The phasing of SHTF - My cut at it.

Discussion in 'General Survival Discussion' started by BlueZ, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. BlueZ

    BlueZ Well-Known Member

    The phasing of a society's Collapse - My cut at it.

    I often see folks arguing over what to do "during SHTF" and often they are all correct even though they worry about different things due to thinking about different aspects of surviving a collapse.
    This is often due to thinking about a different timeline.

    So I see timeline of (attempted?) survival may best be understood as occurring in 3 broad stroke phases:

    - Phase 1 SHTF has started but in away thats not yet provoking the population at large to react yet.

    In phase 1 of a major pandemic (just as an example) power may still be on... gasoline may still be available, but hospitals are full and infection spreading., maybe schools closed.. The population at large will stay where they are and try to maintain jobs as long as possible. They usually have nowhere to go anyway.
    Preppers will start to retrograde to their BOL (if they have them and not living there already) or making final preparations if they live at the BOL .

    Or in a grid down situation (again just as an example) in phase 1 the bulk of the population may still be waiting for the power to come back on..
    But preppers would be bugging out.

    So in summary Phase 1 is a time where the start of of a quick slide is obvious to some but not to all, a sense of moderate normalcy is still had by most .....police still operates and road travel is still possible without firearms.
    I would say this phase could as short as a couple of days days (grid down) or a slong as a few weeks (pandemic). (I am deliberately excluding a economic slide because that can take decades and doesnt meet what we are trying to describe

    So in phase 1 of a collapse preppers will be enroute to their BOL or if living in the BOL buying their last supplies before hunkering down.

    In this phase travel by vehicle in the may still be possible in the country without excessive risk (given proper armed precautions and a bit of stored gas) . Some small degree of police coverage may also still exist.

    -Phase 2 will be the highest physical threat phase.

    This phase will be marked by the population centers emptying themselves.. and millions of people are on the march to "the countryside" or "the hills" where they feel they may be able to survive.
    And the nice friendly family father you chatted with at a rest stop 100 miles away a couple months ago, will now be a raving beast willing to kill anyone who stands in the way of feeding his family....

    Some guys banding together may form dangerous but small gangs who may act collectively.

    (though they are likely poorly trained... and the groups wont be very large as feeding a large group via scavenging is near impossible.... the ex-military trained or led 200 member biker gangs so beloved of novelists may never materialize in our county..even in this phase.... especially as bikes too need gas and if such large groups ever do exist they can be expected to invariably break up eventually since in order to feed a large group via scavenging you need to cover distance.. impossible w/o a reliable gas there is a physical ceiling for group marauder size in a collapse and its not a high ceiling... especially for mobile groups not possessing a reliable source of stored food....)

    Those large populations are now fanned out from the cities... out over the countryside and "into the hills".. No matter how tucked away in the hills ...many starving people will come find us in this phase.....and by this point many of them will be armed in some fashion....

    Even though numbers may be attritted already there will still be a LOT of them potentially overwhelming poorly armed or trained homesteads.

    Another marker of phase 2 is any semblance of collective security as provided by police/gov't will have broken down completely (no more gas for police cruisers etc) and police cannot be relied on in any way to do anything positive.

    But on the whole this phase will be marked by the greatest threat of physical violence to us and the nicer homesteads with plenty of animals can expect frequent shoot outs and near daily/nightly attempts at our animals almost right away.
    Eventually even the less supplied retreats can expect frequent attacks from starving people.

    Luckily preppers should still be able to still operate 100% on stored food at this time making our tactical burden more manageable.. as we can afford to (and likely must) focus on that threat as no one will be able to perform agriculture...
    Going out with a tractor or a horse drawn plow on the field would immediately unleash hordes of starving people from the bushes that will kill you to eat your horse or take your fuel.

    With so many people still alive but starving security will be everything.

    Expect some retreats to have changed owners after phase two.

    This phase will likely last many months and phase 2 is essentially that by now everyone has figured out collapse is happening but most are still alive and fighting for survival.

    3) Phase 3 will be marked by the disappearance via starvation of most unprepped people..

    In other words.. the industrial society that existed before.. allowed for many more people to be supported than after a collapse. A collapse of society will also mean the collapse of the ability to feed a lot of people.
    When the population number have collapsed due to starvation and violence to a point where the much reduced size of the population now matches the resources of food production.. then you have entered Phase 3.

