4 First Steps To Successful SHTF Preparedness Planning


Take a look at these four top-level categories. They are among the first things to consider for SHTF preparedness planning.

I’m listing them in no particular order, because they’re all important. Water, Food, Security, Shelter.

We have discussed these categories many times on the blog. It never hurts to bring it up again. Especially for newbies.


It is taken for granted. And for good reason. There’s always water coming out of the faucets. But given it’s importance for survival (just days to about a week till death without any), you best plan for it!

Nearby water sources

Identify your nearest external water sources. Where is the nearest pond, stream, river, lake, etc.? You simply will not survive a week without water (3-5 days?). Although it would take a very major disaster to actually shut-off your municipal water source (this article is focused on SHTF), your dependence should motivate you to have a backup plan.

Water transportation

Now that you know where the water is, you need to figure out how to collect and transport it to your home. Consider wagons, yard carts, and buckets with lids (sloshing?). Water weighs about 8-pounds per gallon. Plan for that. Also, depending on your surroundings and nearby population density, you may want to consider transporting when least likely noticed (if it’s SHTF time and security is of concern).

Water filtration and purification

Important! Procure systems of water filtration and methods of purification! Quality water filters. Also, always have a means to boil the water. Chlorine/regular-bleach or other methods of purification. Know the formulas for that.


Water storage

Containment vessels for fetching and transportation need to be manageable due to the weight. You might consider 5-gallon pails with gamma screw-on lids (splashing). Or purpose-designed water jugs. You might also think about getting yourself at least one 55-gallon food-grade barrel for water storage at home. Plan on at least 1 gallon of water usage per day per person (bare bones minimum!). Realistically you need more for cooking, sanitary, etc.


What kinds of food

It is best to consider diversification of your food. Concentrate first on foods that you like, that you normally eat. And then move on to the other things. A mixture of canned, dehydrated, freeze-dried, MRE’s, bulk staples like rice & beans, jars, spices & condiments, on and on… diversify.

How much food

Short answer… As much as you’re comfortable with, given your risk-tolerance threshold.

In steps — 1 month — 3 months — 6 months — 1-year — 2-years? At some point, if it fits your lifestyle, you might consider increasing your food production self sufficiency. Baby steps first. Bigger steps later.

Short term and long term solutions

Your short term solution is simply your food storage. Your long term solution needs to include self-sufficiency – which means growing/raising your own food. This requires learning, practice, resources, time, and commitment.

Conceal your food

Unfortunately, having a storage of months (or more) of extra food has been ‘programmed’ by the mainstream to be taboo. Even though you know that you’re not a ‘wacko’, others may think so. And, if the SHTF and others happen to know you’ve got 6-months of food, guess who’s door they’re going to knock on? Maybe you don’t want that. So just keep this in mind when you’re stacking your food stuffs.


Region, Town, Local Neighborhood >> risk assessment

Think about these three rings of proximity to your castle. Consider the general population density and the type of people who live there. Approximate your risk to a majority of them becoming desperate. Pay particular attention to your own local neighborhood. Some may be more conducive than others for banding together depending on the people who live there. Only you know who they are… or are not.

Evaluate your home, external and internal

Look at your overall home security from the perspective of someone else walking by on the street. Look for gaps in your readiness. Examine the inside of your home. Are your doors secure with deadbolts front and back? Do you have a plan for intrusion evasion? A safe room perhaps? There’s lots to think about…

Tactical and Escape planning

You must consider the reality of invasion. Think through scenarios whereby others are coming for your stuff. Where would they come from? Do you have a plan of evasion? What are your tactical plans if it were to escalate to that level?

Firearms practice and comfort level

Become proficient and comfortable with your firearms protection. Schedule more range time. Check your supplies. This is our ultimate protection, which we hope we will never need to use in that way. But you best be prepared in the event that you need to…


Your “Shelter” (home) and/or Bug-out location

Have a plan with multiple destinations

There may be circumstances which will require that you bug-out for your own well-being. You need to think-it-through well ahead of time and have a plan of action and a destination (destinations).

