How Exactly Will We Know When the S*** Has Hit The Fan?

I’m about halfway through “The Pulse; A Novel of Surviving the Collapse of the Grid” by Scott Williams and it’s an excellent read.  Besides being a great read it has also made me think a bit more about several aspects of Prepping (which all good survival books should) one in particular that I can’t quite get a handle on.  That is, How exactly am I supposed to know when the S*** has Hit the Fan?

The novel focuses on two groups of people who are in different locations, one in a city and one on a sailboat in the Caribbean.  The earth is hit by massive solar flares which cause an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) that knocks out the power grid as well as most electronic devices, engines, cell phones, radios, GPS equipment, you name it.  The group on the boat is almost totally isolated and has no idea how far reaching the EMP’s effects are.  Even the group in the city (New Orleans) really  has no idea how widespread the damage is either.  And without radios or any means of communication how could they know?  Both groups struggle with this total information vacuum.  I won’t go any further and ruin the book for those of you who want to read it (it is pretty good), but I think you get the picture.

In an event like the one described in “The Pulse” how am I supposed to know whether it’s time to really batten down the hatches or bug out all together or whether help from regions that were not affected is already on its way?  Think this through for a minute.  It would really be a terrible thing to find that you had overreacted to what turned out to be a temporary blackout thinking the entire grid was down and the Crunch was upon us.

Furthermore, I believe it is critical that in an emergency situation you act quickly and decisively in order to keep yourself and your family safe.  Waiting around for a few days or even a week before making a move could be a costly mistake.  On the other hand you can’t go running off screaming into the woods every time the lights flicker.

For me there are a few things that I would watch for in a situation like this where there is clearly something wrong, I’m not sure how far reaching it is or how long it may last, and there is a total absence of news.

First of all I would monitor local public services.  For instance, are the local police maintaining a strong presence or do they appear overwhelmed or absent all together?  Second, how is the general public holding up?  Are people calm and orderly or is panic making people act out in dangerous ways?  If your local grocery store looks like a scene from a zombie movie it’s probably time to hunker down.  Finally, am I seeing familiar faces in the neighborhood, or are troublemakers starting to come out from under their rocks?

By maintaining a strong situational awareness you should be able to determine your own personal “Defense Condition”.  Just like the government keeps a constant DefCon Status, so too should you.  It’s important to know when to invite the neighbors over for a barbecue to use up food that may spoil vs. boarding up the windows and releasing the hounds on anyone who comes close to your property.  However in a news vacuum it could be a tough call.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to determine just when the SHTF in the comments section.


9 Responses to How Exactly Will We Know When the S*** Has Hit The Fan?

  1. In these type of situations error on the side of safety.

  2. Butch,
    I would have thought this would be an easy spot for a seasoned Prepper. We had a blackout here two nights ago that took out the entire neighborhood. It gave me a chance to review the signs I would look for to sort out an EMP (man-made or natural), from just a blackout.
    1. Check to see if your neighbors lights and/or streetlights are out.
    2. Check your cellphone. Most folks have one. See if it comes on. If your’s is out, check your wife’s or kid’s phone.
    3. Try other battery powered electronics, laptop, portable radio, etc.
    Even on a regional or nationwide blackout, battery operated devices would not be affected. An EMP would fry the chips in everything I mentioned. If I were to find my electronics cooked, I would start working on getting out of Dodge right away. I live on the outskirts of a big city and certainly don’t want to waste anytime before the general populace figures it out too!
    My two cents, YMMV ( your milage may vary)

  3. Ok, the SHTF, we bug out to our secure location in the outback that only we know about. We have it well camoflauged and it is securely locked up. Inside our shelter we have it stocked up with enough grub, fuel, tools, water and whatnot to survive at least a year. Upon arriving at our secret location, we are dismayed to discover that our hide-away is occupied and well fortified by the new enemy. We slip on by and skiddadle a little further along to access our new and desparate situation.

    We don’t have enough fuel to make it back home, not even close. Our supplies are limited and will only last a few days. So our options seem to be to try and retake our lair or beat feet back home and hope for the best along the way.

    Maybe we should’ve just stayed home to begin with and made the best of what we had.

    • “Maybe we should just have stayed home”?
      Maybe we shouldn’t have spent all that money on that backup site to begin with?
      Why bother to prep at all?
      Maybe we should just dance & sing with the grasshopper now while the sun is shining?

  4. well put 1836….

  5. SHTF could come in a number of varying degrees. I agree with the other post to secure local intel to at least make an assessment of your local area. For me the key thing to watch for is the human reaction. An event may not be that big but the human reaction could easily turn it into full on SHTF. Watch people, their actions will probably dictate yours.

  6. There is a 25% chance you and your spouse may be at work when TSHTF. We have radios and other gear in a Faraday shield. I have s radio at work also protected in case i have to hoof it home. The wife is under 10 miles and i am 50 miles to home. When i get close enough i will start to communicate at designated times and hopefully the eife has made it home and has everything secure.

  7. In my neck of the woods?? If it is a true HTF scenario—the teacher across the street will come home, the other employed will come home.
    With an emp?? Probably not, but with an economic collapse..yep–they will get home quickly.

  8. I am a bit confused… I called my sons home and they are used to that it is part of our OPSEC.
    The lights were out but who cares we have individual operational backups for important systems so we still had shortwave and CB. Yet we didn’t rely on any info received we simply locked down.
    Our neighbors had no idea we were in lock-down why would they?
    As preppers we have enough food to last for months even with my youngest bringing his girlfriend unannounced.
    We would not start raiding for resources until long after the collapse occurred.
    The next day the lights came on so half of my security force was allowed to party and have a good time… my wife knows that end of the world or not she should prepare for stress relief either way.
    The next day those that partied suffer a hangover and those that stood prepared get ready to party themselves because the fact is it was not TSHTF but just an outage.
    The key of course there is no difference until… there is a difference!
    When there is a difference we will take actions that do not conform to the standards that our current society would allow but of course until our society no longer exists we would not take those actions so the whole question become moot.
    We are ready for a tornado… we are ready for the collapse of the dollar… we are ready for an invasion and our own decision that our government has failed us and needs to be replaced. We are ready for any TSHTF scenerio.
    But most of all we are ready for none of those things to happen and we hope they do not.
    One way or the other my family is ready.