SELCO: These Are the Signs the SHTF Is Happening for Real

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

How do you know if the SHTF is actually here? One of the cornerstones of survival is how to recognize that a situation has gone so bad that the S is truly going to hit the fan.

Basically, we are talking about how to recognize that it is time to bug out or hunker down because it is going to be bad.

I call it “survival mode” (no, it is not invented by me), and it means that you at some point based on your own observations, feelings, the situation around you, events, etc. going to are going to jump into that mode where you gonna implement actions based on different priorities than everyday life.

It is personal but it may include:

  • no longer going to work and school
  • bugging out
  • bugging in
  • using violence on “first shoot, then ask” philosophy

In short, you are putting into action decisions that you prepared for a long time because S did hit the fan.

How do you know when the real SHTF has arrived?

A common question is, “How am I going to recognize that it is time to leave my job because the whole situation is going to s**t?”

The easiest (and pretty lame and lazy) answer is that you need to leave your job as soon as you see something bad is happening around you, and go home, bug in, bug out or whatever your plan is.

But it is lame because something bad is happening all the time around us – people being robbed or killed, folks losing jobs, cars being stolen, food poisoning, protests, political scandals – not to mention terrorist attacks happening more often and the migration crisis..

But you still need your job to pay bills. Your kids need to go to school. Violence and bad things are always around us, but that does not mean you’ll have to quit your job and bug out. If you do that, you are achiving nothing.

So we are actually talking here how to recognize the “big event”, a real SHTF event, when you need to jump into that survival mode and stop worrying too much about your regular day-to-day life.

The real fun here is that there is no universal answer. There is no specific point at which you will recognize it, but definitely, there are some things to pay attention to.

Remember the two frogs.

A well-known story is about the two frogs. One is thrown directly into a pot of boiling water, and of course, the frog immediately jumps out of the bowl and runs away.

The other frog is being thrown into a pot of cold water and then water is gradually heated to point of boiling ,and at the end, this frog died.

When the water is gradually heated to the boiling point, the frog does not realize it is gonna die.

Most of us are frogs in a big bowl of water that is gradually heated to the boiling point and let me tell you, that water is getting pretty warm.

You really need to be the well-prepared and smart frog to realize that the warm (and maybe pleasant) water is going to be deadly boiling in a very short time.

Get out while the “water is still pleasant”

I believe the term is “strategic relocation”, or in other words, it is moving to an area where the situation going to be better if SHTF.

It is not bugging out when SHTF. It takes very careful planning. You are looking for a new place to live, a job, a good environment for kids, natural resources, and a good home, etc., today while times are still (more or less) normal.

It is quite specific for each person based on the region where you live, job opportunities, family circumstances and a lot of other things, but in essence, a few things that I would look for are:

  •  smaller communities
  • places where you already have some network (family, friends…)
  • availability of resources ( land, rivers, woods, hunt…)
  • reasonably far away from big infrastructure
  • laws that allow you freedom (or absence of restrictions) like farming, weapon carry, homeschooling etc.

Keep in mind that again it is not bugging out, it is living in circumstances where you gonna have a much better starting point when SHTF.

You still have to work for a living, and the kids need school etc.

Signs that the SHTF has actually arrived

Since most of can not afford “strategic relocations” we are forced to stay and hope to see on time that S gonna hit the fan, and hopefully jump on time into that survival mode and act accordingly.

I am in the same position.

I am not talking here about obvious signs that something bad has happened, because if you hear a huge explosion and there is no signal on TV suddenly, no internet or electricity, you do not have to be a prepper to realize something bad has happened, and you are already in the middle of it.

Here are some of the signs that the SHTF has actually arrived.

Freedoms and rights are disappearing.

You usually feel like your rights and freedoms are something written in stone, and you may be right.

But in terms of signs of a coming huge SHTF, keep in mind that when your freedoms and rights that are really important are taken away from you, the S is going to hit the fan soon.

And again probably it is going to happen gradually enough that the majority of folks will not go out on the street to fight for those rights, and also, it may happen in a way that the majority of people will welcome it, under some new laws that “save lives” or “keep them safe” or similar.

But the result is going to be same. Your rights and freedoms are gonna be taken because you are gonna be easier to manipulate then.

Polarization, hate, and violence are on the rise.

I have mentioned all of that before, more than once, but prior to SHTF, it is going to be worse when it comes to hate because again, a lot of stuff you cannot see clearly when you are in a state of hate or fear.

A lot of things can be moving in the background while you are coping with disorder, hate, and violence.

