8 Places to Avoid After the SHTF

Fergus Mason
By Fergus Mason January 29, 2018 11:48

8 Places to Avoid After the SHTF

Depending on what specific kind of S hits the fan, there can be a big element of luck in whether or not you get through it. If there’s an Air Force base half a mile from your house, and Vladimir Putin decides to pop a megaton on it, it doesn’t really matter how well you’ve prepared – you aren’t going to make it. On the other hand most catastrophes aren’t going to be so immediately lethal, and even in an extreme case like a nuclear war most people won’t die from the disaster itself; they’ll become casualties of the breakdown that follows.

Of course, your chances of becoming a casualty depend on what’s happening around you, and that mostly depends on where you are. When an advanced society like the USA falls apart, there will be areas of relative safety where you can get on with rebuilding your life – and there will be places that you really want to avoid at all costs. Let’s look at some of the areas you want to stay away from to maximize your chances of survival.

Related: The First US Targets To Be Nuked

Major Cities

Big cities are the engines of modern societies. The problem is that, like any high-performance engine, they have a lot of moving parts and they break down if they’re not looked after properly. In any serious crisis cities will break down quickly. Food deliveries will stop, utilities will fail, law enforcement and emergency services will be overloaded – and all hell will break loose.

Most cities are permanently about three days away from collapse. That’s how long it will take for essential supplies to start running out, and city dwellers are not generally well prepared for that kind of situation. If they live somewhere that’s prone to natural disasters, like California, they might have the government-recommended three-day emergency supply of food and water, but when that’s gone they’ll be desperate. Desperate people can be dangerous; if you’re in a starving city, and anyone thinks you have a stash of food, it won’t be long before your neighbors – probably a mob of them – are at the door demanding you “share” it with them.

Things will just keep getting worse. Violence will soon spin out of control as looters take everything they can get – some going for food, others just generally stealing. People will start to die, and that’s going to bring disease. Expect typhoid and cholera to break out within a week. Then even more people will die, in a spiral of disaster that will eventually wipe out millions of people.

If you’re in a city when the SHTF, getting out of it is the best strategy. Head for a more remote area, where both violence and disease aren’t so much of a problem. There’s plenty space; the USA has more than 3,000 counties, but half the population live in just 146 of them. Most city dwellers will stay right where they are, thinking the city is the safest place – but they’re wrong.

Transport Infrastructure

Modern transport links make life a lot easier, but in a SHTF scenario they turn dangerous. A crisis could leave thousands of people stuck in airports with food supplies running out quickly. Trapped far from home and with no life support, they’re going to fan out across the local area looking for food, shelter and transport to get home – and some of them won’t hesitate to take yours if they can.

Major highways are also a problem. What if an EMP goes off and all the cars on the interstate break down at the same moment? Again you’re going to have a lot of desperate people, getting hungry and thirsty, spreading out across the countryside and looting as they go.

Related:Affordable Vehicles That Can Survive an EMP

To avoid the risks of collapsing transport systems, draw a seven-mile radius around every airport and harbor in your area, and a corridor extending out seven miles each side of every major highway. Seven miles is about as far as most people will go without food and water; you might find a few bold ones going further, but you’re not going to get overwhelmed by a hungry mob.

If the crisis is an EMP or nuclear attack, there’s another reason to avoid transport nodes – they’re targets. A nuclear strike will hit air force and naval bases, but follow-on strikes could come down on civilian airports and harbors. Military units could disperse to these locations, so the enemy will want to take them out. Highway intersections and bridges will also be hit, to paralyze the transport network and slow down reconstruction.

Military Bases

Military bases are also targets for nuclear  – or terrorist – attack, so you’re safer keeping away from them. As well as the risk of being caught up in an attack, the occupants are likely to be at high alert, and mistakes can happen. Maybe you have a right to be in the area, but try explaining that to a jumpy Spec4 with a rifle. If it’s a strategic base, for example a nuclear warfighting unit, they might even have mobile and standing patrols out to secure the area beyond their perimeter, and if they find you in that area (especially if you’re carrying a weapon) things can escalate fast. It’s best to let the military get on with whatever they’re doing, and stay well clear of them.

Choke Points

When the SHTF a lot of people are going to be bugging out. Some of them will be preppers, and they’re not a problem – they’ll be well equipped, know where they’re going and how to get there. The problem is the rest; panicked people just trying to get away from whatever’s happened, probably short on supplies and not sure what to do. Choke points are places where these people will be forced together by the routes they’ve taken.

