SHTF Survival: 10 Disturbing Threats That You’re Probably Not Ready For

SHTF Situation

When planning for a SHTF Survival situation, there is really only one thing that you can be absolutely sure of: Survival is going to be a much bigger and tougher challenge than you ever thought possible. While there are some things you can do to prepare yourself for the chaos ahead, the reality of the situation is that when things go bad, there are going to be things happening that none of us prepared for or could have ever imagined.

What is SHTF?

SHTF has multiple survival meanings, but the acronym itself means Shit Hits The Fan. The meaning is pretty straight forward, but basically, it’s just a prepper/survivalist’s way of saying that during a long term survival crisis or collapse of society things are going to get bad, real bad! How bad none of us really know, and what dangers we will face is only speculation at this point, but one thing we do know for sure is that most people have no real clue to the dangers they will face during a collapse scenario.

Prepping for SHTF Scenarios

It’s not hard to imagine things going bad during a long-term disaster or collapse situation; all you have to do is look at how quickly things turn south during normal yearly disasters to get a sense of how bad things could get. Even during somewhat predictable events like summer storms, flooding and hurricanes we see a large section of the population turn desperate. From people who failed to prepare totally losing their shit in the grocery store when they find the shelve empty to the assholes who take advantage of every disaster to hit the streets looting and attacking innocent civilians, you can find plenty of examples that should at least get you thinking of what you need to be prepared to face.

10 Realistic SHTF survival situations that most people Don’t Prepare or Plan for!

While many of the threats you will face can be easily predicted by looking at recent events, we wanted to look at some very likely SHTF scenarios that very few think about, and almost nobody prepares for. These are threats they may present themselves during short-term disasters, but in all likelihood, these threats will be the ones that start to pop up during those extreme long-term situations where people lose hope and become desperate.

SHTF Law Enforcement Issues

Fake Police Officers

1. No Law Enforcement

During an extreme SHTF scenario, it is very likely that law enforcement and emergency responders will be pretty hard to find; in fact, I would go even further and say that they will become nonexistent. Even during small-scale disasters, law enforcement officers often leave to take care of their own families first. When things go bad (empty grocery stores, no utilities, mass riots, violence, etc.) you are more than likely going to have to defend and take care of yourself.

2. Fake Law Enforcement

In a SHTF Scenario, you need to be on the lookout for everything including people impersonating law enforcement and military personnel. During a catastrophic event, you will most likely see criminals preying on the innocent by pretending to be either police, firefighters, emergency personnel, or military officers. In fact, almost every time a natural disaster hits we see criminals posing as some type of first responder in order to gain easy access to areas where they can then take advantage of the situation and loot homes and businesses.

You have to be able to quickly determine who are the real law enforcement officers or be prepared to stay away from people at all costs.

3. Law Enforcement and the Military Will Try to Take Your Guns.

Think it can’t happen? It already has!

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass ordered all local law enforcement, including the U.S. Marshalls office and the National Guard, to seize all civilian firearms.

Without warrants, armed National Guard troops and New Orleans law enforcement officials forcibly confiscated over 1,000 legal firearms from law-abiding citizens. The New Orleans gun confiscation should serve as a warning to how the government and law enforcement officials will react during a large-scale national disaster.  

It’s very high on the probability list that they will come for your guns!

SHTF Personal Safety Issues

Safety Threats from Looters

4. Gangs & Raiders

When things go bad, there will likely be more people who mean to do you harm than there will be people who are prepared. This is something that you must accept and learn to deal with. The fact is, most people have no idea what it really takes to survive, and once their safety net is removed, they will become increasingly desperate and unpredictable. Even your once jolly neighbor will become a threat when he is faced with surviving without knowledge or supplies.

Let’s face it, even during the good times there’s a certain segment of our population that’s just downright insane. From the idiots who go nuts and riot after their team loses a game to the violent criminals and gangs who are already terrorizing big cities throughout America, there’s little doubt that a total collapse will make urban living almost impossible.

5. You need to be able to Defend Yourself.

During an extreme emergency situation, the lunatics of the world are going to be roaming the streets looking for easy victims to target.  If you’re serious about survival, you need to train yourself in multiple self-defense styles and techniques. This means arming yourself with not only weapons but also with the knowledge of how to defend yourself without them.

