If you have a limited time before the SHTF, What do you do?  What are your priorities?  Recently we saw this first hand with Hurricane Irene (see article).  The actions of the unprepared raises good questions for all of us.

There was a science fiction short story (also an Outer Limits episode) called “Inconstant Moon” by Larry Niven based on the actions of an astronomer who noticed the light changes on the moon and deduced the sun had gone nova.  Then he realized that it was ONLY a massive flare and survival MIGHT be possible.  The story was of his attitude and preparations during the night.

In “ALAS, BABYLON” the hero is given approximately 24 hours to prepare from nothing. It is interesting in what he gets both right and wrong. In both these stories, SHTF was also TEOTWAWKI.  In the case of Hurricane Irene it was the SHTF but not TEOTWAWKI.

So, to repeat the question, if you have limited time before the SHTF, what action would you take?  It depends in large measure on SHTF Survivalwhat form the SHTF event takes.  I heard a story of an older lady (70 something I think) who felt the earthquake in Japan.  As soon as the quake stopped, she got on her bicycle and rode for the hills.  She didn’t go back home for anything or take anything, she just rode and she survived the tsunami that claimed her town and most of the town’s people.  The quake gave zero warning and the tsunami gave warning of only a few minutes.  In Texas, hurricanes give hours to days and wild fires give minutes to hours.  A terrorist strike or earthquake might give no warning while a Carrington Event might give hours to minutes.

For the sake of this article, we will assume a SHTF that is not necessarily TEOTWAWKI.  Further we will assume that you have 2 hours notice.  This actually happened when I was a growing up.  A hurricane made up about 90 miles off the coast of Galveston and came ashore as a strong Category 1. Under the wrong conditions, it could have been a Category 3 or 4.  Remember Hurricane Andrew was a weak Category 2 storm at 2200 before hitting Florida as a strong Category 4 at 0200 hours the next morning.

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SHTF Approaches

Like you do every morning, you’ve just checked your local news sources and you’ve discovered that in 2 hours, maybe a little more, there is going to be a major event.

SHTF – T Minus 2:00 – First things first. Start topping off your water supply.  Bathtubs, sinks, buckets, storage bottles, everything should be full. Double check the inventory for the supply cache/pantry for any holes. These may have to be filled before the event or you will do without.  Turn all refrigerators and freezers to maximum cold settings. Set house temperature to extreme cold (summer) or high heat (winter) to precondition the house for the season.  Call in any pharmacy refills you can get for 1-hour pickup. If you are going to GOOD (Get Out of Dodge) double check the BOB (Bug Out Bag) for completeness.

SHTF  – T Minus 1:45 –  If you have help at your house then you can start for the stores now. Your help will finish the top offs and inventory.  Make sure you have your credit cards and debit cards.  Once your help has finished here, they can notify those important to you of the issues.  This is a notification only.  No arguments or recriminations.  Just the warning and move on.  When that is done, your helpers can jump to SHTF – 0:30 list (See below).

SHTF – T Minus 1:30 – Going to the grocery store is probably a waste of time unless you absolutely MUST have something from there. If you must fill any holes in your prep supplies think about a sporting goods store or Sam’s Club. You are less likely to run into panicking mobs there than at the grocery store.  Remember paper products may be worth their weight in gold if you already have your food stuff squared away.  Plates, cups and napkins are nice; toilette paper and tissue may be indispensable.  Sun burn and insect bite treatments may be useful as will analgesics and antihistamines.  If you have pets, increase your stock of pet supplies. Also batteries will go fast, get more.  Get cash from ATM if possible.  In fact, unless the power is already down, get cash from the ATM period.   Charge all your supplies to maximize your cash availability.  Get aluminum foil if you need it.  Pick up long term storage items (zip lock bags, mason jars, etc.) if needed. If available get more fuel for your cooking and lighting systems.  If you have no firearms, now would be your last chance for arms and/or ammunition for quite a while.

SHTF – T Minus 0:45 – Go to pharmacy and get any refills you can pick up. Go inside and restock any OTC (Over the Counter) SHTF Planningmedicines you might need (think Imodium, antacids, analgesics, vitamins, sleep aids, masks, etc.) . Get insect repellant, burn cream, sunscreen, and chap stick type items if not already purchased.