    This will GREATLY diminish the constant threat .........and firefights should be very rare at this point ...(even though retreats perceived as week may still be victimized by other less scrupulous folks)

    Agriculture will have started up again to the extent capable to feed the now much reduced population.. the disappearance of the starving masses will make it finally possible to till a field with a horse without being attacked by 100 starving people wanting to eat your horse.
    IMO that is a key marker of Phase 3.
    Food production is possible again on a larger scale due to diminished violence has the great majority of the population had died.

    Via fair trade one might even cross level some specific specialized supplies or skills.

    Again those retreats without enough boots-on-the-ground or too little ammo or too untrained in use of modern firearms.. will likely have changed owners during phase 2.

    A just moderately competent group can overtake almost any retreat that doesn't not have proper security at night.... with little difficulty even if the attackers are not many.. many cases they will have simply taken over a retreat in a surprise attack at night and killed most of its inhabitants likely sparing only very few ......the young women as non threats will almost certainly be kept and may even adapt into relatively loyal members of the "new" retreat , (Stockholm syndrome as a common survival mechanism) especially once they had children from the attackers...,

    .. look for society becoming much more medieval in culture as medieval society was adapted to a low resource pastoral lifestyle+ plus violence)

    So in summary the final and only stable phase, Phase 3 will be marked by a roughly functioning society that has found a balance between the number of people alive and the ability to work the land via reduced efficiency in grid down.
    Its hard to say what timeline might be

    I think the fundamental reason folks on internet often argue what the best survival strategy is after a collapse , is they are all thinking about different phases of a collapse as the SHTF based on the novels they read the most.

    PS: I do Disaster Analysis for a living.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  2. SewingMachine

    SewingMachine scum and villainy

    Interesting thoughts.

    I have been listening to Mind4Survival, podcast by ex SF and security professionals. They seem to agree with you.

    A fried of mine was employed for a time by a D.C. "think tank" where he helped develop responses to infectious outbreaks in major cities. While he would not disclose any specifics, he did say that there was a threshold that once crossed would bring a response that consisted of quarantining that city off. By any means necessary. That absolutely included, according to him, Humvee's and road blocks firing into anyone trying to leave. Understand, we are talking about a response to a disease the government believes holds a true threat of really, really hurting the country.

    But there it is. They will shoot people. People will be trapped. Aid will be dropped in, to be fought over I would imagine. A real worst case scenario.

    Where does he live now? Far out in the boonies, surrounded by state park land, miles from any city. With a long drive, and good firing lines. There has to be a reason he chose that location.

    Me? I'm right at the edge of town, and I have some routes pre planned. But the fam is not on board. I have a lot of work to do, and for the first time, I feel a certain urgency.

    I would like to be prepared for just phase 1!

  3. BlueZ

    BlueZ Well-Known Member

    1) We may work at the same place

    2) Extra jugs of gas to get out of town, a reliable vehicle and knowledge of local roads.
  4. terri9630

    terri9630 Internet Princess

    Because of the mountains there are only 2 ways to get to our new place. One requires going through 2 towns/cities before we can get off the highway and interstate the other goes through 5 or so small towns and it is considered a "back road". Both are the same distance and take half a tank of fuel. We will have to head out as early as possible to avoid trouble.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
  5. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

    I don't disagree with any of the above, but I doubt that many City people would actually head for the country, most think the food just magically appears in stores and would have no idea how to survive in a garden of ripe vegetables. some might leave, I don't know :dunno:
  6. BlueZ

    BlueZ Well-Known Member

    When most folks in the population centers head out due to lack of water + food thats when we know phase 1 is over :)
  7. Starcreek

    Starcreek Here a while

    And tools. Make sure your vehicle has some essential tools and replacement parts, because all the gas in the world won't help if you can't move because the car broke down.
  8. Starcreek

    Starcreek Here a while

    If you know how to find edible plants in your surrounding countryside and plant "edible landscaping" that the typical city dweller would not recognize as food, you will always have something to eat.

    The Native Americans used to put up acorns in silos woven of tree branches and used them for flour through the winter. It's a good source of fat for the lean times.

    If you plant potatoes at the edge of your yard, all the stranger from the city would see is a patch of weeds.

