SELCO: What to Do If Unwanted People Show Up at Your Door When the SHTF

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Author of The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival and the online course SHTF Survival Boot Camp

We all have worries about people that will show up at our doorstep when SHTF.

I am thinking here about family members or friends that we know will be problematic when they show up. Either they are complete burdens without any real values in a truly hard situation or they might even possibly be a danger for us.

So what do we do with those folks?

What do they mean to us?

If they are friends, and they are not worth taking in when they show up then they are probably not real friends to you. If they are family then the situation is a bit different, because, for family, it is often worth the effort to try to make something “useful” from them. SHTF makes bonds stronger and more important, and usually there, is no stronger bond than your own blood.

But again, it is the thing of mentality and it may be different in a different part of the world.

What does reality look like?

When it comes to SHTF and what we expect, it almost always looks a bit different than we imagined it.

It is like that with the kind of people we are gonna cooperate and maybe live with when SHTF.

During our physical courses, we have different types of people as students, and often on a course, we have at least one student who is completely different from the majority.

Let’s say we have 5 students who are in good shape, physically in good condition, or skilled.

And then we have at least one who is out of shape or a bit less skilled. Or a student who is stubborn, or wants to play on his own.

And then, since we play a lot with group dynamics, we have students in situations where they are saying to us things like: “We can not finish the task, or be brilliant at the task because of that guy, his poor perfomance (or bad shape, or skills or no will to learn or whatever).”

We as a instructors say to the students, “Then imagine that person is a your father, mother, or that when SHTF your girlfriend shows up at your door with her old aunt. Are you are going to shoot them or learn to operate with them?”.

Almost always, they as a group find a solution to operate as a group, and what is even more important is that person too learns their own value just like their own imperfections.

It is reality.

You will cooperate with people who you love or hate, or people who slow you down, but you will have to manage that somehow. 

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Why are they going to show up?

The first and easiest step in solving this problem of not wanting people on your doorstep is to start from this: “Why will they want to show up?”

  • Do you pose yourself over the years as a secure place to them if something serious happens?
  • Do you “paint” yourself as a person who definitely knows what to do if the world as we know it were to suddenly collapse?
  • Or do you drag that person along by helping to him all his life, even if you clearly know that person does not deserve it, so you know if something really bad happens that person going to look for you immediately?
  • Is it simply a matter of good old lack of OPSEC, because over the years you keep talking to that person that he (or she) needs to get it together and start to prepare because bad things are coming, and you show him how well prepared you are as an example?

Whichever answer might be, if you do not want this person to show up. it is probably best to solve that now, and not when SHTF. If you do not want that person with you now it is time to cut all connections and to make that clear to him.

Keep in mind this simple advice through an example of myself:

I also have some worries about people showing up on my doorstep, but very small worries.


Because as far as they know, I am not prepared, I am scared too, I do not know anything about survival, I follow media, I am brainwashed. When the SHTF, I will be scared, confused, and I will look in all directions for help.

At least all this is the picture that I paint about myself. This is part of being the gray man.

Those who are important to me know my capabilities. Everybody else is probably worried that I might show up on THEIR doorstep, because that’s me, just an ordinary sheep.

“But they WILL show up.”

Yes, I know. This is the real world we are talking about here and of course, some people might still show up.

Friends you like but who are useless, members of the family that are awful but they are family and you are their only help, etc.

By the mere fact that they showing up at your doorstep you are in a situation where you need to decide:

  1.  Are you going to refuse him and make a possible enemy of him, especially if he knows your survival preparations?
  2. Will you accept him and put yourself at risk of possible problems because that person is not reliable, not skilled, dangerous, or because of whatever reason?

Refusing the person might be the solution, but you need to factor in things like how bad situation is around you and how much your personal preparations that person knows about. For example, if there is a complete absence of law and that person knows you are a prepper and have good stuff with you and you refuse him, guess what happens?

That person become your enemy at a time where there is no law, and you have cool stuff with you.

That person becomes your enemy with information about where some good stuff is.

