You may have supplies, equipment and knowledge for being prepared but if you don’t have plans that are written down and communicated with your group, when the SHTF everything will go sideways. You will miss opportunities and fall behind the curve in being ready to deal with the issues that your community will face right after an event happens. In this post I will provide some ideas on the plans you need to think through to ensure your community can operate as smoothly as possible when chaos is reigning around you.

This is part 6 in a series on Community Preparedness. If you have yet to do so, please read part 1, Community Preparedness – Engaging our Neighbors for Mutual Survival, part 2 Community Preparedness – Getting Started, part 3 Community Preparedness – 24 Meeting Ideas to Engage Your Community and part 4 Community Preparedness – Analysis and Documentation, Part 5 Community Preparedness – Structuring Your Group.

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The main topics of this post are:

  • Emergency Plans – What needs to happen when an event is impending or has already happened.

  • Capacity Building Plans – What needs to be done to start building self-reliance for a long term catastrophe.


There should be a plan for everything that concerns households and the community, no matter how small or trivial it may seem. There may be several things that may seem obvious to you and others but many people in your community may not be at the same level of knowledge as more seasoned preppers. Even if you have experience in preparedness, when an event happens and panic and stress set in, your mind can be overwhelmed with what is happening and simple things may be hard to think through.

Knowing you have plans for everything will provide peace of mind and enable you and your community to get down to business quickly. You will know that everyone is on the same page when it comes down to getting things done.

Creating Plans

Depending on the members in your group, the plans could be created in a group setting, by a core group of seasoned individuals, by key people with specific knowledge or a combination of all of the above. Include as many people as possible even if they are new to preparedness. They will learn and may even ask questions that prompt ideas that you have not thought of.

A lot of plans should be accompanied by one or more Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that lay out the details of getting something done. These SOPs define timing of tasks, who should perform them and how they need to be done. Don’t leave out details that you think should be obvious.

Creating plans and SOPs should be reviewed by the community and practiced so that issues can be resolved and the details updated. Each community member should have a physical copy that is quickly accessible and a digital version as a backup.

Emergency Plans

Emergency plans define what actions need to be taken when an event is impending or has just occurred. They make sure you know the who, what, when and where so that you can think clearly to get things done and start thinking about next steps.

Depending on the event and severity, some plans may need to be activated immediately, others may be able to be phased in within a couple of days based on the circumstances.

Household Emergency Plans

  • If the power is out:
    • Water – Collection of water in any available container. Filters and purification supplies/equipment pulled out, checked and prepared for use.

    • Emergency Lighting pulled out, checked and prepared for use.

    • Review your perishable food inventory and create a meal plan to use these items up.

    • Schedule for running the generator to keep refrigerator and freezers cold until food can be eaten.

  • Security Measures – Watch schedule implemented. Weapons checked and loaded and ammo supplies pulled out.

  • Structure Fire and Wildfires – How to exit the home, where to meet outside the home, what to take, where to go etc.

  • Evacuation/Bugout Plans – Where will you go, how will you get there and what do you need to take with you.

Community Emergency Plans

  • Event Assessment – An event has happened but you do not know exactly what has happened or the severity. Quickly you need to:

    • Meet with leadership team to discuss what is known, assess the potential threats and create a plan of action.

    • Start gathering intelligence to learn as much as you can about what is going on so you can alter your plans.

    • Decide which emergency plans should be activated.

    • Communicate with the community on what you know and what steps are in progress.

    • Roll Call – Who is at home and who is not? Who is in need of help?

  • Security Activation – Patrols established, checkpoints and barriers created. Protection of community food stores and fuel.

  • Communications – Protocols defined for channel use and check-in schedule.

  • Operations – Power and Fuel acquisition and conservation.

  • Medical Assistance – Determine who needs medical attention and initiate care.

  • Structure and Wildfires – Training, organization and activation of people to fight fires and positioning of supplies and equipment. Relocation of people whose homes sustain damage.

Capacity Building Plans

Capacity Building Plans help you to attain a level of self-reliance for a long-term disaster. They are above and beyond emergency plans and should come after you have developed your emergency plans. Most of the self-reliance plans need to start at the household level but should be augmented with community level capacity building.

There are a lot things to learn and do along with supplies and equipment you need but there needs to be a plan to achieve these things. Without a plan to get them done, they will not be accomplished.

Household Self-Reliance

  • Food
    • Start gardening and learn to harvest seeds. Determine what you need to grow to keep your family fed in the long term.
    • Learn to preserve food by canning, smoking and dehydrating. Build root cellars.
    • Start raising chickens and goats for eggs, meat and milk. Learn to hunt, fish and trap animals for protein.
    • Learn to identify wild plants that can be eaten.
    • Purchase freeze-dried food.

  • Water Collection and Purification – Learn how to purify water and procure supplies and equipment to collect and treat water. Install rainwater collection everywhere possible and think about adding a cistern.

  • Self Defense – Learn self-defense skills, purchase firearms and ammo and get training.

  • Medical Knowledge and Supplies – Take CPR/First Aid and wound care classes and practice. Procure medical books and other resources for continuous learning and reference.

  • Cooking
    • Alternative methods for cooking.
    • Making charcoal.
    • Sourcing and procuring firewood.

  • Sanitation
    • Plans for building latrines.
    • Supplies and equipment for when toilet paper is gone.

  • Maintenance
    • Tools and supplies to fix roofs and maintain structures
    • Weather proofing supplies

  • Create a library of preparedness and homesteading books, magazines and articles.

