Author of The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival and the online course SHTF Survival Boot Camp
I called this article moving around with purpose when SHTF with clear intention.
SHTF, especially early stages may be a good opportunity to acquire things through looting, scavenging, or whatever you may call it. However, it is also a good opportunity to end up dead.
So, my advice, it is usually also NOT a good moment to go out without real purpose (or without right purpose) just to “check out what s going on.” In other words, curiosity kills the cat.
It may be hard to resist to check ” what’s going on”, I know it from personal experience, but try to find it out without sticking your head directly in.
It may sound logical that if you hear screams and shots in the middle of SHTF to run there and to check what’s going on, but it is much more logical to stay home and prepare in the best possible way for the cause of those screams to come to you.
Come up with a clear plan of who stands where, who takes who, where are the ways for bugging out, and what each member of your family is gonna do on your mark.
It is an example only, a drastic example, I admit.
An article about moving when the SHTF for a lot of people is often like” I’ll have my gun, my buddies, and drill”, which is very simplified, and only part of a bigger, much bigger picture.
Routes for moving when the SHTF
When we talk about moving when the SHTF in an urban area, it is impossible not to mention routes and interesting points on our way wherever we go.
Routes may (probably will) be quite different from our regular routes in normal life, so what you need to do today is to sit down and think about it. Let’s call them “alternate routes” through your city or area.
What I have in mind is how you can go from point A to point B using that alternate way. Throw into practice the fact that you are using these alternate ways because you want to avoid people.
Now you need to know that you cannot cover all possibilities because of the nature of SHTF. There are gonna be a lot of new “points” of factors that you did not consider in your exercise.
For example, maybe you planned to use an alternate road through some abandoned storage facility but you did not factor in the fact that the storage facility would become a place for some local gang, or a refugee center or whatever.
What I want to say is that you cannot (as usual) plan for everything, but you can adopt a philosophy of alternate routes in your area.
Every city has alternate routes, even today. When the SHTF it is just gonna become more complicated.
Interesting points along the way
Points of interests or danger spots are everywhere throughout the city. They are in every city in normal times.
So for example, these days in my city there are several spots where I would not like to go through during night time because certain kinds of people live and operate there. If I go there at night, it usually means that I am a guy who wants to buy drugs, a gun or a girl, or I am a policeman or an idiot.
Now that is an example of a dangerous spot in normal times.
When we are talking about SHTF, there is always gonna be danger spots concerning you moving through the city. The catch is in the fact that those spots may be changing based on a lot of facts.
Here are only a few examples, from real experience:
- gas station
- police stations
Now, in the beginning phases of SHTF, all of the above-mentioned places should be avoided because simply there will be a lot of violence around them.
So if you are moving in the initial phase of SHTF you are avoiding them. There are rampages at the gas station because people want gas, at pharmacies because people want drugs, weapons at police stations, and all kind of goods in malls.
Now it is the best advice not to go there because of the violence. But if you feel up to the task of going for example to the pharmacy in the middle of chaos to storm it – it is a very valuable resource.
The choice is yours, but we are talking about safely moving through the city.
In later phases of the SHTF, that gas station will probably become nothing, and the pharmacy too, but the police station and mall might be always dangerous spots, simply because of the infrastructure of the buildings. It may become a perfect hiding place for people, or defending the place for groups of people.
So you’ll avoid it again – because of different reasons – but you’ll avoid it.
In the beginning phase of SHTF, a bridge may be a dangerous place because it is a choking point, panic point. In later phases, that bridge may be a place where it is so easy to set up a checkpoint.
All these above are examples only, and they may not work in that way in your case. But the concept will be the same or similar, and it is important to think about that concept today in simple times.
Information giving, information taking
By moving through the area, you are collecting a whole set of information. For example: is the way clear without obstacles? Is there a noticeable human presence in the building in front of you (smells, light, smoke, sounds…), and is it a threat? You will gather a whole bunch of other pieces of information…
At the same time, you are giving information about yourself to someone who is possibly watching you: how you dressed, armed, how you move, hove many of you there are, what are you carrying, etc.
So, keep in mind that it is always a two-direction game and try to adopt that philosophy in your current task.
Let’s say you are going to a trade meeting through the whole city to the other end of it.
Are you going fully and visibly armed through the whole city, or are you crawling through the grass and mud and avoiding everything?
Probably no to both.
You are gonna choose to blend into your current situation based on circumstances around you. So if you are traveling through the region where there are people but they are not hostile, let’s say they are neutral, you are gonna travel through it in a less aggressive way. But you are still giving as little information about yourself as possible. Remember, you do not want to give a reason to not-hostile people to become hostile just because it is clear you are carrying something valuable.
In a region where there is clearly hostility and danger, you will move in a different way and act differently, simply because circumstances are different.
Remember something: showing your weapon may be more dangerous than not showing it. It is up to you to recognize at the moment what you are gonna do.