SHTF – T Minus 0:30 – Place BOBs (Bug Out Bags) near doors in case of fire and an immediate evacuation is needed. Preposition supplies and weapons in proper locations for use. Searching through your gun safe for your shotgun in the dark while looters are kicking in your front door is a bad plan.

SHTF – T Minus 0:10 – It is now close enough to the SHTF that no further outside work should be attempted. Set up a security watch in the house and wait.  Use an emergency radio to keep track of news if power is lost in the house.

SHTF – T Minuse 0:00 – Now that the event has arrived, maintain a solid fire watch for at least an hour after all flames are extinguished. It would really be annoying to survive a SHTF event only to be burned out by your lighting or heating prep.  After an hour, the risk that anything will re-ignite diminishes greatly.  If you are using wood or gas stoves or heaters, maintain a watch during any operation time, including night time heating.  Remember Carbon Monoxide is a poison and it kills.

SHTF + 1:00 – Turn on one of your radios and see if there is any broadcast station still on the air.  Attempt to find news and status.SHTF Survival Try cell phones, land lines, TV, text messaging and computer/internet links.  Some of these are very low power and might still be up.  Plan your future actions based on your assessment of the situation.

This is just a rough outline of what might be done.  It assumes that there is no long distance travel involved.  Obviously if the store you need is an hour away, you don’t go.  For events that give days notice, it should never be necessary to go out within two hours of the event, but we are not always in command of our priorities.  During Hurricane Ike, my mother-in-law called for help from a nearby town.  I ended up driving through tropical storm weather over a rather large bridge to bring her to our place to ride out the storm.  Without my 4 wheel drive Suburban the trip would not have been possible.  Black Swans can always happen and last minute ‘monkey wrenches’ will need dealing with but if we prepare for the most likely, the unexpected can usually be dealt with successfully.

Photos by:
Lost Albatross
Lars Plougmann


Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

61 thoughts on “SHTF – T MINUS 2 HOURS”

  1. Fortunately, my mother (the college I go to is near the house so why move out and pay for a place where I can't store my preps?) is responsible for overall logistics and coordination. She manages the stored supplies based on our written inventory and will manage our incoming friends about one mile down the road when they arrive with their supplies. I only make security decisions and essentially advise the other decision makers on that basis. I don't want to be caught up in the hysteria that is the mass of unprepared competing for supplies, something that could get violent. She figures out 1.) Living accommodations of the incoming "reinforcements" and 2.) Inventories the supplies. I task people on security necessities such as Observation Posts etc. My job is pretty easy at this point since SHTF isn't necessarily a violent event. So we don't do a whole lot really.

    • "So we don't do a whole lot really. " That is the best place to be – to not need to go out close to the event. That way, if it is some kind of Black Swan that has unique requirements, you're taking care of those requirements, not trying to get basic food.

      • Sounds like you're in a good spot.

        I moved back in with the folks a little while back. I'm single, no kids, and was living in the same town they're in and they're getting up there in years. Much better to not have a mortgage payment and be able to help out the parental units than to be answering to a bank and less able to help.

        • I wish more Americans thought like you. It seems like we often abandon our elders to nursing homes or to fend for themselves. I bought the house four lots down from my parents and my brother stays directly across the street

    • Thats awsome that you have your mother involved in it. you guys should have drills to see how long it takes your family and your re-inforcements to arrive and get "Dug -In".

  2. Very good article CaptBart. This is one of those things that people could print out as an outline of what to do because it is very general and basic whic is good. This does pose a good question that we all should be able to answer with hesitation. It really does depend on the event itself the general stuff that you covered pretty much is what you would do in a lot of events unless you are bugging out. Personally I think going out durring this time period unless it is for something extremely important such as perscriptions, is a risk I and my family should not take. The possible crowds and actions of those crowds are not worth some batteries, a few extra cans of food or wasting precious fuel. Those items anyway are the basics that everyone should ALWAYS KEEP STOCKED AND ROTATING. If you are going out it wouldn't hurt to bring a weapon with you in the car to defend yourself if things get bad. A crow bar fits nicely in the nook between the drivers seat and the door.

    • A good goose-neck crowbar is a very important bit of survival gear to keep in within reach in every vehicle. In addition to being an 'attitude adjustment tool', over the past almost 40 years, mine has been used as a prybar, nail-puller, post fender bender vehicle separator, campfire-poker and tentpeg hammer.

