You’ve probably seen or heard the acronym SHTF but what does it really mean? Even more importantly how can you be prepared? SHTF quite literally stands for “shit hits the fan” (“stuff hits the fan” if you prefer). This is the kind of scenario when the worst of the worst has occurred. It is sometimes used in day to day conversations but from a survivalist’s point of view SHTF would be the worst situation plausible. Some SHTF examples may be a nuclear war, world war, natural disaster or economic collapse. It may be a local problem or one that affects the entire nation. Being prepared for when SHTF is not only a good idea but could save your life if, and when, it happens.
There are so many ways that S could H the F. It may vary depending on your view. However, a true SHTF situation is one that impacts a large population. This could be on a local, national, or global scale. In addition the duration of the event can vary as well.
- Natural Disaster: Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes are all examples of a natural disaster that could change the course of your life. Even though a blizzard or hurricane may only affect a certain county, town, or state, it can still have a huge impact. Your life can be turned upside down for several weeks, even months, as repairs are made.
- Pandemic: It’s only a matter of time before there is another viral outbreak that changes the population in a drastic way. Viruses are constantly evolving which means its not if a pandemic will occur – but when. If you remember back in 2009 there was the H1N1 pandemic. Over the course of one year (from April 2009 – April 2010) more than 60 million people, from the US, were infected and over 12,000 of those cases ended in death.
- Nuclear War: Nuclear war will either be a direct result of World War III or a direct cause. If there is a true nuclear attack on the US then it will forever change the nation. It will impact all living things, electricity, communication, the transportation system and numerous others.
- Financial Collapse: Believed to be the most plausible SHTF scenario, financial collapse is a very real possibility. In fact, many people think we never truly recovered from the recession in 2008. A collapse could cause the stock market to crash as well as a bank holiday. You could lose access to your money indefinitely. As a result there would be huge spikes in prices of the necessities such as gas, bread, and milk.
With any major change you run the risk of major problems, especially if this change is due to one of the above examples. With a SHTF scenario you can pretty much guarantee that many, if not all, of these areas will be threatened. Below is a list of possible areas that could be impacted if SHTF.
- Communication: During a SHTF scenario communication could be vital to your life but it will probably be extremely difficult. It’s possible, even probable, that your cell phone or landline will no longer work. In addition, it’s a definite possibility that you will not have access to your computer or television. This greatly impacts how you are able to receive information about what is going on. If the news broadcast system is no longer operational you will be in the dark as far as what is happening in the outside world. It may even be impossible to communicate with loved ones in order to ensure they are safe. With this being said, it is important to have access to other forms of communication besides your cell phone. Solar powered radios, walkie talkies, or prearranged signals are just a few suggestions.
- Emergency Services: I’m sure you can imagine that during any large scale problem there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people that will require assistance all at the same time. Due to this huge influx in need for medical assistance, as well as law enforcement, it is bound to overwhelm those who can help. Without enough emergency personnel there will be people who are left without the services they require. An even worse case scenario is that there are no longer emergency services available, or the personnel is not able to get to anyone in need. If things truly get bad enough it is possible that the people who are supposed to protect/help you bail on their duties in order to keep their own families safe. If this is the case you will need to be aware of some basic medical knowledge as well as how to handle yourself in a situation where law enforcement may be needed but is not available.
- Sanitation & Health: During many of the examples when SHTF the water and electric systems will be impacted. Without water you will have to get creative on ways to stay hydrated and to manage your hygiene. Garbage piles may stack up leading to severe illnesses. In addition to water and cleanliness you will also most likely have to worry about access to food.
- Safety: This might be the largest category in which you are likely to experience problems. It’s only a matter of time, in a situation like this, where you will have what others want. This is a definite cause for concern in regards to your safety. You will need to be able to protect yourself from others as well as maintain your health. Sometimes desperate people do desperate things.
Many people believe that a SHTF scenario will never occur. These people may not prepare for it ahead of time. But wouldn’t you rather be prepared and have nothing happen than have SHTF and be left without supplies? There are numerous ways to prep for a situation like this. Many people, sometimes called “doomsday preppers” never advertise that they are in fact “ready” for a situation like this to occur. This is most likely so that if SHTF there wouldn’t be anyone bombarding them and knocking on their door for safety. It’s common for people to keep quiet about their preparations. With this being said, there is a television series dedicated to these “doomsday preppers” and how they go about preparing.
Developing a Plan
As previously stated it is a much better idea to have a plan in case S does H the F than to find yourself without a clue what to do when all hell breaks loose. This is why over 160 million Americans have survival gear and a plan ready. If you are starting from square one with your preparations you might want to talk to those around you. In fact, there are quite a large number of preppers that do so as a team. Humans are social animals and are more likely to survive in a pack. Try chatting with friends or family and get a group together to plan as a team.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to SHTF prep. You’ll need to take many things into consideration. Where do you live? How will the landscape impact your survival? Someone living in Los Angeles will have a very different plan than someone living in Upstate New York. With this being said, there are several things that most preppers have in common.
- Skills: It might be common sense that there are several skills you should be fluent in. First aid training is a must. You’ll want to brief yourself on some basic trauma care. It’s not enough to just have a first aid kit, you’ll need to know what to do with it. In addition, you will also want to know how to start a fire. You will want to be sure you have ample resources to do so and what you will do if some of those resources are not available. In addition, you’ll want to know various ways to build a shelter. If you choose to have a weapon in your survival kit you’ll need to have the skill set to use it appropriately and effectively. It’s also imperative that you know the Rule of 3.
- Survival Pack: You can be mentally prepared all you want but if you do not have resources set aside of a SHTF situation then you are not truly ready. Again, depending on where you live, your medical needs, and if you are prepping with a team, your survival kit may look different compared to someone elses. As a general rule of thumb you’ll want non-perishable food and water. You’ll need a variety of medical supplies. You’ll need various tools as well. Here is a complete list of survival pack essentials.
- Navigation: In a SHTF situation you will most likely need to evacuate your home. With this being said, it’s important to know the layout of your neighborhood, town, and community. You will probably need to move to somewhere safe which may be a challenge. Be sure you know a wide variety of routes for how to enter and exit an area. Plan for a situation when you don’t have access to your vehicle as well.
Even though there are over 160 million Americans who are prepped and ready there are still millions that are not. Don’t be one of those people. Plan ahead for when SHTF.