80 Predictable Ways to Die in an SHTF Event (or in Its Aftermath)

We prep because it makes us feel safe and feel good about ourselves. But at the same time, we avoid thinking about the less pleasant aspects of survival, such as getting injured or killed.

If we’re going to maximize our chances of survival, we need to look reality straight in the eye. And the reality is that no matter how well we prep, there’s always a chance we could die.

firefighter with axe over his shoulder
firefighter with axe over his shoulder

This open list of possible scenarios isn’t meant to scare you but to help you to better plan and prepare. This isn’t just a list of possible ways to die. Instead I tried to come up with more complex scenarios that also have lessons in them. After you read each one, go ahead and ask yourself:

How can I prepare to avoid or minimize the risk of this?

  1. You don’t realize that your cans of food are compromised and you eat one of them anyway. You get infected with botulism and there’s no one to treat such a serious illness in a post-apocalyptic world.
  2. A bartering/negotiation turns into a shootout and you die as a result.
  3. You die when your gun misfires because of oil leakage between the bullet and the shell.
  4. You’re trapped in a riot and refuse to give the rioters your money or your cash.
  5. You fail to build a shelter in the woods and die of hypothermia.
  6. When disaster strikes, your loved ones just stand there in disbelief, you stay behind trying to get them moving and perish with them.
  7. You instinctively try to save someone else’s life without realizing it’s too much for you and it costs you your life.
  8. You’re on the 9th floor of a building that’s about to collapse from an earthquake. The building crashes with you inside.
  9. You realize you have a 3-month food stockpile but only about a week’s worth of water.
  10. Your dog is poisoned by your attackers so you’re unable to hear them coming at 3 AM.
  11. You bugged in when you should have bugged out or vice-versa.
  12. You’re too stubborn to abandon your car when it breaks down, so you die inside it.
  13. You come out from your safe room too soon and realize your attackers are still there, waiting for you.
  14. You’re in a bunker, the people that are after you found the air vents and are pumping smoke inside. You die of asphyxiation.
  15. Your camo clothing and your “I’m a prepper” sticker bring unwanted attention and make your family a target.
  16. You’re too weak or slow to run away from immediate danger.
  17. You break your rule about not going into malls during rush hour, are taken hostage in a terrorist attack, and they shoot you to prove to the authorities they are serious.
  18. You get an infection that you’re unable to treat because you don’t know how (even though you have the medicine in the woods beside you).
  19. You get lost while bugging out into the woods, you keep going instead of staying put and you fall into a ravine.
  20. You get home only to find that your house is being looted. You try to be a hero but the burglars are stronger and better armed than you.
  21. You abandon your bug out bag because it’s too heavy and you die in the woods with no shelter, food, water, or gear.
  22. You try to climb or jump a large obstacle to save your life but you’re not strong and flexible enough to make it.
  23. You figured you’re not going to take your everyday carry gear with you one day, the exact day the unthinkable happens.
  24. You stop to take photos of the fighting between the police and the rioters and get caught in the middle.
  25. You bandage your wound but forget to clean it first and it gets infected.
  26. You panic or freeze when it happens and you fail to act to save yourself.
  27. When shots are fired, you try to locate the shooter instead of running away as fast as you can, guided by the sound of the shots. You lose precious time and one of the bullets takes you down.
  28. You didn’t waterproof your bug out bag items and now they’re all soaking wet and unusable (after you crossed a river or managed to save yourself from a flash flood).
  29. You prepared for one event but another one happened.
  30. Your tactical vehicle draws so much attention when bugging out that a large crowd of “zombies” stops you from going anywhere. You can guess what happens next.
  31. You’re taken hostage inside your own home and your attacker asks you to give him the biggest knife you have and you comply. He then kills you using that knife. (true story)
  32. Your bug out vehicle runs out of gas while bugging out, leaving you vulnerable in a warzone where bullets fly over your head and eventually one hits you in the head.
  33. You drive too fast while bugging out and attract the attention of a shooter.
  34. You die at the supermarket, fighting for the last can of tuna.
  35. Your spouse mistakes you for a burglar at 3 AM in the morning and shoots you with your own gun.
  36. The police mistake your house for that of a bad guy and, because you didn’t comply to the letter with their request, they shoot you (even though you’re unarmed).
  37. You’re at church, a crazy gunman starts shooting everyone with his illegal AK-47 and you don’t have your gun to defend yourself because all guns banned.
  38. You get an infection and you use an antibiotic way past its expiration date. You don’t die because of adverse effects; you die because it lost its potency and the infection traveled to your blood instead.
  39. Your home is attacked, you’re outnumbered and you prefer to defend your turf rather than flee.
  40. The smell of your cooking attracts starving people that will do anything for a loaf of bread.
