- SurvivalBlog.com - https://survivalblog.com -

Are You Preparing for SHTF or TEOTWAWKI- Part 1, by 3AD Scout

There is SHTF, and then there is TEOTWAWKI [1]. 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***amazon.com/Week-000-Calorie-Food-kit/dp/B00ESLSHES, buy some ***five gallon water jugs***amazon.com/BPA-Free-Reusable-Plastic-Bottle-Container/dp/B01M1ORKTQ/ 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.

Question Two

Question two is, how long will that inventory last post-TEOTWAWKI? For food and toilet paper, this determination might be easy because we can calculate food consumption based on serving size and needed caloric intake. Documenting toilet paper consumption now gives a pretty good assumption of what you will use post-TEOTWAWKI.

How long your supply of nails and screws last will be more of a guess. One of the things that I plan on making for trade in a post-TEOTWAWKI world are “bailer buckets” to get water out of drilled wells where the pumps no longer work. Based on knowing my neighbor’s level of preparedness, I can assume how many I might need to make plus add a percentage for others. With that number in mind, I know how many stainless steel carriage bolts, nuts and washers, pipe, et cetera. I need to make that number. The biggest variable is the “Murphy” factor in that you often don’t know what you need until you need it. One of the practices I use now is if I need, say a turnbuckle for a project, I buy extra to have on hand as a replacement or for when that unforeseen need arises.

When you have to drive 45 minutes one way to the nearest hardware store today for not having a needed screw, bolt, nut, et cetera, it is an inconvenience. In a post-TEOTWAWKI world, not having that same needed screw, bolt, nut, et cetera can be life threatening.

TEOTWAWKI preppers need to develop the knack of recognizing that the most minuscule logistical need can have life threatening impacts on their life in a new post-TEOTWAWKI world. One only needs to read the age old “For the want of a horseshoe nail” nursery rhyme to see that something as simple as not having a nail can have dire consequences.

Tomorrow, we will continue with questions three and four and wrap up this two-part article.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 77 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest [3]. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator [4] from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course [5] (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses [6], excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper [7]. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees [8] in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product [9] from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses [10].

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 [11] Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit [12] from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of [13] Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners [14], donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections [15], a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord [16] (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 77 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail [17] us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Comments Disabled (Open | Close)

Comments Disabled To "Are You Preparing for SHTF or TEOTWAWKI- Part 1, by 3AD Scout"

#1 Comment By Dan On July 3, 2018 @ 12:22 pm

A most excellent explanation between the two. I look forward to the rest of this article.

#2 Comment By Muddykid On July 3, 2018 @ 12:32 pm

This is a great start to an article. You define things well and I like how you ask questions to demonstrate that you are thinking critically. Have you considered how and what food you store in relation to the seasons and food available through hunting, fishing, forging?

#3 Comment By Muddykid On July 3, 2018 @ 12:35 pm

forging = foraging. 🙂

#4 Comment By 3ADscout On July 3, 2018 @ 1:49 pm

Muddy kid, thanks for the positive comments on the article. I don’t normally consider hunting and foraging as viable in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. Given how many un-prepared people there are natural food sources will not last long. I also make the assumption that whatever caused the TEOTWAWKI event may very well impact plant and animal life as well. That isn’t to say We won’t do it but I certainly do not assume it as a way to ensure food my family’s stomachs. Consider a TEOTWAWKI event that release radioactive contamination. This more than likely will contaminate the wild food sources (and much of agriculture as well). I have several raised beds that I plan to tarp to lessen the ammount of contamination. We also have wild foods such as blackberries, rose hips, etc. that grow wild at the BOL. Instead of hunting I have several live traps that I plan on setting up (depending on circumstances). Hunting takes time, trapping allows us to better use our time and in my opinion increases our chances of actually obtaining food since we can cover more area with several traps. Just my two cents. Again thanks for the positive comments.

