Three typical reactions to survival scenarios



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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Dealing with everyday problems when SHTF meant that you have to face whole new set of situations, from how to „take shower“ with few liters of water to how to use pure violence when violence was not part of your life before.

As I mentioned many times people used to find all kind of solutions for that problems, actually some people found solutions, those who did not disappeared.

People mostly learned „on the job (of surviving)“ how to deal with that problems, instead of promotion or fancy certificate they got more time on this planet.

In reality lot of survivors did not solve all problems, some of the things and problems were „pushed under the carpet“. People have different ways to deal with situations.

When you wake up one morning in world where everything that you took for granted stopped to exist, just that can blow your mind almost like bullet in head, so people reacted in different ways. Here are most common reactions of people, divided in three groups.

1. King of the playground

SHTF, and there are no rules anymore, and you can go out and do whatever you want. You can use force in order to do whatever you want. You can fulfill your dreams. Everyone is gonna be scared but you are powerful and dangerous, you are the king of the playground. Something like character from your favorite movies, Mad Max maybe.

There were people like this of course, not too many but yea, and they ended up in two main ways:

A.) they ended with their head smashed in first week of SHTF, usually in some very stupid way, real example is they stole some cool car in first days of chaos, and went driving crazy and shooting at everybody till some group got them, pulled them out from the car and tore them apart.

B.) they had charisma, luck and brain. They formed group (gang), become leaders, very powerful people, masters of life and death. They could take or give (forgive) life with one hand move. If other powerful people did not kill them (mostly) they become rich, and they are still rich.

Example would be small time thief who suddenly realized that by showing big amount of guts / courage and will to do atrocities in front of the rioting mob can give him leadership over the people who want leader.

Those of them who survived everything years later very often committed suicide. PTSD catches up with folks, also those who “play hard”. Very important thing is that while I am reading different blogs and forums I can see and recognize lot of „survivalists“ and „preppers“ who are gonna belong to this first group when SHTF. World is gonna be playground for them when SHTF. Most of them gonna end up with heads smashed in first few days. Those few of them who survive beginning of collapse gonna be dangerous bastards. But calm hand and steady aim regulates things.

2. SHTF and what the f… am I going to do?

You wake up one morning and SHTF, you are devastated, waiting for electricity to come back to see on TV what is going on, while people outside demolishing local mall and taking home whatever is useful.

You are believing in government, law and order, „common sense“ and you simple do not understand preppers and all „conspiracy theorists“. Off course you do not believe in guns too, you think that everything can be solved in nice and civilized way. We are humans not animals and do not fight for food and survival with violence like animals do…

People from this group were in great numbers when SHTF in my time, and they will be in great numbers again when SHTF. No matter how much good information is on web, no matter how many bad things are happening around the world, and no matter how much proof is everywhere around us that everything is going to sh!t.

And people from this group ended up:

A.) dead and gone (mostly)

B.) as „soldiers“ of some gang, because they were easiest to „mobilize“ because this kind of folks always need someone to guide them and protect them. Today it is government and system, when SHTF it is gonna be local gang leader who is gonna give them protection, guidance in exchange for their loyalty.

Or they gonna be solo predators, killers and thieves, kinda like „shadowy“ enemy, guy who is gonna stab you in a back for bag of potatoes.

Important thing here is that for us preppers guys from this group (B) are problems because guys from this group are your first neighbor maybe, or your dentist, or your job colleague, or even your good friend. They stab you and then cry and say sorry while robbing you. Remember this: guys from this group are not gonna fall from the sky, they are all around us. They are „good decent and normal folks“ and they do not want to do what they do. So again think about what you are saying to who these days.

C.) they gonna join group of people or family in order to survive. They do whatever they need to protect their home, but they gonna try to stay good.

3. People who are prepared (preppers, survivalists…)

You know that great majority of stuff on TV and internet is fake and there only to form public opinion. You are preparing for bad days but also you are living your life as best as you can, because S. is going to hit the fan for sure. You do not want to belong to herd of consumers, and you want truth all the time, no matter how ugly can be. You are looking for people who think like you, it is hard to find them, but they are there. You are not wishing SHTF, but you are definitely not gonna be scared once when it comes.

