Author of SHTF Survival Bootcamp, SHTF Survival Stories, and The Dark Secrets of Survival here.
So, top ten things to do when SHTF.
First, lets be sure what we are talking about here, because articles like “top ten things to do” or “ top 20,100,1000 things to have when SHTF” are usually going into endless and pointless lists that look like grocery shop list. “Top ten things that will be missing when SHTF” -yeah, if shops are gone, you gonna miss everything from it.
I mean, if first advice in article about “top ten things to do when SHTF” is to “get fit” I do not want to read it because, obviously, I will have more important things to do in the first moment when SHTF other than to get fit. I should get fit long time before that moment.
You have smart articles written by ex-soldiers about what to do when SHTF, and article is full of military gear, team buddies, particular weapon, military cool acronyms, fast movement and so on and so on.
I am ex-soldier, and guess what? My knees are not like they use to be, I do not have range of weapons, buddies, will, brain-mind (or absence of it), back, strength like I had it when I was soldier, and most of the people who will read article will not be soldiers neither. So why in the world I would write it as a soldier for soldiers? Just because it look smart and cool? Where is that smart ass who concluded that once when SHTF everyone will be able to march 100 miles with 40 kilos backpack with team of highly trained and equally capable friends?
From my experience, most of people end up surviving with old mother, sick wife, grumpy mother-in-law, high-pressure problems, etc.
So this is not gonna be another “top ten things to do when SHTF” list.
Anyway, something happen, and what next?
The first question when SHTF: What is going on?
The first and most important thing is to actually figure out what’s going on.
Now, what that mean?
Since there is no generic advice for every situation (no matter what some authors are trying to tell you), and there is no one article that will help you in every situation I need to explain bit this “what’s going on” thing.
Your first task should be to gather information, but in a way, and only in a way, to give you an idea what your next step should be.
So, for example, if you woken in the middle of night with strong explosion-this step of gathering information is NOT to dress up and go out into direction of explosion to check up what’s going on.
For example, your step should be to check is there still electricity in your apartment, to check radio, news, or TV, to ask guy on the street from your window (yes, there will be people in the street checking what’s going on). Try to gather info right from your immediate position.
Do not end up dead looking heavily for the information. Sometimes lack of information is actually only information that you going to get, and you will act based on that.
At this moment, you do not necessarily need to know (if not safe) what exactly happened. You need to know is it dangerous for you immediately.
The second question when SHTF: What I am going to do?
After you gather information on what just happen, or after you realized that you do not have a clue what is going on, your next question should be, “What I am going to do?”
Many survival authors at this second “What I am going to do?” step takes for granted that you need to go, move, leave your home.
Folks, without proper information, and if your life, safety, and security is not immediate in danger, it is absolutely ridiculous to leave your home immediately.
Why would you change your known settings (home) for unknown settings (outside of your home)?
Is it just because you heavily planned to bug out?
At this step and moment forget for a minute what you planned. There are only two things important in this moment:
- Are you in danger in your immediate setting (home)?
- Do you have information about what’s going on outside that tell you you might be soon in danger in your immediate setting (gang of looters going in your direction, poisonous cloud coming, enemy army, terrorist, etc.)?
Do not fall under the influence of a whole bunch of nonsense, and do not act based on someone else advice and plans that are absolutely not working for your situation, or even worse not working for any situation because man who written advice do not know s..t about anything.
Equally, if you conclude based on info that you gather that it is smart to leave home, you should leave it as soon as possible.
That does not mean running in sheer panic.
It means that because you are a prepper, you already (hopefully) have prepared a plan and things about what you are carrying with you, how you are doing that, where you are going, and how you are doing that.
(For more information on how to plan your emergency evacuation, check out our free QUICKSTART Guide on the subject.)
I do not have specific advice here, not because I do not know it, it is because I do not know your specific settings. So, if I tell you you need to have 4×4 vehicle, I might be wrong because you living in dense populated urban area that will be completely blocked in case of any bigger problem. So for you as a mean of transport it is much better to have E-bike or good pair of walking boots.
You as a prepper should have plans and details ready long time ago about everything based on your own specific settings.
Whoever gives you specific advice without knowing your settings in depth is not doing too much good.
For beginners, there is generic advice preppers should know.
These can be summed up into two rules:
- Your life, and life of your family is important. Physical things are not important at this moment. Those can be obtained, earned, bought again. So, if you have to leave everything behind just with backpack on your back because your life is in danger – do not hesitate.
- If you are not sure what to do, simply go to safety. However this may sound lame, it is good advice. If your home is not safe and building across the street is safe, then go there. Or if park is safe at the moment, you ll go there. In other words, if you are not sure, just think in terms of safety or where is your life in danger and where it is safe at the moment.
Cover the basics. ALWAYS.
Always go back to basics, and think about layers.
Fire, shelter, water, medical, food, comms, defense. Those are basics that you have to be aware of, and basics that you have to cover in any moment and in any situation. Always.
How hard and deep and in what layers you will cover it is up to you and up to given situation. For example, shelter can be your van, and also it can be only plastic tarp. It depends on many factors, but do not allow yourself to end up in SHTF without covering all fields above to some possible extent (depth).
For example, if you are forced to run in one minute from your apartment, you need to have covered all fields, even if that means power bar for food, alcohol pads for medical, cell phone for comms, kitchen knife for defense, Bic lighter for fire, emergency blanket for shelter, bottle of water for water.
It is first and most simplest layer, but you cover it all, and it is worst case situation, but you covered it.
In real life and in real preppers it should be covered much more in-depth, but you get the idea. These are the basics of survival. Cover these rules, and you have much higher chance of survive.
Tell me your thinking. Are you in agreement with what I have to say? Post your opinions in the below part.
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 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.