The 5 First Symptoms of SHTF

Picture of Selco


I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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It is crucial to understand when SHTF starts. I think it is one of the most important things, to recognize that, in some cases it is more important to recognize that event and correct moment than to be prepared for that, no matter how strange this sounds.

I believe this is the truth because knowing when things turn bad can give you chance of escape.

But even if it is too late for escape, if you know this is a survival situation you think different. Make different decisions, think twice when dealing with strangers in need or accepting help from stranger who “want your best” or at least say so.

How do I prepare to know when survival mode has to kick in? Here are 5 symptoms that show that you might have a terrible disease in your area that can kill and that disease is called SHTF, society collapse or fight to survive. It comes with many names but if you know the first symptoms you can fight it better, earlier and smarter or avoid it.

Symptom 1: More violence in your area

Best information is a key for survival.

Personally I do not care much about press and media anymore. If you heard how situation went from bad to worse in my interviews in course area you know why.

Then there are global news of big events. They are good to keep an eye on and I read them but what really matters for me are local news. I get very few of important news from local newspapers but more from Police officers I chat with.

I also work in medical field so when things in my city get worse I know about it. More murder, riots, fights or other events where people get hurt.
You might not work in field like that but know someone, then talk to them. I did quick research and for the US for example there are law enforcement forums you could try to connect with some officers in your area.

If you find someone in your area, chat with them. Tell them you want to know their opinion. People who work in these fields have much better idea of how local situation is than what any media can tell you.

Media has to play nice with politicians, politicians need good news. Barack Obama ordered operation to kill Osama Bin Laden. Heard about it? It is election year, you will hear a lot more often about it.

But people who help victims or fight crime and give you their opinion will be able to tell you what’s really going on. Is violence up in your area? Is the media just hyping one incident or are there many more “normal” violent events like fights or stabbings nobody writes about.

Forget disaster media who write about new breakdown every day. Unless it is really something local it will take time before it affects you. Maybe you have local survival blogger or officer in your area who keeps people informed then you are lucky. Read those websites if you have them.

So besides real local street news what can help you to spot signs of SHTF?

Symptom 2: Group behavior changes, survival brings people closer and makes others less human

First you need to try to understand that SHTF event brings whole new set of things, and laws, together with complete absence of old laws.
Most important thing is, it is scary and when something is scary or people just sense things are going bad they band together.

They try to stick with people most similar to them. That’s in prisons and that’s everywhere once signs show something bad might happen.
Part of violence or why violence is easy is because the predator the one being violent considers his victim as someone very different. Almost like a thing. He is some else, almost not human. In these cases it is much easier to do bad things.

This happened during war, happens now in prisons and has happened through all of history. So once people band together and groups form and there is maybe your group or neighbours group and then there is this very different “other group”, then chance of things getting more ugly is bigger.

Symptom 3: Dead streets

Along with groups forming people try to stay with people they trust. Less people go out and if then also in group. People show up less often to meetings and social activitys.

Casual activitys like going to park change to visiting neighbors. When fear has spread so far that streets become less populated at certain times of day then it is time to get ready for disaster.

It means some people already live in survival mode but they do not know it. They probably will not have realized they have too little food storage and other things. Fear just makes them less social.

Symptom 4: New leaders emerge

Some people will use widespread fear to their advantage. Fear is powerful to control masses. Some election campaigns of politicians use fear to influence voters and get them on their side. This works with many people who do not know about it.

On local level this means that loud person in your favorite bar gathers more people around him. Some people organize groups for different also harmless things to make situation better. In times of fear people look for leader to hold on to. When things get tough those leaders will turn to be gang leaders.

Even some who did good things and became leader of good group to for example improve local situation turned into hard gang leaders who did everything to survive. I’m sure some of them never expected that but when things get tough everything changes.

Symptom 5: Nobody to trust anymore

I explain this with story of what happend to a friend.

Like great majority of people my friend watched in first days the situation deteriorating. I talked with him few days ago and I asked him can he remember right moment, or right event that he can call like something like point of no going back, or point when he clearly saw that everything is going to sh.. and something completely new is coming.

He lived in apartment building on seventh floor with his family, and he said that he like great majority of people watched in first week or two how things going down, stories of sporadic killing in city fueled by rage and hate, fear slowly started to creep into people’s mind, fear from unknown, still people believed things somehow gonna revert back to normal, nobody wanted to think too much about worst things, it was somehow unimaginable.

On one late afternoon or evening he heard shots, brakes and sounds of car crash. He goes to window and seen that truck went off the road to the dirt beside road, driver fell out from the truck, and screamed that sniper shot him. Vehicles were going on the road close to the guy but nobody wanted to stop and help him.

After 10 minutes, 10 or 12 policeman came with rifles, and take position close to the truck and wounded guy, I guess trying to figure where sniper was. Firefighters also came, but they stay 100 or 150 meters from truck. Also taking cover from possible sniper.

It was in first days when very few people knew who is fighting with who and why and who is enemy, nobody mentioned the word war too much, people still thought that things were some local unrests that gonna cease soon.

On the intersection, right across that burning truck and screaming driver, there was small store, „newspapers store“ they sell cigarettes, newspapers, lighters, candy and stuff like that.

When that truck crashed salesman ran away in fear from everything I guess.

Anyway police guys were hiding and lying down everywhere while that guy screamed, after some time one of them came to the store, used his baton and smashed glass and took couple boxes of cigarettes, after him few other also did that, he said one even took big box of bubble gums.

Police guys did not know what do with that sniper, after some time my friend says darkness came and someone started to shoot at them too, so they ran away carrying one Police man who was wounded. Firefighters ran away earlier, everybody forgot the screaming guy.

My friend said he did not even realize when the truck driver who has been shot stopped with screams. He said the image of police officers in full gear with weapon stealing things from that store was so new for him and so crushing that he clearly took that event and that moment as point of real beginning, moment when SHTF and his world broke down.

From that moment on he knew it was about survival now and rules had changed.

When you believe for years that guys in uniforms are there only to serve and protect you, awakening to something like that can be rude.
So symptom 5 is when behavior of authorities change. Clear signs now things are bad. Those might be smaller changes first and not so extreme like in my friends case, but at the end of day policeman are also fathers and sons and have family to take care of.

