Breaking the Myth of What You Should Do First When SHTF

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Written by John Lewis

When a disaster strikes, it really depends on how mentally and physically prepared we are so that we can keep ourselves safe.   Since every second in a SHTF situation counts, the first thing you do is extremely critical because your life is at risk.  And the funniest thing is that many of us aren’t doing the right thing. Well, maybe we are nervous. Anyway, below are a few myths of what you should do first when SHTF.

Note: SHTF is the general term that illustrates any disastrous events. I would do my best to cover several possibilities ranging from a tornado to someone threatening your life.

Myth 1: The golden horde theory

This theory basically tells you to go where the herd is going. A “Golden Horde” is an exodus of people who are fleeing the city to search for opportunities in another place. The question will be: Will a golden horde of hopeless people escaping from the disaster site be the people to follow when STHF?

Usually, the golden horde will fill-up the streets after an economic downturn where refugees will seek asylum from neighboring countries. For example, when Greece was announced bankrupt, a swarm of people quickly looked for ways to cross their country borders thinking that leaving the country will bound them to a better life.

Even in the long-term, there will be gangs of armed survivors that will potentially come to loot for your supplies. There will be people who will even go to the country side and find food to by hook or by crook to satisfy their need. If you have followed the golden horde to reside in the outskirts of town, you should not think that you are safe yet.

In my opinion, it would be better if you would map out and do what YOU planned to do! Following a rationalized plan will have a higher success rate compared to following a bunch of people acting out of emotions. You may also need to plan on how to go through a golden hoard unnoticed, making sure that your plan is fool-proof and no one will be there to jeopardize your plans!

Myth 2: Call 911 when Shit Hit the Fan

Firstly, you have to understand that relying on someone else for help is a bad choice during SHTF. The safety of your family rests on you and it is wholly your responsibility.  I would recommend preparing a first aid kit or at the very least, an Everyday Carry Kit (EDC) which is imperative in times of need.
Then, you need to learn how to use your First Aid Kit properly for maximum effect.  When dealing with a life and death situation, every second counts.  Knowing your way around the first aid kit would do you wonders when your family member is critically ill.

There are times when you have to call your local hospital or even policeman to aid you. To facilitate this process, I would recommend that you prepare a list of contact and address of local authorities close with you.

Myth 3: Standing inside a doorway is the best defense against an earthquake

Standing inside a doorway may be your biggest mistake yet because most doorways aren’t sturdy and will collapse when the earthquake is too strong. The basic “do nots” are:

  • Do not run outside.
  • Do not get under a doorway.
  • Do not try to run to another room (even if there is a sturdy table there).

Based on the method developed by FEMA, we should drop, cover and hold on to an object when an earthquake strikes. You should immediately drop to the ground before an earthquake drops you which is much more dangerous. Since the earthquake may be very violent, you will not be capable of running or even crawling!
For the second step, you should find a sturdy desk and take cover. In the absence of a sturdy table in your immediate vicinity, quickly cover your head with both your arms to eschew from severe head damage. In such cases, you will more likely be injured by falling objects such as lamps, glass, bookcases, photographs etcetera.
Lastly, you should hold on to something sturdy and stay put until the shaking is cleared. Since the floor or ground can jerk very strongly, in sideways or even out from under you, your best bet is to stay put to avoid unnecessary injury.  Since an earthquake can happen anytime and anywhere, I would urge you to get as much information as possible on earthquake preparedness.

Myth 4: Assuming that first responders will come to aid everyone during a disaster

This assumption is incredibly flawed because how can a few responders come to the aid of hundreds of people immediately? Examples of first responders are police, fire fighters, emergency rescue units and even military organization.  Although emergency responders do an excellent job keeping us safe but it would be a mistake to aspect them to aid you immediately after the disaster. It may even take days for them to reach your area!

You need to take action now to survive. What you can do about first responders is you can build rapport with the authorities and understand how they react to situations.

Myth 5: Open windows when a tornado strikes to relieve pressure

You get no benefit opening the windows but just waste your own precious time. Although tornadoes are formed by intense pressure, opening a small window is impossible to equalize the huge pressure outside. Conversely, opening the window also brings in more debris and dirt into your house.

In the United States, the peak month for tornadoes is in May which often happen around 5 to 6pm. If you are living in Texas (some tornadoes) or even Oklahoma (most concentration of tornadoes), you have to learn how to survive a tornado now!

Since tornadoes have intense power, it will be better for you to shelter yourself underground be it a basement or a room without windows, preferably a room designed to cushion tornadoes built with a sturdy foundation. A rule of thumb is to take shelter in the lowest interior room which you can find in your home.
If you do not have an underground room, your best bet is to lie flat and use mattresses as cover to prevent anything from hurting you. As for driving, you should never try to outrun a tornado. The best thing you can do is to move away from it at a right angle which is 90 degrees from its path.

Myth 6: Drive away when a flood strikes

When floodwater begin to rise, you do not want to risk your car getting damaged with water flowing into the system. It is a fact that it takes only six inches of fast flowing flood water to knock over an adult and it will take merely 12 inches of rushing water to carry a small car. With just two feet of water, most vehicles can be carried away by flood waters.  Moreover, you should eschew from wading around floodwaters unless you do not really have another option. Basically, exposing yourself to floodwaters is subjecting yourself to diseases and dangerous animals that may lie inside the murky water.  When flood is imminent, the only thing you can do is move your furniture and electrical appliances above ground level while removing toxic substances from the flood area to prevent pollution. After that, you should leave your home immediately stay in an area with higher ground until the authorities indicate that it will be safe to return home. Never attempt to shut off electricity when a flood strikes because exposing yourself to electricity and water is lethal!

Myth 7: Shoot first, question later

If you were to shoot a potential threat, you are basically adding salt to injury causing the person shot to even retaliate further.  By all means, understand the situation first before you harm anyone innocent. Even when TEOTWAWKI happens, shooting another person because they seem like a threat will only reduce your rate of survival. For one, you create more enemies because you just killed a loved one from another family while you waste your own ammo.

Shooting someone else should only be used as a last resort after negotiating with the person with total honesty and care. Shooting first will only cause you to feel more guilt and cause the person that you think is a threat to suffer.


These are some of the myths that I always hear people talking about.! I have tried to cover as much areas as possible so that most readers can benefit from this article, giving them a head start to prepare for the next disaster. What do you think is a common misconception of what we should do when SHTF? Please share your thoughts in the comment area below!

Author Bio: I am John Lewis, a survivalist, prepper and outdoor enthusiast. I believe that everyone has to take up the responsibility of protecting yourself and the ones you love. You can follow me over at Epic Wilderness.

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  1. These do not help a great deal for hurricanes. If you wait too long to leave, you could sit on a freeway for 10-15 hours to make a drive that normally takes 3.5-4:00 hours. Running out of gas, no restrooms, running out of drinking liquids, and tempers/road rage setting in to add to all the other disasters. 17 days without electricity in the last hurricane that hit our area, and it was not Katrina.

    1. There is no one size fits all when it comes to disasters. Since hurricanes do have advance warning, you’d want to leave ahead of the rest of the city. I recall all the stalled cars during Hurricane Rita, and a lot of people that tried to evacuate ended up stranded and returning home after the ordeal. Thanks for the comment.

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