Disasters and Preparations for SHTF Events

There are a variety of serious disasters that we may face. Forethought is forearmed…


As a prepper, my focus is upon preparations for long term, grid down possibilities, since short term disasters will not greatly disable normal emergency disaster assistance. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and fire storms are local events and assistance at the state and national level will remain available. Preps that lessen their impact are wise but obvious enough that all that is needed is a minimal amount of discussion.

The most serious natural disasters Americans may potentially face is the Yellowstone Caldera ‘Super-Volcano’ and an “impact event”.

As a severe pandemic may or may not be ‘natural’, I do not assume it to be natural.

A sufficiently large impact event is a ‘planet killer’ and cannot be escaped. In such an event, we will all bend over and kiss our butt goodbye… Though we are close to having the technological base to place a series of defensive, semi-automatic, remote controlled stations around the earth that could lessen the potential threat of an impact event. Solar powered lasers might deflect a near earth object from a collision course with the earth. It’s a very real threat (look at the moon for confirmation), which incidentally wiped out the dinosaurs. That threat constitutes the most pragmatic of reasons for continued technological development and exploration in space.

Unless it directly impacts near you, in which case again say goodbye, a smaller impact’s main threat is a large tsunami, which can be escaped by living inland with a protective mountain barrier between your location and the ocean.

The Yellowstone super-volcano can also be prepared for by living at a distant enough location. 2.1 million years ago, the largest Yellowstone area eruption occurred and produced 2,500 times as much ash as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, (which destroyed all within a 25 mile radius). Scientists currently estimate it to erupt every 640,000-800,000 years and it last erupted 640,000 years ago. They give a 1 in 700,000 chance of eruption in any year. But also estimate a higher probability sometime in the next 80 years. Ash coverage would be extensive


The Mt. St. Helen eruption devastated 235 sq. miles, a 25 mile radius. The more distant from Yellowstone and the more barriers like a mountain between you and a Yellowstone eruption, the greater the likelihood of survival.

The most likely long term, electrical ‘grid down’ SHTF events are; 1) a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) event, 2) an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, 3) a terrorist attack that targets the nine key electrical distribution transformers with which the national electrical grid cannot operate, 4) a severe pandemic and 5) a nuclear war. To some extent, all of these threats can be prepared for and their effects minimized. 

That is not to assert that they would not affect us because any long term, grid down situation will have profound effects. A severe pandemic or nuclear war’s effects would be profound in other, obvious ways.

Severe pandemics are like a quick burning prairie fire, the higher the death rate, the quicker ‘burning’ it will be. They pass relatively quickly, typically six weeks between outbreak and ‘burning out’, due to a lack of victims with which to continue the spread of the pandemic. Thus, self-quarantining you and yours with supplies sufficient for 8 weeks should allow for probable survival. Of course in the aftermath, highly negative conditions might well apply, even up to civilizational collapse. 

The best way to lessen the effects of a nuclear war is to locate away from nuclear targets and nuclear reactors. Along with the area’s prevailing winds blowing from radiation free areas and blowing away from your location any fallout. It makes little sense to survive in a bomb shelter only to be unable to leave due to lingering high radiation levels.  In the event of a nuclear incident or nuclear attack, determining when it is safe outside requires the use of a dosimeter/Geiger counter. Here are two units; Kvarts DRSB-01 and the Ecotest TERRA-P MKS-05 that based on this review and this review seem adequate. The less expensive Kvarts can be customized to work with an iPhone to expand its usefulness. Also, in a grid down event, smartphones can be charged with a solar charger. Plus, text messages may work even when the cell phone network is overloaded with calls. Smartphone ‘apps’ (minuscule software programs) may have use during a grid down event.

There is an important difference between CME and EMP events. An EMP attack may wipe out some-to-most electronics, as well as the electrical grid. Whereas a CME event will probably only wipe out those devices connected to the electrical grid. The evidence regarding modern cars susceptibility to either one is tentative and contradictory. Pre-1985 vehicles will be unaffected, though gas or diesel will be increasingly difficult to obtain. Plus fuel additives are needed to keep fuel from deteriorating.

A terrorist attack that successfully targeted the nine key electrical distribution transformers with which the national electrical grid cannot operate, would also involve internal conflict (terrorists) and even war.

There are preparations that account for all of these disasters and those preparations start with… location, location, location! Read my first post, “Start at the Beginning” for an in-depth discussion of my rationale in locating to the area that in my judgement, provides the highest probability of survival in any SHTF event that can be survived. 