You are ready.

Now do not get me wrong, but this is very very small group, because great majority of people who call themselves preppers are not actually. Some are gun nuts, some are gear junkies and some are just scared by media and try to buy their peace of mind in form of canned food.

When SHTF real preppers gonna recognize themselves, and I see them as real leaders of groups of people that gonna do some change in big chaos, people who gonna „carry light“ by that I mean they do their best to be good if situation makes being good a choice and not only have the goods and full storage but also skills and mindset that it takes to live under bad conditions.

Survivalists who do not only talk the talk. No Internet only warriors who believe world ends when running out of blueberry muffins.

Who else?

Now not everyone is covered by these groups of people, and as I said it can be dangerous to generalize people, but also it is good to recognize and understand.

There is a whole bunch of people who gonna belong to big „grey“ area. They not gonna choose anything, they will be driven by big chain of events, and they just gonna do whatever is needed to survive. Good and wrong is completely gone for them. Only survival is left to worry about. Kind of people that are not people any more, more like animals.

I belonged to the group that were surprised when SHTF, but on the other side I had brain and luck to join-form group and family and I survived. I am prepper and survivalist now and became that during time in war.

I too pushed problems „under the carpet“ somehow in order to stay sane. Somehow I adopted the philosophy that it is not really matter what you gonna do, it is written how you gonna end up. It was not some religious thing, but as soon as you realize how easily you can end up dead you must form some kind of philosophy or you just go crazy.

I survived thanks to my skills, my thinking, yeah. But many times I survived by pure luck. I speak about numerous situations like that in my course. When you looking over the wall with your friend, and one single bullet from sniper blow his brain all over your face you must ask your self „why him and not me?“

So I learned to live and do whatever I can in order to survive, but other than that I learned to stop to worry for things outsider of my circle of control, because what must happen is gonna happen. And I survived.

It is very important that in very dangerous moments and situations you have clear and sharp mind, and not to worry about things that are out of your control anyway. Few days ago I was asked if survivalists are just people who are scared. No, real survivalists worry much less because they are prepared and they do not worry about what comes.

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45 Responses

  1. This could be modified into two (2) types of people, really..

    1) Someone who keeps their head and adapts to the SHTF situation.

    2) Someone who goes crazy, doubts, panics, or acts stupid.

    You want to be type 1, and avoid type 2 at all costs. Type 2 people get themselves killed, and you killed.

  2. No more blueberry muffins indeed! eeeeeow! (I’m laughing) I remember when you were remembering “pan
    cakes” made of “something like wallpaper paste and bits of weeds.” For most people, it will probably be at least that bad, or worse, if only to survive another day. my grandchildren make faces, and joke if I introduce them to MRE’s or something that has an out-of-date label. “Grandpa, these twinkies were made before I was born!” “Shut up and eat” “twinkies will still be around when cockroaches are gone!”….One day the local market threw out a lot of bags of potatos, just because a few had been found that were bad. I picked out a couple of bags, took them home, washed and dried them, and they were perfect. My grown children still refer to “potato-au-graten casarol” (one of my favorite dishes) as “Old Rotten potatos” I hope they will remember. The time is soon comming, when there will be no potatos, not even rotten ones.

    1. Yes, it is gonna be hard for lot of folks to live under the some new rules. In my time smart people learned very soon to enjoy in some small “treats”, things that in normal time we usually do not notice, for someone it was real tobacco cigarette, for other it was home made marmalade (tomato, little sugar and water on fire…).
      It is about how we learn to respect things that we usually took for granted.
      Kids are kids of course, but we can try to talk with them, to explain them things.

