September 23, 2015

Here’s How You’ll Die When the SHTF (and How to Prevent Your Untimely Demise)

When it hits the fan…I mean REALLY hits the fan in a permanent kind of way, the most likely outcome is death.

That’s not pretty, and I’m well aware of it. I always try to be positive and optimistic, because for me, preparedness is the ultimate act of optimism, but sometimes we have to look at the numbers and face some things that are pretty terrifying. The first reality check is that some research says that only 3 million Americans are preppers.  That means that 315 million Americans are not preppers. Some experts predict that within 30 days of the power going out, 50% of Americans will be dead. Within a year, an astounding 90% of the population will be dead.

Do you want to survive such a scenario? Do you want your children to survive? When you read this information, you have to realize that it’s very unlikely that you and your family would live through a grid failure of a year or more unless you are proactive and develop a preparedness plan that takes all of these causes of death into consideration.

The Top 10 Ways to Die in a Long-term Disaster

So here are the cold hard facts. One of these is the way that you are most likely to die when the SHTF, particularly in the event of a long-term grid failure. The good news is, now that you know this, you can take steps to prevent your untimely demise.

  1. You die of thirst or waterborne illness.  Most people have a case of water bottles kicking around, and perhaps a 5 gallon jug for the water cooler. What they don’t have is a gallon a day per person for a long-term emergency. Most people also don’t own a gravity fed, no-power necessary water filtration device with spare parts and extra filters. Most people do not have the skills and knowledge necessary to purify their water without these devices either.  Waterborne illness is the number one cause of death after a natural disaster. If just one person handles water and waste incorrectly, this can cause an epidemic of such deadly illnesses as Hepatitis A, viral gastroenteritis, cholera, Shigellosis, typhoid, Diphtheria and polio.  The other worry is dehydration. It only takes 3 days for a person to die of thirst.  Learn more about the importance of water preparedness HERE. If you’d like information on water preparedness in a print version, check out my book on the subject.
  2. You die from fantasy-world planning. So many preppers have poorly thought out plans for survival. They think they’ll “live off the land” and hunt, forage, and farm their way through the apocalypse, but they’ve never milked a goat or planted the contents of their seed banks. They don’t understand that gardens and crops can fail for innumerable reasons. They think they’re still in the same physical condition that they were 25 years ago and overestimate their ability to perform physical labor, like chopping wood for the fire. There are hundreds of bad strategies that will get preppers killed (in fact, here are 12 of them), and mostly it boils down to one crucial fact: it’s all a fantasy. They’ve never done ANY of the things that they think they will do for survival, or if they have done them, it was decades ago, when they were younger, fitter, and more resilient. I can tell you right now, if we had to live off of the contents of this year’s drought-stricken, deer-and-gopher-raided garden, we’d last about a week, enjoying salsa by the jarful, but little else.
  3. You freeze to death. Depending on where you live, you may freeze to death when the power goes out.  When temperatures plummet, people will become desperate to get warm, and this will lead to other modes of death such as carbon monoxide poison from improperly vented heat sources and house fires when people use fireplaces or wood stoves that have not been maintained for years. Learn about staying warm during a winter power outage HERE and begin to develop a plan that will keep your family cozy during a long-term scenario.
  4. You starve to death. Most people only have enough food to see them through until the next grocery trip.  Most people go to the grocery store more than once per week. In urban centers, it’s customary to buy your food fresh from the market each day.  If disaster strikes and you only have a few days’ worth of food, you are going to be one of those people standing in line for hours, begging FEMA for a bottle of water and an MRE to split amongst your family.  Even worse, in an extremely widespread disaster, FEMA won’t be coming at all, and you’ll be on your own, left with only what you have in your home…before it spoils and if you can figure out a way to cook it with no power.  Food poisoning, starvation, and malnutrition will be common causes of death. Learn about building a pantry on a budget HERE and HERE. To start yourself out with a speedy supply, go HERE for a variety of high quality, non-GMO kits.
  5. You have an accident involving major trauma. This is something that is difficult to prevent – that’s why they call it an accident. To up your chances of survival, always where the proper protective gear, such as safety goggles and gloves. Secondly, spend some time learning to deal with medical situations. Many communities offer free First Aid courses to get you started. Stock up on books that provide information for times when medical care is not available (this one is the very best in my opinion), and have advanced supplies on hand to deal with injuries.