In a drastic situation (complete SHTF), refusing the person who has a lot of info about you may be a situation where you need to “terminate” that person.

During drastic situations, be ready for drastic measures.

In most of the other less drastic situations (collapses, SHTFs) mostly feelings are only things that are going to be hurt, and you should not worry about it if you have kids to feed or more important and closer people then that person who shows up.

On the other hand, accepting the person that you do not really want to have with you wh SHTF, because of whatever reason, may work in your favor if you cover two things in the correct way: group and leadership.

This is another example where you can see how important is to have an organized group when the SHTF, or in other words, you can not be alone.

By accepting a not-so-wanted person inside an already organized group where each member has and knows his duties and responsibilities, you are by default pushing that person to meld into the organization.

If you are alone it is hard to control that person.

And it does not need to be ultra hardcore survivalist group of 15 armed men, that is not necessary.

Just a group of people with already-known skills, duties, and responsibilities…

Do not be alone.

Correct leadership is other thing that will help you a lot when undesirable persons are staying with you.

I am not talking here about democracy. Sorry folks, but real democracy does not work very well in situations like this.

If you are a strong leader of your group, you have the skills to set the rules and to make the people obey the rules. If you do not have those skills, someone else will.

With correct leadership within a group, the person who shows up suddenly and does not want to contribute in the right way can be “pushed” to contribute. 

Strength in numbers

With all the combined things above, you need to keep in mind that when SHTF strength is usually in numbers.

So, even if you think there is no use of some person who shows up on your doorstep, think hard. Is there actually a use for them, and do you have skills and force to implement that use of the person?

I would like to have skilled persons with me when SHTF, but often it is more important to have people that can be trusted (even if they have no skills) so you need to think about it on that way too.

Also, there are many uses of people besides hardcore survival stuff. I survived some of the hardest situations with people whose only skill was to talk, and I appreciated that skill a lot.

About Selco:

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. He is currently accepting students for his next physical course here.

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.



Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Read more of Selco's articles here. Buy his PDF books here. Take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge by signing up for his unrivaled online course. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

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  • Everything is situational, we have AA had relatives drop in unannounced. The thing to do is keep it to yourself.I have list every friend I had due to ajib I had to do. Wives also,all tough talking cowards. I told my children when they lived with me ,you don’t tell anyone what you are doing, that doesn’t have the need to know. I can’t trust, mother, brothers or sisters,old church friends,all gone.They would not stand their ground. The only one you can believe is someone who would due for you,that’s very few.

  • There are no guarantees that the most prepared prepper will not loose the supply’s or be displaced. It would be wise to assist if possible. Knowledge is Valuable asset.

  • First off, practice OPSEC constantly. Stay gray!! Camouflage the house to make it look destitute. Don’t mow the lawn! Secure any farm animals close to the house to be able to guard them. Make sure you blend in. Don’t shave, wear old work clothes. Always, always be armed and ready to use force if need be.
    If a stranger shows up, be nice, turn them around and get rid of them. With what ever force needed. Don’t give out small care packages of beans and rice, that only identifies you as having supplies. You can’t take care of the world. If family shows up, same thing. My plan will start with “I told you so. I bought you Tess Pennington’s manual for Prep’ers and you ignored it. I told you I would not be able to take care of you and my family. You unfortunately are not welcome. Go home.” If a friend shows up probably the same thing. I’ve already warned all of my family. None of them have taken heed to the warnings. Unfortunately, they are going to be out in the cold, especially those who think EMP’s are fantasy. All of my family, except my son, thinks the government thru FEMA will be there to offer help. My son in law works for a city government, so he has definitely drank the cool aide and feels the local emergency planning will save them. I’ve given a lot of thought to this. I don’t see any other avenue to take.

    • I agree about turning away most people from my door if and when the SHTF. I have told a brother in law he was welcome if and only if he brings food and weapons with him. If an emp strike happens, he will never make the 40 miles on foot anyway and I wouldn’t risk going after them. I would allow some of my neighbors in but they also would have to have assets of food, water, and weapons. I am able to fend off most intruders but I also have to sleep so men that can guard the perimeter are a necessary evil for long term survival.

