All people, even the most oblivious of earth-dwellers, have a tiny creeping fear in the back of their minds that everything could go to hell at any time. But the majority has convinced themselves that while a serious SHTF situation may happen to others, it could never hit so close to home.
Preppers and survivalists by definition are more accepting of the possibility of disaster and so feel a more pressing need to prepare for the worst case scenario.
Then of course, there are the “C'est la vie” types that will accept the hand fate deals them, come what may.
But if you’ve given any thought at all to the possibility of societal collapse, the obvious place to start would be at what might cause the fall in the first place. And with the state of the country and the world today, the potential causes for SHTF isn’t nearly as short or unlikely as we would hope.
In this article we will take an honest look at some dangerous realities of the world in which we live, and in so doing point out 7 credible categories of SHTF events that could very well change our existence in ways we can barely imagine. It’s up to you to decide which are more likely to occur or concern you the most, but having some knowledge of the potential threats can only help you be better prepared.
Following are some possible causes of SHTF that we are going to talk about and what you can do to prepare (not listed in any particular order of likelihood)…
- Massive Power Disruption
- Large Scale Natural Disaster
- Economic Collapse
- Widespread Terrorism
- Epidemic Health Crisis
- Martial Law Imposed
- Cyber Attack
You may have noticed I didn’t include some of the less likely events… like invasion from outer space, asteroid strike, massive gravitational shifts or the ever-popular zombie apocalypse. Not that these wouldn’t be life-changing, but for the purpose of this article I’m sticking with more credible threats.
So here we go…
Ever have one of those days when it seems like you, everyone around you, and all the computers, cell phones, credit card machines are just not with it? It is possibly because of a geomagnetic storm caused by solar weather. Those lovely auroras we sometimes see in the sky are caused by solar winds often from a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).
According to NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – a CME can take as short as 18 hours to reach earth and disturb the ionosphere, among other things, leading to disruption in radio waves, GPS, and many other communication paths. Other solar emissions can reach our planet as quickly as a few minutes.
The damage comes in the form of an Electromagnetic Pulse. EMPs from other sources can create similar havoc and then some. They can be natural or man-made, intentional or accidental (maybe even the ever-theorized ET invasion). When lightning strikes, a natural EMP occurs. That level of damage is one we can grasp but think of a nuclear detonation (NEMP).
A reaction of that magnitude could immobilize vehicles, electricity on every level, cause infrastructure and other fires, radiation, and even be harnessed as a direct weapon of its own.
Regardless whether natural or man induced, electronics and power systems could be disrupted or destroyed depending on the scale of the incident.
PREPARATION: If faced with EMP situations, our best measure is to be ready to survive without these amenities that can be affected. Alternative power sources, stored and/or growing foods, materials for cooking, pre-1970 vehicles and alternative travel – such as horses – are all good ideas.
That said, the best way to protect your electronics is with a Faraday Cage. Nineteenth century scientist Michael Faraday knew there was more than one reason to keep certain frequencies and waves in or out.
What began as an experiment with foil on the walls has become an industry of protection. From small bags to seal your batteries and devices to building a room or structure that is fully lined, there are highly affordable options for this protection. You can even build your own Faraday coverings right at home.
Forgetting the CME as its own natural disaster, there are many other ways Mother Nature can strike with little or no warning as she has before and most certainly will again.
Many consider this area the most plausible scenario to plan for because there is a long path of this type of destruction in current history. So far mankind continues to recover from these events, albeit sometimes after mass casualty, but will it always be possible?
Nearly every culture on the planet shares a story of a “great flood” or other similar mass extinction event caused by the hand of nature. The dinosaurs would agree, sometimes you just wake up one day and BOOM: SHTF.
Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Wildfires, the list goes on and on.
But it’s not always as simple as we think. Of course you know an earthquake will shake buildings or effectively destroy a city. Serious damage and massive loss of lives would occur. But what about the after effects?
Many do not realize that those quakes shake more than structures. Gas and power lines are often disturbed if not destroyed and even a day later you can start to see fires sprouting up left and right. The same is true for massive flooding and tornadoes. Often the greatest damage is yet to be seen in the coming days and weeks after the event originally strikes.
FEMA provides a detailed page here, which minimally touches on these facts in relation to quakes.
PREPARATION: A storm shelter is excellent to survive the initial event of a tornado or even a hurricane in some cases. Having an escape plan, stored food and water, batteries for a radio and heating sources are important in case utilities are compromised for extended periods.
For larger-scale emergencies it may be necessary to leave your property. If not, you will want to be ready to be fully self-sufficient with cooking, water, washing and other day-to-day needs for long periods. Tents and other camping gear may also prove useful if your buildings are compromised.