That night he and his family left that apartment, and moved to some safer parts of town, at that time they figured that S. had hit the fan. Not so much because of screaming guy, who died soon, but much more because image of police officers stealing things.

Also, few hours after police officers were gone, he sneaked out to the store and took some stuff, not too many things were left, but few boxes of cigarettes worth fortune in coming months.

Those are 5 important early warning signs or symptoms of SHTF. There are many more fine details to pay attention to of course. I speak in detail about all events that happened before we realized we were in a SHTF scenario in my course.

What are your early warning signs you watch out for?

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71 Responses

  1. Inthought about this an was thinking that stuff like this only happens in other countries. Then I was reminded that the cops were ordered out during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. So don’t think it can’t happen. Although it was shot lived the fact that they had to back out could have been lethal for some.

  2. While I don’t live in New Orleans, I heard many stories of policeman looting after Hurricane Katrina struck there. For residents of that city it was definitely a SHTF scenario. First the police disarmed the residents so they could’nt defend themselves or fight back, then they became looters themselves.

    1. This happens everywhere. The police will always abuse their authority as will National Guard and even the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Hell, even the Salvation Army is not immune to human nature. You should never surrender your weapons unless someone has the drop on you and sometimes not even then. I dire situations the authorities will find themselves in the same straights as you are. It becomes every man for him or herself.

      Tell the police that it is your right to defend yourself . . . even from them.

      1. “Tell the police that it is your right to defend yourself . . . even from them.”

        Legit move in theory, but in practice, Contempt of Cop can very easily be a capital crime – especially so in a scenario involving social breakdwon. Arguing with an authority figure to keep your weapon(s) is a bad place to be in.

        1. @Jimmy the Saint
          I agree, when time comes that people will kill other in streets telling someone something in order to prove you are right not gonna have sense.

      2. @Martin
        Police officers, firefighters, nurses etc. are people just like any other people. Some of them good, some of them are bad, some of them just holding together thanks to paycheck and “normal” times. Just like some other folks.
        So we need to understand when SHTF being police officer does not mean that he is gonna be good guy.

        1. EVERY “Law Enforcement” officer in this country swore an oath to the Constitution before pinning on his badge. Pathetically few of them bother to honor it EVEN NOW! The smart bet when TSHTF is that the pigs are pigs. And the only GOOD pig…

        2. Yes, but unfortunately, they are in charge, or THINK that they are in charge, and thus all-powerful. And some of them are not merely not nice, but a threat to our lives. Don’t let your guard down any more than if you were face to face with a street thug or mercenary, because you might be.

          1. “Yes, but unfortunately, they are in charge, or THINK that they are in charge, and thus all-powerful.”

            So we will need to change their minds . . . with extreme prejudice and without words.

            “Don’t let your guard down any more than if you were face to face with a street thug or mercenary, because you might be.”

            Not only should we not let our guard down when facing one of these parasytes, we should be sure to get the jump on them and not let up until they’re gone. If I am right about their mode of thinking post-PHTF, it will be to use their appearance of officialness and/or agreeableness to gain the element of surprise.

      3. “Tell the police that it is your right to defend yourself . . . even from them.”

        After Hurricane Katrina, I willfully opened my eyes to the fact that, when the poop has hit the fan, uniformed gangs will likely pose a greater threat than non-uniformed gangs. If I learn from others that uniforms are confiscating weapons, food, water, medicines, human beings, etc., then I shoot on sight. The resistance quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago” comes to mind. You don’t “tell” the enforcers anything, at least not with words. You don’t give them the chance to get close enough to your location to effectively DO anything. Make them look for easier targets. To any “good” LEOs reading this, I trust that, in a poop-hits-the-fan situation, you wouldn’t be in uniform anyway or violating people’s rights simply because it’s easier to just follow orders. I trust that you understand that, post-PHTF, good and evil is not dependent on one’s attire or possession of a shiny badge and that you will choose sides accordingly.

      4. You can’t tell a policeman that you have the right to defend yourself from them. Unless your positive this is a complete breakdown of society and it is gonna stay that way…there will still be law. You can still be arrested and charged with murder when it is all said and done. Take Katrina for example. It certainly was a SHTF scenerio but it was not national and there for all peoples could be held responsible for actions they had taken. Even if you managed to get away with it unseen, would you really want the death on your conscience after it all ended just a few weeks later. In that case I would have surrendered my gun, assuming I let him even know I had one, unless I felt my life was threatened. Take My stuff, I can work around that. My life physically or mentally I can not replace. The best place to be is NOT in a situation like that all by being prepared and smart before the choice even presents itself. When and if the s* hit really does hit the fan…avoiding confrontation will probably leave you healthier then adopting the rambo state of mind.

        1. I agree with the proactive idea of getting out early and well before shtf. I am interested in leaving north america due to the rampant gun culture which includes hunters. I believe certain Scandinavian countries might be safer during shtf. Far fewer guns. Any opinions on this would be very welcome.

          1. Cam,

            The problem in Scandinavia in the future will be the imported hordes of non-Norwegians/Swedes/Danes/Finns. Yes, I’m concerned with the followers of Islam and their very fecund spawn. Rape of native females is a favorite sport. Don’t forget that St. Petersburg is walking distance from Helsinki (see pre-WWII Soviet invasion called 1939 Winter War). The distances involved in North America could mean that I will be unaffected by bad things happening 2500 miles away (and may not hear about it except for Ham radio for a while).

            At least in the fUSA, you have some chance to physically defend yourself (from whatever threat) with the most effective personal protection tools (firearms). Think about how Americans relate to each other: “He who dies with the most toys wins” is just about pure truth. You might be able to save yourself and your family if you start now.


          2. The problem is simply one of logistics. Many years ago stores had stock rooms, but today with JIT inventory practices and database driven supply chains, the “stockroom” is the trailer behind a semi-tractor headed down the highway. Katrina is an example of a localized emergency and the lack of resupply meant that people were hurting within hours, not days. Add to that the propensity for people to panic-buy in the hours prior to landfall of something like a hurricane or major winter storm… and you can see how the supply chain is impacted.