Bridges, tunnels, causeways, even freeway ramps can become choke points. Everyone might be trying to get out that way, but the chances are it will soon go wrong. Breakdowns, accidents or just congestion will bring traffic to a stop, then you’ll have a lot of frightened people in a small area. That’s a dangerous situation. When you’re planning routes try to avoid obvious choke points.


This one is obvious. In a crisis, security at prisons is going to be under stress. If the power goes then lighting, alarms and even locks could all fail. Most prisons have backup power for these, but will they survive an EMP? Even if the power stays on a lot of correctional officers are going to be tempted to go home and look after their families. There’s a high risk of escapes. Any escapees will be at least as desperate as everyone else, and they’re also criminals – you want to stay well clear of them.


This one isn’t so obvious. Hospitals exist to help people, so why would you want to avoid them? Simple – they’ll attract crowds of people, and crowds are exactly what you want to avoid. That’s even more true when disease starts breaking out and a lot of the people in those crowds are sick. Hospitals won’t be able to cope, so think “angry mobs”. And stay away.

Related:You will Probably Catch One of These 5 Infections When The SHTF

FEMA Camps

Assuming FEMA doesn’t collapse right away, it will be doing what it can to house and feed refugees from the cities. Most likely this will be done in tented camps, probably set up with military help. They’re likely to be pretty grim, with constant and fierce competition for limited resources. The camps themselves will be surrounded by people trying to get in or find food. If you turn up in the area with a loaded vehicle, or even a bug-out bag full of food and medical supplies, you’re going to attract a lot of attention from people who want your stuff.


People who don’t have what they need to survive are going to head for places they think they can get it. Supermarkets, food warehouses and even local grocery stores are going to be looted, unless FEMA have requisitioned them first; either way there are likely to be mobs around them, either looting or fighting over supplies. It might be tempting to head for Safeway to grab some extra supplies, but it isn’t worth the trouble.

Gun and hardware stores should be avoided for the same reason. They might not be as high priority as grocery stores, but people will want what’s inside them. Gas stations will attract people who want to fuel their car and get away; as supplies run down, tempers will rise. Banks are risky, too – money might not be worth a lot in a major crisis, but not everyone’s going to understand that.

These are the key points you need to avoid when the SHTF. Obviously, crowds in general are also something to stay away from; they’re always going to carry the risks of violence and disease. It might be tempting to try and help them, but you just don’t have the resources to make any real difference – and trying will just wipe out your own supplies. Even if you plan to stick to giving advice, once they see you’re prepared they’ll want your stuff. Any time you see a large group of people, head in the other direction and work your way round them.

If there’s one key principle behind preparedness, it’s that you need to be able to look out for yourself and your loved ones. When things are good, people can live and work closely together to keep a modern society running – but if the SHTF, other people become a danger. You, and a few like-minded companions if you have them around, will be much better off on your own until the crisis is over.

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Fergus Mason
By Fergus Mason January 29, 2018 11:48
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  1. Ray January 29, 14:49

    Why did the author use Putin, it should have been that crazy little fool Kim.

    Reply to this comment
    • tpop January 29, 15:56

      Like you typed “crazy little fool” Putin is a sure thorn in our side than little Kim

      Reply to this comment
    • Beau January 29, 17:24

      I agree with you. Kim would be my first concern, followed by Iran. No sense giving someone bad ideas.

      Reply to this comment
    • SilverSgt January 29, 22:06

      Kim is ultimately a puppet of China and Russia. They are the rope a dope keeping our planning and preparations focused. Like in a battle, first you create a focus point for your enemy to dedicate their resources. I.E. Locking down the enemy, then you plan your assault from the flank or pin point penetration, or other. Loosing Turkey as a friend and having Syria become a base of operations for Russia, we are being outplayed on the board. I hope the so called secret tech, is our ace up the sleeve, because we are loosing ground even in that area with every Chinese satellite launched, and Russian and Chinese tech upgrades. Pakistan is part of the group and indications are India has joined their club with fake conflicts with China……….Also Nuc’s are not the worse weapon to worry about . . . .Best defense, good home preparations, common goals with people you have known forever and can trust. Faith, Prayer and planning. With faith we live in confidence, with planning we have less anxiety, (we have a direction, )
      With Prayer, we are not alone.
      SmSgt once upon a time.

      Reply to this comment
    • Tim January 30, 07:55

      We’re talking about SHTF here. Kim’s not going to make SHTF. Neither is Iran. Only Russia and (maybe) China can make a SHTF attack.

      Reply to this comment
      • Christian Gains February 4, 20:41

        Tim, that’s NOT wise counsel…KIM is, (btw), a beneficiary of MORE than Chincoms & Russians…AND! Kimmy boy is DEFINITELY a “cut out”…{of WHOM? — YOU do not want to know}; BUT!

