RESOURCES: How to Scavenge Post-Collapse

[emc2alert type=”error” style=”normal” position=”top” visible=”visible” closebtn=”0″ title=”Warning…” ]In most areas, scavenging is not thought of very highly. Those folks that don’t like it, usually call it LOOTING. Don’t be a LOOTER. This article is shared because I believe in recycling useful items, after their original use has passed on, such as using a broken down car for all kinds of nifty next generation tools (can you say “emergency 12 volt lighting system?”) Think long term. One broken down vehicle can provide shelter, metal for tools and weapons, wiring for shelter, switches,iron for forge work, glass for shelters or water filtering, and much more. What else can you scavenge in a useful, unplanned for way? [/emc2alert]


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  • Posted on: February 25th, 2014

During and after the collapse of American; looting or scavenging will be a common occurrence, as people will do what ever it takes to survive. While there is a very strong stigma attached to the form of opportunistic looting that occurs as a result of a disaster, you may find yourself in the position of needing to scavenge in order to feed your family and survive. 

Scavenging Post Collapse How to Scavenge Post Collapse

There are several circumstances in which you will find yourself needing to scavenge. You may find yourself in need of parts to fix up your shelter or repair you vehicle. At some point your supplies of food and water are likely to be expended and you may find it necessary to scavenge in order to get more, or to loot something you can trade with others for food. Either way, there is a strong likelihood that although it doesn’t feel right ethically, survival will make you turn to scavenging if you’re not adequately prepared.

The following information will help you to understand the basics of scavenging for survival. While wandering around in the hopes of finding scraps of food may net you some minor results, it is far better to scavenge with a strategy in mind. Bear in mind that everyone else will also be out scavenging, and desperate circumstances cause people to take desperate action. The basic laws of survival throw all laws out the window and if you have any hope of surviving at all you need to be ready for whatever you encounter while scavenging.

While the prepared (hopefully you), are securely huddled in their bug out locations, the less prepared will have become scavengers, running around in panic mode, desperately looting anything they can find that they think will help them to survive. Their frenzied behavior will result in empty stores and factories, as they grab everything within sight. It only takes one person seen looting to give normally law abiding citizens justification to do the same.

If this article teaches you anything, it’s that you definitely want to start putting away food and supplies NOW so that in the event of a disaster you don’t end up as another frenzied unprepared citizen struggling to feed your family. Prepare now while you still can and you’ll be much better off when SHTF.

Threat Analysis and Scouting
The need to scavenge is likely to put your survival group into circumstances requiring that you travel into areas that are likely to be populated by hostiles, such as huge corporate farms, factories, government facilities and the like. Before every mission it is imperative that there is a clearly understood plan and that the area has been scouted thoroughly by someone familiar with evasive tactics and able to communicate findings directly back to the rest of the group. It is imperative that the scout does not lead hostiles back to the group’s base. Any member of the armed forces who has sniper training will be ideal for scouting operations, due to their discipline and military training.

An effective scout will scan the target area thoroughly looking for hostiles, physical risks such as nuclear, biological, chemical, weather conditions and other potential dangers that may put the rest of the survival group in danger. The scout will also assess what is to be gained from this location (what kind of supplies?). Calculations can then be made regarding how much fuel, water, food, people and weapons will be required to accomplish the mission. Based on the scout’s report, the group leader will make a decision as to whether the mission justifies the costs.

If the risks and costs are not worth it, then it is best to not attempt the mission. If the decision made is to go ahead, all those chosen to undertake the mission will need to be well-prepared and knowledgeable about what is required of them. They must also be aware that they may be required to engage in combat. A scavenging mission is like any military operation and should be undertaken accordingly.

Where to Scavenge
Scavenging in random locations is foolish for several reasons. Firstly, the location may be of no value. Secondly, your group may find themselves in a dangerous situation. Thirdly, constant moving around searching for scavenging locations will tire the group and may put them in danger when they are vulnerable as a result of low energy.

Scavenging should be well organized, with a specific target in mind. Ideally there should be at least two alternative targets should the first one prove to be fruitless. The following examples illustrate the difference between scavenging targets based on needs:

Automotive Parts – When parts are required to repair a vehicle, they can be scavenged from either an automotive shop or from abandoned vehicles. This type of mission is usually one of the easiest missions to carry out, as there is less need to travel any distance and it can usually be carried out by 3 people; a mechanical engineer to locate and remove the parts and two to cover him.

Power – Another low risk operation that can be carried out by 3 people. Locations such as federal office buildings, power substations, freeway lighting etc are usually good places for finding solar panels.

Fuel – Gasoline can be sourced from abandoned vehicles and tankers as well as gas station with holding tanks. If scavenging from an abandoned vehicle, it is wise to ascertain whether it is operable and if so, take the vehicle. Bear in mind that you will need a means of transporting fuel back to base. This type of operation can be undertaken by 4 people.

Ammunition – A mission to scavenge ammunition is likely to involve much higher risk than fuel or automotive parts and will require at least five people in order to not only have enough force but for the necessary manpower to retrieve the ammunition. Where possible you should be reloading your own ammo, but even then it is quite likely you will run low. Best places to find ammunition are gun stores, military bases, police vehicles and stations and off dead bodies.

Water and Food – Food will become extremely difficult to source by scavenging, and to some extent so will water. You are going to need to think creatively and look in places that wouldn’t immediately occur to you under normal circumstances such as distribution warehouses. It is wise to find out where they are before a disaster occurs. You can also target places such as abandoned farms, houses, trailers, restaurants, etc.

Extras – Niceties such as toys, electronics, board games etc can be scavenged from various locations but of course will not be a top priority. Necessities include such items as bleach, soaps, detergents. Birth control/condoms is an absolute must as a pregnancy impacts not only the mother-to-be but the entire group. A child’s needs will be put before any adults. Fortunately these types of items can be found in many locations.

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Updated: March 4, 2014 — 7:01 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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