Planning for a full blown SHTF event is both simple and complex. Simple because the elements of survival are basic. Water, food, shelter. If you can provide these basic elements of survival you’ve successfully won the game. Complex because there are so many variables it’s impossible to prepare for everything. However, with a little knowledge and some basic planning you can be sure to see yourself and your family through any SHTF situation.
Now, when I mention SHTF I’m talking about FULL BLOWN SHTF. This isn’t a guide to get you through a short duration power outage. This is a plan and blueprint to survive a true SHTF event. We’re talking full scale looting and watching your fellow man turn to shit slinging apes because the food trucks have stopped running. We’re talking about the EMP blast taking out the electronics and everything electrical. The decisions you make in these types of events will determine if you’ll see another sunrise.
The SHTF Planning Blueprint
When planning for an SHTF event you must first determine the following – do you live in a relatively safe area? Do you have the means to defend yourself and bug in until things have returned to normal? If you live in the country and own your own home then the answer is yes. If you live in the city on the top of a high rise apartment building then the answer is probably no.In the latter case it makes sense to have a secondary location you can go to where you have supplies and protection. It should be noted that no situation is perfect and those of you living in the country might even have to bug out yourselves.
Let’s go over when it makes sense to bug in vs when it makes sense to bug out.
Bugging in plan
In many SHTF events it’s going to make sense to stay put. In the first world an SHTF event is not going to last long especially in places like the United States. There is no agenda in Washington benefiting from the system completely collapsing despite what many paranoid preppers might have you believe. Riots, food shortages, EMP blasts (solar flares), are all situations which will dissipate given enough time and effort on the part of local law enforcement and government intervention.
Planning for these types of events is simple. Make sure you have enough food and clean water. Keep at least a weeks worth of food stocked and ready to go in case of emergencies. Purchasing a water filter will ensure you have access to clean water even if your own supply runs out. Ample lighting and heat should also be a priority. LED flashlights are cheap and in most places you can get away with extra layers and clothes for warmth. Propane powered heaters are a great option if you have good ventilation and fireplaces are an obvious solution. Propane is a solid source of power to have on hand and can fuel everything from heaters to grills without electricity. This means you can still cook and stay warm even without electricity.
Let’s cover some of the basic bug in supplies you need to plan on stocking to survive an SHTF scenario.
Food – A good supply of freeze dried food. The food should be ready to eat or easily made with heated water. Perishable food should be avoided in case of a power outage. In which case, eat all the food in your fridge first before it goes bad. My favorite survival food options are the long term food storage products from companies like Wise Foods or Mountain House. Mountain House makes very tasty meals for backpackers and hikers and you can purchase kits pre packaged with an entire weeks worth of food. Wise is long term oriented and makes packages with up to an entire years worth food. This is probably overkill for most stations but do yourself a favor and taste test until you find a brand you like. Then stock up for a rainy day.
Water – The most important element of survival. I like to keep a few 5 gallon water cooler containers in stock along with a Berkey water filter. If you have a nearby source of water you can filter the supply with the Berkey. This makes sense if you have a family and need to provide a large amount of clean water. If you’re a single guy or gal then I recommend something like the Sawyer Squeeze. Keep a couple of these in the house and in your go bag. This way if you run out of your original supply you can always obtain more even from dubious sources.
Security – Shelter and and your physical security are of top priority when TSHTF. If you have guns and ammo that’s great. If you don’t, consider picking something up even if it’s an airsoft rifle. In a full blown SHTF situation the monkeys will be rampaging through the streets looking for supplies and acting out in extremely aggressive and violent ways. When they bust through your door and see your supplies you think they’re going to go away because you asked nicely? When the apes begin to eye your wife and kids as victims what will you do?
If you have a lot of SHTF supplies but no way to defend yourself you’re only gathering a bunch of stuff for the strongest ape on the block.
I bet you any attacker would think twice about ravaging your home if you had a shotgun in your hand. In fact, if you buy one single weapon for home defense I recommend the shotgun hands down. It’s got a good spread and does serious damage in close quarters. Make meat out of any monkey who tries to bust through house – or at least make them shit their pants as they run for dear life. Check out my post on the best SHTF weapons for more info on choosing a gun.
