Reality Check – What You Maybe Doing Wrong and How It Will Get You Killed



Over the years being in the Prepper and Survival community,  I realize that my favorite topics for writing are about survival myths.

There are two reasons for that. First I have been through SHTF, so it is obviously clear to me what are the myths about survival and what are the truths, in other words it is kinda easy for me to write about it.

Second reason is because at the same time it’s hard. It is not hard to write about it, but it is hard to explain to people what it’s all about.

Reason for that, is not because I consider most of the Prepper’s idiots, it is about the preconceptions inexperienced people have about survival, or being ready for SHTF.

That preconception is so huge, and so deep, it has been plugged or conditioned into a lot of Preppers so hard, over so many years of bombarding from youtube, blogs, forums, movies and similar that sometimes it look simply hopeless too fight.


Where to Look?


I remember for the first time seeing and teaching a group of students who considered themselves survivalists and Preppers. After few hours of talking with them my first impression was to tell them, or to yell at them „ you are so fucking dead when SHTF, on second day you are dead!!!“

Of course I did not tell them that, but the point is that their survival mentality and mine were like two completely different worlds.

No they were not idiots, just regular folks who look and checked for the most common information about survival out there available, or most commercialized, or coolest.

And no, I do not think that everyone needs to go through years of war in order to become survivalist, just some common sense and some effort.

It is like they learned everything they knew about survival from the guy on youtube channel, who read it from the book, which was written by a guy who heard something from a friend some time ago. So many of the sources they ‘relied’ on or trusted were dangerously worthless…

Folks, there is much more to learn from let’s say a diary of holocaust survivor, than from youtube guy who is testing his new BOB in his backyard!

Actually I would rather have memorized the diary book, instead of owning the BOBs that most of the youtube guys are testing and recommending!

This whole topic is huge, but let’s address the more common mistakes I see all the time. Each of them is not a mistake by itself, but if you put these as a ‘priority’ it is something that definitely will get you killed when SHTF:


The ‘Cool’ Factor


Here is a scenario that happened. A student on my survival course has been offered to choose some equipment to complete a survival training task, the amount of equipment to choose from was limited.

He is trying to ensure he has covered all of the ‘seven priorities’ of Urban Survival. When he gets to the water „section“ there were two items, a camping stove set (The Trangia model), and an old dirty plastic bottle, he could choose one.

He choose the plastic bottle for the section „water“.

I asked him ‘can you tell me why did you choose plastic bottle instead of the camping stove set?’, his answer was: “I saw on youtube that plastic bottle can be use for boiling water and making it sterile“.

I asked him:“ why did you not choose the camping stove set, it can do same thing, much easier, can do even more things, and last much longer etc etc“?

He did not have an answer for that, other than his previous one.

Folks, watching something on youtube (believe it or not) that looks cool, does not necessary mean it is right, or right for every situation.

I believe that youtube video was about using plastic bottle in survival when you do not have anything else, but taking it instead of something really useful just because looks cool or it’s a ‘good trick’???

This Plastic bottle story is just one example, many other times on various courses I see very similar things.

Internet is full of good advice about tactics, techniques, and equipment for SHTF, problem is, that in the same time internet is full of s..t, so choose carefully where you look to learn something, Check for guys who CREDIBLY tested something or experienced it, or you test it yourself before real SHTF.

I know, it is big industry and big money out there about let’s say „ how to survive end of the world with cool equipment and looking cool“, but from my experience I did not see cool equipment in my time, and the ‘cool’ people died very early on…

Folks who survived had stuff that worked and mentality that worked. ‘Coolness’ was not important in that time, even if someone had some ideas about looking and being cool, those ideas gone with first bullets hissing around their heads.

If you’re preparing to have cool equipment (only) and look cool when SHTF you are doing something wrong. Seriously.


Commodities, Peace of Mind, and Degrees of Knowledge


Again, having a commodity by itself when SHTF, on it’s own is not a problem. There is nothing wrong in preparing to be in as much comfort as possible when SHTF.

