What do I do with my family when the SHTF?

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This topic contains 27 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Crow Bar 4 months ago.

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  • #3073

    Way New

    I live in a large semi-rural HOA (homeowners association) near the DFW area, surrounded on all sides by natural barriers including a river and lake. I am 45 minutes from the closest densely populated city (at 75 MPH), and there are only two vehicle entrances into to my community, each servicing a different highway coming and going. My property has access to a river, and I have an anaerobic septic system for sanitary purposes that does not depend on electricity to operate. There are tons of natural resources in the area including many deer, fish, and other game, but that is because even though it is technically legal, the HOA doesn’t allow hunting withing the HOA.

    I have hosted virtually every Thanksgiving and Christmas for the last 20 years because it is such a pleasant place to be, and most of my family know of my concerns about what I consider to be an imminent event, where it be an economic crash, a Carrington event, nuclear war, etc.. Although they are respectful, and some even give me “pepper supplies” as Christmas presents, most of my family are not preparing for some major event because they suffer from “normalcy bias” and deep-down, they do not believe that such an event will ever happen to America in their lifetime.

    There is absolutely no doubt that when the SHTF, that I am going the be the person and the place that all of my family turns to. My biggest issue is that because of an extremely set of bad personal events in the recent years that include a crazy ex-wife + kids, financial fallout from crazy ex-wife, and freshman college tuition from my oldest engineering major, that currently I do not have enough resource to prep for the 20 or so family members, plus the ones they love outside of the family, that will look to me for hope. I am currently prepped for 3-5 people to go approximately six months without any other resources coming in after the SHTF, and probably will not be able to make it but a few weeks with all of those people descending on my home. Plus I am only one man, with two teenage sons, one which is now off to college but is likely to return in the event of a SHTF event.

    I struggle with this issue because what kind of man/person would I be if I turn away members of my family? Maybe an alive person, but I also have to live with myself. So instead of taking the hardcore approach, and turning “non-believer” family members away, I have worked out a plan to minimize the initial impact to more people than I can currently able to prep for.

    Here is my current plan so far that I am still improving (and I would appreciate any helpful input to improve it).

    1) I have a generic document prepared ready to email, text, read with the directions and alternative directions to my house, even though most know it by heart. But some of the more removed family members may not have it memorized, so I have it ready. Because of the stress of an emergency situation, this document could save lives.

    2) I have an “essentials” list for anyone that everyone needs to grab before heading this way (if possible). These include: any and all canned goods, any and all paper products (toilet paper, paper plates, feminine hygiene, etc), all blankets and especially personal pillows, all batteries in the house, all firearms and ammunition, identity documentation, and money, including coins, valuables, or anything with value. I am in the process of putting together a more specific checklist, and could use some help. And one member in particular has a large DVD collection, and for entertainment purposes, he will be specifically instructed to bring his entire DVD collection (if possible).

    3) All family cores will be assigned to sleep in a specific area of the house together, using a combination of existing beds, camping cots, roll-away beds, etc. I have tents and a small pop up-camper which can be used for any overflow, mainly consisting of the younger/stronger of the family.

    4) I have plans saved for various emergency cooking techniques, including a medium-size smoker, propane grill and burners, plans to make rocket-stoves from bricks, dutch ovens, and more. More input into this area would be helpful.

    5) This is the part that everyone in my family might not like or agree with: A have made out a list of roles that EVERY family member must agree with and be bound to. For instance, some of my family are in good health, and some are handicapped. Some are strong leaders, and some need to be told what to do. Some are good with firearms, and some abhor even owning them. Based on these beliefs, EVERYONE will contribute, and everyone will have a role. The following are some of the roles I have worked out, and I could use some input into this area:

    a) Foragers: The will fetch water from the river for the septic system, gather firewood, and do any other physical things needed to keep everyone going. Hunters may hunt deer or devise traps for local game. Typically, this will be the younger, stronger family members.

    b) Protectors: Whenever a forager goes out, at least one armed, preferably two, protectors will accompany, and assist if able. At least one armed protector will always stay at the residence. Typically, family members families with firearm experience will be chosen as the protectors.

    c) Food Preparers: Even handicapped family members can help prepare food. Maybe clipping green-beans, or mixing ingredients, washing dishes, etc.. Family members with handicaps or that enjoy cooking will naturally gravitate to this duties.

    d) Fixers: These people will make sure the solar lanterns are put out to charge, watch young children, and fill in where needed. Family members that are high energy would be a good candidate for the fixer role.

    I have more to this plan in process, and would like to put together something comprehensive for situations other than mine, so any ideas that you can contribute would be greatly appreciated.

