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

 by Dan W

Intro: 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.  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.

T = Threats: Analyze your situation in terms of threats to your safety. Identify them and quickly categorize them as immediate or intermediate. Once you’ve assessed the situation and the known facts you will need to take action. You won’t be any help to your family if you don’t survive! What do you need to do first? The sequence of your actions will prove to be critical to you and your family’s survival. “Temerity” is defined by Webster as “unreasonable or foolhardy contempt of danger or opposition, Rashness or Recklessness”. This is not how you want to act! If you’ve taken time to assess the situation and have made note of the facts as you see them, the last thing you want to do is proceed with abandon throwing caution to the wind as you try to bull your way ahead. Of course things will be moderated by considerations for your loved ones. Issues such as whether or not you’re alone, where you are, where your family is, what actions you must now take and so on must all be quickly determined. Only you know your limitations so the answers to these questions must be realistic. Prioritize the “immediate” from the “eventual”. Focus on gaining control of your circumstances and you will begin to find the strength that comes from having a plan.

E = Engage: “To actively participate”, not the wedding ring thing. The military and others tend to use the term “situational awareness” to describe this. Every day we are all actively engaged as we go about our routines (driving, working, going for a walk or hike, etc.). But, we do this all more or less subconsciously. We’re usually operating in a somewhat relaxed mode (unless you happen to live or work in a very bad neighborhood) where we are surrounded by the familiar. Our senses are turned on but they are operating like elevator music ………… low and in the background! After the SHTF we must shift gears and become more like a hunter after a dangerous predator. We must pay heed to all that is going on around us. You may find yourself in an area where you are intimately knowledgeable of your surroundings ……… but things have changed. The buildings and roads may look the same but the people around you are not! The sights, smells, noises, and especially our natural animalistic intuition for danger must become more pronounced if we are to survive.

R = React: Based on what you have discerned you will need to react to your situation. Being a Prepper is a pro-active condition ………. you’re preparing for the future. At this point in time your ability to react quickly and thoughtfully will enhance your chance for survival! I repeat: Surviving an actual event will depend on your ability to react appropriately to your circumstances in a timely manner. If you are suddenly thrown into a frightening or threatening crisis you must be able to react according to an intelligent plan. In my opinion it is not true that any action is better than no action. (See “Temerity” above!). Be sure you take time to think through what you’re going to do before you do it! But be quick about it! If you freeze (deer in the headlights) you’ll find yourself to be a victim rather than a survivor.

Summation: The comments above were written with the first few minutes after a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI event in mind ……. those first moments when you realize that it has happened, it’s real! I believe that they are applicable to the long term situation as well. If we are able to survive the first few minutes, hours and days of an event we will find ourselves able to take advantage of all our preparations ………….. we’ll be ready to put our prepping plan to work.

Discuss this with your group. Take time now to create a simple plan that will give you, your family, and any other folks in your group a common “initial reaction” to a SHTF event. We all react to stress differently so this guide is a simple way to tip the odds in your favor. Plan as if phone communications and transportation will be nonexistent. Decide on and agree to the critical details:

– Where will you all go to meet up? Home, BOL, etc.
– Determine the length of time (walking) for each person to get from their furthest expected location to the gathering place.
– If you have a short or long term BOL, but a different location will be used as the initial gathering place, how long will you wait for missing members before you bug out?
– Will you attempt SAR if members of your group are missing?
– How long will you wait for everyone to show up at the agreed upon location before any SAR is attempted?
– Will anyone, such as children at school or the elderly, need to be gathered up or escorted?
– Will those people to be escorted remain in place? Where?
– Designate realistic responsibilities while paying heed to the ability of each person to accomplish their assigned task.
– Which of you will be the decision maker? Designate an alternate leader.