It could start on a single day or slowly deteriorate over a period of time. The economy has collapsed once in recent years and will again at some point in the future.
Even with clear warning that the value of property and the dollar are waning, there is often little that can be done to stop it or protect your assets once it has been set in motion. Homes dramatically lose value, stock levels plummet, and civil unrest can spill right into the streets.
And it certainly doesn't help that the so called economic “experts” seem to ignore the lessons learned from past and make the same mistakes over and over again.
One thing we all know is that when society loses its comfort zone where money is involved, panic sets in. People fear not being able to eat, pay bills, be transported to their destinations, and generally lose their way of life. This can be depressing, a source of dread, and therefore eventually dangerous on a grand scale.
With our current national debt considered an atrocity by many citizens (and foreign nations), a lack of a clear plan to improve this, and the likelihood that it will continue to get worse before it gets better, our odds of sinking into a very deep hole are getting higher by the stock trade. If this seems like a remote concern, have a look at this.
PREPARATION: One person cannot prevent economic collapse but much can be done to ensure you and your families are not victims of the crisis, however long it may last. Food, water and arms are very good places to start. Having skills and amenities to trade are also good guarantees.
As money will have less value (or even none!), consider other valuable things a human may wish to use as currency such as extra supplies, medicine and more. These things are wonderful to have in case of any long term economic disaster like massive loss of utilities from an EMP, isolation resulting from natural disaster, even aliens or zombie apocalypse.
Ok, I had to add the aliens and zombies somewhere but now you’re covered from all angles.
9-11 was an eye opener for Americans who never considered themselves vulnerable to foreign attack. Since that time we’ve spent billions on prevention and counter-terrorism measures. The threat is more real today than most of us can recall in our lifetimes. The potential for not only foreign but home-grown terrorism is ever present and seems to creep back up just as soon as we start to think it has calmed down.
Our enemies have succeeded in placing that ever present sliver of fear in our minds. While the possibility of facing a suicide bomber or a crazed gunman is no longer inconceivable, as individuals we rarely believe it can happen to us.
One thing that can be said without doubt… we now KNOW an attack can happen anywhere and at any time.
There is an even uglier side to terrorism that seems to be gaining momentum… the threat of biological warfare! Every sane individual is appalled by the thought of chemical or biological weapons and the suffering they bring.
This particular threat cannot be tolerated. It’s apparent that unity and self-sufficiency are not just the concern of a family, but of the nation when it comes to preventing such atrocities.
PREPARATION: Have guns and gas masks! Other than that, vigilance is the best way to prepare for and protect against terrorism.
I’m a firm believer in “If you see something, say something. Forget all the pansy politically correct crap… not speaking up could cost lives.
I would much rather apologize to someone I’ve offended with my concerns than apologize to the family of a victim that might have been saved had I spoken up!
With good cause, words like outbreak and epidemic strike fear in the hearts of the masses. Any type of rapidly spreading disease or illness would affect every aspect of life. Even the threshold of your home could be compromised.
In a world so interconnected, it could also be very difficult to stop once it gets out of hand.
Scary reality… terrorists are well aware of the fear and panic that would come from such attacks even on a small-scale, so any location where people gather could be a target. If a weapon was released on our nation that included the potential to multiply or further infect after its initial exposure, the threat of widespread damage would increase exponentially.
But a widespread health crisis doesn’t have to come from an act of aggression.
The same effects would occur with a natural viral outbreak. Everyone around us would be potentially contagious, causing much of society to isolate. Children could be left on their own if guardians are exposed. Medicine would be in high demand and people may be willing to do anything for it. Food and water sources could be compromised for the extreme long-term with any form of contaminant.
Don’t think it could happen in this age of advanced medicine? Think again!
According to the International Medical Corps, 655,000 die from Malaria per year and the infectious disease is found in over 50 countries. Children pay a fatal price at a rate of one per minute in Africa where 90% of cases are recorded, dubbing this endemic. At a pandemic level, the lives lost would be unfathomable. HIV/AIDS affect killed over 35 million people already. Current treatments have slowed the infection to the point where it seems to stop but this has taken over 30 years to accomplish with no permanent cure.
Zika virus, MRSA, Ebola… the list goes on and new super bugs seem to pop up every couple of years.
Whether you want to protect yourself or your country and neighbors, training and resources will matter.
PREPARATION: Obviously, avoiding exposure or attack is number one. For some, a place to hide out may be the most realistic preparation – secure shelters stocked with supplies for an extended stay and weaponry are a must for that, as well as if you decide to stand your ground.
Your hideaway or home must be well stocked with water, food, first aid, and communication options such as battery powered HAM or scanner radios. Don't forget these are all nearly pointless without the training to use them.