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  Way New.
  • #3079


    Honestly, this is one of the most comprehensive plans that I have ever seen. It’s quite impressive.

    I personally can’t think of anything to add. @Selco did write this article a while back that may provide a bit more food for thought:

    What to Do If Unwanted People Show Up at Your Door When the SHTF

    You’ve done a fantastic job thinking things through and figuring out how to provide for your family. I especially like the lists that you have prepared to send to them so they know what to do.

  • #3083


    For starter wow! You’ve given this a lot of thought! As a wife and woman this is what I see missing, but you might already have it somewhere.

    I don’t see anything for children, as in younger children that are fully dependent on their family. If that is a possibility you have to look into the aspect of diapers, cloth vs plastic. If they get colds, as kids love to do, will you have an area set up for sick children, esp., if more than one gets sick, that can go for adults too. What about formula vs. breast feeding?

    And speaking of adults, something that has been on my mind lately, mostly since I am a woman, is menstruation. That is an issue that men and women have to deal with and in a SHTF situation, bleeding could be a potentially dangerous situation. It smells, you have to dispose of products that you uses if they are disposable or clean the ones that are reusable (which leave the issue of old blood and its smell). For a lot of women it comes with a lot of discomfort and problems. My daughter is nearly bedridden somedays from the pain she goes through. We both have to take iron pills occasionally to counteract the effects of it.

    I am a firm believer in reusable cloth products but they come with a price because you have to clean them and sanitize them well to remove germs and bacteria that come from use. In a SHTF situation that will involve extra water, extra heating materials and extra time.

    If you got women coming to your home and they are of age, or coming of age, that is a huge issue you need to consider now.

    Another thing to consider is pregnancy, if someone is or become pregnant, they are going to need more food/water/etc., than a non pregnant person.

  • #3139

    Crow Bar

    @Way New,
    I think you not only have thought on the situation a lot, but covered most of the bases.
    I think the logistical aspect would be the bottle neck. Do you, or can you feed all those people? With the number of people within the HOA as well? There could be competition for resources.
    Group dynamics. That is always an issue in any setting. Who leads? Who follows? All it takes is one to be a horses patoot and send the whole group into a tailspin.
    Have you done a asset vs liability assessment for each person?
    And when under stress, some will have a lower threshold to go into hysterics than others. How will you deal with that?
    Granted some will rise to the occasion better than others. There may be some surprises. Those you thought would fold like tissue paper in a hurricane may step up. Others you thought would be a rock, fall into depression, curl up in a corner and rock back and forth while sucking their thumb.

  • #3171


    I like your plan!

    Here are a few more things to tell them to bring. All knives, sharpening stones, fishing gear, rope, twine, camo clothing, sturdy shoes and boots including mud boots, winter coats and work clothing for all seasons, all medicines and OTC meds, first aid, etc. Writing/copy paper, pens and pencils. Razor blades, fishhooks, sewing supplies, pins and needles. All books on any related subject. Any solar power gear. Fishing boats! Sheets and pillowcases. SOAP, detergent, hand cleaner, etc. Binoculars, backpacks, military gear, flashlights, oil lamps and lamp oil. Cast iron cookware!

    You might want to consider sending out a last minute shopping list if you have a few days notice. Food, salt, sugar, flower, cornmeal, lots of rice, cooking oil, maybe water. Cash.

  • #3172


    Gosh, I almost forgot radios! Too much to list really.

  • #3175

    anon 411

    Suggest you read the following articles the-information-specialist-series. Start reading with the last article, it is the first one.

  • #3189

    Way New

    @crazy me

    Thank you, most of the younger children in the family range from 16-22, which on one hand makes child-care somewhat easier, but on the other hand, that demographic could make have a radical turn-around in a short time without the condom idea!

    Since I am single with boys, I had not even considered the longer-term menstruation issues — that is one serious issue that I overlooked and will explore integrating into a plan!

    I have some gas saved up, but it is almost impossible to store enough to make a difference over a long-term, and the ethanol gives it a shorter shelf life. So I plan on hoarding the gas, and using it as needed for the generator to power the washing machine (when in use, charging all of the rechargeable batteries and phones at the same time), as washing clothes seems like one of the more difficult prepper challenges to overcome. Then the clothes can air-dry.

    Thank you again for your wonderful advise!

  • #3190

    Way New

    @Crow Bar

    I am really worried about the local resources because there are too many people here, and the first deer that is shot at, the herds are likely to disappear.

