10 Things Not to Do During SHTF (Fatal Mistakes to Avoid!)

by Tommy Grant

The odds of a society-ending SHTF event are remote. However, we seem closer than ever to experiencing a major SHTF event—with an SHTF event defined as:

“a situation that overwhelms services and resources, resulting in a collapse of civil order and society.” (Source)

While plenty of videos tell us what to do if society melts down, few address what not to do when it hits the fan, which is precisely what this video will discuss.  

So, without further ado, let’s get into the ten things you should NOT do during SHTF.


1. Do Not Panic

In a crisis, it’s vital to avoid panic because it impairs our judgment and decision-making. Being able to calm oneself and others down when panic sets in is critical when it hits the fan because it lays the foundation for effective decision-making and fosters better group cohesion. 

Four ways to deal with and avoid panic are:

  1. Focus on and Control Your Breathing to change your body chemistry so that it minimizes the panic and anxiety.
  2. Concentrate on Your Preparations and Training to remind yourself that you’re prepared and know what to do.
  3. Pause to Assess the Situation Objectively, which helps minimize the panic and sets you up your decision-making process to prioritize actions successfully. 
  4. Support One Another when the panic sets in because when it hits the fan, we will have moments where we could use someone’s help and assurance.  

(Read this article that discusses How to Manage Your Stress and Anxiety)


2. Do Not Draw Attention to Yourself

In a crisis, the “Gray Man” strategy of staying unnoticed is crucial for safety and survival. By following this approach, you can avoid sticking out and, in so doing, protect yourself from harm when it hits the fan. Remember, it is always better to be cautious and take preventive measures than to deal with unwanted situations.

Five ways to avoid drawing attention to yourself are: 

  1. Minimize Noise, as sounds can reveal your location. 
  2. Avoid Lights at Night since they signal your presence when it’s dark. 
  3. Keep Your Location and Resources Secret, as sharing information can attract unwanted attention. 
  4. Conceal Your Supplies so that they are not readily observable by people not from your family or group. 
  5. Blend Into the Environment by using clothing and behavior that blends in with your situation. 


3. Do Not Waste Resources

When the world goes wild, the way we manage resources can mean the difference between survival and death. Therefore, practicing resource conservation and efficient utilization is crucial, ensuring we use every bit of what we have to its maximum potential. 

Here are five strategies to help us effectively manage our resources:

  1. Prioritize Your Essentials by regularly focusing on the most crucial resources like water, food, and medical supplies and planning accordingly.
  2. Consume Your Resources Wisely by implementing a disciplined approach to rationing, ensuring they last longer and are used efficiently.
  3. Repurpose and Reuse what you have by encouraging creativity in repurposing items to extend their utility, like using old clothing for bandages or rags, washing aluminum foil, etc.
  4. Gather Resources Whenever Possible. Be careful, though, as you may be competing with others for those same resources. So, approach resource replenishment cautiously, emphasizing discretion and conflict avoidance.
  5. Barter and Trade to enhance your resources during a prolonged crisis. 
  6. Create Multiple Storage Areas to help ensure redundancy with your supplies so that one disastrous event doesn’t destroy all of your resources. 

(Here’s an article on How to Manage Your Water Supply When the Tap Turns Off)


4. Do Not Ignore Security

During an SHTF event, securing your home and safeguarding your loved ones becomes more crucial than ever before. As traditional law enforcement and emergency services become overwhelmed or incapacitated, personal security measures are not just an option but a necessity. 

To that end, here are four basic strategies that, if implemented, will enhance your security to reasonable levels. 

  1. Utilize the 5Ds of Home Security to create a layered approach to secure your home or safe haven. The 5Ds are deter, detect, deny, delay, and defend.
  2. Create a Watch Schedule to maintain continuous, around-the-clock security of organized shifts within your home, safe haven, and group.
  3. Form Relationships and Alliances to provide mutual assistance and enhanced security by pooling your resources and skills with trusted individuals or groups.
  4. Train and Conduct Drills to make sure everyone understands and becomes proficient with their responsibilities so that they are better prepared to respond effectively to safety and security issues that may arise. 

(Read this helpful home security article: How to Fortify Your Home for an SHTF Event)


6. Do Not Take Unnecessary Risks

While voiding unnecessary risks is important during the best times, it’s essential during an SHTF situation. Understanding the heightened dangers and lower tolerance for errors during such times is critical to navigating SHTF scenarios successfully. 

After all, should access to reliable medical care become difficult, what we currently consider minor problems can become life-threatening emergencies. Similarly, the inability to replace resources mandates that we do our best to ensure we don’t risk damaging or destroying any of them. 

Here are four aspects to help manage our risk:

  1. Recognize the Increased Impact of Risk during SHTF events and approach every task cautiously, with an eye for minimizing and eliminating risk.
  2. Prioritize Safety by making a deliberate effort to avoid thrill-seeking or impulsive actions that increase your risk.
  3. Stay Informed so that you can assess for problematic changes to your risk profile. 
  4. Be Adaptable to changing situations, using a mix of instinct and logic-based risk management as part of your decision-making.

