What to do When Everything Goes Wrong after SHTF!

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The shit just hit the fan, and everything is going wrong!  What the hell do you do now?  Here’s the thing, guys.  When we write these articles for you, they are all predicated on everything going smoothly.  But that’s not reality is it?  Reality is things will go wrong.  Plan for the unexpected, that’s what I always say.  It absolutely blows my mind how many of us are so diluted that we refuse to accept that things will go wrong, and all of our perfected planning will go right out the window.  With this in mind we will review general preparedness for the unexpected, and how to be prepared for specific happenings.  The one thing I hope you take away from this article is chaos will not be linear, and no amount of planning can prepare you for every possibility.

Side Note:  In case anyone has been wondering where I’ve been, work + campaigning mixed with an intense amount of disappointment finding out my articles have been plagiarized across several supposed ‘prepper sites’, but I digress.

The ‘Oh Shit…’ Moment

We’ve all had that ‘oh shit’ moment!  That moment when you hit a dune too hard and you know you’re about to get a mouthful of shit, or when your old man yells your first and middle name you realize you’re about to get the drill sergeant treatment.  Your neck catches fire and your ass tightens like a pin.  Both events your life was never in assured danger.  Sure it may have felt like that but death was only a possibility.  Now imagine how you’ll feel when you know danger is eminent.  In this article we are going to review several possibilities, or scenarios that could arise after the shit hits the fan, while providing a few default responses to scenarios not listed.

Dynamic Preparedness

Throughout the prepper and survival community tens of thousands of people are training or preparing daily for various disasters, while making an extremely critical error that could cost their lives… They practice what I’ve dubbed as ‘static preparedness’, preparing for a disaster where A leads to B and they respond with C.  This is extremely unrealistic.  What happens when A leads to Yellow?  Toe tags, that’s what!  Hell, in most of our articles we try to provide contingencies that graze dynamic preparedness, while never addressing it directly.  My hope is that this article will further broaden your training regimen better preparing you for the unexpected.

Dynamic Preparedness leans heavily on you, the prepper, assuming all responsibility for the outcome.  The list of unexpected happenings in this article only show you examples of how you could respond as a matter of abstraction, providing mental insight to how you could respond.  When training for dynamic preparedness there are two areas to focus on;

REACTION TIMING — You brain is an amazing thing; sights, sounds, and smells that are associated with danger will trigger your brain’s amygdala (Fear HQ) to respond lightning quick.  Here’s the problem, that lightning quick reaction to danger could get you killed!  It is a fact when we are stressed out, or afraid we will become indecisive (choke up or freeze), erratic (going left when you should of went right), or short-sighted (short term gain, long term pain).

STRATEGIC THINKING — A big issue I have with a lot of preppers, and everyday people is the ability to think strategically in a pinch, or at all for that matter.  While under duress most people can barely tie their shoes let alone make life saving decisions.  I’m not going to bore you guys with the anatomy of a strategic thinker, so if you’re looking for further explanation check out the CSSP Strategic Thinking & Critical Skills page.

Reaction timing and strategic thinking can be improved by incorporating LFX (live fire exercises) into your training.  An incredibly valuable resource to add would be the incorporation of Disaster Preparedness Simulations.  Runik wrote a very indepth article on how to do dynamic simulations to better prepare you, you can read his article by clicking here.

Dynamic Preparedness Examples

These ten examples are threats I think many of us will be faced with and not prepared for.  However, I can not stress that these are only examples, and you will more than likely be faced with obstacles you have never trained for, bringing forth the importance of dynamic preparedness training.  In each example I’ll highlight the physical and emotional challenges you’re likely to experience, as well as the thought process involved with strategic planning under duress.

Too Close to Nuclear Blast & Plan Goes to Shit

Your family has a nice home outside city limits, fairly sustainable, and you’ve all trained for various possibilities.  On a normal day you’re sitting in your cubicle overlooking Main Street while hammering away on your keyboard, just watching the clock tick as you wait to escape the shackles of your corporate hell hole, when a blinding light pierces the windows.  You’ve got seconds to make life and death decisions.  Now, what do you do?

In this blinding instant you will have very little choices, and your body will start moving on it’s own if you don’t plan a course of action immediately.  If you haven’t died already within the first few seconds of impact you will need to act immediately.  99.9% of all things on two legs will freeze, look to one another for direction, or react adversely, but you’re not other people.  Here’s what you need to know, you have ten minutes to get one mile away from the blast site.  Think about that; from the time of detonation while experiencing a massive amount of adrenaline coinciding with ‘fight or flight’, you will only have ten minutes to get out of your office, get to your car, dawn any CBRN MOPP PPE gear you have available to you, get out of the parking lot, and not get stuck in an assured onslaught of other vehicles doing the exact same thing.