      I started carrying one in every car I have owned, in the late 1960's, after attending a high school friend's Dad's funeral. The Dad in question had burned to death in his pre-crumple zone and airbag police patrol car in the line of duty. Evidence showed that he had broken his (then all- hardwood) nightstick trying to extricate himself from being pinned by his steering wheel. Needless to say, we both decided to always carry a better lever in the vehicle.

    • Unless I missed it I think fueling your bug out vehicle is important too. I would also have the family fill their cars too. Additionally, I would bring every gas can I had as well and buy a few to fill if available. If the power is out for an extended time the gas pumps won’t work… If you need to leave town it could be a long distance before you can refuel. Could also use it for barter.

    • Agreed, mostly. You must be pretty new to preparedness if you can't live in your own home for 2-3 weeks until the S blows over. Better to stay put. Oh, and don't bring a crowbar to a gunfight 😉

  3. Thanks for another great thought provoking article by Cap'm Bart! Somewhere in there you might want to make sure that all rechargables (cell phones Ipad, laptops etc, drills/tools) are plugged in to the proper recharging unit, providing power is still on. Having spare batteries for our cell phones is a great idea, but not worth a dime if they are not charged for use.

    • very true, I reccommend people stop buying regular batteries and start buying rechargables. Even if power goes out there are alternative ways of recharging them…vehicles, winds and solar gennys, etc.

        • I've got a bunch of non-rechargeables and a few rechargables. That way I have batteries that I can give out if needed and can burn though quite a bit of juice before I have to worry about keeping stuff recharged. I still need to pickup a solar charger.

  4. Thanks for the good read. I got a feeling that Captain Bart's Mother-in-Law is a nut crusher. If my Mother-in-Law called me during Ike, I would have answered the phone like I was working at a Chinese restaurant. "You got wrong number…what you order again…#1 no chicken?"

    • The harsh truth is that while you might sincerely WANT to say that but when my bride looks at me with her baby blues, I'm going. When the folks you care about need you to do something, you usually try to make it happen.

  5. Nice article, good info, thought provoking too with a down-to-the-wire timeline. Different scenarios may dictate different set-ups, but overall a great outline. Nice work Captain!

  6. Honestly, this sounds like the timeline for an incoming snow or ice storm around here. Grocery stores, even C-stores, are leveled in the bread and bottled water sections. Going into those stores is like the early morning shopping on Black Friday! Drug stores aren't alot better. I live 10 miles from a major town, so my family has always been in the habit of stocking up at the onset of winter. We usually just have water storage to do from the tap at the last minute.
    I wander the furthest from home and carry concealed at all times, so i get the draw for doing these kinds of last minute stops. In a SHTF scenerio, it would work the same. My only real stops on the way would be for stray family members or fueling up the car.

    • For anyone who has a Jacuzzi with a few hours warning you can empty the old water, rinse it out and refill it with clean water. Additionally, if your water pipes are in the attic you can drain them by opening a faucet on either end of the house with a bucket under them shut. Just remember if you are concerned that the public water system has been contaminated shut off the main water valve to your house first. Of course there's always the water heater and the toilet tanks too. For an emergency solar water heater link together several water hoses. With one end still connected to the hose bib drag the rest of the hose up to the south facing side of the roof. Put a spray attachment on the end as a control valve. With the valve open turn on the water to fill the hose. When the hose is full close the valve and turn off the water. Give it an hour or two and you'll have a reusable source of hot water. In colder times a clear plastic sheet over the hose will trap heat and insulate the it from cold air. important note: use plumbers tape between hoses to ensure a tight seal and ensure there are no kinks in the hoses.

      • What would it take to use hot tub / pool water in a SHTF. I have a nice hot tub that I keep clean and well maintained. I have also thought that come a SHTF deal I would have plent of water.

        SOP here is to fillthe tubs and whatever else we can while I am picking up additional supplies and the in laws.

        • Spec,
          The chemicals used to keep the tub free of green, growing things would do unpleasant things to your digestive system. Anti-foam, anti-fungal etc. were not meant for human consumption. The small amount you get while using the tub won't hurt you but drinking or cooking with it might have unpleasant results. That said, flushing toilettes, cleaning, bathing, washing dishes etc. should be fine. It can be purified for use just like any water as well.

          • If the only chemical you add is chlorine then you can drink it with no problems. It might not taste great but it won’t make you sick either. The reason I would purge the old water is because we sweat in the hot tub and release other unpleasant things from our bodies that I don’t want to give to my family. Even in small amounts. Besides, if you have enough other water then the Capt. is on target… Use it to wash and flush with.

