10 Rules for Trading in Long Term Survival Scenarios

All of us rely on our skills when SHTF. So we all hope that we can cover all of major skills that can lead us trough all basic needs in order to survive. So we choose to learn lot of things, how to fight , how to can, how to grow food, how to heal people. And we are buying equipment and learn things.

We choose different approaches, someone chooses to learn just basics from one skill, or someone chooses to learn one particular skill in depth. Like to be very good in growing food when SHTF.

But most of the people take trading and bartering in long term survival scenarios for granted. Most of the people see trading like scenes from the movies. So there is some kind of accepted picture that man gonna be able to go out with bag of potatoes for example and trade it for something, for batteries or whatever.

Or there is gonna be something like trading place, where you can go and check what is on offer there.

It is actually strange how lot of things are covered good at lot of places on forums and blogs when it comes to some skills and equipment, but when it comes to trading it is accepted more or less that it is common sense that it is gonna be easy to trade things.

When SHTF we all going to trade things, no matter how great we are prepared, because it is gonna be way of living, one of the few ways of obtaining the things we need, especially for long term survival.

It makes sense to think today about trading when SHTF. It can be major source of resources and provide for your living in hard times, and if you prepare carefully and act smart when SHTF, you can live much better than other folks around you.

Because differences between regions in the world some things about trading can not apply everywhere, just like advice about which weapon you should have.

But some things are common everywhere, just like you can say that shot in the head can kill you, no matter what kind of gun we are talking about.

So here are some things to keep in mind.

1.SHTF (real SHTF) = no law anymore

When you are taking your time today and think about being trader when SHTF, you need to stop for a moment and accept the fact that there is no law when SHTF.

After you accept that fact, only then start with thinking how you can improve your role as a trader in collapsed world. You can see what I store for trading in my supply list in course area. What you pick for trading depends on many things I also mention later in this article.

The point here is that you have to really understand how drastically things change when there is no law. It is hard to imagine but you look at life from whole different angle and from that angle you have to approach trading.

2. Look around you, today

Some common sense again. When people struggle to survive they gonna need everything. But use common sense. So there is no too much sense in storing something that can be found easily around you.

3. Small things, always

Whatever you trade, and whenever you trade do only with small things and small portions. For example you are not offering 5 liters of alcohol, you are offering ½ liter of alcohol. And thats it. Do you have right bottles for that? Why are you doing this? Other people might not take your life because it is not worth half liter of alcohol, but for more, or when they think that you have more at your home it is maybe worth.

Also it is much easier to go somewhere and carry with you 50 flints for trade than to go and carry 10 liters of fuel.

4. You wanna be big trader? Dont

If you have some big plan to do very well when SHTF and you store whole bunch of interesting things you need to keep absolutely low profile. So if you want to be big trader that means that nobody outside your house can know that you have whole bunch of things for trade.

Only thing that is standing between lot of nasty people and you and your storage is fact that you are not interesting for them. You can say that you are very good armed and prepared, and that you have friends with you, and that they are armed too.

I will tell you that sooner or later someone will come with more friends and more arms and you are dead and your stuff gone.

So stay low. You can not be anything like „big trader“ for other people around you. Whatever you have to trade you are gonna need to have some kind of smart strategy to trade / distribute that. Watch your ego too. Having resources means power, but showing that power gets you killed.

5. Middle man- golden solution

For best results in trading over longer period of time, you need to be something like „middle man“ in process of trading, not a guy who owns things. And of course this means that people need to think that you are only middle man, not a man who actually has things.

So if you are prepared for trading and you have lot of different things to trade, you can not go and offer things as yours, you need to be the guy who can obtain things.

If you have 1000 lighters for trade, and SHTF tomorrow, and after a month you realize that lighters have good price for trade, and you want to go and offer lighters, best solution is to be something like a man who knows a guy who has lighters for trade. So when you walk with few lighters in your pocket and trade them, they are „not yours“.

You are acting as a guy who has information where something can be found for a trade, you can „go there“ and find things for trade.

6. Basic security rules

Again and again, you need to be not interesting, so common sense again about security of trading:

  • Never trade in or in front of your house
  • When you trade with unknown people, always watch carefully if someone is following you on your way home
  • No matter how great deal you can make never do too much trading with one person in short period of time (for example, do not trade 10 liters of fuel 3 times at week with same person, or in the same street)
  • Make compromise. Trading with known people increases risk because known people know where to come if they conclude that you have lot of interesting things at home, on the other side trading with unknown people has risks too, because you do not know them.
  • I never trade bigger amounts of things, or some really interesting things with folks from my really close neighborhood unless I trust them 100%, which I usually dont. If I need to trade something bigger and interesting I take risk and go in other parts of city and do trade with people who do not know where I live.

7. Pricing, value of things

It can be very specific depending on the regions what things will have more value, and what lower. You may think that food will have biggest value, but there is a difference from what will be always wanted and what will have BIGGEST value. So yes, probably you will be able to trade food always for something usable, but better idea is maybe to have some interesting valuable things that YOU can trade for food.

  • Sources of light and energy: lamps, batteries, candles, burning cubes (paraffin cubes for starting fire), lightsticks, flints, solar chargers, fuel…
  • Always have things stored that people in your region use in everyday socializing rituals.

You may think that when SHTF people habits gonna be erased and everything connected to that will be stripped to bare simple survival living, basic food and water intake. Yes, for great number of the people it was like that, but reason was that because they did not have these social / comfort things stored, or they did not have enough items to trade for them. If they could they would have got these comfort things.

What that meant in my case, people here drink coffee… a lot, 3-4 times per day, and most of the folks smoke cigarettes or tobacco. Drinking the coffee is more like ritual where good friends, or family sit down and have some special time.

When SHTF people were in hard situation of course, and some habits or rituals from normal life gain even much more importance. I mean when everything falls apart around you, to have some special moment with your family with coffee becomes even much more important.

As a result, coffee was very valuable. I mean very very valuable. Even some poor substitutes for coffee were very important and valuable. Same was with cigarettes. So depending where you live, check for those things, and have it in your storage. It can be coffee, cigarettes, tea, beer…

Have some kind of system in your storage to know what things you use for yourself, or for trading. For example you store food for yourself and your family only, but you store great number of batteries for yourself and for trading too.

8. Charity

There is no golden rule about trading process, other than those security measures that I already mentioned. But few more things to have in mind.

Charity in good times is good, charity when SHTF is wrong and dangerous. I know I disagree here with one big survival blogger but my advice is never do real charity when SHTF. I mean it is crazy if you give things away for free if others struggle to survive. What do they think?

