Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

The dangers of planning for worst-case scenarios

Dangers of planning for worst-case scenariosWhy is it that if someone brings up a discussion about the Best SHTF Vehicle, Best SHTF Weapon, or anything regarding bugout plans, bugout gear or tactics, you always have the idiot who is all or nothing?

I can think of a lot of examples, especially considering it happens pretty much every time a discussion comes up in any forum or even on Facebook but lemme give you an idea of what I’m talking about – and why that thinking is so idiotic.

Let’s say we’re talking about a portable solar panel for your bugout bag. It’s a great idea, and I always have one with me. Eventually, you’ll have some moron pipe up and say you’re all idiots because your iPad won’t be any good after an EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) hits and all the cell towers will be down after the collapse of society – and don’t bother bringing a GPS either.

No shit. When they say ‘Plan for the worst and hope for the best,’ that doesn’t mean that it’s all or nothing, or that planning for the worst will automatically cover the best. There is a continuum of threats that you should be planning for, not just a worst-case scenario.

Unless you live in Antarctica, I bet you have a light jacket somewhere in your closet. Why’d you buy that instead of just getting a parka? Because you’re more likely to need it. This brings up a good point that you need to keep in mind after reading this article though, a light jacket won’t be enough if you somehow ended up in -75 degree temps. You just might have to invest in a parka as well, just make sure it hangs next to your jacket.

The problem is that the further along the continuum of possible threats to your safety and way of life, the less likely that event is to happen in almost all cases. If you’re only planning on TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It), at the expense of everything in-between, then you’re a shitty prepper. Much more likely is a regional or local disaster. Even more likely than that is a house fire or your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere. Are you ready for that? Do you have a plan for natural disasters that’ve happened in your area in the past couple hundred years in case they happen again?

In the cell phone example, how idiotic is it to not have a cell phone or a ham radio in your bag if you’re camping or driving your car outside of town and something happens – just because they wouldn’t work if the sun blasted a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) in our direction? Same thing for a GPS. Sure, they won’t work if the World Powers take them out or that same CME destroys their circuitry – but what about in the meantime? By that thinking, we shouldn’t be prepping at all because it’s all irrelevant if a planet-killer asteroid hits the Earth. Just maintain balance here though in the other direction as well. Relying on technology without a more primitive backup plan could also have bad consequences. That’s why we still train with a compass in the Army – but carry a GPS plugger for expediency and accuracy in most cases.

Besides, there’s nothing wrong with bringing a little comfort and enjoyment into your SHTF planning as long as it’s done intelligently and not at the expense of things you need to survive. I love listening to nature but sometimes I just wanna listen to the Bangles. Don’t hate – you know you like them.

Granted, I think you should be thinking about worst-case scenarios in your planning, but you also need to consider the most likely scenarios and the scenarios that you’re most vulnerable if they do happen – that you can do something about.

The same kind of thing goes for your SHTF vehicle. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that you should just have a horse or a bicycle as your ultimate SHTF vehicle because either an EMP is gonna burn out the electronics in your car or all the roads will be impassable due to all the traffic. Is that the only contingency you’re planning on? Having a bicycle might be a good secondary or tertiary plan but as a primary plan, it’s pretty stupid. Just how much gear can you carry on a bike if things go bad? How hard would it be for someone to knock you off that bike and take the gear on your back? Can you use your bike as an emergency shelter along the way to your bugout location or wherever you’re trying to go? Think no one’s gonna notice you riding through town on your horses like John Wayne? +1 for creative thinking. -10 for not being able to think things through very well.

What you need to do is look at all the possible scenarios that you think have any chance of happening that you can do anything about. Lay them all out in order of how catastrophic they would be if they happened, and then rate each by how likely they are to happen. As you figure out solutions (called mitigations) to lessen the effects of these problems, try to find ones that will protect you from as many scenarios as possible.

If you can’t mitigate a threat, at least have a plan as to what you’re gonna do if they happen. If you break it down this way, you’ll quickly see that only planning for worst-case scenarios is a pretty crappy plan. It’s a plan that will leave you and your family vulnerable a LOT more than it’s going to help.