  3. I suppose no matter how prepared you think you are, you will find surprises about yourself. I am trying to think about “what if’s” but I also know there is no way to find such answers. We have only imagination to help. I want to build some kind of simple shelter in the woods below me so that if I have chance, I might run there in case of bad weather evacuation. Today we received tornado warning, “take cover now”, and I couldn’t think what to do…so I grabbed only a crank radio, a bottle of water, and a pillow to cover my face if objects are flying around, and went to covered hole by my house.Those kinds of experiences become good practice I think. But I can’t guess what kind of person I am for bigger problem, like you said, until bigger problem comes. Good to know that are so few options. Like Chris said, maybe only adapters and non-adapters and situation decides what that means. We will adapt or die, right?

  4. I’m 52 in reasonably good shape from working in construction my entire life. I am “Jack of all trades”, I like to think of myself like the professor on “Gilligans Island” or “Macgyver.” Able to make or fix almost anything with a rock, some baling wire and a hammer. lol I’ve been prepping for over 20 years living in an area that’s been hit by 4 hurricanes in that time period.
    My wife and I don’t have children to worry about and a few friends (I think) who we can count on in SHTF. BUT you never really know, do you? The person you think will be an asset, could turn out to be a liability as Chris said and end up getting you killed. Hopefully I’ll be able to go postal on someone if the situation warrants it. I have weapons, ammo and training, but I’ve never actually had to shoot anyone before. I guess we’ll find out when the time comes….

    1. I recommend you start talking to those neighbors who you think you can trust now to help them start preparing. Once SHTF you may not be able to trust them if they think you have something and their children are starving.

    2. It is truth that you are never really know what people really are until times are hard, but finding real people for SHTF is slow process, and it is important to do it before SHTF. Your skills from being in construction all your life is great advantage.

      1. I honestly think that is one of the best things about being in combat in the military. There is hardly anything positive to say about it in retrospect; however, you definitely get the chance to see how you react under horrific conditions and perhaps get to know a few people that you can really trust. I don’t see how you manage to tell about your experiences, even online.

  5. ” Few days ago I was asked if survivalists are just people who are scared. No, real survivalists worry much less because they are prepared and they do not worry about what comes.”
    Many times I’ve argued that not all “preppers” are pessimists; rather, I’m a “Prepper” because I’m an Optimist – I believe that with a little forethought I can survive almost anything. The Pessimist is the one that that chooses to simply throw his/her self to the vagaries of fate because “whatever is gonna happen, is gonna happen” or some such fatalistic retort. My “preps” are simply another insurance policy that I maintain total control over. I pay premiums in the form of investments at my convenience, and collect when I decide to.
    Chuck B.

    1. Well, I believe prepper is a realist.
      pessimists believe it will be bad and nobody gets through, optimists believe it wont be bad, and we, realists, buy more ammo and cans 🙂

  6. Good article with valuable insight, especially in a long-term crisis.

    It’s interesting to note that this coincides with the principle of how large groups react in virtually any emergency. Time and again you see the same general reactions. 80% or more will simply become “sheeple”, 5-10% will become more focused and attempt to lead in an effective manner and 5-10% will panic or behave in truly bizarre ways. The “sheeple” end up following whichever of the other two groups that influences them the most; so you end up with either mass panic, or an organized response. You can find countless examples of this and I have seen this myself.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  7. I have been reading many, many so called survival web sites that tell you “71 things you need”, “the first things to go”, and crap like that, that so many so called “preppers” buy into. This is the first site that has even hinted at “War Lords” I have worried about this for many years. I know they will be there and when they come knockin, you either join them by particapating, or giving them everything you have for them to protect you. This is my biggest worry. I m old, but have a large store house, but what will I do? Give them my food, guns, and ammo, or not, knowing they will surly wipe me off the face of this earth. Prepare.

    1. Well, John, I think you are right on that point. If you are alone, you are more likely to be robbed of everything you have. If it is possible for you, you should try to find if there are some young persons in your family or entourage that could join you when SHTF. If not, new friends?
      I am young and fear those “War Lords” too. But what scares me the most is how i am going to take care of injured people, sick people or even myself. I am really bad at all these things. I have the youth with me and some skills but it is far from being enough. And I think I could enjoy the wisdom, experience and knowledge of an old man.
      I prepare what I can but I also try to spot people with others skills and similar ethics. I do not want to become a “king of the playground” and hope I would not turn mad when SHTF. But I would do what is needed if “War lords” are coming to my group.