This guy has a lot so we get what we can and then more even if that means taking with force. You can give things to people but it can not look like charity.

You need to get something if you give something. If you do real charity and word go around, you are done. I saw this happening several times. Even people everyone thinks who are always good went out to “convince” charitable guys to give them something and this ended up very bad sometimes.

If you see your kids starve to death but this one guy has food but is not giving it to you what do you do? Exactly…

9. Scams

Of course always expect scams, people will do lot of wrong things in order to get things, plaster in baby food is only one example from my time (they take out half baby food, stuff plaster in there and cover it to make it look like full).

I know how to make 1 kg coffee with just 20 % of coffee and 80 % of other stuff, and it looks and smells like real coffee, 90 percent of people will not notice difference, bad is that that mixture screws up people’s blood pressure really bad. That’s one example.

So common sense is to trade with „unchecked“ persons only for „canned“ or sealed things. If man gives you half bag of powdered milk for something, you only have his word that he did not mixed that with something in order to make it more heavy.

Different dried plants mixed with tobacco and sold as a tobacco, different seeds grinded with small amounts of coffee and sold as areal coffee, alcohol… I have more examples of this in my course.

10. Pick the right moment for trading

Value of things changed during my year in war, depending of lot of things like entering of goods in area, rumors and word on the street, state of black market or simply security situation, so in first month pack of batteries were worth maybe 5 kilos of flour, but in third month it was worth 15 kilos of flour.

Or another good example would be that candles were worth more in first few months of SHTF then after that. Example would be that people find some substitute for light in house like oil lamps, and also realize to have light in every room is just unnecessary luxury.

Watch carefully for rumors and word on the street. I mean do not go and trade some of your precious stuff for few gas masks just because someone told you on the street that you gonna need them really hard. Luckily he is knowing someone who has few of them of course.

Word on the street or rumors will work for you, but also against you and there will be moments when people or groups of people produce specific news in order to gain something or sell something.

This is basic advice for trading during long term survival scenarios.

How do you prepare for trading part of SHTF?

The end of the world

end of the world

„Fields were covered with dead bodies, no man, woman or child were seen in the open, smell of burning rubbles covered the land, crops were laying „unpicked“, still people were hungry, people had abandoned their homes and ran to the forest or hills.

Society crumbled and everything that stood for a strong state stopped to exist. New alliances were forged, old cities ruined. Hoards of mercenaries who lost their employer shrouded the land in terror…“

This is not section from some some science fiction post apocalyptic novel, or movie. It is taken from a book of medieval history where the author speaks about years after the fall of Roman empire.

One very strong empire crumbled, and suddenly chaos was in motion. The dark ages followed. Reason why empire falls is not important. How it looks when it falls is interesting.

Even more interesting is that there are not too many descriptions how it looked. Lots of years from that period are just „lost“ in historians books. Lost years. Chaos.

Do we think that if today society falls that we gonna be better than people hundreds years before. I have seen something similar in my time and I am not so optimistic.

Asteroid hitting the earth, “death planet” Nibiru, magnetic pole shifting, aliens… what is gonna happen tommorow?

Before I write more about what I believe will cause collapse of society, Jay has assembled what scientists believe will cause end of the world and humankind.

How the end of the world will happen according to science by Jay

The bad news is this planet won’t stay inhabitable for us humans forever. This is something all scientists pretty much agree on. But how will the end come?

In the last couple of years we saw increased major natural disasters, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have killed thousands of people every year.

It’s quite obvious that hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes won’t cause the end of humankind because they are local phenomena. They might kill thousands or even millions of people but not all humans on this planet.

But what about volcanic eruptions? In the past many massive volcanic eruptions like the eruption of the supervolcano Toba on Sumatra about 73.000 years ago lead to bottlenecks in the evolution by killing off many species and some theories claim this event reduced the world’s human population to just 10.000.

Why are volcanic eruptions so problematic? The huge amount of ash that darkens the atmosphere leads to volcanic winters and temperatures continue to drop as this goes on.

Theories claim the eruption of Toba led to a 6 – 10 year volcanic winter and a decline of the average temperature in some areas by 15 °C / 59 F that changed life on earth dramatically and killed off many species.

This sounds bad, and there is another supervolcano bubbling under the surface in the Yellowstone area (that is unlikely to erupt during our lifetime) but even if this supervolcano would erupt it would not cause the end of humankind.

Add to that, the fact that the volcanic activity in the world is declining as the world cools out. Scientists do not believe an volcanic eruption will end the life of all humans.

Will the end of the world come from outer space?

There were rumors around that a planet called Nibiru / Planet X / Eris is heading towards the earth to smash it into pieces by the end of 2012. The problem is, it does not exist. If it did, it would be visible in the night sky right now, and astronomers (even hobby astronomers) would have seen it even decades before.

The US astronomer, Philip Plait, talks in his book about a variety of cosmic events that could mean the end of all life on earth. Most of them are so unlikely we do not even have to worry about them but… overall scientists agree the end of this world will come from outer space.

Astronomers compare the impact of asteroids with the same of other localized natural disasters.

If asteroids are big enough to cause trouble, we can spot them decades before they hit and alter their path to avoid a collision. Planets that might collide with us can be spotted centuries before they might hit with todays technology, so there is plenty of time to take action.

There are more nasty things lurking out in space though. When gigantic old stars implode, supernovas or even more massive hypernovas can shoot gamma rays millions of light years into space.

If we were hit by this, the atmosphere would suffer severe damage which would increase the mutations caused by UV light on earth and could mean the end of humankind.

The good news is that all stars in our “proximity” aren’t big or old enough for that. So this is extremely unlikely to happen anytime soon (we’re talking about millions of years here).

Time for bad news now… in one to two billion years the earth will be most likely a barren place without humans on it. The reason for that is nearby, just 8 lightminutes away… the sun.

The sun, like other stars, goes through different stadiums and will become what is known as a red giant. The mass of the sun expands and will increase the temperature on earth to over 100 C / 212 F and finally about 3-4 billion years later consume it.

That’s still plenty of time for us to find other places to live, of course. Some theories  claim that the loss of the sun’s gravity also alters the distance of the earth to the sun, but when it comes to external forces that mean the end of humankind, then the expansion of the sun is the most likely.

We’re still talking about huge periods of time here, and to be honest, looking at the mind-boggling stupidity humankind showed in the past and present we humans will find a shortcut to erase ourselves from this planet.

Either we start blowing up things with our 26.000 nuclear warheads, we create some virus we cannot fight or we deplete the earth of all its resources and a sustainable life becomes impossible.