            4th generation warfare is all about leveraging force multipliers. In my opinion, the ultimate force multiplier in an effort to destroy the US is the fractured escarpment on the western side of Cumbra Vieja in the Canary Islands. A couple of tactical nukes or even enough well-placed conventional explosives would cause a piece of rock 25 Km long, 15 Km wide and 1.5 to 2 Km thick to fall into the ocean. Six hours later the eastern seaboard of the US would be pounded by a series of tidal waves anywhere from 10 to 50 meters in height. That pounding would last for an hour or more and would severely damage or completely destroy critical infrastructure all along the coast of the US. The water would push inland for 10 to 20 miles, millions would be dead, millions of refugees would be homeless and completely unprepared, the power grid would be down (nobody would have functioning plastic cards to buy things) and prior to the impact the news media would have been bombarding the people with doom and gloom.

            That is the SHTF scenario to think about. People would quickly realize that there would be no resupply any time soon and the shooting would start very quickly in so many areas that there would be no way for LEO/military organizations to contain it. With no way to refuel, the trucks would be immobilized and with no resupply the affected areas would get even worse while the fighting and looting would spread to unaffected areas. By the time the trucks could get rolling again there would be entire areas that no driver would willingly enter without an armored escort. It would be weeks before that kind of effort could be coordinated and by then, it would be too late.

            Given the level of racial tension that exists in the US today, I expect to see a genocidal civil war spring to life immediately. The destruction of the infrastructure with such massive devastation would effectively destroy the US as a world superpower. If it happened at the beginning of winter there would be a massive die-off as people either starved to death or were killed fighting over scarcer and scarcer resources.

            The problem with maintaining a defensive position is that the only sure way to stay safe is well-established OP’s and intensive long-range patrolling. That’s labor intensive because people cannot maintain alertness for long periods of time before they get lazy and careless. To defend a small valley community for a long period of time it might take as much as a reinforced company of light infantry.

            In the end, it’s all about the logistics of food and fuel production. Aquaponics is an extremely effective solution to the production of food, but petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel will be a major problem. Bottom line, I like areas of Arkansas and Missouri because of the ability to get property with access to caves and natural gas wells.

      1. Thanks for your suggestion on the recommended reading. I just finished reading the whole thing – well worth it! This article reminded me of the black out in 1977, which I lived through in New York City. Its amazing how much damage can happen so fast. This was one of the main reasons I left and never returned to large city living.

        Because of your suggested reading we will now revise several sections of our preparedness plan. Thank you very much!

    2. If you look at the Katrina videos you will see a news reporter confronting two female police officers who are walking around a Walmart with a shopping cart, just taking anything they wanted.

  3. Selco,

    The newspapers in this country are just now talking about General Ratko Mladic finally coming to trial in the world court at The Hague. I was wondering if you could tell us about your knowledge / feelings of him. The news in this country is so tainted lately, that I don’t know what is the truth and what is a lie. Thank you

  4. I’ve always had an interest in prepping for disaster, it just makes sense – simply an insurance policy that I actually have control of, in a way – even when “Survivalists” were the only ones doing so (30 yrs+) I’m not fanatical enough about it to be called a “Survivalist;” I just consider the usual “Nothing Will Happen” attitude to be ridiculous and even childish. As recently as a couple years ago, the few people I bothered to talk about it to generally considered me “eccentric” or sometimes just plain “silly.” For about the last year and a half though, everyone is now asking my advice, asking for my catalogs when I receive them, asking for websites and links for more supplies and information, etc. In the last two weeks, I’ve had two co-workers (different departments/don’t know each other) say they now want to buy a year’s supply of storage food and ask me the best source, I’ve had several people ask me for advice on firearms and bulk ammunition, how to store/treat water, and even some “odd” questions – but always about how to manage some form of impending problem that everyone seems to “smell in the air” but no-one knows how to describe.
    Not saying I’m a Survival Guru – I’m not, and don’t pretend to be – but rather that more people are “waking up” every day. This, the almost sudden nervousness of the masses, is my marker of “The Beginning” of *Something.*
    Chuck B.

    1. I see this too, but people around me still use the typical excuses (no space, time, government will provide…) even though they understand it makes sense.

  5. First signs for me are when police come, but stand back and watch. Same with Fire Dept. Other sign, is help does not arrive for hours. I lived in area like this. I think law enforcement hope people would kill each other first, so there would be less bad guys/drug people in the neighborhood.

    Burning stores and shops is another sign. Other signs from my training include fact that emergency response people are trained to not enter danger areas.

    In past, in Los Angeles area, before Rodney King days, I have seen mean cops – that beat up people for the fun of it. That was normal stuff. I think when police no longer care to respond or take interest, then tha would be a sign for me. I use to try to hide fact that I was witness. Sometimes I ran red lights to escape in car.

    In our country (USA), there are too many signs to list in regard to additional regulations, and pressure to give up personal information to strangers with “unofficial looking” badges, ie. Census workers that try to get family to fill out forms more than once and be counted more times than law allows. This happened to me in Kansas, not California.

    More and more thief is becoming apparent in our small safe rural area and more frequent violence. Recycled metals legalling and illegally acquired is big here. People detroying stuff to haul to metal yard for money. Some bad husband in town sells wife’s prescription drugs to raise cash for food etc.

    In my view, the infastruction is already very vulnerable. I live in area that is affected by Winter, Spring weather, Other seasons sometimes too. Flash floods, tornados, electric lines down, ice storms, no pumping water, etc. Weather shows me that infrastructure is already tender.

    Also, govt official sometimes shuts down approval of utilties due to non-compliance/safety issues. For small communities with little money, this makes things bad, especially when rural drinking water is involved.

    There are agreements between organizations and agencies for troubled times. Sometimes the heads of these do not agree on solution to implement. This impeded delivery of solutions to people in need. Our County lines are rather close by each other (one day horseback ride between most).

    Families run family businesses here. Few Corporation activity. If family member has major crisis, death, health issue, the business just closes up. Customers don’t come first – family does.

    I live in rural/country place (a small farm). The towns near us are more like villages than cities.

    When the news says “Not to Worry” be sure that I will be almost panic for concern for people not prepared. I feel concern for the unprepared showing up at our place (on main State Hwy – only farm for miles that is visible from road).

