You’re a prepper, and you’ve done your homework. You’ve scouted the surrounding countryside for viable water sources. You have a seed stockpile that puts 99% of your fellow countrymen to shame. You’ve learned how to track, trap and hunt small game, and you can process that game efficiently. You have a well-stocked emergency shelter. You’re an emergency preparedness powerhouse.
Then, the unthinkable happens. You bug out to the aforementioned emergency shelter and take stock. It’s not long until you’re faced with a sobering reality: there are a lot of hungry, wounded and sick people out there, and they want what you have. Assuming that you’ve surrounded yourself with a substantial survival community—perhaps composed of your family and some close friends—you could protect your property, your food, your gear and your water for some time. Or perhaps someone you thought you could trust could take off with your ammunition stockpile. You could then be overwhelmed and robbed of the fruits of your labor. That’s right: despite your disaster preparedness, perhaps done so at significant cost both financially and emotionally, you could be left out in the cold.
What’s happened here is a tenet of human psychology that says that the hungrier people get, the more animalistic they become. This doesn’t mean that they take on a shuffling gait and develop a penchant for human flesh— far from it. Like many other clever predators, people will band together in times of crisis, working together so that they might all succeed. That is, of course, until they do succeed. The point is, when starving, people will do things that they wouldn’t imagine themselves capable of in times of plenty.
How do you, then, as a doomsday prepper, plan for this possibility? One strategy that you could employ involves being everyone’s favorite person. You can be the purveyor of all things either comforting or life saving. Simply dedicate a portion of your prepper funds to the finer things in life: chocolate, wine, perfume, clean robes, canned fruits, lice shampoo with nit combs, and laundry detergent. Think big, but think “everyday” as well. The creature comforts that you and everyone else take for granted today could be the luxury items of tomorrow. If you secure your position within the survival community as the only person who knows where those items are stashed, you may just last longer than the guy who made a run for it with all your bullets.
There’s one item missing from the list above, and that’s soap. Soap exists in a class all its own. Fact: today’s people have become accustomed to frequent bathing. They have long forgotten the smells and grime that was an ever-present part of human life for a very long time. You can leverage this need for a solid connection to better times by offering soap in exchange for seeds, canned food and other things that will help ensure your own survival. The psychology aside, soap does have anti-bacterial properties that become very important in a world where a single festering wound could mean a slow, agonizing death. Don’t give all of it away. On that note, you could also demand a high price for life saving items such as water purification tabs, penicillin and gallons of clean water.
It’s a sad fact that preppers will probably find themselves better off than those around them in a nationwide catastrophe scenario. Maintaining that position, however, would be a constant struggle. To mitigate risk, you should keep your luxury items in caches that only you or your most trusted friends and family know how to find. Avoid marking a cache in any conspicuous way, and avoid establishing a cache in a cave or mineshaft. These will probably be inhabited at least part of the time. Posting a guard at a well hidden cache is unnecessary, and will likely attract unwanted attention to the site.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t flaunt your wealth, and share when you can. Teach your neighbors how to hunt small game, and bring those who you think could become an asset out from the cold. A strong survival community is the most important advantage of all. Remember, it’s better to have semi-dependent but docile people as neighbors than a pack of hungry, angry and confused people. After all, Homo sapiens is the most cunning and most persistent predator of them all.