Pollution and the chain reactions it triggers in our environment might also cause the end of the current edition of humans we have right now, the homo sapiens sapiens.

Looking back at the past, genetic bottleneck situations like the Toba supervolcanco eruption create another scenario more likely.

That is that we humans evolve and become a better, smarter and more adaptable species.

Those who survive genetic bottleneck situations are first and foremost lucky being at the right spot and the right time.

Then of course the ones that survive are the ones that are prepared and know how to live life outside of our civilized bubble we live in right now.

When we didn’t record new course material last month Selco and I had a few beers and spoke about this.

Preserving and furthering the knowledge people have about survival (which is the root knowledge that came before everything else) not only helps people who might suffer from irrational fears but actually shapes the future of humankind.

Collapse of our society by Selco

collapse of society

After Jay showed big picture, and that nothing gonna kill the earth tomorrow, back to what will cause us problems. Humans.

It is something in human nature, something that we like to think and imagine that we need some huge and big event to happen and then we gonna be in deep problems.

Truth is that we are already in deep problems. We need some small event that gonna set in motion huge trouble.

We already live in society where most sheeple trust more to TV then to their own eyes. But most of us are guilty in one way or other. How many of us are addicted to „modern“ life where is everything accessible with one click.

Food, water, heating, entertainment… We get everything ready, packaged, nicely wrapped, delivered to our hands. It is so comfortable, I love it too.

If credible looking politician on TV say to us that he can fix all problems people are happy. This nice looking guy takes responsibility for everyone so nobody has to take care of themselves…

Slowly but very effectively politicians and modern society is taking everything away from us: ability to defend (act by the rules and society will defend you) our skills (you gonna have food, heating, house, car… all you need is to act by the rules) … and most of us are grateful because we think we are doing fine, we have our needs covered.

But at what cost?

We become lazy, ignorant idiots. Most of us. We are already zombies, dependent on a system full of promises. Not everyone but most of us.

There is a small number of people who like to ask questions, who like to think with their own head. For that small number of folks there are names reserved by society: weirdos, conspiracy theorists, lunatics… you… readers of shtfschool.com

I mean in what kind of society we are living if it is strange when man wants to know how to survive in urban environment when disaster hits, hunt for food, make fire for heat, have means to defend himself, know how to live in wilderness. How crazy (or sane) is that?

Now we can just wait for some event to set the chaos in motion. It can be widespread unrest or long term power grid failure because of EMP, or some bigger pandemic. Or simply one nasty economic crisis and we are gonna be in full scale SHTF situation.

But real killer is that simple and ordinary guy who is sitting in his chair, watching soap opera, eating popcorn. Ordinary man who trust mainstream media and cares only about his own little world.

He is our Nibiru.

He is gonna stay by TV watching the announcement that something terrible is happening in town 200 miles from him, some epidemic maybe, and he is gonna believe in smart looking guy, „pandemic expert“ that everything gonna be fine, that government can contain that.

Days after he is gonna believe in good news even when he can not get his relatives on phone in other part of country because some „glitch“ in phone company.

Then he is gonna reassure his family and friends that everything gonna be OK, there is a folks who are gonna take care for that. They like to hear that because everyone likes good news.

Even when power goes out he is gonna keep good faith in future, „they gonna fix that!“ Maybe he is gonna be slightly disturbed without his favorite news station on TV.

After he realized that there is no food anymore in house, maybe then he gonna go out and check things, and be probably shot by someone in front of the empty and looted supermarket.

I was like that guy when the war started and I trusted the experts. I’m wiser now.

There are 95% of people who will figure out too late that they do not know what they gonna do when SHTF.

When people are left alone without system and forgotten all ways how to take care of their own lifes then we have real SHTF.

So in one sentence what will bring end to humankind? That human individuals gave up their independence and lost their ways.

Most of the world is living in over-inflated bubble which runs on resources, and resources are running out faster and faster.

Problem is that most of the people do not think too much about how food water energy etc. comes to them. Most of the people think it is going to be like that forever. Most people are stupid (unfortunately).

Once when bubble is gone, everything changes. And we do not need asteroid for that. Simple thing like greater military conflict in middle east can be trigger to lead to chain of events that can result in chaos.

Or how things would look if power grid goes out? Can you remember chaos when electricity goes off for few days in bigger cities, sometimes even few hours without electricity in city brings everything to halt.

How it would look if electricity disappear for few months. It would bring world to chaos, and it would be very hard to go back.

Whatever triggers this results will be same, civilization will be pushed back in dark ages. Forget about emergency services, hospitals, community… People will be divided to those who are gonna survive, and ones who are gonna vanish.

We do not even need a killer planet crushing us to bring us chaos, we will do it alone. Take care of ourselves.

I am gonna describe how things could unfold, from real life, from my experience, very shortened and simplified:

  1. People trust their government. Trust the system.
  2. Common people are unaware (great majority) of real agenda of politicians, they follow them, they liked promises about more wealth, more jobs, more security , democracy…
  3. Some rumors go around of how government just helps few business to get richer, about selfish motives of people in power.
  4. Leaders want to make sure they stay in power and start with installing fear in people, fear from others, different (in the same time they insist on differences even where there was not differences).
  5. Leaders insist on thesis that they gonna defend people from whatever and whoever, as long as they follow the leaders. People do not think about personal security, personal wealth etc. Leaders (society) gonna provide all that. Protect the system and system protects you.
  6. Suddenly people wake up in world without job, security, safety etc. People realize nobody takes care of them when things go really bad. By that time leaders and their networks have gained tremendous power and resources from that chaos in all kinds of ways.

Any of this sounds familiar? Welcome to today.

Governments job today is to balance suffering and promises. To balance beatings and compliments and when some event changes that balance and pain for people get too much, welcome to the end of the world as we know it.

What event do you think could trigger this? Please share in comments.

How to help kids through hard times

traumatized kids

The terrible shooting in US that put 27 people to death, mostly six and seven year old children made me write this post. There is much controversial stuff.

Media outrage about gun laws instead more talk about media making people like the Aurora shooter to some kind of celebrity, that inspires other people to go out and “be someone” by doing extreme atrocities too.

I know many of you have families or are close friends with people who have. So today I want to talk about what happens to kids who get through some terrible times.

Kids had it too, just like grown up people. Maybe in different way, but they definitely absorbed all hard stuff that happened around all of us. You may expect that you can throw whole bunch of cardboard table games in one secure room inside house with your toddlers while you are fighting for survival and that everything gonna be OK with them.

And to be honest people did like that, nobody paid too much attention to kids, if you follow the site or are member of course you know how dramatically priorities change.