  41. You are unaware that you are being spied on as you’re digging up one of your caches and you get killed in the fight that ensues.
  42. Your relatives come to you when SHTF and you’re forced to share your supplies with them.
  43. The Government breaks down your door and confiscates your food, water, and your generator.
  44. Your supplies have run out, you’re still in the city with no other place to go, and things aren’t back to normal yet.
  45. You accidentally eat a poisonous plant you picked by mistake the last time you went foraging.
  46. The rounds of ammo you buy or barter for are all duds, so you die in the next shootout.
  47. You become the leader of your post-collapse society but there’s a plot and you’re taken down by a faction that doesn’t agree with your ways.
  48. You store all your food in one place and looters take it all.
  49. You brag about your preps, the rumor spreads, and you wake up one morning to unwanted armed visitors.
  50. You bug out by sea, but you only have a sail boat so you’re unable to outrun a ship full of pirates, or a submarine belonging to the enemy.
  51. You eat the wrong kind of mushrooms.
  52. You’re executed by the new regime that doesn’t really care that you can mind your own business because it wants to exterminate our kind and repopulate.
  53. The water supply in your area has been contaminated and you die because, even though you have the means to purify it, you make a bad call and don’t.
  54. Post disaster, you get placed in a FEMA camp, for example the New Orleans Superdome during Hurricane Katrina, and are stabbed in the night by someone who needs your shoes.
  55. You feel sorry for all your neighbors begging for supplies so you agree to share. You quickly run out and you all perish.
  56. You get bitten by a mad dog and get rabies which you are unable to treat.
  57. You suffer an illness that can’t be cured with what’s in your first aid kit and there’s nothing you can do.
  58. You can’t stand the post-apocalyptic society, two of your family members have perished so, instead of staying mentally strong and fighting for your sanity, you decide it’s better to end it.
  59. You don’t know how, don’t have the seeds, or the means to grow a garden post-collapse. The power grid and the transportation systems are down and there’s no way of getting food.
  60. As you’re doing your daily chores, you spend way too much time out in the sun (with no sunscreen or a hat) each day and eventually die from skin cancer.
  61. When you open your storage area to begin using your food stockpile, you realize that the roof was leaking all winter and most of your food is now ruined by the moisture.
  62. You put off cutting down the overgrown landscaping around your home and property for several years. A wildfire comes through one summer and completely engulfs your house and outbuildings.
  63. Authorities order residents in your area to evacuate due to a predicted hurricane, but you and your family decide to ride it out and stay put.
  64. Martial law is enacted, and you get caught outside of your home after the enacted curfew.
  65. You can’t find the proper identification paperwork for your children and try to cross a border without the proper documentation.
  66. The gas mask you bought at a discount from the flea market isn’t high quality and it fails to protect you during a chemical terrorist attack.
  67. You go outside during a tornado to save the dog that no one brought inside and are hit in the head by flying debris.
  68. After you and your family climb into your attic during a huge flash flood, you realize the water is still rising and you didn’t bring an axe and have no way to get out onto the roof.
  69. You step on a nail during your bug out and rather than take time to clean it out and bandage it, you figure you’ll deal with it later.
  70. After running out of stored water, you decide to go searching for fresh water. It’s late in the fall season and getting dark. You don’t see the creek in front of you until you tumble into it. You make it home but die of hypothermia because no one knows the proper way to treat it.
  71. Improper waste disposal results in disease that spreads to your entire family.
  72. You crash your car in the desert and are stranded without enough water or know how to stay alive or make it out.
  73. Your campsite is washed away in the middle of the night because you chose a low spot instead of high ground.
  74. The neighbor you allowed into your mutual aid group decides he should oversee the group, so he locks you and your family in the cellar without food or water.
  75. You are so confident that you have all the preps you will need that you stop stockpiling for a few years. When SHTF, you realize that your preps have almost all expired.
  76. The power grid is down indefinitely and it’s the middle of winter. You have no heat and didn’t cut enough firewood ahead of time.
  77. You failed to stockpile enough of your personal medications, and you run out which has fatal consequences.
  78. When you plant your garden, you realize you didn’t plan adequately for water needed to keep your plants hydrated. Most of your plants die which leaves you severely lacking for food.
  79. You get a urinary infection but didn’t think to stockpile antibiotics. Pharmacies and doctors are unavailable, and you don’t know what herbal medicines cure the infection, so you die slowly and painfully.
  80. Your wife begs you to stop and help two small children and their mother that you pass on the side of the road while bugging out. When you pull over and get out, three men come out of the woods and shoot you and take your car and your family.