        IF the Ruskies & Chincoms can avoid any semblance of assistance to KIMMY, they WILL!

        BUT! The LONG GAME is Corporatism…and “We the People…”; [World Wide], are standing in CORPORATE’S WAY…Go figure… AND! Take SGT’s advise!!

        Reply to this comment
    • Fergus Mason February 3, 23:36

      Kim’s crazier, but he doesn’t really have the ability to do much damage. That might change in a decade or two, but right now I doubt he could even hit one US city. Putin is a different story.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Clergylady January 29, 15:09

    It doesn’t matter who the nut is that creates the mess… it matters if you and your family survive.
    I intend to survive and thrive.
    I’m in my personal SHTF situation right now but like all my previous problems, they will get work out. And, I’ll be stronger, wiser, and even better prepared.
    Keep on keeping on.

    Reply to this comment
  3. SHOELEATHER January 29, 17:16

    Same old crap – tell me something we don’t know, i.e. what will be the best to stock up on for barter, whisky or vodka?

    Reply to this comment
    • Rass January 29, 20:12

      Vodka more uses better to clean wounds and will burn cleaner ie lanterns cars and jennys

      Reply to this comment
    • Tim January 30, 07:59

      Many (if not most) of us are relatively new to SHTF, so every little bit helps. Those of us who are old hands know better than to sluff off things that “everyone knows” because there might be one little nugget in there that we DIDN’T know or hadn’t thought about.

      Want advice about barter items? Good. But this is a newsletter. And, guess what? That very topic was discussed, here, several weeks ago.

      Reply to this comment
  4. MarieB January 29, 17:47

    What do you do when your husband refuses to get a weapon and refuses to allow our family with little girls to learn self defense? Yes he has catered to the bad guys in the past instead of defending us.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Klaus January 29, 18:07

    We are surrounded by countries who want to kill us. China, Russia, NK, most of the mid east

    Reply to this comment
    • Auckland Escapee January 30, 03:21

      You are almost correct, but you are still hopelessly wrong, China does not want us dead, China wants to send us to the poor house, Russia does not care if we live or die, NK can make a real mess of America, but they can’t kill us, sure, most of the Middle East want us dead, but they have their own problems when it comes with working with each other, and then there are the other countries that want us dead, at least 5 in South America, 12 in Africa, plus countries that would help us if they were asked, New Zealand, Denmark, Italy, just to name a few.

      Reply to this comment
    • Fergus Mason February 3, 23:37

      That’s true, but threat equals intention *plus capability*. It doesn’t matter how much somebody wants to kill you if they can’t actually do it.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Johnny January 29, 21:44

    Could not order from email I got from you to order books.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Ivy Mike January 29, 23:07

    Some good advice, want to point out that cholera and typhus are not caused by dead bodies but by live ones and the most likely place to encounter disease is refugee centers because sanitation breaks down.
    And other countries don’t want to destroy us, Big Brother just wants you to believe and be afraid so he can build lots of bombs while gently stealing away your liberty.

    Reply to this comment
    • Fergus Mason February 3, 23:38

      Yeah, I could have been clearer about that. Typhus and cholera are caused by pathogens, but bodies will attract rats and flies. They spread disease.

      Reply to this comment
  8. CCTer January 30, 06:33

    Sorry to hear that Marie. My wife tolerates my prepping, but the funny thing is, she is willing to let me protect her, but wont take steps to protect herself. He should at least let yall learn self defense. I recommend getting the book “When Violence is the Answer” by Tim Larkin. You read it first then give it to him. If he wont do something from that point…he’s got a problem.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Richard February 1, 16:19

    I’ve got about 3 1/2 year’s of supplies, including plenty of guns and ammo, getting a new 9,000 volt generator that will run the AC and the Kitchen, even having 2. FUEL tanks buried by the side of the house, tanks hold 100 gallons a piece , but I know that won’t last forever, and I do live about 65 miles east of Orlando, 5 min. From the beach, in a city of about 75,000″ should I stay and wait it out or leave??

    Reply to this comment
    • LOGGER 47 February 1, 22:12

      about 35 days of fuel and plenty of supplies but 75,000 people you don’t have a chance leave!

      Reply to this comment
    • Fergus Mason February 3, 23:40

      It depends how obvious your preparations are. If you can keep your head down, stay indoors and quietly live off your supplies you’ll be fine. But if your neighbours know you have what’s needed to survive, they’ll come for it.

      Reply to this comment
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