Most of us spend our daylight hours in repetitive patterns; home, work, school, shopping, etc. Unless you are a long haul trucker, pilot, travel for business, etc. the odds are good that you’ll be fairly close to your castle when the SHTF. Use this proximity to your advantage. Consider making a simple map with multiple alternative routes for each member of your group. Show where they are likely to be and the subsequent potential routes to your gathering location. Figure out alternate ways to get everyone to the chosen gathering location. Print out a small note (specific to each individual) with the details of your overall plan and listing their assignment and instructions. They should keep this note on their person at all times. Make a copy of each note and, along with the individual route maps, store them for future reference. That way those at the gathering location will know where a “missing” member may be travelling.

The power of positive thinking is one of the best tools you can carry with you. You will not survive if you don’t believe you will. Resolve to succeed! Bravado and tentative actions will only put you in harm’s way ……… you’ve got to have faith in yourself to follow through with your decisions. If you’ve got a plan, whether it is a plan to simply get you through the early stages of a SHTF situation or one to be followed for the longer term, you are more likely to be successful.


  1. I think your thought process is good, here I hear people talk about their stockpiles, but I’ve seen very few that can diagnose their portable gen set when it refuses to run, or be able to start a fire from scratch even with commercial fire starting gear.

  2. I call it Dancing in the Universe.

  3. I have always wondered how to know exactly when too steep up your game to possible lethal force. Some large events such as hurricanes seem like the end of the world but in reality law and order will be back and you will have to account for your actions. Nobody wants to be the crazy old guy up on the hill shooting people, but I am also aware that a matter of seconds could change things in ways we hope to never see. If you are to hesitate at that moment you and yours could pay. I am afraid that I will wait longer than I should have to accept that things are never going to be the same again if that did indeed ever happen

    • Any person who owns a gun needs to read “In the Gravest Extreme” by Massad Ayoob. WROL may change the rules. Hopefully my morals won’t change. Cover gives options.

    • Paul,

      That is always the rub when it comes to using force. How much is enough? How much is too much? Too little can be worse than too much sometimes.

      To make it worse, every state is different in their citizen use of force laws. The police have a little protection in a 1989 US Supreme Court decision, Graham v. Connor. This decision requires police use of force to not be judged on 20/20 hindsight, but only on the information possessed by the officer at the moment force was used. This is why a lot of those shootings involving unarmed people are not prosecuted. And rightfully so, in most cases.

      Making a split-second decision to shoot or not to shoot is very difficult sometimes. At other times, it is blatantly obvious you need to use force, at others there is a lot of grey. It requires training and practice to have a chance of making those rapid lethal force decisions correctly.

      Portia mentions Ayoob’s book and I recommend it as well. She is also quite correct when she says “Cover gives options.” I avoided having to shoot a couple of people because I had good cover and they didn’t. I had time to resolve the situations without shooting.

      FWIW – I am a retired police officer and use of force instructor (including firearms).

      • Hi Zulu 3-6, a retired LEO friend sent me a link to this video on why police sometimes shoot unarmed people. It puts the viewer into the LEO’s shoes, so to speak, and asks the viewer to understand by doing so. Anyone considering carrying a weapon ought to think about it.

        There might be better out there, but this is the best thing I have seen on the subject:

        • Penrod,

          That is a pretty decent video on the subject. Action is always faster than reaction. Unarmed people who get shot by the police usually get themselves shot. Simple obedience to police commands, no matter how stupid or unlawful they might seem to you, is the safe way to go. Most citizens have no idea what the police are allowed to do, or not do.

          Many police shootings are suicide by cop. No guts to pull the trigger on themselves, so they get someone else to do it for them. I investigated one suicide by cop (attempted). The guy attacked an officer with what turned out to be a frosting knife. He got shot seven times for his trouble and didn’t die. Almost, but no cigar. He admitted later to a shrink that he wanted the police to kill him.

          Funny story came out of that one. There were five officers on the road that night and four of them were involved in the shooting. The supervisor (me) had no choice but to send one of the involved officers in the ambulance with the shot guy. At the hospital, the ER doctor asked the officer if the police knew who did the shooting. The officer replied, “Yeah, we got a pretty good idea.” I heard that from the firefighter/paramedics who were there.

