This was not the apocalypse we were expecting, but all things considered, it could be worse. While it might still be hard to get your hands on toilet paper and Lysol these days, that doesn’t mean you should neglect your survival prep, no matter where you live or how you’re impacted by the current crisis.
Preparing for survival means different things in different parts of the country. You wouldn’t worry about hurricanes in the Midwest, and you wouldn’t prep for earthquakes in the northeast. With that in mind, how should you be prepping for survival in the different regions of the United States?
Surviving in New England
Officially, New England includes six states — Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. While it might not seem like it covers a lot of space, there are plenty of things to consider when you’re prepping for survival in this part of the country.
Cold is a major threat in New England, so you need to be prepared to keep your family warm during the long and harsh winter. Sheltering on the coast can introduce the additional threat of nor’easters — massive hurricane-like storms that often bring feet of snow and high winds that knock out power and other utilities. During the summer, temperatures can be comfortable or even warm, but in the winter, you’ll need a lot of fuel and layers to keep your family warm in an SHTF scenario. Planning ahead for the winter is crucial to your survival.
If you can’t drive to the grocery store, growing or hunting your own food is going to be a necessity. This can be challenging in New England because of its harsh winters and 120-day growing season. While that is long enough to grow any common vegetable, being off by a few days in either direction when it comes to planting could mean the difference between a successful harvest and a failed crop. At the very least, ensure you have plenty of shelf-stable foods stockpiled just in case.
Fishing is a big part of life in New England, both fresh and saltwater. Therefore, aquaculture might be something to pursue as part of your preparations if you want to supplement your food stores.
Wildlife here can be as dangerous in New England as other parts of the country. In particular, there are two venomous snakes — timber rattlers and copperheads — that call the region home, as well as bears and coyotes that could be a threat if you’re in their territory. Moose can also get aggressive if threatened and are large enough to cause some serious damage even though they’re not predators.
The Appalachian Mountains stretch through most of New England, which can make traveling difficult, especially if you’re on foot. Be prepared for mountainous terrain and accompanying threats, like landslides. Don’t plan to travel much during the winter, especially through the mountains. Without the infrastructure to keep the roads in good shape and the passes clear, snow will become a serious obstacle in a major disaster.
There are plenty of rivers and lakes in New England that you can tap for water if the utility infrastructure falls apart, though you will likely want to purify it before consuming using your method of choice. Although ice is more efficient, snow can be collected during the winter months, and the same can be done with rainwater during the summer. As long as natural sources aren’t contaminated beyond salvage, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to finding water.
Surviving in the Mid-Atlantic
Now we’re heading a bit further south along the country’s Atlantic coast. It generally includes states that stretch from West Virginia up to New York and everything in between, though there is some overlap between the states in New England and those considered part of the Mid-Atlantic.
Weather in the Mid-Atlantic region can range from blistering summers to frigid winters and everything in between, so when you’re making preparations, you’ll need to be aware of both ends of the spectrum. As such, you’re going to want to prepare for winter like New England. Think layers, plenty of wood, and preparing to not go out much.
Occasionally, this region will even get a hurricane or two that comes up the Atlantic Coast. However, the cooler waters of the North Atlantic mean that many of these storms lose much of their power before they can cause too much damage.
The growing season in this region ranges from mid-May to mid-September, giving you plenty of time to grow food for the winter months. However, if you live in one of the many metropolitan centers in this region, finding the space to grow enough food to sustain you will be next to impossible. You’ll need to be prepared to leave the city behind, or invest in hydroponic growing systems for your home to ensure you’re producing enough to support yourself and your family. Of course, stockpiling canned goods is always a good choice.
The wildlife here is similar to what you’ll find in New England. Bears, snakes and coyotes can be dangerous, but if you’re an avid hunter, there is plenty of game to keep you fed. Hunting in the wintertime might seem challenging, but if you’ve got a fresh fall of snow, it can be really easy to track your prey and limit the amount of time you’re spending out in the cold.
You’ve got more Appalachians to contend with here, so make sure you’re prepared for mountainous terrain if you’re heading inland to bug out or perhaps to get to a retreat. There are plenty of relatively flat coastal areas, but they may be heavily populated. Make sure you keep that in mind when you choose a place to hunker down and ride out the crisis.
The Mid-Atlantic has plenty of rivers, streams and other natural water features you can tap into for fresh water. However, any natural source should still be purified before consuming it. These Sawyer Mini Water filters are great for bugging out and even for at-home preparedness if you have a steady water source nearby.
Surviving in the South
Welcome to the South, home of Florida Man. This is one of the largest regions in the country, encompassing everything from West Virginia in the East to Texas, and all the way to the very tip of Florida. Again, there is some overlap between states in the South and Mid-Atlantic regions.