These are things you should be doing now to ensure you can protect yourself during a SHTF situation:

SHTF Sanitation Issues

Garbage in the streets

6. Garbage will become a Killer.

This is another survival topic that’s not often thought about or discussed, but it’s one that will probably become one of the biggest problems you will face during any long-term disaster situation. If the gangs and criminals don’t get you, the real danger might actually come from something that you already have in your home: GARBAGE!  

You need to have a serious plan on how to deal with it and how to make sure your general sanitation doesn’t become a threat. Check out our article on how to deal with Garbage during a SHTF disaster.

7. You have to Stock up on Sanitation Items

When planning to survive a long-term disaster or collapse, one thing that’s often overlooked is the danger associated with a lack of adequate sanitation. It’s certainly not a pleasant thing to think about, but this one issue has the potential to kill more people than any other survival issue we can talk about.

Even today, because of liberal policies that are destroying big cities throughout our country, we are starting to see Medieval diseases reemerge because of unsanitary living conditions in homeless and immigrant populations in these urban hell holes. In fact, in California multiple disease outbreaks are running through these populations including Typhus.

Mental & Physical Health Issues

Mental Health during Survival Situations

8. Maintaining a Positive Mental Attitude during a Survival Situation

The ability to maintain a positive mental attitude during a survival situation is something that needs to be taken seriously. It’s also something that you need to start working on now, before disaster strikes.

Making it through a survival scenario often comes down to how well you can control your emotions. Keeping a positive frame of mind in the face of an unthinkable threat will help you process what’s happening and will help you respond to the situation without giving into fear.

9. You must be prepared to face a number of physical and mental challenges.

From dealing with a lack of sleep and inadequate hydration to coping with hunger pains and other stressors, survival can take a huge toll on your body. One of the best things you can do to ensure your survival, in just about any situation, is to make sure your body and your mind are trained to survive. This means motivating yourself to get off your butt and get in shape before it’s too late.

SHTF Communication Issues

10. You will be cut off from the outside World.

In a survival situation, knowledge is going to be a critical factor in determining the ultimate outcome of your situation. The ability to be able to predict what will happen during a survival situation is an important part of being prepared and often comes down to your ability to send and receive information.

When the power lines go down, and the radio stations stop transmitting, there’s one line of communication that will still be alive and well.  

Having a good Multiband Ham Radio will allow you to send and receive critical emergency information during a disaster. It’s also a great way to find alternative news sources from around the world.

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30 Comments

    • If jewish folks had a pistol and shot every Nazi that knocked on their door to arrest them…do you think the Nazi’s would have stopped knocking??? You have to fight…somethings are worth dying for!!!

    • I keep a few broken ones around in case of say you need a througdown caus the bad guy didn’t bring one but you shot first & found out later, or say they come to get them i can give them to them and still have my good ones. as for food stockpile in different places so they can’t get it all, best thing to do is not answer the door, make them break in and shoot them with Wasp apray & 00 Buck as they break in

    • When they come to take my guns? They can have the “receipt” showing that my 30.06, .38, 12g and 20g were all recently taken to a shop for cleaning and maintenance (this is already on my computer ready for a date and printing). Meanwhile if SHTF and there is even a thought that they will come for our guns we will immediately move the 4 metal planters in the back yard and slip the guns and ammo into the PVC pipes that are already waitingunderneath. I’ll look scared, and cry and ask who I should call for help. The next person who comes to my house will not receive such a warm welcome.

  1. A couple of things I thought of that I rarely see mentioned:
    Good shoes/hiking boots/socks – if it lasts more than a few days there will be no fuel. And, even if you do have the ability to store hundreds of gallons you cant take it if you have to leave. Roads will be clogged and eventually the vehicle will run out of gas or break down.
    Bikes/motor bikes – Even if you bug in bikes will be invaluable in a shtf scenario. You can get around accidents or clogged roadways, you can hide easier if needed, and you can save precious fuel for exploring or making short trips.
    Do I think S*** will hit the fan? I see our society degrading every day. I hear of things happeining in our government that scare me. I read about other countries going through civil war. Everything falls at some point. So, a few extra cans of veggies a week, an extra box of ammo every paycheck, a few cases of water every month… At the very least I know I can feed my children if I were to be laid off for a year straight.

  2. cataloges and phone books make great toilet tissue. the Indians used plant leaves or grass for same. there’s no need to build a privy, just dig a hole, use the excavated dirt to cover the waste. get below ground for shtf, people. Simple bug netting covers the entrance hole.

    ww2 took 5 years to kill 50 mill people. shtf will kill 10% of US in 30 days, just from lack of electricity. 30mill dead bodies, from lack of AC, refrigeration, water access, heating, on respirators, etc.

