What To Do When SHTF!



What to do when SHTF
What to do when SHTF

When it comes to SHTF (Shit Hit The Fan) Disaster scenarios, most people around the world will react, instead of being prepared and acting as you have planned. You need to have the right gear and know how to use it but that’s not the whole picture. You need a plan. This article is designed to help you build an SHTF plan.

This is written to help you plan for the absolute worst case. Once you understand this and have your plan ready, prepping for smaller scenarios will be a lot easier.

Of course, if you find yourself in the middle of a disaster, such as floating down the main street in the middle of a flood, or the building’s are falling down around you, this isn’t for you. In that scenario, your priority is to get yourself out. Then you need to fix yourself, help fix the people around you and then get the hell out of Dodge.

This article is all about a large event that is happening but hasn’t yet affected you – but it’s about to.

The world typically waits for something to happen and then acts on what needs to happen. For Preppers, they aim to be prepared, but can get lost. They will buy lots of equipment and learn and train, but miss the necessary assets to properly deal with a situation. You need to have these assets.

These assets are understanding what to do, and how to approach the scenario. This is what to do first when you realise you could be in an SHTF scenario.

I am also assuming here that you have a team to rally around you. If you don’t, you can’t expect to survive very long.

Different SHTF situations will need you to react slightly differently but this will give you a good grounding in what needs to happen.

1. Collect Information on the SHTF situation

Before you begin phase 1 of the plan, you really need to understand what you’re up against. This means when you’re prepping you need to set up ways of finding out what’s going on.

Should an EMP strike you will need to act differently to nearly every other disaster and preparedness situations. During an EMP blast, you will notice different things dependent on the time of day.

At Night, the first thing you’ll see is all the lights going off. If you happen to be driving it is most likely that you car will stall. I say most likely because no one really knows what will happen, and depending on the type EMP and where it goes off and the placement of any electrical parts in your car, it’s hard to ascertain what will happen.

It’s important to get in touch with your neighbours. This is critical for finding out what’s happened but also keeping the neighbourhood secure and pooling skills and resources.

If you’re at home, and it’s dark. All you will know is that you’ve lost power. So how do you know a powerline hasn’t gone dead or was knocked down by a falling tree.

The first thing you need to go is to look at something susceptible to an EMP but no linked directly to the power grid. This could be your phone, but anything battery powered will do.

Some objects won’t be affected by an EMP, so you’ve got to your use common sense a little bit here. A metal torch would probably survive if it had just a battery and a bulb, but a fancy plastic one with a microcontroller would have a higher chance of being affected by the EMP.

If you’ve done your research and work properly, which I’m going to assume you have (If You Haven’t Click Here), you should have a fully working Faraday Cage with several different electronics in. This is when they will come in really useful.

In your Faraday cage, you should have stored some form of Ham Radio. Because communicating long distance, unfortunately, does mean using electronics. A lot of repeater stations around the country have backup power which will kick in allowing you to use your ham radio to communicate and receive information.

If you weren’t in your car before you need to get to it to check if it’s still working. Because if it isn’t working it’s going to change how you proceed from here.

For other scenarios like Tornadoes and Floods, you will most likely be kept up to do on the news. This will give you time before the disaster hits you to fully understand what’s going on.

For Tornadoes, you can find out where they are coming from and the areas that will be affected. If you are in one of these areas I suggest you get out of there.

The same goes with Flooding, Fires, Tsunamis and any other possible need for evacuation. Find out as much information as you can. If you are unsure of whether to stay or go, then try and go. It’s better to be alive and dead. And it will give you a real life practice of your emergency preparedness plans and kit.

Now you understand exactly what’s going on you need to decide whether you need to get out of town or not. You will also need to gather up your team, and family to get ready to go if you choose to leave.

  1. Gather gear and people for evacuation

If you’ve decided to stay in, otherwise known as bugging in, you need to fill up any and every container you have with water because the pressure won’t be able to hold for very long. Once you’ve done that you need all of your bug out stuff in the same place ready so that if you need to leave you can do so quickly and easily.