Most important thing was to keep kids physically safe. Everything else was kept for some other time, for time when peace comes, for time when „normal time“ comes. Even though often we did not expect to live to that day.

Later when normal time came, some of the folks realized that their kids are not actually „normal“ kids anymore.

Most of the people having tendency to forget time when they were kids, and think like kids actually do not understand too much, so there is no too much need for explaining things that are happening around them. Kids are small people, they are not idiots, they understand much more than we think.

In that time as I already said we did not pay too much time about explaining things to kids, explaining some bad things that they seen or heard happening around them.

I still think that we did not have time for that because we were occupied with much more important things, with food finding, and basic security things. But sometimes I think that we did not know how things gonna have influence on them, if we knew that maybe we would have found some time for that.

Anyway, today after any traumatic event in normal societies there is a whole system that is used to help kids to cope with that event, but do not forget that first and best friend for your kid is someone they trust, a close friend of family or you if you are parents, and you are the person who need to see problem with your kid.

Later when that kid is fully grown up person it is hard and sometimes impossible to correct some things. The bad patterns and trauma might have left too deep scar.

Examples around me are numerous, and whole society here is built on false and wrong values. I can say that one of the reason for that is that great number of young people are raised in wrong way.

Any traumatic event will leave great influence on kid or young person. Other thing is what that person gonna learn from that event. I am not some kind of expert in human behavior or psychologist, but I am man who survived great number of traumatic events, and I know great number of people who suffered many traumatic events, so I can say that people who survived it gonna have consequences. Always.

One of my relatives for last 10 years did not go out from her apartment alone. Always with some other family member. She was six years old when she watched how people getting killed around her, nobody thought in that time to talk too much about what she saw, priority was to keep her safe. It struck her years later.

Opposite to her my younger colleague who was also young during time in war can not stand elevators, and any other small spaces. Panic attacks. He told me parents put him in small safe room when shelling was very heavy.

I was once with him in apartment, and when we wanted to go out key in door jammed (here you lock door when you inside apartment), I guess he felt stranded in that moment or whatever, he got panic attack pushed me from the door and start to kick door with chair. Almost 20 years before he was almost suffocated when his house went on fire by shelling and he was stranded for some time in safe room. He was 14 then.

And these two cases are mild examples. In worst cases kids are grown up in traumatic events and without working with them they can grow up in man who think that he can do anything with force only.

If kids are seeing that people do wrong things in order to get something, they can conclude that way is easiest way. They get wrong ideals. This is why when media makes celebrity out of people who go on shooting sprees you create long term problem.

You suddenly have fully grown up man who is maybe simply bad or just knows he will be known and finally someone if he does one big act of violence that is worth the news.

So what to do?

Just work with your kids, pay attention what they seeing and how they understand all that. Help them to understand what is bad and what is wrong.

Do not talk about shooter with them, talk with them about victims. Shooter is nobody and should remain that.

Those “flashers” that run on field during sport events are not covered by media as well because this would just make more people go run for fame. Some part of media does not get it and for sake of money, attention and more viewers they make a hero out of someone who should remain nobody forever.

What I try to say is, do not underestimate young people. They are new to life and suck in all things around them. Good or bad and you have to help him make sense of this or be a bit of filter.

Without your help kid who is going through some bad situation may go to some extreme later.

Keeping kids away from real world is not right either but they have to learn about things and you have to help them understand context of this.

Saddam Hussein thought it is good idea to “toughen” his kids up when they were young, by letting them see atrocities. His sons Udai and Qusay became murdering psychopaths.

Sad reality is there is a whole generation of young people here who just do not have correct understanding of meaning of right and wrong. For them correct concept is easy and hard. And if you stop for a moment and think about that you can see how that concept is dangerous, and why when SHTF we gonna have some really hard time.

For them it is easier to get high and rob some small store, beating to death lady who work there than to work for living. They do not know for other way, any other way is harder for them.

And never make mistake and think that kids are just kids, and that they do not see and understand what is going around them.

They see everything and they will understand what is happening and why, but without your help maybe they might misunderstand that.

What are your thoughts on this?

Survivalist Gift Guide

Christmas is around corner and Jay and me got together to look for some good gift ideas for you. This Survivalist Gift Guide has some gifts for new preppers or non survivalists as well. Giving non survivalists box of lighters for Christmas might be a bit awkward so book is obviously better choice. We tried to balance what is useful and what is fun and also added some crazy gifts.

Many more expensive products in this guide are “survival luxury items”. Nice to have and will make heart of every survivalist jump, but not really necessary because cheaper item can get the job done as well. It all depends on who you give gift to.

A new prepper who has very limited budget will be more happy about $30 machete, $30 first aid kit, $50 ham radio than one high quality $110 solar charger. This is much different for seasoned prepper with bigger budget of course. Simply because of other priorities.

In the end survival is much more about skills than equipment but we all love having good tools to get things done and some toys to play around.

Under $20

Under $30

Under $100

Over $100

Funny and over the top gifts

Ammo is of course always option and weapons too. But this gets very specific, depending on area where you live, common calibers in area and laws.

What were the best survival related gifts you ever got or gave someone? What is your plan this Christmas when it comes to gifts?

Drugs during long term survival situations (Part II: Marijuana & other drugs)

Before SHTF I tried marijuana one or two times, and my alcohol experiences were connected to parties just like young folks everywhere around world.

In our political system people who used drugs of any kind were strictly separated from normal way of life, so in our city circle of folks who used any kind of drugs were stigmatized and definitely outsiders.

Nobody really talked about these people. So normal folks knew there are drug users, but what kind of people and drugs and any other details were not known much. Those kind of folks were just wrong kind of people and thats it. Period. That was before the war and total collapse of normal society.

My first contact with drugs during the collapse

When SHTF, I went with my friend to some guy because word was that someone sees him going out from military storage in the first days of chaos with few RPG. So we just want to check the guy and see can we trade something for that weapon.

After hours of finding right connections with people and digging trough the rumors we finally find the house of the guy. Man who brought us there went first in front of the house to call him, and he tell to me and my friend to take cover somewhere until he is done negotiating, because guy inside is heavily armed (from military storage) and he usually shoots first and then checks the remains of who was outside.

Finally we were cleared to go inside house. First floor looked like big animal fight with other big animal. Fight must have went on for few days. Everything was upside down, and common things were mixed with strange things. So you could see refrigerator taken upside down with bullet holes, and next to that there was traffic light severed from pylon.

First floor was not in use, guy made something like medieval fortress from his house. Second floor was in use and we climbed up there trough the hole in ceiling and some kind of navy stairs (ropes). His stairway was burned down.