    There are ways to keep the land producing food for your family without attracting undue attention. You won't get fat on it, but you can survive.
  9. tmttactical

    tmttactical Supporting Member

    I totally agree with the scenario. The first phase is going to be the flashing warning light to get out of dodge or get forted up. If you have not already designed and / or implemented your defensive security, start planning now. It is going to take a lot of planning and a fair amount of money to setup a solid defensive system. Locked doors and windows are not going to make it. The bad guys need to be spotted and stopped before they get to your front door. JMO
  10. Starcreek

    Starcreek Here a while

    Phase one is a narrow window of opportunity. I remember 9/11. For the first 2 days, EVERYBODY stayed glued to their TV set! When a major catastrophe sets in the average American will be frozen in place for a short period, maybe 1-2 days. THAT is the prepper's "opportunity." That's when you need to get done whatever remains to get done.... Bug out, if you plan to; top off the gas tanks and pick up some extra motor oil; hit the cheap-o grocery store for another load of canned foods; buy whatever ammo Wally World has in stock.

    That window of opportunity is a target we should all keep in mind, because it will put us light years ahead of everybody else in getting ready for what comes after the "lull before the storm."

    One other thing: Some months ago I sat down with a young man in our family who is a junior manager at the local store of a national pharmacy chain and asked him, "If the power went off and didn't come back on, what would you do at your store?" Apparently, either they had trained him for this scenario or he had gone through it in his mind, because he didn't hesitate, but went through, step-by-step exactly what they, as management, would do at their store on Day One, Day 2, and Day 3. It was very informative. Everybody should take advantage of KNOWLEDGE of those around us, to get a multi-faceted picture of what shtf can look like. Ask people you know well, "What would YOU do, at your business, or as a first-responder, or ----- (fill in the blank), if tshtf?" Get their take on their small microcosm, and remember it.
  11. SewingMachine

    SewingMachine scum and villainy

    I have a day off work, so I sat the Wife down and started discussing what we would do in an emergency with one kid in Illinois (3 hours south) one kid in college (2 hours north) and one kid in high school (complete mess on a good day to pick her up).

    She starts with "why worry about it? You can't plan for those things, we would just have to deal with it when it happens."

    I will try to get her to read the OP, and see that yes, normal people do plan for these things. Or at least try to.

    I have two routes out of town going north that would be good to go. Going south would require a major detour west before heading south. So I have to plan for that 3 hour trip to be 5 hours, or even a day. I will talk to my son and let him know.

    This was a good subject, got me thinking about some things, and taking steps to see just where I would be phase 1.
  12. BlueZ

    BlueZ Well-Known Member


    Good thinking.
    Phase one is your (shrinking) window of opportunity to still get critical things done (like collecting the Fam)

    Once the bulk of the population has figured out they are in a collapse scenario you will transtion to Phase 2 which will make travel near impossible as roads will be parking lots in traffic jams that may NEVER clear up.

    Why never?
    Easy, after a few hours some folks in the traffic jam, will leave their vehicle to use bathroom or get water or because they ran out of gas so AC/Heat is no longer working.
    They will take their keys with them.
    Once that happens to just a very tiny fraction of vehicles all movement will stop.
    Do not be caught in a interstate parking lot.
    In a phase 1 that has transitioned to phase two this may effectively be a death sentence when 2nd and 3rd order effects are considered.
  13. hiwall

    hiwall Just walking at the edge of my grave

    BlueZ, your guess as to the possible turn of events is just as good as anyone else's.
    I see it as being totally plausible. The only thing (which you hit on) is that any SHTF situation would play out in its own fashion and certainly be not likely to follow any rule book. We can all read articles such as what you wrote and remember that to hopefully prod us all into maybe doing the right things in the correct order if SHTF ever happens. Good job putting it down in words.
  14. SewingMachine

    SewingMachine scum and villainy

    I'm not sure about her kids. She has two. I have one, in Illinois.

    My son could just walk across the bridge and about a half hour and be at my friends farm, where there are three grown men, two of them fine shooters, and several other lifetime friends a few minutes away, and lots of rifles and ammo and stockpiled food and an above ground gas tank and all the things to warm a preppers heart. He is probably good to go.

    Her kids? Boy, I dunno.

    The boy might be able to drive back here. I would rather we all went down to Illinois. I can get gas, and carry it on top of the explorer. Just need a bit of warning. Or I would siphon if need be, but only as a last resort.

    I just don't trust them, I guess. The wife would freak out, the boy might keep his **** together, the daughter would probably refuse to leave, thinking everything will get better in a few days. Hard to say.

    I ask every now and then. Its a non-issue in their minds. Tough nut to crack.
  15. Flight1630

    Flight1630 Junior Member

    I get all my info by watching 'the walking dead'. Lol not really but it sounds good. Lol
  16. BlueZ

    BlueZ Well-Known Member

    Sir it's not about predicting a certain scenario (even though I feel those 2 examples are among our most plausible to wreak short term havoc) but about
    the process of "SHTF" that should be common to the vast majority of Collapse mechanisms.