  7. Great article. The clearing out of store shelves is something to see. I think I should start a Milk & Bread business and just stay open for the last 24 hours before SHTF. I could make enough off a couple of hurricanes to retire to someplace like Tahiti. All kidding aside, everytime there is a sizeable weather event here in North Carolina, there is a big run on those items. It makes me happy and comfortable knowing we're prepared and don't have to be a part of that madness. Keep up the good work.

  8. If you said it, I missed it, but topping off your vehicle's fuel tank should be listed in there someplace. Especially if you just used it to go shopping. Would also be a good idea to have a spare gas can or two and to fill those up as well.

    There are a variety of different companies that make hand crank generator run radios. Having one of those would help. The one I have includes a set of adapters so you can potentially (at least partially) charge your cell phone using the hand crank generator.

    While rechargeable batteries can be a good idea, make sure that the piece of equipment you are planing on using them with is going to like them. There are some high end electronic toys that get very voltage specific and rechargeable batteries might not work too well with them. Other items don't have that problem, so one should do a little bit of research to make sure that everything will operate as planned.

    • Minarchist_1776,
      For a variety of reasons, I keep the vehicles over 1/2 full unless I am actually on a trip and then I'll let it get to 1/4 before refill. Still, I didn't include the gas station for the same reason I urge folks to not need the grocery. You can easily spend over an hour in line to get a limited (5 gal. limit is not unusual around here) amount of gas. I recommend that you keep at least a tank full of stabilized gas at all times. For a big vehicle that is up to 6 gas cans. If I use a different can, one each month, the gas is never more than 6 months old. That way, worse case, I have a full tank of gas in my car. If not needed for the car, then there is extra for the generator. Still I should have mentioned it specifically – good call.

      • I try to keep my car at least half filled and figure if the S really does HTF I'll be staying home for a while. No need to go to gas station, cause I 'aint going anywhere. Where I'm at (west side of Puget Sound) "bugging in" is really the only option.

        • Keep in mind you might be forced from home. We just went through a mass evacuation in our city of 80,000.
          We keep our vehicle fuel tank full and the camper ready, my daughter has an extra puffer for her asthma. When we left it took us 3-4 hours to go 4 kilometers to the highway, everyone got out with no injuries, thanks to emergency people. There were vehicles abandoned everywhere, I'm assuming no fuel. We were not allowed back into the city for a month. We had family just a 24 hour drive away, alot of people camped or stayed in temp facilities. (It was in Fort Mcmurray Alberta) every little thing you do makes life so much more comfortable, what you take for granted now you would give anything for when its not available and you are stranded some where.

  9. Great post, it is a lot to think about. When you figure in that the 2 hours notice will probably occur when I and my spouse are at work, kids at school or out with friends. My family spends about 30-40% of out time apart on a good week (not including weekends). Best case scenario, I would lose at least a half hour just getting the family together… So, I would preferat least 2 and a half hours notice please…. Make it three… Thanks for the reality check.

  10. Great article Capt Bart! I also ensure that all my cordless tools are fully charged. (They are extemely handy for making repairs after the incident.) I also top off my rain barrels with a hose (if they're not full). One other thing we do is take showers. This may sound silly, but it worked great during the numerous hurricanes I've been through. Personal hygene will make you more comfortable and is important in staying healthy during a SHTF situation. YMMV.

  11. Good article. Appreciate info from other readers, may I suggest a power inverter,at least 800 watts, that can be attached to a car battery for electricity,available at truck stops, and a rice cooker, thanks

    • Check the power requirements on that rice cooker. Mine pulls 1500, same as the coffee maker, microwave, toaster, and space heater. I guess what I'm saying is 1500W should be the target on the inverter.

  12. My friends and family have a cabin in the woods far from view. Its about an our and a half drive. I've told them all to have what they need when they show up, charity will be at a minimum. Having spent times in the woods with limited resourses, it would be imperitive to say; Stay if you are in a low population area, you can always stay for a while and use your house for a bit. Always pack more than you need if you dont have a short distance to go and you know your friends will be there for support. We meet up a few times a year to go over plans at the place, and to have a good time. I think it's important to know that survival is not living, but having a good time at your B.O.L. a few times, with your intended "family" is also imperitive. We have solar there and plenty of open water for drinking, but having people together following your plan is like nothing else. Talk to your people, this should always be on all of your minds!

