Instead of Beating On Your Door after SHTF, What if Someone Wants to Leave?

There is a collective thought in the minds of Preppers everywhere that goes something like this. We are preparing for disaster by storing up food, water and supplies because we realize that we need to be able to take care of ourselves. We have talked to family and friends to try to illustrate the wisdom in doing this in their own lives, but if SHTF and someone who should have prepped long before now shows up on my door; I will turn them away. I can’t tell you how many prepper blogs have devoted reams of articles to this topic – if not in articles themselves, but the actual comments from readers who all have opinions of their own. I have similar articles on the Prepper Journal as well and to be honest, I have written posts that suggest the necessity of making hard decisions just like this if we are truly faced with some disaster.

We always assume that since we are preparing for the end of the world that our home or our hidden retreat in the woods is going to be the first place our friends and extended family thinks of in times of crisis. If your level of preparedness is common knowledge, we draw the fairly reasonable conclusion that with our full pantry’s and redundant sources of backup power, water filtration capacity, lush gardens, survival weapons and livestock that our preppers paradise will be like a beacon shining brightly in the fog of our worst TEOTWAWKI nightmares.

The logical side of prepping can argue that your supplies aren’t infinite and should be guarded at all cost. We talk about OPSEC so that others do not discover the lengths we have gone to in order to protect our family and realistically, when your first goal is to protect your loved ones, any reduction in that capacity would cause a normal person to object. It is the threat of someone consuming those resources that you didn’t plan for that occupies so much of our mind. We make plans for securing our homes from invasion of the in-laws and outlaws who descend on our homes at the first sign of disaster. We talk about protecting against anyone getting in, but I rarely hear anyone talking about the possibility that some of these people on your side of the door might want to leave.

What if someone wants to get out?

Why would anyone want to leave a home that is stocked with food and water presumably, containing all of the items that people might be scratching to find outside? Who would ever do something like that in a SHTF scenario?

I could think of a couple of reasons. What if your children were older teenagers who had someone they cared about outside? Your 18 year old son’s girlfriend and her injured mother is on your front porch and they are hungry, but you won’t let her in because you don’t have enough food for them. I can see a scenario where your son would leave the safety of your home to be with his girlfriend and ride to her rescue. Is it so hard to believe a naturally rebellious age, facing dark days of TEOTWAWKI alone, would do something rash? Screw you Dad! In their minds you are the bad guy and they are the hero.

Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide

What about your spouse? Do you really believe that people will stop leaving one another in a collapse scenario? What if the stress of your leadership style and incessant barking of orders drives them to want to do anything to get away from you? What if your actions in their eyes cause the death of a family member? What if you wake up in the morning and your wife of 20 years has left with a small bag of supplies and the children because they simply couldn’t take living with you anymore? What if they simply give up and would rather face death than what you have warned them is ahead? Do you think marriage will be less stressful after the SHTF?

What if your daughter was engaged and the grid collapsed while she was visiting from another state? Do you think it is possible she might not want to stay barricaded in your suburban fortress for possibly forever? Do think there is a chance she would want to try and make her way back to her fiance?

Your friends who you started this MAG with have known how horrible life could be after SHTF, but tensions have escalated due to the highly stressful environment and cramped living quarters. One day after a shouting match, you get into a fist fight with your old buddy. Maybe they have decided to join another family across town. You don’t kill them, do you? You would have to let them go.

How realistic is any of this?

I know that some of you are already getting ready to type up comments to the effect of: Once they are in our group, they can’t leave because they would compromise the security for everyone else. That sounds all well and good, but how many of you are seriously going to be killing your friends and family members? How many of you will run your survival home like a prison barring any access to outside? Do you seriously believe that you will be able to stop anyone and everyone from leaving if they had set their mind to it? Do you not think that in a worst case scenario, you could be killed just as easily if you came between a desperate person and their will to leave – to live life on their terms?

As a prepper, I have an ideal scenario in my head and yes I know that sounds absurd. I believe that I will be able to protect and defend my family against most threats and even though life will be hard, it will be survivable in most cases. I do have to face reality though and understand that my personal wishes may have to change sometimes. At the very least, my ideal scenario might not work out the way I want it to. I may have some incredibly tactical prepper plan I am ready to implement and my wife might refuse for any one of hundreds of reasons. Would I shoot her for disrespecting my authority? Would I threaten to leave her? Would I lock her in the house if she was determined to leave? Would I tie her up for failing to obey my orders? Absolutely not. The point is; I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t believe any of us do.

