Look around the house sometime, and think about the value of all the stuff you have. Not how much money you paid for it – consider how important it is to you. Some things will be valuable to you because you use them all the time. Some will have sentimental value. Some will be important just because you like them. It’s a safe bet that if you were told you had to get rid of half your stuff, you could list your belongings in order of importance pretty easily.

If the SHTF and society collapses, the order of that list is likely to change quite dramatically. For example I have three English longbows which I love, and a compound bow that I don’t particularly like at all. In a crisis, though, the compound will be a lot more important to me, because while it’s no fun to shoot it’s more accurate, much more compact and, generally, a far more practical hunting weapon. You’ll know which of your own possessions will be worth most in an emergency.

The point to remember is that in a survival situation the things that matter really matter. We’re not talking about items you enjoy using, or that make your home feel more comfortable; we’re talking about items that mean the difference between life and death. With stakes that high, people will do drastic things to get their hands on those items. Some will even be willing to kill for them – and the longer a crisis goes on, the more survivors will cross that line.

Related: Best States for Self-Defense. Do You Live in One of Them?

As a prepper, you shouldn’t ever be in the position of needing to use deadly force to get the things you need to survive; you should have them already. Preppers are a small minority of the population, though. We’re seriously outnumbered by people who aren’t prepared, who don’t have the things they need, and who – if they survive long enough – are going to get the idea that they can get those things by knocking you on the head and taking them from you. Here are the things they’ll want to take, and how you can protect your equipment – and yourself.


In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, your chances of surviving go way down if you don’t have a gun. Firearms are excellent for hunting and essential for self-defense.

People who don’t have guns will be determined to get one – gun control will be the first political casualty of a crisis – so make sure they don’t get yours.

One thing to watch for is over-confidence. You have a gun, and the people who want to get one don’t. How can they overcome the advantage your firearm gives you? Well, there are ways.

If someone with a knife or even a stick can get within their weapon’s reach before you can react, you’ve lost the advantage. The easiest way for them to do that is to just wait until you’re asleep, then sneak up on you and hit you over the head. That’s why you’re much better off as part of a group; you can maintain 24-hour security.

Alternatively, one person can distract you, for example by asking for food or medical help, while another sneaks up behind you with a knife in his hand. If you’re talking to refugees or desperate neighbors, don’t let them get too close and keep your back protected – even if that means standing against a wall.


Some people who do have guns will also be a threat. If somebody’s running low on ammunition they might decide the best way to use their last few rounds is to shoot you and take your ammunition.

This threat is hard to defend against, because your adversary has a gun. The best defense is OPSEC – do your best to conceal the fact you have guns and ammunition.


There aren’t many things that will make people as desperate as hunger. When you’re starving, and know that someone else has food, any moral qualms about killing them to get your hands on it will fade fast.

Again, your best defense is to hide the fact you have food – because if you don’t, sooner or later someone’s going to try to take it from you.


Often, when disaster strikes the best thing to do is get as far away from the scene as possible. Unfortunately that inevitably means gas stations being swamped with panicking drivers until their tanks run dry, and then people running out of fuel as they try to escape.

If your terrified family are in the car with you, the tank is empty and you can see someone else with a row of gas canisters in the back of their truck, how far would you go to get that gas for yourself? Some people will do whatever it takes – including killing. In a crisis, every life is cheap except your own.


Whatever crisis hits us, it won’t be the initial disaster – societal breakdown, hurricane or even nuclear war – that causes most deaths. It will be the wave of disease that follows. With the water supply failing, hospitals closed or overwhelmed, and pharmacies looted, things like cholera and typhoid will sweep through the survivors.

When someone is watching the first signs of disease in themselves or a loved one, they’re going to want to get hold of medicine to treat it – and everyone knows preppers stockpile medicine.

Even simple medicines like rehydration salts can be life savers. However, the most important medicine people will be after is antibiotics. Since antibiotics are typically not available over the counter, here is an ingenious way to stockpile antibiotics without a prescription, before it’s too late.


I disagree with a lot of preppers when it comes to the value of precious metals for barter after a social collapse. I don’t think they’re worth having.

In theory they’re great; substances that have been valued for the whole history of human civilization, and won’t become worthless when the government that issued them falls apart.

In practice… well, if you’re anxiously watching your food supplies and hoping they last until your crops are ready to harvest, are you really going to hand over part of them in exchange for some shiny yellow metal that, importantly, you can’t eat?

I don’t think you are. In a world where no more ammunition is being made, do you want to swap some of your dwindling supply for a bar of gold you can’t actually do anything with?

However, as useless as gold and silver might be in a crisis, some people’s greed will overcome their common sense. If you have gold, and people know about it, someone will attempt to kill you and steal it.

Your stockpiles are valuable in money terms – it’s hard to be really prepared without spending a lot – but when the crisis comes their value soars beyond anything money can buy. They’re what’s going to keep you alive through whatever comes at you.

But anything that can keep you alive can also keep someone else alive. Never underestimate how determined they might be to save their own life, even at the cost of yours. You need to protect your stockpile, and that also means protecting yourself.

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