          Interesting times we live in.

  4. mom of three says:

    My son’s school, is 5 minute’s away he knows to stay until I come to get him. My daughter, is at a Technical College, I drive her we have the same place where I pick her up but now I may have to have a different meeting place like at a park, or parking lot. Hubby, knows whereI’m at and I know where he is at during the day. He keeps his van with clothing, extra shoes, hat, and jacket. He also keeps water, granola bars meds and money. I keep blankets, at least 2 flats of water, granola bars, change, and small bill’s in my truck. I have phone chargers, mints, gum, pencils, pens, small notebook, matches, flares, small knife, big knive, tarp, gloves, and hat’s are things I need to add soon. I keep my vehicle organization each week I clean, purge, move replace stuff so I know what I have and stuff I need. All the women you should have a sturdy bag, purse, or backpack, to keep your personal stuff in from wallets, to band-aids, OTC Medicine, nail clippers, tweezers, mints, gum, pens, eyedrops, , suckers, kleenex, lipbalm, teas. I also keep huggie wipes under a seat. It’s better to have then want and I used all of this stuff all the time..

  5. Thomas The Tinker says:

    Paul… “Exactly when…” is a question we still adjust too year by year and election by election. Short Wave, HAM, CB radios… Scouting your area… at all hours of the day… Knowing the locations of “Points of Interest” for those that “Shop Creatively” and the routes to and from them with regard to YOUR location… We here have a “connect the dots” tour of the internet to help keep tabs on who/what/where/when/why and how we are going to deal with it. There is a mountain of Crapp to wade through on the internet in order to glean a fair…. only fair idea of local/national and world events. I used to live in L.A. California. The combined city police forces there outnumbers the Ohio State National Guard… Add the Tri-County Sheriffs Depts. and you are talking about a Division sized + … force … When you called 911, good odds you went to call waiting… if or when a human answered you are asked if you or another are in physical danger… Say yes and it’ll only take a few mins for your call to make it to the top of the list… Say no… you go on a waiting list and you will get a call back or a visit with in 3… THREE… days… maybe. Whats the old saying…. “When seconds count…. help is only mins away” Unless your in the County … and it may be half an hour to later on that day.

    I’m in the Toledo, Ohio area now and the local PDs number about 200 per shift scattered over a population of over 300K. I’m saying we all have to expand our ‘Situational Awareness’ by a magnitude in order to honestly Honestly have a fair understanding of what is goinonintheworld.

    I can’t say I’d care to discuss what we plan to do after an event. No one should on the internet. We have a multi-stepped plan based on the extent of the know events and hazards. Gotta set O.D.E. limits based on your understanding of the hazard / threat and your risk limits.

  6. Chuck Findlay says:

    I think the hardest thing to do at first is to recognize that an event could be the big one. That it’s a life altering event and not just another thing piled on top of hundreds of other things that have and are going on all the time.

    I feel I’m fairly smart but I don’t know that I would know when a tipping point event happens. Sure some things are easy to see like a world war or an earth quake like the above example, but how many people knew what was going on at the first stages of WW 1 or even the 1929 crash? Who knew the 1918 flu pandemic was going to be so bad? It could have turned out like the recent bird flu hype in the news. We just don’t know…

    There was a crash in 2008, it didn’t lead to the end of our way of life. It’s easy to overlook events and not see them for what they are. and at the same time it’s easy to over react to an event.

    Remember all the experts saying Y2K was going to be the turning point but it turned into a big non-event. I never thought it was a big thing, I remember on the net people saying how it was going to be bad, really bad. And my voicing “I don’t think so” brought on a lot of negative attacks and people telling me I have no idea what I’m talking about. Point being even the experts don’t have a real idea. All they can really tell us is that the situation is ripe for a bad event.

    Best to try to be ready all the time, but that is harder then it sounds as living your life (family, friends, work, play) gets in the way.

