Selco: Who Survives and Who Dies When the SHTF?

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An Interview with Selco Begovic

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

Did you ever wonder about the differences in how people behave in a crisis? Why some people survive and some people die? Are there characteristics that we can nurture now in good times that could help see us through bad times?

I’d talked with Selco previously about who lives and who doesn’t in a long-term emergency, and a great determiner is a flexible mindset. In this interview, we go deeper into who can withstand the stress of an SHTF event and who crumbles. Today he shares his insights from the Balkan War. (You can get more of his stories here in his #1 New Release book on Amazon.)

What were the worst mental stressors during the situation in Bosnia that are probably common in many long-term scenarios?

Obviously, it was a situation when violence was very widely used and in a sporadic way ( very often without any logic) so people lived under constant physical threat, and also in very poor condition.

On first look that was mental stressors, but this part or field of survival is in my opinion very important and commonly overlooked in prepper community, and there is much more to it.

It is a huge topic, but we can touch on some of this in the article. I researched it a lot. A few factors were important, and will be important in any future collapse event:

#1) Loss of control

If you are living a normal average life with your family, you have a job, kids go to school, you go to the physician when you are sick, kids eat their favorite foods.

There are police for problems, there is law and order, everybody knows its place more or less.

You feel that you are in control of your life and lives of your family.

And then one day all that is gone. You find yourself in the world where very often things of life and death are a matter of pure coincidence or luck if you like, or a matter of event. For example, is there going to rain that day for enough water?

People had a very hard time of dealing with it, you can be prepared very well to some extent, but also you need to be prepared that for a number of things (big number) you are simply not in control anymore.

#2) Hopelessness

Hopelessness is the big word when it comes to survival, and from my experience, it is hard to beat it.

A survival event that lasts for few days, even a week or two, is like a camping trip, something like people go together, share food, help, there are nights spent next to lamps, violence is possible but not widespread because people see that event gonna last only for week or two.

Some people gonna take chance and do violence or stealing but the majority is gonna keep it together to the end of SHTF.

Events that last for month or two are harder, more violence and harder time, but still, people see that everything gonna go back to normal.

When you are thrown into an event that looks (or you think ) like it is gonna be a permanent or very prolonged condition, rules change.

From one side you have people that are not gonna be so nice and helpful to each other simply because they see this is gonna last and they gonna be forced to fight for resources and from the other side you gonna have hopelessness.

Most humans need to see cause in order to operate on the proper way, or in other words, in hard conditions people need to see ‘light“ no matter how far it is, otherwise, you might just mentally “surrender“ because it is hopeless to push on.

#3) Re-setting of the values

In normal life, you are, for example, lawyer or clerk, or teacher, or famous writer and then one day the world collapses (let say because of EMP).

In 20 days you find out that you are living in the world where you are valuable if you can quickly and efficiently chop the trees, or pickle vegetables, or repair weapons, or invent a setup to charge car batteries, or simply shoot from the rifle.

I am not saying a teacher or writer is useless in SHTF, but values are “re-set“ and simply if you do not have any immediate useful skills you’ll be forced to learn it, and you’ll be forced to understand that your values (knowledge and skills) that you had prior collapse simply may not be valuable anymore.

People had problems with this new “value system“.

#4) Responsibility

People have responsibilities in normal time taking care of their families. Those responsibilities are still there when some serious collapse come but because the system is out, all help is out too.

For example, you are responsible for you old mother who has high blood pressure problem and there is no doctor anymore, there is no medicine. There is no help from the system for your kid who has special needs, for example.

You realize that everything is up to you.

Some people simply could not take that. People could not watch their sick kids because they could not help them.

Some people would simply “surrender“ or leave everything.

#5) Bending the rules

Most interesting is actually how people would (or not) bend the rules that they had prior to the collapse.

A majority of us live by some rules (mental and moral rules) that tells us what is right and what is wrong.

It is wrong to steal, it is wrong to harm people. It is right to take care of sick and elderly.

When SHTF you’ll be in a position to “bend“ these rules, simply because you’ll be faced with lot of tough decisions and choices.

For example is it right to steal from others if that means my kid’s not gonna be hungry or die from infection?

Is it OK to harm other people because of that?