Your access to information will be limited.

Your free access to independent information will be “shrunk”.

Independent media will be harder and harder to find, or you will be fooled and you will think that actually, you have access to free information while in reality, it is junk, propaganda.

The shutting down of free media and people who hold information will disappear. These are some of the last signs, and again, most people will welcome it. Independent media will be almost “demonized”.

Watch the behavior of people in the know.

I will give you some examples.

I had a friend who worked for the secret police before the war. He ended up in the sieged city together with me.

He did not have a clue that things were gonna get so bad, even with his position and his access to the information.  He simply was fed bulls**t by people that he trusted.

On the other hand, I had a friend who, prior to the war was a smuggler of different kind of things from Italy, such as marijuana, electronics, and whatever was popular at that time.

He knew something bad was gonna happen, and he bugged out in time to Italy.

In his “job” he had connections with people who “pushed” things for other people who were pretty powerful criminals.  Based on moving on those “goods” and information, he simply concluded something bad was going to happen.

The point here is to keep your ear to the ground and see how things and events are moving around you.

Most probably you are not going to see things coming on TV on mainstream media, but if you have a buddy in the police force who will let you know that a lot of equipment is being delivered to them or a friend in some not “legit” places who  can give you good information, you can conclude a lot.

There is no specific advice here, but a network of friends with information from the right places is worth much more than a TV network.

You may miss the signs. I did.

I have seen all the signs above, and I failed to run. I ended up right in the middle of SHTF.

It is not only important to see and recognize signs. It is important to believe that it can actually happen. Because after I saw all the signs, I just said to myself, “Oh, it cannot happen here. Somebody somehow is gonna solve everything.”

It is very hard to trust in something that you did not experience before. Only now do I believe that a lot of horrible things are possible.

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.

Picture of Selco


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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  • I agree with you. Our EPA is not protecting our drinking water, our states dept is half staffed, our education and labor dept. are being dismantled. The White House is accepting bribes for its family and selling out our country. Th president is undermining the federal law Andy media. Grab you gun, it is going to get interesting.

      • Manny ? this “PJ” is nothing more than a parrot jawed moron still waiting for clintoN to step in after Trump is impeached.
        They are all programmed.

    • The swamp turned into a quagmire of rich cronies taking advantage of the peons. Really can’t understand how so many people stay loyal frogs in the cold water. Definitely getting hot in here.

    • pjw you might be one of the few liberals with a gun, if you even know how to use it, but you are too mentally ill to have it. please turn it in immediately. The Clinton foundation and DNC is bribes INC! pull your head out dude

  • No surprise that an article about restrictions of freedom as a sign about SHTF was published the day before Independence Day. I have relaxed my vigilance a lot this year because I trust our president so much. But in reality we should never relax our vigilance and never stop prepping. I’m not talking about buying more and more canned food but about practicing survival skills. Great article. Thank you.

  • The things that you will need will be gone in a hurry if you wait until the last minute to prepare. Canned meats, dried beans and peas, rice, canned vegetables, medicine, ammo, first aid supplies, matches or lighters, charcoal, gas, seeds and fertilizer for a garden. There are many more things that I have left out but the biggest thing is to prepare ahead of time when supplies are plentiful and cheaper. A lot of these things will be like money for yo. If you have more than you need you could sell them or swap them for things you don’t have. Medical supplies can be bought at discount stores such as the dollar stores. Try to buy things that have the longest shelf life by looking at expiration dates.

  • Selco, thank you for your input and updates. Here in America, civil unrest is growing at an alarming rate. I fear a civil war may happen and we are preparing for a bug out far away from the things of man. Our plans are very well thought out with regards to shelter, food, water and personal protection. Are taking the time before actual bug out to hone skills, learn homeopathic methods of illness free living., etc. We are growing more confident every day that our comprehensive plan will succeed. Keep tips coming, we are anxious to learn from other like minded individuals

  • I think this article is good given the specific SHTF scenario that SELCO lived through. However, there are many more possible scenarios, all with different warning signs. Some scenarios could hit with no warning. What would need to be done to answer this question would be a conference of some sort attended by experts in every one of the possible disasters, along with preppers, other survival experts, along with some very bright out-of-the-box thinkers. Might take more than one conferences with committee work between the events. No doubt there are some like this now for specific scenarios like wildfire, law enforcement, military, pandemic, emergency management agencies (state or local, clearly FEMA is not up to the task) and more.