    • Hi Chuck, A person close to me was a senior executive in a financial service company leading up to Y2K, and it was interesting to see how their industry and related industries took it: Very, very seriously.

      They didn’t kid around at all, or tell each other it was no big thing. They piled on the resources to make sure it would be no big thing, as did the banks, insurance companies, electric companies, airlines, industrial companies, water works, and so forth.

      They ran dry run tests weeks ahead of time to make sure the new systems were working, and to be sure they had time to fix any issue that showed up in their dry runs.

      We will never know what would have happened if large industries had shrugged off the possibility of disaster, but in reality they were run by responsible people who understood that it was a lot better to pour in resources before the problem than to fix a disaster after the fact.

      No one knew for certain what would happen at midnight, but we went into it confident that while there might be some scattered problems, it was highly unlikely that they would be catastrophic.

      The experts who claimed that disaster was inevitable were proven wrong by the experts who actually were responsible for making sure it wasn’t.

      I still had some water and food stashed away…

      I hope we are so fortunate with the people addressing the issues of cyber-attack and EMP on the electric grids.

      • What we do know, is that nothing has been done to harden the grid. Again, government is not a private company.

      • I too worked for a company that took Y2K seriously. The ‘funniest’ thing the IT team discovered was that when their dates reset, *everyone’s* passwords would have been out-of-date, and no one could log in to the system – even the administrators! Had we not already moved rural before Y2K I would have been sweating it out, but we had our preps in place by then. Fortunately my wife recognized the brittleness of the food supply system even before I did.

    • Axelsteve says:

      I was kinda worried when the muzzies attacked Paris that night. I was worried about how far the attack was going to go, like another New York bombing of something big that night. When I got home that night I prayed and got a few things together in case.

  7. It is amazing! After having nearly a week’s warning that a powerful hurricane was bearing down on the state of Florida and neighboring states… how many people waited ’til the last minute to fill their gas cans and stock up on eggs?

    I’m just sayin’… This was a no brainer. There was not a person in the region that was not given the time to prepare. Yet, many did not, or waited ’til the last minute.

    We need to have a plan for a lot of different scenarios… Short term vs. long term, warning vs. no warning, Hurricanes, earth quakes, volcanoes, financial crashes (both, the slow and drawn out kind and the immediate “bank holiday” type), nuclear attacks (ground detonation, air burst or atmospheric).

    The best laid plan will do you no good if you are not prepared to execute it. I mean… if you work 41 miles from home, as I do… don’t drive around with no GHB, no firearm and only enough gas to get to the nearest gas station.

    You can plan ahead for all of these events and you should… but, make sure you cover the basics. Be prepared to act on your plans.

    Keep at least a half tank of gas at all times.
    Keep a GHB in the trunk with food and water, a firearm,
    a fire starter, med supplies, tools and durable clothing and
    boots in case driving is no longer and option.
    Keep some cash in the car. I will stop at the store if it is safe to
    do so, to add to my perishables supply. Milk, cheese, butter
    breads and meats.
    Have more than one route mapped out incase the shortest
    route is the one that the whole city has chosen. Which will
    most likely be the case.

    Hopefully… those of us that are more plugged in than the general population, will get a little warning… and be able to top off our supplies and be ready to watch it all go down from the safety of our home/bugout location.

    • speaking of gas.
      The local gas station next to me has a solar array on the roof. From what I have been told that is is to power the lights and refridgeration. I am wondering if it could be used to drive the pumps and computers? That way they can still pump gas and the etc to operate the pumps and the heck with the slurpees and beer.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        You would think a gasoline powered generator would be the thing for a gas station to have.

        The reason for a solar system to power the freezers is that they are loaded with perishable things. Gasoline is not perishable when exposed to a few weeks power outage. It’s a money based decision to save food that would otherwise need to be thrown away.

        But yea it would be smart to have a way to pump gas as it’s an income for them. Short sided (bean counter) thinking???