How are you gonna mentally live with that?

I am not advocating anything here, and I cannot give you suggestions but be sure that you’ll have to bend the rules, and that you gonna be faced with tough decisions.

It is up to you how much you gonna bend it.

All of the factors mentioned above are examples, and usually, you meet all of them more or less, and in combinations.

What kind of person tended to do better when everything went belly up?

First, we need to formulate a definition of “person who tended to do better when everything went belly up.”

I know people who were powerful in that time because they had manpower, a role in the black market, for example, they’d sell baby formula to people (sometimes mixed with plaster), or simply rob the people.

When war stopped they ended up very powerful and they are still (years after) very powerful.

But they are not in my definition of normal people.

We are talking now about ordinary folks, and I use the term “small circle“ when describing how to live in those times.

You need to mentally adapt to the fact that you’re gonna have to overcome some serious problem, but what is more important you need to adapt to the fact that some of the problems cannot be solved, some people will not survive, and you still will have to move on.

That small circle is your family or your group, and while the world outside is falling apart that does not mean your family needs to fall apart. You will just have to adapt to the new world.

Many people survived hard times, some of them by doing bad things. Other survived but fell apart when they found themselves back in normal times.

One thing about who did mentally good in that times is that people who had support from other people (family, friends) in that time went good.

It is very hard to be alone during events like that, especially if it is prolonged, of course, because obvious reasons for example security reasons (guarding home) or simply resources gathering. But when it comes to the mental aspect you need to have support from trusted people (just like they gonna need that support from you) otherwise resetting the values from topic above is much harder, or hopelessness  will kick you harder, or simply bending the rules may kick you in a way that you bend the rules too much, and at the end  turn yourself  in something that is more animal then human. 

Do you remember any stories you can tell about specific people who thrived?

Ordinary folks usually did not thrive. We all dragged ourselves through that way-too-long period feeling lucky if we were alive, with all parts of the body still there, and with families alive.

Everything else was day by day.

I remember this guy, I’ll call him Ed here, he was the man with information.

You need to know that it was complete information blackout, and even if you could somewhere find radio most of the stuff that you heard on it (on local languages)  was pure propaganda junk.

When you find yourself cut off from real information, all that you’re gonna have is a whole bunch of rumors and misinformation, and only then you realize how bad we people are used to having information.

I cannot even remember what kind of ridiculous information I have heard in that times, and I believed in many of them because I kinda needed to believe in that.

I have heard (and believed) probably 100 times that peace is coming in 3 days, or new big UN convoy with food for everybody coming to the city tomorrow, big enemy movements there.

People need to know. It is human nature.

And during very hard times people are simply ready to believe in a lot of things that look like clear nonsense in normal times.

Note: have a means to communicate with other people, CB, radio, satellite phone, ham radio.  To hear correct information, it is valuable because of many reasons, and also it is mentally very valuable

Ed was the guy who spread rumors-informations-news, and people would give him food for that information.

I believe we all deep in ourselves knew that it is probably just rumor, but “Ed said yesterday“ was some kind of information, something to talk about, something to hope for.

Ed survived alone whole event (pretty rare) thanks to the fact that “he had information.”

What kind of person suffered the most?

Survival is about being able to adapt to new things, and those new things are bad mostly.

There are many factors here that are influencing how you gonna mentally cope with collapse. A few of those are:

  • how prepared you are (how many preps you have like food, water, medicines…)
  • how many usable skills you have (natural remedies knowledge, gardening, technical skills, fighting skills…)
  • how dependent you are of the system (you are living in city apartment building or in small rural communities)
  • what kind of group (or family) you have around you, what kind of skills those people have, how close (trusted) those people are…

These are just a few examples, and even if you have everything above you still need to have mental strength.

Or in other words, you may be perfectly prepared survivalist when SHTF just to find that you are falling apart mentally because this new situation is simply not for you.

In my case (I am talking about people who were not preppers at all) people who suffered most were people who failed to recognize the new rules.

We had (in that time, in my family) college professor, man that was pretty important in normal times. Students were kinda trembling when they use to see him.

When SHTF he mentally fell apart and become useless because he felt that suddenly he become nobody, completely unimportant.

Every scum with a rifle was more important than him.