  6. I’ve never been in a SHTF scenario.

    What worries me is when people start sending email, text messages, and making comments on the internet about what they are going to do when something bad happens. I am in the USA and people are ready to explode here. They get mad easier than they used to. A few years ago someone shot at a politician’s office building and suddenly there were people all over saying “next civil war starts now”. The news media says people in the USA are buying lots and lots of guns and ammo and spare food because they are getting ready for SHTF. They are buying more of these things than ever before. People are ready for war…or at least they think they are ready. They expect it to happen soon I think.

    There was a shooting recently in Florida when a Neighborhood Watch man shot a black kid who he thought was acting suspicious. People started saying crazy things like they were ready to fight a war. We have “road rage” incidents all the time.

    People are mad. The economy is bad and it has been for a very long time and it is making people angry. Some rich people are doing illegal things to get more rich and they don’t get in trouble for it. Nobody trusts the government anymore. Nobody trusts the cops anymore. Everybody hates the lawyers because they keep making crazy laws that make no sense.

    The government keeps raising taxes even though nobody has any money anymore. The government gives special favors to some people and some companies even though they are raising everyone else’s taxes. The government is giving money to people and organizations they should not be giving to…especially when there’s no money to give. I don’t think the government cares about the people anymore.

    It feels like a ticking time bomb.

    1. Let’s be accurate. A neighborhood watch member shot a black thug who had already broken his nose and was pounding his head on the concrete trying to finish him off.

      Obscenities on the memory of that thug, and on everyone who takes his side. Worse than that to anybody who tries to “Trayvon” me or mine.

      1. THANK YOU! YOU beat me to it!

        I’ve been all over this for a long time now, and must say that Jorge Zimmerman is truly the type of man we should all aspire to be — he stood up many times for Right, and now he’s being treated OH SO wrongly just to try to placate a bunch of animals who are threatening to riot…

        As I’ve been saying all along – “Here we have a bunch of Southern Democrats trying to lynch a non-white man for the non-crime of self-defense – I just can’t see how this differs from the Emmett Till horror except that this time the mob of racists is demanding the state do the actual lynching FOR THEM!

        Even after today’s evidence release, proving beyond all doubt that Jorge Zimmerman was an innocent man forced to defend himself from a savage attack, people on various sites are still threatening mass rioting if he’s not lynched.


        I tried to make some of them understand — even breaking it down simple so they could understand:

        “YOU are this many: —–> 1
        WE are this many: ——> 1 1 1 1 1 — and WE buy our ammo by the thousand-round case and don’t hold our glocks sideWays because WE know what those little dots on the top are for!”

        Needless to say, they didn’t get it. As Fred Reed put it, those who live in a tightly-packed enclave where everyone looks like them are subject to lose all grasp of reality as to just how terribly outnumbered they really are…

        The Passion of Saint Skittles has been one of the more effective media-control campaigns in history – Ryan Julison (Media-control consultant for the Trayd’Mark Martyr ™ family has really earned his thirty pieces of silver on this deal… but I digress…

        The bottom line, as Thomas Sowell just pointed out, is that we’re already **IN** a race-war, but so far it’s one-sided since the media has done such a good job of covering it up.

        I’ve already cautioned my family and friends to really watch their backs and avoid places where they could be vulnerable to the type of mass-swarming attacks that have become so common of late.

        As to Jorge Zimmerman, all I can say is “Good shot, Jorge” – and to the rest “JUSTICE FOR JORGE ZIMMERMAN!”

        1. It’s obvious who’s side the MSM AND the government are on. The Black Panther party offered a $10,000 reward “Dead or Alive” for Zimmerman and where was the great divider (pres.) speaking out on that one. Imagine the KKK offering a similar reward for one of their’s!!! The MSM would be all over that and people would be sent to JAIL.

          That and Ob’s “African Americans for him” program show EXTREME REVERSE RACISM IS RAMPANT in this country now. Imagine “Good ole boys for Ron Paul.” Now I don’t think that would be tolerated. TOO RACIST…lol

          1. Thanks for proving my point guys.

            Everyone is fired up for armed combat. There are the people who are angry the teen is dead and want to kill the shooter and any others that resemble him…and there are other people who are angry that anyone would circumvent our justice system like that and get away with it and they also are ready for armed combat. Then there are the people in the justice system who don’t seem to care about justice at all. They seem to only care about keeping their own necks free of the lynch mobs screaming threats. And don’t forget the news media who can’t seem to get any of the facts correct. They just make stuff up as they go to make the story sound like what they think their audience wants to hear.

            There has been a gradual increase in the level of anger and protest in the USA over the past 5 years. Things are getting stranger and stranger every year. I blame it on the economy.

        2. I tried to make some of them understand — even breaking it down simple so they could understand:

          “YOU are this many: —–> 1
          WE are this many: ——> 1 1 1 1 1 — and WE buy our ammo by the thousand-round case and don’t hold our glocks sideWays because WE know what those little dots on the top are for!”

          That’s all well and good if you’re expecting a “picket-line” battle like the Civil War of the 19th century, but if “IT” breaks loose, you’re as likely to get a screwdriver in the back from an unseen assailant as to get into a firefight. I too have rifles, shotguns, and handguns (all plurals), and I’m embarrassed to admit how much ammo I’ve accumulated, PLUS everyone in my family is fairly proficient with any type weapon (even archery!), but if we see a Race War it will more likely resemble the worst of Charles Manson combined with the worst of Mumbai with some L.A./Rodney King for accent – almost anything BUT a gun-battle with defined lines. Worst part is, you – we – will have to make the unpleasant choice of being purely defensive (always RE-active, thus a perpetual disadvantage) or becoming a criminal element the same as those you – we – want eradicated if we become PRO-active. Unlike Selco’s SHTF experience, our infrastructure, politics, government, police, etc. will remain intact (even if temporarily irrelevant), meaning we will be held accountable for our actions once control is restored.
          Be careful what you wish for – no matter where you stand, you can never see what’s on the other side of the coin!

          Chuck B.

          1. “Then there are the people in the justice system who don’t seem to care about justice at all.”

            ==It’s a *Legal System* – “Justice” has become an inconvenience for the ==most part.

            And don’t forget the news media who can’t seem to get any of the facts correct. They just make stuff up as they go to make the story sound like what they think their audience wants to hear.
            There has been a gradual increase in the level of anger and protest in the USA over the past 5 years. Things are getting stranger and stranger every year. I blame it on the economy.