        • Chuck,

          Remember, gas stations don’t make a lot of money from gas. The margins are actually quite small. The drinks, food, and snacks, however, have big margins and are more valuable than the gasoline is.

          I think there are a couple of states that require gasoline stations doing x-amount of business to have generators that will run their pumps.

  8. Part of my plan is to panic like everyone else. Rush to the store, buy a ton of water and canned goods, fill up with gas; in other words, look like a sheep to all my neighbors, friends, and strangers. It’s like a gray man concept. Look like you’re not prepared and you won’t stand out.

    • The wife and I have the same plan always good to fit in the crowd and be grey

    • patientmomma says:

      I saw a statement on another site which I took to heart: “He who panics first, panics best.” My interpretation of the statement is when you get that “feeling” something is not right, you need to act on that feeling NOW. When you hear a gun shot, don’t look around and ask “was that a firecracker?” Those folks who evacuated from Hurricane Matthew first had time to pack stuff, had little traffic, got the farthest away, got the safest and reasonable hotel accommodations, etc.

      My gut feeling tells me to stay home after the election; I’m not going shopping or to a movie or out to dinner to or any place there will be a lot of people. Better safe than sorry.

      • Hi patientmomma, “My gut feeling tells me to stay home after the election”

        Boy, that is for sure. Either someone is going to be rioting because Hilary lost, or rioting in celebration that she one.

        In either case, there is no way I want to be anywhere urban that night. Or on college campuses, either.

  9. Axelsteve says:

    You would think that after Katrina that people would be on the ball about the storms. No it seems like they did not notice what hapend last time.

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      Nope, people don’t learn. After the water crises a few years ago here in the Toledo Ohio area you would think people would have learned to stock up on water. But they didn’t.

      Also I don’t think the city of Toledo did much to address the algae toxin issue so it is likely to happen again.

  10. Mickey Smith says:

    If you can, retire now to your bug out location and avoid the stress and dangers of being out in a panicked crowd after TEOTWAWKI. My BOL is not yet ready, but it is getting closer to ready every weekend.

    • MasterSergeantUSAF says:

      Mickey Smith, you are a wise person. My Lady and I retired to our BOL nearly two years ago, after living aboard our Bug-Out-Boat for more than 10 years. We’ll be age 50 in two years.

  11. Does anybody have any reasonable ideas for this question. I live in the Midwest where the winters will usually end up below freezing. I travel with my bug out bag with food, a few necessary tools and food. I also have a life straw in both bags and carry a water filter in my bag. My question is about water. If I store it in the car when I travel it is going to freeze. It’s going to take a lot of fire energy to make it liquid again. Any ideas on what to do?

    • I live in the Midwest as well my get home bag has water in it as well in the winter I have six to eight zip-lock bags under filled leave room for expansion then put all in a larger zip-lock if and when you need them you have to take one out and place it under your coat but over your shirt then while you are walking your body heat will take care of it as soon as you drink one you put the next one in your coat. hope this helps

      • You’re going to keep a chunk of ice inside your coat during the winter?
        Good luck with that.

        • yes small flat pieces that will defrost very quickly if you are walking you can talk all you want be lets keep it real. Who is going to bring their get home bag in and out of the car every single time you come and go, I do not know anyone that dedicated to end of world and this is emergency water if you keep it even in the cab area it will freeze hopefully while your driving it may defrost but you cant be sure you will be driving long enough to do that or if it has sat a work and you didn’t get to drive at all so it may not be idea to have frozen blocks it is a real solution and yes even in winter if you are just walking your body generates a lot of heat and it will defrost the bag without freezing you.

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      My question is about water. If I store it in the car when I travel it is going to freeze. It’s going to take a lot of fire energy to make it liquid again. Any ideas on what to do?

      Buy a camp stove (or make a Hobo Stove out of a tin can) that burns wood. Have a small cook set / mes kit in with it. This way you can use twigs to melt ice into water. Make a few wax fire starters to get the fire going and have at least 2 kinds of fire starters.