It is not about that we could not find a use for him, it is about fact that he was “plugged“ so heavily in the system and when that system was gone he felt there was no sense to anything.

He did not want to try to be useful in any other ways.

One definition would be that people who are “plugged“ or depended too much on the system had worst time when system disappeared (SHTF).

What are some things that can help a person who is having a difficult time during a crisis?

I mentioned that you need to have support from other people, but also you need to have peace of mind.

It is easier said then it is done, but yes, faith and religion, or kind of spiritual-mental order helps a lot.

I cannot say that religious people had less hard times, but I am sure that religious people went more peacefully through that hard time because it helps you to make sense of everything.

Personally, I had kinda “philosophy“ over the time that went something like “I’ll do whatever I can, and the rest is not in my hands anyway.“

Over the times it grew into “It will be whatever it has to be.“ It worked for me at that time.

It sounds simple, but this philosophy helped me through some of the hardest periods because I understood that I can do only “this“ amount of effort, but there were so many things that were way out of my control, and way random. If I worried too much about it I might lose my mind.

It worked for me then, but remember that I was not prepared. Preppers today are more prepared, and by combining that prepping with peace of mind, it makes even more sense.

Remember that you need to find sense in life when SHTF. You need to have reasons to push on and on.

God, faith, kids, love… you need to have some reason and to stick to it.

It can be things like teaching others about herbs, or food growing.

If you do not have good reasons you either end up dead because you stop caring, or simply you turn to an animal just following the most primitive instincts.

What are the things that made people feel better and helped recapture some normalcy?

I have to say that drugs and heavy alcohol drinking were in use very much, but not as a mean to recapture normalcy, it was more to get lost – to forget reality.

You need to have a “vent“- it is different for different people. As I said, for a lot of people it was alcohol or drugs, for me it did not do the complete job and often it was dangerous to get “lost“ in times like that.

It was very usual to see people smoking marijuana, people who never even heard of it prior the SHTF.

For me, two things were like “charging my mental batteries“ – music and reading.

Music was rare, and it was actually if you stumble on someone who plays guitar, reading was more available, and for me, it was like I was still there but I had escaped to a better place while reading or listening music.

In some bad situations I did find myself singing songs, maybe I  looked retarded in that moment because that, but actually it helped.

When you are dirty, hungry, frightened for security, worried for your family, and when all that goes for months, you need something that gonna make you feel fine for some time, not to forget all troubles (like with heavy drinking or drugs maybe) but more like to push all worries aside for a bit.

Note: do not mix alcohol abuse with fact that it is a great idea to store alcohol for SHTF. Have alcohol for a trade, or drink, but do not try to solve heavy times with alcohol abuse, it does not work.

Small snacks, like candies, are precious things as a mental help.

Check today what kind of small things comfort you when you are down or having problems, and count that when SHTF those small things will probably comfort you 10 times more.

Are there specific personality traits that we can focus on now which would help us through a situation like this? 

A sense of humor!

In that time friend with a good sense of humor for me was worth like 5 rifles or 50 MRE.

A good sense of humor is an important survival skill and often overlooked. I am not joking.

And storytelling.

We had in our family old man who was guerilla fighter during WW2, and he combined both of these qualities.

In hard times, when we were more or less desperate he would tell us stories of his fighting in WW2 – how they fled from the Nazis, how they starved, how they froze in the woods.

And over the time it helped. For example, one of us would comment “Oh, there is only one can[of food] today for 5 of us“ and then he would say “Oh, you wimps, it is piece of cake, during the WW2 in the German encirclement I ate my shoe for a week.“

And for whatever hard time in our SHTF, he would have a story of “Oh, you wimps, during the WW2 I…“

Over time it became partly a joke, but also partly a serious thing.

Even between each other, when we saw it is a hard situation, we would joke “S..t, this is bad, we are in serious trouble now, call grandpa with one of his “oh, you wimps, during the WW2“ stories.

That old guy knew exactly what kind of mental relief we needed – joking and storytelling how someone else had hard times and how he managed to survive.

He had a sense of humor, a gift for storytelling, and he had spirit.

Thanks to him I grew the habit of using humor in hard situations.

Check out Selco’s book, The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival.