            ==Which is why I blame the Media most of all – they have betrayed the ==Public Trust for the profits that Sensationalism brings; honesty and ==facts no longer have a place on their balance sheet.

            I’ve seen first-hand how the Media makes assumptions that are convenient (profitable) but wrong, but will doggedly hold their position as long as it sells another [paper/advertisement/etc.] with no correction nor apology afterwards – just move on to the next story….

            Chuck B.

  7. What I watch for in my area that indicates the SHTF:

    1. People who commute to large towns to work start staying home.

    2. Gas stations start running low/very expensive. Means delivery trucks having problems leaving large towns.

    3. There is less people staying around the small country store here. Means they are sticking close to home.

    4. I get information from my police friends they are thinking of coming over, with their families, and stay for a “few days.” I cultivate all police, fire and first responders. Some know, only a few, I am a prepper.

    5. My long reach information suppliers, via Ham radio, tell me of problems in their areas.

    6. Like Selco, I know SHTF when Politicians start telling everyone not to worry!!!!!!!


  8. I think SHTF already happening.It’s like how you boil a frog..slowly turn up the temperature of the water by a few degrees at a time. The economic implosion has started and cannot be stopped..America is already at war with so many countries…and are now waging war against the American people. This is now unstoppable.Obama is doing a good job for his British Puppetmasters.Everything you do from now on should be done in”survival mode”…the temperature of the water is rising….

  9. Living in a suburb of Detroit, this list is already happening and has been for some time. l need to know the next five warning signs!
    Complete sections of the City don’t have street lights, people stealing electricity right from the pole, one occupied home on an entire block of burned out houses, armed neighborhood watch groups because the police don’t come when you call, fire dept allowed to let buildings burn down if they are unoccupied and 50% engulfed, ambulance drivers getting dragged out of the truck and beaten because it took an hour and a half to respond…and it’s getting worse.

    1. I grew up in a Detroit suburb, and when I saw how Coleman Young acted I decided it was time to get out of Dodge, and I moved to SW Missouri. The living cost is less, the people are friendly, and armed.
      The taxes are less than Michigan and the climate is much milder.
      The sooner you get out the longer you have to get aclimated to your new area before it really goes down the tubes.

    2. Seriously, man!




      It’s only going to get worse, and quickly!

      There isn’t enough cash in the world to get me within 200 miles of Detroit!

  10. I believe I am seeing the beginning of a slide into SHTF. Begging has always happened, petty crime has always happened – but now the begging is more often and larger amounts being asked for, petty crime has become violent crime and more frequent. We do not go outside after dark unless it is a quick dash to our car. I even keep our garbage bins at back of the house instead of front so we can take rubbish out without being seen outside.

    I store things I think we will need, for our own use and for trade, I have already moved my money out of the banks. Where will I go? Where will I take my family so they can be safe? That I dont know.

    All I know is we cannot risk staying where we are much longer.

    I live in a capital city in Australia.

    The media says its all ok….they LIE.

    1. T,

      I would imagine ANY rural area to be safer than the big city. Even a SMALL town would be a step in the right direction if you ask me. At least in a more open area, you’ll have time to react and be able to see them coming. In a big city you’ll be trapped like rats in a cage with all the others. Just listen to Selco talk about life in the city under siege and you’ll see what I mean. GET OUT WHILE THERE’S STILL TIME!!

      Good luck and God Bless.

      1. Lived near Detroit for many years. Went downtown some, yes, there were a few people begging. Was in Denver in April. Never seen so many aggressive beggars in any other city in the US. Just wouldn’t leave us alone. In Denver??? Wouldn’t have expected that…

    2. Wow! Didn’t even realize that Australia was going down the tubes, let alone that fast. Didn’t you guys give up your rights to gun ownership just a few years ago? That’s what I worry about us here in the US, that the govt will want to cross that line and many of us won’t let that line be crossed.

  11. North American Friends, Altough I feel that the situation in US is worse than what you were used to, I honestly dont think you are quite there in the verge of a SHTF scenario, all the things you are telling are normal in a 3ª world country, and we manage to live, make groceries, buy stuff, not as safely, but we manage. You´d be surprised. Not that I think y´all wrong in prepping, I just feel you guys think that its worse than it really is. I´ve been in USA recently and its still way better than most 3º world countries.Thats my humble opinion.

    1. I guess it will be really bad for your third world country when you stop getting food and medicine from the US. There is already signs of drug shortages and prices of food have sky rocketed by 80% in the past year.

  12. I’d like to add something to your fine article – during the LA riots there were no regular police patrols on the streets – those cops that showed up for duty were held back at their stations by and large. The usual street patrols were nowhere to be seen and there was almost no highway patrol on the freeways. That may be another good indicator – when patrol patterns change in your local PD or Sheriff’s Dept.

  13. What you are reading here is happening in many cities and towns. The left is waging a war on the American middle class. I was present at an awards dinner in LA years ago. The Chief of the LAPD told us flat out that he, and his officers could not protect us. Offering a bounty, as the black panthers did, is a federal and a local crime. Do you expect the atty general, Holder, a black, who did not prosecute panthers interfering with voters, to go after panthers anywhere else? Wake up. Beans. Bullets. Band-aids. I just returned from a big box store shopping trip to the city. I watched ordinary looking people buying cart and dolly loads. People are scared. Did you vote for the current crop of leftists in DC? If so, how do you like the change?

  14. I like many of you here “smell something in the air”. I live in Texas and we have not felt the economic impact many other states have. Things are tightening up and business has slowed down but I have seen nothing even close to what is being described here about Detroit. That is truly scary. For me what makes making a decision on weather to stay or go is where will the threat come from. I have gotten a lot of information on the FEMA internment camps that have been built all over the US. In 2010 there were jobs listed on craigs list for employment at these camps, the gov. is staffing these facilities. Dec 31 2011 our pres passes his indefinate detainment law. If we are facing a gov takeover, living in a community where there will be numbers to defend a city or community will be best. But if we face an economic colapse, looting, rioting etc. I wanna be as far out in the country as possible. What do ya’ll think?

