Suggestions for OPSEC when the SHTF

If you are much more thoroughly prepared for all kinds of disasters than other persons, you have a problem: unprepared persons will want your preps. At first, they might ask nicely. But if the SHTF and people find themselves in need, for an extended period of time, you will be the focus of their malicious attention. Polite requests will give way to demands, and demands will lead to threats, and perhaps eventually violence. Desperate people do desperate things.

What you need in that situation is OPSEC (operations security).
Preppers have borrowed this term from the military, and we have modified its meaning to suit our needs. Essentially, the prepping version of OPSEC is concerned with keeping information about your prepping resources from anyone who might be a threat. If it becomes widely-known that you are well-prepared for every disaster, and people become desperate, you will have a difficult time holding on to your hard-earned resources.

I suppose that the members of your household will know that you are a prepper, and will have some knowledge of your supplies. But what if they blab to their trusted friends, who then disclose this information to other not-so-trustworthy persons? You might want to caution your family members not to disclose the nature and extent of your preps. But you could also limit their knowledge of your supplies. If you think it prudent, perhaps you could place some of your most necessary preps in some type of hidden secure storage.

Which supplies are the best candidates for hidden and secure storage? I would suggest at least one firearm and some ammo, a water purification device, extra medication, a selection of the best gardening seeds for survival, and some foods that store well and have high nutrient density (e.g. nuts, seeds, peanut butter, tuna, canned chicken, protein bars).

A hidden wall safe is always useful. But the storage space inside is very limited. Some homes have space under a staircase, which can be discretely closed off, in whole or in part, for hidden storage. A drawer can be set up with a false back or false bottom. Attics and basements are good candidates for hidden storage, as most residents and visitors to your home will be unfamiliar with the layout there. The main issue you will have is making the space both hidden and secure. It is hard to find locks that are not readily visible and yet are very secure. The typical “hidden magnetic lock” is not really a lock at all, just a latch that works with a magnet.

Other aspects of prepping OPSEC pertain to how you handle yourself when you are out in the community. If word gets out that you are well-prepared, you should avoid leaving your house unoccupied for any length of time. When the SHTF, it’s always better if you have trusted friends or family who can assist one another with survival and mutual defense. For much the same reasons, if there is a breakdown of law and order, you should prefer not to travel alone.

Example: You hear that the local supermarket is finally being restocked with food. But the place could be a mob scene. You’ll want to bring a friend or family member, and perhaps be legally armed. Returning home with food, you might back the car right up to the door of your house, and quickly move the supplies inside. When food goes into short supply, thefts and robbery of food will increase sharply.

If there is a power outage, and you have lights and some limited power, you don’t want to advertise that fact. Keep the binds or curtains drawn, and keep the lighting away from the windows.

Security for a garden is very difficult. Fencing is helpful, but a determined thief can always get in and wreak havoc with the crop. If you have a large enough area of land under crops, you might be able to cooperate with a small group to guard the land, tend the crop, and share in the produce. But a small garden is probably not defensible. And trying to grow food plants indoors would require too much space, equipment, and LED lighting.

Eventually, people will find out that you have food and supplies, and they will become demanding. Giving away food does not seem like a good plan to me. I suppose you could give your closest friends and family some gifts of food. But you can’t store enough food for everyone you know. Bartering is a better option. You should get something valuable in exchange for your valuable food and other supplies. But even then, everyone else’s need will always greatly exceed your supplies. I don’t have a perfect solution to this problem. Worst case scenario, you need weapons for self-defense, in case someone decides that your supplies are worth more to them than your life.

OPSEC also applies to bugging out. You should have bug-out supplies, a well-prepped vehicle, and a place to go. Telling everyone (or anyone) where you are going is probably not such a good idea. On the other hand, how many of us have a second home in a rural area, that few persons know about, to use as our bug-out destination? You never have perfect OPSEC, so do the best you can in your particular situation.

– Thoreau

4 Responses to Suggestions for OPSEC when the SHTF

  1. Totally agree that most preppers haven’t given enough thought to CONTINUED OPSEC after a SHTF hits – absolutely not the time to show or boast about your prepper “wisdom” ….

    One area that doesn’t get any attention – covert cooking – not only hiding the food prep but the cooking smells – a super hungry and starving predator will be acute that smelling sense to a fine pitch ….

  2. When talking OPSEC from your home you need to keep the following in mind during a SHTF enviroment:
    1. You will need at least 8 to 10 people for OPSEC. Anything less can spell big trouble for your group. Why? You can’t be on point 24/7 and you need down time to recover, if not your brain basically goes to mush.
    2. You need at least 2 people on OPSEC in each location. Why? Example: Say your OPSEC position for the next 4 hour time period is back behind your home and you have one person in that position that checks in every 15 minutes. The opposing group has a sniper, and watches your OPSEC operation. They will know your check-in procedures and wait for the next check-in call and them move on that position once the call is complete. The opposing group will take out that position and be your home before you know what has happened. But if you two OPSEC individuals on point and if they do take out one individual the second individual on point can sound the alarm and mobilize the team into action to defend your home. The Military learned this a long time ago. Just two points of action to help protect your home, family and Team. May God bless,

  3. I think my number one concern as to opsec is communications. We are living in a society where it seems everybody has some insane driving need to talk ….. constantly and about everything under the sun as regards their life. The entire hunched-over, looking down, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, SnapChat drone populace as prime examples. I just don’t get it or see the need to inform the world of my whereabouts, doings and plans on any type of regular basis. It is an addiction particular to our times. In the event of a SHTF environment, the mentality that now drives these mindless automatons will assuredly present a challenge to any person having the ability to communicate via any other medium. CB, ham, VHF, …. any radio or remnant cell/net communications mechanism. My bottom line is simple – listen all you want; but, not one word to be transmitted by anyone in a group I’m a part of without prior group approval, need and real cause. The wartime mantra “loose lips sink ships” will be the phrase of the day.