One Second After: Protecting Family and Food

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This is the sixth topic for our Group Book Discussion of the novel One Second After. To return to the main discussion page click here.

In the story, panic set in within a day or two of the EMP occurring. People started looting stores and just taking what they wanted. Later people’s personal homes were broken into in attempts to find food. There was also an incident with a large gang of people crossing the landscape and terrorizing small towns along the way. The main characters in the book were able to work together and put up a strong defense that protected their town.


  • What do you do when people come knocking on your door for food?
  • How do you sleep at night when the threat of intruders is real?
  • Who do you join up with to form a group of protection?
  • What sorts of weapons would be best in this scenario?
  • Would you try to hide your food and/or family?
  • How would it be for a woman and children alone in a house?
  • Think about where you live? What type of problems may occur in your area?


In our comments section below, ask questions, discuss your thoughts on this topic, and these questions. We will be covering a lot of the other issues over the next three days, so to keep it organized please stick with this topic.

We encourage everyone who participates to do so in a very respectful manner. As we read the novel, we soon became very aware that the discussions around this book could become very political, and personal. Such topics have a tendency to bring out strong opinions. Please share your opinions in a kind, and mature way. We reserve the right to, and will delete any comments that may be considered offensive or encourage illegal or unethical activities.

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  • palmbay lou

    If someone comes to my door, do I know them? If I do not I will not open the door, they may not be alone. If and IF I do open the door it will be my wife opening the door and I will be at the ready on the inside with my 12 gauge just in case they rush the door. If I decide to share some of what we have it will be in small amounts such as small packages of instant mashed potatoes, a can of corned beef hash and a few slices of bread. All things broken down to small amounts and taken from my Kitchen pantry, not my main supply. It is important that what I allow them to see is not something they report to others who will get the idea that WE DO have more and they come back. I will also have set up area sensors to alert me that someone is on my property

    The main thing is to be very careful and you must be wise in how much food you give out because it will affect your overall food store. I to would want to do what God would have me do and I believe my wife and I are truly doing it right now in prepping and building up food and supplies. Others are free to do the very same but they choose to hide their heads in the sand and believe that all will be good again. They lie to themselves and they cheat their families of the security and safety they could have if only they opened their eyes to the reality of what is happening in the world we live in. I will be very suspicious of anyone at my door because they did not do the right thing and prepare, instead they are now seeking out others who may be weak so they my acquire for free (or maybe a little strong arming) from others. They may pray on your goodness and challenge your Christian faith. They will curse you if you turn them away, you must be prepared for this, you must grow as strong as you can in the belief of God and His sovereignty and that He calls you to keep the faith alive and well on this earth. Jesus told us in His Word that the world will hate us because it hated Him first. Do we believe He was mistaken? Trust that the Spirit of God will guide you in your steps and when your gut tightens up and you believe something is really wrong, do not open the door.

  • TK

    Yes, we will protect our food and family. Hopefully our communities will put the same structure in place as the book. IF people store their own food they are left to use what they have and it not be confiscated. All this prior to community rationing.

    As in the book it would depend on who was coming on the property. If we felt they could be an asset to our household/group, we would put them to work earning their stay by; gathering wood, water, hunting, etc. Otherwise send them down the road to city center for aide.

  • anna

    Of course i would want to protect my family, but at the same token I think of what God would want me to do and who He would want me to help. We need to remember that people will be terrified. They will need to see other acting decently towards others and being calm. I pray that I will be compassionate above all else as God would want me to be. I want to be able to help those in need as God would want me to, yet keep my family safe. I know I say that now, and who knows how i would react when it came down to it. But I hope above all else, I remain a compassionate, caring human being that will always treat others as God would want me to.

  • Cherlynn

    this is the one that is most scary. How would you react to the strangers knocking at your door or worse yet if you actually came under attack? We have weapons and ammo for it. We have locked gates they would have to climb through and hike the 1/4 mile down to us. I guess I would use my Vietnam experience and set traps to help us out. We do have a couple caches on our property already in case of an earthquake so we’d have better chance of getting to supplies easily, Might want to move my stuff out and around in case we had to move out temporarily. Might even want to explore making a false wall in the basement to hid part of the food/supplies

  • boy haveing food hid in multiple places would be a must!! gathering togeather to combine resources and for protection seemd to to be best idea. looting would be a major concern. I am afraid who got in would be about what you can contribute. Hard as that would be to do it is the only way that makes sense.I imagine you would use anything from a bat to a shotgun , handgun, or rifel.I even have wasp spray in my stores to use as a a weapon and a bug killer 🙂 multiple uses in survival stores 🙂

  • JULIE- Food Storage Made Easy

    This subject is an area I need to learn more about and ponder. It kind of freaks me out a little. I feel like I did 2 years ago when I had no food storage when it comes to some of the protection and survivalist topics. Although, now I feel really comfortable with food storage, so I’ll do what I did back then. Take it in BabySteps.