  6. You get murdered when raiders or looters come to steal your stuff.  Remember the 315 million unprepared Americans? They’re going to be hungry. And the hungrier and more desperate people become, the more dangerous the world is going to be. It’s imperative that you be prepared to defend your home and family from them. If you’re one of those people who says, “I don’t want to live in a world where I have to shoot someone because they’re hungry” you just might get your wish. Because they won’t have a problem shooting you. This is one of the major reasons that preppers must be armed. The danger isn’t just from mobs of strangers.  If you tend to talk too much, your friends, extended family, and neighbors just might be the ones to kill you for your supplies.
  7. You get sick. Without our normal standards of cleanliness and the access to medical care, the likelihood of getting sick increases. Without the access to medical care, the likelihood of that sickness spiraling out of control is exponentially greater. Learn how to treat and manage sickness naturally so that you can get a handle on an illness before it kills you. This book is a fantastic reference, written with the prepper in mind.
  8. You get an infection. A silly little cut or splinter that we take for granted now could be a death sentence after the SHTF. With the possibility that your hygiene standards may drop and that you’ll be getting a lot dirtier doing physical labor, infection is fairly likely. It’s vital to immediately treat even the most trivial-seeming wound. For treating a wound, I can’t recommend this spray enough. I have used it on all sorts of animal infections that I thought would prove fatal, with 100% positive results. Because of this, we use it on our own wounds as soon as possible, too. That may not always be enough to prevent an infection however, so having the right antibiotics on hand could mean the difference between life and death. (Check out this online antibiotic primer.) Many veterinary antibiotics are identical to those made for humans. You can find them on Amazon and add them to your stockpile.
  9. You die because you are fat and/or out of shape. If the Zombies approached and you found yourself outnumbered, are you fit enough to run away?  What if you had to bug out across the mountains? Would your heart hold up to the steep climb? Would your knees hold up to the descent? What if you add a 50 pound backpack? Now is the time to get yourself in shape. Most Americans lead fairly sedentary lives, sitting down to a desk all day for work. It’s not something you can fix overnight, so now is the time to increase your fitness. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the family members who will have to wait for you while you huff and puff. They’ll be killed when you slow them down. The road to fitness can start easily. If you can walk, you can improve your fitness level dramatically. This article discusses how to start out slowly and then build up your endurance.
  10. You die when you daily medication runs out. This one is tougher to prevent. You can extend life expectancy by stockpiling medication but if the crisis outlasts your supply, there is a limit to what you can do. Who can forget the heartbreaking story of the diabetic girl in the book One Second After?  Don’t underestimate the difficulty for some of going without psychiatric drugs. Depending on the drug, withdrawal can be horrific, particularly if they have not been able to slowly wean themselves off. Some conditions,when untreated, can cause the sufferer to lose touch with reality and suffer a psychotic break, making them dangerous to themselves and others. Depending on the medication you require, there are sometimes natural alternatives and dietary tweaks that can help. Some existing conditions can be managed better now through lifestyle changes, which will increase your chances for survival later. For example, if you suffer from Type 2 Diabetes and are significantly overweight, improving your diet and losing weight now can reduce your dependence on daily medication in many cases. Keep in mind that some medications are okay after the expiration dates, while others can be deadly. (Learn more about pharmaceutical expiration dates HERE.) Learn everything you can about your medical condition and figure out a plan ahead of time.

Good news: nearly all of these deaths will be preventable

Now that you know how you’ll die, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it. Almost every cause of death mentioned here is entirely preventable.

What will save you when an epic disaster strikes is what you do now to prepare for it. Make education and good health your mission now and you’ll not only survive the SHTF, you’ll thrive against the odds.

What do you think are the most likely ways people will die? What are the best preventative steps we can take ahead of time?

Note: This article was written with the unprepared or the beginner in mind.

Daisy Luther

Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy Luther lives on a small organic homestead in Northern California.  She is the author of The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper's Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and The Prepper's Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy's articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

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