#5 Comment By Muddykid On July 3, 2018 @ 2:24 pm

Great point about trapping! I do disagree about the common misconception that natural foods will not last long, however. I guess that all depends on the scenario, but absent of nuclear contamination, even a modern experienced hunter is only successful when they have feed, stands, the latest and greatest camo, scent blocker, cameras, and all the gadgets that turn subsistence hunting into sport. People that have little to no experience in sport hunting will be relying entirely on luck. And people that sport hunt may not fare well absent of their gadgets. I look forward to tomorrows article.

#6 Comment By Jim Allen On July 4, 2018 @ 12:29 am

Muddykid, I hope you’re not placing the skills of a ‘sport’ hunter (around here we call em trophy hunters) over the local ‘subsistence’ hunter. (ie, poacher, to the wildlife cops) whom will be well experienced in taking game quietly (deer and hogs with a suppressed .22lr) and already have a market in place. There’s no comparison.

#7 Comment By Muddykid On July 4, 2018 @ 12:46 am

Absolutely not. My point was that sport hunters may not be worth their shinny cammy’s without their gadgets. I agree, there is no comparison.

#8 Comment By benjammin On July 3, 2018 @ 2:46 pm

Makes sense. I am far more prepared for SHTF than TEOTWAWKI. Due to the nature of my current situation, the latter is not so practical to prep for. Ergo, a big part of my TEOTWAWKI preps involve contingency and acquisition post-event; not at all desirable, but an unavoidable consequence. In truth, my SHTF preps have bled into more long term than what would normally be expected, more as a result of lacking true TEOTWAWKI response capabilities. For some things, such as food, ammo, and an indefinite energy source, I am well equipped for TEOTWAWKI, but for things like water, long distance transport, agriculture, and a fortified perimeter, I am woefully underprepared. It will take some serious changes in my accommodations that I simply cannot execute at this time to overcome those shortfalls.

Alas, I am a bit of a slave to my chosen career path. I’ve tried to escape it a few times, but they keep pulling me back in. Were I single, it wouldn’t be such an issue, but the wife has been increasingly high maintenance, so here I am. Much as I hate to admit it, my situation would vastly improve were she to expire or just plain leave. ‘Twould break my heart, but them’s the facts of it.

#9 Comment By Ol Granny On July 4, 2018 @ 10:55 am

Try plugging her into women at the church. Also pray with her asking God to give you wisdom on how to prepare your family for the future. Then bring up prepping at a later prayer session. A woman should be able to cook, sew, shoot a gun, and skin their game. High maintenance girls are usually nice to look at (by everyone) hence the games they play which isn’t conducive to married life or a godly walk.

Will be praying for as God hates divotce.

#10 Comment By Wheatley Fisher On July 3, 2018 @ 2:48 pm


I have appreciated your comments on this site over the past year and am glad to see you sharing through this series.

Yes, we often get in the mind trap of thinking we have to acquire something of literally everything, but where does that end? I was blessed by God in having been reared in an agricultural background and rural and wilderness living as well as back-country recreation. So I have personally learned the basics of farming and food production since childhood. The relative well-being of a family unit is first predicated on it’s food production. And next, based on what resources it has to exchange for what it needs.

Yes, keep a BOB/GHB prepared, but put priority on maximizing family productivity. So for food security, people need to have food production capability- from start to finish. If you raise animals, have the entire food chain capability at your fingers- from feed to butchering and preserving. Get smart in meat production, and get involved in local community networks. Volunteer to help 4H clubs and FFA.

Get several resupplies of greenhouse materials to build hoop houses over growing beds (ours blew down in a windstorm, and sun degrades it over time, others have had snowfall rip it), or dig and build a wallipini, make your greenhouse twice as big as you think you should. You will be glad you did.

Stock up on those basic elements which store well, and are scarce. Salt, sugar, mineral supplements and fertilizers, tarps, rolls of plastic sheeting, lots of duct tape, etc. Learn to store gasoline for years at a time.

