It is very important to know and understand that there WILL be a security timeline following SHTF collapse. The resulting predictable human behavior can be used to your advantage into the subsequent hours, days and weeks to come.

Here’s how:

The post-SHTF security timeline can be split into five segments of time.

1. The Event
2. Search and Rescue
3. Awareness and Realization
4. Desperation
5. Restructuring

Each part of the timeline (the x-axis) has a corresponding security risk magnitude (the y-axis) which begins low, then builds to a high as time progresses, and then tapers off afterwards.

Knowing when the security risks are lowest and highest will enable you to implement your own preemptive and proactive strategies.

For example, you may choose to ‘top off supplies’, resupply, reposition or bug-out when security risks are lower. Likewise, you may (wisely) choose to hunker down, ‘lay low’, heighten your awareness and defensive positioning while the security risks are higher.

Lets look at the five security timeline segments individually:


The Event

This is the SHTF event or trigger which begins the security timeline. It is the shortest segment, but it is the time of initial disaster or collapse.

The initial event itself could last seconds, minutes, hours, or longer. During this time period, many people may not know what exactly has happened or how they might become impacted over time (unless they’re at ground zero, so to speak).

Unless you’re directly impacted at ‘ground zero’, the security risks during this time are low. Realization and impact hasn’t set it in yet for most…


Search and Rescue

Immediately following disaster, collapse, or even SHTF, most people instinctively reach out to one another. Many (but not all) people will help those in need, rescue those who need rescuing, and offer what services that they can. People who ordinarily do not communicate much with their neighbors or ‘strangers’ will reach out during this time.

In many situations, the search-and-rescue period may last at least ‘days’ and could progress into a week.

As each day ticks by, the overall security risk drifts higher and the risk curve begins to steepen.

Security risks will grow rapidly in cities and very population dense regions.


Awareness and Realization

At some point in time people will begin to become aware of the reality and circumstances facing them. This realization generally won’t set in for most people until after their conditions have worsened and supplies are running short. This is the “Oh $hit” phase, “We might be in big trouble…”. This is the time when more widespread crime will begin.

As overall SHTF awareness sets in, people will pull back from helping others. They will become more concerned about themselves, their own supplies, and will be reluctant to give up what’s theirs. This segment of time may last for another week, maybe two. Security risks will have ramped up dramatically throughout this period of time.

In the cities and very population-dense regions, it will become quite obvious and apparent during this time as to the dangers enveloping the area.



After several weeks of surviving without renewed supplies and services, many people will have run out of food, and even water. Desperate people do desperate things that they never would have thought about doing before.

This is the timeline segment with the highest security risk. Very dangerous indeed.

Most stores will have been looted by now or will be in the final stages of looting (nothing left). Supplies will be mostly gone and unavailable. People will not be willingly giving up or sharing their own supplies anymore, as they will be highly concerned about their own immediate and long term survival.

This desperate period of time could be considerably long, depending of course on the specifics and severity of the SHTF collapse. If long enough, many people will begin to lose their lives in a number of different ways from dehydration, malnutrition, to violence, or infection and disease.

Most of the long term survivors will be those those who have adequately stored ahead supplies, those who have planned ahead for re-supply and/or sustainability, and those who are geographically ‘sound’ (as in – away from the cities) with adequate security and protection.



It is natural for humans to form hierarchies, to organize, to structure themselves within groups. It’s natural because over the long run we need the skills of others to more efficiently survive.

During this timeline segment, the security risks will be generally falling due to the fact that major die-off will have already occurred and threats from desperation will have subsided.

Those who have survived will be (generally) self sufficient groups or will have joined forces to protect their own communities.



What can we do with this knowledge?

It is very clear to me that you need to recognize the severity of a given disaster as soon as possible. If the disaster is estimated to be severe in it’s impact and long-term longevity, you may only have one week or less (depending on your location) to make any serious moves or adjustments. After that, you will be facing high risk while out in public or while attempting to mobilize or resupply.

Quickly gathering information about the disaster and its magnitude is paramount to successfully staying ahead of the unprepared sheeple. The sooner you understand the scope of the disaster, the sooner you will know what’s going on and make better decisions accordingly.

Once the severity is known, and ‘if’ it appears bad enough such that you need to implement your SHTF (plan), then you will likely have a few days before realization and desperation sets in by the masses of sheeple.

Although you should have had your preparedness supplies well stocked before the SHTF, you may choose to utilize the first few days to ‘top off’ your tanks, so to speak. Get extra of whatever you can. Start thinking about your security, etc.

Plan ahead for the end of the realization segment and beginning of the desperation segment – the time when people will be out to get (by force – to steal) what they desperately need. This is when your life will be in the greatest danger and you must be laying low. Out of sight – out of mind. Beware of looters.

A well thought out and preplanned diversification of food storage and other supplies will pay off big time during this period. Plan to ‘fit in’ with the desperate, should you be confronted. Be the ‘gray man’ – blending in where you must. OPSEC.

Hopefully the notion of a security timeline will encourage you to think about what could happen if the S truly hits the fan one day, and to plan ahead accordingly. Let’s hope for the best and plan for the worst!

I sourced the notion of a security timeline from the following book:
Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart

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