This section doesn’t currently include any content. Add content to this section using the sidebar.

Image caption appears here

Add your deal, information or promotional text

SHTF Plans: How To Prepare Your SHTF Plan Before You Need It!

It’s impossible to know when sh*t may hit the fan (SHTF). For that reason, it’s essential to stay prepared for the unexpected, such as natural disasters, civil unrest, or nuclear warfare. Part of being well prepared is having a cache of survival food kits, water storage containers, and other equipment.


SHTF Plan Emergency Plan


However, one of the most critical components of being prepared is having a SHTF plan.  A well-devised SHTF plan should include items such as:

  • Bug in vs. bug out decision-making plan
  • Evacuation plan and transportation options
  • A safe bug-out location
  • Food and water
  • Other survival gear, such as shelter, extra clothing, and fire-making tools


If you want to prepare for SHTF, keep reading. This article will discuss the scenarios you need SHTF plans for, what those plans might include, and the steps to get started with your SHTF plan.

What Scenarios Do You Need SHTF Plans For?

A SHTF event is any event that surpasses the capacity of local, state, national, and international emergency responders and aid providers to overcome. Typically, the damage SHTF events create is beyond the ability of society to manage in any sort of timely and organized fashion.

Emergency Preparation Checklist Download

There are many scenarios that one might want a SHTF plan for. Of course, the emergency or disaster may be unexpected, but at least the plan you have to help you and your family survive will be deliberate.

Large-Scale Natural Disasters

SHTF Plan  flood disaster


Natural disasters are a part of life. Depending on where you live, you may have to be prepared for earthquakes, hurricanes, twisters and tornadoes, tsunamis, or other large-scale natural disasters. Having a SHTF plan for when these natural phenomena strike can help keep you and your family safer. 

Large-Scale Human Disasters

Large-scale human disasters are much less predictable than natural disasters. For example, we can predict when hurricanes will hit land or when a storm is large enough to produce tornadoes. However, it’s much harder to predict human disasters such as pandemics, warfare, or cyberattacks. Therefore, a SHTF plan that considers these sorts of human disasters is essential.

Compounding Small-Scale Disasters

SHTF plans City Riot


Emergency scenarios do not always arise from a singular event. Sometimes, smaller, compounding events merge into a bigger problem. For example, how to survive inflation may include having strategies for dealing with economic strife such as food shortages, or for dealing with political unrest such as demonstrations in the streets, mobs, and riots.


All of these may lead to a scenario where you must decide between bugging out or bugging in.

Preparing for SHTF: Bugging Out or Bugging In?

In the aftermath of a large-scale natural or human disaster, or if small-scale compounding disasters are jeopardizing your safety, you will need to decide between bugging out or bugging in.

“Bugging Out” & Surviving On the Go


The phrase “bugging out” describes evacuating the area before or after a disaster has struck, or evacuating when your location is no longer safe. In most cases, when you bug out, you should be prepared to leave your home and personal belongings with the expectation of being gone for a long time.


Bugging out can sometimes be a temporary situation—for example, when you need to bug out of your home to dodge an impending tornado, better prepare your best bug out vehicle.


However, sometimes, bugging out can become a permanent situation, in which case, you will need to be prepared to survive while on the move. You’ll need to have a bug-out location in mind that is prepped with all the survival essentials and ready for your arrival. 


In some emergency scenarios, bugging out may not be appropriate, or it may be unsafe to evacuate, in which case, you may consider bugging in instead.

Bugging In & “Riding Out the Storm”


prep for shtf disaster shelter


“Bugging in” describes staying in a shelter rather than evacuating. In other words, hunkering down and waiting out the storm after you’ve boarded up the windows and reinforced your home with sandbags.


In most cases, individuals choose to bug in whenever travel from their homes becomes too dangerous or difficult, and when they’ve already prepped all the essentials they will need to survive at home, such as a family survival kit.

What Elements Do You Need In Your SHTF Plans?

Well-devised SHTF plans can take a long time to prepare. There are many important elements to consider to guarantee that you and yours are fully prepped. So as you begin to prepare for SHTF, we recommend you consider the following items.

Safe Shelter

A safe shelter should be your number one priority during a survival scenario. You will be exposed to harsh elements, wild animals, insects, and unruly neighbors without adequate shelter.


In most cases, your shelter is your home. This is especially true if you’ve decided to bug in. However, if you have decided to bug out, then you may have left your home behind, in which case, you may need to rely on improvised survival shelters or a predetermined bug-out location.


Maybe you need to board up your windows and reinforce your entryways with sandbags for the impending hurricane. On the other hand, maybe you have a tent and tarp packed in your bug-out bag in case of evacuation. Whatever the case, having different plans to ensure you have a safe shelter in an emergency is absolutely crucial.

Water Storage & Treatment

prepare for shtf rainwater collection system


When it comes to SHTF plans, water is next on the list in terms of priority. If SHTF, you may lose access to reliable and safe drinking water. The municipal water source may no longer function. The grocery stores may run out of bottled water.


For that reason, you need to have your own water treatment and storage plan.  Perhaps you have a rainwater collection system. Or maybe you have hundreds of gallons of drinking water stored in your prepper pantry, basement, or bug-out location.