What do you think?

Let me know your thoughts on all this – do you think Selco’s assessment is correct regarding who will make it through difficult times?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

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.

Did you ever wonder why some people survive and some people die in an SHTF crisis? Selco's back with personal stories and tips to help you strengthen yourself for hard times.

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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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  • Some people are incapable of handling a real emergency. There have been plane crashes in which some people just line up in the isle to get their bags then just stand there while the plane is on fire. I never will forget the time my son was choking and turning blue when I was trying to dislodge the marble he had swallowed, I yelled at my wife and told her to call 911 because I did not know if I would be successful, and what did she do, she started running around the living room yelling I don’t know the number, what is the number, really? These are the king of people you don’t want around you in a disaster because if the event doesn’t kill your their actions or lack there of might. If I had not been home that day the child would have died.

    • Those of us who have experienced and spent time in war zones understand this. It’s a whole new set of rules and those that can’t make hard decisions usually don’t make it. People in our country have no idea what the real world is with the exception of gangs murderers and the like.
      Those that are dependant on the system (like the article says) will be lucky to survive.
      In my opinion this article hits the nail on the head! Any more than a few days, people will start dieing.

    • I once watched a guy who recognized that a child was choking on a large gum ball grab him and perform the Heimlich Maneuver to dislodge it. I didn’t hear the kid choking or even pay attention to him–if this guy wasn’t so in tune with his surroundings, that kid might have simply lost consciousness and his mother wouldn’t have know why and the kid would have died waiting for an ambulance…

  • I have read hundreds of disaster preparedness articles/blogs in the last several years and many books, but this is article contains extremely vital information that I have never read before. Some I had figured out for myself like “information” and that’s why I have a ham radio license and equipment and lots of books. I have thought about hopelessness as a problem in others, although I call it despair. This article supplies some solutions for that. I have thought about how to make myself valuable (and worth keeping alive) in such a situation and most of my preps have been in that direction. This article is the MOST VALUABLE I HAVE EVER READ!!

  • Here’s a few thoughts from a person who has been a prepper for decades. 1. you will not survive in a big city 2. if you try, the mobs or the police will get you .3. If not 2 then the NGs will come and get you 4. if ypu wait too long b4 getting out the roads will be closed off and the NGs will stop you 5. if you did not plan ahead a place to go when SHTF, you will not survive
    Instead of NFL season tickets and bangles and a vacation in Hawaii, , spend that money on storage food and tools for defense and a place to live when SHTF.
    IMHO plan to live…live by the “7 Gs of survival” :
    Gold, silver and other barter items..things of value.
    Guns, ammo and reloading supplies
    God..get right w yer Maker
    Guts get and stay healthy and fit
    Grub..stored food for 6 months?
    Gas have fueland in get outta Dodge
    Get, as in a place to get outta Dodge

  • This is an outstanding article. Gratitude to Selco! Not everyone who lives through events as he did has his insight. He is doing an enormous service to share as he does.

  • Who gonna die
    A toktomi philosophy on “who dies?”.

    Plan on everybody dying [except, of course, the apical elite and their skeleton crew of hired help].

    Now, get off yer ass and get out there and die trying to survive!

    The biggest killer if you get through the initial wave of dieofff:
    Your head and what it makes you do.
    [aside: apparently lots of people cannot even react sanely to political elections and the police murdering civilians – how are they going to react when something serious & then insanely serious happens?]

  • I have been prepping for years. I devour every article I can find about SHTF scenarios to fortify what I may have overlooked. We have a neighborhood plan that plays to our various strengths/weaknesses and have meetings to discuss where we are as a group. I have books about homeopathic meds for our various chronic issues and herbal supplies to fall back on if pharma fails. We live in an area that we will be able to defend as nobody has the ability to bug out. I have stored “comfort foods” for the mental boost we will obviously desperately need. The small bottles of alcohol at the store are stashed for bartering. I buy 6-12 every trip and put away. We are very lucky to have a natural spring that runs year round and having worked at a water utility, I have stored the needed supplies to clarify and purify the water for consumption. Removal oocysts from untreated water MUST NOT BE OVERLOOKED as they can be deadly to elderly/infirm people. Hygiene and waste removal has been addressed for the long term (at least until an outhouse can be built). We are not young people, so we realize that everything we may need to accomplish will likely be done in slo-mo, but where there is a will, there is a way…

  • I think it helps to have a “what if” attitude about any potential situation. I used to do it when I was driving. I would ask myself, “what would I do if that guy moved over to my lane and then I would try to figure that out. Thinking about the hypothetical helps me know what I need to do if the situation were real.

