When a major SHTF event happens, e.g. Cyberattack / EMP Strike / Economic Collapse, the likelihood of finding a sources of fuel for your vehicle(s) could be slim to none. Maybe you are the fortunate one who has quite a bit of fuel stored on site at your location or have found a way to keep the pumps running at your local gas station. For most of us those relative luxuries might not exist, but let’s assume for the purpose of this post that there is fuel to be had and driving that must be done. If this is the case and you are driving around after a major SHTF event occurs there are a few things you must do to you vehicle in order to increase your survivability, this especially applies to those who might be living in hostile environments. I must add one caveat however and stress this really only applies to TEOTWAWKI events when flying under the radar and avoiding unnecessary detection could mean the difference between life and death. There is no need to rattle can paint your minivan in FDE Krylon if the Dow falls by 25%.
- Disable your interior light: Most of your movements will be at night, if you are using your vehicle it will probably be because you are making a run for supplies (water is heavy) or scouting out potential trouble spots. It won’t exactly be stealthy if you open your door at 0200 and your interior light exposes your location to anyone within half a mile.
- Taillights: Continuing on with lights, completely disable your taillights. The easiest way to do this is to get inside your trunk, pull back the carpet and unscrew the bulb. Don’t forget that third brake light that most vehicles have. Yes this is completely unsafe (and illegal) for driving in bumper to bumper traffic on your way to work, but if the grid goes down and you are living off the beanie weenies in your closet I doubt it will matter much. Just like the interior lights, brake lights (and reverse lights) will give your position away at night.
- Headlights: Unlike taillights (which are unnecessary) you will need some sort of headlight to navigate around at night, unless of course you are fortunate enough to own some NVGs. You will not need the passenger side so disable those lights altogether. As for the driver’s side, get some sturdy Duct Tape and completely tape off the light, leave a small area exposed in the shape of a rectangle. This area should be around 1 inch tall by 3 inches wide and will allow just enough light to escape at night so you can navigate. You could apply thin masking tape over this exposed area as well, the light will still come through but be less bright. One consideration here, in that your headlight will get very hot and the bulb could burn out prematurely because the tape which covers the lens. Have a few spare bulbs handy.
- Reflective bits: Tape off all of the reflective parts on your car. That chrome bumper might look great but if the sun hits it (assuming you have to travel during daylight hours) the reflection will be seen from very far away. Tape off the other exposed headlights and taillights as well.
- Sensitive information: Remove ALL sensitive information from your vehicle, anything that would show where your home is located. Registrations, insurance cards, anything with your name on it. If you have to abandon your vehicle the last thing you want is for those who find it to know where you live.
- Rattle can: If you want and depending on your location and circumstances, you could rattle can (spray paint) your vehicle in flat / earth tone colors. Which colors you choose would be dependent on what blends in best, someone in Maine might choose a different set of colors than someone in New Mexico. This could be very practical if you have to pull off of a country road and into the woods in order to camp for a day or two. A camouflaged car set back 100 yards in the woods (remember to cover the windshield with foliage) would be much harder to spot than a pearl white or electric blue Honda.
Again these are just some ideas which could be valuable if SHTF happens and life as we know it changes drastically overnight. It’s easy to laugh these suggestions off as completely foolish while sitting in a climate controlled room sipping on coffee, but as recent events have shown human nature is especially ugly. All it takes is one triggering event and people will be turning on their neighbors and beating down the doors of any local food mart in order to feed their desperate families. By taking the precautions I listed above you will be able increase your survivability if only by a fraction, but that fraction could mean the difference between getting home safely or getting chased by individuals which intend to do you harm.