How to Handle Death and Injury When SHTF

If you find yourself caught in inescapable danger, more commonly known as SHTF (shit hits the fan), there’s no telling what will happen. The fate of you and your companions will all depend on your reaction time, quick thinking, and immediate response before, during, and after the situation.

Ideally, you’ll be okay and you’ll get out unscathed. However, realistically, dealing with grave injuries and almost certain death is the worst possible scenario that you can find yourself in. Chances are, you may not be adequately prepared for every situation, which means that even before SHTF, your chances of survival are low.

But there is hope in the form of knowledge. Knowing what to do with injuries and illnesses can help you avoid having to deal with death. Even when you find yourself dealing with a dead body, there’s a way to do it that will help you deal with your loss without jeopardizing your survival.


Sometimes we’re tempted to think that everything will be fine and as long as we stick to the original plan, nothing bad will happen. But this is seldom the case. The first thing that you will have to remember when SHTF is to expect the unexpected. Prepare for every scenario that you can think of. Doing this will help you have a faster reaction time to the critical situations you might find yourself in. To help you find your footing, here are a few of the most common injuries when SHTF and what you can do once it happens.

Cuts and Scrapes

No matter how minor the laceration, you are at risk of contracting an infection. In a survival situation, an infection is one of the worst things that can happen. Here’s what you can do to prevent this:

  1. Apply pressure on the wound to stem the bleeding.
  2. Clean the wound thoroughly. Make sure that the medium that you will be using is clean and sterile. If you have extra bottles of drinking water, that can work in place of the usual alcohol.
  3. Keep dirt and foreign material from the wound. This is important to remember because most infections happen because most people forget about the injury enough to let dirt in it. Treating wounds does not stop at just cleaning it.
  4. Open treatment is one of the safest ways to let a wound heal. However, there are wounds that may be too deep. Do not try to do a suture yourself if you do not have prior experience. You might aggravate the wound further. Make sure that any bandage you plan on using is dry and sterile.
  5. Change the dressing regularly. A dirty dressing can cause infections just as much as foreign materials getting in the wound.
  6. You can tell if the wound is infected if there’s increased pain, skin that is hot to touch, and the presence of pus. If despite regular care, the wound still gets infected, here’s how to treat it:
    1. Put a warm compress over the wound for 30 minutes. Replace the compress once it cools and repeat this three to four times daily.
    2. Drain the wound.
    3. Keep the bandage fresh and clean.
    4. Keep yourself hydrated.

Never underestimate any injury that you will get during your fight for survival. Infections are hard to heal from and if not done correctly, the worst can happen. Cuts from grass blades or branches or a sharp rock should always be treated with care. The key is to keep the wound clean at all times.


Another common injury that you can get when SHTF is a burn to the skin. It can be because of unknown chemicals or due to fires. Here’s what you should do if you or your companions get burns:

  1. The general rule for any degree of burns is to cool it down. Limit the damage by taking off the clothes near the burn. Pour cold water over the wound to bring down the skin temperature and remove anything that might aggravate it. (Important: do no use ice as it will deter the blood flow which will make the natural healing process longer.)
  2. If you have aloe vera on hand, apply it on the burnt area but make sure that you keep it dry to prevent infections. If you don’t have aloe vera, honey can also do the job.
  3. Rip a part of your clothes or use a bandana for dressing. Make sure that it is free of dirt and any foreign material as it will likely cause irritation and infection.
  4. Regularly let the burn breathe to prevent any moisture from accumulating and settling in which could attract bacteria and cause infection.

These steps are the general guidelines that you should remember regardless of how bad the burn is. However, if you end with a second to third-degree burns, Prepper’s Will has given us a step-by-step process for attending to your injury.


Concussions are the result of a significant trauma to the head, which you could get during a fight or because of an accident. If not recognized and treated properly, you may slip into a comatose state, something that you cannot afford to find yourself in for your sake and for the sake of the people with you. Thus, here are a few things that can help you recognize and treat a concussion:

  1. Learn the symptoms of a concussion: brief loss of consciousness, confusion, nausea, impaired vision, stumbling or balance problems and memory problems. You can pinpoint the symptoms by directly talking to the person. Ask them how many fingers you’re holding up and if they remember anything. You can also try to see if they keep themselves standing on their own two feet. Be ready to catch the person if they look like they’re going to stumble or fall. The last thing you need is to worsen their condition.
  2. Make sure that the person stays awake for at least two hours. This is a preventive measure in case the person might slip into a coma. If it’s time to rest for the night, you may have to wake up the injured person every two to three hours to check in their current state.
  3. Wait for a full 12 hours before saying that the person should be fine. Although concussions rarely reach the extent of having to have surgery, it’s always better safe than sorry.
  4. If there’s even a slight possibility that the person has a concussion, get them to rest. Do not do any strenuous activities and make sure that they don’t drink alcohol or anything that is not water.
  5. Check for wounds or bumps on the end and place a cold compress on it if there’s any to reduce swelling that may put you at risk for severe brain damage.

