Maybe you have no idea what SHTF means? Or maybe you know exactly what it means but you aren’t sure how to completely and competently prepare for SHTF Whether it is trending news or age-old prepping, our entire site is based on SHTF preparedness. SHTF means the world has crashed and burned. It means we are all left to our own devices for survival. SHTF doesn’t care that you just had a baby, or that your bank account has stacks of cash. SHTF will render banks useless and food and water will suddenly be at a premium. If you aren’t prepared for SHTF, your life, and the lives of those family members you are responsible for, will suddenly be on a short timeline.
Depressing, I know, but the fact is, just getting a basic grasp of SHTF can go a long way in helping you survive and potentially thrive following a SHTF event.
SHTF literally means s#%t hit the fan. This could be the result of a number of SHTF events. Many people will tell you that prepping and SHTF is a conspiracy theorist hobby. However, consider the facts: how many dynasties in the history of the world have survived unblemished? The Roman empire, the Incas, and the Mayans were all societies that at the time, their people thought to be impenetrable by evil or by mother nature’s wrath. The list of societies that thought they’d last forever is long and illustrious.
Do you think the western world will last forever? If so, stop reading, you’re good to go. But if you think any of the below is possible SHTF scenarios we could see in the future (or your children or grandchildren’s futures), you might want to stick around.
SHTF Scenario – What Could Prompt Societal Collapse?
A SHTF scenario is any adverse event that could result in the complete or partial malfunction of technology. Once technology falters, access to credit/debit will be difficult if not impossible. Availability to clean water will be unlikely. Food will spoil. And civil discord will set in causing you and your family’s safety to be compromised. Believe me, when there is no food and water, people will rob and kill to get it. If you have any without any means of self-defense, you’re in trouble.
Earthquakes: For most people, they think that earthquakes are a California thing. Most people are wrong. The worst case scenario is actually a fault line that resides underneath of the midwest United States. The New Madrid fault as it is technically termed, would completely decimate our nation’s infrastructure and immediately kill millions of people if it were to slip. The Midwest has few building codes that could stand up to such force.
Those left alive would be immediately thrust into a SHTF scenario whereas water would be undrinkable and debit cards and ATMs rendered useless.
Volcanoes: What? Volcanoes in America? Yep, and it’s a bad one. The Yellowstone Volcano is one of the biggest threats of a supervolcano eruption in the world. If the Yellowstone volcanoes were to pop its lid, the air for hundreds of miles would be unbreathable and places as far away as Pennsylvania and New York would immediately go into a nuclear winter for months and possibly years.
War: While it often feels unlikely, humans have a history of wanting to control one another. War is always a very real possibility for every nation. In America, the divided lines have been more defined and transparent ever since President Trump took office. Whatever side you are on, realizing that there are two sides that refuse any real negotiation or communications is a sign of potential civil war.
EMP Attack: A decade ago, when I’d bring up an EMP attack potential in a SHTF conversation, I’d get laughed out of the building. But ever since places like Forbes and even liberal-leaning Slate have posted real EMP attack scenario potentials, people have begun to listen more. An EMP attack can be the result of a foreign nation (think North Korea), or even a natural solar flare (this has happened over and over in history).
Tyranny: The groupthink says that the government turning on its people in America is the tune of conspiracy theorists. But is it? The government’s increasing overreach through laws has created an environment ripe for taking away people’s freedom. If things get bad, or the government continues to exercise greed, it is possible that they turn on us. And here’s the thing, power and water are owned by your government. They can flip switches whenever they decide they need to and you and your neighbors will be without power and water and probably money.
Stock Market Crash and Economic Collapse: This is one of the most popular SHTF scenario you will find. An economic crash, fueled by a stock market crash or even the evolution of artificial intelligence replacing labor workers, would propel the western world into some rather harsh times. The government would be unable to provide food and water for the herd. So the herd would come looking for other ways to obtain it. Read my what happens if the stock market crashes article for some more information on how to prepare for such a SHTF catastrophe. Do you know how to store money without a bank?
A Pandemic or Epidemic: A disease or illness sweeping across the globe is a real possibility today with the way humans can travel almost anywhere in short time. Crowded bus stations and planes the recirculate air, nations that are prone to viruses such as Ebola being in close proximity to other nations that travel readily makes our world ripe for a global outbreak or pandemic. Read my what is a pandemic guide to further educate yourself on pandemics.
SHTF Plan – Now What?
If you weren’t prepared for SHTF before the catastrophe happened, you won’t likely fair well. That’s why it is important to follow prepper news and always have your ducks in a row. Preparedness can save you and your family members lives.