      I would also keep water in a metal container as it will freeze and be hard to get it out of the container when its frozen. With a metal (stainless steel water bottle) container you can heat the water in it.

      Also a tarp with several bungees and 550-cord would be handy to make a wind break area as you can’t burn a camp stove inside an auto.

      Watch a few U-Tube videos on winter tent camping to get an idea on how to do it.

    • Chloe Hills says:

      Hi DOC,
      I live up here in Maine. I have the same issue with the weather. With winter approaching I’ve been thinking about “how to keep the water from freezing”. I’ve got a couple of things I’m going to try. They may sound crazy but…
      I came across a 12 volt cooler/heater and purchased it. I’m waiting for it to arrive and will see if it can keep water from freezing. I realize that it will only work while the truck is supplying power. Hoping it has some insulating value. Going to have a few tests for sure.
      Meanwhile I was thinking and I am going to try making water tubes out of Mylar. I have some Mylar bags and I’m going to make 1 inch tubes and fill and seal. Remember those “freeze pops” you ate as a kid, same idea just with water. My next step will be to wrap them in wool, be it putting them in a sock or small sweater. I’ll store them in the truck in a styro cooler that I got from a neighbor. It was one of those heavy thick coolers for shipping steaks. They hold the cold for days with gel packs so it will again be the test of whether it can keep the cold out.
      Now if I had to abandon the truck, if the tube design works, I’d have some water available and with a couple of socks full of tubes under my jacket, I don’t think they would freeze while walking.
      Lastly, before heading into the house each night I will bring the water in and put it back in the truck in the morning. That will probably be the only way to keep it thawed overnight.

      • American pacrat says:

        Chloe Hills & others
        Have you thought about keeping an activated hand &/or foot warmers inside of the Styrofoam (small) ice chest with a insulation lining to keep the bottles from freezing?
        It was a thought that might work for you, give it a test run.
        I keep a supply on hand in the vehicles during the colder months where we live for the JIC.

        • Chloe Hills says:

          American pacrat…. great idea… I pick those up for pennies at Goodwill.. adding that to the test runs… 🙂

      • Not being a smart ass, but why fight Mother Nature. Why not pack the cooler with ziplock bags of ice cubes. Grab a few bags and eat the ice for hydration. Yes, it could drop your core temp I guess but if your on the move unless it’s serious cold and your underdressed not so sure how much of an issue it would be. Also ice cubes would melt faster than 1 big block of ice in a water bottle.
        Just a thought

        • Or get yourself one of the zippo fuel burning hand warmers. That in a pocket with a water bottle or bag of ice cubes would melt pretty quick.

    • Since you don’t need the water while you’re home, bring it back inside. There’s absolutely no reason to leave it in a vehicle overnight when you’re home.
      When you’re travelling, put it on the floorboards where the heater can keep it warm.
      Keep it in a separate pack you can bring inside when reaching your work/destination.
      To prevent it freezing if you’re walking, carry it inside your coat. If it’s warm to begin with, it will add to your body heat, thereby save you some calories for more important things, like walking without freezing your bunns off. Ditto with freeze dried foods such as Mtn House- fill a one meal container with the required amount of liquid and carry close to your body to “pre-cook” it lightly.
      Get a handful of Jon-E pocket warmers and can of fluid, keep liquids inside the pack where you can light a Jon-E and allow it to keep your entire pack warm (including sox…mmmm, warm wool sox!) Of course, you’ll want to insure the Jon-E will have an air supply and keep an eye on it.
      Step out from under the box and let your imagination roam free.

    • DOC:

      As a “non-answer” I will tell you what I do. All year long, I carry at least 2 bottles of water in the car. In the heat of summer it gets warm and it freezes in winter. My car is outside year round, if it was in a garage things might be differfent.

      A bottle (16 oz.) of frozen water does not take all that long to get drinkable. I can put it in my coat pocket for 30 minutes or so. If the car is running, it ends up with a little ice in it sitting in the front cup holder.