    I suppose one or two bright people could study all existing literature of the above fields and brainstorm the other areas and write a book with specific warning signs. However, it just might not be possible to come up with a truly definitive list.

  • If you don’t have a prior agreement with the owner(s) of the location you intend to bug out to, you become someone else’s problem that they may not wish to be burdened with, and might even defend themselves from your depredation. Picture shtf hits, and you are as set as you can be in your location, and someone uninvited and probably undesired comes to your door expecting salvation. You get my point.

    Just bugging out to anywhere is not a plan, well, I take that back, it’s preplanned ruin.

    There’s also the issue of being in harms way when traveling to your bug out location; you will not be the only one traveling in shtf, and not everyone is as innocent or pure at heart as you are, meaning you can become a victim to some other shtf traveller’s evil.

    What I am getting at is be at your bug out location before there arises the need to bug out. If you think you’re just going to bug out to some likely location and become adopted by a kindhearted christian family, all I can say is good luck with that. If you don’t know who you are bugging out to in shtf, the personages you bug out to just might look at you as a resource for their exploitation. This isn’t the America of 1933 when doors were left open, keys in cars, common decency was, well, common decency. Back in the depression Americans helped each other to a degree, today, media has corrected that great wrong and made us all suspect each other as democrats and republicans. I worst case a lot of stuff as that’s my training, but this is kinda important stuff to think out.

    Seriously, plan ahead or you will add to the misery instead of reduce it.

    • There is another possibility that most people do not recognize; That is bugging out to a nomadic lifestyle, rather than a set location.
      There are many individuals that currently live this way in the US and Canada. Most of them are currently living out of RV’s.

      Although I don’t think that using RV’s is possible during SHTF, using pack animals and tents or wagons is a possibility.

      There will be many, old time, forgotten skills or specialty skills that will be useful for trade, but not needed constantly in a community. So like the traveling Drummer of old or the circuit riding preacher. or even like a Gypsy , a nomadic or circuit of travel, type existence will be possible.

      Besides out West there are large areas of National forest and government lands that will be available to ” bug out” to. If there is no operating government , then it will be open to any and all takers.

      So many of you are still thinking inside the Box; a fixed location existence. Survival often requires thinking outside the box.
      So expand your thinking and you horizons. Your very life might depend upon it.

  • Interesting to read this article, and the comments, note the dates.
    And then we have the Covid19 pandemic.
    People throwing punches in grocery stores over toilet paper.
    The reaction from not only the Federal government, but state and local.
    The markets too.
    And the man in the streets reactions as well.

  • I’m a total fan (and practice) Selco’s Strategic Relocation. Bug At? (Bug@ would be cute).

    If one does this, not only is the scene fail-safer, but one can start living up the learning curves for the bugged out life. While we can’t foresee everything, we can make our best guess and start learning how to live it, where we plan to live it. All survival is ultimately local.

    When SHTF, we’ll have to leave it all behind, willy nilly… why not get a head start?

    Dave Z

  • Selco, are you being a tiny bit disingenuous by not sharing your opinion on the current state of the total collapse or do you not believe that there is a global take-down underway and has been for about a year?

      • Hi Daisy,

        I’m new here – does anyone have any thoughts to share or do you have other articles about strategic relocation. I am at a point where if I am going to move now is the time, and I am looking at all states. I need to be stationary, not nomadic so I want to pick a state as a starting point. I have thought about the pros and cons of a number of places, most of them further south but my perspective is limited. I’m currently in a relatively OK part of PA which fits most of the criteria on the list above especially non being a big city, and definitely lots of access to land, rivers etc but my huge concern is its a blue state and I think that in itself is actually the biggest concern. I already see a lot of “rules” being pushed and due to our terrible winter weather the stores are blitzed. I really want some basic info such as (assuming you can move) is it even a good idea to be in a blue state or a frigid cold state. Please forgive my novice status here – I really appreciate all thoughts.

  • I’ve already bugged out, my brother’s bugged out even farther, and I’m laying the inroads to get out there.

    Country is going to shit, and it’s shocking to watch. Some might say I don’t go out enough. Maybe that’s because every time I do go out, I see the temperature’s a good notch higher than it was last time.

  • Welcome thanks for the great article. I believe as you do. It’s here. Pray for the best and be ready for the worse. I’ll be bugging in. I’m doing security around and in the house, double checking food quantities. So as to not shake the neighbors up. I go to the store and buy less so as not to draw attention. A panic will. Come soon enough. Now, about prices. I saw king crab ???? today at 60.00 bucks a pound. Can your food. Again check meds.

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