Being a survivalist isn’t just about stocking up on weapons and supplies, waiting for disaster to strike. If a widespread infrastructural or societal collapse were to happen, you would face many threats besides looters and thieves.
Here are the top ten vulnerabilities that survivalists often overlook, which could prove fatal in an SHTF scenario.
1. Cyber Attacks
Assuming the power grid isn’t destroyed, you could be vulnerable to cyber attacks. Hackers could access your electronics, your vehicle’s ADAS system and even your smart home appliances. The government could decide to restrict or remove your ability to use these devices if it doesn’t like your activity.
Some preppers go “off the grid” to avoid dependence on electronics, which is a viable solution. However, this style of survivalism makes everyday tasks much harder. Extreme measures are necessary if you want to avoid cyber attacks.
2. Communication Issues
Communication in the digital age is fast and easy, but what happens if your digital resources are taken away? How will you contact your loved ones if your phone and computer no longer work and the postal service falls apart? Walkie-talkies and other devices with replaceable batteries would be your only electronic tools.
Flares and smoke signals are other methods you could use to send messages over long distances, but they would give away your location. Sending a runner with handwritten letters is a huge risk that could end in the person’s death. In summary, long-distance communication would be almost impossible in an SHTF scenario.
3. Fake Military or Law Enforcement
People could easily impersonate police or military personnel if they have a convincing uniform and steal the right vehicle. An officer or soldier could also go AWOL, making it impossible to tell if they’re well-intentioned. You can’t trust any self-proclaimed government officials in an SHTF scenario.
4. Unsanitary Living Conditions
For most of human history, people were surrounded by filth and excrement. Even today, billions of people live in these unsanitary conditions. They have dirty drinking water, malnutritious food and are more vulnerable to deadly diseases. If a civilizational collapse occurred, you would also experience these conditions in due time.
Sanitation will also be an issue if you retreat to a hideaway. Think about all of the foreign substances you would be exposed to. Your gas stoves, various fuel stockpiles and even seemingly harmless objects like your flooring could contain harmful chemicals that affect the building’s air quality. You wouldn’t be able to live in these conditions for long.
5. Addiction Recovery
Millions of people are addicted to alcohol, nicotine and other substances. If these people suddenly lose access to their preferred substances in a disaster situation, they could suffer debilitating withdrawal symptoms for days or weeks. Their chances of survival would plummet and their loved ones would also become more vulnerable.
6. Nuclear Threats
Most survivalists are aware of bombs and other explosive threats, but what about nuclear weapons? Only underground bomb shelters in mountainous regions far away from the blast radius would offer sufficient protection from the initial explosion and atomic fallout. If you don’t have this arrangement, you’d probably be out of luck if a nuclear war began.
Aside from the harmful radiation, nuclear blasts cause extreme weather events in the following months. Climate studies from the Cold War era found rainfall was much more frequent on days with more radioactivity. Cloud cover was also thicker, which lowered the temperatures. An apocalyptic nuclear winter would be the worst-case scenario.
7. Biochemical Weapons
Biochemical weapons are the other methods of warfare many survivalists overlook. North Korea, Syria and Iran are three countries confirmed to be producing biochemical weapons that could wipe out thousands of people in seconds. Although the Geneva Convention prohibits using viruses and chemicals in warfare, these rules would not apply in an SHTF scenario.
What protection do you have against a sudden pandemic, for example? COVID-19 was a threat to certain population members, but what if a virus emerged that was potentially lethal for everyone? Would you survive a chemical like mustard gas? Get a hazmat suit, gas mask and complete first aid kit with chemical burn treatments to protect yourself from these threats.
8. Navigating Urban Areas
Survivalists like to imagine themselves navigating the wilderness, not cities and suburban neighborhoods. However, if an SHTF scenario were to happen, your town or city would quickly devolve into anarchy. You might not have time to pack everything and retreat to your cabin or bunker out in the country.
Urban environments require different concealment and movement strategies you need to become more familiar with. Thieves and murderers would hide around every corner, looking for vulnerable targets. You must learn to blend in with a city’s surroundings just as effectively as with your local forest or mountain range.
9. Opportunistic Neighbors
You might have known your next-door neighbors for 30 years, but they will become different people if and when disaster strikes. If they know about your survival stockpiles, they might try to steal from you or even kill you.
The only people you can trust in an SHTF scenario are close family members. Everyone else is a potential threat, including lifelong friends and neighbors.
10. Psychological Trauma
As anyone with combat experience will tell you, nothing prepares you for the real thing. Your weapons and training might help you survive, but the trauma is inescapable. Do you have the resilience to overcome it?
Do you trust yourself to do what is necessary to survive without losing your sanity? You would inevitably have to answer these questions in an SHTF scenario.
Address Your Weaknesses
Now that you know some of the most overlooked vulnerabilities, you can address your weaknesses and become a more well-rounded survivalist. Just remember — you’re not invincible. You won’t be able to defend yourself against everything.
Focus on what you can control and keep these threats in mind during your preparations.