SELCO: The 5 Things That Will Surprise You Most When the SHTF

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

This is an excerpt from Selco’s book, The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival.

I recently ran one of my newest courses, called “A Mile in My Shoes.” This is where I take a small group of students to the city where I survived the war and take them around and physically show them the realities of what was faced. A lot of lessons are learned during the course and most importantly (and what I hoped for) students come far closer to realizing the ‘reality’ of a true SHTF situation.

I thought I would share with you the ‘top 5’ surprises that the students encountered, meaning things they had not thought about or realized before the course but had to accept and come to terms with during…

1) How ‘close’ the fighting will be.

This picture, taken very close to my house, was one of the ‘front lines’ for some time. One side was in houses on the left of the alley, another side (enemy) were in the right-side houses.

This seems INCREDIBLY close (and it is) but then realize, there were times when the ‘dividing lines’ were even closer than this.

When you put that into the perspective then you can start to think about new reality because there is nothing very static and sure when SHTF, one day the house next to you can be completely safe, another day there might be someone inside who wants to harm you, or simply you’ll never be sure how safe and secure are your surroundings.

It is the most dangerous aspect of urban SHTF because you’ll have a lot of people in a relatively small area and you’ll have a higher demand for (very limited) resources because the ‘system’ is gone.

Now when you add to that calculation the fact that a lot of houses are going to be being destroyed, you get to the point that you never know anything for sure, where is someone and what intention they have.

That is especially important if you planning to survive urban SHTF alone (lone wolf theory) so you can get a feeling how hard that’s going to be.

2.) The ‘Enemy’ will look, sound, and speak like you.

They may even have been your long-time friends but are now on the ‘opposite’ side. Fighting here was divided by all sorts of reasons, race, religion, affiliation, heritage, politics, and often a big mix of all these things.

‘Sides’ were always changing as well. That’s just the ‘enemy’, when it comes to Survival you will fight to get what you need or protect what you have from whoever…

Having the idea that some foreign forces will invade your country, forces that will look, act, speak completely different then you, and people from your surroundings are mostly just fantasies, especially when we talk about the USA.

That may be the case, but you’re going to have a lot of ‘local’ fighting and surviving before that.

Strong systems are going to have a “bigger and longer” fall, there are way too many people and weapons in the US for some foreign force to choose to invade and pacify the country… it is impossible.

What is possible is to “push” some country into the chaos, in order to turn on themselves, suffer hunger, prolonged chaos and similar, and maybe then to invade.

In the end, it all comes to you and people who want to harm you. The fact that the people want to harm you were people who you use to know does not make it easier.

Do not expect Martians or Russians. Expect people who look, act, and talk like you, who want to survive just like you.

Again, we come to the point that you will be forced to fight with your neighbors and fellow countrymen for resources.

[page_section template=’3′ position=’default’ shadow=’#dd9933′]

Have you taken Selco’s online courses yet?

Taking the online courses are the next best thing to getting over to Europe and studying with him personally.

  • SHTF Survival Boot Camp teaches you both urban and wilderness survival skills, primitive first aid, and lessons about the violence that you’ll never forget.
  • One Year in Hell is Selco’s original course that shares the dark truth about what it was like to live in a city under siege. He talks about the signs he missed, what happened when chaos erupted, the grim sanitation conditions, and how his life completely changed.

If you want the real deal from a legend who has lived through the SHTF, these are the online courses for you.[/page_section]

3) How “busy” an average day was     

Fighting for survival is an all day, everyday task. You are constantly hunting, scavenging, gathering, finding information, looking and checking things. All while the most stressed you have ever been and under constant threat. All while being hungry and thirsty.

There is no ‘day off’ or ‘break’. This is the big difference between a soldier and a civilian in war. A soldier has a job to do, and all his other needs are taken care of. He can just focus on his one job. In a civil war, you (and your group) need to cover all the tasks, all the time…

If you served in Army, you had clear orders, topics, outside of that you did not need to think about too many things.