    The same goes for shtf situations. The big one is always “what if the grid goes down for a long time? What would I do? How can I prepare for that now?”

    Those questions have brought about a lot of preparation not only materially, but in skills and mind set as well. We’ve gotten off the consumer bandwagon. We moved far off the beaten path. We’re 150 miles from the nearest city. There hundreds of likeminded people between me and the nearest big highway. I am producing a lot of my own food and have plans to produce our chicken feed as well.

    I am getting to know my community. I am bartering with my neighbors and selling at farmers market. I’ve written a book about foraging and several about gardening under my pen name Cygnet Brown.

    I am a healthy senior who doesn’t take any medications, but am learning how to eat as though it were medicine. I love teaching what I know.

  • Some things that really rang true to me about this article:

    1) A support network. Even in the Marines, when deployed for longer periods of time, some could fall into what I called a “funk.” It was most present when we had down time or what we called, “Hurry up and wait.” That is when it was most important to have a good, lively, fun conversation. Tell jokes. If the situation allowed it, even singing. One guy would do terrible covers of old 80s hair bands. But he could actually sing too. That is usually when you really looked to each other for support.
    I imagine during and after a SHTF situation, there will be times where you will be busy. And other times when you will not. No electricity, after dinner, sitting around a fire and a few candles, might be time to play card games, tell stories, read aloud for all to hear from a good book.

    2) “When you find yourself cut off from real information, all that you’re gonna have is a whole bunch of rumors and misinformation, and only then you realize how bad we people are used to having information.”
    I have speculated on the topic of information more than a few times. Heck, even now with the lights on, there is so much misinformation and rumors out there as it is.
    Some one like Ed, I would tend to listen to with a good amount skepticism. Not sure I would be willing to part with food for his . . . information.

    3) Plugged into the system. Seen that a few times when someone is out of their element. They did not lose it per say. But they were clearly not comfortable. They felt not in control or some how lesser. I have found you can do one of two things: A) Coddle them. Feed into their discomfort thereby enabling them to wallow in it. B) Kick them in the butt and tell them to, for lack of better terms, man up. Granted I am not going to say that to a 70-something year old. But a squishy 20-30 year old male? In a heart beat.

    4) “I mentioned that you need to have support from other people, but also you need to have peace of mind.”
    Pop-culture reference: Battle Star Galatica. In the mini-series, Adama claims he knows where Earth is. President Roslyn challenges him on it and he says he made it up. But he needs to give the survivors “hope.” Something to live for.
    In Marine parlance, a mission.
    For others, could be a goal. Just one a day. Something to look forward to, to ensure their and their friends and family survival.

    5) What are the things that made people feel better and helped recapture some normalcy?
    I can tell you this when things are scarce or in limited supply in adverse conditions when food is concerned, small things like a chocolate bar, GORP, a hot meal on a cold rainy/snowy day goes a long way for morale.
    Selco mentions music. Music is always on in our household. I have a small solar array for charging small devices and keep my entire music library on micro-SD card to be played on small devices.
    See my previous comment about reading, reading aloud and singing.

    6) Sense of humor.
    Spot on. Even gallows humor can be gold. That guy who does nothing but wallows in their own misery can be toxic for the group dynamic. That can be just as deadly as dying from enemy fire, the elements, starvation or lack of sanitation.

  • Great article on a critical subject. State of mind is the most important tool one has to work with. Keep your wits about you and adapt to the new “normal” which may change every day.
    To prepare, consider role play. Create a scenario and then work through it. Alone or with friends it is good practice to open your eyes to possibilities that might otherwise escape you when the pressure is on. As an example; try to create a scenario where you will get someone to give you a jug of milk or eggs or some other perishable food item without telling that person that you are prepping/role playing until you have either succeeded or failed. Think about what went right and what went wrong.
    I am 73 and one thing I tell anyone who will listen is that I have lost many things along my road of life, but I have never lost my sense of humor. And if you need a good laugh at any time, just look around you. There is always something to laugh at or with.
    Stay safe out there and prepare as if there is a tomorrow.