  13. Great article. Read one years ago in American Survival Guide. Yes I'm that old.
    Any way your article brought back memories. Give us something to think about.
    I have a question you said
    "During Hurricane Ike, my mother-in-law called for help from a nearby town".
    Why was she not already with you. Or some place safe before the storm hit?
    Yes I would of went after mine as well. If I want to up with her daughter beside me!



    • PITA45,PITA45,
      She and 5 of her neighborhood friends were going to ride out the storm together. She WOULD NOT come to our house, she didn't need us. Then she found out the day of the storm that her 'friends' had all bugged out and didn't tell her they were going. She still didn't call me until the wind and rain scared her into a panic attack. That was when I went over, spent 5 minutes (a mistake – almost catastrophic) moving wind chimes and potted plants into the house, then told her to get in the "expletive expletive expletive …. deleted" car – we were going NOW! She wanted me to find and capture the feral cats she'd been feeding. As it was the road I came in on was already flooding and the wind was tropical storm strength. Crossing the bridge over the ship channel was an adventure. My biggest fear was that I would not be allowed back into the evacuation zone. Our house is higher than the average (by a chunk) so while we were in the "mandatory evacuation zone" we were in no jeopardy of flooding. Still the rule was once out you can't come back. Fortunately for me all the first responders had hunkered down by then and my suburban has the off road, 4 WD, tow package so I made it back.
      If we had decided to go to San Antonio like we discussed, she would have been alone and I doubt she would have made it.

  14. "toilette paper and tissue may be indispensable" WTF!! Has this guy never been camping?! Most of the people in the world survive just fine without toilet paper.

    • Yes, sir, most people do. Which is why handing a native of India food with your left hand is the height of insult. Guess what they use for toilette paper in the poorer villages. Most Americans don't and are not used to doing so.

      For the record, I have been camping one or more times in my life, I have also been in one or more fire fights in one or more jungles in one or more tropical environments. I have lived through more than 8 hurricanes, 1 typhoon, 2 tornadoes, one earthquake (worst of the lot in my not so humble opinion) and at least 3 wild fire scenarios.

      A years supply of paper products will make the transition from modern society to TEOTWAWKI a lot easier on everyone, especially the ladies. If there is an incontinent person in the group, the ability to clean up without excessive water use is a big plus. (If you have amoebic dysentery you ARE incontinent – I learned in Viet Nam that the alcohol in the scotch does NOT kill the amoeba in the ice!)

      The paper products can be vitally important to the mindset of the survivors. Perhaps as a person alone you don't need any modern conveniences in your life. For members of a family, easing the strain of the transition can make a difference between wanting to survive and just not caring. Learning wilderness hygiene is a lot easier, especially for the young, if you can ease them in to it. Less likely that some fecal borne pathogen will get into every ones' food that way.

      Just my not so humble opinion, of course. You are free to explain the lack of toilette paper to the ladies in your group if you wish.

      • I agree with you 100% Captain Bart. Try telling someone that they now have to use a 5 gallon bucket as a toilet and you have no toilet paper for them to use. Especially the ladies. Good luck to Peabo Bryson on that issue.

  15. Since firearms, ammo , and food are a non issue ( I have been stocking for year's ) I do agree on the water issue ( You can never and i do mean NEVER have too much ) The next thing is security, security , security, Make sure that you check for any weak spot's and fortify the strong part's as well.
    Set up communication's ( Radio's and such ) to receive any information regarding the event.
    And then probably the hardest thing will being able to be PATIENT.
    Also I agree about medication's , Ask your doctor for 90 or 120 day supplies.
    Also when ever you do your shopping get the extra antibiotic cream or gel keep plenty on hand.
    AND YES PAPER TOWELS AND TOILET PAPER. All you have to do is wipe your ARSE on some old leaves 1 time and you will get the Idea.

  16. most people dont get it that in a SHTF moment in the first few hours stores will be rushed hard core.So its good to get in a system of changeing out food and other things like MEDs and canned food and maybe even water.but hey thats you

  17. Nice article. Thanks for mentioning the sporting goods store. You can't get in and out of Sam's here in less than an hour on a good day, and the grocery would be a mad rush and total mayhem. My bet's on the sporting good store for more fuel and ammo. Thinking of filling the bathtub, just reminding the new folks that's grey water. Your tub is not sanitary unless you have cleaned and bleached it. The best bet is to get a Bathtub BOB. Wish I could find the link to give you. It's a bathtub liner similar to a hydration bottle, only large scale. I think Forge Survival Gear has it.