  3. I’m just starting to teach myself for when SHTF. Here’s the things I’m looking at:

    Ammo Reloading – Stores aren’t going to restock after it hits

    Wildcrafting – Nature provided food before grocery stores. Get online and find what edible plants are in your area. I found this site today: http://www.wildcrafting.net/ In an urban area? Check out Steve Brill: http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/

    Water filtration – I live a block away from a channel that connects to a local port off the Gulf. I’ll have access to water… but I’ll have to clean it first.

    Other than that, I’m reading and finding sites like this one in which I can get information. There will always be someone I can learn from.

    As far as community goes, the only way I see that working is if a community of preppers got together BEFORE SHTF. Or if a big enough group of family/friends bands together.

    For now, I wish all of you the best. When it happens, I hope you stay safe and well fed.

  4. Well i have been new to prepping but have thought about it for years. I have a farm small but big enough to be self staining its miles away from any town and I’m learning how to live of grid i have trained myself with a bow and hunt every year i also have books on every topic from trapping to growing a year round garden.but now I’m trying to build a community around me to help with survival.how should i go about that one

  5. LMFAO….this people are nutts they have not the first ideal on how to survive…..they talk about tomorrow as if it has come an gone…survival is a everyday thing….cheese&crackers

  6. I know what is going to happen to me. My family is well prepared. Lots of water almost completely self stable food wise, blah blah blah blah blah. I am only 14 but i know there will be a time when my medication runs out, i will have no more therapy, no one to talk to besides my family. When the realization hits me that my friends my family are all dead or dying I will most likely try killing my self again except this time no one can save me. This will be the end result for alot of kids my age no matter what people think. Kids kill them self’s now when they are not truly alone. You might say but they are not alone they have there family’s. Let me ask you, did you tell your family everything? Even for a diesent amount of adults will kill them self’s. Idk whats going to happen or when it is. I am just a kid, the only reason i am even on this website is that it was up on the computer when i got a hold of it. It is the sad fact of life. WE will all die, one way or another.

    • Hi Emma,
      Your post affected me most of all. I remember being your age and feeling EXACTLY the same way. The world was in turmoil and my family did not understand me. A war was going on and everyday we thought bombs would distroy the world as we knew it. I felt helpless and like you,, believed there was nothing I could do to change things or make it better. We lived near a marine base and a major navel shipping port. The Blue Angels practiced flying over our house cracking the sound barrier and shaking the windows so violently that we would run for cover and try to hide. We never knew if it was a real threat coming or not until it was over. But we tried to be prepared because nothing is for certain, except for this. We ALL have a PURPOSE and a responsibility to live for that purpose. You never know who you might meet that needs you at that very important moment. Without you, they might not have the chance to learn something from you that they need to find their way. To give up on yourself is to cheat everyone you know, haven’t met yet, or loved. To give up is to stop learning what you CAN do…. and that is extremely important to the world’s survival. We all need to focus on what we can do to make the world a better place. Making friends is the first step. And after that, reading and learning all we can about something that matters to us…..because one day your knowledge might save the life of another, or help to make this world a better place. You haven’t lived long enough to know what you can do, or what you really WANT to do. Life has a curios way of taking us places we never knew existed and that adventure is best experienced when we prepare. You have lots to do, so don’t give up. Best wishes to you!

    • Dear Emma,suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,your life is a most valuable gift,it may serve another’s need for their survival,and their is a period in everyone’s life when it seem’s hopeless,I have lived through combat,and many of my friend’s have commited suicide,life is a beautiful thing and you deserve the best,we all do! my LOVE and best wishe’s to you and finding your happiness it will happen!!!.winner’s never quit & quiter’s never win…..GODSPEED and good luck to you and your’s E.L U.S.N

  7. Many valid points here. Most are at least starting to think. What all of you must understand is that the collapse you see coming has been created by the power elite that think you are just useless eaters that need to be exterminated. The SHTF is to be used to thin the heard and soften up those of us who have been getting ready for their totalitarian take over.
    YOU WILL NOT SURVIVE ALONE!!! You need to organize. even a small group has a better chance to survive the initial crap. But you better be part of a larger group when troops start to appear to round up the SHEEPLE! Be ready to resist by any means or you will be removed to a camp and terminated.

