Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
No matter how much you prepare for disaster, there are going to be unexpected problems that throw a monkey wrench in your plans. While you can’t prepare for every possible scenario, you still want to do your best. The more scenarios you prepare for, the less unexpected problems there will be.
To help you with this, here are 10 SHTF problems you might not have planned for.
1. You run out of toilet paper.
Even if you have a closet full of extra toilet paper, if the disaster is long enough you could still run out. There’s also the chance that your toilet paper will be destroyed in a fire, flood, tornado, etc. What would you do if any of those things happened?
Solution: Here are some alternatives…
- Old, clean t-shirts are perfect. You can even wash and reuse them a la cloth diapers.
- Socks that have too many holes to be repaired. You were going to throw them away anyway.
- Newspaper that has been soaked in a tub of water. If it’s dry, it won’t be very comfortable.
- A spray bottle filled with water. Not ideal, but it could work.
- Here are some other substitutes for toilet paper.
2. Your glasses break.
You need to be able to see, so this is an important one. Personally, I am pretty much useless without my glasses or contacts. Trying to survive in a post-SHTF world while being half blind would be quite a challenge.
Solution: Have a couple backups, and keep them in different locations in case one is destroyed or you’re unable to get to it. Don’t be afraid to buy several pairs of glasses secondhand. You should also keep an eyeglass repair kit handy as well. Another option is to make some pinhole glasses. You can learn more about preparedness for people with glasses in this post.
3. There’s no water to flush the toilet.
Given that we all use the bathroom several times a day, it’s amazing how many people forget to prepare for this problem. If you have a pool or if there’s a body of water nearby, you can use that water when your toilet really needs to be flushed (yellow, let it mellow; brown, flush it down). But what if the only water you have needs to be saved for drinking and cleaning?
4. Your water filter is destroyed.
Since you can’t live 3 days without water, it should be a top priority. That’s why I’ve often told new preppers that one of the very first things they should do is get a good water filter. But what if your water filter breaks?
Solution: Here are some other options…
- Have some backup filters. LifeStraws are small, affordable, and filter over 250 gallons.
- Stock up on water purification tablets. Great for bug out bags.
- Bring your water to a rapid boil for at least a minute.
- Distill the water. This will take a while, but the distilled water will be safe to drink.
- Make your own filter out of rocks, sand, charcoal, and grass. Here’s how.
5. Your compass breaks.
Although this site is geared toward people living in the city, there are many scenarios where you would be forced to bug out. What if you get lost and your compass isn’t working?
Solution: Learn some other ways to judge direction. There are several ways to do this…
- If direct sunlight is available, push a 3-foot stick into a flat piece of ground. Place a rock at the tip of the shadow. Wait for a while, then place another rock at the tip of the shadow. The first rock is west, and the second rock is east.
- Use an analog watch as a compass. Check out this article to learn how.
- At night, look at the moon. If it’s a crescent, imagine a line going from the top tip to the bottom tip and all the way down to the horizon. If you’re in the Northern hemisphere, wherever the line touches the horizon is south.
- If the moon isn’t a crescent, find Polaris (also known as the North Star). It’s directly above the big dipper and at the end of the little dipper’s handle. See here. If you face the north star and stretch your arms sideways, your left hand points west and your right hand points east. Note: This only works in the northern hemisphere.
These methods are by no means exact, but they can give you a good general direction.
6. Your fire starting materials are lost.
Fire is crucial. You need it to cook food, boil water, and possibly to stay warm. But what if you somehow lose your lighters, matches, or flint and steel?
Solution: Learn some other ways to start a fire. They’re a lot harder and require time, energy, and patience, but you might have no choice. There are several methods….
- Make a fire plough. This is a fairly simple method that everyone should learn.
- Learn some other primitive methods such as the hand drill and the bow drill. More info here.
- Use a battery and steel wool or a gum wrapper. Both methods are explained in this video.
- Use a full water bottle aimed at a tinder bundle with the sun reflecting through it.
- I could go on and on. Here are some more creative ways to start a fire.
7. Cash becomes worthless.
Hyperinflation has happened dozens of times around the world. And with the way central banks keep pumping new money into their economies, there’s the possibility it could happen in your country next.
Solution: Have some barter items. Things that are both portable and useful, such as toilet paper, water, food, medical supplies, alcohol, lighters, and so forth. Bartering will be much more effective than cash if hyperinflation occurs. Also consider stocking up on pieces of jewelry and precious metals.
8. Your flashlight dies and you don’t have spare batteries.
You don’t want to be stuck in the dark every evening, especially if you have things to do. So what should you do if you run out of batteries?
- Make a big candle out of a tub of Crisco or lard. Here’s how.
- A stick of butter can be transformed into a candle by inserting a wick made of toilet paper into the center.
- Use duct tape to wrap a few crayons together. Light the paper around the crayons and you have a quick candle.
- Poke a hole into a can of tuna, push a thick string into the hole, then light it. You can eat the tuna afterwards.
- Here are a few more ideas.
9. It’s snowing or raining and you don’t have any rain gear.
In cool temperatures, it is absolutely crucial you stay as dry as possible. Being wet will zap your body temperature and leave you vulnerable to hypothermia.
Solution: Cover your shoes with bread sacks, garbage bags or grocery bags. Use a garbage bag as a poncho if you don’t have one. You can also stuff newspaper between your clothing and your skin to keep the wet garments off your skin and to act as insulation. It’s not the most comfortable solution, but it’s a lot more comfortable than freezing.
10. You get bored.
It could happen. Depending on what type of disaster you’re facing, you might find yourself with a lot of free time. For example, if all you’re dealing with is an extended power outage, or if you’re snowed in during a blizzard, you’re going to have some long, boring evenings with nothing to do. Unless…
Solution: Stock up on forms of entertainment that don’t require power. For example: books, board games, a deck of cards, acoustic instruments, etc. If you have kids, get things like coloring books and crayons, jigsaw puzzles, and some non-battery operated toys. Cars and dolls are oldies but goodies, and can provide hours of entertainment.