    • I’ll never understand the so-called “preppers” that are laying away absolute gold >>>>> and shouting about it to anyone that’ll listen …

      if you understand the need to prep – put aside your everyday ethics & morals & values to begin to prepare for the ruthlessness that will prevail ….

      • Lol there’s a guy who lives in town who has a fancy new truck with large prepper mottos professionally painted on it so it looks like something dhs would drive. It’s kinda obvious he has money and a bug out bag or two. His wardrobe also reveals his preppings due the verbiage on his t shirts and hats. Makes me wonder if there are prepper groupies like there are groupies.

  • Depends, I will help all I can, but if the people at the door are aggressive or threatening, then my shotgun has the answer. If not, then I am all for giving what I can, and helping as many people as possible. Group efforts are essential in times of trouble, as a single person or family is just a target, and they have limited resources to do all that is needed to be done.

  • Extremely helpful article. In all my years of reading about prepping and survival, the articles by SELCO are the best I have ever seen. They are the most direct, most useful and most thought-provoking.

  • I can’t grow my own food where I live. I’m storing food and water but we only have enough for ourselves for a year. I expect to not even answer the door when people show up at the door. Regardless of who they are.

    • Not answering the door is a great answer and an easy one. Always make sure your home is secured so no one can walk in, and have security cameras so you know who is at the door or a way to look without them knowing. If you don’t answer and don’t tell them you won’t help then less likely to have them angry. Better yet if they think you’ve bugged out if they aren’t the type to try and break in. One thing COVID taught us is sometimes there are situations like disease where you are on your own with whomever you live with. Put a “quarantine” sign on the door. Another case might be an EMP where folks can’t get to you if their only transportation is walking. Distance can be a blessing. It’s always been a dilemma whether to warn others, hope they listen and help them prepare thereby damaging your OPSEC or keeping your mouth shut. If you are going to need to help them if they don’t prepare then it’s better to help them prepare ahead of time. A generator and solar panels already do some inadvertent advertising.

  • My friend Oren is correct about OSPEC, Operational or Operation Security. Whatever you do to gather your supplies, food and or equipment keep it to yourself. Even family members if need be. If you have someone that is family, but you can not trust them 100%, keep your actions to yourself. Why? Because when in need where do you go? You go to the person or persons that can help you. If you need cash you go to your father or mother. If you need a place to stay you go to your father and mother. If you are hungry or hurt beyond your own capabilities; you go to your father and mother. When SHTF, guess who is coming over to your house – that’s right they are.

    Now you may say that is alright, they’re family and family sticks together. That is true, however, what if you have a family member that you can not control, can not trust, is more likely get everyone killed. You have to make that tough decision and cut them loose. You want to incorporate them into the family; but the dire is to great. You will have to tell them you can’t help them. They will have to prove themselves first before you will let them in. It is the extreme form of tough love.

    Another reason not to tell anyone is if just one person knows you have the means to survive the situation they might tell someone else because they know you and they think they can get them in through their association with you. This puts you and your family in danger because they know where you live; but, you don’t know anything about them. Remember, it is a dog eat dog world and people will do anything to put themselves in a better position even if it means betraying you or talking from you what you have saved for.

    When SHTF you need to stay in tune with your surroundings. Don’t go out and advertise that you are doing better than anyone else. All you need is one person to point you out and you are now marked and in jeopardy. If everyone is looking scraggy then you look scraggy. If everyone is looting the stores and nearby homes, make your home look distress and uninviting. Should you have a lot of people hanging out around your home make sure that everyone can become armed in seconds. Make yourself “GRAY” invisible. Blend in with your surroundings don’t look like you have anything of importance on your person or you may become a target. Even then you may become a target.

    Check your surroundings check for the unusual , the out of place. Is there a corner that has a lot of people standing around? If so do you know them. If not why not? You have a lot of people hanging around your home under your protection, make certain you have several look outs to inform you of any danger that may be coming. Remember, no matter how well armed you think you might be; there is someone out there better armed than you with more manpower than you have. You are stationary and they are mobile. They know where you live; you don’t know where they live. Often the scenario is shoot the leadership and take over the rest. Then decide whether or not to destroy the others.