    Once we analyze what most collapse drivers will have in common, we can then leverage that understanding to inform our Course-of-Action development.:partydance:
  17. tmttactical

    tmttactical Supporting Member

    I have tried to convince wife's kids that a SHTF event can and will happen. They Poo poo the concept, so I have written them off. Great adults but blind to the bad side of events. They have a belief the government will take care of the trouble mindset.

    My son's are more receptive. Number 1 son is involved in the "Tin Hat House" project and number 2 son is receptive, just does no know how to fit it in their life style. I am working on that aspect by designing the house to not only be off grid but also provide a means to earn a living without plowing the south forty, which neither son want to do.

    Sometimes you have to face the reality of losing family members. You can't risk some family members to try and save those that refused to consider the possibilities. It will become a case of save those you can and deal with the future threats. Harsh but fact. JMO
  18. hashbrown

    hashbrown Peckerwood

    I don't see a mass exodus from the cities. Take the Great Depression for example, did folks head to the country? That answer would be no. Even if a small percentage do I cant see them making it very far being starved and drinking ditch water. Most will wait until it's too late waiting on the government to save them.
    In my opinion the op doesn't have any idea about people that are deeply rooted in the rural areas by describing the poorly armed homesteads the way he did. Most people living in those areas are very well armed and shoot **** all the time anyway. March that herd through this part of the Ozarks and see how well their raiding goes. The hollars will be stacked with dead bodies. :rofl:
  19. BlueZ

    BlueZ Well-Known Member

    1) When there is no food /water people will leave trying not to die. Its human nature.

    2) I respectfully submit you did not understand the post. There was no societal Collapse during the depression which is why it is completely unsuitable for comparison. ..Water, electricity and services remained on in the cities as did Soup kitchens.
    And law Enforcement kept functioning at 100%.
    That's not even including the sense of entitlement that has been purposefully engineering into some youth by a mass media that is trying to assist the left with political fire support for entitlement programs.
    This has lead to incredible violence even when folks have full bellies and the Nintendo's are still working..... try to image a lights out and those same people starving, what do you think will happen then?

    3) that was my point about Phase 1.

    4) Again I respectfully submit you did not understand the post. Phase 2 describes a phased "threat level" resulting from a broadly predictable chain of events...and it is not judging people's level of combat power (or lack thereof).

    However I did point out (accurately most would agree) that poorly armed or poorly manned or poorly trained homesteads may easily change owners in Phase two and some likely will.

    Your level of preparedness and that of your neighbors may be very high. I dont know..
    Or perhaps you feel safe since your location is very much out of the way from anywhere.. if so Congrats.

    But if I were to speculate based on your response to this basic analysis I am unconvinced.

    The following questions are in no way a personal attack but a little nudge to think things through:

    When was the last time you took a modern Carbine course? If you run less than a couple thousand rounds a year during training (not plinking!) through your AR15 or AK you are almost certainly not properly trained.

    How about a First Aid course Do you have someone in your retreat who has taken one in the past year?
    I am ex Army of many years and I still train hard at least twice a month.
    Do you have at least one guy like that helping you man your retreat?

    Do you have enough people for a 24 hours security coverage?

    If the answer is "no" to any one of those questions Phase two may surpise you with how difficult a time it can be..

    If so you may be well advised to "double up" or triple up with a neighboring homestead.
    This is a time honored method when two or more families congregate in the best built retreat in the neighborhood to improve security via numbers and create the ability to man a 24 hr security presence.

    My BOL has good food sustainability features.. but is struggling with numbers ... We try to make up for it by being very well trained in the skill of Arms.
    All our adult males attend at least 1 but often 2,3 or even 4 professional courses of Combat rifle instruction every year and we equip ourselves quite well with modern firearms, carry rigs, modern sights , a large cache of rifle ammunition and live-fire train with them often.

    Another part of that preparation is understanding our most likely future Operational Environment and the chain of events leading it so we can inform our course-of-action development.
    This includes identifying choke points, how many days past SHTF-"trigger" we may realistically have until need to switch on 24 hr Ops..(which takes up man hours that could be spent on building barricades, an extra log hut etc), which avenues of approach we must surveil 100%, which ones (due to noisiness of approach) may not need 24 hr coverage etc etc


  20. CrackbottomLouis

    CrackbottomLouis Winston Smith Sent Me

    I dont think its a bad asessment. City folks trying to leave and raid/theive will have a lot of surprises in store when they reach true country but sheer numbers will be in their favor in the suburbs.
    BlueZ likes this.