How to Prepare for Civil War In the United States (As a Civilian)

how to prepare for civil war
Image Credit: Chris Chow

In early 2021, a poll was conducted asking one simple question: Will the US have another civil war? The results of this poll showed that 46% of participants believed another civil war was likely. 

If you’re in this category, then you probably want to know how to prepare for this eventuality.

The best way to prepare for civil war is to know everything possible about the situation, gather as many supplies as you can, and surround yourself with a good group of people. No matter the circumstances, staying informed means keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

Continue reading to find out all the ways you can best prepare for civil war.

Knowledge Is Power

When faced with civil war, the most important thing you can do is get familiar with the situation and your options. Learn as much as you can about who is involved in the fighting, what to look out for, how to travel to essential places safely, and when you should stay in your home or get out.

The Participants

Civil war isn’t as simple as one side vs the other side. Not everyone involved in the conflict will be wearing an easily identifiable uniform. There are the recognizable military soldiers that will clearly announce what side they’re on, yes, but they aren’t the only ones fighting.

Be aware of individuals or groups acting to protect their side of the conflict or their own personal interests during this time of upheaval.

Gangs, partisans, militias, mercenaries, and criminal organizations will be out in full power attempting to take advantage of the unrest. As a civilian, all you can do is keep your eyes and your ears open. Be extremely cautious in areas you don’t know well.

There’s a chance you may have to turn to criminals to help you get your essentials.

Even civilians like you can act irrationally when they become desperate. Watching out for you and your own is the best way to keep yourself safe, even if it means keeping everyone else at an arm’s length.

And don’t think you can trust someone in uniform just because they’re fighting for the side you’re on. Times of war bring out the worst even in the professionals. 

How to Travel Safely

There may be times you have to travel in or around warzones. You can never be 100% safe but there are a few ways you can look out for yourself and others while traveling to get supplies. 

  • Avoid traveling at all costs during times of heavy fighting.
  • Travel at the quietest time. If most of the fighting goes on at night, travel during the day, and vice versa.
  • Keep off of main roads. Any large, easy-to-use roads will most likely be blocked off, heavily watched, or prone to ambushes.
  • Take at least one person with you. Traveling in a group of three or four makes you less vulnerable to attack or being mistaken for a militant group.
  • Keep out of big cities. You will have more luck getting around in suburban areas outside of big cities where a lot of action takes place.

It’s a good idea to get to know the available routes around where you live. The less known the better. Keep a map of all the routes you think will be safe to use handy in the event you have to travel in times of conflict.

When to Stay or Go

There will always be the question of whether it’s better to shelter in place or bug out when the fighting starts. This all comes down to your personal preparations and where you feel the safest during the midst of a civil war.

If you have a stock of supplies, weapons, and the know-how to sustain yourself in a crisis, you may be better off staying where you are. In the event that everything starts suddenly, you may not have a choice to leave.

Even if you get plenty of warning about the impending civil war, you won’t be the only one packing up the car to try to get out of town. There’s likely to be major traffic jams on your way out as everyone else tries to do the same.

And then there is the question of the best place to shelter.

You might think living far out in the remote country with no one around for miles is the best place to be when war breaks out. Unfortunately, being so out of the way leaves you open to attacks because there’s no one around to witness what’s going on. 

On the other hand, living in a big city with hubs of transportation and major assets isn’t a good idea either, as these places are most likely to be invaded by troops.

Your best bet is finding a shelter in a big enough town to keep you safe or a small enough city where there’s nothing of interest to either side of the conflict. You want people around you that you trust so you can keep each other safe from being taken advantage of.

Safety in Numbers

As much as you might like to think so, you’re not better off going it alone during a civil war.

Living in a group gives you a sense of community that is invaluable in times when everything you know has been turned upside down. Not to mention every other group in a war is just that – a large group. 

Staying alone only opens you up to danger.

There is likely already a group in place around you that will grow even closer when things start to fall apart. These could be your friends, your family, or even a club or network that you’re part of. These people will become who you depend on most to make it through the hardest times.

By sheltering in a group you have people to watch your back when you sleep, travel with you for supplies, come out of the other side of a fight with your lives, and take care of you if you get sick. 

However, the benefits of a group bump right up against the responsibility of caring for so many people. It’s vital that you have enough supplies to take care of everyone in the group. Taking in extra people out of the kindness of your heart could mean the ones you love going without.

It doesn’t take much for people to start turning on each other.

Stock up on Supplies

One of the keys to being prepared is having enough supplies stocked up to keep you going.

When civil war breaks out, essentials will quickly become scarce. Food and water will be next to impossible to get ahold of without paying a high price. Luxury items will become currency to be traded. Desperate people will do a lot of bad things just to get the things they want or need.

There are a lot of things that could go on your supply checklist to start stocking. But no two preppers will stock exactly the same.

Of course, you need enough non-perishable food and bottled water to sustain you and your family for at least 3 months. First aid supplies and medications should be at the top of the list as well. Personal hygiene is one you might not think about but you’ll miss it when it starts disappearing. Other things like light sources, tools, and survival supplies can come in handy as well.

Keeping a good supply of coffee and cigarettes is always a good idea even if you don’t use these things personally. They can be a lot of help getting you the things you need if you start to run out.

A good supply can mean the difference in how often you have to leave your shelter. Personalize your stocking to the things you use on a daily basis so that you’re perfectly set up for success.

Get Medical Training

Civil war is incredibly dangerous. You’re a civilian but you’re likely to witness battle close to where you live or even find yourself right in the middle of it. The truth is, you can’t depend on doctors or nurses to be available when you need them.

Don’t leave your health up to fate. In the heat of the moment, you need to be able to take care of yourself and others.

First and foremost, you should have a medical kit ready to go. This goes beyond a simple store-bought first aid kit. Your kit should have bandages, medications, and tools to help in a variety of situations. There’s no predicting what sort of wounds you might face in the thick of it.

Then get yourself trained in as many first aid skills as you possibly can.

CPR is something everyone should know how to do. On top of that, learning how to treat minor wounds such as burns and lacerations, how to stop bleeding, and what to do in the event of a concussion can keep you or someone you love from getting an infection or losing their life to an injury.

Arm Yourself

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can make it through a civil war without owning a gun.

That being said, there’s a good chance everyone involved in the war will want to take any guns and means of protecting yourself away from you. It’s vital that you have a good hiding place that keeps them out of sight while still keeping them accessible in case of emergency.

It’s a catch-22 because having a gun could get you killed but not having a gun could end in the same result.

Your best course of action is to have more than one weapon and plenty of ammunition available. Create a fake hiding spot of dummy guns for anyone looking to find and hide the real things better. If necessary, guns and ammo can also be used to trade for other essentials.

Preparing for a civil war means being prepared to protect your supplies, your shelter, and yourself. Getting ready before anything happens is the best way to look out for your safety.

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