In addition, you shouldn’t focus your life on the worst-case doom and gloom of an upcoming apocalypse. It’ll turn away friends who’ll think you’re crazy and all that negativity will make you cranky. Nobody likes a cranky prepper.

Life is all about balance, and prepping is no exception. Balance your prepping life with your non-prepping life and balance your threat mitigations with how likely things are to happen, not just the worst that could happen.

About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. Excellent article!!! I agree 100%. I have been prepping this way for years. Of all the crazies on line, the ones that bug me the most are the ones that KNOW beyond any doubt exactly what is going to happen in the future. Sorry, no, you do not know what will happen in the future. Talk about all or nothing…some people will not stock food & water, but only will buy precious metals, others will not buy any precious metals (you can’t eat silver) and will only stock supplies. Both of these lines of thinking are nuts to me. I have food, water & silver. How hard is it to realize that your family’s needs will probably go farther than food & water? But I don’t just buy silver for a TEOTWAWKI situation. I buy it because it makes sense to buy it now & if the end of the world doesn’t come, these coins are most likely one of the best places to put my money now for retirement later. It’s a no lose situation & I always try to pick the no lose, common sense approach when it comes to my family. I teach myself how to do without things all the time, like paper towels. This doesn’t just help me in an end of the world situation, but it helps my family’s budget today. I make my own convenience mixes that I used to buy at the store because it’s healthier for my family, it’s pennies on the dollar, which is helpful to my budget today & if there is an end of the world situation, that’s one less thing I “need”. When I spend my family’s precious resources, it has to make sense now & for the future, whatever it may hold. That may be the end of the world or simply a prolonged poor economy, more inflation or a job layoff.

    • graywolfsurvival says

      Absolutely. It’s all about flexibility and common sense. Too many people read a few websites that seem to make sense and then go full force into their plans. People need to relearn how to think

    • Well said, getting my family to realize the value of things like bleach and vinegar has been amazingly easy. All those fancy cleaning products are a joke.

      • imsailing says

        Vinegar is awesome. I stockpile that! Simplifying life feels great. When you know how to get things done & live well w/o all the fru-fru stuff that is constantly being marketed to us as a “need”, there’s a lot of freedom in that.

  2. You can make vinegar too, for the extended SHTF scenario, the term “the mother” of vinegar becomes important. Lots of work though.

    • imsailing says

      Yes, making vinegar is something I would love to learn. It’s not that hard just takes time, and if I didn’t have so much stocked up right now, I probably would have already tried it since my husband loves to get cases of apples & dehydrate apple slices, so we have tons of cores left. The cheap white stuff is great for cleaning, but for food, the apple cider w/ the mother in it is liquid gold! Extremely good stuff that can be used for all kinds of remedies!

  3. the perfect must not be the enemy of the good.
    can’t be afraid to make mistakes, as long as they can be learned from.

  4. That’s a refreshing post! People forget that common, garden variety emergencies are exactly that: the most common.

    Those are indeed the ones to prepare for first, and most of the preps carry over to any less common emergency, so it really is not totally either/or.

    We prep primarily for hurricanes in Hawaii, which give a couple days notice. Then we had a fairly minor earthquake, which did not give any notice. It shut down the power plants island wide, so we decided to use it as an opportunity to check the adequacy of our hurricane preps.

    We were fine except for one thing: water. Since we expected a couple days notice, we had collapsible water jugs and a WaterBOB to fill before the storm hit.

    With no electricity, the Board of Water Supply had no power for their pumps.

    So now we store water as well as have collapsible jugs, and water filters to filter neighbors’ swimming pool water.

    Everything we did for hurricanes is useful for earthquakes. Once we realized that earthquakes are possible, all we had to do was add water storage.

    Those are still the likeliest problems. In our situation, I don’t think we could survive TEOTWAWKI, so there is no point in even trying to prep for it.

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