Are You Preparing for SHTF or TEOTWAWKI- Part 1


from Survival Blog:

There is SHTF, and then there is TEOTWAWKI. There is a difference.


To me, SHTF means an incident that although it’s a disaster isn’t something that will collapse society as we know it. That is not to say that in a SHTF incident there won’t be looting or other behaviors outside societal norms, but for the most part order and daily life will be restored to some level in the foreseeable future. Hurricane Katrina is an example of a SHTF scenario.


TEOTWAWKI on the other hand is when societal norms are gone, with no recovery of vital infrastructure systems in the foreseeable future and the incident impacts large parts of the earth’s inhabitants. The keeping of societal norms will be challenged and in some areas will degrade quickly. Unlike a SHTF scenario, no one locally or from the state, federal, and even international community is coming to help.

What You Are Preparing For

It is important to determine what you are preparing for. Is it when SHTF, TEOTWAWKI, or both?

Preparing for both SHTF and TEOTWAWKI have some similarities. However, they also have vast differences.


The similarities are the need to have the basics of life available. These include such things as water, food, medical supplies (including medications), shelter from the elements, and security.

Differences, Variables

The main difference in how you prepare for each boils down to the depth of logistics capabilities and skills. However, there are some variables that are different for each of of us, as to how we go about our post-TEOTWAWKI logistics and skills preparations.

Main Variable- Available Income

Available income to put towards prepping is obviously the main variable. But making frugal choices and applying ingenuity, I believe, can make up for lack of funds. I believe that not having funds actually makes you a better TEOTWAWKI prepper in that it makes you think harder. A person who has lots of funds might say, “I need something to increase my security”, and then that person goes online and buys the latest and greatest widget. Someone with less funds to put towards prepping may have the same need to improve their security, but instead he or she thinks of ways to “do it yourself”, buy something of older technology that improves security, or perhaps figures other ways to raise the funds, like perhaps a group purchase.

In a sense, the TEOTWAWKI prepper who has to think and be creative about how to improve their security actually gains more than someone who just buys the latest and greatest widget, since they develop and practice critical thinking skills and in some cases perhaps learn skills by building their own capabilities.

Time Also a Variable

Time is also a variable that can make up for a lack of funds. In my younger days with a lower income, I had free time. Today with advancements in my career field, I find myself with more income but less free time. Besides allowing one the time to DIY and develop skills, free time allows one to gain knowledge by researching old ways say by visiting living history museums, taking courses, or reading.

Space is the Other Variable

I find space is the other variable that impacts our ability to prepare for TEOTWAWKI. One might assume that income is an automatic solution to this, but that is not always the case.

Exorbitant Amount for Square Foot of Space in New York City

For example, someone in New York City, who pays an exorbitant amount for a square foot of space, might not have the funds for the additional costs of storage space needed for prepping gear and supplies. They may also not have the space for gardening or a place for solar panels. Space may also come with some caveats.

Area Less Populated, Inexpensive Land and Less Strict Government

Someone in an area that is less populated with inexpensive land and less strict government building regulations can build their own storage or obtain it cheaply. Local zoning or HOA regulations may also impact our ability to prep for TEOTWAWKI. The space at our BOL allows us to better prepare for TEOTWAWKI by allowing for a large garden, orchard, stacks of cut firewood, space for animals, et cetera.

My Home Restricted, BOL Not Stringent and Farming Way of Life

At my home in the city, I am restricted, by deed, from having goats, chickens, and other farm animals. We can also not use our front lawn area for any gardening. Compare that to our BOL, where the building code is not very stringent, zoning regulations are not draconian, and farming is a way of life, not a hobby.

SHTF v. TEOTWAWKI Requires Different Type of Thinking

SHTF verses TEOTWAWKI prepping requires a different type of thinking. In a SHTF planning scenario, you may have a gasoline generator for emergency power and several cans of gasoline. At some point in a SHTF scenario, electric will be restored and/or transportation and commerce will start back up and resupply can be done. However, in a TEOTWAWKI planning scenario, the planning premise is that gasoline is a finite supply and manufacturing, transport, and distribution will not be restored, at least on any large scale.

So whereas someone, who is preparing for only a SHTF scenario, might store 50 gallons of gasoline for their generator, someone who is preparing for TEOTWAWKI might choose solar, wind, or water-driven turbine for their electric needs. Perhaps, they might even drill a natural gas well to power their generator or produce their own bio-diesel. This brings us to the second difference between someone who prepares for SHTF verses TEOTWAWKI, skills and knowledge.

Skills and Knowledge

The skills and knowledge of a person who prepares for SHTF do not have to be well rounded. A SHTF prepper can pick up a catalog and order ***two weeks worth of food***, buy some ***five gallon water jugs*** and fill them up with clean potable water, and equip everyone in their family with a go-bag. Very little skill or knowledge is required. On the other hand, someone preparing for TEOTWAWKI looks at the long-range future with the assumption that there will be no organized recovery effort and that manufacturing, transportation, and normal commerce, as we know it, will not be restored. Life past our stored preps will require the knowledge, skills, and abilities to produce or develop replacements for needed items that were once readily available and often very inexpensive

Questions On Assumption That Normal Commerce Will Not Exist in TEOTWAWKI

The planning assumption that normal commerce will not exist for the foreseeable future presents four questions for a TEOTWAWKI prepper. Life in Post-TEOTWAWKI society will at the very least focus on providing for our most basic human needs, food, water, shelter from the elements and security. However, let’s take a look at the questions that relate to provisions necessary.

First Question

Our first question is, how much of each item, needed or wanted, for life after TEOTWAWKI can I reasonably purchase and store? Available storage space, how long a particular item will last in storage, and amount of money designated will be the three primary factors that determine the answer for most resources.

For example, do you have the funds to purchase and the space to store 1, 2, or 5 years worth of long-term freeze-dried foods? Two possible variables here are time and skills, such as do you have the time and skills to plant, harvest, and preserve your own food. If so, the need for stored food is lessened, since you created the means of production of your own food. At some point, every TEOTWAWKI prepper will have to plan for their own food production and preservation.

For some items, determining how much to store might be more difficult. For example, how many pounds of each type of nail, screw, wire, tape, glue, et cetera will you need? Every TEOTWAWKI prepper should plan on the need to fabricate, alter and/or repair items in a post-TEOTWAWKI world.

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