    However, there are approximately 600 river lots that have large open fields in the range of 2-6 acres (mine being about 3 acres), and I am hoping to one say soon begin learning what it takes to start and maintain a community garden, then I can teach other groups how to do the same if it comes to that. The problem is the best case is several months before any significant production, and and I read on Daisy’s site that in real life it is going to be much longer!

    As far as the leader/follower idea, I have a strong personality, my brother does too, and even though he is also infected with the “normalcy bias”, we get along great and are both physically capable, I think I am getting through to him, as he recently and unexpectedly (to me) went and bought an AR-15. I think I have the leadership issue mostly resolved, but it is very difficult to be sure until an event actually happens.

    I know the personalities of my family very well, and the ones that you describe “sucking their thumb”, I have no illusions that they may wait too late to react once the SHTF, and may not even be able to make it out of the city in time. But if they do arrive and continue sucking their thumb, they will have a family support group — and I also have heard that hunger is a powerful motivator 😉

    Thank you for the advise!

  • #3192

    Way New

    @anon 411

    Thank you, I will!

  • #3193

    Way New

    @no money

    Excellent hole in the plan, thank you!

  • #3194

    Way New


    I have been following your site for a while, and your site + the excellent @Selco articles are primarily responsible for getting me to think about these things and put a plan together!

    Thank you!

  • #3508

    John Park

    I can only say “Wow”. I think you’ve done an amazing job covering the issue.
    As I have mentioned elsewhere, for myself (way up in the Northeast) the concern is food production during the short growing season. As such, I would think of advising members to get all the rice and beans, and seeds, and gardening equipment, that they can on the way. Heck, tell them to steal a food truck if possible (along with antibiotics).
    BTW, I love a good broadfork for creating garden space, the “meadow creature” is on my Christmas list.
    So I would be thinking about how you will expand your garden area and plant enough food, and then plan to put the new arrivals to work digging.
    Which you may have already planned for!

    Anyway, I think you did a great job, I think my wife and I will be using your post as a template for our own family, so thank you for asking & sharing!

  • #4114

    Way New

    @john Park

    I have never heard of a broadfork, or the company called Meadow Creature, but I looked them up, and it looks like an excellent garden survival tool, especially when/if gas for a tiller is in real short supply.

    Thank you for the tip, and happy prepping!


  • #4202


    With that many people you are going to have a challenge feeding them all. Even chicken and rabbits would strain the capabilities.

    What “other” food sources are around?

    Squab? Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”? Nutria, muskrats, frogs? Even fish will likely become scarce as people reduce the breeding stock. Aquaponics?

    Being in an HOA means that you are close enough for the neighbors to see you putting out traps and nets, you risk losing the food as well as the gear.

    Sorry no real answers only questions but ask the right questions and the answer should present itself.

  • #4207

    Way New


    You are correct about feeding that many people, especially if the event is extended, and that is my biggest concern. We have wild deer, hogs, fish in the river, but even more neighbors than wildlife. After the first shot is fired, and the deer figure out that they are no longer in a wildlife refuge, they will scatter into the countryside and be gone. And wild hogs are hard to shoot and kill, but they will be high on the priority list.

    I have become a well-known presence on an online application called NextDoor, but do not dare breach the “prepper” topic, because anyone that has mentioned that topic in the past is pretty much ridiculed. But I do believe that there are enough like-minded people living in my community, that I can “super-size” my plan and share the plan with other community members that are willing to rally around the community. I guess only time will tell how that works out…

    However, there are lots of farms with cattle and other livestock in the immediate area, and I myself have many skills, (both technology-wise and hard skills) and excess items I can trade, that I am hoping to be able to barter to help feed my extended family.

    But I have no illusions that if the event drags on for months, there are going to be some real challenges to overcome, and I need to probably add a good rationing plan.

  • #4239


    Does hoa allow for a greenhouse? Cooking for that many an issue, we use 50 gallon drums cut down to 3/4 height and weld on 3/16 bottom ss plate with dry sand I between it spreads heat better and you can put a bar through it to move . Hot water wi be issue, the amount of material required to heat it will be point of conflict, only wood as other heat sources will be irriplaceable.


    Get some snare wires end crimper and wire loops. Get strong enough to bring down  elk. Frees up foragers less noise no gun shot to bring unwanted attention so does cooking smells wood smoke.

    I don’t know how far away each person  is bUT the farther the less likely to make it plan accordingly.


    Can try to get everyone to bulk buy items they already use, save the leftovers for just in case.  Play a game of conflicted with them it makes people think and once question asked mind will have to answer it even if it is with delusion.