But huge number of Preppers are preparing only for that! And that is wrong.

Simplest example here, is man who is preparing for SHTF by buying good generator, in order to have as much comfort possible when SHTF, but at the same time he does not know ways to start a simple fire.

Generator here is something like an upgrade, fire (knowledge) is essential.

Nothing wrong with owning a generator, if you also know and have supplies up to the level where a generator ‘fits in’.

Or you have man who has 5 assault rifles, and a lot of ‘knowledge’ (youtube again) about tactical movement – but he has NO clue how hard (noisy) it is to move through partially destroyed buildings, or he never fired the rifle inside an enclosed space (room, empty corridor) and did not experience the impact of that event on his ears.

Nothing wrong with owning 5 rifles, if you know everything up to that level.

Five rifles alone does not mean s..t.

Internet is full of advertising that if you do (or buy) whatever they offer you, you’re going to have something like ‘best time of your life when SHTF.’

Of course it is a lie, even if you are fully prepared it is not going to be a joyride, it is going to be hard and life changing.

And by ‘buying solutions’ then you are just buying peace of mind, nothing more. Worse still, you are seriously underestimating SHTF.

PLEASE make some common sense decisions in your preparing. Do not find yourself in situation where you have 30 spices in your pantry but you do not have duct tape or an axe.

Start from the basic in every „pillar“ of survival, evenly, then build on that base with logic and sense. Build all pillars up at the same time, don’t take ‘defense’ for example and focus and build that to the highest level while ignoring the six others…

I’ve written about these before, but just as a brief re-cap, the seven ‘pillars’ of Urban Preparedness are:

1) Fire

2) Water

3) Shelter

4) Food

5) Signalling/Communication

6) Medical/Hygiene

7) Defense

Use the internet to help your preps, but confidence check your sources, and do not believe everything you read/see!!!

I see and read to many people treating Prepping like some ‘fun game’ as opposed to the serious matter it is. Please choose your approach wisely folks…



12 responses to “Reality Check – What You Maybe Doing Wrong and How It Will Get You Killed”

  1. gyr says:

    This is one of your most useful posts yet. I can’t help but think that this advice, if taken to heart, will save many lives. Many, many thanks ,Selco.

  2. wildartist says:

    The seven pillars are essential. And know how to USE the tools you have. Now.
    Another note of confirmation: Having spent several years traveling in Third World countries, the most essential on my personal list is WATER. Without water you last 3 days, maybe. With polluted water, you last a few weeks or so. Thank you, Selco, for trying to hammer some sense into our heads.

  3. BH says:

    I’m just your average old-time prepper. I have a point, hopefully I can convey it. Prepping is peace-of-mind to an extent, and for some people, that’s ALL it is. Survival is attitude. It’s easy to have a great attitude when everything is normal. SHTF is going to SUCK, and you will be SHOCKED by it, no matter how well you think you’ve prepped. With this in mind, PREPARE for that shock, prepare to handle ANY situation with minimal “things”, so that the shock doesn’t paralyze you. You will NOT be ready. Keeping this one fact in mind makes you MORE ready.

    The power goes out in my neighborhood quite often. When it does, when it’s dark in the house, and I’m walking around with a lantern, I STILL turn light switches on and off. I KNOW they’re not working. But it’s such a habit, my mind STILL operates subconsciously as if they are. After a short while, it gets cooler in the house. I think about how the furnace will go on soon. But it won’t, not until the power comes back. It’s easy to “make do”, when you KNOW it’s temporary. How about when it’s permanent? Now it’s on YOU.

    Think about all the things that you take for granted on a daily basis, and the habitual way in which you use them. They’re all on Selco’s list. You will reach for that “thing”, you are so used to that “thing”, and it doesn’t exist. Thinking about this isn’t the same as living it. When that thing is gone, REALLY gone, that will be your first of MANY jarring practical lessons. At least consider your plan from this angle.