If you have a lot of SHTF supplies but no way to defend yourself, you’re only gathering a bunch of stuff for the strongest ape on the block. A powerful gang can sweep through and take anything you have. It’s best to make sure you have some way to defend yourself and your family so you don’t fall victim to the brutality of the streets.
Communications – When the cell towers go down how are you going to communicate with the world around you? How will you know what’s happening with the situation? At the bare minimum you need an emergency radio to listen in on the emergency NOAA channels and other local radio stations. These channels can alert you to the state of the area and inform your next decisions. If the situation sounds like it’s getting worse you can make the decision to bug out. If it sounds like things are resolving themselves you have the peace of mind knowing you can safely stay in until normalcy is restored. Without this data you are quite literally left in the dark without a damn clue about what to do.
Next up you have to ask yourself how you will communicate with your loved ones in other parts of the city, state, or country. Close quarters you can get away with a couple high quality walkie talkies but you’ll need to explore more advanced modes of communication for anything else. Gray Wolf Survival has a great post on how to communicate when the grid goes down. I suggest you read that post and familiarize yourself with the technology. Long story short you’re going to need a HAM radio and some operational knowledge to get your messages out when there is no grid. Grab a couple of these and get to work studying the internet on how to use them for long range comms. With those radios you can also scan your local fire and police frequencies. This is more data you can use to make efficient and informed decisions.
To summarize this part of the SHTF planning procedure – stock food, water, survival supplies, and defend yourself and your family with whatever weapons you have.
Bugging Out Plan
The situation around you may become so bad you have to bug out of your own home to survive. If this is the case your plan is going to look a lot different than the bugging in plan. There are two crucial parts to your bug out plan – where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. You might have a fortress in the desert but how are you going to get there from where you are now? How will you blast through the traffic?
Secondary bug out location – your secondary bug out location represents your safe haven from the madness of your current location. It’s a place owned by you or by a close family member or friend. It has all the supplies you need to survive and protect yourself. Most importantly, it should be largely unaffected by whatever SHTF event is currently effecting your area. Think about where you can go if the shit hits the fan and then work out how you’ll get there.
Extraction ops – So you’ve got your secondary bug out location. Great. Now how are you going to get there? Are there multiple exit routes you can take? What backroads can you hop on if all the main roads are blocked or impassable? Leaving by car is not always a viable option due to congestion and extreme traffic conditions. In this case perhaps you can establish a line of communication with a family member or friend and arrange to meet them on foot. Once again, think about how you would establish a line of communication with someone even when the cell towers are down (Read above.)
The bug out bag
The bug out bag is a crucial part of the SHTF planning process. In the bug out bag is a number of items you’ll need to blow through any survival situation. It’ll have 3 days worth of food and water and a bunch of survival supplies to aid your successful escape from the SHTF situation. I’ve created a bug out bag checklist you can read to get an idea of what you need. It’s very similar to the go bag but contains a few more items for longer treks and hairier survival situations.
The bug out bag is there to get you to your secondary bug out location safely. It’s a bag you can grab which will temporarily sustain you in the short term. It also includes gear you can use to secure your own food if you run out of your stocked supplies. This of course takes skill so try to get to safety as soon as possible. I can tell you it’s not going to be easy hunting, fishing, or trapping without ever having practiced those skills in your past.
SHTF Planning Summary
My advice is to plan on bugging in AND planning on bugging out. Prepping for both situations adds versatility into your arsenal and increases the chances of survival. On a mental note. Put together your SHTF plan, get all the gear and supplies you need and then stop worrying. Too many people endlessesly worry about when the next SHTF event is going to take place. The purpose of putting a plan together is to give you peace of mind knowing you are prepared.
Do what you need to do to prepare and then put your mind at east. Worrying increases cortisol which not only causes your body to store fat but increases the chances of making a wrong decision. If you can stay calm your mental faculties will be firing on all cylinders – and you’ll need your mind more than anything if you want to survive.