Governments break down and fail for many reasons. War, famine, disease, economic disruption and natural disasters have all played a part. In the last 50 years, we've seen many cases of governments failing.
Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge political party in Cambodia killed between 1.5 and 2 million of their own people. In 1994, armed militias of Hutu in the country of Rwanda slaughtered between 500,000 and 800,000 members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group. In 2011 civilian protests in the country of Syria escalated into full-scale war. Since then, much of the civilian state in Syria has failed with essential services like police, fire and basic utilities shutting down. Food stopped being delivered, and power was shut off. Some areas have been living in these conditions for several years, and millions of people have fled the country to try and survive.
Don't pretend it can't happen to you. When extremist ideologies take hold, it's easy for a few fanatics to seize power and suppress the rights of the masses. In America, it took little more than the lie of a rigged election to send hundreds of protestors storming into the capitol building in an attempt to overturn a fair and democratic vote.
Fortunately, the failure of a government doesn't automatically mean the downfall of society.
Your first task is to survive the event that triggered the government breakdown. If it's a disaster detailed in these pages, get more information and take steps to help you survive that.
Then you need to evaluate your position. If it's only a temporary government failure, make sure you have the supplies you need to survive. If it's a catastrophic failure and the government is unlikely to return within a few weeks or months, you need to leave or become self-sufficient. Unfortunately, most people do not have access to the money and resources required to become self-sufficient, so you must plan your escape.
The key is making plans NOW. Look at other states, regions or countries near you and familiarize yourself with how they work. Do they allow immigrants, and if so, what are their requirements to move? How would you get there, and how would you support yourself once you arrived?
Even if you never need that knowledge for survival, learning more about other places can give you insight into ways you can make things better where you are.
10 things that happens when an economy collapses
The possibility of an economic collapse is no longer a faraway thought but weighs heavily on the minds of many right now. Are you ready?
How to Survive the First 90 Days After the Collapse
If multiple catastrophes happened at once in the U.S. and no help was coming, would you know what to do? We'll look at the timeline of how events will likely play out and what you can do now to prepare.
Preparation - Survival
To handle the short-term disruptions, from a few days to a few weeks, these are the things you'll usually need.
One gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation. You can survive on as little as a quart a day, but that's the absolute minimum. Consider buying a heavy-duty filter so you can purify more water if you need to. I keep 5-gallon collapsible containers that I can fill and refill when the need arises.
At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. In areas prone to significant disruptions like earthquakes or hurricanes, you might want to consider a minimum 30-day food supply. Remember to get enough for anybody you think might be with you during the emergency. Many companies sell long-term shelf-stable foods in bulk.
Battery-powered or Hand-crank Radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with Tone Alert
Flashlight and a Solar/Hand Crank Lantern
First Aid Kit
Make sure you have pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives.
Use to signal for help.
To help filter contaminated air.
Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape
To shelter in place.
Moist Towelettes, Garbage Bags and Plastic Ties
For personal sanitation.
Wrench or Pliers
To turn off utilities.
Manual Can Opener
Local Paper Maps
Cell Phone with Chargers and a Backup Battery
Solar Battery Charger
For phone, radio and flashlights.
For everyone ages two and above.
Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Disinfecting Wipes
To disinfect surfaces.
Prescription Eyeglasses and Contact Lens Solution
Infant Formula, Bottles, Diapers, Wipes and Diaper Rash Cream
Pet Food and Extra Water
For your pet.
Cash or Traveler's Checks
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container.
Sleeping Bag or Warm Blanket for Each Person
Complete Change of Clothing and Sturdy Shoes
Appropriate for your climate.
Matches in a Waterproof Container or Lighter with Fuel
Feminine Supplies and Personal Hygiene Items
Mess Kits, Paper Cups, Plates, Paper Towels and Plastic Utensils
Paper and Pencil
Books, Games, Puzzles or other Activities
Pepper spray, a taser, a handgun and ammunition are all things you might consider having on hand to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you have defensive items, make sure to learn how to use and maintain them before a crisis.
When supply chains break down, people will begin trading things instead of currency. So if you have extra alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, candy, batteries or lighters, you can use them to get things you might need.
This information is presented to make people aware of the larger world around them. If you can prepare for something as devastating as this, you're much more likely to be ready for smaller disruptions. Be aware and prepare.