In most of the South, winters are fairly mild, but summers are hot and humid. Plan on erecting plenty of shading (such as tarps to keep the sun off your back) and even running fans nonstop which means a small solar setup would be idea. Know, too, that every state in this region usually receives some snow during the winter months, except for Florida.
Hurricanes are the biggest risk here. Hurricane season stretches from June 1 to November 30, and these massive storms can leave all sorts of devastation in their path. If you’re staying in hurricane country, make sure your house is protected with boards or hurricane shutters that can keep debris or high winds from destroying your home.
The further south you go, the longer your growing season is, so it’s a lot easier to grow enough food to keep yourself and your family fed. There are several different crops you can cultivate here, as well as commercial crops you can scavenge in a crisis, though these will likely go fallow after a couple of seasons. Florida is the hub of much of the country’s citrus production, so at the very least, you won’t have to worry about getting scurvy.
As the weather gets warmer, the wildlife tends to get more exotic. There are half a dozen different species of venomous snake that call this region home, as well as insects that can carry diseases. Wild boar and coyote are generally the only animals that might be dangerous, though you may come across a panther or black bear now and then.
In the South, you have one of two terrain options — mountains or flat. The northern part of this region includes the tail end of the Appalachian mountain chain, but once you move out of that area, the majority of the South is slightly hilly or completely flat. Flat terrain means coastal regions are prone to hurricane-induced storm surge and flooding, so be mindful of that when you choose your shelter. Know your flood risk!
The South is peppered with natural waterways that can provide you with clean drinking water. If you’re in Florida, you’ve also got access to a vast underground aquifer if you can drill down deep enough to tap into it, but that may not be realistic last-minute. Thankfully, many existing homes already have wells that tap into that resource, so you can use that to your advantage. If not, prepare to catch rainwater: here’s some good resources.
Surviving in the West
Finally, we have the Western part of our great country. This region includes everything from the Midwestern states to California and the Pacific Northwest. This region is home to some of the most beautiful vistas in the country — and the greatest survival challenges as well.
You’ve got a few different weather-related challenges to contend with in the Western region of the United States. Tornadoes are a major threat in the Midwest, so you will need to have a shelter prepared. In the West, there are earthquakes and wildfires that you need to be ready for, as well as the occasional Pacific typhoon that can dump some rain on the West Coast. These challenges will vary based on your exact location, so make sure you’re aware of the specific threats to your home. And if you’re in wildfire-prone areas, be ready and able to bug out at a moment’s notice.
Much of the West and Midwest is made up of desert terrain, which can make growing challenging. Sheltering in a desert isn’t impossible, but you will need to keep things like water supplies in mind. Growing seasons are not a problem, though you may need to protect your crops from cold desert nights. Remember — the further north you go, the shorter your growing season will be. Take care when you plant and be sure you harvest before a freeze destroys your plants for the season.
The Western region of the United States has some of the most varied wildlife in the country. It can be a great place to shelter and survive for an avid hunter, but it can also be challenging and even downright dangerous for those that aren’t familiar with the wildlife in the area. Deserts are home to snakes, scorpions and other wildlife that can harm and even kill, and large predators like wolves and pumas roam the land. Be wary if you intend to venture out into the wild if you’re unfamiliar with it previously.
The Midwest is home to vast stretches of flat desert, punctuated by canyons and rock formations. Then you reach the Rocky Mountains, which stretch from New Mexico all the way north into parts of Canada. These mountains are home to some of the highest peaks in the United States and can be difficult or even dangerous to traverse.
On the far side of the Rockies is hilly terrain that takes you all the way down to the Pacific Ocean. It can vary from deserts to the lush Napa Valley in California to the massive forests of the Pacific Northwest.
Water in the western portions of the United States can be problematic. Rivers and lakes crisscross the terrain, though you will want to purify the water before consuming it as always. Be mindful of your location, through. Some lakes in this part of the country aren’t potable because they’re filled with saltwater instead of fresh. Utah’s Great Salt Lake is a perfect example.
Wells are an option, but digging one in the rocky terrain presents all sorts of challenges. Ensure you have a steady water supply if you’re sheltering in the Western region of the United States. In some places, like the Pacific Northwest, collecting rainwater is a possibility. In others, like the Midwestern deserts, you will need to explore different options and, best of all, have plenty of water already stored.
Always Be Prepared
Whether you’re planning to hunker down after a crisis in Florida, New York, New Mexico or Nevada, there are specific regional concerns you will need to consider. No matter where you are, the best thing you can do is to be prepared for anything. Have plenty of food, water, medical supplies and other survival necessities on hand, then get ready for any applicable regional threats.
You never know what the world might throw at us. Right now, it’s a pandemic. In a year, it could be volcanic eruptions or something even scarier. Be prepared for anything and you’ll be ready for everything.
Note: This was a guest post.