    2. It is better option to try to find some relatives or connect with good people before SHTF, so you can form kind of group. On that way you can share your food and space with them,and have people with you when bad guys come.

    3. Gather together as many like minded people so that you will be able to deal with threats. Our group has many contingencies regarding hordes of zombies or other more organized threats. You can learn some aspects of defense such as channeling by a veteran named Maine Prepper on You Tube. Like I said in a previous post, I gather as much information and suggestions from as many people as possible. However, Selco is the only one who has actually lived it.

      1. Thanks Mark.
        There is a lot of useful information out, point is to dig trough lot of nonsense to find good stuff, but it can be found. People who survive real life SHTF situations mostly do not have will to talk too much about it. Mostly they want to forget everything, even i it is impossible to forget. Sometimes real life experience from hard situations is completely different than people imagine it, so it can be hard to comprehend it.

    4. John, you raise an interesting point. Resist or co-operate?

      Being Spanish-descended (Basque), I look back at history and what happened when the Romans came to conquer, and rape and enslave, in Spain. There were two scenarios:

      1/ Many tribes fought to the end, and killed their women and children rather than let them be enslaved. Then they died in battle or took their lives before capture. Actually, the Romans said they would rather not have fought, and it took them a long time to win. The Romans got the land, but not the people. It’s one choice.

      2/ The Basques took a different view: they negotiated a deal with the Romans and, well, they survived. It’s another choice. Later, they fought bravely; but not against the Romans.

      Both group 1 and group 2 knew what they were facing, knew what the Romans were like, and made different choices. Perhaps they did a deal with the Basques because they were getting tired of killing, or it had gone on for too long? Who knows….. They kept their word though. Hey, even Stalin kept his word sometimes!

      The more one looks at history, the more horrible it truly is: and the more horrible, the more lessons it has for us.

      One ancestor of mine, who was a knight, led a resistance movement in the 16th century when the Spanish conquered the Basques in Navarre. Like Selco, it seems he moved at night only. His good and honourable friends fought bravely, but were all captured and murdered: he himself died in a terrible ambush when a ‘friend’ betrayed him. The good died, the traitors got rich. His son fought as a soldier – for the people who murdered his father! History isn’t comforting.

      I think we should all try to recall that all our ancestors went through terrible times, there is nothing new in any of this. Ad pray to be given strength and character in any time of trial.

      Thank you Selco, for everything you are teaching us.

  8. I would like to think that I am well prepared for just about anything from fire to flood. I have a question for you that Ive never heard anyone talk about.. What are we to do with the dead ? We cant leave them in the streets.

    1. On the subject of dead bodies. They don’t spread disease once they are dead, but if left near water sources, they would release their bowles, and the results could possibly be Cholera. The real question, in my mind is, how would you be able to dispose of (meant respectfully) the dead bodies in a timely fashion? And maybe the answer is you don’t, or you take care of your own.

      I remember, in High School, seeing pictures and videos of Nazi war camps. In these camps they either dug a big hole and threw everyone in or lit a fire to them. I am not saying that is the right thing, but what I am pointing out is, they had a huge problem on their hands that they couldn’t find a solution for.

      If you happen to hear or come up with a good solution, please let me know.


    2. Another pretty good source for dealing with the dead and the spread of disease is Patriot Nurse. She has many good videos on the medical aspect of survival from a medical point of view as well as giving courses around the country on the medical topic.

  9. My wife and I have been prepping for about five years. My Dad was a Prepper, and it’s something that I am used to. Tonight we talked about how we are spending the majority of our tax return on preps. Most of our friends think we are crazy, and they have suggested that we spend our money on a new tv, or iPhones. The conclusion my wife and I came to was, these same people, who make fun of us, will wish they would have taken our advice when shtf.

    More than likely, these same people will be the ones who turn into “animals.”

  10. Let’s get to the critical point:
    Surviving in a protected, defined environment with your small group is usually doable.
    But, how does one actually deal with the war-lord or gang of bad guys who come to your door, or break in, and make demands?
    What are the response strategies? Consider with and without guns.
    What works and what has bad outcomes?