In considering various forms of long term grid down disasters, regardless of cause, a self-sufficiency that assumes little to no future assistance is only prudent. It does no good to survive an event only to later die due to a lack of forethought and preparation.

However, regardless of what preps you might take, to one degree or another, plans will go awry. In that event, nothing beats the ability to “improvise, adapt and overcome” (the U.S. Marine’s unofficial motto). ‘Good luck’ is the intersection where preparation meets opportunity.

All too often, ‘bad luck’ is where a lack of preparation meets one of life’s challenges.

A flat tire is one of life’s challenges. Not having a spare tire is a lack of preparation (my sister just found out that her 2013 Dodge Dart does NOT come with a spare tire(!), Dodge considers it to be an ‘optional accessory’).

Of course, bad luck does happen to all of us, as no one can prepare for everything. That’s where the value of “improvise, adapt and overcome’ proves itself.


Essential and priceless medical knowledge and supplies





The number one killer in a SHTF event will be infection and disease. In a grid down, SHTF event, the entire medical support system will collapse. In the aftermath of such a collapse, medical attention through previously normal channels is highly likely to be unavailable and, may be unavailable for years… 

Every retreat needs medical supplies, first-aid training and printed reference materials.

The very first medical barrier to disease is basic hygiene. Soap and water are critical. A clean environment is a medical necessity.

Before you buy supplies, educate yourself.

Widely available, the Survival MD Program is essential information.


One of the most important medical supplies and nearly impossible to obtain are antibiotics. If antibiotics are available, the likelihood of surviving severe trauma will be significantly greater. Reportedly, Fish & Bird Antibiotics are a viable substitute, being essentially the same as doctor prescribed antibiotics. 

In the aftermath of a grid down event, insulin will become unavailable. A long term grid down event will be a death sentence for those on insulin. Sugar substitutes will be vital for diabetics who do not need insulin and those merely hypoglycemic. Consumption of naturally low glycemic foods will help to maintain health.

Medics First Aid Kit

Medical Kits Trauma Pack with QuikClot

Elite First Aid Fully Stocked GI Issue Medic Kit Bag, Large

Fully Stocked Tactical Trauma Kit First Aid Kit Bag

Minor Surgery Kit

First Aid, Israeli Battle Dressing, Compression Bandage – 4 inch

First Aid, Israeli Battle Dressing, Compression Bandage – 6 inch

The Extractor Bite & Sting Kit (First Aid) Venom Suction Insects Snakes

Box of Vinyl Gloves – Large (you can never have too many) 

A good supply of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), the only germicidal agent composed only of water and oxygen, will provide numerous benefits.


Excellent medical resources written for third world conditions:                                       Health Books and Resources

The NEW Where There Is No Doctor

Where There Is No Dentist

Where Women Have No Doctor: A health guide for women

A Book for Midwives: Care for pregnancy, birth, and women’s health

Basic Midwives Set, including A Book for Midwives, Birth Matters, and The Childbirth Picture Book

 Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

 Herbal Antivirals: Preparing and Using the Most Effective Natural Antiviral Herbs 

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way

Emergency War Surgery: The Survivalist’s Medical Desk Reference 

The Field Guide of Wilderness & Rescue Medicine 

Quick Reference First Aid Posters

 Immune system boosting ‘Silver Solution’

 Boost Your Immune System With Elderberry Syrup

 A natural blood clotting agent that works quickly is Shepherd’s Purse and, it’s a weed!

 Something as mundane as bug/mosquito repellent can be a God send. Repel and Eco Defense Bug Spray are reportedly effective natural repellents. IMO, Deet is to be avoided but it is widely available and highly effective. An effective battery powered mosquito repellent device… compliments repellent sprays. Use it in combination with your bug spray and increase the effectiveness of both.


SHTF Defensive Preparations

Goffatt Island - Ontario, Canada
Goffatt Island, Ontario, Canada

SHTF defensive preparations involve much more than having sufficient firepower. The best defensive strategy is avoidance. ‘Invisibility’ is the desired condition.                    If the ‘zombies’ don’t know you exist, they can’t bother you.

The ideal defense is to never have to defend yourself in the first place. Much toward that end can be done with some simple forethought.

Ideally, your retreat is in a rural area, away from cities in an area seldom traveled through. If at all possible, avoid locating near major travel corridors. The retreat should not be visible from the nearest road. Telephone and electrical service lines are a dead give away to occupation. A concealed, off-grid set-up is thus, a defensive necessity.