Understand the post-disaster security timeline

There will be a window of opportunity in which you will probably be able to beat the crowd, so to speak, before they realize that the $hit has hit the fan. Use it.

Plan ahead for supply and resupply

If you are forced to bug-out, you better understand that you will be leaving lots of your supply behind at home. So you better have a plan for resupply elsewhere. There are many ways to deal with this, but you need to think about it, and plan for it.

I originally wrote this article during the early days of Modern Survival Blog (though I just tweaked it a bit for better presentation). I still like its content which I feel remains valid to this day. There are plenty of opportunities where I could have inserted a zillion links to other articles here related to the subject matter above. But instead I simply recommend that you use my Search function in the menu area up top, if you’re interested to consume more.


  1. Ken thanks for the articles that you put out, sometimes i sit and read and write notes on what i have, what i need to improve on and what are future plans.

  2. Always good to refresh the thought process….Thank you Ken for your dedication to our well-being.

  3. Thank you for this timely info/reminder, Ken. I definitely have some reinforcement work to do with regard to the house. Making lists of needed supplies for that today so I can get on it.

    I bought detailed maps for the area, with trails and water sources, since this is new area for the boys and I. There are lots of helpful neighbors here, filling us in on good info about workable routes and such. Now we need to get some hiking time in, to get familiar with the terrain.

    Being here alone with kids has me really appreciating like-minded neighbors. Everyone does a good job of checking in with each other pretty regularly, and we help each other out when needed.

    I definitely need to work on the bugging out preps, tied in with better familiarity with the surrounding area. Working on that.

  4. Ken, this may be in the wrong place,

    Regarding your comment that you wrote this in the “early days”

    when did you start MSB? What motivated you to do it?
    just curious

  5. Due to a sagging floor in my “prep” room, I will have to move all my jars of food and shelves and #10 cans and boxes of #10 cans as well as all my canning equipment and some of my stored emergency water. So we can get the floor fixed.

    So today I began rotating some of the jars out to the actual kitchen storage area.

    I don’t have enough water. It is my weak spot. It always has been. Plastic leaks before I can rotate. Is there anywhere glass bottled water? I would pay the extra I know it will cost. I don’t trust myself to get tap water stored properly, even tho Ken has had plenty of info on the subject.

    1. There are several options that I can think of as far as glass. Mineral water is often bottled in glass ) Minergula, San Pellegrino, etc. The best option would be to “can” your own water in jars. I’ve always pressure canned a jar of water or 2 if I didn’t have enough jars to completely fill my pressure canner. I’m not sure if you could water bath can them.

      1. Water bath should be fine, as it only takes a few minutes of boiling to sterilize it. JIC I designate the pressure canned water as medical uses.

      2. I have done that also, canned water to make a full run. thank you for your response.

    2. You can try getting those water cooler bottles (Poland spring/nestle)
      stores like Walmart/Home Depot/bjs carry them
      heavy but no one would look askance because people do have water coolers in houses now too

  6. I keep legal pads and several pens and pencils nearby to write down ideas and observations. A year after a fire, earthquake flood or riot takes place, I can look back on the notes I took of what I saw taking place around me and my home. The pages can be stored within a large plastic bag and notes can be transcribed later on to useful information for use at a future date.

    As I near 60 years of age, I am observing that many people have short memories so when this lockdown from COVID ends, people will go back to doing some things that are considered unwise. After working as a first responder for over 10 years prior to my current job, I have very little faith in my fellow humans and Americans doing the “right thing”.

    Other than keeping a journal and charting your observations, keep your eyes open and watch what the gray-haired veterans are doing in the face of a disaster on the horizon. I still remember watching a couple veteran street cops pulling into a market and loading their vehicle trunk with gallons of water, calorie dense foods, moist wipe towelettes, batteries and an extra box of ammo compatible with their service weapons prior to returning to the Rodney King Riots.

  7. Ken
    Can you produce an annual archive of MSB on an EMP resistant flash drive. I am sure that would be a valuable item. Might also generate some revenue. Survival blog just came out with their annual archive. Please consider this request.

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