11 Things That Will Derail Your SHTF Plans

Preparing for a small-scale disaster is straightforward, it mainly requires having supplies. When it comes to a larger scale event, it becomes a little more complicated, because there are things that could derail your SHTF plans.

Preparing for a large-scale event requires more than just food storage and bug out bags. Surviving for a long period of time when things go really bad requires planning, critical thinking, and understanding what to avoid, and how to avoid it.

As preppers we try to think about what could go wrong, and how we are going to handle each situation. Sometimes it’s the small things that can lead to big problems, and some situations are just unavoidable.

SPP209 11 Things That Will Derail Your SHTF Plans

This week in the show Lisa and I went over some of the things that could put us at risk during an SHTF scenario. All the items on this list can (and should be) worked on now, in order to avoid them in the future.


Yourself (OPSEC)

Operational security is crucial to everything we do now as well as in a SHTF scenario. Everything we do today, and everyone we tell, could have consequences down the line.  People love to gossip, so be careful about who you tell about your preparedness plans. The odds are, some people know more about you than you think.

After the S has hit the fan, operational security will play an even bigger role. The consequences in this situation could literally become life or death. People will become desperate, and desperate people will make different choices than they do today.

Your Neighbors

Like it or not, your neighbors will be there in an SHTF event. How long they are is another story. Your neighbors probably know more about you than you think. Or they have preconceived notions, which can be even more dangerous.

Our neighbors are literally right next door, or right down the street. We should expect a visit from them, and we should think about how we are going to handle that. This is why getting to know your neighbors is so important. We need to figure out who might be helpful, and who might be a problem.

Untrained Dogs

Dog are great for giving you a little early warning, and deterring intruders. A loud dog can also bring unwanted attention. If you are trying to remain quiet and maintain a low profile, dogs that bark at everything are going to ruin that.

I think the benefits of having a dog outweigh the risks, especially if they are trained. We have a large dog that tends to bark at everything, but is a very good deterrent.

Kids Being Kids

Children don’t intentionally set out to ruin our day (most of the time), it’s just what they do. We can talk to them until we are blue in the face, and they still don’t understand the consequences of their actions.

Children live in a different world than us. Their job is to learn and play, our job is to teach and protect. When children are out with their friend, they could talk about things you don’t want them to talk about.

Being Plump

In a SHTF situation where everyone is hungry and thirsty, we need to blend in. If everyone else is losing weight, and we look nice and healthy, we become a target.

This doesn’t mean we need to starve ourselves, but having some clothes that are a size too big might be a good idea. Being the grey man is a huge part of survival. The more we fit in , the less we stand out.

Sight, Sound and Smell

These days when your neighbor smells you barbecuing steaks it just makes them hungry, could you imagine how it would be if they were starving? You could leave your porch light on all night, and they wouldn’t give it a second thought…unless they didn’t have power.

In any sort of disaster scenario, when people don’t have something, and you do, you become a target. Generators give of a lot of noise and cooking can give off smells. Candle light coming from your window will travel a long way when no one has power.

Relying On Plan A

We all try to have the best plans we can. These could be for bugging out, bugging in or how to handle different people. when something goes exactly according to plan, it’s more the exception than the rule.

We can’t be so married to our plans that we can’t pivot and change. Even the smallest things can derail our preparedness planning. That’s why they say always have a plan B…and C.

Lack Of Critical Thinking

As they say “hindsight is 20/20”. Regardless of how prepared we are, we are bound to make some questionable decisions along the way. There are also some decisions that just don’t have a “right” answer.

Our job is to have the skills and knowledge to make the best possible decision when these times arise. This is why situational awareness and operational security are so important. The greatest battle won, is the battle never fought.

Improper Storage

How we store our supplies, and where we store them is very important. Moisture and temperature can wreak havoc on your supplies.The last thing you want is to think you have something, only to find out it’s spoiled or rusted.

Pests and animals can also wreak havoc on your supplies. If there is a way for them to get into your food supply, you can bet they will find it.


These days we protect our valuables from thieves, and these thieves just want our TV or our car. In any sort of SHTF event food and water will be more valuable than a useless TV.  These thieves will walk right past the TV and head for the pantry.

Today we have a fairly good idea about who might be a thief and who might not. In a SHTF or disaster scenario, people become desperate, and at that point everyone could become a thief. People will do whatever it takes to survive.

Mismanagement Of Supplies

Most of us have food and water stored for a certain amount of time, a week, a month, a year and so on. There are quite a few things that could change this time frame quite a bit. Eating it too quickly, spoilage and unexpected house guests to name a few.

It’s important that we stay on top of our inventory and rotation, as well as our rationing. You never know when something small could turn into something larger, and you don’t want to run our of food or batteries before you expected to.


Survival and being prepared should not only be a passion, it should be a lifestyle. The definition of a prepper is "An individual or group that prepares or makes preparations in advance of, or prior to, any change in normal circumstances, without substantial resources from outside sources" Like the Government, police etc. I don't believe that the end of the world will be the "end of the world" I believe it will be the end of the world as we know it now. You can also find me on Google Plus and Twitter

    2 replies to "11 Things That Will Derail Your SHTF Plans"

    • Ben Leucking

      Dale, A terrific article! If I may, I would like to add a few comments to fill out some of your excellent points.

      Regarding your #1 (Opsec) and #2 (Neighbors), the more you talk about your weekend tactical outings or upgrades to your bug out vehicle with neighbors, the more they will surmise about your prepping status. Even if you keep your BOV parked inside your garage overnight, neighbors will still see it and form opinions about its purpose and your intent. As you suggest, keep your mouth shut. Unless your sister lives down the street, don’t discuss prepping with any of your neighbors. Deflect prying questions with innocuous or (better yet) misleading answers. Trust no one.

      Regarding your #7 (Relying on Plan A), I think that seasoned Preppers would agree that bugging out is not the preferred plan “A” under most circumstances, even though you should be prepared to bug out if conditions dictate. What is important is that you have a plan “B” and a plan “C.” The problem is that there are an almost infinite number of B’s and C’s for whatever leads to the failure of your plan “A.” So, the burden is on you (the Prepper) to thoroughly evaluate the details of your plan and challenge each aspect for things that could go wrong, or serve as impediments to success.

      For example, ask yourself the question “Is my plan A evacuation route the same as my bug out route?” The answer will probably be no. How many potential bug out routes rely partially or exclusively on the availability of a motor vehicle? How many routes rely partially or exclusively on foot travel? What are the requirements (and burdens) of each possible choice?

      The answers to these straightforward questions will help anyone develop a more realistic plan for how to deal with the issues of a SHTF scenario. The only time ‘success’ comes before ‘work’ is in the dictionary. Do your homework. Think through your plans.

    • Grampa

      As I pondered the sources of water after all the sources have been looted I was sitting on my deck and my neighbor was watering his lawn. a stray gust of wind found a drop and conveyed it upon my head. I then realized that so many had similar watering systems. the water doesn’t drain out of these systems because we have people who service them each year to prevent freeze damage. I did a rough calculation and an average yard would provide about five gallons. hardly a great amount but enough to make a difference that would insure survival. We take so much for granted that we give no thought to until it is needed. If someone with more talent with a pen than myself could include it in the list of water sources it may serve and help someone during a crisis would be great.

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