    • J – newbie

      Julie, if you actually do go about this research in a ‘baby steps’ (systematic) kind of way, it would be wonderfully helpful if you published the results on your web site. Thank you!!

    • Julie, if you are planning to do research you might want to consider looking at the Mrs. Survival website. There is a huge amount of information available there and it is run by some very knowlegeable people. There have been many discussions also about EMP’s. Check out the Are You Really Ready forum. There is also an Urban Homesteading forum which has ways to do this in an urban situation.

  • Anonymous

    one of the things we could do to protect our food is to have an urban jungle garden. basically it’s a garden that people don’t recognize as a vegetable garden. another thing that can be done is to cache the food in different places. during world war 2 many citizens did this so that if their homes were bombed they would still have their belongings. years later as whole neighborhoods were being bulldozed for reconstruction the owners would come in and dig up their belongings!

    big dogs are a big help! some people might even consider them next on the menu! instead of the dogs raise rabbits! keep some fat on you because if all you had was rabbit meat you could still starve for lack of fat! yes FAT is necessary for a balanced diet.

    babies need mother’s milk for the appropriate sugar fat provided. no other mammal comes close to creating a human mother’s milk. not even the primate!
    in the end you must have the ability to protect yourself and your family. you must also have the ability to pull the trigger if need be! otherwise you should group together with a bunch of people who have no problem pulling the trigger discriminately.

    • It’s an interesting comment you make about mothers’ milk. I breastfed both my babies and would do it again. It is as much a survival process as it is a nutrition process. A mother who is breastfeeding is more likely to have babies who survive a disaster than one who feeds formula. Not to say that you can’t be prepared with formula stores, but it requires forethought and planning that I’d imagine most mothers don’t do.

  • Rise’

    This is the most frightening thing to me. Our little neighborhood used to be a great little place to live but the problems of the city have moved our way. We have a few firearms as well as some serious survival-type knives, but not enough in my book, and not nearly enough ammo yet. To protect my family I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot, but must get out to the range more for building accuracy skills.

    I would like to install shutters on the insides of the windows with brackets on each side that can accommodate a cross bar… much like the means of “locking” a door/window in early days. This way we could open them during the day for light and bolt them down during the night.

    We have 2 sets of neighbors that I know would be on board with creating a sort of compound. The other 3 that would form a 6-house block would be iffy as far as having the means to help with protection. This is a time where we all start kicking ourselves for being so busy that we forget to be neighborly!

    If a person comes to my door that I know and needs some food I don’t know if I could turn them away. If I don’t know them I wouldn’t answer the door at all… that being said what I would not want to sacrifice even in the midst of chaos is the love of Christ in me that bids us to offer comfort to a stranger, food to the hungry, etc. Very tough call.

  • The Door Knock – We don’t answer with a how are you, I’ll say that much. I would ensure we have the ability to know who is coming before they are right in front of our door, i.e. “Halt, Who Goes There!” There would be a perimeter watch setup with alerts/mechanisms on our property so no one comes knocking our door to burn us out of our home.

    Night Threat – This is very, very real and we would have to setup a rotational sleep shift to the point of either merging with another family if it went on long enough. Being nocturnal is not difficult for either of us. I’ve said it before, but how good you are with your neighbors now comes into play, whether they are there for you or you are aware of someone who poses a possible threat.

    Teaming Up – We would assume a worst case scenario here if this were to occur, but I am open to the idea of joining forces with others in the community, albeit selectively. These are purely speculative and broad thoughts at best, but I’m open to the idea, particularly our immediate neighbors.

    Weapons – Close quarters, Medium Range, Long Range vs. what would be used for hunting shows that an array of weapons could be useful, if not required. I’d say that a 9MM is fine for everyday conceal/carry with a .45 or .357 SIG for home self-defense. For medium range a shotgun is crucial and very damaging with the right gauge. There is a need for long range, but skill is built up and learned to know how to hit a target at 500 – 1000+ yards. For hunting, it’s debatable based on what you are hunting and I’d say the amount of ammo and how much you paid for your stockpile is as important if not more because you’ll be bartering with it. Let’s not forget hand to hand capabilities, too.

