SHTF Scenario: Armed man knocks on door and asks for food

Scenario’s are valuable tools to get you thinking about possibilities and corresponding decisions/actions BEFORE being confronted with an actual situation. By reviewing and processing a scenario over and over again in your head the ability to process a real event becomes much less stressful. Less stress = a better chance of making the right decisions.


For this scenario:

It has been 24 hours since the power went out.  Terrorists have struck at the power grid across the United States causing extreme damage and long term widespread power outages. People are beginning to understanding the severity of the situation and panic.

A man knocks on your front door. Your entire family is home and you are armed. You look out the peephole and see the man is armed. You ask what he wants and he responds – “I am just looking for some food. I ran out of gas and have no cash for food. Can you help?”

power-out (1)


What would you do?



BTW – these scenario’s are presented by one of my group members at our meetings. Makes for some great discussion.


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31 thoughts on “SHTF Scenario: Armed man knocks on door and asks for food”

  1. I tell him, without opening the door, to go away, we cannot help him. If he does not leave immediately, DH would yell out to him to leave now or be shot. After that, he gets 10 seconds.

  2. If you insist. Based purely on the info you’ve given the armed man would never make it to my door. If I am aware that terrorists have struck and that people are beginning to panic then we would have initiated a predetermined watch protocol. That combined with my dogs and motion activated battery powered spotlights (if at night) would have warned us well in advance and the person would have been confronted (from behind cover). He would be instructed to drop his weapons. Does he? Based solely on my location I would believe his story a lie. The question then becomes- is he alone? Do we know if he is alone? I call my neighbor on the radio, does he answer? Lots of unknowns here and a lot depends on whether this all takes place in daylight or at night.

  3. Just working with the perimeters you gave, I would tell him to move on and I have nothing for him.
    If he gave the slightest resistance he would be advised that he is “Painted” and would be terminated were he stood.

    Because he is armed is not a major concern for me because after a terr attack bringing down the grid, I would expect every person with common sense to be armed.

    Having said that I would already be at high alert and would find it greatly suspicious of a person being in a drastic state within a 24 hrs, it’s smells bad and would set off my spider sense.

    I do have care packages in 6 gal buckets intended to help those in need, but it’s my discretion as to who and when I would make these available as part of my Christianity

    At the very least I would be at to barrow a term, DEFCON #3
    Terr seam to strike (Infrastructures, Political, Religious and high population gatherings or herds, lol.

    Seeking out residential homes so far hasn’t on there list. Your more apt to get trouble from a criminal taking advantage of a situation, just 2 cents.

  4. I would refer him to the church about 200 yards away where they would be giving away food and providing shelter. Of course this would be done with most of my family armed and covering their assigned areas of responsibility. If he refused to leave at that point he would be told to leave in no uncertain terms, after that… The dogs have to eat too.

  5. Great post John! I love scenarios and like you said as we begin to think through them and sort out what we would do, it can make the real thing much easier to cope with.

    I like the answers some of the others gave, you are getting people to “think, feel and act.”

    I live in an apartment building, but will pretend for this scenario that it is my house.

    Once we were attacked in this scenario and the grid was targeted with electricity going out over a widespread region, we should expect the worst. I went through the Blackout of 1977 in New York City and saw first hand the looting and pillaging that happened almost as soon as the power went down. So in this scenario I and my family members or fellow prepper group would be armed and roving exterior patrols would be set up. If the person made it to the front door and asked for food and was armed he would be turned away. This is because once an incident like this happens, the only people that you can trust is those in your immediate family or group. All others should be considered dangerous. Giving a food bucket to this stranger, could be considered by some to be the “good Christian thing to do”, but it can be a deadly mistake. Know he knows you have food and supplies and will be back with his “friends” for more hand-outs. The best thing to do is warn him sternly that there is nothing you can do for him and ask him to leave. If he refuses or becomes combative, then he may have to be neutralized on the spot.

    after this scenario unfolds I would immediately put a plan in place to prevent anyone from getting that close again. Increase perimeter patrols if I could and had the man-power.

    • Thanks Anthony. Scenario’s like this get a variety of responses as everyone’s situation, environment, and perspective is different. Appreciate your sharing your experiences and thoughts.

  6. Only 24 hours in and there are people banging on my door for food? I smell a rat. I would not let him in, tell him to leave. If he persisted, he gets to hear my shotgun rack a shell through the door. What happens next will be up to him.


    • TexasScout – As stated to JAS there are numerous possibilities. This man could simply be out of gas and looking for some assistance going door to door. He could also be from the other side of the neighborhood and looking to take supplies.

