REACT: The First Moments AFTER! What YOU Need to do Immediately After SHTF…


  • By: Dan W
  • Posted on: May 9, 2014

cypress_lcluff_smIntro: As I read the posts on MD’s Blog the other day I was thinking about our prepping. I figured we are very well prepared but it was also obvious that there were some areas where we could improve. One thought led to another and soon I was deep into thoughts of #10 cans and ammo! I was brought back to attention by movement outside of my office window. A small group of deer was browsing the forest floor. I was pleased to see that they had survived an especially hard winter and thought how it was that they didn’t have to prepare for each season …….. just eat as much as they could before snow covered the ground and their browse.

One thought led to another and then it hit me! We are all working so hard to be ready; everyone is talking about their preparations for the SHTF ……….. we all want to be ready for whatever unpleasant times the future may hold. But……….What about “AFTER” the SHTF? I mean immediately after! How we act during the first few critical moments or hours after an event will to a great extent determine if we’re even around to live in a new world and enjoy all those dehydrated meals. Kind of like we are all athletes preparing for the big game, exercising to get our muscles in shape, eating healthy food, buying special equipment but not giving much thought to “getting” to the actual game we’re preparing for.

Seems like every now and then this issue arises as a sideline to another topic but, as far as I know, it hasn’t been addressed directly. The “Conflicted Tuesday” scenarios are great as they tend push our thoughts in this direction as we try to figure out what we’d do for a given set of circumstances. This article offers some of my thoughts about what we can/should do to successfully ride out those initial moments after the SHTF. Acronyms are a great memory aid and teaching tool and, as you can see, I’ve used that technique here.

A = Assessment: The first thing to be done is to assess your actual situation. This must be done pretty much without regard for whatever it is that has caused the SHTF. To use an oft quoted saying; “It is what it is”. Regardless of what you were doing when the SHTF, you have now been forced into a state of flux. An immediate and accurate critical assessment of your situation will be the best tool you have at your disposal to ensure survival. As you make observations you will begin to develop a picture of your surroundings. Use this mental picture to help you establish the facts.

F = Facts: Are you hurt? What has happened? Where are you? Must you decide between fight and flight? What do I do next? Odds are good that there will be little to no information immediately available for you to base your decisions on. Expect all electronic communications to have ceased so you’ll have to rely on your observational skills and powers of deduction. I’ve only been in a SHTF type situation once and then it was what would be considered a local event ………… if you call something that effected several hundred square miles local! Let me share the story with you: I was living California when the 1989 Loma Prieta California earthquake occurred.

At work in Sunnyvale, I knew right away that it was a bad quake. When the ground had stopped its initial rock and roll there was a total loss of power. The silence after the quake was unsettling. From one end of the radio dial to the other there was nothing being broadcast ……. just static. Nearby buildings appeared to have ridden out the quake with minimal damage but I could see smoke rising in the distance.

I’ve always thought of myself as a logical thinker as I’m an engineer and it kind of goes with the trade ……….. but the magnitude of this event was outside my experience. The quake had put me into a situation where immediate decisions were required. At first, the only facts I knew for sure was that there had been a big quake knocking out all power and there was a fire somewhere.

I didn’t know if the problems were localized, whether or not my wife was okay (she’s a nurse and was working in the O.R. on the third floor of a large hospital), how bad the roads would be as I tried to get home (10 miles away), would our home still be standing when I got there, and so on. My fact sheet at that time read: Big Earthquake, No Power, No Radio, Car runs okay, I’m not hurt nor is anyone else around me! I decided that I needed to get home ASAP. As I slowly drove I found traffic gridlock. No traffic lights were working. Many large storage buildings had partially collapsed into the road and sections of the roadway were damaged. (Much later I would find out about the collapsed freeway to the north).

Each of these observations added to my growing ‘known facts” list. I made it home safely without incident. Once home, I focused on the immediate situation and adjusted as conditions changed. I knew that my wife would stay at the hospital and contact me as soon as she could (if she was able to). I decided to wait 24 hours before trying to go to the hospital. It was more than 20 hours before I talked with her ……… she was okay! The hospital had extensive damage and all of the patients had been evacuated to the parking lot! She finally made it home two days later.

Itemizing the facts should be done before you take action. Prioritize the known facts with regard towards those that threaten your immediate survival heading your list. Your fact list may be small to begin with but it will grow as things evolve. Be prepared to revise your immediate plans if the circumstances dictate. Once you’ve evaluated the facts you will then be able to take action with a greater chance of survival.

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Updated: May 23, 2014 — 6:57 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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