First aid is a must for these scenarios: protective masks and gloves for every family member (this is a bare minimum requirement), antibiotics, wound dressings, pain remedies and anti-inflammatories as well as topical treatments could be required for symptoms of illness or radiation.
Remember, personal combat and defense training can make a difference if faced with individual threats (not just from a terrorist, but even a freaked out civilian). When faced with contamination, people panic and can become dangerous.
In the event of an attack or crisis – even while you’re just eating breakfast one morning – there will be little or no public transportation and additional strikes could occur at any moment. People will panic. The general public can quickly lose its composure for a variety of reasons. We’ve all seen riots in action either personally or even on TV and we know escalation can be nearly instantaneous.
When the government assumes control of all functions of society they call it Martial Law. The military can populate entire towns in the blink of an eye.
This could be to restore peace in times of civil disarray, make rescues and bring order during a disaster, or a total takeover. You might have a curfew, be instructed where and when to gather, how to behave, what to eat, and where you can or cannot travel. Even the very idea goes against the American sense of freedom, doesn’t it?
1972 began a 9-year martial law enactment in the Philippines which eventually led to accusations of military abuse and misuse of power. However, this is a long-term case of curfews, suspension of certain media outlets and swift punishment for any determined to be furthering the initial cause of their martial law enactment – communist takeover – versus a full-street occupation. Martial law can exist on many levels and each requires different behavior.
Click here to read one man's true story of living under martial law.
This is something I pray we never see in the streets and neighborhoods of America!
PREPARATION: Of course, the best case scenario would be to bug out with your friends and family BEFORE things devolve into chaos and the military takes over. But if you are caught in the middle of a true emergency requiring full and rapid military intervention, it will be important to observe and understand the movements of those appointed to your safety and group control.
Having your own supplies will help you remain comfortable and safe during this scenario. Food, water and weapons can be kept in storage provided you are not required to surrender them.
Advanced Prepper Tip: Have a small cache of supplies to surrender willingly to draw attention away from your larger secret stash. This goes for guns, ammo, food and virtually anything else you want to have in reserve!
We are all aware of personal attacks on our security such as credit card theft or email hacking. But on a large scale these maneuvers are considered a high-level threat to our Nation's security and well-being.
Our national secrets, plans, economy, communication, utilities, and civil order are all controlled largely through computerized systems. Banking, trade, commerce and daily communication are strongly dependent on the structured and secure systems we use without even a second thought.
This is one of the harder scenarios to predicatively prepare for. Because so much is dependent on the control we have over our systems, putting it in the hands of any average person – or worse, an adversary – could have devastating effects.
In the event that Wall Street, our national security, or our utility and communication networks are hacked and controlled by an unauthorized source, we could be looking at a total breakdown of economy and absolute immobilization within minutes.
Very limited or false communication within our military and officials, panic, loss of public transportation, even something as simple as compromised control over traffic signals could lead to severe loss of life and property. With no way to communicate a plan of action on a national level, chaos and fear would spread quickly.
PREPARATION: Be ready to withdraw. The best case in this event is to get home or to your safe location. Until the initial chaos passes and it is understood what the level of intrusion is, being away from the mass hysteria that could occur is the best bet.
While this is happening, be ready with alternate communication that does not involve electricity. Have food, water and other obvious basics, plus a way of knowing what is going on around such as a battery powered scanner or radio. Once the initial hit passes, you will be able to assess the new situation and go from there with your plans.
THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES…
You will probably never have every single thing you need, but in all of these scenarios there are some basics that can put you in a better place than most. Have a plan and share it with your family. In the event that you are separated from your loved ones, comfort will come in knowing they are independently capable of following through with the tools you developed.
Having plenty of water, non-perishable foods (especially lightweight ones in case you find yourself making a trek), means of defense, personal training on how to survive without utilities for you and your family, basic first aid supplies and training on how to safely employ them, and a safe place to shelter or meet in the event of a crisis are basic ways to start your preparations for survival.
Pro Tip: Don't forget about Gas! Let's face it, the world runs on fossil fuels and gas will be even more critical after the fall. Vehicles, generators, heaters, etc. will need gas to run, so knowing how to retrieve it from abandoned vehicles and storage tanks. There is a great article covering the topic of siphoning gas in detail by our friends over at Trek Warrior.
Methods of defending yourself and your supplies may become necessary and should be taught to youngsters to help prepare for any crisis situation.
Now that you have some details on many potential (and some highly likely) crisis scenarios that you could prepare and train for, what is your greatest concern and how can we most help you? Let us know in the comments and follow along as we go into more depth with future posts!
Remember, even the most stubborn denial won’t stop SHTF from happening… better to opt for preparation!
Which SHTF event do YOU think is more likely?
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Until next time…
Take care and God bless
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