If you’ve decided to move this is when you get your bug out bags and gear. When you’re getting your bag ready you need to keep the weight as light as possible. Because you never know the scenario you might be leaving in. If your bag weighs 100 pounds, unless you’re insanely fit you aren’t going to be able to make it too far walking, should you lose your car.

Try and keep your bag below the 30-pound mark. Check out this great example for Scott at Graywolf Survival Here. This will allow you to get it on your back and get moving. The lightness will help if there are floods as you can drive as high as you can, and then walk the rest of the way up to get even higher.

Before your move out, you need to get together with everyone who you want to travel with, and ensure they have all their gear ready and on them.

Chances are everyone won’t be at home when SHTF so as part of your SHTF preparedness plan you need to have some plan for establishing communications with your team and family.

  1. Establish communications with your team

I’m hoping you already have an emergency communications plan, as part of your emergency preparedness plan already in place with your team and you have trained with it.

In an SHTF scenario, you will need a few different ways to communicate that aren’t dependent on electronics.

If you find yourself in an SHTF situation it can be hard to get in touch with everyone in your team. I recommend having a meeting point that you all head to should you discover that there is a disaster headed towards you, and then once there attempt to make contact with those who are not there. Assigning roles for who get’s and brings you bug out bags will help make this process as smooth as possible.

If you get a chance to use electronics, nothing beats a ham radio. One of the best radios on the market is the Yaesu 857d. It’s insanely powerful, has a great menu, and can Tx/Rx on a load of different frequency bands.

I also have a Yaesu VX-8R, to use a handheld radio and it is amazing. If you are a little short of cash I can highly recommend the Baofeng UV-5R but it can be a bit confusing so set aside some time to learn how to use it. It’s a great deal, but when SHTF you want something that you know will work, which is why I go for my Yaesu.

If you can’t use electronics to reach anyone them you need to leave a message behind, and have a location like I mentioned earlier. If you go to the location and decide to leave make sure you have a pre-agreed signal that you leave, something obvious and unusual that can’t be easily changed or moved.

  1. Move to the primary rally point.

For most people the primary rally point will be somebody’s house. This does mean however that if there isn’t anyone there once you get there. If it’s an SHTF situation hopefully everyone should have noticed a remembered during your training and in your SHTF plan that they need to get their bug out bag, establish communications if they can and then move to the primary rally point.

If you pre-plan all of your routes, it will make everything one hell of a lot easier. Things do go wrong, though. People can get stuck in traffic or miss trains or buses, or not even notice the scenario at all! So you need to plan for the most probable eventuality that when you get there someone won’t be because it can greatly affect the next steps you take, and what you have or don’t have.

It is worth noting that rally points can be unusable depending on the situation. The forest could be on fire or the neighbourhood could be rioting or the building could be washed away entirely. You need a secondary and tertiary rally point set up so that they are all usable in different scenarios.

It is also entirely possible that you can’t get to any of the rally points and you have to bug out in an entirely new area. If this happens make sure, as I mentioned earlier, to leave a message so that anyone who arrives after you knows where you are. You also want to make sure the message can’t be understood by anyone else just to keep you, even more, safe.

Before you can properly move on you need everyone to get to the rally point, so you can decide the next steps you need to take.

  1. Establish Security

Once you and your team reach your chosen rally point, there may be some cases in which there are people who want to do you are, such as  if there is a terrorist attack.

In this scenario, you need to begin setting up your defenses. This could be just having a few people around the perimeter of your location and then you can work on improving the defenses later.

If you’re in a neighbourhood, start finding out who’s going to be there (out of people who weren’t in your team) and find out their skills and abilities so you can establish a neighbourhood watch. If you’re in a decent size town or a city you can expect areas to begin rioting very quickly.

  1. Collect Intelligence on the situation

This is when having a team becomes the only safe way to carry on. You need to ensure you have fire, water, shelter, fire, etc and you’re guards are set up ready to scan the area to warn the rest of you so you have time to react effectively.

Once you’ve got your basic camp set up you need to do your three inventories. To get more information on these I highly recommend reading the SAS Survival Handbook, written by the guy who trains the elite British army corp.