    1. There’s another blog written by someone that weathered the economic collapse in Argentina that discusses that. The problem with being TOO isolated is that there’s no help if/when the homestead is discovered – and raided – by roaming bands. Roving gangs in the SHTF as Selco discusses have to be as careful of snipers, artillery, etc. as everyone else whereas roving gangs after a societal “implosion” have no such restraints. Thus they can travel somewhat freely, and if they find a family farm they can conquer they will hole-up for days/weeks – until all the resources (and people) are used up – then move on. No matter how vigilant you are, no matter how good your alarm system is or how well-armed you may be, you’ll eventually have to sleep, or put the gun down to hoe the garden or “potty.”
      If a farm is isolated enough that it won’t be over-run by evacuees, but large enough to support a large group, and you can get enough like-minded people (families?) together to form a small/tight commune, it should be able to defend itself from most (non-military) threats. Roving gangs want victims, not fights; and para-military militias generally have a “base-camp” they train to defend, so they aren’t likely to invade; and individual refugees (and/or families) passing through are the least powerful of all the threats. In fact, many (myself included) believe that the Christian thing to do would be to help out the individuals/fam

      1. I actually have a fairly large extended family. My wife and I, our 3 kids, my wifes parents, and her brother and his wife and kids all live on one piece of property. we live on twenty acres and are well armed but we are surounded on 3 sides by large subdivisions. You can only shoot so many. Eventually they will come with more people than you have bullets. I do however agree with you about helping others. I guess I should look at a secondary location to bug to if needed.

    2. I don’t know. I think about this too. From Selco’s blog we learn that lots of allies and a primitive warrior mentality are better than anything else. But he also teaches us that “getting outa dodge” is by far the best option. Leave and go someplace safe if you have the time and the means. Where I am I think I will have plenty of warning. I am right in the center of north america. The bad stuff will hit the east and west coasts before the center and spread to the largest cities first. I will just keep my eyes and ears open and make a decision on the fly as things happen.

      I don’t believe the FEMA camps are meant to be prisons. I think they are meant to be places to keep starving people alive with free food and sanitation and law and order. Not everyone has the skills or the health to survive in a complete breakdown of the economy. Most people would die within 4 days after the water stops coming out of the faucet and the electricity goes out. Very few people in north america have EVER gone more than 18 hours without food and most get irrational if they are forced to skip just one meal. When they experience the first 24 hour period of no food, they will lose their minds and people will die just from the panic and poor decisions that follow.

      1. Spot on. Great balanced opinion on this John. I also think that there will be plenty of time when non preppers don’t even understand what will hit them while we can use the time to kick our emergency plans into action.

        Even though I believe we will have this window of opportunity it is absolutely no reason to get lazy when it comes to prepping (and of course learning relevant survival skills).

  15. I’m concerned about the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party and the resurgence of hate groups as well as the government. I hate extremists on the left and the right side. And I will protect my family from anyone of any race or background who is out to steal and destroy.

    1. I think the election campaigns and fight between political parties is so full of hate and extremism right now. Having an even more divided country won’t do any good…

    2. Tea Party is not a hate group. Usually older citizens who want government spending of borrowed money curtailed. Support a return to Constitutional Government and individual rights. If this is “news” to you I would suggest changing from your current propaganda media source.

      1. There is more than one “tea party”. At least one of these groups goes by a slightly different name…”tea party nation” and they are kinda strange and possibly not the harmless people you describe. People do not realize there is more than one “tea party” group and they assign all the fringe tea party ideas to the main group.

  16. The trigger point for me will be when gas prices rise to the point the truckers strike. This country’s lifelines are the truckers on the highways. When the trucks stop moving, I figure I have twelve hours to buy as much food as I can before the panic sets in and the riots start.

    1. Harry, why don’t you start stocking up on food now? There are many people doing it now that are on a tight budget, check out peppers on YouTube.

  17. Selco, Thank you very much for your insight on this subject, we greatly appreciate it. We, my husband and I are in a different situation than most on here, we are over the road truck drivers and we try to be very vigilent about seeing the signs of SHTF so that we can get home to our family and be prepared.

    1. Dee,
      You may want to get in touch with others of like mind ( like those who comment on here) and set up possible safe-havens for you and your husband in case you cant make it all the way home in time….. I for one would welcome you 2 in that type of situation… I myself am a truck driver, but have a local (mostly) job now, just because of the coming troubles…
      If I am wrong posting my email here, I am sorry, but Dee, feel free to get in touch with me if you want… harrysteeletreoATgmailDOTcom

      Selco, I too want to thank you for your insights and knowledge that you are sharing with us, You are saving the lives of those who take what you write to heart.

  18. In addition to knowing what the first signs of trouble will be… you need to sit down with whoever you’ll be partnering with and develop a Plan of Action that you can move into as soon as TSHTF. Without a plan you might be pushed into actions and decisions that are not well thought out. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!

  19. We keep an eye out for conditions related to natural and ‘man-made’ disasters (economic, various conflicts leading to higher risk etc). We’re rural folk with connections to people that can be trusted (including extended family-blood ties). All hunt, shoot well, ammunition, food storage (canning), and water sources. In case of SHTF away from home ready for that too and watch for signs of instability and put effort into ‘blending in’ to situations and drawing attention to myself — years of practice of blending in “Grey Man” but have all the tools I need in moments notice (CCW/EDC etc). ANyway it’s worked for me in real SHTF and I’m still perfecting it. Idea is be alert to the ‘signs’ and get out ahead of SHTF a bit and if possible and back to our well defended retreat where other family is waiting prepared.

    Thanks Selco for the post and stimulating the conversation. Chester

  20. Selco, I almost feel badly telling you this… but this is the truth about when I first learned that your TSHTF was going to happen.

    I was told in detail of your TSHTF a full two years before the full escalation to the horrors that your city faced. Even though, for so many who lived around you – it seemed to them to be a sudden and unpredictable series of events.

    There were people who knew it would happen at least two years… yes two full years before… and they spoke of it as a tragedy that was inevitable because NO ONE CARED in the global community to stop it.