  7. That early into a event I would try to find out more about him. You never know he could be an asset to your preps. Think “securing home” by angry american when Jeff showed up.

  8. Let me amend my previous reply. I would first find out if he is alone. If he is I would disarm him. Take him to a neutral location and THEN try to find out more. Only 24 hrs in we will probably NOT be in a WROL situation so shooting could have severe consequences.

  9. Golly most of the responses seem cruel. What if he’s one of us…underground.
    Couldn’t you make him a sandwich, toss in an apple & ask him to move on., never letting him inside your home?
    if he returns, of course it would be a No.

    • Some of the responses may seem cruel to some people. However, IMO…all the time I spent talking to people untilI was blue in the face about needing to get ready. Only to get blown off. Now that it’s hit the fan. Nope. They are on their own. Kind of like the three little pigs. If a you or someone has enough money to build up an extra amount of food to give away. That’s great and really awesome. I, refuse to give away food that will directly impact my family. For example, we live in Texas. If the people here in Texas are waiting for a warning of a hurricane coming to then go by food when they KNOW we could get hit. Pffft…sorry. All on them.

    • You have to remember, it’s only 24 hours into an event. Even the most unprepared are not starving yet. He is more likely just trying to get you to unlock the door and take advantage of the situation. When the power goes out for good, the bad ones will start acting out almost immediately.

        • Could be, but I will always error on the side of caution. I will not put my family at risk to aid him. It’s only 24 hours in, he should have stayed where he was if he didn’t have fuel or plan on walking. If power is out for 24 hours with no end in sight, we are not sharing food or fuel anyway.

  10. Love these scenarios

    Proviso 1 – One thing we’ve already set in stone for our group. By the 24 hour mark after an EMP attack people in our group will be at the rally point. There is a 24 hour rally point clock. The clock starts at 9:00am. Even if you wake up after the attack on a weekend. Whether you get up at 7am, 8am, or later. The clock starts at 9am, period. If one of our group is working when it happens they’ve got a good head start. The clock starts at 9am. 24 hours at the rally point location if you have not at the minimum pulled your Baofeng out and reached us to let us know your coming. We are moving out without you. Absolutely not what we want to do to anyone and want more people to move as a group. However, we are sticking to strict mobilization. Plain and simple. At a minimum radio contact can be made to someone at the rally point to let us at least know your en route. Then we would hold until you arrived so we can move as a group. Which…is why…we are spending heavy, heavy research on EMP proof vehicles. Either EMP proofing parts that can be added in a short period of time to a vehicle to make it work. This of course means a huge amount of choices. Crating and EMP proofing a 4 wheeler, EMP proofing a tractor, a bus, a really old car, and/or building a gasfier? Moving out asap while most people will still be in a quasi panic mode trying to figure things out and the local Govt’s are busy focusing on maintaining their cities before it gets completely out of control. We will leave. Even if it happens during a business day. The clock starts 9am the following day. This allows enough time to get back home and get your family together. People in our group keep another small EMP proofed container with an extra Baofeng in it to communicate with loved one’s or another person within our group. Many choices and decisions that need to be made and tested now.

    Proviso 2 – For some people that cannot bug out. It is imperative you get fire extinguishers and/or other fire fighting means to put out a fire and reach it to put it out if they through a Molotov on your roof. After all, most ships that were sunk in World Wars are not just because of the hit. It’s the fire and blasts that take out a ship. Just look at a tank, incredible armor and big gun. One hit can cost all of it to go off like a roman candle. It is equally important that one invest in sand bags and sand for them to place them inside your house against the walls to stop bullets, but not make your house look any different. It’s what the US Military uses except now we call them Hesco sand walls. I mean quite honestly as things heat up, you will know. You can price out a truck load of sand and have it dropped in your yard, but there are ways you can prepare/plan now.

    For the doors and windows? Look into a way to fortify your door. You can actually purchase a measured piece of steel, prepare a way to move it when you need to, and prepare the door in advance to support it. Or of course if you can afford it get a whole steel door, door frame, or what not. Also, perhaps push your dead vehicle right up to your house side windows front/back of house to allow more protection. Then….if you are in the position to say sorry I have nothing. You can be assured nothing will allow them to come and try to take it, because people will attempt to do anything when they are literally starving to death.

  11. He would have already been detected and under surveillance via cameras. He would have been stopped before he ever got to the door and would be told through a speaker to leave immediately and not come back under any circumstances. He would also be monitored until he was well off the property and out of camera range.

  12. He wouldn’t have made it up the mountain to the house without being intercepted – and hopefully turned away without incident.

    Things we readily dispense: water, directions to somewhere else, advice if asked.


