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

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I’m sharing my top ten mistakes to avoid during SHTF to ultimately make you safer and more secure during an SHTF event. That’s important because while there are plenty of articles, videos, and other resources that us what to do if society melts down, few address what not to do when it hits the fan.  

And, while the odds of a society-ending SHTF event are remote, we seem closer than ever to possibly experiencing one. Therefore, it’s the responsible course of action is to lean into that possibility and learn a bit about what to do and what NOT to do during an SHTF event.

So, let’s dive into my top ten list of things NOT to 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 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)

3. 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. Six 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. 

4. Do Not Go It Alone

We all have times when we need the support of others. Whether we need help to recover when we’re sick or injured, time to sleep while others watch our back, or someone to talk with when things are bad, eventually, we all need the support of others. Just as the antelope that breaks away from the herd becomes weaker, so does the person who goes it alone during a long-term SHTF event increase their risk. Here are two things you can do to help prepare:

  1. Form Values-Aligned Relationships and Alliances to provide mutual assistance and enhanced security by pooling your resources and skills with trusted individuals or groups.
  2. Exercise Caution when establishing relationships with others by remembering that trust is earned.

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

5. 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 three 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. 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 avoiding 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. Practice Situational Awareness to notice new patterns of life that develop, along with being aware of problematic changes to your risk profile. 
  4. Trust Your Instincts when they are warning you of potential danger.
  5. 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 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. 

8. 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)

9. 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)

10. Do Not Act Without a Plan

The unpredictable nature of an SHTF event necessitates our readiness for contingencies such as evacuating our homes and finding alternate sources of food, water, energy, etc. 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 adapt to their ongoing SHTF situation. Therefore, the need for plans and contingency planning goes hand-in-hand with an SHTF event. Here are three things you can do to cover all of your SHTF planning needs:

  1. Create PACE Plans for Every Eventuality so you’re ready when Murphy throws an SHTF curve ball your way.
  2. Include Tripwires that you act on that you act on when a situation crosses one of your red lines in the sand.
  3. Constantly Assess and Reassess Your Situation so that you’re always aware of your risk profile’s strengths, opportunities, vulnerabilities, and threats.

(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 (Deadly Mistakes to Avoid!)


  1. steve on February 14, 2024 at 8:34 pm

    Do not run your generator so people can here it Do not have lights on after dark that people can see Do not walk down the street dressed like a military man with your AR15 in your hands Do not trust anyone Do not go anyware with out you undercover hand gun

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