The Crucial First Hour When Society Collapses

If you’re reading this, chances are the unthinkable has happened – society as we know it has collapsed. Whether due to a cataclysmic natural disaster, brutal conflict, viral pandemic, or some other catastrophic event, the fabric of civilization has been torn asunder.

Government structures have crumbled, supply chains are paralyzed, and the basic services we all took for granted like electricity, running water, and telecommunications have gone dark. Panic is setting in as people realize the fragility of our modern way of life.

You may feel completely and utterly lost, unsure of what to do next. But the actions you take in the first crucial hour could be critical for your survival and that of your loved ones. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to stay focused and maximize your chances in the first 60 terrifying minutes after society’s collapse.

Minute 1: Control Your Breathing
As soon as you realize the severity of what’s happening, your body’s fight-or-flight response will kick in. You’ll experience physiological reactions like shaky limbs, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath. Resist the urge to panic. Instead, stop what you’re doing and control your breathing by inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through pursed lips. Box breathing, a Navy SEAL technique of four-second inhales, four-second exhales, and four seconds holding your breath, can help calm your mind.

Minutes 2-5: Seek Shelter Immediately
Once you’ve centered yourself through deep breathing, your top priority needs to be seeking safe shelter if you aren’t already inside a secure building. Unrest, violence, and looting are almost guaranteed to unfold rapidly. Getting trapped outside makes you extremely vulnerable. If you’re at home, work, or somewhere else with a lockable door, secure yourself indoors as quickly as possible. If you’re out in the open, identify the nearest protectable space like a school, mall, parking garage, or even a basement and get there fast while avoiding any chaos.

Minutes 6-10: Barricade Entry Points
Now that you’ve reached shelter, you’ll want to reinforce it as best you can. Barricade potential entry points like doors and first floor windows using heavy furniture, sandbags if available or even stacking books, cans, and other dense objects to create fortification. Remove any exterior furnishings close to the building that could be used as ladders for gaining entry. Lock down the premises completely, creating a safe room or rooms if possible.

Minutes 11-15: Arm Yourself and Check Supplies
At this point, you’ll want to locate any defensive tools that could be used to protect yourself like baseball bats, fire extinguishers, heavy objects that can be thrown, etc. See what food and water supplies are immediately available as well. Figure out if you have access to a water source like plastic bottles, bathtubs or even hot water heater reserves that could supplement drinking sources temporarily. Make sure you have a means of purifying water long-term. Check for battery powered radios and light sources as power will be out.

Minutes 16-20: Reach Family & Make a Plan
Hopefully by now any initial shock has worn off and you can think more clearly. Contact attempts should be made to ensure the safety of immediate family members and get everyone to regroup at your reinforced location if possible. If not, you’ll have to carefully make your way to them when it’s safe. Agree on places to reunite and routes to get there. You’ll also want to start organizing with any others in your party, delegating tasks and deciding if it’s better to stay put or attempt relocation to a more secure site soon.

Minutes 21-40: Assess the Larger Situation
When a spare moment arises, try turning on any battery powered radio or television to get a sense of the larger situation unfolding. Keep them off otherwise to conserve power but stay updated on any emergency announcements or instructions being broadcast. From news or firsthand accounts, see what the apparent catalyst was for societal breakdown. Understand if this is an isolated, regional, or wider scale event. Identifying the scope and cause can help gauge things like if other areas are safer, if relief is incoming, or if this is an extinction-level occurrence.

Minutes 41-50: Prioritize Needs & Make a Supply List
At this point, you’ll want to inventory all supplies and resources accessible and then prioritize your most urgent requirements. Obvious priorities after security would be water, food, firstaid, power sources, sanitation, and self-defense. But you’ll also need to consider things like insulating and heating the space, entertainment for keeping spirits up, tools and repair materials, trade-able goods, and much more. Make a list of everything needed and start formulating ideas for acquiring shortages through scavenging or production from raw materials.

Minutes 51-60: Stay Grounded & Maintain Hope
In the final 10 minutes of that first crucial hour, you’ll want to ground yourself again through breathing, prayer, or meditation. It’s going to be an incredibly stressful and challenging situation, but maintaining a shred of hope and carrying on is pivotal. Think of all the reasons to persevere – reuniting with loved ones, rebuilding society, and giving any children a brighter future are powerful driving forces. Stay vigilant, stay resourceful, but also stay human and connected to what’s truly important. With focus and preparation, you can endure this tragedy.

The first 60 minutes when society collapses are horrifically disorienting. But taking methodical actions around sheltering, security, situation assessment, and preparation can mean the difference between life and death. By staying focused and working through this step-by-step guide, you’ll stand the best chance of survival when the world you once knew has been shattered into chaos.