    • That’s where cameras come into play. I can watch the entire parameter of my property on one large screen. While I was talking to him on the speaker, I would be monitoring everything around.

  13. Might be sidestepping the question.

    I live near Spokane. We had some wind last month. Power out for six days in my case. Fences and trees down. A city without power. Grocery stores and other businesses closed. It’s mostly cleaned up.

    A number of things:
    – Didn’t see anybody wandering the neighborhood asking for food, etc. I live in one of the last areas to get power back.
    – Also didn’t see FEMA and their minions. Not that I missed them.
    – Now remember why I stopped listening to the radio.
    – It *seems* colder and more desolate in the dark. Although it was nice to see a sky full of stars.
    – It was a good test run for SHTF. I found some holes. Primarily around a light source/battery disconnect. Lots of charged batteries, not enough *good* flashlights that they fit. Finally ended up using a headlamp that runs on three AAA. In the process of fixing the holes.
    – This happened mid month, might have been more exciting at food stamp time.

    The local power company, Avista, had a robocaller in action on Thanksgiving asking if you had power. Wondered why at the time. It turns out that they sent $150 gift cards to those who didn’t. Over 3000 households. I had power but the food in the fridge and freezer had spoiled. SOL.

  14. We had moved to our new residence some years ago, and were exhausted, preparing for bed.
    There was a knock on the door. A young teenage girl stood there, flanked by two thugs, both with watch caps, hands in jacket pockets.
    I reached down with my toe and latched the bottom latch, while asking what they wanted.
    The girl replied that their car had broken down and she needed to make a call.
    I offered to make the call for her, perhaps to her daddy or to a tow company?
    She shrugged and left with the thugs, and in a minute or two, they drove by in the car they had left hidden near the woods next to the house.
    They didn’t know my husband’s shotgun was trained at their heads the entire time.
    He would not have hesitated to kill all of them if any of them had made even one wrong move, and they never knew it…

  15. A few things haven’t been mentioned that are SOP here on the mountain. First, my location is in an extremely low population area (only 2000 souls in the whole county). The house is in a forested area on top of a mountain. It is a long steep climb up our internal road and the gates are chained and locked. On the few dips in the road up the mountain where one might naturally speed up, we have 1/2″ wire cable coiled up at the base of trees. Just takes minutes to stretch across the road for a strong vehicle barrier. Of course there are other surprises.

    We have trip wire pin type breakers for glow tubes. Most of my stockpile are IR. We have constructed natural funnels into apparently dark areas that would look so attractive to someone wishing to put us under surveillance or gather for an assault. Guess where the trip wires are? We also have trip wires around the gasoline and diesel tanks and behind buildings up next to the forest where it is dark and gloomy. A brief glance with NVGs around the property should show all areas dark. If not, well a deer or other animal may have tripped the wire but more than not, as our property is well fenced and we have dogs, the problem is human. Deer and small game tend to avoid areas with strong dog presence. See a glow from behind the barn – the problem would likely be an intruder. We then are aware but unless the intruder has NVGs he is unaware. We also have some of the RF perimeter alerts in protected storage. These would be set up in stages following an EMP attack so as not to lose them all to subsequent attacks. Our pre-prepared overwatch locations would be manned and field phones set up interconnected between locations and back to HQ with pre-layed buried wires. The dogs would be given free run of the interior fenced perimeter. These are big hunting dogs who have long practiced diversion and ambush. As soon as surplus manpower becomes available (those associates reporting with their families), an internal patrol and reserve force will be constituted.

    Paranoid, you bet. You see I was among the thousands with high clearances whose SF86 background information was stolen by hackers. Just think folks, our government failed to protect background questionnaires that had SSN, birth dates, family information, and similar from references. More than likely it was the Chinese who took our data. What did the government do – well I now have three years of free credit monitoring. Now why would a foreign government want all of that biographical information? I wonder but not too hard.


  16. good comments ..
    you can’t get to my place by accident.. nor casual thru traffic.
    A lot would depend on demeanor… body language.. the weapon is no big deal unless it is being presented threateningly.
    In either conversation I’d have a weapon trained on them actively or passively.
    I’m afraid if I did not know them and they were not part of my group, they would have to move along..
    I would talk long enough to let the other family to be prepared…. and the Dog would likely be at my knee growling
    I don’t want to be mean, but if I don’t see an end on whatever is going on .. I would share nothing.. trade maybe .. but give away ? no.
    give anything and prove you can (you have extra stuff) and will (not tough minded and are willing).. there is zero reason for them not to get their crew and come back or just hang around .. it emboldens them to a degree. When it escalates then .. it’s on you. as mush a them.


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