    Two years, before your war… I was sitting by the swimming pool at a lovely resort in Las Vegas, Nevada USA. I was attending a convention that attracted many members of the military from different countries and several old timer professional mercenaries. (These were not the nutcase type idiots who like to dress up in military fatigues and run around with the latest version of an AR-15 with a $5,000 night vision scope. These were old men who during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were hired by different factions in Africa to fight small wars in places like Rhodesia, Somalia, etc… They were ex-military who had served in the US or British Army, a few in the French Foreign Legion or the Israeli Army. After they retired from working in the military they took jobs for the type of international security firms like Blackwater. (I don’t know the names of what these companies were at the time. I’m not well educated on that type of thing.)

    I was very lucky. I was young and I wanted to be a writer for film and TV… but much of my work was in journalism so I was always on the look out for good stories. This led me often to be a “fly on the wall” – able to listen in to conversations with people of important stature at events. At this event I was particularly lucky. I worked as an assistant for a very successful Hollywood writer/director who was known for his “guns and ammo” type military movies. Because he was so well known and respected EVERYBODY of importance wanted to hang out with him, drink with him… and there would be very interesting conversations that would often go late into the night.

    The conversation this night was your coming TSHTF. Please remember – this was two full years before the bullets started to fly. This was two years before snipers circled your city. This was two years before all of the horrors you faced… and these men were all sitting by a beautiful pool at a luxury resort drinking beer, mango and strawberry margaritas… and every one of these old men… men now in their 60s and early 70s… but who had seen many many wars and conflicts… who between them had probably been part of every major and most minor TSHTF worldwide over the last 50 years… they all said that in two years…

    “It will be a genocide.”

    They weren’t taking sides. They weren’t talking about who was right or wrong. But they described in detail everything that happened to you and the people in your country.

    I was younger and far more ignorant at the time. The impact of what I was seeing so matter of factually being discussed… was a bit shocking to me. They described everything… and even as war weary as they were… now long retired from their days as soldiers and mercenaries… there was a depth of sadness to how they described the coming events as inevitable.

    Inevitable. Just as each morning the sun rises and each evening the sun sets… to these men your genocide was a simple inevitable fact.

    They didn’t talk about how if someone did this or someone did that it could be changed. They talked about how your people were about to go through a war of unimaginable suffering… and they talked about how it would not be avoided because there was no concern. The UN didn’t care. The world didn’t care. People were more interested in the latest movie star going into drug rehab or their favorite singer releasing a new album than they did about hundreds of thousands of people being killed… it was a simple fact and it would not change because no one cared.

    It was the same as when Pol Pot killed one third of the people in Cambodia… or the genocide of Rwanda. No one cared… so the murderers were free to kill. (Thank God someone cared enough to air drop food an other supplies… but I to this day pray we never have a situation like yours again where there is a mass genocide that is allowed to happen with so little notice until it is too late.)

    I’m not well educated on war. I don’t have a great education about politics, religion, and truthfully I know very little about what was behind the war you lived through. these things these men never discussed. It didn’t matter to them who was right or wrong. It wasn’t even a brief part of the discussion. There talk was all about the inevitable… that TSHTF was coming… this is when it will start…this is how long it will last… and this is just going to be a genocide that no one is going to try to stop.

    I don’t know what signs they saw. I don’t know how they knew these things. But I remember from your posts that you have mentioned many times that you had an uncle who had lived through WWII… and he was like these men. He saw things. He saw signs…warnings that TSHTF was going to come. I’m curious… these men saw it clearly at least two years before things started. How long before your war did your uncle start saying things weren’t right? Was he like them and saw it coming not weeks or months but YEARS before it happened?

    I think your list of 5 warning signs is extremely valuable. It’s critical to be aware or at least wary that things are about to go bad. This is the most important time to prepare as much extra preps or leave the country as quickly as possible.

    But I also wonder how these men… and maybe even your own uncle… could see the signs of what will happen so long before the rest of us. These men were not politicians. They had no interest in the causes, religious or political views or any type of ideology behind the conflict. These types of things were completely unimportant to them. What they saw was the formation of elements that developed into the horrors of war. I think your 5 elements are very very important because these, not some analysis of politics and religion in a region… these are what people who have survived many TSHTF get ingrained in their psyche as the true warnings that must be headed.

    Thank you… for a truly excellent article.

  21. Police and first responders can tell a part of the story, but if I really want to get a sense for what is just down the road, I get a pulse from my local shipping representatives. Truckers and sales reps for, say, Fed Ex Freight or ABF Ground, can give you useful insights. When things stop moving on the roads, trouble is usually ahead.

  22. I race sail boats – often big (70′), fast (25+ kts), made of carbon and other high tech stuff that an engeneer says will work. But it might not.

    And so I have thought long and hard about failure. I’ve also been involved in a few near misses. It’s interesting to examine boating accidents because there’s almost always survivors and almost always deaths – what separates the two? I wasn’t there so I don’t know. But my take is that, like a few of the near miss I’ve been involved in, some people ACT NOW while others don’t yet even realize there’s a problem.

    Like the time on said big boat that we were gogin 25ish knots, downwind with a kit up, just plowing through waves and the forward hatch blew off. In an instant we took on a LOT of water. I was asleep in the very back of the boat but I was there just after the two guys who were standing in the main salon. With every wave we took on a LOT more water and it all stayed up front and so every next wave added even more water.

    There’s a lot more to that story but my point is more that there were about ten other people below deck that either didn’t wake up, didn’t get up (we’re all exahusted), and didn’t make it to the scene until called. But look, there was a big pop, a big rush of water and it ought to be hard to miss that kind of moment.

    Before that I had a very real learning experience racing with friends on an old slow boat. J24s are just old school and slow but if everybody’s in the same kind of boat well it’s quite fun.

    We were racing in Seattle and it had been fairly light wind most of the day. We had just rounded the upwind mark and were in mayby 10 out of about 40 boats. I was doing tactics, sitting in the main hatch watching the boats around us when I noticed that the boats a long ways behind us were starting to wipe out, blow up kites and so on.

    At first it was just a few of the straggelers. In just a few moments it was everybody behind us. Now the guy driving and the guy trimming were both very good so rather than take the kite down (which I didn’t think we could pull off in time anyway) I said “hey, look, we’ve got a rather large squall line coming and if we can hold our S&^T together we can win this race.”

    So as all different colors of the lilttle pieces of blown up spinnikers went past us we went from about 10 kts of wind to upwards of 35. And we took off. Most of the boats in front of us lost it and we were all of a sudden doing quite well in the race (although who knew if they’d keep the results but that was another thing).