  8. Absolutely agree with all 10 points. I am VERY involved with #10 and would like to talk to someone at OTG about it sometime. There are many plans in the works to maintain communication across the country and there are many ways to secure your communications gear against the worst possible scenario.

    • Question for all here:
      I keep hearing “don’t give up – never give up” a lot here, but it seems in a way everyone already has. I see what’s going on, and from what I read here am an advanced prepper…..I do believe that S might HTF…..but aside from getting ready, is ANYBODY fighting on the other fronts? I see millions in the streets of OTHER countries, demanding (and some getting) change. In the Vietnam era, WE took to the streets and demanded change. I can’t give up ALL HOPE that evil leaders can be turned out, and better days could be ahead for us, AND the planet…….I go to DC every November to tell our bought and paid for political hacks what I think…and our numbers keep growing. SO……what say you all? Is there hope…..are many of us still trying? (it seems there is a mentality amongst many preppers that WANT the SHTF scenario to happen, either because they think they are ready – trust me, few of us REALLY are – or they have given up hope – I guess I’m asking if this has become self fulfilling?

  9. FYI, As I read #3 to my husband who has served in the military over 20 years and has worked 30 years in law enforcement he asked me a question. “Do you not remember what happened when rescuers went into certain neighborhoods?” I didn’t remember, but people were shooting at rescuers and law enforcement. At that point they were told to seize weapons. I haven’t goggled it yet but I’m guessing if I did I would find plenty of information on it.

  10. This prepping thing is all new to me. I know I definitive want to put things away incase of an emergency… but can I ask everyone here a question…??? What is your definition of the SHTF …. I know what it stands for, I just want to see what people think is going to happen …

  11. Hurricane Katrina … there was really good reason for gun confiscation! I was very close to that area and I know that the people in that area were not behaving like good people should… that is why guns were confiscated… I am grateful to live very far away from there now!! I am guessing that there will be some folks here that ‘freak out’ and misbehave in a SHTF ordeal… but I would like to believe that there are going to be more people already prepared and remaining calm… and helping others, not causing harm to them. I love living in Idaho!

  12. In1995 when living in St Thomas VI we had a hurricane that devastated the island. During that time I lived without electricity for 2 months and survived with no rioting and did not feel unsafe. The community came together and looked after each other. This is an island that had a extreme amount of poverty. So I would like to hear from others who have had experience in surviving adversity then listen to those who are projecting the what ifs.

  13. Get a hacksaw and cut your rain gutter down spouts off at barrel level; you can buy 55 gallon, blue plastic water barrels for $55 each at N2IT Containers in Southeast Houston. Rainwater can be used for sanitation, clothes washing, gardening, etc. It can be used for drinking only if you have added some bleach (due to possible bird droppings on your roof, etc.)

    Gardening is all fine and good but unless you have a 24 hour guard you’ll have difficulty raising much of anything due to birds, squirrels, possums, etc. Unless you are way out in the country scavengers (or neighbors) could easily raid your garden and eat or steal a lot of it before you wake up in the morning. Share the responsibilities with close by neighbors to have a larger garden and have 24 hour rotating shifts to guard all your properties.

    Garden size? Think about how much food you will need for one adult to survive the winter. How many plants will you need? How many acres of space will you need to survive the winter? Be realistic.

    Garbage and refuse; get a METAL trash can and BURN all trash that is burnable on a daily basis. You’ll have to make large air holes in the bottom to keep the fire going. Separate plastic and metals out and bury.

    One thing the “sewer stream media” fails to mention when they talk about when the SHTF … sure, it’s all fine and good to have SOME gold or silver, but the next time you hear a story about $10 gasoline or $10 for a loaf of bread… add five words… “IF YOU CAN FIND IT.” Your silver or gold isn’t worth crap if there is nothing to buy.

    Bodies? The military way is to drag them to the entrance of your neighborhood and BURN them and leave the carcasses there as a signal to other gangs not to enter.

  14. I have been prepping for sometime now. I have a few questions.1)We have 2 bows and are about to get 2 crossbows. Most in the group can use them. I know we need at least 1 gun, what is the best to get?
    2) We have 3-5 guys in the group only one is into prepping. Really it is me, 2 other females and 1 guy doing the prepping. How do we get the rest in the family to prep? (I don’t want any of our family or friends to show up and have to turn them away.
    3)We have a 2&3yr any ideas for moving them on foot through different types of areas, like someone said we would want to move at night when they would hopefully be sleeping. I thought about making some type of a cart that would have a small bed space and maybe an area under where they would sleep to hold all the gear. which would leave the adults carrying only a weapon and help pushing or pulling. Any ideas?
    4)I live in what is called the Southeastern Ohio, it is a small town, I am 86 miles from a big city in a different state and 2 hrs from a major city in my state. Is it safe to bug in?
    Sorry this is long and I thank each of you for reading. New to this site.