We did not make any kind of trade for that RPGs because he fired all of that as he said. But I saw 5-6 full trash bags in one of the corner, and I asked him what is that? He said:“check it, be my guest“ .

Every bag was full of marijuana. There was small mountain of it. I never before saw so much of that stuff in one place.

I guess guy was dealer before the war, instinctively I was paralyzed, flashbacks of police, jail, courts, and folks point at you went trough my head. Man noticed that and laughs to me and say “do not worry, just take it and smoke it, that sh!t is our smallest problem now“. He was right and I was there to get a RPG but in shock in seeing drugs.

Why drugs matter during long term survival

I make myself unpopular here. Sorry, I just say what I experienced. Reality is not all clean and good or politically correct.

First I have to say we talk about long term survival scenario here. Few days of fearing for your life is problem, few weeks is crap, few months and more can easily take all will for survival from you and leave you empty.

It is hard to imagine and I never saw one of the “TV survival experts” do anything really long term.

Nobody who is sane probably does. I didn’t choose, I was thrown into this.

When the world breaks down around you, you want things to be normal. Even if you had bad life before in normal times it will feel like paradise to nightmare that happens outside or around you when you fight for your survival.

I do not do any drugs (besides coffee) and think drugs is for weak people… but if life slaps you around like it is hard to imagine, everyone becomes weak at some point.

So during the war marijuana was used to disconnect from horrors around you. When you find yourself with few friends in some safe building, basement, and if you have few cans of food, someone brings guitar and few bottles of alcohol and marijuana, you can start to feel an hour or two like nothing is wrong, people do not get shot outside, women do not scream in distance, peace is there again, at least for few hours, and for that small group of friends.

And when someone pass you small jar with hash „bubbles“ you can imagine almost that Jim Morrison came alive that night in that particular basement, in that small and unimportant city in Balkans, in the middle of civil war, and that he is gonna spend that night with you discussing about ridiculousness of life, and then play „The end“ song.

It also had some sort of therapeutic importance. When one of the member of our friends group died, we sit with someone close to him, for example with his brother and drink and smoke for a while, until he gets „numb“ from drugs. Only then we could tell him news about his brother. Everybody did that.

I can say that normal folks (something closest to today understanding of normal average folks) did not drink or smoke marijuana because they were curious what is like, or because they want something different. They did it in order to survive everyday life in new world.

You might think now, I never would do this. It is against my principle. When you see everything breaking down around you a lot of what you think now is principle falls away too.

So very soon some things that were wrong in normal times became natural. Folks started to smoke marijuana, even people who never heard for that, or even people who thought that is completely wrong to use it.

People started to trade for seeds, dealing advice how to grow it, dry it, what parts are best and son on. I am talking here about people who did not have clue about anything about that just few weeks before. Few weeks before it was completely wrong to know about these things.

Whenever I felt bad, or way too bad, or got some chance to sit with my friends I smoked marijuana. Older folks smoked it, grandpas smoked it. Joints made from newspapers, jars full of hashish, or bottle smoking.

It was so much of that stuff that even did not have some big value, I mean you could trade it but it was not very valuable because lots of folks grow it. When it is not illegal then it is completely other thing. When I told Jay while recording my course about this he was surprised. Seems like not many people knew that so many people start growing marijuana during the war but this stuff was everywhere.

Lots of the folks had it for few joints in their pockets always.

It was a pain medication too, when my cousin took out his infected tooth with electrical pliers, all of the „medicines“ he had were couple of joints before procedure, and half liter of heavy alcohol. Alcohol was for his wound and his stomach too.

Whatever you think about alcohol and drugs, you need to understand that they were important in that time, and they gonna be important again.

Hard drugs

Gangs still had access to them but of course, most of the real drug addicts, heavy drug addicts disappeared very soon. It was bad time for detoxification from heavy drugs when you had not time to stay in bed and throw up all day.

Of course people did some stupid and wrong things under these drugs too.

It was not time when you just can go out and drink and party. You needed to be alert most of the time.

It was wrong to drink a lot or get high before some hard jobs, like going out to find and trade things, because you just needed to be completely ready for anything. Anything that clouded your judgment and reflexes was wrong, and very dangerous.

I knew a guy who go out in wrong moment and gets shot in head, just because he thought that he hearing some music from the distance, his favorite song or something like that. He smoke too much, yes.

With all urban myths about how alcohol can keep you warm, or can give you more strength of course wrong things happened.

But for me, in some moments when it was very hard for me, alcohol and marijuana helped me to go trough some things. For all of you who still resolutely say that you are not gonna use alcohol or / and marijuana, just try to be prepared for a fact that those two things gonna be important when SHTF.

Don’t do drugs of course, but just like painkillers, some things have its place when things get really hard no matter if legal or illegal. Even if you can not imagine some things, part of being better prepared then next human who has to deal with same situation is to have a more flexible mind. To be ready for whatever gets thrown in your way.

As you know, soft drugs are controversial topic right now, especially in the US. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana, legalization can cut cartel profits but maybe also create more smokers. What are your thoughts about marijuana?

Drugs during long term survival situations (Part I: Alcohol)

Today most people drink alcohol because they want to get away sometimes from hard reality or just to have some short good time. Another simple reason many people drink in my country is they have been scared, or they just can not take it any more.

Why did drugs become more important during the war?

In hard times people experience lot of different emotions. Fear, courage, anxiety, crazyness or not logical bravery and so on. Fighting to survive was also new feeling for most. People needed something to melt all that together, thats why drugs were so important.

When you are inside your head in complete chaos, so many different emotions, using drugs to get away from everything to get one feeling that you know, even if feeling is not real and just you taking something, it is relief. It feels like you get to place you are familiar with in world that is full of chaos and suffering.

Alcohol becomes your very good friend, it became mine too. It was ticket to short ride somewhere else from very bad reality. Everybody drink or (and) smoke marijuana in that time, but more about marijuana in next post.

Alcohol

Alcohol has many good sides. It is useful for hygiene or to trade or give as present.

It was not very valuable compared to some other items, but you could go out with few liters and almost always find something to trade and possibility to trade at all mattered often more than having something with high value but only few people want / need it.

Lot of things needed to be suppressed in that time, so alcohol was something like emergency vent, preventing folks from exploding.

Somebody used it to laugh in situation where there is no too much reason to laugh, other people used it to cry out some things they were holding back.

One of the guys from my street became completely other person when he was drunk.

He was big scary looking man, very hairy man like some kind of Neandertal man, and usually nobody wants to argue with him when he was sober, even when he was not armed.

He had a hands like small shovels and whatever weapon he hold, it looked somehow small in his hands. Anyway kind of guy who you wanna have on your side, not on other side.

