What Does SHTF Mean? 

If you’re passionate about survival techniques, then chances are you have seen the acronym SHTF at some point. 

In the world of survival studies, this acronym is used as a common shorthand or warning, with many users saying things like ‘you won’t be able to do that when the SHTF.’

What Does SHTF Mean? 

But what does this actually mean and how does it relate to survival techniques? Well, if you want to know the answer to that question, then you have come to the right place.

In this article, we will break down the meaning of SHTF and how it can be used in real-life situations…

What Does SHTF Mean? 

So what does SHTF mean? Well, in most instances, this acronym stands for shit hits the fan (or stuff hits the fan for a more conservative audience).

No matter which one you choose to use, the meaning remains the same and refers to a bad occurrence that will commonly result in various disasters. 

In most cases, when the shit hits the fan, it means that something terrible has happened, whether that be a catastrophic event or a more mundane issue.

However, the term is most commonly used in reference to emergencies and disasters, especially when it comes to survival skills and preparation. 

Of course, these SHTF events will vary from person to person, as there are some who believe that natural disasters fall into this distinction. While others class end-of-the-world catastrophes as true SHTF events. 

Whether you consider these events deserving or not, it is still important to prepare yourself for whatever comes. For example, you should always have food rations close to hand, as well as a first-aid kit and other necessities. 

Since SHTF events are different for everyone, the preparation can also vary depending on the extent of the disaster. In some cases, survivalists will give up when faced with an event outside of their control, while others will recommend finding shelter and rationing food until the storm passes. 

However, it is also important to note that our reactions to SHTF events will differ depending on our preference, location, and methods. 

What Are Some Examples?

There are countless ways that the literal shit can hit the fan, whether that be a local incident or an international disaster. 

In certain cases, these events could be over in a matter of days. While others could have a permanent impact on the world and how we live in it.

What Does SHTF Mean? 

Because of this, it is important that we prepare for a range of disasters, which can include anything from a nuclear meltdown to an asteroid colliding with the planet. 

In the section below, we have compiled a list of the most common SHTF events that could actually occur:

Natural Disaster 

Natural disasters refer to local or national events that can impact the environment and thousands of lives. 

Because of this, natural disasters are often considered SHTF events and should be met with caution and zeal. 

Common natural disasters include hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanos, and extreme weather conditions, which are prone in certain parts of the world. If you live in an area under threat from these disasters, then you need to be prepared. 


Pandemics are some of the scarier SHTF events, as a virus could mutate at any moment and have a profound impact on the world. 

In fact, most specialists agree pandemics are always looming over our heads, as we now live in a world where travel and trade are more accessible. 

Once a mutated virus has been unleashed into the world, it can have a profound effect on our society and the world as a whole. If you start hearing news about a new disease and numerous cases, it’s time to gather provisions. 

Nuclear War 

It is natural to consider what would happen in a third world war, as nuclear weapons now make the notion all the more possible. 

While nuclear war remains a concern at the back of our minds, there is still a chance that we could come under a nuclear attack, which would devastate the country. 

In some cases, there are those who are prepared for such a fallout, whether that includes protective clothing or an underground bunker filled with food. No matter the supplies in your arsenal, it cannot be denied that a nuclear war is one of the more substantial SHTF events we could encounter.

Financial Recession 

Despite its limited number of wars and disasters, financial collapse remains one of the more plausible SHTF events, with some specialists even believing that another recession is on the horizon. 

If the economy begins to deteriorate, it could lead to mass confusion and panic, which in turn could result in chaos and raised prices. 

It is important to remember that we all need basic things to live, whether that be food, petrol, or shelter. Once these items become scarce or hard to obtain, the rules of our society could begin to collapse and make way for catastrophe. 

How Do You Use SHTF? 

When it comes to using SHTF in conversation, it can be used when discussing disasters and potential events, as the term refers to something bad that could happen.

For example, if a friend is complaining about something trivial, you can state that ‘nothing will matter when the SHTF.’ This will draw their attention to future events and make them realize that their issues are nothing in comparison. 

Of course, when an actual SHTF event occurs, you will want to surround yourself with those you trust, as humans survive better in social environments.

However, this does not mean that everyone wants to be prepared, as it can be difficult to make others see the error of their ways. In most cases, those who practice survival methods will not advertise their beliefs, as most would prefer to wait until the shit hits the fan before taking out their provisions.

Final Thoughts 

SHTF is an acronym that stands for shit hits the fan. While it is possible to use this term in various contexts, it is mainly used in relation to disastrous events. 

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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