    Hiding Food & Family – Yes and yes! There is something to be said for leaving little to no footprint. Being reclusive and not engaging directly unless you have to would be new rules to live by. That said, there is a delicate balance, if possible, to team up with neighbors as there is better defense/threat in numbers. So, reclusive and hiding during the day, but ultra-aware at night. Burying a “Kit” halfway to a bug-out location is not a bad idea at all..

    Woman & Children – They would have to learn a variety of scenarios and how to practice and react accordingly. There would be times they would have to be alone if it was bad enough, but if security, neighbor communications, and self-defense are all taken care of than this is not a problem up to the point someone pushes.

    Locale – I’d expect hunting challenges in so many people looking to hunt the same land. There would be a high enough demand that I’m sure it would be heated or worse for some. If city dwellers were leaving for the rural areas and the whole country was truly going bad, we would be making serious decisions whether to bug in or bug out. Bugging is for obvious reasons the safest up to the point of immediate threat.

    • You might also consider a compound or cross bow for hunting. Nothing like the report of a firearm to signal to everyone in the area that you’ve just killed food. I’m trying to find a good compound bow for myself. I’m planning to spend some time at Bass Pro Shops with their archery experts to find one that fits.

  • Hntersmom

    1. this is where i panic. we live ina metro area(150,000+ pop) and towards the center part too….

    2. we would defintely have to do the shift sleeping. Ive thought about bars on the windows also., thankfully, we dont ahve alot. All of our dogs a re great watchdogs too.

    3. im sure my mom and step dad would make their way over to us. one neighbor on one side of us is former military and lives alone so maybe he would work with us.

    4.we have several weapons, crossbow, bow and arrow, several rifles, and handguns. hubby makes sure we all(well, minus the 3 year old) gets practice with everything.

    5. not sure if hiding food would help. but it would be nice to have a store someone jsut in case

    6.we’ve all had practice and im not afraid to defend my babies
    7. i can think of way too many roblems that could happen in my neighborhood!

  • Ipreach4god

    1. when people come knocking…i better know them…

    2.sleep…well, i will rotate sleep schedule with those in my “compound”…as i have said..i live on a small farm and my family all boarders me….120 acres between us…

    3.yes, i am going to pool resources with the family that lives near me…we have always planned for this. and is the reason we all live bordering each other…

    4.weapons…this is personal preference…in my house we have 3-12 gauge shot guns, 2-ar15s, 2-sks, 2-ak47s, 4 deer rifles…all .308, 2-Ruger sr9s, and multiple .22 cal rifles and pistols…i have at least 1000 rounds for each caliber weapon…and closer to 5000 in the .223….i also have the ingredients for explosive targets, flash powder, thermite, and other necessary evils…including things to make ied’s

    now in the surrounding family…i have the least weapons and ammo…

    5.i am pretty sure that hiding the food would be useless…when people realize that you are not starving…they are going to know you have food…but i will also say that my intent is to bunker down and not go out into town any more than i have to

    6.i have taught my children and wife to handle the firearms…plus they understand at this situation it is kill or be killed, i have to say, i will depend on my son to do most of the protection…he has killed many deer, rabbit, squirrel, and etc….and has the understanding of what it means to pull the trigger…yes a human is different, but it is the same thing… my area….i believe that i live in one of the best places possible…country, family as neighbors, i know the others around me, and feel comfortable with the land…

  • J – newbie

    As mentioned elsewhere, I’m focusing some of my efforts on increasing “neighbourhood/co-op” concept, including mutual protection. Not being naive here, just the opposite I think. I don’t have firearms and even after I buy another bow, it’s not much use in up-close encounters, so it would be down to mutual protection and a butcher knife! ADD to my list, pepper spray and taser(?) – not much but better than not having.

    As to a woman alone with children – mutual protection with one (or more!) neighbours is the only way I can see to have a reasonable chance of survival, especially longer-term when things became more desperate.

    I’ve never been “tested”, so have no clue how I *actually* would react in those first critical moments – well enough, I sincerely hope, as it regards using the butcher knife or bow to protect my family and the group.