But whenever he drank, I mean whenever he got really drunk / wasted he turned in some kind of „unknown poet“. He was all about „cruel life“ and sad stories and crying. At first few times for us it looked funny for us, and we cry from laughing and kidding him.

But after some time it becomes spooky and sad even for us to look at that big man crying like a baby and whining about everything. But no doubt it helped him to get some things from his mind out.

But actually we all use alcohol for that, some of us cried and other laugh. We all used it for venting. To get some order in our chaotic mind and let things out.

Whoever did not cry then, cried later when everything ended. Nobody could run away from that.

Before you start talking about bad examples and bad influence of alcohol I must say that we used it also for hygiene a lot. In most of the situations for common folks first aid items meant alcohol and some clean rugs. So it was common to use it for disinfection and cleaning of wounds, cuts scrapes etc.

Also if you have to eat something quick with your hands, quickest and sometimes only way was to clean your hands with alcohol.

Whatever you think about alcohol, about how dangerous it is for man, society etc. you must understand that when SHTF it is gonna be very important because of so many reasons, and good idea is to have it, no matter if you drink or not.

People here drink a lot, when somebody is born and when someone died, and in every possible occasion in the middle of those two events, so when SHTF people want to have some kind of connection with „normal“ time. Alcohol was easiest way to get that connection.

This is also something to think about when you stock items for trade. What is most common “comfort items” in your area or culture? Coffee? Cigarettes? In Asia maybe soy sauce or chili. These things will be good for trading.

My uncle was a heavy drinker in that time, every day he drank in order to get himself to function in that hard new world. It helped him to hold his mind together and survive. And he was good. He did his part of job great and we all could rely on him in every moment.

But without alcohol he became useless and ruined, so he just had to drink. After everything ended he stopped with drinking almost completely, but that could not save him from losing one of his kidney, and getting some serious liver condition.

Not to mention PTSD. Things catch up, if you numb yourself with drugs or not.

Everyone paid for that time sooner or later. So for folks who drink a lot in that time alcohol was not golden solution, but it was one of the easiest solution to go trough all little bit easier.

I drink beer or two, from time to time, the years when I waste myself in order to feel better about some things are behind me, but I still have lot of alcohol in my storage, and try always to keep numbers of stored alcohol rising.

With bottle of alcohol you can make a good friend from possible enemy. Of course you need some good attitude, I’ve seen that many times.

Once I got myself in fight with guy over some tree that needed to be taken down in the back of my house for firewood and we could not agree is it belonging to me or him (it was on public property) and in the middle of pulling out our knives he lost his small bottle from his pocket. I asked him then „look man, lets drink few rounds from that thing and have some kind of agreement, it is better then to use knifes“ and we did that.

How are you stocked up with alcohol? What role does alcohol play in your preparations and how do you plan to use it? Just write in comments.

Post Shtf Society: Corruption as a Way of Life

corruptionI read often in discussions in survival forums that people say that people from poor countries have easier transition into chaos and collapse scenarios. I agree. One of the reasons is that they already live in some sort of shtf scenario every day.

Today I want to tell you about major aspect of what keeps broken systems going all around the world. Corruption.

When resources are few and many people want something and person who decides who gets it is short on stuff too (or just greedy and there is no one who enforces law) then you enter into world of corruption.

I think it is important part of understanding how things work in corrupted systems. This does not only help you in post shtf scenario but even when you travel or move to what I call „unorganized countries“.

I live in one so this is something like everyday school of survival, after the Balkan war my country never recovered. If both parents work full time and you still sometimes do not have enough money to feed your kids something is wrong. (Money from my course helps, thank you for everyone who signed up).

Anyway, I hope you can benefit from my experience of living in such broken system. First thing:

„I have certain rights!“

Wrong.

This is first and most important rule of surviving in unorganized country. You do not have right to anything. Right of freedom of speech, right for job, right for some protection from the law or any other „right“. Now do not get me wrong, laws are same like in any other European country here, and they say that you HAVE all of the rights, but reality is different.

You need to fight for all rights, and find a way to make them work for you in some cases.

You are only one man with whole bunch of other people who are all equally jobless, tired of crime, political nonsense and many years of hopeless economical situation.

So at the end you find out that only thing that you can do is to blend in, to act like most people. If you want to live you are gonna have to bribe people on every step, you are gonna have to accept bribes.

Sounds bad? Unmoral? Read on.

If you want to work in some company you gonna need to start to look for people who have connections with people from management in that company. The person in the management who decides who gets job knows that having work is worth something but he will not ask directly for bribe. No matter what qualifications, somehow he will just not give you job.

Nobody openly accepts bribe in most cases because its against the law. You need someone the person from management trusts and then send the bribe through this middleman.

You are giving money to the middleman, he is giving money to the management guy. Rich management guy gets richer, middleman takes cut and if middleman did not screw you, you get a phone call when you can start working.

If you are lucky enough there is gonna be just one middleman between you and management guy, because if there are more middleman you need more money. Everybody is taking their cut.

After you get, actually after you buy that crap job, you start to work for crap salary that is clearly not enough for feeding your family. So you are starting with small things in your circle or network of people you know. Small wrong things.

For example if you are policeman you are gonna have something around 600 USD salary per month in country where you need 1300 USD for living for family with 3 members per month. And that is living under poor conditions.

So you start to “close your eyes” on some things. Small things. Taking bribes for traffic tickets, then you gonna cover some drug dealers in your street, then you gonna figure out that you can earn more if you take out some infos and give it to some guys, for example just to call some guys and tell them where next police raid gonna be, some drug action.

If you don’t do this, your colleague does and you have to explain your child why there is no decent food on the table.

This is how it is for great majority of situations in unorganized countries. As soon as you plug into that weird and corrupt system you gonna have better chance to live, to feed your kids.

Another example. If you are having some bigger money and want to start some job, for example lets say you want to open some small business or whatever, bakery shops. OK law says you gonna need some licenses from state, some workers, some building, equipment etc.

So you go to government offices or whatever and start to work on paperwork and licenses, and you figure out that on every step those people making problems for you. And you may ask yourself why? I want to start normal job, to earn honest money, to give job to 10-15 people and they cause all these problems?

And sooner or later you realize that whole system does not give sh!t for your intentions, because every small or bigger clerk want bribe for his stamp on paper. Or in other case your paperwork gonna be strangely lost somewhere, or you gonna be faced with some weird sanitary regulations or whatever.