    1. Usually it is not about conquering without reasons. When it comes to smaller and loosely organized groups attacking your home it is easy to turn them down with showing quick and brutal response. When it comes to bigger and more organized groups obliviously stronger than your key is low profile, or being “not interesting at all”, if that is not working, you still have chance with showing that whatever they want it will cost them simply too much in numbers of life.
      Of course diplomacy skills helps too, so sometimes you gonna just end up with trading with them. What is not working is “let them come” attitude, it is not a movie. At the last point when you see that you are loosing fight do not play hero. That mean if you need to run just run, and come back later, have some stash hidden when you come back later. Point is to survive.

      1. Very good words Selco. Every situation will be different and time and experience will help people know what the best course of action is during certain situations. Survival is what we are planning for, but many in America think a John Wayne mentality is what to do. There will be times that being tough is the right thing, but sometimes it will be better to run away, to come back and fight another day. I suspect that there will be more general survival going on than fighting. We will be fighting nature, fighting to find food, water, wood and everything else that we will need to survive. I for one plan to evade conflict as much as possible, but if the choice I have is to defend, then I will defend. There may be times that one more go on the offense, but I hope that will be rare. I guess we will see.

      2. But is the “let them come” reaction something American preppers have to a greater degree than other nationalities? And does the American access to weapons, ammo, and material goods create a greater number of “stand and fight” types?

        If so, will America see a greater initial bloodbath?

        1. It might be simple because in a way you are (i mean people in America) accustomed to life with certain freedoms that not existing in some other parts of the world. It is simple , people maybe gonna be more shocked when SHTF, so it is gonna be very bad. But on the other side you have more freedom when it comes to free access to weapon, in buying, owning etc. I think common folks in America gonna have more problems, but on the other side real preppers have much more access to good stuff.

  11. “You know that great majority of stuff on TV and internet is fake and there only to form public opinion.”

    And to get you to buy tons of absolutely useless shit.

    You’ve accurately described the clowns and fucktards over on I can’t stand that place, full of morons, idiots, wanna-be’s and self-prescribed ‘experts’. Articles full of absolute nonsense and stupidity by clueless fools who keep shoveling fear and advertising. Commentators who are ‘survivalist’ groupies looking for someplace to play keyboard kommando while dry firing their guns at the computer screen. Assholes.

    Your site on the other hand, makes a lot more sense, practical, “here’s how it really is” advice. Pretty damned rare these days.

    What about the people that became part of the dangerous crowd? Did you ever see anyone, one of the “good guys”, deliberately target these people and take them out? If so, was this done out of necessity (self preservation sort of thing) or was this done to make right any major wrongs they had done?

    How about later on, afterwards, when things settled down? Lots of evil ones survived, right? Anybody deal with them and set things right?

    I’m asking because it seems that evil people are everywhere, especially here in Amerika. Everybody is on the scam, looking out for #1, taking advantage. You can’t trust anyone.

    I figure these people are going to either wind up dead very quickly, or join the gangs to survive and their real evil side will come out. What I’d like to know is if they get whats was coming to them and how it happened.

    You’ve got a great site.

    1. Thanks for your words.
      General attitude was that everyone looking own business and trying to live. There were examples of everything, but it was rare. On the other side there were cases of revenge and setting the old scores. People were revenging for some old things simple because law was gone.
      Lot of evil ones survived, but most of them kinda “disappeared”, moved or run to another countries, most powerful one become business people… and yes from time to time in newspapers here there is a line that body were found shot in the head, or stabbed or similar, and you could recognize some of them. Revenge can go for years.
      There is evil people everywhere, i do not think there is more bad folks in America then in other country,maybe because some reasons it is more visible.

  12. ‘When you looking over the wall with your friend, and one single bullet from sniper blow his brain all over your face you must ask your self „why him and not me?“’

    -Maybe because you were the only one who would be there for a specific person at a specific time later on in the war. Maybe because being a paramedic you save someone’s life one day in the future who one day becomes a great important person for good. Maybe because one day you would come to help many people through sharing your insight and experience.