We might have ideas and plans and schemes, but you will have to bend. Flexibility is going to be just as important as skill, luck and grace I think. The better you are able to roll with the punches and adapt to situations, the more prepared you will be and by extension, the better your chances of survival. Now, I do seriously advocate having a plan and a framework for what you intend to do, but this shouldn’t be set in concrete. Setting out to be inflexible in all things could lead to your death more quickly than planning for changes you might not want or expect.

Your turn. Have any of you thought about the chance of someone leaving during a SHTF event?

  1. Tough position to contemplate, Pat. Every single person who chooses to leave the compound could be the one that reveals its its location and relevance to someone willing to take it by force.

    The question brings a sobering element into whom you reveal your preps to.

  2. I dont see what the issue is? If someone is stupid enough to want to leave a safe haven, Then let them leave. Then you continue on with the business of surviving.

  3. I think the likelihood of wanting to leave is highest right after SHTF, when fear is highest, and your children’s hearts are elsewhere (as in your teenage son/engaged daughter scenarios). Once the grim reality of the situation settles in, I suspect, if your family has prepared well, that all group members will realize how good they have it compared to “out there”.

    If it gets bad later on, and a group member still wants to leave, it will be more like committing suicide. Although if they get captured by a desperate individual/group, they may be willing to reveal your location and goods for a chance to be released.

    A “no return” policy and a good defense is the safest solution to this awful case.

  4. Sobering thought, but needed introspection. I am between explorer and bobcat with my own thoughts.

    I think the time when people would want to leave would occur about two weeks after the initial cataclysmic or quick-hitting scenario. I say this because that’s about how long it takes (give or take a few days) for stress to build up to the point of breaking people down. This is dependent upon the individual’s coping skills and desire to get through as well as the event itself. After an initial hunkering down and forming/relying on support groups I can see people breaking away or venturing forth when the supplies and fortune start to run out. It’s when the going gets tough that tempers flare and folks start to get in their minds that they can be a better leader etc. The longer we go on the less likely I am to attribute someone leaving as being due to this event or management conflicts. Rather, it is probably something that was present before (divorce, etc).

    If someone wants to leave then they get to leave, plain and simple. It may suck and cause additional problems, but that’s their adult choice and we’re not supposed to be baby sitters of other people who are capable of making their own decisions regardless of what we think of those decisions. We prep so we don’t have to have other people baby sit us, why would we want to do the same? We’d risk becoming the government that most of us think is too overbearing already.

    I’ve only been prepping for a year come June but I am yet to come across an article or comment aside from this one about killing people, especially family, who want to leave out of fear they’ll reveal the secret bunker location, etc. Is this a common thought/worry/plan for preppers? I could see if someone was actively in cahoots with a group to overthrow you and steal your supplies, because then they’ve thrown their lot in with bad people and you have every right to prevent that and to pre-emptively protect yourself. But to kill someone because they might one day, maybe, possibly if the sun shines off the side of a building just right on the third tuesday of a month ending in a “y”, reveal your information…..that seems unstable to me and indicative of poor self worth and control issues.

    1. Thanks for the comments Matt and everyone!

      I was referring to articles about turning away people who show up on your doorstep being very prevalent, not this slant of the opposite issue. I don’t think anyone has talked about killing family who wanted to leave for the obvious reasons and because nobody really discusses the people who want out… my motivation for this post.

      What I have heard a good bit of are scenarios (in comment fields) where one member of the group, not necessarily family, does want to leave and there is a lot of angst for the reasons of them telling all the secrets. There is another blog that had the hypothetical question of what would you do if someone wanted in after SHTF and the responses hit on that theme of the problems you would face letting this stranger in and them leaving with information about your stash. It isn’t empirical evidence, but just a trigger for the idea for this post.

      Thanks for reading,

  5. From experience… It doesn’t matter what you say or do, an 18 year old will do the wrong thing most of the time. That is unless there is a girlfriend/boyfriend involved, in which case they will do the wrong thing always. If TEOTWAWKI happens all of us will loose family. Some will be lost to the cruelty of others, and some family members will sadly, be too stupid to live. Survival is just what it says it is: “survival.”

    On what I will do about it? What can I do? Am I God, who can change the hearts and minds of people? No. I am not God. I will try my best to talk some sense into them of course, but there is nothing common about “common sense,” and I do expect that those sheep who refuse to listen now will continue their stupidity even after it is obvious that the collapse has happened.