The greater the degree of self-sufficiency, the greater the prospects for successful avoidance of threats. So along with sufficient firepower, come other preparations;

A year round water supply, greater than your projected needs is NOT an ‘option’ but a necessity. A plentiful supply of heirloom seeds is essential. In a major SHTF event, grocery distribution WILL end. A good garden also lessens exposure by reducing the need to travel outside the retreat. Gardens also provide earthworms, the ultimate ‘bait’ when fishing for the larder, rather than for sport.

Raising domestic livestock just makes sense. Rabbits provide meat and nature’s perfect fertilizer. Chickens yield meat and eggs. Goats can provide soap, shampoo, milk and meat. Irish Decker cattle are the ideal breed for the homesteader/prepper. They need half the feed of larger cattle, are sweet tempered, remarkably trouble free while providing meat and milk.

Fishing and hunting can greatly supplement the larder, while avoiding potentially hostile interaction with either the desperate or criminally minded. Hunting quietly avoids alerting other people to your presence. Snares (not just for small game), a good crossbow and a modern, .22 cal air rifle with the right ammo are all ways to hunt quietly and will greatly lessen the chance of detection.

An oversize septic tank has much to recommend it. In a major SHTF event, city water and city waste disposal systems could potentially be a fatal dependency. Domestic water supplies failing and being cut off to the retreat is a direct threat both to immediate survival and would force the risk of exposure. 

A ham radio set-up may well be invaluable, giving you a better chance of stay up to date on current events. Satellite TV / Internet while operational is undetectable. And, is an important information and communication technology. Forewarned is forearmed.

Camouflage netting suspended from trees above the cabin to prevent location of the retreat by aerial and satellite surveillance may be worthy of consideration.

In any SHTF event, ‘situational awareness’ is critical, the sooner threats are identified, the greater the defensive options available. To be effective, situational awareness needs to be developed prior to a SHTF event. It must have become habitual… 

A good pair of binoculars is a no-brainer. They can even come with night vision.

A good emergency radio is the minimum that a retreat should have ion hand.

Perimeter alert systems epitomize being forewarned and thus forearmed. A good dog(s) is one of the very best perimeter alert ‘systems’. Dogs however must IMO, be trainedFRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios, Shortwave receivers and Ham Radio transceivers have potential as an early alert system. At night, night vision equipment is arguably, essential to a perimeter alert system.

Rather than try to place perimeter alarms around the entire property, plant an impenetrable firethorn brush fence around the retreat, so that approaches to your property are funneled into narrow avenues of approach. A 12 Gauge Perimeter Alarm System is meant to send an unmistakable message to an intruder while also alerting you to intrusion.

Concealing the driveway entrance to your property increases the odds that travelers will simply pass by, ideally never realizing that someone is living nearby.  

Understand the difference between cover and concealment. “The difference between cover and concealment is a simple one. If it doesn’t stop a bullet, then it is considered to be concealment because that is all it is really doing – concealing your location. Cover is something that will not only conceal your location but stop a bullet as well.” 

The old truism that a good offense is better than a good defense… still holds true.

Identifying spots where an attacking force is likely to conduct an assault from can allow you to plan for counter responses and even lessen cover for an attacking force. Plant firethorn bushes where cover would otherwise be available but allow areas of concealment. If attacked, you want an attacker to only have concealment with no cover.  

Identifying alternate routes of egress will allow you to pre-plan to attack by surprise at the rear or flank of an attacking force. Surprise is an invaluable advantage. Aggressive attackers do not expect ‘prey’ to turn on them and make of them… prey. Some form of night vision may be critical to surprising an attacker. In the dark, aided by night vision, a modern crossbow is a deadly weapon. 

If finances permit, body armor makes sense, as only in the movies do the bad guys never shoot straight.

‘Peace through firepower’ is my recommended mantra, an update of Teddy Roosevelt’s “walk softly but carry a big stick”. A well armed retreat will have a variety of firearms for defense; long range and semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols with plenty of ammo. Crossbows and knives also have their place. But homemade grenades and I.E.D.s are for experts. There is plenty of advice on the internet for the various options available in personal ordnance. As a non-fatal defensive option, I like pepper gel with a stun baton.

There’s safety in numbers and gaining nearby, like minded allies prior to a SHTF event may make the difference between surviving and being a well prepared… victim. In the aftermath of a major SHTF event, lawlessness is absolutely certain. Someone WILL try to take from you what you have…

It’s obvious that a prepper group compound can potentially offer a greater defensive advantage than a lone individual or family retreat. But… is also much less ‘stealthy’. Personally, I favor combining avoidance with the backup of a group alliance.