So you finally bribe people, have all paperwork, rent buildings, employ workers and start to work. After 10 days you gonna have some inspector coming over who says that you do not have suddenly all what it takes for doing that business, because some of your paperwork is not correct. And of course you need to bribe again.

Anyway if you are not part of that weird corrupt system you are going down.

If you have mother who is sick, and she needs to go to hospital, you will find out that no room in hospital is available, and that she can come in for next month, not before.

So you are looking over to your friends who have some connections there, with some physicians. And you offer some money over that friend to some physician, and miracle, there is a room free in hospital for your mother on same day.

Then what you need is only to find some nurse there and offer something to her, so you can be sure that your mother not gonna die in the middle of the night because some equipment malfunctioned or whatever.

OK if you decide to go to police and talk about fact that somebody asked bribe from you because of whatever you will be welcomed. Police guys there gonna listen very carefully to whatever you have to say, after you finish with your story they gonna take all notes, and say to you that you fulfilled your duty as law abiding citizen and that you did right thing because this region is suffering because of corruption, crime etc etc.

And then you are screwed for real. Suddenly some small junkies gonna start to threaten your kid on the way to school, local police officer always stop you and ask for funny things and mistakes in your driving or find problems with your car. You can find your car without wheels or maybe even burned out. And if you still trust in law and order you call police, and circle is going again and again and again.

And then one morning you wake up with the great idea that you are living in a sh!t country, and it is time to start to act like everybody else. Do not hear, do not see, do not talk. You plug yourself into corrupt system and become part of everything.

So you are starting to do small scams with your employers, tax scams, you find connection in taxing department, bribe guy there, steal from your employers, split cut with that dude from taxing department.

Your employers start to steal from you, whatever they can. And again circle is going on.

Point of living in unorganized country is how many people you know, I mean how many people with connections. You can become rich or powerful by just being the man with many connections. Corruption becomes not only part of system, corruption is the system to get things done.

In order to finish whatever job, you gonna need connections and bribes, smaller or bigger. And at the end to survive you become one of those people with connections. Man who can finish some business that helps others.

You are finishing jobs for people, sometimes for money, sometimes for favors, sometimes for friends, and you are expanding network of people you know. Word “human capital” gets new meaning. More people you know (people who can finish something) more power and money you have.

If I order something from Ebay in 80% I have chance that item gonna be held in customs, and some ridiculously high tax for that gonna be sent to me, import tax or whatever, usually 20X more tax then value of order. So I need to find some guy there and offer him maybe 2-3x value of order in cash, and order can be mine.

It is in every aspect of society, you can not live without it.

And I mention only very harmless examples of corruption…

Already living in corrupt system and making things work through people you know is one of the reasons why it is easier for people in unorganized countries to live better through consequences of collapse. People have already adapted to fact that they need connections to make pretty much anything happen.

So how does this information help you? I hope this article gave you basic understanding how corruption works in real life. This can help you when you travel, when you want to make things work in unorganized countries and also should give you ideas for your preparations. Store some “presents”, think about skills you can learn that you can trade as favors. Corruption will be big part of post shtf society… at least in beginning before law is enforced.

If you have questions or stories about how presents helped “someone you know” to make things work, please share in comments.

In violent urban survival scenario… violence is the easy part.

light for survivalWhen times are hard, people show all kinds of their characteristics, or faces, or real face, call it whatever you like.

That is another reason why it is not so popular to talk or write in details about that time. Some people did bad things and survived, or good things and died, or people just acted strange in that time.

Again a lot of combinations. People later do not want to discuss about that, they do not want to remember that. Over the time man can really force himself to believe that he did not do some things, even if he did them.

No happy gatherings of group of people who survived all that, nothing like big reunions with barbecue with cheerful talks about „how it was then“ and drinking beer.

When we sit somewhere together, we do not talk about these times too much. If we really go in something from that time we usually lie to each other. Everybody of us who survived has something particular that he does not want to talk about or to remember.

Often this is something embarrassing or very bad or cruel that one did. It made sense back then in survival situation but even today when you have food on your table it is hard to understand… even for yourself.

I had friend who was pretty fearless guy when it comes to some tough situations, fights, death and life situation, man to man combat until the end and hard stuff like that. He was easy with violence. But what he could not stand was time frame between launching of rockets and detonations when rockets exploded.

To explain it little bit for folks who never been in war. There was something like shelling by surprise from multiple grenade launchers. So you hear distant „bum“ sounds , some 15 or 20 separate sounds, deep sounds, every maybe 1 second or less, by the time you hear maybe six of these sounds of grenades launching, they are starting to hit already.

Explanation maybe sounds too poor, words can not explain it. But usually that kind of shelling was used on an area like a street and the whole area within 200 – 300m in this street was death zone. It was hard to predict what area they shell before grenades hit.

So in real life if you find yourself at the open in that moment, and the shelling area is where you are you do not have too many chances to live. Sometimes people jumped for cover and broke their arm or leg doing this to find out grenades fall in different part of city. That few seconds between first „bum“ and explosion where the grenades hit felt like eternity.

I could swear that lasts for hours, not seconds. So much things to think about in that moments.

Anyway my friend could not stand that few seconds whenever he was caught in open area. Every and each time he would lose control of his body functions (he sh#t and pee in his pants).
He would cry after that like a kid. Of course that was reason for lot of fun. He hated himself every time after that, but he could not help it.

Feeling in your stomach when the grenades fall around you, is like you want to puke and shit at same time, lot of people say that is because of huge vibrations, but it is pure and real sense of horror, and completely lack of control over your life.

And remember, he was no coward at all. Each and everyone of us had his horror moments when you just were lost, when you just surrender completely.

I have seen few times that people blow other mans brain out with bullets, and later even make fun of that, and in the same time same people throw up when they have to eat macaroni infested with worms, dead worms cooked with macaroni.

For me maybe worst thing, or thing that I hated most were some smells. Constant smell of burnt things. Not ordinary smell of wood or coal fire, but smell of lot of things set on fire. Heavy and greasy smell that somehow just go directly in your stomach, like lot of dirty things are burning but with very slow fire. Nothing to compare it with today. The stench of rotting meat of dead bodies came into that as well.

Closest thing would be like somebody set fire to huge pile of city trash today. But still it is not so close to that.

Especially in the morning smell was heavy. Very often I just woke up and had to vomit as soon as I smelled it. It was something stronger than me. Actually it did not have anything with fact how strong or weak I was.

Every one of us had own small breaking point, most of the time violence was easy part of our time when we tried to survive.

When you prepare for a possible SHTF scenario do not get lost in too much technical stuff. Try to get to your limits. Try to know your breaking points.