Sprains and Fractures

Because most people are never adequately prepared for when SHTF, other common injuries are sprains and some cases, fractures. This may be caused by the unknown and possibly dangerous terrain or because of a brawl. No matter the cause, your goal is to keep the fractured limb in place to make natural healing easier and less painful. Here’s what you can do in case of sprains and fractures:

  1. To properly assess the damage, remove clothing that surrounds the injured body part. Remove your shoes if your feet and ankles suffered damage. Cut off the leg of your pants if it’s higher up.
  2. Immobility is the key. Put anything stiff on either side of the broken or sprained limb. If your fingers are fractured, make sure to include the next finger to completely immobilize the hurt finger. If you have a fractured joint, the bones up and below it should be considered when trying to pinpoint the size of the stiff object.
  3. Tape the stiff objects and make sure that the bone is set in the right place to allow the natural healing process to take place.
  4. Put anything cold on the injured area to tone down the swelling. You can use ice, snow or cold compress.
  5. Although the splint will help with the healing process, fractured bones will take more time to heal and is a great deal more painful. The purpose of the splint is to give you some form of mobility to help you get yourself to someone who has professional training.

Although most injuries will heal when provided with proper care, you may encounter fatal injuries depending on the situation you’re in. In these cases, there’s little to nothing you can do if you don’t get the injured person to someone who has medical training and is equipped with the necessary tools. Unfortunately, unless you’re a medical professional yourself, that’s unlikely. Thus, you may have to prepare yourself in the event of a death.


The first thing about death that most people least expect is that no one’s ever prepared for it. No matter what mindset you’re in or no matter the preparation, death will always surprise you with the amount emotions you’re going to have to deal with in the shortest amount of time possible, especially if you’re fighting for your survival.

So how do you deal with death when SHTF? There’s no definite answer but there are a few guidelines that can help you through the process. Often, having something to do or at least knowing what to do immediately after someone’s death helps the people who survived by giving them a chance of having something to do other than wallow. But before that here are a few things that you can remember if you wish to avoid death as much as possible.

Common Ways to Die When SHTF

At the top of the list of the most common ways, you can die when SHTF, is sickness brought about by poor water conditions. As we all know, water is a basic need. Studies have proven time and again that you will have more chances of surviving if you have clean drinking water with you. But because there’s only a limited number of bottled water that you can stuff in your emergency bag, there are higher chances of you running out.

If you don’t have basic knowledge on how to filter water, you’re immediately at risk of contracting an illness due to the bacteria that may be lurking in your water.

Another common cause of death when SHTF is malnutrition. Like water, you may experience an inevitable shortage of food. Poor water conditions can also cause malnutrition because it will usually have diarrhea as a primary symptom.

Freezing is also one of most likely ways you can die. This is why knowing how to make fire and shelter is important. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be an expert in carpentry. You don’t even have to have expensive supplies. All you need is the basic knowledge of how to use the plants, trees and earth around you.

What to Do When Someone Dies

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford the time to mourn. More often than not, you will have to go through the necessary steps in ensuring that no one else in your group dies. Here are a few things that you need to do immediately after someone dies:

  1. Know how and why they died. If it’s because of their injuries, your immediate concern should be your safety. The perpetrator, may it be another human being or even animals and insects, may still be around your area. If they died because of illness, take precautionary measures to ensure that the disease does not spread.
  2. Naturally, after someone close to us dies, we would like to give them a proper burial. Before doing so, assess your situation and make sure that you are not in immediate danger to avoid more casualties.
  3. Move the body away from any source of water as it can contaminate it. If the deceased died of illness, make sure that you don’t touch the body haphazardly. Use gloves or any cloth available to you that is okay to discard.
  4. Rally everyone in your group to decide how to bury the body. You can either bury them under the ground, three feet deep. You can also cremate the body.

It’s never easy to handle death. The pain clouds logical thinking and it may actually be physically impairing. However, those who were left behind have a duty to live on. Thus, after someone’s death, you have to take care of yourself. Set aside time to mourn and help others through it as well. The immediate effect of a death on the people who lived is stress. This begets a number of mental blows on those people that can manifest through hopelessness, despair, and suicidal tendencies.

Finally, when SHTF and someone get injured or dies trying to survive, there’s one thing you must remember: you did what you could. It’s not your fault and don’t take it personally, you still have to worry about your own survival.

About Contributing Author


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *