Amongst some prepper communities, there is an enormous elephant in the room, a topic too scary and uncomfortable to think about: a full-blown, catastrophic “sh•t hits the fan,” or SHTF, type of event. So instead of addressing and prepping for the issue, it’s easier to focus on preparedness for other short-term emergencies.
However, SHTF survival is too important to not talk about. SHTF plans that address long-term SHTF events are vital to have prepared ahead of time—because if the time comes and you’re not prepared, it will be too late.
Keep reading to learn about the vital components of a high-quality SHTF plan so that your SHTF survival skills are ready when you need them.
Preparing for every possible SHTF scenario under the sun is impossible. However, a couple of SHTF scenarios are somewhat more realistic than others. Therefore, any homestead, survivalist, or prepper focused on self-reliance and survival should consider the following four possible SHTF scenarios.
Regardless of the catalyst of an SHTF scenario, the fallout or aftermath of any SHTF events are similar.
Regardless of the SHTF catalyst and the impending aftermath, the first step in any SHTF survival plan is deciding between bugging out or bugging in.
Bugging out vs. deciding to bug in is an ongoing discussion within the prepper community. One is not definitely better than the other; it all depends.
For most people, the decision is based on how they’ve been prepping and their survival style.
But ultimately, it comes down to the specific SHTF scenario, because everything can change overnight, regardless of how you’ve prepped.
In your SHTF plans, you may need to evacuate or bug out. In most cases, people will choose to bug in because their home is where they feel safest and have the most resources. However, if you have taken the time to build a stockpile of supplies at a bug-out location, evacuating may be the better choice. Here are some reasons your SHTF plan may include bugging out:
Depending on the SHTF scenario, hunkering down at home may be the best option for you and your family. There are five reasons you might choose to bug in instead of bug out:
Regardless of these reasons, not everyone will choose to hunker down. Many preppers prefer to use a bug-out location as their haven during an SHTF planning.
Even if you decide to outfit your home as a survival shelter during an SHTF scenario, you may eventually need to bug-out. In this scenario, you will be glad to have developed a safe bug-out location (BOL) to continue surviving with your family.
As you begin to formulate a bug-out location, it will be essential to consider the following factors:
Whether you bug out or stay at home during a full-blown SHTF survival scenario, your priorities are the same. Understanding the survival priorities is essential for crafting your SHTF plans ahead of time. The survival priorities are also critical for decision-making throughout the entirety of any SHTF survival situation.
survival rule of three outlines what the core four survival priorities should be for any survival situation. The rule of three states that a person can survive…
By following the survival rule of three, it becomes evident that any SHTF plan should incorporate detailed guidelines for obtaining and preserving the core four survival priorities at whatever cost:
Depending on the scenario, accessing breathable air can look like many different things; for example, evacuating from a smokey wildfire, a flooded home, or the fallout zone of a chemical weapon.
If evacuation is your primary preventative measure, we recommend devising plans for urgent and planned evacuations. Urgent evacuation only affords you minutes, perhaps seconds, to get out. Planned evacuation leaves you more time to pack and gather supplies. Regardless, it’s good to have backup plans ready just in case your evacuation doesn’t go to plan.
For smokey, poisoned, or otherwise unbreathable air, incorporating gas masks and face coverings into your SHTF plans could be life-saving, enabling you to survive the first three minutes and move on to the next priorities.
Your survival shelter will vary based on the particular SHTF survival plan you are following. It could be a tent you pitched in the woods, a bushcraft survival shelter, your basement, or a family cabin in the countryside.
The shelter itself doesn’t particularly matter. What matters is how well the shelter protects you from the elements. Your shelter needs to insulate you from the cold, shelter you from rain, provide shade, and protect you from wild animals and insects.
After you have accessed breathable air and have a safe shelter for the time being, then it will be time to prioritize water and food, respectively.
Having enough water for a long-term SHTF scenario is a significant hurdle. One gallon per day is the recommended minimum quantity of water for a single person to stay hydrated and bathed. If you are a family of four and are planning to survive an indefinite amount of time, the water you might need increases exponentially.
Therefore, prepping water ahead of time is critical—but so is having the means to access more water whenever necessary and treating the water so that it’s safe to drink. Besides the water you prep at home or your bug-out location, we recommend having three other strategies for collecting and treating water, such as rainwater collection, chemical treatments (like bleach), and commercial water filters.
The last survival priority your SHTF plan needs to consider is emergency food, and a lot of it, especially if the outcomes of the SHTF event are particularly severe. It could be an unknown amount of time before you have access to your grocery store again—perhaps never.
We make three categories when we think about emergency food for SHTF survival.
Just because it’s uncomfortable to think and talk about the worst-case scenario does not mean we should avoid it. In fact, it’s the opposite; as self-reliant preppers, homesteaders, and survivalists, we owe it to our family and friends, who may rely on us for help, to be prepared with high-quality SHTF plans—just in case.
For those of you new to the prepping community, developing a thorough SHTF plan may seem overwhelming. That's why it's crucial to begin with a step-by-step approach. Start by conducting a risk assessment, taking into account your geographical location and potential local and global events that could disrupt your way of life. This first step will guide the rest of your SHTF planning process.
Part of your SHTF plan should also include a communication strategy. When disaster strikes, normal lines of communication may be disrupted, making it difficult to get in touch with loved ones or receive important updates. Consider investing in two-way radios or satellite phones, and establish a communication protocol with your family and community. Remember, knowledge is power, especially in an SHTF scenario.
Don't overlook the psychological aspect of surviving an SHTF scenario. High-stress situations can take a toll on mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and even trauma. Incorporate stress-relief techniques into your SHTF plan, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. Ensuring your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health when it comes to SHTF survival.
We hope you enjoyed this blog article. For more, visit our Practical Prepper blog. You will be able to find helpful articles about survival checklists and the typical MRE shelf life.