The Great Die Off

Posted: December 14, 2014 in SHTF Preparedness, Theories & Ideas

The Great Die Off

Most of us have heard those famous words of Robert Burns“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Those of us who have spent any time at all in the service of our great country have heard one of Murphy’s Laws of Warfare, “No plan survives first contact intact”. With that being said, no matter how much prepping you do for you and your family chances are that the when the SHTF your family unit will not survive intact. I know that is a bold statement for some to swallow, so let’s look at some numbers.

Currently there are roughly 317.8 million people in the US, with annual growth rate of around 300,000 plus or minus a year. 82% of the total population of the US lives in an urbanized setting (cities and suburbs).

Based upon the above numbers we can safely say that 260 million of the US population are living in an area that is supported by man-built infrastructure that requires life sustaining items (i.e. food) to be trucked into the local area. These areas also require a centralized water and sewer treatment systems for the health and welfare of all. Also, these areas require large amounts of maintenance dollars to maintain the basic transportation infrastructure.


Now, out of that 260 million people who live in an area where man-made infrastructure is a must, how many have reached some level of preparedness? Let’s be generous and say 10% of that population has reached some level of preparedness. That works out to be 5.2 million people who reside in the urban setting that may be prepared for the catastrophic event which throws the nation into an unrecoverable turmoil.

Let’s not forget about the roughly 57 million people living in a rural setting. Because most of these people are living in areas in which the infrastructure is less reliable, we can safely say that upwards to 20% of these people may be prepared to survive without the support of an outside source of support for up to 30 days or more. That means that approximately 11.4 million of these people have achieved some level of preparedness.

So after reviewing these numbers we can safely say that approximately 16 million out of the 317.8 million have achieved some sort of level of preparedness. Don’t get me wrong that is a lot of people, but that also leaves a little more than 300 million people in the United States that have not even begun to prepared themselves in the least. That’s a big number.


Now, let’s introduce a new variable to the survival equation, maintenance medications. According to a CDC report from 2010, 44 to 48 percent of the US population are currently on at least one prescription drug. Translating that figure to a real number, it is safe to say that almost 140 million people within the US are currently on at least one prescription drug. 31% or roughly 98 million are on two or more and 11% or 34 million are using more than five. (CDC, Sep 2010).

So why is this important? Of that 44-48% of the population, a certain number of those are on prescription medications that are sustaining life in some way. Without these medications, this segment of the population will die over a given period. So, we are again back to the infrastructure issue. If the trucks don’t deliver meds, then the populace doesn’t receive their medications and the die off begins.

Within the first 30 to 60 days of an event that shuts off the delivery system, the country will see the first wave of a die-off of these people. If the nation losses the power grid the die-off could begin sooner. Without backup generators or without a backup fuel storage for the generators, most refrigerated medications will perish very quickly. Those who depend on these medications for life sustainment will in very short order suffer from this power failure. There are those lucky few who will have access to a 90 day supplies of required meds. And those will be the lucky few.

Those who require hospitalization or life sustaining medical treatment will also see will most likely suffer the same ill fate. Most hospitals do have backup generators and limited backup fuel, however, no hospital has an endless supply of medications. All those effected people will then turn to the hospital for their needed medical supplies and the hospitals supplies will be exhausted. Once that happens, hospitals will become a place of death instead of a place to seek aid.

So, based on the information from above, we can now safely estimate that we will see a large number of people who are having to take those life sustaining medications begin to die of at the end of the first 30 day period. We will again see a spike in these numbers at the end of both the 60 and 90 day period. After which we will see the numbers begin to level off for a short period and then begin to fall.

No Oil

However, let’s not forget about those who will suffer injuries that will require the advance lifesaving medicines and surgeries that will no longer be accessible. These numbers will rise sharply as the hospitals loss power and the medications dry up. We will see these numbers appear to fall, however, the number of people suffering these types of deaths should remain constant in relation to the number of survivors.

We all know the “Rule of 3’s” as it pertains to a survival situations. 3 minutes with air, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food will kill you. Most households within the US have food for a week stored. Even if its grocery buying day, most people can put enough food together to last at least another week, longer if rationing is used. However, with this understanding, we can easily see where an average household will run out of food within the first month and starvation will become common place within the first 60 to 90 days.

Most people now have no knowledge of what could be considered as wild eatables that can be easily found almost anywhere. Clover, violets and field garlic, may not be the tastiest things to eat, but they will sustain life. Knowledge such as this has been lost to most of the public and will help to usher in many deaths.

Last rope

Once people reach the point of starvation, there will be the final breakdown of the society. In more urban areas murders for food will be as common as potholes now. Those who try to escape the urban areas will most likely suffer the same fate of those who are remaining in their homes. Their lack of simple knowledge and preparations will lead to the demise of themselves and their families. Today’s popular attitude towards the general public owning and maintaining weapons in the household will surely lead to the deaths of mainly those who are leading the charge against privately own weapons.