    • Selco says:

      Thanks BH!
      Good points! When SHTF it is shock, but it is completely new level of shock when man realize it is not temporary thing, and that brings completely new set of rules.

  4. FlatEarther says:

    Selco, I would like to know how you break down #3 Shelter… I kind of have

    1 house
    2 shed
    3 vehicles
    4 tents
    5 tarps
    6 water proof clothing
    7 garbage bags, dumpsters, makeshift tin?
    8 other unoccupied?

    • Selco says:

      Thanks for commenting FlatEarther!
      I break it down based completely on my situations, pillars are there to start work and “wrapping” your mind around system of preparing and important topics that you need to cover.
      Let me give you one example: under shelter pillar I have (i know) what apartments gonna be abandoned and empty in first few days of SHTF very close to my location, because I know when and where people gonna run from those spaces. Let s say I made mistake in 50 % of those places (they gonna be unavailable for me-destroyed, occupied or simply too dangerous) that still give me like 4 alternative shelter places for first few days if i need to abandon my home (let s say on my way to BOL).
      So, what I am trying to say, it is not only about physical things, it is about right info too. Yes I too have tents, tarps etc. I also plan to spend few nights in trash bag shelter if needed.
      To break you down “shelter” I would need much more then one comment answering here.
      Under the “shelter” there are alternative places in my town, and on my way to BOL, that i gathered info about it for long time, and still again if in 50% they are unavailable it is still good number.
      Have plan what you want to do when SHTF, and where you want to be, and wrap it around pillars if you understand me, and then have alternative plans, and then-however stupid may sound- be ready to forget whole plan in split second and work new “on the fly” because development of situation will force you.

  5. Jeni says:

    I realize life won’t be easy if shtf so ive taught myself how to grow a garden, raise chickens, repurpose old items, can, and start a fire. I’ve read a lot of books but you have to practice the skills you read about because it isn’t as easy to do them as it sounds.

  6. Carl says:

    Yep, 90% of “preppers” are absolutely dead meat on day 1 after SHTF. Sadly Selco’s direct and true statement is going to fall on deaf ears…

  7. toktomi says:

    So, what are we preparing for?

    What does the end of the world look like?

    I find it difficult to declare definitively what preparations may be right or may be wrong.

    Chief Quartermaster Phillips [“Apocalypse Now”] said: “My orders say I’m not supposed to know where I’m taking this boat, so I don’t! But one look at you, and I know it’s gonna be hot!”

    It is probably gonna be hot.


  8. BH says:

    “So, what are we preparing for?”

    Exactly. Prepare like you don’t know, because you DON’T. Certain exigencies take precedence over others, that’s what you should concern yourself with. Beyond that, it’s just fashion.

  9. toktomi says:

    BH, you, me, we be three.

    You can know that you have arrived when you are alive [may have a shot] and are gazing upon the one preparing the meal and you are admiring that smudgey face and those dirty fingernails.

    You are alive and you are somehow miraculously fed, and the world around you has gone away.


  10. Redleg says:

    I take your words to heart Selco. I saw a video of a policeman dying in a fight that he should have won. He was standing up trying to handle a skinny guy on drugs who already has pistol out. Cop uses his left hand to fight two hands of gunman. Cop is trying to pull his own gun out with right hand. Bad guy shoots cop in head. Cop falls dead like a tree tipping over. This was actual security camera footage. I’m learning from you that we must not think about pulling our gun when bad guy already is hand to hand fighting and he has gun. We’re too close to run away. Must deal with the hands trying to point gun at our head first. Same for any situation where you first respond and deal with whatever immediate threat is hitting you. That means making ourselves smarter and focused. And teaching partners quickly how to do best thing, especially when they are guys without experience. I have supplies and a stash place but I know how to improvise and scrounge if I have to leave all my stuff behind.
    Thank you and may God bless your family.

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