Community Self-Reliance

  • Food – Some households may not have the space to grow a large garden or raise animals but they could participate with the community to do these things.
    • Community Garden development and cooperation with nearby farmers.
    • Seed harvesting and bulk purchase.
    • Raising livestock.
    • Purchase of bulk dried goods and freeze-dried food.
    • Hunting, fishing and trapping animals for protein.

  • Water
    • Community level water purification and filtration.
    • Procurement of water and storage.
    • Water catchment on all community buildings.

  • Heating
    • Plans for building wood stoves from scrap metal.
    • Procuring a generous supply of firewood.
    • Relocation of people to homes that have alternative heat.

  • Security
    • Define how to secure the neighborhood from outsiders.
    • Create schedule for patrols and manning checkpoints.
    • Develop the protocols for communicating with leadership on status and threats.
    • Define number of weapons and ammo needed for long term and determine how to purchase and where to store.
    • Training all community members on using firearms and their maintenance and tactics for defending the neighborhood.

  • Medical
    • Develop first aid/CPR classes for everyone.
    • Develop training for wound care.
    • Purchase of supplies and equipment.
    • Define where the medical center could be established.

  • Child Care – It is possible that an event could happen during the day when children are in school and parents are at work. Some parents may be commuting so far away that if transportation is disrupted, it could take a few days for them to get home.
    • Who can take care of children when parents are not at home?
    • Who will pick up children from school?

  • Dealing with the Unprepared in Your Community – No matter how hard you try to get everyone on board and preparing for a disaster, there may be several households that do nothing. Are you going to ignore them when they and their children are starving and cold? Hopefully not but you need to be prepared for helping them. Think about the following:
    • Stockpiling food, water filters, blankets that can be given away.
    • Seeds and tools to help then start a garden.
    • Define work they can contribute in return for helping them not being prepared.
    • Books and literature on preparedness to share.

  • Working with Other Communities
    • Determine ways to engage other communities before and after SHTF.
    • Look for people with skills and other assets that live in unprepared communities that might relocate to available space in your neighborhood


For a community to survive and thrive, there needs to be emergency and capacity building plans developed at the household and community level. With a good set of plans, individuals and the community as a whole will be better able to react in an emergency and be better prepared to move into self-reliance mode for a long-term disaster. This is one of the least favorite things for preppers to do and is usually put off until it is too late. Don’t delay on starting and completing this work.

I’m interested in your thoughts on Community Preparedness so please add to the conversation in the comments.


  • Wow Chip, I’m starting to wonder if you weren’t in the CIA or something. Or maybe you still are? 😉 Your posts are so detailed and well thought out you should probably start selling this kind of thing. I’m actually thinking about printing this entire series out for my preparedness binder. I’ve already taken a ton of ideas for it.

    I know some pretty smart people that have regular preparedness Zoom meetings and something like that would fit in very well for most communities, not only during the covid. It would keep interest levels high as well as work for updates and accountability.

    The trust factor would be huge when it comes to sharing information on food and supplies. Especially if there were a central location where said supplies were stored (I don’t talk like that, I’m smarter when typing). To me, that trust factor would only be second to vetting them in the first place as far as challenges go. Once that trust level was achieved things would probably move pretty quickly if interest levels were equal.

    BTW, send me your address so I can move next door. 😉

    • Chip Feck

      Thanks Brian! Yes trust is a big deal when it comes to preparing with your community. There is definitely information that should be held back until you can build up trust. I think that in a lot communities there will not be a central storehouse. If supplies and equipment were bought through community funds they would have to be divided up among a few trusted households and recorded in an inventory to help hold people accountable. A lot of things to consider.

  • Hey Chip.
    I’m a little late to the party. Nice article. Very complete outline. Any one of your lists would be worth an entire blog post unto themselves. The community actions become quite complex. At least when it’s just you and your family in one home, the planning is simpler. Trying to plan for even a local-neighbors community is close to herding cats. As you say, some will be understanding and cooperative, some will be obstinant drains on the system. No easy answers, but well worth exploring beforehand.

    • Chip Feck

      Thanks Mic! Yes, herding cats is right. Especially right after the SHTF. I think the key to that is to have plenty of preparedness articles, checklists and example plans printed out and ready to give to people. If they have some guidelines and tasks to accomplish it will help with their stress. Of course for many of their needs, starting after an event is very problematic.

  • Ron Brown

    You’re only as strong as your friends are, as the old saying has it. In our first Covid lockdown, barbershops were closed. I spoke to my barber afterwards and asked how he’d made out (financially). “I made enough on the side to buy a few groceries,” he answered. “I’d meet a former customer in the gas station and he’d inquire about getting a haircut. I’d tell him ‘No, the shop is closed’ but then I’d invite him to the house for a cup of coffee. We’d chat. I’d give him a free haircut. He’d leave some money under the saucer before he left.”

    Convinced we’d not seen the last of lockdowns, at that point I asked the barber for his phone number. He gave me a business card. “Just call and ask for a cup of coffee,” he said.

    We have to know each other. We have to know the code. We have to trust each other. Our economy, our whole world, could rapidly become an under-the-table affair. I’d suggest that trusting-type relationships must be built ahead of time. Once TSHTF it will be too late. Your hair will be down around your ankles before you know it.

    • Chip Feck

      Thanks for contributing Ron. The cup of coffee story is great. You are certainly correct on the need to build up trust ahead of time.

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