If you a group to name the SHTF event they believe will happen first, you’ll likely get as many different answers as you have people in the group. When I think about a disaster I like to use logic, as the most likely event for me is severe flooding. It happens every few years on a smaller scale, but it wouldn’t take much to tip the scales in the other direction and suddenly my entire community is looking at a crisis that will disrupt our way of life for weeks or even months on end. And that’s just from a little rain.
When you start thinking bigger, to more apocalyptic type events, it’s reasonable to assume that there’s going to be a lot of overlap. If I’m escaping a flood with my family, it’s safe to say that I’m probably going to be doing the same things as if I’m escaping a storm, a military lockdown, or some other event that warrants a full-scale response to the crisis rolling out.
Here’s what I’m going to do first.
Get in a secure position
You’re not going to be much help to anyone if you’re dead, so the first thing you need to do is think about your immediate safety. If you’re caught between police and rioters, you need to escape. If you’re in the path of a rogue gunman, you need to get out of sight. If you’re facing a cataclysmic storm, or whatever it is, you need to get yourself in a secure position to survive the first wave of whatever is about to happen. You won’t be any good to your family if you’re killed as soon as the SHTF, so find a secure position and take a breath.
Pull the trigger on our plans
Our entire survival plan is based around communication, as I know all too well that the faster we pull the trigger and get moving, the better our chances of survival. Whether that’s escaping a fire that’s spreading fast, or getting out before the military locks down the roads, the quicker you’ve been able to get moving, the better. Once you’re in a safe spot, get in touch with every member of your family, and anyone else critical to your plans and let them know that things are in motion, and now is the time to act.
Stock up and roll out
The best part about this is I’m usually pretty prepared. I carry a spare tank of gas in my car at a minimum, as well as what’s best described as a larger version of my go-bag in the trunk, so if I were to drop anything at a given moment I’ve got plenty. But you can always have more. As I start moving on the plans, if there’s any opportunities to top up the tank (like a gas station that has no big lines), or buying a bag of snacks and other goodies for the kids at the corner store on my way, if I can spare a minute or two to buy it, I’ll grab it.
Reconnect with your family
If the SHTF on a normal day, it’s very likely we wouldn’t be in the same location. My wife would be at work, and so would I, and the kids would both be in school. Considering my office is closer to the kid’s school it’s my job to swing by and collect them, while my wife gets home faster and begins either the lockdown plans or our immediate evacuation. We’ll already know at this point what we’ve decided to do (that was covered in the last step), and if there’s danger between our home and us, we’ll reconnect at another third location.
Make a game out of it
My eldest loves tracking routes on Google Maps, and she’ll even time “real time” against “Google time” to see how well we’re getting on to our final destination. It’s small things, like races to see who can collect the most firewood, to catching the first fish, all these sorts of things that my kids really seem to thrive over. By making a game out of a stressful situation it also takes the focus off the severity of what’s happening, and your kids will fare far better for it. Yes, they need to know it’s serious, but they shouldn’t be freaking out either.
Calm your family down
It doesn’t matter how well-adjusted your family is, they’re likely on the verge of panic at this point. We’ve all dropped everything, and are in a mad flight home or to our first secure location. It’s all systems go, and the kids can probably see in our faces that it’s no longer a drill. Planning ahead for this was my wife’s idea, we’ve already got gifts set aside for the kids as a distraction in this situation, as well as a small cache of chocolates, candy and other sweets to hopefully get their minds off what’s happening and bring them down a notch.
Lock down and survive
Finally, and this goes whether you’ve decided to stay at home or evacuate to another location, you need to lock down and secure your position. Because our cabin we’ll be in at this point in time is a little remote, and the less people who know we’re out there, the better our chances. I’m a big fan of old-school wire can traps, so you get a heads up with the rattling metal if anyone is getting close, and of course, making sure we’re showing no sign that we’re holed up in the cabin that looks mighty abandoned from the outside.
The key to surviving a SHTF event is taking action, and when you know what you and your family should be doing first, it’s much easier to take action. Getting moving almost feels like a reflex at this point, because there’s nothing to think about. There’s nothing to mull over or try to debate. You’ve made the plan, all you need to do now is execute it. And the better you do that, the better your chances of surviving.