    • If you can't afford any of these things then you are homeless and should be used to living on the streets with nothing. Seriously, who can't afford any of these things? The guns, I can understand – they can be pricey. The food, a little at a time really adds up. If you have a job, you can stock up something for an emergency situation. You may have to put off buying that video game or give up going out to lunch/dinner a couple of times a month but it's worth the peace of mind. If you honestly can't afford anything for some ridiculous reason, go to the library and get some books on how to forage for food in the wild, make weapons from nature (hey, if the indians could do it) and herbal/natural healing. There are ways to survive without huge stashes of stuff – although stuff does make things much easier at times. Good luck!

    • Sorry for the long delay in responding. From the top, the ONE indispensable survival tool is a good, solid sharp edge. You gotta have a knife but you do NOT have to have the double edged (I don't like those anyway), 18 inch long, Rambo bad guy stabber that costs $250. That is NOT a survival knife anyway; that is Hollywood non-sense. A good solid survival knife is as cheap as $40; if even that is too much, you've got a solid kitchen knife, right? In our kitchen are several Sam's club chef knives (white handle, 7" blade… ), $12 for the pack of two IIRC, and they would do the job nicely.
      Food? OK, first, when TSHTF is the wrong time to be buying food. When you go to the store, do not buy a can of chili, buy 2 or a 6 pack. A 6 pack of green beans instead of a couple of cans, etc., and pretty soon, you've go three weeks of food. Keep doing this and soon you're prepped for food. MEDs are a sensitive issue as it depends on what your conditions are. I have long term medical issues so I always buy my meds early. The reason for using the credit cards is to preserve your cash (it will be cash only, at least for a while after an event). Every soda bottle you use is a water storage container once it's washed.
      If you need a gun and I recommend one, start a defense fund; set aside $10 a week and inside of 6 months you'll have enough for a shotgun or a .22 and some ammo. Either of these is enough for self defense. You do not need a fully tricked out, $2500, "space gun" to defend yourself.
      Amy is correct in that we waste a lot of money. Unless you are truly one of the homeless, you have disposable income. There is no magic answer that lets us have all the things we want AND still prep. I give up things every time I buy an additional item for the survival kit. The problem is, as the grasshopper found out (Aesop's fable… ) once the disaster is upon you, it is too late to START prepping.
      Just my not so humble opinion.

    • If you can't afford a gun you must be homeless and reading this website on a library's computer. A used Remington 12 gauge shotgun can be acquired on for $250 or a Mosin Nagant battle rifle for $215. A Brand new Kahr Arms .40S&W pistol can be had for $349 on and all kinds of pistols go for $299. Hi-point makes rifles and pistols in the $200 range. Heck, you can work extra hours at DICKS, The SportsAuthority, or a local gunshop and earn enough to acquire a self-defense weapon and ammo in a week or so. Use your employee discount and get survival food there and first aid kits as well. If you don't have these things it's because you are not willing to put in the effort. I have a FT job, a small web store, a part time writing gig and I am a volunteer firearms instructor.
      Additionally, everyone is hiring for the Holidays. I just got back from Lowes and Target and they are both hiring. Get a 2nd, or 3rd job and you will be fine.
      Good luck,

  18. Good article; it reminded me of what I experienced on 9/11. I was living in San Diego at the time, and I did not hear what happened until I arrived at work (not a t.v. person). Of course I was devastated like everyone else. My shift ended at noon, and the first thing I did was drive to the grocery store to stock up. I fully expected it to be a madhouse; but there was NO ONE there except the employees. I mean, no one. The roads were nearly empty too.

    That got me to thinking about how difficult it is psychologically for us to accept the fact that we may be facing a societal-disrupting event. When I saw what went down that morning, all I could think about was, this is what we've heard would happen; it may be starting. I was anxious all morning about how fast I could get to the store, whether there would be anything left, will I have enough for friends and relatives that I would be joining if things got worse, etc. I already had emergency supplies (that is earthquake country), but felt that the situation was so serious and so unclear as to what would continue to transpire, that I wanted to get stocked up as much as I possibly could, and coordinate leaving if needed. But it seems that in my city, no one was worried about it.

