Every new year comes with a set of new predictions. Times are always changing, and each year I like to come up with my own set of possible SHTF situations. This year’s list is an adaptation of what I predicted in 2022. Fortunately, they didn’t come to fruition, but those predictions largely remain here, because they are still possibilities.
I did add one new possible SHTF situation to the list this year, however. It will probably be obvious which one.
Hold on. Let’s back up for a second…
Table of Contents
What is a SHTF Situation?
The acronym SHTF stands for “sh*t hits the fan.” It’s used when referring to a situation that goes from bad to worse. It can refer to catastrophic scenarios, like when the storm surge during Hurricane Katrina caused the levees to burst, or it can allude to a personal disaster, such as job loss after an extensive and costly illness.
A SHTF situation is the event that leads to a local or global crisis, catastrophe, or doomsday itself.
Individual responses to these situations are as varied as the type of SHTF situations that arise. Reactions depend on where the person lives and how well he or she has prepared for the situation.
Common SHTF Situations that Happen Every Year
We lack the crystal ball needed to predict exactly what might happen in 2022. Further, there is an infinite number of SHTF scenarios, and you won’t be able to prepare for every single eventuality. For example, it’s hard to prepare in advance for a meteorite collision in any efficient manner. However, as preppers, we know there are practical things we can do in the event of financial hardship or natural disasters before these situations arise.
We are not talking about surviving an economic collapse here (more on that in a bit). We’re talking about the financial hardship that can happen to anyone at any time. The company you work for might suddenly declare bankruptcy, leaving you without gainful employment. You may get fired or laid off. An accident or illness could leave you unable to work.
Financial hardship events happen to thousands upon thousands of people in all walks of life every single year. It may have happened to you at one point or another already.
Even if you have stable employment, a larger economic collapse could make it difficult to make ends meet, no matter how many hours a week you work. A sharp rise in inflation could cause you to get behind in house payments. An expensive medical procedure can wipe out your savings. Any of these situations can result in a financial hardship that – if you aren’t prepared for it – can become an SHTF situation.
Worldwide, natural disasters kill approximately 90,000 people each year and have serious consequences for another 160 million. The type and severity of a natural disaster in your area depends on your location. Obviously, those that live near Mount Saint Helen have a higher likelihood of experiencing a volcanic SHTF scenario than those that live in New Jersey.
Wildfires, heatwaves, and droughts caused $74.4 billion in losses in the United States in 2020, up 88% from $39.6 billion in 2019 (I told you things weren’t getting better).
Not only do natural disasters cause physical damage to an area, but they can also spawn financial hardship. If your home is destroyed in a wildfire, then you are often affected physically, emotionally, and economically.
Tornadoes and floods can destroy homes, businesses, and have other effects. Not having enough provisions stocked away can be a serious oversight on your part, leading to a worsening SHTF situation.
Long-Term Power Outages
I’m not talking about an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) nuclear attack here, though an EMP could occur because of a coronal mass ejection (CME), lightning strike, or powerline surges. Those are not common; however, there are ways to protect your home against one.
I’m talking about situations where you experience long-term power outages that are a result of storms and earthquakes that damage the powerlines in an area, sometimes causing power outages that last several weeks or months. Damage to power lines caused by animal interference or an automobile accident may cause power outages of a shorter duration.
Electrical outages due to natural disasters, inability to pay your bill, and insufficient personnel to run power facilities due to a pandemic are quite likely unless you have a backup power source. Those that live in Maine, South Carolina, Alaska, North Carolina, Louisiana, and West Virginia have more occurrences of power outages than most states. So, your likelihood of experiencing some sort of power disruption is higher in those states generally.
5 Possible SHTF Situations in 2023
What follows are what I consider to be possible SHTF situations we could face in 2023. As stated, we have no crystal ball that lets us look into the future. My five predictions are a mix of building off what happened in 2022 and gut feelings.
My predictions probably won’t materialize… but they could. Anything could.
These predictions are also not the “common” SHTF situations previously listed. Those happen every year and will certainly happen to some of us in 2023.
What I’m talking about here are more abnormal and extreme SHTF situations. These are events that could impact far more people in far worse ways.
#1 – The Russia/Ukraine War Spreads to WWIII
All eyes are on Ukraine as I write this. It seems to have become a proxy war as more countries become involved, NATO countries aiding Ukraine while Iran and (possibly) China back Russia. Putin is showing no sign of backing down and appears to be killing off dissenting voices. Zelensky shows no signs of capitulation either.