    If your river has descent flow look up a ram pump saves on caring water. Also can your septic handle that much more? If not a least look into outdoor urinals for the men to shorten lines.


    With beds remember not everyone will sleep at once will need 24 hour security.


    Will hoa allow chickens?

    What is  the threshold for violence? Lethal violence? How to deal with neighbours after such event. How does inside group rule differ from the others make sure everyone gets it and have punishment stated and prepared. confining someone wastes more.resources and man power.

    Do you have board games and lots of playing  cards cheap games at thrift shop cards.too but will be rare after.

    How will you stop neighbours from contaminating river? How far will you go?

    How do you treat so much drinking water for everyone? How much bleach do you have for cleaning? Where will you dispose of  animals and other dead things?

    How much quicklime do you have?can you make more?

    Got sandbags and a place to fill them?

    Does river have a dam upstream? If so what happens if it breaks?

    Sorry not many answers just more questions  for you




  • #4244

    Way New


    Thanks for the questions and pointers!

    The HOA would restrict a permanent structure without approval (even though there are some greenhouses in this HOA which have been approved), but the bigger problem is that I would have to take it to the field, which is in the flood plain and prone to flooding once every few years. But there are some new, interesting vertical techniques that I am reading about, that might could be built on a trailer-base, and moved as needed (temporary structures are permitted).

    The HOA restricts hunting through fines, but the area is unincorporated and is legal. I can actually hunt on the river bed, the neighbors may not like the gunshots, but there is no recourse. And my guess is that when people are hungry, the fines are not going to matter too much, and the artificial restrictions designed for normal times will be lifted.

    No livestock or farm animals allowed, except a horse, but the flooding problem is an issues because a fence will eventually be swept away. But again, I believe the HOA rules will go out the window if the SHTF, and I will be looking for chickens.

    I have some entertainment, rechargeable lanterns, and such, but probably need some work in this area.

    Lots of room in the field to bury things, especially things that will help the garden flourish. No control over the river, as it is very far upriver, and goes all the way to the coast. My neighbors on either side have pools (one elderly), and I hope to work out some type of exchange, even if it is providing security. For the filter, I have smaller filters, but am considering this fairly new device, a Lifestraw community water filtration system.

    Cleaning supplies I need to stock up on more. Thanks for the tip!

    I do not have an sand “bags” but I have an unlimited supply of sand from the river bed. I do not know how to make quicklime, but there is literally tons of limestone in the river bed. I foresee a community militia forming if the SHTF, because our county sheriff department is small, and they will have their hands completely full in the rest of the county.

    The dam is about two miles upriver, and if it breaks, this place is in big trouble. Hopefully there will be some warning, then my bug-out place will take effect. But if it happens in the middle of the night with no warning, getting to the roof of my two-story house will be the only hope (which can be done from the inside of the house).


  • #4308

    James Mitchner

    Here’s my .02 cents.  If you live in a HOA where simply mentioning prepping on the gossip site brings ridicule, what are the odds that you may be the only one prepping?  I wager that at some point, sooner rather than later, recommendations will be made to combine all resources into a “community storehouse” to be “shared” among all members.  That would likely mean YOUR resources since few, if any, have taken any steps to prepare for themselves.  Outside family, small group dynamics in play never seem to result in a happy ending.

    Nature hates a vacuum.  That includes a control vacuum.  Someone or some group always rises to take that empty space.

  • #4320

    Way New

    @James Mitchner

    There are over 3,000 homes and 7,000 people that live in my very large HOA. We have our own EMS, volunteer fire department, airport, marina, clubhouse, a couple of golf courses, and too many other things to list. A lot of people here know a lot of other people here, as we are all neighbors with common activities. When you get that many people in one place, there will be all types of people.

    The problem with a public forum based on a large neighborhood is that a percentage of noisy people are severely affected by “normalcy bias” and ridicule any posts about prepping or anything not from the mainstream narrative, which makes others reluctant to chime in — so it is hard to get momentum in a serious conversation.

    That is why I am here.

    • #4340

      James Mitchner

      OK, I got it.  I’m not being argumentative, but let me be the devil’s advocate just for the sake of discussion.

