. There's even a number of studies that highlight just how prevalent cannibalism is in disasters. In just a couple of weeks without food, humans will turn on other humans. You need to be prepared to fight. Arm yourself with a firearm, as well as other weapons like pepper spray, a taser, or whatever you prefer. Survival of the fittest also means you need to be brutal if you are in a confrontation.

Remember personal hygiene

This last rule is a big one. With utilities like sewage and water not running, not to mention the piles of trash building up, the biggest risk you face after other people is bacteria and infection. Wash your hands with soap, and remember to bathe regularly. Take the time to wash your clothes too, and if you do happen to get a cut or a scrape, sanitize it properly before you bandage it up. Oh, and find somewhere away from your home to dispose of any waste, whether it be in a pit or its burned. The last thing you want is to get sick.

In the aftermath of a disaster the world will see just how fragile our society really is. Once it comes crashing down. Without laws and penalties in place, it won't be long until people reveal their true nature. It may take days. Perhaps weeks. But definitely not months. If you want to stay alive, you need to follow these rules. They will keep you safe.

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