There is no path to peace right now, only what seems like more Russian soldiers heading into the meat grinder and more military hardware moving to Ukraine. Will China move to a more active backing of Russia, sending supplies and intelligence? How would the U.S. and NATO allies respond as they see China as a growing threat?
Will we see a new version of the Cold War-era Warsaw Pact with China, Iran, Russia, and other countries forming a counterbalance to NATO? Will we see World War III?
#2 – Coronavirus Pandemic 2.0
What if the coronavirus mutates and becomes far more deadly? This was also my first prediction for a SHTF situation in 2021, and I was at least partially correct. COVID didn’t go away and we got the Delta and Omicron variants.
What if it gets – even worse!? Look at the 1918 influenza pandemic. It’s widely cited as killing off a whopping 3% of the world’s population. Unlike COVID, it had a high mortality rate in healthy people.
A mutation of the COVID-19 virus that had the death rate of the 1918 pandemic would cripple the nation and world in ways today’s generations could not even begin to imagine.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused layers of SHTF scenarios throughout the world in the last two years. An even larger-scale pandemic might cause the collapse of governmental organizations and possibly the social norms we operate under.
What happens if we get lockdowns all over again? What would that do to the economy? What would that do to the political divide?
Great civilizations throughout history have tumbled because of pandemics. How prepared are you? Got enough toilet paper so you can avoid the runs (bad pun – sorry)?
#3 – Great Depression 2.0
We are in what people are calling the “everything bubble.” Banks are failing and the feds are raising interest rates. Has the rooster come home to roost on the relentless money printing machine? When will the BIG *pop* hit and what will the fallout look like?
That pattern is entirely unsustainable. Inflation is rising, the federal government keeps printing money, and the gap between the rich and the poor grows. How much more can we continue this before the knees buckle and the back breaks?
An SHTF financial crisis could mushroom into something well beyond our control. Think Great Depression 2.0. Do you know how to survive an economic collapse? You might need to. We all might.
#4 – Political Violence in the U.S.
The political divide between the left and right was already wide in 2019. It became a chasm from 2020 to 2022. In fact, a Cornell University report says that we may have reached a ‘tipping point’ where partisan polarization is irreversible.
Instead of uniting against a common threat,” said lead author Michael Macy, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences in Sociology and director of the Social Dynamics Laboratory in the College of Arts and Sciences, “the threat itself becomes yet another polarizing issue.https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2021/12/tipping-point-makes-partisan-polarization-irreversible
Political violence is not new, of course. We see it happening all over the world, and it has happened on American soil before.
I’m not talking about another Civil War. Contrary to what many people might say, I think this country is stronger than that. Today’s dynamics aren’t the same as what they were in 1861. The divisions are less state based and more urban versus rural. We have red and blue states, of course, but within each red state are blue urban centers and within each blue state are red rural areas.
Regardless, I do not see the political divisiveness abating anytime soon. Will political violence be limited to more riots, or will one of those riots be the spark that ignites the inferno?
#5 – China Makes a Play for Taiwan
It wouldn’t result in all out doomsday, but China wants Taiwan under its full control and it’s exerting military muscle as a warning flex. Will the rhetoric just heat up with no real action or will tensions boil over?
Despite Taiwan’s view that a Chinese invasion would be very hard, I’m not convinced. The U.S. could become preoccupied with another crisis at home or abroad, presenting an opportunity for China to make its move on Taiwan, where the U.S. does not have the resources or political will available to intervene. The U.S. seems ambiguous on its Taiwan stance as it is.
Maybe China just tests the waters on Taiwan-controlled islands (another bad pun). How would the U.S. respond to that? What if Russia and China make territory grabs at the same time? Do we go to war or do we sit on the sidelines saddled with debt and no political drive to intervene?
Will We Face a SHTF Situation in 2023?
Those are my guesses at the top five less-common SHTF situations we could face in 2023. Their likelihood is lower than the more common challenges that arise every year; and when prepping, those are what you should focus on first.
Get your food and water secured, home defenses in place, and build a financial safety net. All these preps will help in any SHTF situation, common or extreme.
To get a general idea of whether you will face an SHTF situation, you need to consider the likelihood of an event in your area. Those that live in Nebraska probably won’t need to worry much about hurricane damage; however, tornados are potential problems.
Your preparedness will also determine whether a tragedy becomes an SHTF situation or not. For example, having multiple sources of income, six months’ of savings, low or no debt, and a stockpile of food could avert a financial crisis in the event of a major illness, job loss, or recession.
So do your research, take precautions, and get your sh*t together! You’ll have a better chance of weathering any SHTF situation that comes your way.
What are YOUR predictions?