Common preparedness words and acronyms

What does SHTF mean, or the meaning of EDC? RTFA and find out.

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BOB Bug Out Bag

Think of this as a main emergency kit, just stored in a backpack instead of something like a plastic tub. You keep it at home, so if an emergency happens at home or you’re sheltering in place, it’s what you’d grab and use. But it’s always packed and ready to go in case you need to leave at a moment’s notice. And it’s in a backpack to make traveling on foot so much easier. Here’s a list of items in well-rounded emergency kits.

CBRN Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear

Term used for the category of threats that require special gear and tactics, such as a CBRN suit with special respirators to protect a soldier during WW3.

CCW Carry Concealed Weapon

This usually means a pistol that someone carries on their body, typically in a belt, ankle, or shoulder holster that isn’t visible to other people. Many places require a special CCW license to be able to carry this way. The opposite is “open carry” — picture a cops pistol that’s on an exterior holster that everyone can see.

EDC Everyday Carry

The general concept / collection of things that you carry on your person whenever you leave your home. Common EDC items are watches, pocket knives, multitools, medicine containers, self-defense items, etc.

EMP Electromagnetic Pulse

Energy bursts that come either from the Sun or nuclear detonations. An EMP can fry small electronics and the larger electrical grid.

GHB Get Home Bag

Like a BOB, but stored in a places such as your car trunk or work desk/locker. If an emergency strikes when you’re away from home, all you’ll have access to is your EDC and GHB. It’s called a “get home” bag because, if that emergency strikes when you’re away, your default strategy will be to get home. But it’s essentially an emergency kit you keep in a spot outside your home (or in your car that travels with you).


If someone refers to a “grid-down event”, they mean a situation where the main utility grids have failed. Sometimes people use it in a more singular context, usually around the electrical grid. But it can also refer to the water, gas, or communications grids.

IFAK Individual First Aid Kit

Typically smaller first aid kits that are meant for EDC or BOBs. Instead of being a big box of band-aids, there’s a mix of items covering the major traumas someone can experience in the field. It might also have prescription medication. Sometimes people carry an IFAK on an ankle holster, belt, tucked in a purse, etc.

INCH I’m Never Coming Home (Again)

Often used when talking about a particular type of BOB loadout that’s designed for “forever.” Picture a Walking Dead bug-out scenario. Here’s why you should ignore the INCH vs. BOB debate, though.

NBC Nuclear Biological Chemical

Was a term used (until replaced by CBRN) as a catch-all for this category of threats. Someone might have an NBC protective suit, for example.

OPSEC OPerational SECurity

A military term that people use to describe being stealthy about who you are, what you’re doing, etc. “Putting a sign on your front door that says ‘I have extra supplies!’ is bad OPSEC.”

PPE Personal Protective Equipment

Typically in a medical context, such as respirators, goggles, and gloves.

SHTF Shit Hit(s) The Fan

Common lingo for a major event. A car accident is not SHTF. 9/11 was SHTF.

SIP Shelter(ing) In Place

The basic idea of staying put. This usually means at home, as in people SIP during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

TEOTWAWKI The End Of The World As We Know It

This doesn’t necessarily mean doomsday, it just means a fundamentally different world.

VEDC Vehicle Everyday Carry

EDC, but in/on your vehicle instead of your body.

WROL Without Rule Of Law

When the only thing preventing us from acting like monkeys stops functioning.

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