      I guess the answer would depend upon why you need hw much water when. If you are looking for something immediate, they make a 6 pack “kooshie carrier” for bottled beer that could be easily brought in and out of the vehicle with you.

      You could get one of those 12 VDC refridgerators as they only keep things at about 40 degrees, but you might loose the battery in the vehicle over night.

      Perhaps a little more information of the how much, how fast issue would get better answers.

    • Most water filters can’t get frozen. The ice expands and damages the elements. It is best to have a new water filter that has never been used and does not have any water residue in it. Or keep the water filter someplace that never freezes.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        I have 2 Katadyn filters and I just bring them in the house and put them in front of a fan for a few days to dry them out.

        Also when out in below zero temps with a water filter you should keep it inside your coat and sleep with it in your sleeping bag.

        • I have a Sawyer water filter that I take backpacking. I try to get as much of the water out of it as I can then put it in a zip lock bag. I keep it with me in the sleeping bag. I also keep 2 new large Sawyers unused in with my survival supplies. I think clean reliable water is one of the most important aspects of surviving.

    • patientmomma says:

      How about those small hand heaters/warmers that are chemically activated? Would a couple of those be enough to thaw a bag of water?

      • For at least 6 months of the year, I am travelling with a minimum of 6 children twice a week, 1 1/2 hours each way to the city. A duffle bag contains a pair of snow pants for each person in the family. Under the 3 bench seats in the 12 passenger van there are first aid and survival supplies. Each time we get in the van, we take along 2 or 3 plastic gallon jugs of water – I find re-using vinegar jugs beneficial as they are much more durable than regular water jugs. We also travel with a bucket of food. If we were stranded, it would be tough to get us all home again but I think we’re as prepared as we can be. If I carried around 7 times the amount of supplies that a single person might, there would be little room left for all the bodies, musical instruments, groceries and garbage that we have to carry out with us each time we leave home.

    • Store your water in a black container and leave it in the sun.

  12. I just bought one of those little cube fuel burners that folds flat for storage, plus the fuel cubes to go with it. I will add that to my get-home bag. I keep water in my car, too, plus survival straws and a bunch of stuff in my bag. But…all the time I have my handbag with me, I have a go bag. Water, food, knife, multi-tool, cash, meds, flashlight, bandages, kindling, matches, and my pocket Constitution. When I think about the weight, I remember that I would rather have a sore shoulder than not be prepared. The idea of how to react when the time comes keeps me always planning ahead.

    • Sounds like Esbit fuel cubes. When I go backpacking I always carry 6 of them. If my regular little gas stoves fails the Esbits always work. Each tablet burns for about 12 min and will boil 3 cups of water. I consider them a simple solution for a complex problem. Also I also carry about 3 feet of foil. I use the foil as a wind break both for the little gas stove and the Esbit tablets.

  13. The 1st thing I will do after a SHTF event is ask myself, Where are each of my family members? & how long will it take us all to get home? I’m the only family member who works out of town, & I have a good get-home pack in my trunk. My wife & adult kids know where our stuff is at home, to be able to use it w/out my presence. Lots of good ideas in this article & the comments.

  14. Good article. Don’t think I’ve read one on this subject yet. Very useful tool is simple mind mapping. Use it all the time when problem solving. Quick visual method of recording info. I think it would work well in a SHTF scenario to scratch down a quick mind map of known info/ unknown/ risk/benefit. Keep it in your pocket and add to it as you gather more info. A bunch of good info on YouTube but here’s a quick overview

  15. Chloe Hills says:

    Going back to the water in winter…. unfortunately due to the nature of what I do for a living, there are regulations that employees must follow. One of those regs is that we are not allowed to bring “outside consumables” in to the building… all consumables must be from authorized suppliers… therefore I cannot bring my water supply into the building. If I thirst I can help myself to what is supplied by my employer.
    With that said, I’m still going to test my previously mentioned ideas as well as those which have been suggested.
    Thank you all

  16. Chloe Hills says:

    Forgot to mention… I do have a “Go Bag” in my vehicle… however I cannot have any type of weapon in my possession on my person or vehicle while on the campus. Weapons include guns, knives, axe, sword, archery items, sling shots, even a multi tool / leatherman… it has a blade… etc… So for the 14 mile drive to work and 14 miles back I’m left without protection. here’s the dumb a$$ kicker, being a chef I can carry in my chef knives… go figure.