You’ll be more often in situations when you should act and look neutral but ready for violence than to look openly aggressive and violent.
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.
- Read more of Selco’s articles here.
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Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.
“showing your weapon is more dangerous than not showing it.” So very true! It’s never a good idea to give up op-sec, even in times when it doesn’t seem like SHTF has hit yet. The one showing that they are armed is immediately the largest perceived threat, and the first to be neutralized.
Sort of amusing, Viking Preparedness made an off hand comment that ties Selco’s last article regarding movies and this one, “What can be learned from the movie ‘The Road’? Stay off the road.” Simple to remember, like “Don’t get on the bus.”.
Oblivious suggestions, stock-up on hard copy maps of your area, anykind, street, aerial, sewage, utilities, sevice, right-of-ways, quadrant/topographic, where there is water above and below ground, etc. Even demographic maps showing population density, incomes, medial ages are useful. Building Code books, Means Architectural Book illustrate cross sections of buildings and structures to give an idea what may need to be broken through. Videos of Sarajevo show people traveling thru adjacent buildings to avoid snipers. Cities have different layouts, grid, radial, concencentric and so on. Crossing a river presents it’s own problems.
A sewer manhole cover lifting tool for about twenty-five dollars would be useful as well as crowbars. Even folding shovels make good defense instruments. War drives people underground, miltary included. (If there are still dogs around to sense and smell approaching people would be practical.)
Now would be a good time to walk through as many neighborhoods as possible to get a sense what is there, how long it takes and the people living in them. Neighborhoods change depending on the time of day. Plus it builds up your leg muscles and stamina. While you’re walking make your own maps, mental and hand drawn. Photos will help later. It’ll also remind you to stock up on shoes, above the ankle boots, wool socks, toe clippers, blister pads and foot powder.
Apologies if the above is obvious.
“Architectural Graphics Standards by Ramsey & Sleeper”, is the book I was referring to. There are similiar reference books on civil and site design. Not cheap except if they can be found at a booksale or as library discards. Perhaps free PDF’s.
I can’t remember where I read during the 1991-95 wars, a Serb SOF unit, Tigers(?), came through a culvert or large pipe to inflict casualties. It’s necessary to realize these things for defense purposes.
A steel bolt with a tied wire or high strength paracord in center of bolt can be slipped into manhole cover hole, and pulled back up, lifting cover to gain access.
“A sewer manhole cover lifting tool for about twenty-five dollars would be useful as well as crowbars. Even folding shovels make good defense instruments. War drives people underground, miltary included. (If there are still dogs around to sense and smell approaching people would be practical.)”
Thank you. Good to know. Way cheaper, easier to carry and conceal. Could double as a garrote.
The above method is better but for general info, (you say mute, I say moot point),
“A manhole cover typically weighs between 90 and 150 pounds, according to Government Security News. At 450 pounds per cubic foot, a 32-inch cast-iron manhole cover can weigh up to 250 pounds.”
“Parachute cord aka paracord comes in basically 6 major types based on weight limits of 95 lbs to 750 lbs. Type 3 has a weight limit of 550 lbs and is referred to as 550 paracord.”
Then again, if you have 21-inch biceps and a strong back,
One Man Lift Manhole Cover
In a city a crowbar, (and leather gloves), or similar tool found at a flea market would be useful for various reasons.
For example, a crowbar would do in case you want to save bullets, (skip to 2:50 seconds)
“You’ll have to answer to the Coca-Cola company”
THE COMING WAR in america,will be a hundred times worse then what SELCO went through,the US MILITARY has been raising wild animals from the distant pass,THAT WILL BE TURNED LOOSE on america,the US MILITARY plans to poison all the water supplies with (looks like water),poison gas will be in the air everywhere,blue,pink,and white,ROBOT DOGS will be hunting everyone,Hunter killer drones will be in the air searching for anyone without a badge on their shoulder,then you’ll have Zombies and demons,YOU BETTER HAVE A SWORD,its the only thing that will kill demons,you have to chop them to pieces…selco never went through anything like whats coming.STAY close to the LORD JESUS,most of you will die…
There is a reason why it’s called the road less traveled. It’s a longer route, an untenable route, or one you have to create yourself.
When the SHTF life will become more difficult for you in every way.
If stealth needs to becomes an objective, it makes sense to also have silent weapons and the skill to use them. Looking like a nobody makes good sense. Even all black draws attention. Looking and maybe smelling a little funky could save the day.
Yet another post fart.
David Macaulay’s 1976 book “Underground” gives a glimpse what lies under a major city. May still be in libraries.
Andrew Wonder has a series of Youtube videos of underground New York City complete with Mole people.
Decades ago there was a documentary on the Bloods and Crips of L.A.. The interviewer asked a kid about fourteen years with a truncated AK sticking out of his baggy pants if he had ever been to the Pacific Ocean?
Even though it was less than a mile from where he grew up it was too dangerous to travel though the checkboard gang territories.