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How to Survive the First 24 Hours after the SHTF

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Most of us prep for what is going to happen after a disaster. We store water, food, guns, etc. But all of your prepping supplies are in vain, if you don’t survive the actual event.

No matter how well-prepared you are what you do in the first 24 hours after disaster should be your no. 1 priority.  After all, it really doesn’t matter how much you have stored away if you aren’t able to get to it or if someone else takes it.  If you want to live to eat all that food, drink all that water, and stay alive you need to take immediate action when disaster strikes.

Level of Chaos

Naturally, what the first 24 hours will look like depends on what specific event sends society in a downward spiral into disaster.  If it is a pandemic, then you might find things move more slowly at first, and as the spread of the disease grows, the speed at which it progresses increases.  Alternatively, if the event is a nuclear attack, things will go downhill very quickly.

Regardless of the type of event, if it is truly going to cause the collapse of society, there will most likely be a point at which things turn suddenly.  It is at that point that chaos will erupt and it will become difficult to determine what to do in the moment.  That is why you need to think about this in advance.  Have a plan of what basics you need to take care of in the first few minutes and hours after disaster strikes, regardless of what form that disaster takes.

Don’t Wait for Government Help

When things break down, even in the midst of the chaos and panic, most people will still be expecting the government and authorities to swoop in and rescue them.  This isn’t going to happen.  There is a point at which even those in charge will give in and run to their families to be with them and protect them.  And even if the government does provide aid, if the disaster happens quickly and over a large geographical area, it will take them time to get to everyone, determine what people need, and set up and method of distribution.  Don’t wait like everyone else.  If you do, you’ll be sorry. Just watch this video and learn what happened during Katrina.

Steps to Take

What should you do during the first 24 hours of SHTF or TEOTWAWKI?  Chances are, as a prepper you know the collapse has come long before anyone else realizes it.  If you have been preparing for a long time, chances are you know the signs and will see them while everyone else is watching TV (if they can) and wondering what is happening and what to do.  This is your small window of opportunity to spring into action.  Here are some steps you can take immediately after the collapse:

  • Get Out of Harm’s Way

The very first thing you must do when disaster strikes is ensure you and your loved ones are out of immediate danger.  Getting somewhere safe immediately requires you to quickly assess your situation to determine if there is any immediate threat to you or your loved ones.  This is probably going to happen within the first minute after disaster strikes.

  • Check for Injury

Once you are out of immediate danger, the next ten or so minutes will be devoted to checking and making sure you and anyone else you are with are not injured in any way.  Make sure there are no physical injuries and that no one has been exposed to a toxic substance or someone who is sick with a contagious illness.  If there is an injury or exposure, take the time needed to ensure the immediate care of that person and minimize exposure to others in the group, if necessary.

  • Get Home or to Your Rendezvous Location

Once everyone is out of immediate danger, you need to get yourself home (or to a rendezvous location).  Your initial assessment of the situation and your immediate surroundings will tell you whether that is feasible and how easy that will be.  Get home by the quickest and safest route possible.

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  • Assess the Situation and Gather Intel

You need to know what happened, and once you know everyone is safe and at home, you can take the time to do a full assessment of your situation and gather the necessary intel to determine the full impact of the event, whether it is a natural disaster, a pandemic and new cases have popped up in your town or city, a nuclear attack, or some other event.  What has happened will have an impact on what your next steps are.

You will need to determine:

  • The specific event that occurred
  • The short-term and long-term impact of the event
  • Whether you can hunker down at home (bug in) or you should get out of Dodge (bug out)

You will need to gather as much information as you can as quickly as you can in the first 24 hours after the event occurs.  If the electricity is still functioning and you can access the news and/or internet, find out as much information as you can in that manner.  If there is no electricity where you are and you have a solar or hand-crank radio, see if you can pick up any signal with that.  If you have set yourself up with a ham radio, even if you don’t have a license to transmit, you still have the ability to listen in on the conversations going on around you or to receive communication from someone in your prepper group.

If you have to go outside to gather intel, be sure you are prepared to stay safe.  The fewest people possible should leave the safety of your home and you should be armed and dressed appropriately, such as wearing a minimum N95 mask (more protection if needed) for a potential contagion or a gas mask if there is a chemical threat.  Get the information you need as quickly as you can and get back to home base.

  • Augment Your Preps

Sometimes, there is a short period of time (just a matter of hours in some cases) after an event happens during which most of the population is still in the “what happened” phase.  This means full panic and chaos has not yet hit, and if you need to augment your preps at all, this is the ideal time to do it.  Presumably, you have cash on hand (should be part of your preps) so you can pay for items if the ATMs are down.  Get out there, get what you need, and get back home as quickly as possible, avoiding people as much as you can in the process.

  • Blend In

By this I mean act like everyone else.  You have preps and you know your family is safe, but no one else knows that (hopefully!).  If the people around you, those in your neighborhood, are out talking and wondering what’s happening, when the food and help is coming, where the shelters are being set up, and you aren’t doing the same thing, someone is going to wonder why.  Provided it’s safe enough, spend some time going out and asking questions and generally acting like everyone else to make it look like you are as desperate and confused as they are.  This will put them off your prepper scent and give you the space you need to breathe and determine what to do next.

Within the first 24 hours, you should be able to tell how bad the situation is and how quickly it will deteriorate.  This will allow you to make more concrete, long-term plans to get yourself and your loved ones to safety so you can survive the event that has brought society to its knees.  Just remember to keep your cool, keep your head clear and focused, and be as thorough as possible with your assessment of the situation.  Then you and your family will have the best possible chance of survival.

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