One item to consider for your SHTF plan is water treatment. If you run out of water at home or bug out and collect water from rivers, lakes, or streams, you will need to have a plan for treating the water. We recommend always having two methods for treating water.

Emergency Food

SHTF Plan Emergency Food


Your SHTF plan needs to include emergency food. For most emergencies, having at least a 72-hour kit prepared ahead of time is the absolute minimum. However, if the disaster is particularly severe, you may need to prepare more than that, maybe a lot more.


When you build a plan for your emergency food, you must consider the timeline over which you want to survive, how many people you plan to feed, and how many minimum amount of calories to survive that each person needs.


Besides storing caches of freeze-dried or dehydrated food,  we also recommend that you include ways to grow and preserve your food in your SHTF plan. Small space gardening and different strategies for preserving garden vegetables and fruits are fantastic skills to possess in a survival scenario.


First Aid Training & Supplies

SHTF Plan First Aid Training and Supplies


Unfortunately, there may come a time when you have to treat an injury. In that case, you are going to want to be trained in basic first aid and have the necessary first aid supplies. Therefore, medical supplies and important prescriptions should always be considered in your SHTF Plan.


Beyond just prepping the tools for the job, we recommend attending first aid and CPR classes so that you can have the skills to match.   That way, if first responders or primary care providers become unavailable in the aftermath of a disaster, you will be better prepared to provide basic first aid in the event of an injury and even CPR in more serious medical emergencies.

Reliable Transportation

In an emergency event that forces you to bug out, reliable transportation will be vital for your evacuation. We recommend performing regular vehicle maintenance, so that in the event you have to bug out, your vehicle will be ready to go.  


Along with that, we recommend prepping the vehicle with emergency response kits and bug-out bags. For example, having emergency supplies in your car is important in case you are stranded in your high water vehicle, or have to leave it behind during a natural disaster.


prep for shtf bonfire for cold weather


Not maintaining a safe body temperature and being exposed to the elements in the aftermath of a disaster can be a threat to your survival. There are various ways to keep yourself warm, depending on the season and the scenario.


For example, if you need to evacuate your home or neighborhood during the winter, having the proper clothing with you and prepped ahead of time is vital. On the other hand, having a reliable fire source can be the difference between life and death if you are out in the cold.


For that reason, our SHTF Plans, bug-out bags, other emergency supplies, and bug-out locations are always prepped with multiple fire-starting tools. Lighters are fantastic; flint is a tried-and-true classic; and even matches can help create warmth and light.


How to Prioritize Your Prepping for Your SHTF Plan

Prioritizing your SHTF plan should be based on the survival rule of three.

  • Three minutes without air.
  • Three hours without shelter.
  • Three days without water.
  • Three weeks without food.


The survival rule of three helps highlight what elements of survival you should prioritize first in case SHTF.


For example, in a house fire, evacuating to clean, breathable air should be the number one priority. If you have been forced to evacuate, finding another shelter or bug-out location can help fend off your exposure to the elements. Next, you would then want to focus on securing potable drinking water sources just like securing a home. And then worry about how to ration your emergency food.


Therefore, the steps you take forwards in your prepping plan can be guided by these steps.

  1. Air – gas masks, air filters, and evacuation plans. 
  2. Shelter – pitching a tent or building a shelter in the rain, sleet, wind, or snow.
  3. Water – caching water, harvesting water, and treating water.
  4. Food – reliable rations of nutritious freeze-dried and/or dehydrated emergency food.

Trusting in Your Prepper Community

SHTF Prepper Community


Prepper communities are groups of like-minded people who are also preparing themselves and their families for emergencies or disasters that might threaten their livelihoods. In most cases, they’ve entrusted one another with the responsibility of working as a team in the aftermath of a disaster.


Oftentimes, prepper communities are organized around crucial survival roles and responsibilities; everyone works to make sure they are a valuable asset to the group.


  1. Nutrition and Water Prep – food and water rations, and water collection and treatment.
  2. Medical Response – basic first aid training, medical supplies, important prescriptions.

  3. Conflict Mitigation – mediators for intra- and inter-group conflicts and setting survival rules.

  4. Engineering – repair essential equipment and fabricate new tools or gear.
  5. Strategic Planning – delegating roles, making group decisions, planning for the future, and dealing with problems.


Members of prepper communities offer up their skills and resources to help the greater good of the group and to accomplish different survival tasks. For more information, we recommend checking out the Disaster Dry Run Facebook Group.


Get Started Today Executing Your Preps For SHTF

It can take a long time to prepare for SHTF. It takes time, energy, money, and patience to consider all the various emergencies that may threaten you and your family.

To construct a plan that keeps everyone hydrated, well-fed, sheltered, healthy, warm, and protected is a profound endeavor. But the effort you put into prepping will pay off when you can keep your family safer in an emergency.

This article is just the beginning of the development of your SHTF plan. For more valuable prepping resources, please visit our Practical Prepper Blog. Or, for advice on how to get started prepping nutritious emergency food, give us a call or schedule a meeting with one of our product experts.