You had “backup”.  Your job was to do tasks, and someone else takes care of all the other things in order for you to finish your tasks successfully.

In SHTF you are the first unit, rear, and back up. If you fuck up and break your leg there is no medical evacuation. If you did not find food (or any other resources) there is no service who will do that for you.

It is a hard time, and the day is full of “acquiring” things and finishing jobs.

Shooting at someone may look like a fun idea today, or romantic in some way. It is maybe more romantic than to think about how to manage your waste or bathe or lower your kid’s fever in the middle of SHTF.

You are everything when SHTF because the system is gone.

4) The level of the threat

In SHTF almost everything is a threat to you. Yes, easy to understand threats like sniper, gangs, angry neighbors etc., but the lack of food, complete lack of hygiene, level of contamination, risk of illness and injury, being found, being informed on, being tricked, getting captured and many, many, more make up a larger amount of threats than most ever think of.

Just start to imagine every ‘supply’ you take for granted (fuel, electricity, water, stores, emergency services etc.) being taken away and not knowing when it will ever come back.

Then imagine the worst person you have ever known, someone you would not trust to help you in any situation.

Now imagine everyone around you is like that person. Then imagine everything you climb on, through or over can hurt you, and that everything you touch has the potential to make you ill…

Did you get all that?  If you do, you are maybe about 40% of the way to imagining the reality…

The level of threat is going to be a BIG shock to you in the beginning. If you survive that shock it is good because then you get yourself into the mode of real surviving.

No matter how well you are prepared you will go through that shock. With good preparation and the correct mentality, you can minimize that shock and make it shorter.

That is the real point of preparing.

 5) The reality of defending your assets

I know. All the points mentioned don’t bother you that much, as you have a nice house, lots of supplies and you’re ready to fight. But how is your plan working once your house or apartment looks like this…?

And inside like this…?

Anyone who is ‘fit’ must go out a lot to find things for everyday survival. How you protect all your stuff when you are not home?

What about when one day a big group comes to ask you how you’re doing so OK, and what you have there? To protect your stuff from them is a clear death sentence. What will you do then?

You have to have the right mindset. It means the difference between defending something and getting killed and adapting yourself in order to survive without it.

You have to accept the fact that maybe you’ll be forced to survive only with your skills.

Understand that in SHTF, every house in the city is going to look like this, or worse – not even be there. In my city, there are many houses you see like this. You see them because they are made of stone or concrete. You don’t see the wood buildings because they all burned down.

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.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Great article!
    The comments on the Army are true and were so while I was there. Make no mistake I was there BUT I did have a team and I got to go home when the tour was up.
    S hits TF here and it ain’t fighting at noon and Netflix at 7 like these gamers think it’s gonna be.
    This article also should help you understand how important a team is, how important training is and how realism and humbling yourself on your true abilities will allow you to live another day IF your lucky.

  • It has LONG been in my mind, that those who want to destroy America the most know they will have to do so from within. IF, done adeptly, we will realize to late we lost before the fight began. Presently it feels that we are deep into the takeover politically. What I wait for now, is that one spark, where it all collapses around us. Many, many years ago, a friend and I discussed how could America be destroyed, and he stated, if he were an enemy country he would send ALL the “undesirables”; the criminals and the diseased to the USA.
    Several weeks later began the Cuban refugee crisis. A test of doing just that very idea.
    Swell the population to bursting; break the banks on welfare; destroy commerce and then let the gangs run amok. We then turn on each other because we learn too late, trust no one, protect yourself.
    Anarchy. Rape. Murder. Plundering.
    THEN, the gov’t will have the green light, the “please help us” and all out martial law begins. And then the camps fill as the clean up gets underway.
    Many, many years LATER, I see this ALL UNFOLDING DAILY.
    SELCO does a tremendous service trying to help people to grasp what could happen.
    Thank you.

  • Great article!