With all this on your mind you get in your car and turn the key, click click click…  This is the part where your butthole starts to pucker.  What does your strategic mind tell you to do?  Think about that.  Your battery’s dead because you didn’t shut the door all the way, and a nuke just went off, and you’ve only got ten minutes before hazardous fallout starts to fall directly on you.  Would you go full Belko Experiment on one of your co-workers, and steal their car?  While morally reprehensible it’s the difference between life and death.

This is one of the primary reasons I’ve continuously advocated for dynamic preparedness, in my car kit I have something most people haven’t even thought of that would save your life in this instance, a GOOLOO 600A Car Jump Starter.  This item will provide you the charge you need to turn over your engine.  It could fit in your pocket, and is extremely versatile.  If you don’t have on in your kit, you’re a fool.  Sounds easy right?  If you don’t have one your only choice is to commandeer a vehicle.  You might hate the answer, but that is just a fact, cupcake!  Ten minutes won’t allow you the time to combat the moral dilemma of surviving.  I know what many people are thinking while sitting on their perch, you’re thinking about Option 3 — offer to protect one of your coworkers in lieu of a ride, or some other nonsense.  If you don’t have someone you work with that you trust, knows is a prepper, and are willing to house and feed, then that option does not exist.

If you’re anything like me, running a scenario through your head isn’t that difficult, and this scenario should be making your heart race because it is only one possibility of many.  In retrospect you could of been saved the grief in this scenario for $60.

CBRN Event with no PPE

You had a stressful week and decide to go watch the game at a downtown bar with some friends.  Unfortunately you decided to catch a ride with Jim since he’s the designated driver.  Your team didn’t do so well, and you’re stick around a couple hours to blow off steam as the night quickly approaches 2am.  The TV abruptly gets switched to the EBS Emergency Broadcast System, and issues stern warnings of chemical attacks being carried out throughout The United States when you hear multiple detonations.  I’m quite sure by now you shouldn’t have finished that last beer, and that your CBRN Kit is miles away.  In this situation what do you do?

First task would be recognizing where you are, who you are with, and how you can escape the affected areas without being caught in the downwind path of hazardous chemicals. Standard SOP dictates you find a towel and drench it with water to cover your mouth, and take shallow breaths until clear of the affected area.  Once outside you should be able to orient yourself as to which direction the detonation came from, identify wind direction and get the hell out of dodge.

Look, I can admit I’m incredible anal about preparedness.  Am I the guy that sent two Norwegian Gas Masks to his preteen daughters for Christmas?  Yes.  I have a hazard kit in each of my vehicles that includes an Israeli Gas Mask with multiple cartridges.  Don’t get me wrong I love my Sperian Gas Mask but that stays at home for a multitude of reasons.  That being said, I’m fully aware the majority of you guys don’t do this.

Contaminated by CBRN Event

So in the situation above we discussed how to get out of a CBRN Event with no PPE, but what happens when you actually get contaminated?  Drunk, and covered in hazardous chemicals isn’t how I’d want to end a Friday night.  So again, what do you do now?  Well, if you’re in a bar they should have everything that available that could possibly save your life.  In the kitchen they will have a high powered, and extremely hot commercial water faucet, soap, flour, and bleach, as well as a first kit with iodine.  Follow these steps and you might save your life;

  1. Drink 1 cup of iodine (radioactive iodine)
  2. Drink 2 Beers (tritium contamination)
  3. Wash skin for twenty minutes with 9 parts water 1 part bleach for twenty minutes.
  4. Douse with flour and repeat step 3.
  5. If spare clothes are available that have not been contaminated wear those and trash yours or clean with the 9:1 solution.

A few years back we wrote this spiffy article ‘CBRN Response, Containment, & Decontamination Guide’.  If you haven’t read this yet, please do.  It’s quite insightful.

Bug Out Location Compromised

Your hometown is being overrun by murderous thugs and you decide it’s time to bug out.  Your bug out location is an hour away, and you have to navigate through treacherous territory with your wife and two kids.  After your one hour trip turns into a three hour drive through what seemed like an all out war zone your cabin is in sight.  As you get closer you see two cars parked outside….  What do you do now?

There’s plenty of people that wouldn’t risk it, and would keep moving on, but to move on means whatever you have in your car will have to last you a very long time.  If you’re smart you’d turn around immediately and park about a mile away and stow your car away in a thick bushy area, concealing it as much as possible.  Some of you would leave your wife and kids behind.  That’s a mistake.  Approach your BOL within your rifle’s range and your abilities, stagger your kids about twenty feet behind you.  Ideally you should approach the cabin from a point in which you know to be the most advantageous angle, watch the cabin for as long as it takes to gain intelligence as to how many are occupying the cabin, and what type of weaponry they have.  Using this information you should be able to form a strategic plan for your and your wife to eliminate the threats. Is this your only option?  No.  Are there other variables at play?  Possibly.  Either way your BOL has been compromised, and you will need to secure the grounds, and acquire your stores before anybody else shows up.