    Thankfully we were able to hold that one gibe to the finish because we could not have put a guy up at the mast to do the jibe without the bow going under water. But there was another boat who had right of way on the other gibe. At first, he was going to cross safely in front of us – but just barely.

    We had passed the decision point when we could have attempted a jibed. But a moment later we were not making it (he had slowed slightly) and the only way to avoid a major collision was for us to lay our boat on her side – which our guy driving did. At what was effectivly the very last moment to do so safely.

    Well, I was faced with the prospect of having to hang on and dangle because the mast was most certainly going in the water. So I took the obvious route and just sat down into the boat as it rolled over. It was also nice because I could just reach out and dump the spinnaker halyard. And I’d been racing in good solid wind my entire life so this wasn’t an inexperienced choice.

    It’s generally safe inside the boat – when all Hell breaks loose you put hatch boards in and let the boat do what it pleases. But I had a rude awakining as I saw the water level was quite close to the edge of the hatch and another rude awakining as the level rose because we were still being pushed downwind at a rather fast rate.

    All worked out though, we dropped the kite, the boat came upright, and we finished 3rd.

    But another boat that had a similar wipe-out didn’t fare so well and sank (in under a minute). Which was another rude awakening. What had seemed so smart at the time could have easily been a death trap.

    The nice thing about competitive sailing as I’ve come to understand it is that it is ALL about molding the future reality to our goals by taking some action before others even see the decision point. So it’s training of some sorts in recognizing and doing those things.

    But it doesn’t count for anything if you do not ACT NOW. It’s hard to know when that time is, but I can tell you, it’s a lot sooner than later.

    The other aspect I’ve come away with is that you can’t possibly prepare whether that’s in terms of supplies, mentally, or physically, for every contingency. Every single situation has it’s own circumstance that can totally change the outcome. So you can’t possibly get everything right the first time. So you have to be prepared to make corrections and to do so NOW.

    I’m reminded of an old story about a Marine Boot. He was in formation and his commanding officer asked him what it meant to be a Marine. He thought for a moment and replied “To do what needs to be done, to do it right, and to do it now.”

  23. You know I am reading these first perrson accounts because I am trying to learn about preparation, not read some racist rant. It is disgusting how many of you (not all) but many, have this grandiose image of yourselves shooting marauding unarmed black people. The reality is if the shtf, the majority of those you violently encounter will be WHITE, as blacks make up only 12-13% of the population. Also you may want to keep in mind a few more things the your little racist fantasy leaves out…

    1. Because of gun proliferation, chances are good you will be taken out by any of these – one of your own (you forget that what you plan to do to others-they plan to do to you), overzealous police, better armed gang members (don’t kid yourself- they roll the streets NOW fully auto, and have already fired in anger/ passed the mental block), better trained military ( you also forget in your fantasy that black men and women make up a bigger portion/percentage of the armed forces, than they do in the general population and have for decades- they are trained in how to shoot properly, lead, assault, maneuver, etc. Yes black enlistment has declined steadily in the last decade, but just 13 years ago-20%). Yes in the big cities, many blacks AND WHITES will simply go animal ape-sh–, but your racist fantasy will not hold up because in the big cities you will be outnumbered, and in rural areas, your enemies will be white. Besides if you TRULY wanted to fight a race war, you have overwhelming numbers, financial resources, weapons, materiel, whats stopped you all this time? what’s stopping you now? If so many of you HATE non-whites, why have you been so chicken-sh– about it? There’s no way you could lose RIGHT? WE BOTH KNOW THE ANSWER.

    2. You cant carry all this crap you’re buying with you and even if you could, you will be a massive target for those looking to take- WHITE AND BLACK

    3. It doesn’t matter that you have 20 weapons – you only have 2 hands so you can fire max of two weapons at one time, so unless your children are TRULY trained killers, your compound will be overrun sooner or later. Target silhouettes do not shoot back.

    4. some of you fantasize about engaging govt troops in a firefight (LMAO). If alquaeda, the Iraqi republican guard, the taliban, the vietcong, etc cannot engage u.s. govt forces without taking HEAVY losses, or flat out losing engagements, how are you and your ar-15s in a encircled position going to win? The minute you do not cooperate with police/national guard/ homeland defense- your party will be over and fast. Yes you may scare off some random thieves, maybe even outgun a small group of gansters, but human nature says you are now doomed – it becomes knowledge that YOU must have food, water, weapons, drugs, or why else would you put up such a fight? Soon they will come in much bigger numbers and will be PREPARED for YOU.

    5. This revolution you talk about, will not only claim the lives of those you hate, but also YOUR children, wives, parents will die as well- liberal bullets kill just as well as conservative bullets. The southern secessionist had the same warped fantasy of a one-sided war- how did that work out for them and their families back at home? Besides, revolution will not happen HERE until there is nothing left to lose – we, as a nation, do not have the stomach for war – much less civil war against the government.

    I truly and sincerely appreciate the original intent of this site and the wealth of knowledge being given here by decent people white or otherwise, but I hope the racist wannabe rambos get theirs just as fast as the gangster thugs, this country has no need for either. No need for wannabe cop zimmermans that shoot to stop a beatdown that they worked hard for either. You chase me late at night without a real reason, and without judicial authority- you damn well better expect me to stop well short of home and fight. I am a black man, I WILL defend my family, I WILL shoot back -and I am NOT the only one.

  24. Oh the scary Government goons coming to take our weapons….yeah, right. Those so-called “Scary Goons” need to remember one important thing….while they’re off collecting the weapons for their messiah….they’re leaving THEIR families home unprotected….imagine their fate if it was known their hired hands were away and doing the deed? If the Feds were to sweep the areas of firearms…just how many Feds do you think it would take to do that and how many would need to be left behind in those area to “keep them swept”? Talk about a vulnerability to a government and its people…..naaaa….calm down……(head shaking).

  25. I live in Rio de Janeiro where the line between really powerful drug lords, ineffective police and an absolutely corrupt communist government is very thin. Here, about 4 times more people die just in Rio and São Paulo PER MONTH than in Iraq PER YEAR! The sense of general degradation of institutions, the growing lack of confidence in the state and the steady, ever closer violence affecting everyone is an “intermediate” stage of sh_t hitting the fan!

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