How to answer the door ATSHTF

For those not in the know, ATSHTF is a common acronym for After The Sh** Hits The Fan. In other words, all hell has broken loose and it doesn’t look like order is going to be restored any time soon. Desperate times make for desperate people. Odds are fair to middlin’ you might end up with someone knocking on your door at some point. They may be just looking for help. On the other hand though, they might be looking to take all you have…including your life.

In my day job, I knock on a lot of doors. I’ve become fairly adept at discerning whether there is someone home or not, well before the door is answered. One thing I’ve found is if the door has a peephole, people tend to use it. That’s kind of a no brainer, right? It is easy to notice too, if you’re paying attention. Stare at the peephole and you’ll notice you can see a point of light through it. Suddenly that light goes dark for a moment. Bingo, someone’s home. Heck, if you’re watching close, you can even see if folks are walking around inside the home through your side of the peephole.

Think about this though. Let’s say we’re living in a world without the rule of law and I’m a bad guy. If there’s a knock at the door, who’s the likely person to answer it? Probably the man of the house or whomever else is in charge. The occupants certainly aren’t going to send a young child to see who’s there in this situation. So, I’m the “mutant zombie biker” type of dude. I knock on the door and wait for that peephole to go dark. As soon as it does, I send a shotgun blast into the door. I’ve just gained access to the home as well as taken out someone who would be one of my primary targets, all in one fell swoop.

So, what’s a survivalist to do?

For starters, don’t go near the door. Use a window from an adjacent room to see outside. If you have the manpower to accomplish it, get folks checking all sides of the home from the inside to see if someone is trying to sneak around back. If it appears the person or people on the front porch are alone, send someone out from the back of the house to approach them from the side. I’d recommend that person be armed and expect your visitors to be armed as well. Proceed with caution.

The other alternative would be to answer the door verbally but from a safe location within the home. By safe location, I mean where you are protected to a large degree from incoming fire, just in case.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

3 thoughts on “How to answer the door ATSHTF”

  1. Ever since that time back in the 1980’s when I was asleep on the couch and there was a deputy at the door there to arrest me, Im extremely wary of door peckers :o)

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