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What is an SHTF plan – and do you, I or the next person need it?

There’s an old adage – “Ignorance is bliss”. Yeah, sure it is – until you find yourself in trouble.

That’s why I prefer and try to stick to another adage “Knowledge is power”. In the last couple of years, we are witnessing more disasters and close-to-disaster scenarios more often than before. Some people believe it’s the sign of the Doomsday coming soon. Others think that we are overexploiting Mother Nature and she is fighting back. Or we are just becoming too greedy and ignorant so we bring ourselves at the brink of catastrophe.

Whatever the case, you should have an SHTF plan.

 “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail!” These are the words of Benjamin Franklin and, oh boy, isn’t that the truth? Humans are prone to inertia – a tendency to keep an existing state until an external force changes the state.

Well, at that point it might be too late to react. Let’s see why and what you should do to maximize your chances in SHTF situations.

Do I Really Need an SHTF Plan?

The internet has allowed a free flow of information worldwide. So, today, it’s easier than ever to find information on pretty much anything.

At the same time, there is more misinformation available as well. Whom you should trust – it’s the toughest question of our days. But, you can always use undeniable facts and your common sense.

I don’t know if some secret organization wants to create chaos on our planet. I am not a world-class economist to judge if the world’s economy is on the brink of total collapse. There’s no way I can tell if aliens from some distant galaxy are coming to conquer us or if AI is going to improve enough to turn against us and destroy us.

But, there are several things that I know for sure.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters have tripled in the last 30 years. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, pandemics (even though they might not be natural), are threatening more people every year.

While they are still more or less local disasters, the world is connected and these problems affect the economy in much wider areas. You never know when some mega-disaster can happen and cross the tipping point.

Economy Collapse

Economy collapse is possible. The golden promise of infinite economic growth on a finite planet is nonsense. A growing economy needs more consumption and more population. A growing population needs more food, more jobs, and more resources. Our consumption already exceeds nature’s ability to regenerate.

Like so much else, our economy is a bubble. And it is only a matter of time when it’s going to burst. Or we can stick to unfounded hope that somehow this danger is going to disappear.

Political Turmoils

Political unrest may get out of control. Every day, there are severe political conflicts and wars in many places. There are only 11 countries worldwide not involved in some kind of conflict. The US Special Operation forces operate in more than 100 countries each year.

These turmoils don’t necessarily have to evolve into a worldwide disaster, but can you bet on it?

Food and Water

Food and water crisis are just around the corner. With a growing population and ever-rising demand, food and water shortage is a real possibility. It doesn’t seem like an immediate danger, but one megadrought can wreak havoc. And it’s just one of many possible scenarios.


All these risk factors are connected in a way. Economy problems, political crisis, and increasing income inequality create a lot of angry people around the world. While our science and medicine are improving, you can never know when modern technologies can end up in the wrong hands. Modern transportation allows easy exchange of goods and people. It also allows for easy distribution and spread of diseases.

If you still think that you don’t need an SHTF plan – good luck. But, I want to be prepared to maximize my chances when things start to unravel.

Is it possible that the world will avoid all of these scenarios? Yes, it is, miracles sometimes happen. But, relying on miracles is not the smartest strategy.

emergency preparedness

What to Do In an SHTF Situation?

Different situations call for different measures.

However, there are some common guidelines that can be applied to most SHTF situations. But, to act properly you need to be prepared. “A good preparation is half battle won.” This proverb works in almost every aspect of life and so it does for survival events. It takes a lot of planning and preparation to be able to take adequate steps when it gets ugly. If you’re not prepared, your chances are much lower and it gets much harder to survive.

In any case, it all revolves around four basic priorities: water, food, shelter, and security.

Plan Everything!

While good planning is critical, keep in mind that you can’t predict everything. In an emergency, things usually don’t go as planned. So, you need to have plan B, and C. “Plans are nothing; Planning is everything” – Dwight Eisenhower. This means that your plan should be flexible. No matter how meticulously you plan, something will go wrong. But, your plan gives you the framework so you can adapt and keep on.

Storing Water and Food

This part is easy, but it still takes some consideration. How many people do you want to include? Do the math and stock supplies for at least a month.

Dehydrated and freeze-dried food is more expensive, but it’s the best option for survival situations. These techniques extend a shelf-life from 12 months up to 25 years! Storage space is another important issue. Moisture and temperature can ruin your supplies. So, proper storage is essential.

Bug In or Bug Out

Ideally, you should keep both options open. Bug in strategy is typically safer, but it depends on many circumstances. In cases of floods or wildfires, your home-fortress might not be safe. 

If you prefer the bug out option, you need to have gas supplies to get you there. As a general rule, your bug out location should be up to a 5-day walk and one gas tank away from your home.

Medical Skills Training

You don’t need to go to medical school, but you should learn basic first aid procedures. Unless you know how to use it your IFAK, med kit or trauma kit is almost useless. 

Fire Starting Equipment

The fire used to be our best friend for thousands of years. In emergency scenarios, it is vital to be able to start a fire. It can keep you warm and dry. You can use it to purify water. Or you might not use it at all, but you must have it, just in case.

Survivalist Skills

Survivalists are true preppers, but this lifestyle isn’t possible for everyone. So, you don’t have to give up all the good sides of our society to be prepared for the SHTF situation.

While it takes years to hone supreme survival skills, mastering basic skills will dramatically improve your chances of survival. Not to mention your confidence level if the disaster lasts and you start running low on supplies.


This is the tricky part. You can never predict how ugly things can get. The hordes of people might become aggressive so it’s best to be prepared. Some preppers have enough weapons to supply a small army.

Guns provide a sense of security, but I wouldn’t rely solely on them. A couple of weapons, ammo stock, and bulletproof armors should be enough. It is more important to know how to handle your weapons than to stockpile fancy arsenal that might even endanger you if you don’t know how to use it.

You can also use your weapons to hunt if needed.

disaster survival

SHTF Checklist – Action Plan

Now that you’re prepared, you have a huge advantage over others. You have already planned everything and it allows you to stay calm and focused. Clear thinking is essential to implement and adjust your plan.

Don’t rush. While you should act quickly and decisively, stay calm and don’t rush things.

Collect information. It might be difficult to separate true and false info figuring out what’s going on will help you make the right call.

Gather your family/team members. It is not the time to wander around. Gather all people you planned to include and review your emergency plans.

Charge and fill everything from your list. This includes mobile phones, portable power chargers, water containers, and other devices.

Decide if you’re going to bug in or bug out. If you have both plans, it’s time to choose one. Sometimes it can be obvious that the threat is a short-term emergency, so you can just bug in until it’s gone. For non-predictable crises, assess which location provides better odds, your house or your bug out location.

Launch security protocols. You have already planned this so review it with your team. For example, if someone shows up in front of your house or bug out location, children go to the safest room while you check out if the intruder poses a threat or not.

Keep a low profile. If you have to leave your shelter in the first phase or later, try not to attract attention. The easiest option for unprepared people is to steal from prepared ones. So, you don’t want to attract them to your house. Sounds and smells can give you away, too.

Activate all security measures and persevere. Further actions will depend on the situation, but you’re ready, organized, and safe for the time being.

Final Words

You can’t predict all possible scenarios, but you can be ready to react and protect your family and yourself. The truth is that we all hope that SHTF events will never happen. I can’t tell the future, even though it doesn’t look too bright at the moment. Things can change for the better, but if it does get ugly, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

shtf prepping

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