The three inventories are knowing what’s on you, what’s in your immediate area and what’s in your extended area.

What’s on you?

First you have to know what’s on you. In this scenario you already know who’s with you, so you need to fully establish roles. This will be who’s in charge of what. For example, a former medic being responsible for anything medical.

You then need to understand what kit everyone has. If you’re the leader this is important. Lay out what you have and pile the items based on how it will help you, and make sure you test everything so it properly works (Don’t light all your matches, obviously). This is highly important as in an SHTF scenario chances are you won’t have time to gather new equipment and resources right away.

Once you’ve done this pay attention to what you don’t have. So you can begin planning how to deal with all the scenarios that can arise, such as running out of food or water.

What’s in your immediate area?

Next up you need to understand what’s in your immediate area. This is your second inventory. Take a look at what’s around you. What’s the weather? How much daylight do you have? What food is available in the area? What could you use for shelter right now? Where could you get water from? Is it safe to send some scouts out to gather a few things?

In the Army, there’s an acronym that will help you with this. It’s called METT-T, it stands for Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops available and Time available.

Mission:  In a disaster situation the mission is to get everyone out alive.

Enemy: The enemy is most likely the environment, but it is highly possible you could be under threat by animals and even humans.

Terrain: This is a big one. It will be difficult to get a full view of the terrain around you but as you are in a predetermined rally point you should already have a good idea of the resources and the dangers of the terrain around you.

Troops: You will have already started this one but you need to understand everybody’s background both in a profession and hobby respect. Ask about any survival training, medical training and try to ascertain their fitness level.

Time: Time will definitely affect you in a survival situation. If there’s a flood or hurricane heading towards you, you need to be ready to move quickly. If night’s coming you need to have a fire going and shelter made.

Run through the acronym and understand what you have in your immediate area and who you have with you.

What’s in your extended surroundings?

The third inventory needs to take into account what you can’t see.

The best way to achieve this is to get up to a high vantage point. You can climb up a tree or get yourself to the top of a hill. Whatever you do, don’t put yourself or anyone else in danger. Make sure everyone is secure at the camp first.

When you’re in your vantage point, pay attention to where water might be. People need water so they will gather around it. Look for any cuts in trees or land or vegetation, in some cases, this could be a stream.

Compare you see to the map you have to understand whether there has been any damage by whatever SHTF situation you find yourself in. If you feel like the danger is headed towards you, you can decide now whether you need to move.

Now you understand what you have, you need to meet up with anyone left behind.


  1. Establish a form of communication with the missing team members.

Once you’re at the location you’re going to be staying at for a while, you may discover that not everyone is there with you. If you’ve already got your radio plan ready and preestablished, you’ll be able to get in some form of contact quite quickly with them.

If everyone knows the area you will be in, you can leave messages to help get the missing to find you faster. As always, planning the messages beforehand will help you.


  1. Meet up with missing team members

Once you’ve made contact with the missing members you need to get them to you or you need to go and meet them. At this point, your primary mission needs to be getting everyone together, as they will bring valuable resources and training and knowledge that you might not have otherwise. You must find them even if you have to spend a little less time collecting firewood or water.

If you find you need to leave your camp the biggest decision is who stays and who goes to find the missing member. Most of the time you need to leave a few people at the camp to keep it secure, keep any fires going and prepare any shelter


  1. Decide your next steps

Now you have everyone together, you have a basecamp, and you know what you have and what you’re up against.

In some cases, you might have temporary rally points that are designed for meet up and quick security but not long term survival.

If you’re in the place you plan to stay the larger questions you need to answer are the same.

  • What do you do if you are approached by people who may help you or may be a threat to you?
  • Do you begin to prep for a longer journey to an unaffected area?
  • If there is an imminent threat at your location what are the steps for moving out?

Continue to collect information and do your three inventories regularly. Assess the situation and make plans for your next steps.



As I’m sure you can see by now being prepared is the key. It’s much better, however, to make sure your plan is followed. There’s no point having an amazing plan if nobody sticks to it. It’s better to have a half decent plan that you follow.

Is there anything you’d add? Any ideas or experiences on the matter? Let us know!