    I would point out to those not familiar with San Diego that it is a major military city, with several important bases and facilities. The risk of it being a target in that scenario was considered high. Indeed, the military and police etc. had things around the bases locked down tight pretty fast. But as grieved as the citizenry were, they otherwise seemed to feel no sense of personal risk.

    Over the course of the following days and weeks, I asked friends and co-workers about this; whether they had done any preparations in response to what took place; and only one couple had done so. It was even discussed on the news that trucking and shipping might be disrupted, and yet people weren't stocking up on goods. I was particularly amazed about this in those cases where people had children, and they still didn't bother to do it.

    I have spoken to the occasional person who claims that their "plan" in an emergency is to loot and murder/steal from others; but of course I doubt those individuals will last very long in a real situation. Otherwise, it seems that most people really have a psychological block about responding to a potential emergency, even if they are given a window of opportunity to do so. That's one of the reasons I liked this article so much.

    • You are correct. Unless you live in an area that is used to such evacuation/preparation drills, then for the most part people will be huddled around the boob tube with their eyes glued to it. The best thing that you can do is mentally prepare yourself to act when the time or need arises. Also have a plan in place that you have practiced with all family members involved and a pre-acquired stock of supplies. I know because now that I think about it, I was not even close to being prepared when 9/11 happened. Yet there I was glued to the boob tube.

    • I experienced the same while living in Richmond. My husband was called out to the hospital as it was thought that mass casualties could be shipped out as far as Richmond. Being an Army brat (and a well-indoctrinated one) I assumed the worst could quickly happen. I quickly drove to my kids' school on completely deserted roads and picked them up. No other parents were there. The principal thought it was silly that I was gathering my children. My kids and I went to Sam's Club which was completely empty. I quickly bought several hundred dollars of canned food (we had a swimming pool for water). On our way home, the military had blocked off a major road because our nation's largest arms depot is located somewhere underground outside Richmond and near my home. (I had no idea.) Blackhawk helicopters soon swooped my neighborhood and shook all the window glass for days, but my neighbors were glued to the tv and never considered anything bad could happen to them.

  19. I have since moved to a more rural location, and do not watch T.V. (Since they don’t give you the whole truth anyway) and have been diligent in prepping a little every month. I have been lucky enough to find a job where the stress of money is greatly reduced. Even though at $300-$500 a month at prepping doesn’t go far in this economy…….. My advice also is to get out of debt!!!!! The best way to survive, is to have long term goals in place, which correspond with the short term practices.

  20. And lastly remember the rule of 3: 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. Get a quality water filtration system, and stock food. Most of us have shelter, but in extreme climates, you will need some form of shelter in the event that you have to leave your current arrangement. You then will need something to protect your supplies, and your selves. You can buy a decent shotgun for around $200. This should be the start of your self defense preparations, as a shotgun is outstanding for self defense, as well as other uses.

  21. Two hours? It would take me 15 minutes each way to get to Costco. Too much time wasted. I think that 95% of gear should be ready- prescription medications should be re-filled and be sure to have dental supplies on hand as well. Being in NYC (Staten island) we would probably be topping off gas, checking weapons, filling up the water bob and containers, and getting our bob bag ready just in case. Don't forget to fill some extra gas cans – and be sure that you have proper funneling to get it in the tank.

    • I don't disagree, sir. Ideally, your two out prep would be – check the supplies; yep it's all there; wait! Not always like that, especially for a black swan and positioning things for future use can be critical.

      Did you get through Sandy OK, sir?

      • Thanks! We made it through ok- I know a lot of people that lost everything. I wasn't prepared enough with fuel- other than that we were ok on the short term. Power wasn't down too long for us and we had enough basic supplies, including our donations. I learned a lot from Sandy: never underestimate the weather, have more than enough fuel stored and these situations bring out the absolute worst in the unprepared. Love this site!Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  22. Great eye opener for everyone, even us preppers. You put a countdown clock which raised the adrenaline just reading this. Great work.

  23. Skip the grocery store and head to your local Dollar Tree or Dollar General. They have plenty of food, cheap prices, and usually a smaller crowd.

  24. There was a snowstorm a few years ago that left homes without power for 3-7 days. I lived 10 minutes from the grocery store, and by the time I got there the shelves were empty. I can only imagine what they'd look like in a more severe event that had a longer recovery time.


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