Learn to do something specialized that will be useful to others, and get basic supplies and tools for that specialty. Make biodiesel, distill alchohol, make soap from basic on-hand items, grow flax and make linen, learn solar panel/electrician basics. But whatever you do, learn and practice that skill now. Become proficient and become known locally.

I appreciate being a gray man, and understand those who are concealing their earthly wealth with OPSEC and site security. But if TEOTWAWKI hits, it means life must go on and your local community is more than critical to your personal survival.

#11 Comment By 3ADscout On July 4, 2018 @ 12:47 am


Thank you for the kind compliments. A greenhouse is on the “to do list”. In the mean time I was planning on building some cold frames. Not as useful but better than nothing at this time. We are planning on moving to our BOL permanently next summer. Animals are high on our list. I have experience with goats, chickens and rabbits but will be trying our hand at pigs and perhaps a cow. The neighbor has cows, chickens and pigs. He is expanding the number of cows he is keeping. Hoping he will sell me a calf next year or he will be able to point me in the right direction.

I’m not a Bushcrafter type but there are a lot of good skills that they have. We just took down two pines to make way for a new pole barn and harvested a good amount of pine resin. My son thought my joy of collecting a jar of “skicky sap” was over done. Then I explained. Took a dried dead line stick that was full of resin and lit it like a birthday candle, he quickly understood the value. My wife yells at me for buying bulk salt since I’m on a low sodium diet. I explained it is needed for other things besides eating. I made my own white wash last year with salt. Considering how difficult it was and how valuable it was it is very wise to stock up now while it is plentiful and cheap. I love those “free” traps from Harbor Freight and tool. Have 3 plastic totes just with various sizes of tarps, but one is just the “free” ones. Rolls of plastic – ditto.

Interesting comment about growing flex. I was thinking for linseed oil. Another useful substance.

Nice thing about living out at BOL is nobody really thinks “prepper” when seeing orchards, animals, shooting, solar, etc.

#12 Comment By Sis On July 3, 2018 @ 5:08 pm

Concerning animals. They have to be fed too. Unless you live in the south chickens will need feed in the winter. The idea that you just get some animals and are all set is at best simplistic and not realistic. They all need care. Rabbits might be the easiest to raise but their meat isn’t a complete protien. I think chickens are a good idea but you should keep in mind they need feed , shelter and they take 5 months to mature. Left on their own they set and hatch out chicks once a year. Many of the modern breeds won’t go broody. Regular breeds don’t produce a lot of meat per chicken . these are some things to keep in mind if you choose to have animals.

#13 Comment By Sassenach On July 3, 2018 @ 7:33 pm

I wish to respectfully correct a couple of misconceptions. First, rabbit meat is a complete protein, just too low in fat to be a good choice as one’s only survival meat. Second, chickens are typically butchered ate 5-7 weeks of age. They do not start laying eggs until 5-6 months of age.

#14 Comment By Sis On July 3, 2018 @ 9:13 pm

It is common to butcher the “meat” type of chickens at 8 weeks. We like to wait until 10 to 12 weeks as we get more meat for our investment. This year we got both our layers and meat chickens at the same time. We butchered at 12 weeks due to a death in our family. The layers were at best 2/3 s grown. You really wouldn’t get a lot of meat off of them. When we have butchered out our regular sized hens (there are larger ones) i got less than a quart baggie of meat after it was cooked down and deboned. Also as far as i know from reading about the past , it was common to butcher the newest roosters after they got bigger as about half the chickens you hatch out will be roosters and you don’t need many of them.

#15 Comment By Corvus On July 3, 2018 @ 11:52 pm

Very well stated, it reinforces my continued collecting of nails, screws, bolts, drills, nuts, duct tapes, etc — hand tools people and the strength to use them — stay healthy and press on. Looking forward to additional installments.

#16 Comment By 3ADscout On July 4, 2018 @ 12:58 am


When you can’t tell the difference between your garage and Lowes or Home Depot you know your doing good!!! I as a rule always buy extra when picking up hardware for a project. I also like picking up hardware at used stores/flea markets/garage sales. People don’t realize the value and put a dollar or two on a whole big box. One of the last big lots I picked up most of the hardware was old and made in America!!! Priceless!! Don’t forget Wire/cable.