    Point number 3 is spot on . One thing to be in a formal, state/nation back military with all the logistical train to back you up, and you dont have to think about how your beans, band aids, bullets, fuel get to you (as someone else is doing it for you), but when you are on your own, that next meal becomes a big deal.
    What is that? You have a years worth of MREs stockpiled? What happens after one year, plus one day? Then what?

    20k of ammo for your AR15? If you have ever been a squad or platoon leader/SGT, you know, that is not really a lot of ammo if you think you are going to be engaged in a lot of firefights. Every squeeze of the trigger gets you that much closer to you rifle becoming a club. Might want to practice at becoming an Expert Rifleman and not depending on volume.

    A lot of the Ramboz-wannabes think they will be all kitted up in their tacti-cool gear, pawing at their AR15s, standing “overwatch.” Them beans are not going to plant, water, or weed themselves. Ever try to weed a garden in full battle rattle? Or even with just a rifle slung over your back?
    What is that? Womans work? Dont be surprised if your spouse/family kills you in your sleep.

  • Selco says “the enemy will look, sound and speak like you.” That would be true in a homogeneous society. But I live in a major city that is splintered by race, ethnicity, language and religion into warring tribes that are kept from genociding each other only by a police force the size of a European army. It is only thanks to this oppressive police presence that my city is able to maintain a facade of civility, order and sophistication. I am certain that when the SHTF, every resident in this city will instantly band with his/her tribal faction against every other tribal faction. Like prison gangs. Because that’s historically what has happened in this city during blackouts and natural disasters.

  • Most will perish as a result of drinking bad water. Once most men comprehend their situation, they will sneak out with what limited supplies their family has and leave the women and children to fend for themselves.

    Survival in the cities ultimately will depend upon eating each other. Your best chance is to hunker down until most of the competition has eliminated each other. The shallow thinkers expect that they will be out in the great outdoors hunting and fishing- that will be the one of the most dangerous things you could do, especially alone. Game will be harvested to near extinction in short order requiring maximum effort to be successful. Consider rat and stray dog recipes.

    You will need at least three trustworthy souls working together. One works his ass off while the second stands watch and the third gets some rest. If someone carelessly gets seriously sick or injured the wheels fall off. Think about it.

    • Well, I dont know about the rest of you men, but this Man is not going to abandon his wife and child to go hang out with two others dudes in the woods.

      • Yeah, that seems rather unrealistic. And as bad as things got for Selco, they didn’t resort to cannibalism. Rick paints quite a picture.

          • Did you read the article? “You can’t touch anything”… and as I mentioned, if you don’t have a filter, you may not be able to find potable water?

        • How many males have already abandoned their families in our inner cities?… and the incidence of divorce the second time around is over 60%! And these are the good times.

          Also, although not being reported in the mainstream media, in our increasingly pagan society (i.e. Satanism and Satanic ritual), the incidence of cannibalism is apparently increasing significantly.

          Our government’s own study into a nationwide EMP attack concluded 90% fatalities in the first 12 months and that result parallels’s 2025 forecast.

  • (Mark 13:9-13) “¶ But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. {10} And the gospel must first be published among all nations. {11} But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. {12} Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. {13} And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

    • I, soooo, follow this. It’s like, with everything going on at this current time in history, the Word is quickly being fulfilled and it’s a short time until we are going to be hauled up for our beliefs and stances on what is going on.
      For this I’m not afraid. But I know, also, that we will face much before that time.

  • Regarding Point No. 3, a soldier has logistic support.

    During Vietnam it took about nine personnel nearby to logistically support one soldier in the field.

    So extrapolating, would it take a civilian in a SHTF scenario nine times to do the simplest task it would have otherwise?

    Of course time would only be one factor amongst many others. As Selco’s articles illustrate even traveling at night across town to barter for a can of food would be a life or death situation.

    Imagining taking nine hours or more to do something that used to take one quickly prioritizes your to-do list to only a few tasks or skills you need to practice now. And that can be done under the worst conditions possible.

