The next article in our series ‘Identify what you need to put aside‘ is Shelter.
Shelter means many things to many people. To some it means keeping out of the wind or rain, and if you are a smoker, you are denied that by law outside your own home so it clearly isn’t a human right yet on the other hand people are prosecuted for leaving dogs out their back garden in bad weather. Obviously irony doesn’t show on politicians radars. To others it means a home, warmth and somewhere to cuddle up and relax. I’m looking at it in its most basic sense which is somewhere to shelter you from the elements.
Why are you looking?
Obviously we would ideally be looking for staying where you are now because you know the area but we will guess that you are looking because where you stay now has been damaged or destroyed, you are nowhere near it and were caught out by the event or the neighbours keep stealing you stuff and/or want to kill you, in the literal sense. You need somewhere to live. Don’t just be looking to move because you want a bigger house with a swimming pool.
So let us start at the top of preferences and work our way down. This is my list obviously and your list may differ depending on what you are looking for or where you have lived. We are looking at derelicts here not home invasion and conquest. Basically, if the place is empty and is clearly abandoned then it is viable. You can move in and make it your own. Hopefully nobody will be back to claim it in six months.
An ideal place. There are usually plenty of outbuildings so lots of choice for somewhere to sleep and live. A barn, even if no windows or doors, is an ideal place to rest your head. Although they may not have a lot of bedding and cooker stuff depending on who lived there. There is land for crops, livestock and they usually are out of the way so you should get nobody wandering in. There should be good views to give adaquate warning and a good field of fire if necessary. There should be plenty of barns with farm equipment as well as silos for storage. I’d like one close to woods so you have somewhere to hunt and for a hiding place.
House in the Country
The most obvious thing we should be looking at is finding a house. In our scenario there will be a lot of empty houses and we are not looking for anything spectacular. We want a basic shell with windows and doors that close and somewhere you can secure and make safe. There should be plenty of bedding and cookery items here. A house in the country will give you somewhere to stay and close to land where you can plant your crops and keep your livestock, after you have built pens. You should also get nobody wandering in either. There should be good views to give adaquate warning and a good field of fire if necessary. I’d like one close to woods so you have somewhere to hunt and for a hiding place.
House in the suburbs
Probably the easiest to acquire but also risky. You never know who is close to you, could be worse than the ones you are trying to escape. Again, we are not looking for anything spectacular and we want a basic shell with windows and doors that close and somewhere you can secure and make safe. We could use other back gardens as land to grow our crops and graze our livestock. Bearing in mind that the noise from animals may attract unwelcome attention so you may want to consider what livestock you want. You should consider splitting your crops and livestock so a raid does not get everything. Surrounded by houses there should be no difficulty in finding bedding and cookery items and there should be a multitude of tools at your disposal. You won’t get much warning of intruders but you should be able to set traps and deadfalls and get few false alarms by animals. Personally, I would aim for one on the edge of town near woods or fields where you could hunt or hide.
In a motor home or caravan
The caravan or mobile home itself contains your living space. Drive it so that it is in a wood or somewhere just out of sight from the road where you can plant your crops and graze your livestock in a clearing. It has one advantage and that is the electrics are already 12v and could already have solar or a wind turbine fitted. You could have power from day one to boil a kettle. It will take a while for the tyres to perish and the vehicle becomes fixed so if necessary you could move it around while you have the fuel. There will likely be bedding and cookery equipment but nothing beyond basic tools. Depending on the size you may have room to transport everything you need in one go. You won’t get much warning of intruders in woods, perhaps if you position it right, but you should be able to set traps and deadfalls but will get false alarms from animals.
In an abandoned factory
As the lair of choice for all the bad guys in the movies, plus a good guy Blade, there are many advantages of living in an abandoned factory. There are plenty of exits, there is little or no expectations of food supplies, unless it is a food processing factory, so it is unlikely to get repeated visits from scavengers. It will be a great source of raw material and tools for working on making the area secure. There is bound to be a few rooms there you could convert into your sleeping area and there is plenty of space, perhaps on the roof or in a collapsed part, for you to plant your crops and keep your livestock. You won’t get much warning of intruders but you should be able to set traps and deadfalls and get few false alarms by animals. Just be careful scoping the place out. The Joker may still be there.
On a boat
A boat has one advantage that none of the others have; you can stay offshore out of range of most people. If you move around the coast you can stay in areas where you are safe scoping out the land before you come in. There will be good views to give adaquate warning and a good field of fire if necessary. You obviously cannot plant crops or keep much livestock but a few chickens are feasible. You could live quite well on fish for the main whilst coming ashore at a safe place to scavenge vegetables and fruit. I would like a boat as a backup myself. One where I could take the minimum needed to restart in the event that my main home was raided. This is a good way to stay off the grid even today and I know someone who lives on a boat now. Coming ashore to purchase stores and working and travelling in the boat while just keeping out of the way.
Mines and Caves
Even back in the Stone Age our ancestors wanted shelter. It was much better than lying on the ground in a field although not that much better as all they managed was to hide in caves. We are a bit further advanced than that though, well some of us, so when I suggest a cave you may think I am not being serious although there are several caves out in the wilds which would provide shelter for a large group. Today we have the added facility of mines, some of them have been abandoned for centuries whilst some are still in use. Being underground keeps the temperature constant as well, although it is on the cold side, but not too cold and in the winter it doesn’t drop any either. You should get plenty of warning about intruders, lights or noise, probably both so you can hide or prepare an ambush if necessary. If you know of some mines or caves in your area then check them out and make notes of where they are. I wouldn’t suggest you store anything there though as more people than you think use these places and any stores are likely to go awol. It is worth considering if you live in certain parts of the country where there are many mines and caves around. Wiltshire and Somerset have loads of massive caves whilst mines can be found all over the country if you look for them. Of course there will be nothing to scavenge here either. You will need to bring it all with you. The Morlocks suggest you just don’t stay down there too long for your own good most animals don’t go too far into mines or caves either as most animals like sunlight.
In the woods
In a last resort we could, like many people before us, simply build a shelter and live in the woods. Planting our crops in a little glade although livestock would require a bit more thought. However, with the wild life around would you need your own? Ray Mears can do this with just a knife and a bit of string. We can do it with our personal survival kit or for a better start our car kit. Not something we would like but we could adjust to this life if needed. The weather isn’t that bad and with the trees providing shelter from the wind and the rain a debris shelter can keep us warm in one of our winters easily enough. You obviously have to be careful with fire and you will have a little warning of people entering your territory by the noises they make. You can expand your debris shelter with a lot of hard work by building a tree house or an underground shelter being careful with the later regarding drainage. If things carry on the way they are now I may end up there myself. Hope I can piggyback on a WiFi signal.
Scope the place out
Of course this is not a full examination of the options available it is just an outline based on my preferences. Anytime you move home after any event you are looking at unknown territory. It may have been your friends farm but now it could be home to a bunch of cannibals. Take care scouting any area out and if you meet people, even friendly ones, move on to another area. Be 100% clear that the house you are taking over is abandoned and that they are not out hunting or something or the next thing they will be hunting is you and yours.
Next up is part 11 in the series, Sanitation.