SHTF Scenario: What Is It And What Does It Look Like?

What Is A SHTF Scenario?

SHTF scenario is a term that’s gained a lot of popularity. Especially among preppers and people interested in prepping, and especially recently. What it stands for is “Sh** Hits The Fan”, which is a colorful phrase to describe a very bad situation. If you haven’t heard the phrase before, you probably get the mental image. In this article I’ll talk about some of the most popular theories on what’s finally going to hit and destabilize society. Pushing it to the point that the SHTF.

SHTF scenario aftermath

SHTF Scenario: Regional Disaster

Let’s kick it off with a very realistic example: Hurricanes. When a major hurricane is headed towards you, the government will issue evac orders. Normally, you’ll have some time to prepare. But this is a situation where having bug out bags and a game plan will really pay off. Let’s take this up a notch.

Not all regional disasters will give you advanced warnings. Major earthquakes and tsunamis come out of nowhere. And they can immediately throw a city into full chaos. This would certainly be considered a SHTF scenario, even though it’s just a local one. If you live on a fault line or a coast, you need to have a plan in place on where you’re going to go if something like this happens.

Nation-Wide Disasters

Let’s kick the natural disaster up another notch. Let’s talk country wide-disaster. If you’re read into this doomsday stuff one of the first things you learn about is Yellowstone. Underneath Yellowstone is a supervolcano. That supervolcano is due to erupt at any time, this is fact, not speculation. This science of course isn’t exact, so we don’t know when this will happen, or even if we’ll get any sort of warning. Unfortunately we also don’t know the extent of the damage when this will occur. Projections put the plume of ash alone from this eruption all the way east to Missouri.

Some estimates say that the resulting ash cloud could blot out the sun. Causing clouds for long enough to cause a nuclear-winter style cooling effect. That winter would wreak havoc on global supply lines and every society on the planet. A small meteor could have a similar effect. And we have absolutely no way of knowing when or where those could come from. This is a SHTF scenario that there really wouldn’t be a lot of “safe places” to go to. So you’d really need to have a plan for the continued survival of your and your family.

SHTF Scenario: Economic Collapse

SHTF scenarios don’t have to include some external natural event. Economic collapse is a very real possibility, one that we’ve seen in the relatively recent past. The great depression of the 1930’s resulted in unprecedented hardship. The financial system had to be completely reworked. This is just a local example, though. Economic collapses happen all too often around the world. And there’s no reason to think that something like this couldn’t happen to us in modern times.


Pandemics are another possible SHTF scenario. The Covid-19 crisis is a big deal, but it could have been a lot worse. The threat of biological terrorism is ever present. And the problem is that once the genie is out of the bottle on a seriously contagious and seriously deadly disease, it can’t be turned back. This was seen during the Black Death in Europe. Vast swaths of the population died and there was really no way of avoiding it. It worked its way through the population and you either were immune, you survived it, or you died.

SHTF Scenario: Man Made Disaster

Electromagnetic pulses could come from the sun, making them a natural occurrence. But they can also come from military weapons. A global reaching EMP would fry electronics across the world. And it would bring the grid as we know it down permanently. Power as we know it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up.

This brings us to the last SHTF scenario I’ll talk about here: war. It is a tragic reality that war rages across the globe every day. First world countries are not safe from this threat. We have been fortunate enough not to have seen a world war in over 80 years. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t numerous and very strong tensions between major world powers.

The world has been sitting on a powder keg since the cold war. If full scale war broke out between world powers, there’s not telling the extent of the damage. Since the invention of the nuclear bomb, the world has been afraid of a global nuclear war. A war of this scale would certainly constitute a SHTF scenario. And we’d all be lucky if we’re still around after to try and bug out.

There are a lot of possible scenarios that could mean you have to leave life as you know it behind. All you can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

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