    People in America have been trained to respond to authority. You need to learn when not to respond to authority. Because authority may not be your friend. They might come in to your home and take everything that is not nailed down. Don’t put all your food or equipment in one area where someone can come in and steal it or destroy it. If you do split up your goods, keep it to yourself. It can either save your life or you can use it as a bartering item.

    If someone comes knocking and ask for your help with food, share your supplies or what have you; just tell them, “That’s funny, we were going to come over to your place and see if you can help us.”

  • Here’s my take on this for what it’s worth. First, when the S EVENTUALLY HTF, and IF martial law is declared, EXECUTIVE ORDERS HAVE ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN AND ARE IN PLACE TO Federalize EVERYTHING… that includes you, your guns, your home, your supplies, your family, your bank accounts, your cars, everything! Nothing and no one will be exempt (except the elite). If you own weapons, they will not come for them, but for you. Everything saved up… food, water, ammunition, etc. WILL BE CONFISCATED. So, with that in mind, except for having something on-hand for a natural disaster (i.e. hurricane, earthquake, tornado), WHATS THE POINT in all this genuflecting and discourse about someone coming to your door? If martial law is declared, and the red and blue listed folks are rounded up, the only people coming to your door will be armed police/military/UN personnel. At that point you’ll only have one decision to make… do we go peacefully to whatever fate awaits us, or do we take as many as we can with us before we’re “subdued”? Yes, by all means prepare for natural disasters… but in a true SHTF no holds barred scenario we will not have to worry about playing triage at the front door. To think you’ll be able to keep your supplies under such duress and attack by automatic weaponed armed invaders is not being realistic. Check out the executive orders and U.N. resolutions (that we’ve willingly agreed to) that says your *ss belongs to them. Sorry to be so blunt, but your readers need to face cold reality… it’s not pretty the fate that may await us patriots.

    • Perhaps you give our government too much credit. FEMA is a joke. You are right, there are all these Executive Orders, but whose going to enforce them when the SHTF? They, in the government, are going to be heading home to protect themselves and family. The weasels in Congress have their own bunker to go to. Now it may be that the Chi Comms will be the only army powerful enough to attack us conventionally, as they don’t want all their American assets to glow in the dark.

      We just don’t know what exactly what form the SHTF will take. I know one thing; I have a mountain at my back, I don’t trust anyone, and I’m prepared to the extent I am able to be.

      “Do not go gentle into that good night,
      Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Dylan Thomas

      • In the numbers game, the armed citizen comes out ahead. Yes, there will be armed people coming to our doors and trying to take what we have. But there are still many more of us then there are of the police and the military put together. The more of us that don’t cooperate, the better. The better we go “Gray,” the lower priority targets we will be. I don’t trust anyone either and the first time I heard a neighbor say “I know where I’ll be coming if something bad happens,” well, that taught me about OPSEC.

      • Agreed. The nwo will find all the help they need with foreign troops who will have no problem dropping hammers on Americans, unlike American troops. I imagine they will have more than sufficient volunteers from many countries who will all find their graves in America.

    • Retired Officer: Agree with you, plus it’s best to go down fighting. This is why so many tuned in folks do not prep much, mainly just for weather issues. Knowing gov. will zero in on everyone w/ auto weapons is a deterrent to prepping to the max. Their take” enjoy what time is left”. This also is cold reality.

    • Those “executive orders” are just words on paper. In a true “SHTF” situation, Federal authority would be virtually non existant outside the big cities, unless you happened to be right next to a key piece of infrastructure.

  • I’ve already told those I will help, if they can get to my place. All the rest would be looking down the barrel of 12 ga. Those that won’t take no for an answer will be shot.

    If I have to explain my commands more than once or arguing every comman with those I am trying to help they will be put out to where they’ll have to defend for themselves.