    What no one seems to understand is that mankind hates more than ANY OTHER THING to be told that they are wrong. Think of all the people who are choosing an eternity in hell rather than admit that they are sinners. Every Christian can quote John 3:16 because it is such a wonderful verse in the Bible, but what they need to quote is the rest of Jesus’ sermon in John 3. That men refuse to come to the light because they love evil rather than light, and that everyone who does evil refuses to come to the light lest the light show them that they are wrong. People WILL reject you and your help simply because you were right and they were wrong. Rather than admit that they were wrong they will curse you and die. Or worse, and more likely, they will blame you for everything and come after you and yours simply for being right.

    As for what to do about an ex member of the group leading a hostile force back to my prepps, I plan on being mobile for the first year. I have a 5 ton 6×6 army truck with a slide in camper loaded in the bed. I will be 200 miles from the nearest town for at least a year. I will be able to move my whole household and all my prepps rapidly to a new location in less than an hour. If a member leaves, I won’t be where they left me if they did decide to come back. Problem solved.

    As for long term plans? I don’t anticipate any obamavoter looter thugs living past that first year in a grid down scenario. My detailed plans don’t extend past that first year, but I expect a trading post or other entrepreneurial endevor will be in my future.

    Thanks for bringing up the great topics Gents! Always a treat!

    1. Neat plan to be mobile. I have often wondered about the feasibility and security of putting caches around your planned movement area. It seems like a huge investment with great risk of discovery unless the person plans on looting/scavenging for fuel which then presents its own dilemmas.

      1. That’s the beauty of a 5 ton troop truck. I am sure that you have riden in a few. I won’t need a cache, all my prepps will fit in the truck.

        As for fuel I have a 12 volt high pressure fuel oil pump and a few hoses, complete with solar power to run them. Without home power, all those empty houses with 400 gallon heating oil tanks in the back yard will be an excellent source of fuel. The rush to get fuel from gas stations will dry up fairly rapidly, but most people don’t realize that the heating oil that furnaces use to heat the house is actualy just winterized diesel. With no power the furnace won’t be able to burn the oil, so it will remain unused in the tank in a good portion of those homes. Of course I wouldn’t dare scavenge from an occupied or owned home, I am no looter. However, in a grid down scenario the population will become greatly reduced in the first year. There is bound to be a few fuel oil tanks here and there without owners. 400 gallons of heating oil will get me 2000 miles give or take.

        The biggest trick will be remaining unseen for the first 6-7 months durring the die off. Starving obamavoters will be dangerous durring that time. After that the few that remain will be too sick to pose much of a threat. My plan is not a perfect plan, but I think that my plan is a solid one. As you know nothing goes right when it is time to act, but a solid plan combined with a direction of travel and a will to succede will overcome most obstacles. If all plans fail, then the copius expendature of ammunition will generally increase your chances…

        1. 6-7 months? …. a whole lot quicker period than that – especially if a SHTF hits in the winter/early spring ….

          you’re going to see crazed behavior from even the more normal sheeple at the 2 week post-SHTF date …. good majority of dead at the 1 month date …. that’s your real die off period

    2. “It doesn’t matter what you say or do, an 18 year old will do the wrong thing most of the time” Makes me laugh because I am the prepper of my house and I’m worried about my parents making rash decisions, not me 😛

  6. Curious conversation. It seems to me that the prevailing view is ‘f’um…let ’em go.’ Sounds great on a website, but look at it in terms of OPSEC. I’m going out on a limb, but I’m guessing none here have reinforced walls, bullet proof/hardened doors, and metal shutters ala the Rawles book. Once OPSEC has been compromised, it’ll likely take a squad of Army Rangers to keep your wood sided, overly windowed home from a concerted attack.

    We spend a good amount of time here, discussing preps as a ‘state’ secret, plan to refuse entry to the impoverished masses, then talk about giving hugs as the unhappy and possibly disgruntled depart our hush-hush safe haven for whatever reason.

    Environmental situation is critically important. Many of us live in suburban or urban environments. Sending a party member out into a highly populated, chaotic situation just can’t turn out well. As Bobcat mentioned, the likelihood of assisted suicide is probably pretty strong. Too many desperate people will be willing to do anything to the departed former member to get the resources they need.

    What about your neighbor, that pretty solid guy you’ve golfed with, had a family bbq with once or twice, then agreed to throw in with if something ever went to hell. Solid in a pinch, handy with tools, cooks a mean rack of ribs, but once sequestered from the world in a grid down situation, gripes, complains, and second guesses every decision?