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      I’m glad I’m self-employed and decide what I carry.

      The stupid idea that a person can’t carry any kind of protection dangerous.

      You could carry an improvised sap, A roll of quarters inside a sturdy sock can do some serious damage up to killing a person.

      But a roll of coins and your socks will get by anyone looking for weapons. After we all use socks and a roll of coins is only a roll of coins…

    • The age-old adage is, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” And if they don’t search your vehicle, they won’t know if you keep your mouth shut. Don’t see a problem here any more than my every day life in ‘non-permissive environments’ (NPE). I carry and don’t tell anyone, no one knows, no one sees. I go about my business and none the wiser and I am safe as can be in this NPE we live in.

      • Chloe Hills says:

        Hi JSW..
        I hear you about that… however with the firearm, that is state law. As for the other items they fall into campus policy.
        Now this is where it crumbles. I work at a boarding school but not for the school itself.(these teenagers eat friggin good… food you go to restaurants to enjoy) I work for a company providing the food service. About 90 % of the faculty live on campus. Their cars are in secure areas, select housing. So very few cars leave campus. Since my vehicle is one of the few that comes and goes regularly it is more of a target for bored rich teenagers to want to check out, break into, see what we have.
        The kids have campus freedom and can easily get to the poorly lit lot 200 feet away (backyard barn light) where I have to park and can do it sight unseen. At the risk of having my weapon fall into the hands of teen, and a spoiled one at that I can’t take that chance.

        • Chuck Findlay says:

          Bolt a lock box to the floor in the trunk, it’s locked thereby immune to search without a warrant. And being that it’s locked and bolted down it’s not going anyplace.

          I few other suggestions on how to solve your problem. Get a rental space close to work and store what you think you may need if it hits the fan.

          Second suggestion is a bit harder, get another job. I have walked away from several jobs that were not right for me. One of them was extremely intolerant to guns and knifes, I worked at a nuke plant, you could not even have a loose 22 round on the floor of your auto. As far as walking away, it’s not as bad as most people think it is.

          • Chloe Hills says:

            Hi again…
            I’ll have to investigate the possibility of a lock box.
            As for changing jobs, that would be more than double my travel and the pay would be less than presently making. To get people to work out here in the sticks they pay better than jobs in towns/cities with more business. Granted it was my choice to live up here in small town Maine. The town has one grocery store with all of 5 aisles to shop in, one pharmacy and one gas station. It did hit the big time when they installed the one and only traffic light.
            thank you for the input. I appreciate all of it.

        • I think we are talking about two different situations. Before the SHTF and after. Before then follow laws. After, if it is as bad as I think, we all better figure practical ways to keep our guns close and handy.

          • Chloe Hills says:

            Sorry… it did stray a bit.. the point I was trying to make and did not do so well was that if the SHTF while at work, I’m ill prepared weapon wise. Otherwise in all my travels be it in vehicle or on foot I have my firearm with me. 🙂

    • American pacrat says:

      Chloe Hill
      I would suggest you find an instructor who can teach you how to use those kitchen utensils as a self defense weapon. Better than nothing on those 14 miles to and fro.

  17. Just bring a shotgun with you and tell them that pheasant is on the menu.

  18. Great blog.

    I’m constantly running through scenarios in my head and then going through my BOB to see if I have the tools to deal with the scenario – I reassess the BOB for the situation. I also practice some basics right at my house… Everything from making fires, to cooking, to purifying water.

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