When SHTF, your biggest priority is going to be keeping you and your family safe.

And to stay safe, you’ll need to know where to go and, more importantly, where not to go. We’re assuming you’re already well-prepared and well-equipped to handle a doomsday scenario.

But have you thought about the places you’re going to have to avoid?

Think about where people will go and have a plan to do the opposite. Avoid crowded places and areas that could attract conflict.

To make sure you’re as prepared as possible, we’ve put together a list of 9 places to avoid when SHTF.

Traffic jam in a major city

1. Major Cities

There are lots of reasons you should avoid major cities when SHTF. For starters, they can be targets for terrorist and other attacks. But even if there is no imminent attack, the simple fact that they are densely populated can lead to unnecessary conflicts.

When millions of people group together, congestion, confusion, and frustration are likely to occur.

2. Busy Highways

When everyone is trying to escape the same dangerous situation, you can expect highways to fill up. Everyone is going to head for the quickest and fastest way out of town—so make sure you’ve got some other routes mapped out.

Once you’ve locked down your hideout or bug out location, take the time to map out various ways to get there. Look for back roads that won’t get congested. Have several routes in mind. And make sure that your various routes avoid other items on this list.

3. Choke Points

Just like highways, choke points will be a dangerous place to be. Don’t get caught on bridges, in tunnels, and on freeway ramps. When SHTF, traffic jams will be inevitable.

As you map out your routes to your bug out location, make sure you can get there by avoiding all obvious choke points. If you’ve got to drive somewhere, make sure you can get there.

Don’t let traffic jams and choke points destroy your plans.

Military Tanks

4. Military Bases

Unless you’re a member of the armed forces, avoid military bases at all costs. Military bases are always targets for attacks, but they are also home base to counter attacks. You don’t want to be anywhere near a military base when SHTF.

Steer clear, stay far out of the way, and let the military do its job.

5. FEMA Outposts

FEMA outposts exist to help victims of disasters. And since most people aren’t as prepared as you, you can expect that the FEMA outposts will be flooded with disaster victims.

Avoid these outposts and you’ll be able to avoid the potential hazards they bring.

Don’t let a disaster catch you unprepared. Grab our free checklist of the 10 items that you need to have when SHTF.

6. Prisons

When all hell breaks loose, you can expect prison security to falter. In a dire situation, your priority should be to avoid people, especially those who are less prepared than you. So it goes without saying that you should avoid convicted criminals at all costs.

Depending on the disaster, prison guards may abandon their posts and security systems may fail. Prisoners will escape, especially as more time lapses, so make sure that there isn’t a prison near your bug out location or hideout.

If you live near a prison and plan to hunker down at home, be prepared to defend your home and be vigilant about your own security.

Two beds in grungy hospital7. Medical Facilities

Regardless of the emergency or disaster, it’s always important to have medical supplies on hand. Hospitals, urgent care facilities, and medical centers will fill with people searching for help.

Once SHTF, it will be too late to seek help—you’ll need to have a way to help yourself by having your own supplies and medicines on hand.

The other reason to avoid hospitals is obvious—they are full of sick people. Don’t put yourself at risk for catching an infectious disease—that’s the absolute last thing you’ll want.

8. Gun Stores

Unarmed and unprepared people (i.e. most people) will flock to gun stores and sporting goods stores when SHTF.

You should be way ahead of them.

Have your guns, weapons, and ammo ready to go before an emergency, and make sure you’ve taken the time to train and learn how to use them. You don’t want the first time you shoot a gun to be during a survival situation.

In addition to crowding, another reason to avoid gun shops is that you don’t want to have any run-ins with people who are buying/stealing their first gun. It’s never wise to be in the company of an armed individual who has not been properly trained on how to use a firearm.

9. Shopping Malls

Think about how crazy and crowded shopping malls are during the holidays. Now imagine it infinitely worse.

Unprepared people will rush the stores to find the supplies, equipment, food, and tools. You’ll also be faced with looters who are taking advantage of the opportunity to grab and steal as much as they can.

Staying Safe When SHTF

Preparation means more than stocking food, supplies, and ammo. It’s equally as important to know where to go and where not to go when SHTF.


  • Avoid major cities and crowded, congested areas.
  • Steer clear of busy highways and choke points such as bridges, tunnels, and highway on-ramps.
  • Map out a plan of how you’re going to get to your bug out location while avoiding cities, highways, and crowded areas.
  • Avoid military bases, gun shops, and prisons at all costs. You don’t want to get caught in an area where you might put yourself at even more risk.
  • And stay as far away as you can from medical facilities, shopping malls, and FEMA outposts where people will flock to find help and supplies.


Most people are not prepared for a disaster or an emergency situation. But you will be. Have all your essential supplies on hand and know how to navigate your way around back roads and side streets to reach your bug out location.

Let the crowds of unprepared people all head off in the same direction.

If you plan it right, you’ll be heading in the other.

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