Well, I truly hope this has made you think about your preps and the holes in them specifically. The big takeaway from this article is that the things that killed people in the past are the same ones that are gonna kill them when disaster strikes.

SHTF death Pinterest image

6 thoughts on “80 Predictable Ways to Die in an SHTF Event (or in Its Aftermath)”

  1. Group survival is the better option.
    Not the typical group, that one person is doing every thing, but that every one is responsible, and the irresponsible are eliminated .
    If you have to make examples ,so be it.
    in a survival atmosphere there is no room for slackers.
    Much like a serious military operation.

  2. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and believe in being prepared as much as I can. I have never and will never leave it up to someone else to provide for me so I’m doing what I can. With water, food and the same for my pets (have 9 rescue dogs and could not chose which to leave behind). But the further I get reading the info I’m beginning to wonder if all I need is a tank full of gas (to end it for all of us) because I’m almost seventy and somewhat disabled by MS. There is no possible way I can “bug out” because I have no where to go and no way to carry anything if I did. The more I read I think I just need to accept the fact that the end will be imminate and save all the worry and effort? I know that all of this is really conjecture and not certainty so the worry may be for nothing and if it isn’t there really isn’t anything I can do about it anyway.

    I appreciate all the info that I read here because it has really made me think about a lot of things that Have not crossed my mind before. Keeping in mind that I should be somewhat secretive in my preparations I am wondering whether I should tell friends to come here if they can so we will have more people to try and sustain us (that in someways is a bit laughable I think because we are all sort of old). I have a relatively large house with a guest house so I could put up a few people and we might be better off together. But I also know that I would have to be in charge of keeping us alive and don’t honestly know if I’m up to it. So I might be better off alone. Hard call I guess.

    I will continue to keep food, indoor ways to prepare i indoors, money, water, etc for a short period but if the worst happens I think I need to accept the fact that I won’t survive I suppose.

    1. Take heart, the chances of an extended end of the world happening in the remainder of our lifetime (I’m up there in years too) is remote. End of the world prepping is more for younger families and especially with children. More likely a scenario is a natural disaster. We can all be ready for anything lasting days, weeks, and even many months. Don’t give up hope, and stay close to loved ones.

  3. All seem reasonable consequences to possible actions and reactions, except worrying about “eventually” dying from skin cancer. You may want to take steps for children, but that is so far down the list of possibilities for those of us that are already adults as to be completely dismissed. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke are much higher on the list of not having a hat or other protection from the sun.

  4. I’m in my sixties, and I have I’m being treated for cancer, and I have a problem with my heart because of the cancer I’m on medication for that every time I go to the doctor I want to ask my doctor how I could handle that situation with the medicine if there is something I can do no.2 equivalate whatever get from the pharmacy every time I go to the doctor and I had that planned it to ask he’s either got an intern or is everything is so fast that I didn’t have a chance to ask. So I don’t know what to do.
    I have been prepping for a while mostly in survival gear I’m at this particular time I have got maybe a few months of food and I am stockpiling water but as it is I’m in the middle of the city and I know that if I have to bug out much is going to have to be left behind. I will choose to take my survival gear because I have in my survival gear traps for catching small game and I have knowledge has on how to catch fish and stuff like that so I won’t go hungry I know that I even know some tricks about getting water. But I would be alone, and it’s a 300-mile trip to where I would be bugging out to there’s a group of people that I would meet there. 300 miles is a long ways I figure to take me about a month to get there. All in all it depends on the time of year that things happen that’s what you have to think about to Winter would be bad fall wouldn’t be too bad summer would be okay spring will be okay you got to remember in the spring and the fall and the winter water is plenty. And that is crucial.

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