As you can see, one simple thing goes wrong, and you’re forced to start thinking tactically while under a massive amount of pressure.  You always have options.  Situations such as this are the primary reason many preppers have taken up geocaching, while I believe this isn’t totally secure, it could help when everything goes tits up.  Maybe have some goodies tucked away outside your BOL for this exact scenario?

Stuck Inside a QZ

In this case, a Quarantine Zone going up would happen relatively fast.  Think about the movie ‘Outbreak’ with Cuba Gooding Jr, and Dustin Hoffman.  In Outbreak it shows how one night a recently infected labtech goes to the movie theater, and the next morning everyone from the theater was in the ER showing symptoms.  A few hours later the entire town is locked down.  I can easily guarantee had this been a real life quarantine, 75% of the town would have no idea they were about to be quarantined.  Some people caught wind and tried leaving, resulting in them getting lit up by a couple of Blackhawks.

This scenario is probably one of my most feared, getting stuck inside a Quarantine Zone in the middle of an outbreak.  Shit makes my stomach turn just thinking about it.  That being said, I have no intention of staying inside a QZ.  Neither should you unless you’ve been in contact with infected individuals.  Now the question for you is, is it safer to shelter in place, or leave?  I can tell you both are equally dangerous, and bother with will require critical thinking on your part.  Personally I would leave on foot using expedient IR blocking techniques and escape under the radar.

Final Thoughts…

As I said at the beginning of the article, these aren’t meant to be solutions but example of how things can go wrong and the challenges you’ll have to overcome to keep you and your family alive.  Of all the thousands of rounds in your shed, the pallets of spaghetti O’s, and IFAKs up to your eyeballs, there is only one tool forever at your disposal…your brain.  You will need to continue strengthening your brain to survive doomsday, learning how to overcome adversity, while thinking tactically.

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About Administrator Ryan

Administrator Ryan has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Administration and Management from the University of Kentucky, and has been the primary handler for usCrow.org since it's founding. Professional background includes over a decade's experience in survival and preparedness, graphic design, computer programming, website coding, and asset management. Personal background in mountaineering, climbing, rappelling, combat training, and big game hunting.

10 thoughts on “What to do When Everything Goes Wrong after SHTF!

  1. it would take thousands of dollars to prepare for nuclear contamination (close) I have iodine pills and am stocked for a short period of time for the wife and I but when the kids show up with their kids I know its not going to be enough even if they are lucky enough to be able to bring their stuff. to top it all off the wife is ready to throw me out if I buy anything more for doomsday, so we will have to take it one day at a time, we will either live or die but it will be a fight which ever way it goes.

  2. Yeah its gonna be a whirlwind of emotions and thought processes, ive found my self in some pretty tense situations, some ive ran,some ive stayed and fought, some i had to do both. All that in a sense meaning one thing or another. But I could help but notice my mind thinks in a tatolly different way when im under duress. Quite frankly if it were any other scenario I probably would have made the wrong decision. Im on the line if thought that; either you have it, or you dont. But this article is right, Ive also been lucky that, the route or decision Ive made there weren’t any other changes or surprises. But the article did make me think, and o do have a MOPP suit and mask and extra cartridges in my truck in case of such things, and iodine tabs too, are nice to have. I dont have a BOL per say but I know some spots. If in a QZ I would also get the hell out. I have a ghillie but just for me. Therein lies an issue. And Im about to have a son so i gotta think of that. Gonna get kit for him.
    Anyways i thoroughly enjoyed this article and i missed reading these. Glad your back.

  3. Pingback: Top Seven Articles on Prepper Website for the Week! Just In Case You Missed It! | Ed That Matters

  4. Think on the move is great advice. There are countless scenarios to run and now way to prep them all.

    Thank you for this article!

    My take away was that I need to build a Space blanket/ Ghillie blanket and put it in the car stuff. IR is hard to defeat but if I can confuse it long enough I may possibly slip by


    • Risk vs Reward. If you’ve been contaminated by radiological waste you’ve got no time to think about it. Iodine will help prevent death. Will you get sick as shit from iodine poisoning? Yup. But better than dying from radiation poisoning.

  5. SHTF means all has gone wrong, right? I will sit down take stock , think , then and only then act. Another thing ” the plan” is only a guide, nothing more, it is not working scrape it ASAP. the only goal is to stay alive, do this and you are a winner.

    • The point here is that the time to sit and think is NOW, not after the bad stuff happens.

  6. When I was a little kid, I remember moving into a new house. While my dad worked on re-finishing the floors in the other rooms I would go into my new room which was totally empty. I had fun throwing a super-ball against the floor or on of the walls and the damn thing would just go crazy bouncing off one of the 6 flat surfaces (4 walls, 1floor and 1 ceiling). No matter how much I thought I could dodge the ball, I could never predict which direction it was coming from next, AND IT WAS MOVING WAY TO FAST! I got hit with the ball over and over again.
    This is what I expect from life now that I’m “mature”.

    • It’s a shame it has to be that way, but it damn sure is. You gotta prepare to get hit with a ball and duck when you can.

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