    • That is a good idea.
      In the Marines we called it table gaming. If you played role playing games like D&D or Rifts, they are similar. In that case we had a map with all the blue assets and the red assets on the board. Then, play out the situation. After the gaming is done, do an after action, lessons learned report and adjust accordingly.
      One thing I have found, economics and logistics played a bigger role than the things that go “bang.”

  • I generally try not to hijack a OP thread but watching the events of this years Burning Man festival . . . imagine if that were to play out for not just 3 days, but a whole week. Even two!
    What would all those people do?
    What would the governments response be and then take into consideration of the current government response to things like East Palestine OH, or Maui.
    Where are you in the current government eyes?

    • I hope I’m nowhere in the eyes of the government. Already years ago I remember a Texas politician saying that the scariest words in the English language are “I’m from the guvment, an I’m hea to hep you.” Those words seem to be scarier today.

      Even when camping, except when backpacking and every ounce counts, bring enough food to last at least a few days beyond your expected return. Also be prepared for surprises.

  • I expect the real SHTF event when we will need to depend on stored food will last only a few months, at most. But the real slog will come afterwards. For example, my job now is mostly with computers and information handling, but afterwards I doubt that there will be a real call for that work. I expect that the jobs that will remain will be largely hands on, so I’ve prepared for that as well. I’ve done some light blacksmithing and am a trained machinist with a small, portable lathe and milling machine. A lot of that is transferable to wood working. It doesn’t matter how old a person will be, he will have to contribute. Social Security will be kaput.

    As for communications, I expect the internet to be down and/or heavily censored. Bits and pieces can come through HF radio, but the two meter and 75 cm repeaters will no longer be part of nets.

    I’ve stored only a few months of food, because I ran out of space for more. I also hope I’m right that after the initial SHTF events that some supplies, particularly food, will become available again. The next may seem somewhat callous, but I expect that the majority of those who fail to survive will die in the first few months, and there’s nothing that I can do about that.

    The hard part will be the years of rebuilding after the violence has subsided. We can’t store enough food to tide us over that period.

    • We have always been of the mind set is the stockpiled food is to get us through the bottleneck, that first 6 months to a year.
      After that, then comes the growing or raising your own, trade or barter with others for food.
      I agree, a number of jobs now will be useless in a SHTF or post-SHTF world. Grid down, not a whole lot of need for computer animation, cybersecurity engineer or help desk assistant. Hope those people have back up skill sets. Otherwise, hey, that ditch needs digging. Get to it.
      As I mentioned above consider the situation at Burning Man. You have a mid-sized city, completely dependent on the JIT/BAU paradigm. According to a news reports 1.5 inches of rain brought the whole JIT/BAU system to a halt. All vehicular traffic ceased. They were told to conserve food and water. The port-o-potties were not being serviced.
      Imagine if it had continued to rain for a few more days or a full week. What would that of looked like?
      That is a glimpse of what a grid down SHTF event would begin to look like.
      I do not think you are being callous at all. Very factual. Depending on which report you read, a grid down event, we could see a mass die off anywhere from as early starting at 6 weeks to a year.

  • Thank you Selco. This was some deep information.
    I recommend the book, Laughter in Hell: The Use of Humor in the Holocaust. This book describes how the Jewish community used humor to survive in the death camps. Each laugh was a small victory.
    I spent three years in Afghanistan and two years in Iraq. We learned how laughter is an important gift. It helped us cope with the harsh reality of war. Google the Chuck Norris jokes that were written on the porta-potties (toilets) walls during those wars. I collected them in a scrap book. “Chuck Norris’s tears cure cancer. Too bad he’s never cried.”
    When we laughed together, it kept us from feeling sorry for ourselves. Self-pity is demonic. Carry a Bible and laugh! Love you bud….and so does Jesus!