    Thanks again for the experiences Selco.

  13. Hi Selco and thank you again for your priceless words of wisdom.

    From what I read, I guess I am not quite there when it comes to being a true survivalist. My family and I have been preparing for about a year and half, slowly at first, but have since picked up the pace. However, we are pretty nervous about returning to the 1800s as we have never lived it. Not having all the money in the world, we are doing the best we can to prepare, but until we are in the middle of the SHTF, I don’t think I will be very confident. Yes, I will be thinking outside what I am used to and have a group of people who are preparing as well, so we may just make it. As I am older, as is my wife, we are doing what we can to prolong our lives, but are really putting our efforts into better ensuring that our child will survive.

    We have taken your advice to the best that we can afford as well as listening to ideas from veteran friends of ours, but your information is by far the best as it is based on real survival experience. I believe that the more we learn and the better physical preparations we acquire, the less worried we will be for ourselves and our group, but I fear for humanity and I would prefer not to have to kill people or watch loved ones die. However as you said, what will be, will be. I will continue to hope for the best and prepare the best I can for the worst.

    Again, thank you Selco for all that you share. Your wisdom is invaluable.

    Your friend,


  14. I taught my wife, if someone is breaking down the door to run to the closet and fire the 22lr into the floor. The thieves would probably flee to an easier house to rob, Who wants to rob a place if someone with a rifle is shooting at them? Wife is not good enough shot if thieves are shooting at her thus shoot rifle into closet floor. Of course call 911 as well.

    1. That is a brilliant idea. I never thought of that. I don’t have a weapon and if I did I couldn’t shoot myself out of a wet paper bag. At some point I know there will be a group of well-armed men to surround my camp and until I learn how to shoot with one of their weapons that is what I can fall back on. Thanks for the valuable insight!

  15. If your house is on a concrete slab, she would run a serious risk of injuring herself from chips of concrete and lead – anything from mild irritation or splatters to severe eye injury. A .22 is rather anemic at best, so if the interlopers are on drugs it may take several slugs to have an effect – I recommend against wasting any by shooting the floor. If there is ample reason to fire a gun, there is ample reason to make every round count. Also, if they see her shoot at the floor they may well recognize that she is no threat to them. Bad news. I teach my girls (four daughters and a wife) that IF they should ever need a firearm for defense, the first thing the Bad Guy should be aware of is the shock and searing pain passing through his anatomy. If your wife is such a poor shot at room distances, get her an Air-Soft similar to the primary defensive weapon, hang a blanket for a backstop against the wall in the garage (or bedroom), and let her practice. However, if she is sitting in the back corner of the closet and fires at the interloper as he opens the door, it would actually be harder to miss than to hit *provided* she shot AT the intruder, and didn’t (for example) close her eyes and shoot blind.


  16. Selco brings out that there is no one type of ‘survivor’, and no one type of ‘bad guy’.

    I think of talks with my Polish friend about WW2 and the experiences of his grandparents:

    Bad Guys 1. The Nazis. The SS. They didn’t kill anyone: his grandparents, who were peasants, had to work for two days a week on the building of a dam and power plant. That was it. No rape, no torture, nothing. Slavery, yes, but not Hell. The bad guys wanted workers, not corpses.

    Bad Guys 2. The Russians. They burnt the villages, raped, tortured, murdered just as they pleased. But even then, not their particular village. They had been driven insane by their own suffering (and propaganda).

    My Basque grandfather survived being murdered in the Civil War in Spain, because one of the plotters decided to warn him, because he was young and he liked him – but he didn’t save others.

    As Selco says: not black and white, but grey.

  17. Xabier, not all Romans were alike.

    What happened to a vanquished people depended to a high degree on who was the general of the Roman army, but of course also on the general policy of Roma relating to that particular people…. re Carthage. Rome dealth in a much more harsh way with Carthage than it did with many other peoples because of their own experiences with the Carthaginians, who at one time killed a captive Roman (forgot who, a really important officer) in an extremely cruel way. Rome did not forget this.

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