SHTF Preparedness – What To Do and Essentials You’ll Need

| Last Updated: March 28, 2021

If you're new to the arena of preparing for disasters, or have heard these letters thrown around a bit but still aren't quite sure what they mean, well here you go. The acronym S.H.T.F. stands for S**t, Hit, The, Fan, or the world is falling apart around you, and you need to get the heck out of wherever you are!

In this first section we'd like to focus on the shtf scenarios that don't involve hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes and other "natural disasters". This section is geared more towards what most people think when they think of preppers. Those people who seem to be a little outside of the normal way of thinking and concerned with what might happen.

But like pascal's wager demonstrates (and we know that this was originally a theological example, but work with us) it's better to live your life prepared and have nothing happen, than to not have prepared at all and lose everything.

The internet's become so polluted with all of these lists of "5,763 items to grab when the xyz happens!" that it's almost difficult to know what advice out there is legit advice, and not someone trying to fill space on a site to sell ads. In reality there's one tried and true method to really prepare for a natural or man made shtf scenario, and that's to take the steps you're able to NOW that can move you in a better direction.

Whether that's starting with planting a raised bed to grow vegetables for stockpiling food, learning to preserve meat, or spending extra money to buy more non-perishables at the store.

What is SHTF and What Could Cause it?

Like we said earlier, this first section of our disaster preparedness page is dedicated to the extreme disasters that can be prepared for, like the crash of the economy, certain volcanoes erupting and clouding the world with ash, or some sort of disease epidemic. Shtf refers to the things that could just turn this world upside down in a matter of hours or days.

There are many thoughts on what could cause a shtf scenario in real life, but for the sake of time we'll just focus on the two most popular.

The most popular belief for a shtf scenario in the US is an economic collapse. Which doesn't sound that far off, because it's how most great empires fall. Rome fell in the same way, and while Rome's fall wasn't the direct result of an economic collapse, it played a significant role leading to the end of a great empire.

America is following this same path (btw all of the people that contribute on this site are American's, we know our country is great but it's got some problems), and while America is still a superpower of a country, there are some major cracks beginning to form.

Another idea that's becoming more and more popular is a civil war within the US as a result of rising tensions between the "left" and the "right".

While this still seems pretty far off, and mostly the result of the media doing it's best to keep our attention off of the things that really matter, it's still a valid reason to prepare for the worst. Because there's no worse threat than the one that could erupt down the street in your suburbs.


As the name suggests, preppers are usually known for one thing, and that's being prepared

So if this is your lifestyle, or one that you're drawn to, we suggest you start taking notes on what you're going to need when the shtf. Also what's going to be the plan as far as survival goes after the world goes to hell in a hand basket.

Bugging Out or Bugging In?

This is the first critical question you need to ask yourself before you move forward. If you already have your preps started you'll need to make sure you're getting the things right that you need to get right. Making the decision of whether to bug in or out is the major fork in the road.

Bugging in requires a long term dedication to your home or bil (bug in location). So if you're going to bug in you need to make sure you're not moving, like, ever. You'll also need to stop looking at your residence as a home, and more of a stronghold. Because it kind of is, this is the fortress that's going to store all of your supplies for you and your family, so you better make sure it's well defended.

Bad things happen when people get desperate, and there will be plenty of mauraders who want to take your stuff, but you'll need to be ready to defend your home!

For more on what it's going to take to bullet proof your home you can check out one of our articles. And if you want to know why it's a bad idea to bury a shipping container and call it a bug in location we can also tell you that. 

Bugging out is whole different story when it comes to preparation, so let's go over a few of the highlights. Some say that this is the cheapest and least time consuming way of preparing for an emergency, but in our opinion it's really about the same as far as cost and time. Rather than spending all your time in one place you're going to be moving around constantly to stay alive.

All that moving around is going to take some help if you're bugging out with your whole family though. I'm sure that if you have kids under the age of 16, they're not going to be able to carry a fully stocked bug out bag for hours on end. So that means you're going to need to buy´╗┐ a bug out vehicle of some kind.

Who says bugging out is less expensive, have you seen these bug out vehicles?? 

Also you're going to need a bug out bag in order to make this whole bugging out thing work. Luckily for you we've done the research on the best bug out bags on Amazonbest tactical back packs for a bug out bag, as well as what needs to go into these bags.

Shtf Gear

Whether we're talking about the best bug out bag, or the most affordable night vision goggles, you want to make sure the gear you get is going to be right for you. This goes for those who are choosing to bug in and or bug out.

Go Bag Essentials

This is a pretty hot topic for people who want to make a one size fits all bug out bag, but the truth is that that bag doesn't exist. What if you packed that bag full of ready oats and candy for fuel, but the person who follows your example is a diabetic?

There are general guidelines to follow for a bug out bag, but the perfect bag is the one you make for yourself. Don't just follow someone's example without assessing your needs first.


First of all you'll need the best backpack for a bug out bag

You'll need some lightweight survival equipment in the bag as well that should be carried outside the bug out bag.

Food Stockpiling Essentials

Food seems to be a pretty vital element of survival, so make sure you're storing the right things when you're preparing for a shtf scenario.

Most of all you want to get the obvious things, like imperishables (canned foods, rice, pasta, etc.), but there are a few hacks that can help you when it comes to food storage.

Like purchasing from a company to cut out the guess work and have balanced meals.

This is only an option if you have the resources here and now, there's no need to go into debt when you can get it done on your own if you need to!

Home Security/Defense

What good is making all this preparation if you're running a home that basically has an open door policy for marauders/thieves to come and take it?

So it's worth investing in some basic home hardening to deter the would be thieves from taking all your stuff now or when the shtf. A few simple things like security cameras that are visible to a passerby, reinforced locks and windows, strategic unfriendly gardening (thorny plants).

You want the home hardening to be subtle enough to take your house out of the soft target category to someone casing your neighborhood.

Natural Disaster Preparedness

Now let's shift focus to what would be considered a bit more realistic to most people, the case of preparing for and learning how to survive natural disasters.

This isn't about surviving freak accidents like, not having the best fire extinguisher for your car.

We're here to go over what we talked about earlier, when we say natural disasters we're talking about floods, hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and earthquakes. These are events that can be predictable and totally random at the same time, so it makes sense to prepare for them just in case.

Types of Natural Disasters to Prepare for

This one is an impossible to question to give a universal answer to. Because, being from the south, I don't expect to have to prepare my family for a New York style blizzard; However, I've learned that things like floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and drought are all very real concerns in the south. 

And it's up to you to decide what you need to prepare for in regards to where you live.

Blizzard in NYC (Source)

Now it is possible for a severe change in climate to occur, causing the climates we all live in to change drastically. That's not something that's going to happen overnight though. So it's best to spend your resources only on what's going to affect you and your family right now.

Living in the south there is one question that I can answer with pretty high degree of certainty, and that's when do most floods occur? I also know how to best help my family in that situation.

Disaster Recovery Plan

With the ever present threat of a natural disaster occurring, there needs to be a plan of action for you and your family for when that time comes.

And it will come.

You'll need to have supplies like the best portable generator ready to go so that the precious food you have in your fridge doesn't spoil. After all, you never know how long you're going to be without power in a serious storm.

Your town should have a red cross plan of action for the most likely scenarios that could devastate your area. That would be the best place to start with your preparations.

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