    Are you really going to cut him some supplies and wish him well as he bails? In the army we used to call those guys ‘shit house lawyers.’ It wouldn’t take much to get him talking (likely badmouthing) about you and yours. So what would you do?

    We just don’t want to think
    about the ugly, cold decisions we’ll be faced with if something really
    does happen. I have a strong suspicion that some decisions will be the
    kind that haunt the deciding person for the rest of their lives.

    1. I wouldn’t give supplies to someone leaving, and my final decisions would be based on situational info, but I won’t preemptively plan on killing people who want to leave to remove a threat as a standing rule. I certainly will be judicious in to whom I reveal my preps and at what level I coordinate with people. As a rule, my neighbors will not know my preps even if I work with them.

      A good idea I heard on this site once was to look like everyone else in times of trouble such as hygiening less and losing weight in spite of having supplies so as not to look suspicious. This won’t save you from people in your group spilling the beans but it will help keep your outside associates from getting wise on their own. And since only immediate family will be in my immediate group, with limited extended by invitation only based on pre-screening and vetting I am doing now, I can’t see killing them unless real danger is present at that time. I agree these sorts of decisions will be difficult and haunting.

      1. While I like the low hygiene and food strategy, that will possibly open you to illness and the lack of nutrition could make you weak could it not?

        1. if taken to extremes it could, but I’m thinking more like skipping a meal here and there, or just eating smaller portions from time to time (who of us couldn’t get by with that? I know I’ve got a few pounds to spare……and the physical labor of working w/o modern conveniences may take care of that for us anyway.)

          As for hygiene, we’ll probably stink a lot more anyway because of no air conditioning and having to walk/ride bikes or work outside in our gardens so it isn’t much of a stretch. The idea was to look like you’re suffering along with everyone else, which also included showing up to food handouts, so you’d want to look the part. Whether that means actually being dirty and starving or rubbing some soot on your cheeks, hands,and clothes is up for interpretation.

  7. Someone or a group leaving would be bad enough for OPSEC …. what about the need to banish someone to “hit the road”? …. disgruntled and vindictive coupled with the need to survive – probably the worse combo you could ever imagine ….

    I could see this person purposely seeking out a raider group to get retribution – trading your location & info for whatever purpose – or just mouthing off at the nearest FEMA type refugee camp about the 5 Star ***** survival camp that tossed you out ….

    Could be totally different decision than letting someone go for a personal mission ….

    1. This is what I was trying to get across earlier. Your 18-yo son going on a rescue mission for his GF is more like to get help with his endeavour than not (IMO). The other guy, well… every situation is going to be unique. Letting someone leave, who has detailed knowledge about your operation, from where you get water to how your defensive plan is layed out is a dangerous threat.

      1. But in your scenario the pizzed off former buddy is leaving on his own and taking an arranged split ….

        You dump someone on his head out front of the camp to seek his fortune elsewhere is different …. not his decision – almost without doubt disagrees why he was tossed …. motivation motivation motivation – he’s going to continue his stupid behavior or vow to kill you all – either way it’s trouble

        1. There are so many scenarios to consider, that I had to pick one. Essentially, anyone leaving, whether forcibly ejected, amicably departed, or sneaks away in the night put the remaining survivors at increased risk.

          Each will drive toward a different conclusion, and as mentioned, Maslow’s must come into play. I think an honest look at frontier laws back in the 1860-90s period might shed some light on what should be considered appropriate actions in a SHTF scenario.

          Hind sight will always be 20/20, but looking back through a real SHTF event, I believe, will look a bit fuzzy.

        2. Never kick someone out and never let a problem fester, if somebody has a problem with somebody else it needs taken care of right away, if group cohesion is broken, no amount of ammo and supplies in the world will save you

          1. Always easier said than done, unfortunately. Dealing with malingerers and malcontents is a challenge in the best of times.

            This circles back to Rawles’ firm fixed position that only like-minded individuals of the same faith and belief system can work together in the long run. Fear can force cooperation in the short-run, but over time, fears decline or change, and eventually peoples’ real character comes out.

            Be it angst over not being in charge, desire to be in charge of a communal group, or anger at being in charge of dealing with a group of diverse personalities, what seemed like a good situation on S-Day (SHTF day), can quickly devolve into factions and hostility.

            This is why internet based prepper communities are so scary to me. We might share a common fear of the unknown, and prep equally when the warm sun is still shining down, but when things go to hell, you just don’t know what that guy you met on the internet is really about.

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