    Wimpy as I admit to being, I decided long ago that I’d never try to bargain under threat ‘cause it’s definitely a case of ‘give an inch and they’ll take a mile’. (How many movies – or even a few news reports – have we all watched where a person tries bargaining & going along then is killed off anyway `cause the good guys didn’t arrive in time? Taking that to a real life emergency situation, I don’t think the outcome would be any different.)

    As to the food part … I have been thinking of where a “last ditch” food stash could be hidden. Few options because of being in apartment, but there is space in the ceiling at the sides of the bathroom extractor fan so it would have to be there.

    Here’s a question for all: Have you taken any steps toward having window bars on hand that could be screwed (or welded?) on to make surprise “unauthorized” access less of a worry?

    Enjoying coffee on the balcony this a.m. with the book and discussion zinging around in my head … and realized that living in a 2nd floor balconied corner suite means having two sides to defend (besides, of course, door to inside hall of building). I’ve seen or read advertisements for safety bars, including ones that are permanently affixed on the inside but have a key-lock way of opening if ever needed as fire exit. Am I being too paranoid considering the most likely/realistic emergency scenarios?

    • Ipreach4god

      bars on the windows…may stop some decent people, but in this case…it may only buy you a few seconds…that maybe enough…but for the cost…i can get another weapon and ammo…

      as far as being “tested”…trust a combat vet..people will rise to protect themselves…i have been shot at by a 7 year old that wanted to “protect” himself and his family…trust me a woman protecting her children scares me more than a trained adult male…

      having said all of that…i would recommend buying a firearm…a 9 mil or 40 s&w…both very capable of defending you and yours, and then take a class on firearms safety and how to shoot…if you can a defensive hand gun course would also be a great idea…

      • J – newbie

        [Late post `cause I was starting to freak out a bit with all that’s been covered plus two more categories plus all I need to do afterwards. Diverted my thoughts by meeting a friend for coffee then home to thoroughly houseclean the kitchen top to bottom + inside every cupboard! Cleaning can be very therapeutic … plus I found some long-term-storage type foods hiding in back corners (but still good), so can actually take a couple of items *off* the list, LOL.]

        Just fyi … my comment re best course for a woman alone with children was in response to discussion question, not me personally ;-). However, I take your point and feel more confident knowing the instinct to defend will rise up when needed … also a bit sad that it’s still so necessary this far along humanity’s journey.

        Always figured that a gun in my hand was more likely to end up being used against me when it came right down to it. Your suggestion to take a defensive handgun course (as well as firearms safety) put it into perspective – learning to use a potentially deadly tool successfully (be it a car, chain saw or gun) is as much about gaining confidence and overcoming fear as it is about the actual ‘how to’. Thank you. LOL, first the handgun course then maybe I’ll move on to learning how to use that chain saw … sheesh, I am such a wimp!

        P.S. Nov. 11 is your Veterans’ Day and our (Canada’s) Remembrance Day to remember the fallen and renew our acknowledgement of the ongoing debt owed to them and to all who were or still are in the military. In the spirit of the day, please accept my sincere thanks for your service and that of any other veterans in the book discussion group.

  • Melissa

    Although, I’m not nearly prepared, I’m hoping to make small mylar bags of mixed vegetables soup to hand out to people. Just tell them that’s all I have to offer to help them along to wherever they are going unless I know them and they have some skills to help reproduce food or any other needs that we would have. I’m sure if it’s been going on for awhile and they are really hungry and our food is next to nothing, it would be a different story. I just have to trust the Lord that He will help us in that decision.
    When there is a real threat of intruders, I probably won’t get much sleep but I have sons and brothers. I think we could hold down the fort unless it’s a major gang like the one in the book.
    My sons and immediate family would gather together for protection to begin with. Hopefully, other trustworthy folks would come along.
    Big guns, lots of ammo and even more prayer would be the answer to protection.
    I would possibly attempt to hide my food and family. This is where trusting the Lord would be real important to my family. It’s truly hard to know until I would actually be in the situation and it depends on how bad the situation is. Situation like the book, I would hope that more neighbors would have food and skills to offer.

    This would be very difficult for a single woman with children. I would hope that neighbors nearby would step up to help, providing she does her part too.

    I live near a main highway, I think it would cause me a lot of problems due to people possibly walking to other destinations. This is where I would like to have water available for everyone but no way I could share food with everyone walking through. I want to move!

    I need more food!

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