#17 Comment By ForwardPreppers On July 4, 2018 @ 12:35 am

Good to see you write an article 3ADScout!
I agree with your distinction between the two scenarios.
Looking forward to Part 2.

#18 Comment By Ray M On July 4, 2018 @ 2:04 am

If you are in a rural area, agricultural area like I am, watch the farm and estate auctions. the auction company will put the tractors, equipment and vehicles in his flyer or ad. Go walk around during the sale and look in the barns, etc. I have purchased literally ten pickup loads of hardware, old tools cans and bottles of all sorts of automotive fluids and old car parts for ten bucks or less. In ONE auction..They just want it gone and are happy to add it to the auction. I have done very well with that plan.

#19 Comment By Alan Nevling On July 4, 2018 @ 3:13 am

One way to conserve and utilize all the value of your meat — purchased, raised, trapped, or hunted — is to boil the bones, and cook the bone broth into soups, chili, or rice.

#20 Comment By Val On July 5, 2018 @ 9:15 am

I have been buying books on every subject that might be useful. I buy them pennies on the dollar through when I can. Many people get rid of books because that can look up anything they want right now on the internet. But what happens if we can’t do that any more? Or have now power and the lights go out. I have found medical books, auto repair books, hunting books. survival skills books, cooking and canning books, how things work books, repair books, gardening books, how to raise different kind of livestock books etc. etc. etc…. I have a 20 foot sea container full of anything you want to know full of books. I have seven containers full of my preps. The only problem is, is that it would cost me thousands of dollars to bring them down from our place in Alaska to where we are living now. lol I love Alaska but can’t take the rain so much anymore. It get up to 200 inches of rain there and where we live now it’s only around 38 inches a year. We live in the Garden of Eden now with 70 acres and can grow our own food and have a river along our property to fish from etc… We have found a perfect place for us and hope too get things ready here for your kids to come back here when things get really bad. Most of my kids are getting skills that will help them, I just wish we had more time. I feel that time is running out. The hour glass is running out of sand. I also wish I was 20 years younger. We only got our farm last year and it need so much work. I’m 65 years old and am working around here like a man of 30 years old. I work outside several hours a day trying to get a handle on this place and then have to do the other chores inside the house like any other women has to do, cooking and cleaning etc, etc… I’m not complaining because this is what I’ve always wanted. This place is whipping me in shape. lol. I’m over 76 % disabled but with that I can work as hard as anyone else, man or women. I cut down weeds with poison oak for T-shirt on, well I got splattered with poison oak oil from the plant, I didn’t know it at the time but soon found it out later. I took a shower and wash but that wasn’t enough. I learned the hard way what to do now, but It’s been two weeks now that I have had to put up with the pain. So I’m learning the hard way but I hope to poison the poison oak and cut it down and protect myself a lot better as I learn to work on getting rid of it. I’m working on a garden and my husband likes to help with that when he can after he get home from work. It’s a full time job, I wish I had three more of me but it is what it is and I’m blessed to have this opportunity to learn and grow as our Father in Heaven would have me do. May we all keep our sights on the real plan that He has for us. May God bless our efforts and may we all keep joy in our hearts no matter what may come our way.

#21 Comment By Steve On July 5, 2018 @ 8:24 pm

Scout, there are 61 nuclear powerplants in the US with a total of just under 100 reactors. Most are located on waterways, so there is water available in the event of a power outage, and the managers only have to move the water to the reactor core or cooling pool. If the majority of managers are successful, the meltdown scenarios will be limited. I’ve been in contact with the Continuity of Operations planner at a major nuclear provider, and they are aware of the threats from EMP and CME and are continuously revising their plans to handle either. I suspect that nuclear and hydro power will be key to reconstitution of the power grid in the event of either an EMP or CME.