      Basically you live in a subdivision, but with some characteristics of a small town, i.e.. EMS, and some amenities, etc. regulated by a HOA.   Other than retirees, I wager residents earn their living someplace else away from the development.  Am I right?  Three thousand homes and seven thousand residents, most depending on outside income.  Should the unthinkable occur – no job/income.  Those trucks bringing food and supplies likely will stop rolling, too.  While odds are there are some who have spent some time preparing for at least a short-term emergency., I seriously doubt most have, and likely don’t even think about it seriously and will be nothing but dead weight.  Some say we are only eight meals away from starvation.  I wonder how many meals the majority of those seven thousand have in the pantry?  Undoubtedly, some would pack up and leave, seeking security elsewhere.  But for those remaining it would take a very strong leader, a Moses,  to get everyone pulling together.  It isn’t unreasonable to consider rifts to develop and people breaking off into different groups that will interfere with each other’s ability to survive and create big problems, security being one of them.

      In wildlife management they refer to something called “carrying capacity”.  You may be familiar with it.  If not, it refers to how many species, or the number of a specific species like deer, that an area has the natural resources to support.  It could also apply to your development.  Does your area have the carrying capacity to support your development’s population as well as any others than might be in the general area or who simply show up?  You won’t be able to isolate just your family group because those without in close proximity will want some of what you have.

      Those emergency services you listed.  Do those people live there.  I would guess not.  You won’t have those services for long.

      I reiterate, not being argumentative.  Just some considerations for discussion.

  • #4324


    Way New,

    Use the normalcy bias to your advantage.

    Any bets there’s more than one person who cans as a hobby? Or hunts? Geocaches? Homemade wine/cider?  Teaches CPR and first aid?

    Take the “prepping ” aspect out of the equation and you will likely find both help and knowledge.

    Those fish you are catching with the neighbors, can and smoke them for “winter”.  Same with the deer and hogs.

    People want to know why you aren’t just freezing the catch of the day, tell them that you lost a freezer full of meat when a compressor went out. You just don’t want to lose as much next time.

    That greenhouse, you want to start roses early and get them going before replanting them. You just happened to put in some spuds and carrots to fill the beds.


    You can find a normal reason to do most preps and keep it under wraps with little effort. And who knows, you might get asked if you ever thought about prepping by a neighbor.


    Its not an OPSEC thing, but being ‘normal’. Mr grandmother made quilts and afghans for the family, but also had a pile of them in case the hater went out again. It took a  long time to figure out that my grandparents were ‘prepping’, but it was just real life for them. They saw the Great Depression and no food on the table, so they made sure to have it put back. Broken heaters? Water line break? All covered one way or another.

    Just do it different, preserve your “organic” veggies for the off season. Use the most tame and pedestrian reasons for your ‘hobbies’.

  • #4325

    Way New


    Really great points, and a point of view I never considered!

    Thank you!

  • #4333

    Crow Bar


    That was a great post!

  • #4353

    Way New

    @James Mitchner

    My community is approximately 50% retired, with the remaining 50% of working/minor children age, and the demographic is moving towards less retired and more younger families.

    There are approximately 10 roadside miles of river lots consisting of 2 acres or greater that could support gardens, and the entire HOA consists of approximately 4400 acres, with only approximately 20% of the land developed with homes, the rest being a working pecan orchard.

    I believe that compared to most of America’s circumstances and location, this is about as good as it gets without being independently wealthy and owning some bunker on large acreage. I have considered putting together a community SHTF survival plan together, but I have limited time because of a demanding job and single-handily raising two boys. I am well armed, and feel that I am more capable than most in what it takes to defend me and my families lives and property.

    Virtually all of the EMS and fire department personnel are staffed with volunteers that live here, although last years the EMS went from 100% volunteer to about 50% volunteer and 50% paid, some of the paid coming from outside of the community. And we have many ex-military and current and ex law-enforcement officials that currently live in the community.

    I can plan until the cows come home, but like Mike Tyson once stated “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth”. So in my opinion, there is no way to know how my plan is going to work until something really goes wrong; I think that having the home-field advantage is really important part of prepping, and I cannot think of a better alternative that works for me that my current situation will support.


    • #4356

      James Mitchner

      I have a suggestion.  Considering the hurricanes on the east coast and the wildfires in California, maybe you could suggest to the HOA to have some open classes on emergency preparedness with those sorts of events in mind without making people go ‘full tilt Bozo’ about SHTF.  Some of the emergency responders should be able to do those classes at the clubhouse.

  • #23700


    Way New, this is an excellent thread.  You might want to consider the possibilities of setting up a trade ground just outside the gate.  Human trade is kinda like cockroaches.  It’s kinda hard to stamp out.  And a trade ground or market is going to draw in assets from the surrounding area.

  • #23713

    Crow Bar

    I agree with you.
    We have a church near by that is kinda centrally located for most in the immediate area (by foot).
    I think that is where a trading post like would set up.
    Or, I would suggest it.
    And just to keep stoopid down, everyone comes armed.

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