In order to not fall victim to reactive actions, you’ll need to understand what happens when SHTF goes down. It’s the easiest way to prepare because it opens your eyes to what you will be up against and what you’ll likely need.
Clean Water will be gone. A true SHTF scenario playing out pretty much means that your access to clean water will be gone in terms of public water systems. Without power, it is impractical to believe that tap water would be safe to drink.
Food will spoil within days. Whether it is your food in your refrigerator that no longer has power, or the food remaining on the shelves of stores, its all going to go bad. If you didn’t have a food plan in place, it’s likely going to be too late.
Cash will be king, the ATMs will be rendered useless. If you live off of debit and credit cards like most Americans do, you’ll have no way to truly buy anything other than by offering up trade. But the items worth trading will be few and far between.
Fuel pumps won’t work, so your car will be useless after some time. If you didn’t have a bug out vehicle plan, you aren’t likely to have much fuel to run on.
Over the course of weeks and even days, desperation will fuel civil discord. Roaming gangs of people looking to get their hands on water, food, ammo, guns, and cash, will invade neighborhoods. They will look to steal gas from cars. And they will likely look to commit even more atrocious criminal acts.
SHTF Communication plan: You know, that pretty iPhone of yours isn’t going to be able to text, call, or email anyone when catastrophe strikes. So how could you communicate with your husband or wife who is at work? What about your child that’s away? Parents?
Having a SHTF plan already mapped out for where to meet up is essential prepper stuff. Even better, having a SHTF plan that involves neighbors (what if you have to defend your area) is smart as well. Meet up spots and the ability to utilize simple means of communication can save your life during a SHTF scenario.
Bottled water: A bottled water supply is the easiest way to deal with a lack of clean water in your region. If you have the storage room, its important to always have some bottled water on hand.
Survival water filter: You can only keep so much bottled water on hand, at some point, you may be forced to filter your own water. You can check out my best survival water filters guide for more information on that, or Google the subject. Either way, having a water filter for SHTF or even for short-term catastrophes is just smart.
Longterm food storage: There are lots of ways to prep for food storage, including MRE meals, canned foods, and food made specifically as prepper food by manufacturers. Any of them will work and probably save your life in a SHTF scenario and none of them are difficult nor overly expensive to achieve.
SHTF Gun: I know, a lot of people are either uncomfortable with guns or don’t like them. And if you don’t feel good about guns, you shouldn’t own any. Owning a gun comes with tremendous responsibility in safe storage and gun education. But the fact remains, SHTF guns are essential for self-defense during a SHTF scenario.
Ammo: What good is even the best SHTF gun when you don’t have any ammo? Even in good times, there has been evidence of ammo shortages, including the famously cheap and available .223 ammo. Stockpiling ammo for your SHTF gun, or knowing how to load your own ammo, is smart business when it comes to SHTF preparedness. Additionally, ammo can even be used for trade.
Gas and fuel: Fuel pumps aren’t likely to work during SHTF, so if you don’t have some fuel stockpiled, you’ll have to run on what your car has in it. Breaking into fuel pumps is going to be tough and likely you’d be out-manned by more desperate individuals looking to steal fuel for purposes of resale or trade value. You could do yourself a favor and learn to siphon gas as well.
Cash: Most Americans keep all of their cash in a bank. Let’s be honest, you’d be a fool to keep your life savings under a mattress. But having even a thousand dollars in cash in a safe in your home is a reasonably smart idea.
A Gas Mask: Some SHTF scenarios will cause the air to become toxic. Above, we explored the potential that a Yellowstone volcano could offer up. Being able to breath is the priority when the airs becomes toxic.
Fish antibiotics: What happens in a SHTF scenario that potentially went on for months or years when you get sick or injured? Fish antibiotics could be a live-saving doomsday medication. Please read my full prepper antiobiotics guide for more information on this subject.
Two-way radios: Communication with family and friends will be at a premium after cell phones and even land lines are disabled. Two-way radios are cheap and they can play nicely into a doomsday, SHTF plan with family, friends, and neighbors.
A Bug Out Bag: While many SHTF scenarios have you staying in, some might force you to evacuate. A massive civil uprising at your work or in your area could force you to have to bug out. In this case, having your bug out essentials all in one handy bag that’s ready to go is smart.
A SHTF scenario is hardly conspiracy theory, you don’t have to look any further than history to realize that. Following prepper news is the first step in being prepared because it keeps you up to date on political and environmental factors that could result in a doomsday situation. Being prepared doesn’t have to happen overnight, you can do it over time. A little here and a little there could greatly benefit you if things ever went south. You also don’t need to break the bank, many prepper supplies are super affordable, everyday items.
Here is a list of SHTF articles I suggest you read.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.
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