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.

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