    When a man takes command, he does not present himself as a wishy-washy commander. People will follow those who are confident and take no bull shit from the peanut gallery. As commander, if you ask someone to do so-and-so, and they refuse when you know they can do the task, they will also be put out of the SOC, (Self Organized Collective).

    If they believe they are capable of command then they are welcome to step outside and set up their own SOC. When considering an appointment of a second in command you must pick someone who is loyal and who understands the dire nature of your predicament and mirrors your sentiments. Nothing less will do. In situations like this there is no place for a Democratic vote regardless of whether your cohorts like it or not.


  • too many if’s to predict the best way to deal with anything except to have skills. there’s no downside to having them. just a possible downside to sharing that with others, on the otherhand, maybe being known to have them will save your life…

    see, no guarantees about anything.

    one thing i have on hand(probably not enough of though) is plywood and black spraypaint. if you are artistic enough, you can paint above your windows to look like a fire gutted the house and then was boarded up. make sure it’s flat black and not glossy. don’t do it now. wait until you’re sure the shtf.

    crossbows/compound/ long bows are good to keep around too. don’t forget the arrows. they don’t draw(insert joke here) so much attention as booms or cracks of guns a half mile away.

  • You should ask WHY they are showing up at your door? If you can answer that TRUTHFULLY, you can then decide.

    I would not ask ahead of hand and tip my hand. For they would certainly show up at your door when the SHTF.

  • The biggest danger is simply opening the door. Those that plan to take your stuff by force will shoot you the instant you open the door. Or possibly the instant you look out the peep site in the door to see who is there. You can tell when somebody looks out the peep site, most of the time. You need video surveillance to see who is there. I don’t mean the Ring doorbell either; that requires the Internet.

    If they want you gone more than they want your stuff they can always drop mortar bombs on your house from a mile away. Of they can throw a couple of Molotov fire bombs on your roof, use tear gas, flame throwers, rake your house with machine guns, or any other stand off weapon.

    Here is the best book I’ve seen on this subject: Holding Your Ground by Joe Nobody

  • Here’s the one I’m waiting for.
    “We’ve heard that you might have a little extra food.
    We have no food left. We have nothing to eat.
    We were wondering if you might be able to lend us a small amount of something to eat.”

    Well, I sure can’t turn my back and go grab a little something real quick like.
    This story probably doesn’t end well.

  • Why are they going to show up at my door?
    1) We live further out from the nearest 10 million+, littoral mega-Sodom than they do.
    2) They know I’ve grown my own vegetables since I was a kid.
    3) We are older than most of them, and are reluctantly the counselor/leaders.
    4) I’m in better shape than most men half my age and I like camping/hiking/outdoorsmanship.
    5) Some of them have never, ever fired a rifle.
    6) They know I would not hesitate to kill an intruder.
    7) I can work on cars, I’m a Ham operator, we can cook and can food, I can sew, I can do electrical and photovoltaic, and I know basic medicine.

    1) I get angry at people sometimes.
    2) I can’t stand to be around people who talk too much.
    3) I will be scared or confused at times.
    4) I do not know it all.
    5) I am not a psychopath without any empathy or remorse, and so might suffer in SHTF because of that.

    I don’t want any permanent live-in guests. Not even my mom (well, maybe especially not my mom).
    Some people we know are on psychiatric medications, and those will likely be unavailable. Nutty people. Can’t live with them and you can’t kill them. Can you?
    Some people have fastidious diet “requirements”. I have to convert them to beans, rice, collards, and eggs. They ain’t no Kombucha tea and gluten-free pizza in SHTF.
    People are scared of everything: a spider bite, a feral hog, a rat snake, a horse, a bee hive, how dark it gets out here, and not being able to get to Facebook.
    People are neurotic about watching certain things on TV. That’s what scares me. I don’t watch it and I may cut the cord…if there is even electricity. My PV system ain’t being used to watch the idiot box.

    I took one of Selco’s courses and most people I know can’t imagine snipers on the rooftops or having to pipe the exhaust from a generator far from the house with a garden hose. Nobody is ready enough around here…

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