    • There is a jogging stroller for either one child or two (double stroller). You may be able to improvise and make one. Build a cart with the same concept.

  15. Also, in the event that there is a small window of time after the SHTF when electricity still works and/ or when my generator still works and I have fuel, here is my immediate plan:

    Immediately visit the nearby grocery store and stock up as much as I can fit in the cart of canned goods and other (boxed) goods. There are certain foods (flour, olive oil, etc) that simply have a shelf life that doesn’t facilitate massive storage for long-term, so I would stock up on these things at this time.

  16. I am a Mom of 4, I live in a small rural town in a mobile home park which I hate, but hey the economy made it difficult for us to live elsewhere.
    Fire is one of my number 1 concerns. Learn how to put them out properly without an extinguisher because those will run out quick and without power a lot more accidental home fires will happen. If one of my kids knocks a candle over I want to be able to put out that fire ASAP. Knowing how to start one is good to. I have just started getting stuff together but I have always kept at least 1 months worth of food in our regular pantry. Several times we have had money issues any this has been a Godsend to us.
    Separation from your family is a huge issue as well. I have a folder with all of our important info, current family picture and individual pictures. My hubby works out of state so he keeps a real photo of each of us in his wallet just in case he needs to search for us he has a current picture. Make sure they are real pictures not pretty posed ones because honestly people look different dirty and distraught then they do smiling in their Sunday best. My kids all know hubby and I’s info off by heart and I always tell them that if they are lost to look for another Mommy because there is less chance of them being a creep and Moms have a soft spot for lost scared kids who need help. I can’t trust my younger 3 with a weapon or a knife but my oldest is a decent shot and has her own knife. All my kids know the danger of guns and knives so that the curiosity is gone and they have basic gun safety even if i dont trust them to use one.This year we are teaching the kids all to fish and I am very thankful I learned with a cane pole as a kid because they are easy to make.
    As far as garbage goes consider the amount of trash that your supplies create. Disposable diapers and feminine products are a nice convince but pile up quickly and are a huge risk for contamination. Look into cloth for both and how to clean them properly. The 300 cans of food are awesome but that’s a ton of trash that adds up fast and won’t burn. Glass can be reused and don’t forget extra canning lids because you’ll need them later and they will be hard to find. Try to cut down on the trash in your stockpile and consider how things will be disposed of after you use them.
    Newspaper is a good insulator and fire starter, something to read and lots of other uses. I would suggest adding it to your stick pile. Roll it tight and make logs for your rocket stove.
    Plastic coffee cans are food grade plastic and though they don’t resell we’ll they are good for canisters to hold the rice etc that you are currently using rather than getting into the giant bucket daily. You can haul water with them if necessary, and some plastic wrap over the top to help seal better makes them water proof and you could bury an emergency kit, ammo, etc in them with less risk of rust and deterioration than metal ones.
    Sleep deprivation is a serious issue that affects physical health and mental stability. I keep chewable melatonin in my first aide kit. Is safe for kids in small doses and who wants a cranky, wired, child who is scared and may not have the restraint to keep quiet or where they belong at night. Especially toddlers who you can’t reason with. I also keep a comfortable sling to carry my toddler in should I need it. It has many different ways to hold a baby from newborn to 35 pounds because the just under 2 yo will need to be transported and a stroller isn’t always feasible.
    I dislike half my neighbors but I know that if he SHTF they will be doing just what I am, protecting and providing for their own. I keep my mouth gut in get real about what we have but at the same time I do keep some extra things to help out others if They need it.
    Teach your boys how to sew too! Not just that but in general that is something everyone should know not just the girls. In tr same respect teach your girls to hunt. There are not gender stereotypes in our home I want my entire family to know how to take care of themselves.
    It may be a pipe dream but its my hope that if SHTF those that make it will be the foundation for a better world in the end.
    Sorry for the garbled post and typos but its hard on my phone to post. Btw I am fairly new to prepping in general so this article is a good resource for me! Thanks for all the useful info and food for thought!

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