(For more information on the science of risk management? Read this article: Risk Management Made Easy) 


7. Do Not Neglect Your Health and Hygiene

Neglecting your health and hygiene can lead to medical problems with severe consequences for you and your family. Making matters worse is the increased difficulty in maintaining health and hygiene that often accompanies SHTF situations. A lack of cleaning agents, fresh water, and other resources mandates that we make a concerted effort to keep ourselves clean and healthy. 

Three areas of health and hygiene to consider are: 

  1. Prioritize Health and Hygiene by implementing good hygiene practices to prevent illnesses and doing your best to maintain a balanced diet to support your immune system.
  2. Stock Essential Health and Hygiene Supplies by assembling a comprehensive first aid kit and a stockpile of medications, personal care items, and cleaning supplies.
  3. Learn Basic Health and Hygiene Skills by acquiring skills like wound care, alternative medicines, vital signs management, diagnosing fundamental medical problems, and sanitation and cleaning methods. 
  4. Eat a Balanced Diet whenever possible to both help keep your immune system primed and maintain your energy and ability to think clearly and effectively. 

(Here’s a helpful article on Prepping for Health Care Shortages)


8. Do Not Make Emotional Decisions

The likelihood of emotional responses, which cloud judgment and lead to poor decision-making, increases during stressful times. Therefore, understanding and controlling emotional reactions is crucial for rational and effective decision-making when it hits the fan. 

Because emotional responses are part of the human condition, they happen to all of us. Unfortunately, emotional responses like fear, anger, and despair can cause poor and impulsive decisions that lead to potentially dangerous actions.  

Here are three actions that you can take to minimize the possibility of emotional decisions. 

  1. Effective Planning and contingency planning help minimize the likelihood of emotional decision-making by providing a clear road map for action, reducing the possibility of impulsive decisions. 
  2. Seek Advice and Input from trusted individuals to offer fresh perspectives and reduce decision-making stress.
  3. Mentally Rehearse potential scenarios by asking yourself “what-if” questions to help mentally prepare yourself for the difficulties you may encounter. 

(Read this article on managing emotions: Mental Fortitude: 7 Steps to Mental Toughness)


9. Do Not Broadcast Your Information

Safeguarding your information is crucial during an SHTF event. Keeping your location, plans, supplies, and other sensitive data confidential helps avoid endangering yourself, your loved ones, and your group.

My seven tips to help avoid broadcasting your sensitive information are:

  1. Use Codes and Signals to make it difficult for anyone observing or listening to you to gather your sensitive information.  
  2. Practice Operational Security (OPSEC) to avoid needlessly passing on information that can be used to harm you and your group. 
  3. Limit Your Online Presence if the Internet is functioning to prevent being geo-tagged, tracked, and accidentally providing information that can cause problems for you.
  4. Be Low Profile by not providing any outward indicators about who you are, where you live, and what you do.
  5. Secure Meeting Areas before having any discussions about sensitive issues. 
  6. Practice Situational Awareness to avoid threats by staying in tune with your surroundings while trusting your instincts.
  7. Exercise Caution when interacting with others by remembering that trust is earned.


10. Do Not Evacuate Without a Plan

Lastly, the unpredictable nature of an SHTF event necessitates our readiness to relocate from our home or haven. All one has to do to see an example of this is to look at Ukraine and how significant segments of its population have been forced to flee their homes. Therefore, the need for a proper evacuation plan goes hand-in-hand with the possibility of leaving one’s home behind. 

Here are four things you can do to help prepare for a possible evacuation:

  1. Create an Evacuation Plan that, as discussed earlier, has built-in contingencies such as using the PACE plan.
  2. Include Tripwires that you act on when a situation crosses one of your red lines in the sand. For example, if police officers stop reporting for work, your action may be to evacuate. 
  3. Designate Routes and Rally Points to get you from your home to the safe haven you plan to relocate to.
  4. Prepare Evacuation Kits, such as go-bags, so that you and your family can evacuate as fast as possible. 

(Here’s an excellent SHTF planning article: SHTF Plan: 4-Step Planning Guide for Surviving SHTF) 


The Bottom Line on Things NOT to Do During SHTF

Preparing for an SHTF event is about much more than just knowing what to do; it’s equally about understanding what not to do. Making sure that you avoid crucial SHTF mistakes can be a lifesaver. By being aware of the pitfalls discussed here and actively working to prevent them, you can significantly enhance your chances of surviving and thriving in the face of unforeseen challenges and SHTF upheavals.

What are your thoughts? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.


Additional Resources:


Stay safe,

10 Things Not to Do During SHTF (Fatal Mistakes to Avoid!)

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