After the first 90 days, a new normal will begin to grip country. Lawless gangs will control most of the urban areas and will be quickly running through what fuel and preserved food remains. While the less populated areas will be faring a little better, but all areas of the country will become a hellish area to try to survive in. The next 3 to 6 months the general state of the country will continue to decline as what few perishable resources are used up.

Riot 2

As the resources are used in one area, two things will happen. There will be another die off of the population and those who are able will try to leave the area.   Those able to travel will try to make it to a less populated area under the false assumption that they can live off the land. Those who cannot or unwilling to travel will meet their demise from starvation or some illness.

Those gangs who will be in control of most of the urban areas and built up areas will begin to lose their grip of control over these areas. Starvation and those disappearing resources will take their toll on the gangs. Much like the rest of the population, as those resources disappear the lawless gangs will begin to migrate away from their safe havens of the urban areas to the rural areas. However, these gangs won’t fare well in this new environment. Along with starvation, the overall general preparedness of the rural population along with the knowledge of the land will give the demise to the gang’s exploration into the country side. Firepower and the threat of violence from the lawless gangs will be met by much the same. As the fall of the lawless gangs occur the survivors will begin to enforce a form of common law as seen in the old west.


Once this migration begins, the country will begin to be transformed to an earlier state. Those lucky enough to survive through that first year will lead society through to the next stage of existence. The country will become once again a country with an emerging economy based in agriculture. The issue of providing food for the family will become the primary task of those who survived. The knowledge once lost will again be learned from old dusty books and trial and error. The family unit for survival will depend on knowledge and know-how gained in this short amount of time.

After the first harvest season, the new norm will take hold of the society. Some sections of the country will begin a recovery of sorts from the disaster and the after effects on society as a whole. Power to some areas will be restored, but the mobility will still suffer for many years to come. Medical services, food distribution and even education will be held at the same place that it was in the early 1900’s. The nation’s recovery will be slowed by both the lack a people to provide labor and the lack of knowledge that will have died off during the post disaster event. The recovery will happen, but it will be slow and the country will emerge as nothing like it is currently on the other side with very little in common with what we know now. The new society will be reborn from the ashes of the ruined society that we see today.


  1. Extremely good write. Finally, a message that is not new but heard. This transition is inevitable. The horror will be unimaginable by even today’s TV standard. To prepare, a “prepper” as most continue to market, is about living as far away from the inevitable as possible. If you live in NY or LA, you can have the entire US military standing on your porch and 5 years of food stored and your gone in days. Don’t buy ammo and AR15’s, know when to evac to a place where ammo and food will actually be quantifiable to your survival. Like your math indicates, in the death rate in these population zones lies preppers, homesteaders and survivalist.


  2. plowboy says:

    Agreed with all of your article, except the rebuilding of society. Once we go down in a real teotwawki event then the foreign armies are coming in and we are done forever. Evasion is anyone’s only hope of dying of old age after the grid is gone. Thanks and God bless!


  3. Deebee says:

    What about the 500 nuclear power plants in the US that will all critically melt down once maintenance stops?


  4. poelzi says:

    Very nice writeup.
    Unfortunately you missed one very important point, that is nuclear reactors. Each requires constant power for cooling, years after a normal shutdown. Loosing the grid should kick in some of the diesel engines but their reserves usually lasts for around 5-7 days (7 in cautious germany).
    This will cause a Fukushima like event nearly everywhere – called “loss of the ultimate heatsink”.
    If unlucky you get even spend fuel pool fires, the amount of radioactive releases would be tremendous. Cancer will affect all animals and cleanup crews basically non existent… Compared to Fukushima, 3 mile island and Chernobyl.


    • bypus says:

      You are right, I didn’t include anything about the nuclear plants. To be honest I forgot about them. However, after doing some research I did run across the SCRAM procedures for shutdown, but it doesn’t tell how long that would take. Now depending on the causation of the event, they may or may have time to take the plants off line. That being said, these plants will most likely be an issue creating died zones around them and downwind of them. If you do a little research on Chernobyl you will find that there is wildlife that is thriving in the area around the plant, but on the other hand as you approach the closure to the old city and plant the radiation level are still too high for humans to take.

      With all that being said, thanks for keeping me honest! I never claim to have all the answers, just a bunch of questions!


  5. Bill says:

    Good article, but… the quote “The best laid plans…” is actually from Robert Burns, not Shakespeare.


  6. Jim W says:

    What would cause such a situation to happen? Nuclear Bomb, EMP, or what? What are odds that anything of this magnitude would actually happen? Just asking the questions. and when?


    • BYP-US says:

      There are several things that could cause this to happen. A Nuke could lay waste to large areas of land and deviate survivors. A large enough EMP attack could shut down the grid for years. A virus could mutate to a point that we have no natural resistance against and wipeout all but a small segment of the population. Social unrest could develop to a point at a revolution against the government begins, restricting resources or shutting down the supply chain. The continuation of the western drought could in the future cause massive crop failure. A very well-coordinated terrorist offensive with attacks on keys points in the national infrastructure. All of these would weaken the national defenses to a point that we could become very vulnerable to a foreign invasion.

      As to your second question of when, it could happen in the blink of an eye.


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