    (How to avoid firefights would be a good skill.)

    There was an “iconic” 90’s newspaper photograph (if it wasn’t posed) showing two enemy soldiers talking near the end of a wall separating the two roofs they were on.
    The caption read one was Bosnian, the other Serbian.
    I assumed the one with the two foot long beard was the Serb.

    • To emphasize, each soldier was on one side of the wall opposite from the other.
      That’s being in close-quarters.

  • Yea, yet another post. No surprise there.

    RG’s comment above regarding males leaving their families in the inner cities. It seemed to have started back in the 1960’s when single mothers could get more Welfare benefits if the father wasn’t around. And more children meant more benefits.

    Divorce rates rising? Probably when more females were encouraged to go out into the workplace rather than raise a family due to economic reasons and other influences. Women going for a career would push back their biological clock, having children, back into their thirties or fourties even.
    (Plug for William S. Lind’s new book about ‘RetroCulture’, of the 1950’s, coming out this week.)

    It was written, “900 Days: The Seige of Stalingrad” perhaps?, that there was a running joke,

    “Why don’t you come over tonite for dinner?”.

    “Sure. What’s for dinner?”.


    If there’s a concern about infection from touching anything during the SHTF, you might wanna rethink your cuisine choices.

  • May I suggest that the single biggest surprise for all hereabouts will be that what is coming will look virtually nothing like what Selco experienced. And I’ll tell you why – not! – figure it out.

    big blind spot, kids

  • Excellent article, really gets into the “facts” of what SHTF would be like.
    We need way more articles like this.

    I suspect not a lot of people caught the part about: “Fighting for survival is an all day, everyday task. You are constantly hunting, scavenging, gathering, finding information, looking and checking things.”

    So all those who are taking or storing up games, books, toys, etc, don’t understand how much time you will spend, just surviving. This goes for the children also, they will need to be assigned chores and work to help out. Life will be hard. The, 24 hrs a day /7 days a week/365 days a year, type of hard.

    Something Selco mentioned in passing, that should also be considered highly important.
    “You don’t see the wood buildings because they all burned down.”

    Most of the things I read and most of the preppers I talk to, have no provision or plan for dealing with fire and fire suppression in their BOL or their Bug in location.
    Most do not consider that Fire, (one of the oldest weapons known to man and warfare) might be used against them and their defenses, homes, etc.
    Let alone that when organized government services no longer operate ( fire dept, Forest service fire crews, etc) then the chance of Wild fire, or a fire storm greatly increase. Not only in the rural areas, but even more so in the cities. Many cities have suffered greatly in the past because of fire: Chicago, San Francisco and during WW 2, Tokyo, Dresden and even London.

    Is it the things that you don’t plan for that will trip you up and may kill you.

  • I have a question for Selco. Given the close proximity of combatants in your town (the bad guys), and the fact that you mentioned potentially bad or threatening people everywhere, and last, that your closest friends could become your enemies, what did you do about them after the war? They must have been everywhere, and daily. Were you able to make peace, were there retributions, did most people move. What about the children? Were they ever friends again?

    • You should be on Selco’s One Year in Hell course on his website, I think I remember the answer to that question being quite complicated but I get the impression the wounds persist to this day.

  • Selco again you prove to be the master of the Great Prepper Reality Check,, that one picture of a ratty room is worth a thousand words. Even though we may not be facing violence right now how it makes all planning just getting a head start on survival and not the actual act itself which people need to know is not like any role play you can think of.

  • This is the second time around I’ve read this article. This is great praise. I appreciate a lot what Selco has accomplished. He’s honest in saying very little about spiritual matters.

    I believe what a great saint once said: ‘This entire Universe is spiritual university. Whatever happens, happens for our spiritual growth. It is only that we are not aware of it.” I also believe how another great Being once described God as being Our Father in Heaven. I believe this is the most important thing to have when SHTF and it could be all a person will have.

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