Depending on your level of preparedness and your situation, you might need to do a some scavenging. During disaster scenarios, scavenging is common. A situation may arise that, regardless of your level of preparedness, requires you to scavenge. For example you may need parts for a vehicle or piece of equipment. But, in the long-run, you will deplete your food, water and other supply stores. If you have renewable food and water sources you will still need other items be it ammo, building supplies or what have you. Your specific situation and location will dictate what is required.
Let’s talk about the basics of scavenging. Instead of wandering out of your shelter and meandering around until you find something of use, let’s approach scavenging with an organized mind and a plan. While a lot people will be safe at their bug-out locations (or BOL), or hunkered down in their shelters, many will be wandering around, searching for anything they can use, eat or drink.
When a disaster scenario happens, be it war, earthquake, hurricane, etc. looters will be hard at work clearing out the shelves of the local shops. That, my friend, is a guarantee. We’ve seen it time and again. The unprepared masses will panic at the possibility of disaster. That panic will lead to a free-for-all, sending malcontents and the most law abiding, stand up citizens alike, into a frenzy. That panicked frenzy will not only cause casualties and loss of life, but it will leave grocery, department and convenience stores’ shelves and store rooms bare.
Not only does looting leave stores damaged and bare, but it will turn the area into a wasteland. It only takes a few panicked morons or criminal opportunists to set forth a wave of destruction. An example of this, unfortunately, can be seen all to frequently at many protests, sport championship celebrations, hurricanes, etc…
Scavenging will bring you and your group to towns, cities, government facilities, factories and other locations. Plan and evaluate each scavenging mission. Prior to scavenging, send out a scout equipped with binoculars, a means of communicating directly to your base (be that your shelter, home, etc) and rations to last the duration of their mission. The scout should be fully aware of the fact they are traveling through hostile territory. A main objective of his would be preventing anybody from following him back to you. Veterans of the military are ideal for scouts. Soldiers are well-trained, disciplined, and know to keep their heads on a swivel and cover their tracks.
The scouts should survey an area of interest from a safe distance. His evaluations should include: persons occupying the area (numbers, temperament, etc), environmental risks (biological, chemical, etc), distance from cover to target area. By collecting this data, will you know the distance, terrain conditions, number of men needed and, you will be able to better decide if the trip is worth the risks.
If it’s not worth it…DON’T DO IT!
Where to Scavenge
Your shouldn’t set out on a random scavving trip. Going to a place like Wal-Mart or Target is a no-no. These places will almost definitely have empty shelves and most probably be occupied. And, unless you have a large enough scavenging team, are too big to clear safely. Your target area should fit your need. Going from random location to random location, with no plan, would likely land you and your group into a bad situation. Roaming aimlessly, hoping to find something, anything, will tire your people, waste resources and place you all in danger from both the environment and the baddies.
Your scavenging operation should not only have a specific target, but a backup target should be established when possible. Some obvious targets and their locations include:
- Automotive Parts – Auto repair/parts shops would be the last to be looted. In a disaster scenario, it’s not likely that auto parts will pop into someone’s mind. If there are no local auto shops, you will need to scavenge from nearby vehicles. An auto part scavenge trip will most likely only need a three or four man team; two to stand watch and, depending on the parts needed, one or two to remove the part.
- Reusable Power – A bank of car batteries with a power inverter and wind turbines and/or solar panels to keep them charged are a great source of electricity. Excellent locations for these include federal buildings/properties, hospitals, schools, highway departments and construction sites, freeway lights and signs. Federal installations are equipped with high grade solar panels. This is another three or four man mission.
- Fuel – Fuel can be scavenged from vehicles by siphoning the gas out of cars, trucks, convenience store/gas station fuel holds, etc. If you’re lucky, you can go Mad Max and drive a whole fuel tanker back to your base. This should be a four man mission; two to stand watch and two to take turns siphoning.
- Ammunition – If you’re smart you are stockpiling ammo every chance you get. It would also be beneficial to learn to reload your own ammo. Even then, you may run out. Ammo will be hard to come by and if you go scavenging for ammo, you will need a five man team. Ammo, in bulk, is heavy. The best targets include: military bases, police vehicles, police stations, gun stores and, if your assessment says it’s a good risk, Wal-Mart. Going in a Wal-Mart will be risky and don’t hold your breath on there being any ammo since they have a hard time keeping it stocked in normal situations.
- Food – Food will be hard to come by. Places to look will be abandoned homes, tractor-trailers and, if you’re lucky enough to live near one, food distribution centers. These are the huge warehouses that supply the grocery stores. Obviously this will require a large team to provide cover and collect the food. Cans and bulk foods can get heavy; if you have the luxury, you may want to do a few trips.
- Needs And Wants – This includes items that make life much more tolerable. Needs include birth control, bleach, soap, detergents, air freshener, etc. Wants include board games, toys, electronics, snack/junk food, etc. Batteries can fall under both needs and wants since they will be used for essential gear as well as children’s toys and electronics. Birth control is imperative. Pregnancy in a world without doctors and hospitals will be difficult. However, it obviously can be done. People had babies without hospitals for eons. If a member of your group becomes pregnant, that child is the responsibility of the entire group. Children’s health and safety take priority.
The acquisition of items, both needed and wanted, should not take precedence over the safety of the group. These items can be acquired from several locations, you’ll need to use common sense as well as your learned skills.