    • Well, the book idea was a good one: HOWEVER, at $90. for hardback, $47. for paperback, it is well beyond my reach! (Amazon prices)

  • Selco is THE expert on this situation. His insights are invaluable. The only thing that I will point out is that hope was always there. There were places in the world that were normal, and that you could have a normal life. Even now, he can be an author and write books.

    In a true SHTF situation there is no place to escape. There will be no aid coming from first world countries. There will be no normal to emigrate to. The utter lack of hope for a “better” tomorrow, unless you make it yourself. This will weigh on many people and cause despair on a level that it’s hard to comprehend.

    As I pointed out to a friend the other day. I prep/plan for one year. Because a year after a SHTF I don’t think I can plan for what the world will look like. If you make it through the first year……

    • Lone Canadian,
      I will sometimes table game what after that first year would look like and how I could possibly have some degree of what it looks like.
      For example, we have a town council. Thing is, most of them live a good 10-20 minutes down the road by vehicle at 45-55mph.
      Take away the gas, and they are not going to make the trip one way. Even by bicycle they are that out of shape.
      So, a new town council would need to be formed of the very immediate area towns folks. Seeing as how many Amish we have in that area, they would be given at least two seats.
      Then expand on that.
      A daily (weather permitting) farmers market at the four corners.
      Small, medium, large livestock breeding program.
      Game program so no meat goes to waste and no over hunting.
      Seed exchange.
      Set up a school system. The teachers pay is in barter for food, milk etc.
      Some kind of fire department.

      • In a best case scenario, that is what you’ll see. And with many Amish in the area, you may have an easier time as the sense of community may get people to agree to recognizing the power of local government. And you may, in your area, have a higher survival rate.

        I generally use the EMP commission’s findings as a basis. They have determined, and continue to determine, that a year after a grid down event that 9 out of 10 Americans would be dead. Even if this is an overly dire prediction, if we even lost 7 out of 10, or 8 out of 10, the consequences to the fabric of our society would be devastating. Depending on who lives and who dies could change things in dramatic and unpredictable ways.

        • The EMP commission and the possible mass die off, which knowing how dependent our society is on the JIT/BAU system, I am inclined to believe.
          As you mention, what does that look like if even 7 out of 10 Americans were dead after a year?
          That would be 70% (or more) of the population dead.
          Walk around Wal-Mart and count off 7 people, those would be dead.
          As ghoulish as it may sound, there are going to be a lot of things left behind, in empty (of the living) homes for the taking.
          How do you rebuild an economy if there is only a few people around to even trade with?
          Is some places, you could go months without seeing another person.
          Those surviving might be better off forming their own tribe.

  • Informative as always. Those who survive will be those who planned and prepared for emergencies as well as those who can adapt quickly to the changes. I suppose there will be a few who are just plain lucky, but I certainly wouldn’t count on it.

  • An excellent book about surviving or giving up and dying is “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankel He was an Austrian psychiatrist who was imprisoned by the Germans during WWII. He observed the behaviors of those around him and came to the same conclusion as Selco presents – purpose allows one to survive under even the harshest conditions. Without purpose, one gives up and dies.

  • Yes this is hellishly important info, strangely enough the drama that is now out there I already feel like I am in a war, the most impressive psychological warfare operative ever attempted on humanity. How else can one explain all the fear and absurdities we see everyday from so-called “information” sources?

  • When was younger, I would ride my bicycle 100 miles a week. On the 60 mile rides you learned what it took. I rode with a small tool kit, 2 large water bottles, a snack and a $20 bill. No phone. You had to make it back with what you took. I ran out of calories twice and learned. The bonk, no energy left to burn and you are going into heat stroke.

    There are stories on the PBP. Paris to Brest (on the coast) to Paris A 600 mile ride they do in 60 hours straight. I will never be that strong, but the mindset is what you learn.

    When I did extreme chemo and was in the hospital for a weeks, 160% hot loads 15 per week, the cycling mindset got me through. I knew I always had to will my self to stay alive the next 15 minutes and force my fever down. I always got out of bed, made the bed, put my clothes on and walked dragging my pole with 6 bags and 4 pumps. You can not give up for 15 minutes or you are dead. Tom

  • In the case of a massive EMP disaster, better factor in widespread radiation toxicity from damaged or abandoned nuke plants. This alone would negate most conventional survival options.

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