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No matter how well prepared you are, one thing is inevitable in a crisis. You cannot, realistically, be prepared for everything. It’s just not possible. I can guarantee you this, there will come a time when you and your group of survivors need something.

Perhaps it’s the addition of a new little member of your group, a medical condition or an emergency you couldn’t possible foresee, or any one of a thousand other “what ifs” that could catch you off guard. But I do have some good news. With the right backup plan, you can get what you need with a supply run. And there’s a way to do it safely.

Anything you could barter with?

The first step I’d recommend is finding someone who is willing to trade for what you need. I’m guessing you already have a few key items in your stockpile that would be highly valuable in a crisis (ammunition, liquor, cigarettes and of course, food) that is all highly tradeable. The only problem is trust. In a crisis, you never really know who you can trust.

  • You may find yourself put in a position to be robbed or taken advantage of.
  • You may find yourself taken hostage (for more supplies) or worse.
  • You may find yourself killed for what you have.

I’d only ever recommend setting up a trade with known parties, people you have had a long-standing friendship with, in a neutral location, just to be on the safe side. Trouble is, you may not actually have anyone in your network who has what you need, especially if it’s specialized tools or equipment, or hard to get medications and treatments.

That’s when you need a little ingenuity.

Consider your target locations

There’s a reason the grocery store is a common scene in doomsday movies, because it’s where everyone is going to go once they realize the scope of the disaster. Everyone is going to need supplies, and when you get a whole lot of desperate people in one place, that’s a recipe for disaster, a risk I don’t think is smart to take for a few cans of beans.

You want locations that aren’t obvious.

Forget the mall, supermarkets and all the obvious locations. You want places that are going to be overlooked by the rest of the population.

Places like:

  • Office buildings in an industrial estate
  • Warehouses and trucking distribution centers
  • Schools, college campuses and universities
  • Nursing homes and veterinary clinics
  • Smaller and private dental and doctors’ offices

Essentially, anywhere that’s big, industrial and unlikely to have a lot of people around is going to provide a potential target. Because everyone is going to be home with their families, these targets become ideal locations for scavenging.

Scouting out a location

Once you know where you’re going to hit, I’d give it at least 24 hours to scout out the location. You want to get an idea of how many people are inside, potential exit routes, and arm yourself with enough information so you don’t find yourself walking into a trap. It’s also a good time to get close and see what you’re up against. Is the place wide open, or are there padlocks to cut and locked doors to break open?

You’ll need to come back with the right gear. I’d personally recommend finding truly abandoned locations, where your biggest problem is potentially just a lone squatter. You don’t want to be trying to sneak past a dozen or so people for a small bag of supplies, this isn’t Hollywood and let me tell you now, that’s a story that won’t end well. People don’t like other people taking what’s theirs.

Timing your supply run

If you’re looking to get in and out without being seen, your best bet is going to be the latest hours of the night, just a few hours before dawn. This is when the world is at its most quiet, and you’re going to encounter the least amount of people. Which is exactly what you want.

Just make sure you time it so you’re arriving at your target location with enough time to get in and out before dawn, and can make it back to your hideout under the cover of darkness. You don’t want anyone watching to know what you’re up to, or following you home.

Doing the break in

It goes without saying that you’re going to need to pay particular attention as you’re breaking in. Any signs of habitation indicate you’re in for a problem, so check for sounds, light, or any movement before you get inside and find yourself cornered.

Being armed is a smart idea, but not only that make sure you’ve got enough light to navigate your way through the building to find the supplies you need, without sending a signal to anyone watching that you’re walking around inside. Red lights will give off enough of a glow, especially if they’re focused within a tight field of vision.

Carrying off the supplies

Mobility is key here, you don’t want to be hauling a giant backpack of supplies if you suddenly need to break into a run, as you never really know what’s going to happen on one of these supply runs, or what surprises you may find. A good sturdy backpack that you can fill should be plenty, along with a pry bar and a pair of bolt cutters. Oh, and you’re probably going to want to be armed as well, just in case. Have your firearm in your holster, ready to draw at the first sign of trouble.

There’s only so much we can do to prepare for a crisis, and the smart survivalists know you can never really prepare for everything. But if you’ve got a good idea of how to do a successful supply run, you stand the best chances of being able to source and secure whatever it is you need, after the crisis hits. And that’s how you’ll continue providing for your family, against even the most impossible odds.

That’s how you’ll all survive.

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