I recorded material for new course with Jay here where I live in past 2 weeks. Jay comes from troubled background and was involved in some crime in his late teenage and early adult life. He is real nice guy today but because of his past violence, blood and gore comes easy to him. But he has real problems when it comes to seeing or smelling poop.

I work in emergency services so I took him along to some jobs when I knew it would be messy in very unpleasant way for him.

Turning around homeless guy who is too drunk to move and has sh#t himself and been lying in that at same place for two days is special experience… especially for someone who has real problem with poop.

You get idea of all of this. I think a lot of writing about survival today is about gear reviews and buying another gun and that is fun I know but going to places where it hurts you today… where you can push your limits is time very well spent.

Do not expect to “overcome” all of them. Some things always get you, but knowing about this and being mentally prepared for it, makes big difference is stressful survival scenarios when many things at the same time test your limits.

Survival Hygiene

There are some topics that people maybe sometimes do not want to read or hear about, or other folks just thinking that is not too important when SHTF. Hygiene is something that we all agree is important, but how dirty is gonna be is other thing.

If you look for example to definition of Cholera you can see this:
„Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by the ingestion of bacterium Vibrio cholerae present in faecally contaminated water or food. Primarily linked to insufficient access to safe water and proper sanitation, its impact can be even more dramatic in areas where basic environmental infrastructures are disrupted or have been destroyed.„

I already mentioned that I suffered (together with lot of folks from that time) few serious cases of diarrhea, I mean cases when you can not lift your head up for days, i was so exhausted.

Did I have Cholera? I do not have clue, no hospitals, no labs, no doctors. Probably yes. All what I could do is to take fluids, menthol tea, chamomile tea and „Rosa Canina“ tea.

In normal grown up healthy people, it can be solved with oral re-hydration, and cases of death are not so common. In very young and very old it is harder. When you have some underlying medical condition it is complicated again.

It is hard anyway if SHTF and you get heavy case of diarrhea, and you are not prepared for it, and you do not know too much about it.

When SHTF small problems lead to bigger problems, later you have lot of small problems pieced together, and actually you have one big problem.

If you have access to medical facility when you dehydrated and exhausted because diarrhea then in most of the cases all can be solved with IV re-hydration, Ringers Lactate etc.

If you have knowledge and equipment you can try to solve it by yourself.
Worst case scenario would be to not have neither available medical help, no knowledge and no equipment.

Of course having no disease is better than treating one.

Try to not get yourself in situation where you need medical help, because medical help can be not available. Also, you can learn some basics about treatment, and store some stuff for it. I am not saying that you need to go to nursing school right now. But knowledge is key, learn how dehydration work, and how you can re-hydrate man.

Having knowledge how to re-hydrate patient who is suffering from diarrhea not going to do you too much good if you did not solve question of proper waste disposal.

Because at the end you gonna find yourself „running in circles“ and getting sick again and again.

So again pay extra attention to proper waste management, your water and your food.
Consider the fact that you can control maybe conditions in your home if you plan and prepare everything, but you gonna need to go out for many reasons, and outside world is going to be probably very bad and dirty place.

Protect yourself when you are out, and be sure what you are bringing home with you.

Today when it comes to urban survival I think simple surgical masks and gloves should be part of your preparation.

They are not only meant to be used in operation rooms. I would use it whenever I am out on some „suspicious dirty“ place and these places are all around after normal services do not work anymore. Shoe covers are good idea too…

You can not achieve sterile environment in your home, and that is not point here. But whenever coming home from your trip out (when SHTF) consider yourself dirty, and clean yourself, cloth and equipment on best way that is available for you.

Just use common sense, but much more common sense then in normal time. What makes you sick in such survival situations is usually not visible.

Your first line of defense gonna be your personal hygiene, way how to manage your waste, and way how you keep your self clean. So simple procedures like washing your hands carefully after you done with dirty job get some new meaning. It can be life saving.

Boil your clothing, add some bleach and let it dry in direct sunlight. These little things are all things that increase your chance for survival. You can not shoot these little bacteria and they killed as many people as bullets (or even more) during my time in war.

Store disposable trash bags, as many as you can, for many different reasons, including for human waste disposal. Also many ways to clean yourself, and again use common sense, store it in „small“ containers, so you can carry it with you anywhere and always.

To have pair of disposable medical gloves and small hand sanitizer with you in your pocket make much more sense when SHTF then in normal situation today.

Do you already have masks, surgical gowns (or other throw away clothing for dirty work), shoe covers, hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol, gloves, disposable cups and plates? What are your most important preparations when it comes to hygiene?

What light and darkness meant for us

light for survivalI remember when all was over, and electricity came back in street. We managed to repair some installations and wires inside house and lights go on.

We were quiet for couple of minutes staring at the light bulbs like some tribe from Amazon that sees light bulbs for a first time. And then one of the older guys from the family breaks the silence and says: „Oh my God we lived in pig shack for a year“.

Wall paint was gone, holes were everywere, in corners there was all kind of junk, and everything had dark colour from improvised oil lamps, everything was sticky.

I guess we did not see all that because even during daytime, with covered windows you can not see too many details, not to mention that small lamps during the night do not give enough light to see everything. And also we did not care for some things I think, we did not have time.

Also we were not prepared for all that hell, when everything started most of the folks had few candles inside the house, and maybe one lamp in car or garage.

Soon we realized that we needed to „invent“ some new way of lighting. Actually not new, again old folks jumped in with solution from their past.

So we used mostly lamps with oil. Sometimes with cooking oil, or sometimes with mixture of pine resin and diesel I believe. It was small lamp in the glass, made from bottle cap and rope, or shoe lace. It went off regularly, stank like hell, gave lot of thick black greasy smoke. But also gave some light. And that was important.

Importance of light is not only to see where you are going or what you are doing in your house. I think it is something that divides us from animals. Just like fire it gives you feeling of being at home. So to have light in house in those days, when we sit all together to eat or to plan something meant a lot. It is one of the little things we take for granted but can make big difference.

But to talk about importance of light means also to talk about importance of darkness. In darkness we go out and do things. All things.

Forget about picture of guy with strong lamp walking around and using light to see where he is going. To have lamp on at open during the night usually meant drawing somebodys attention. And you all probably know already that drawing somebodys attention was bad thing.

Light in form of lamps and batteries was good for very short terms, if you are moving very quickly, I mean to light something very quickly, one second or two and thats it. In closed areas it was different, but even then we covered lamp with hand, using only small amount of light.

You try to stay hidden so when it comes to light or making noise you always keep things minimal.

Best way for walking out in terms of light was clear night with moonlight, and good idea was to go outside of my house, to sit in yard for some time in order to let my eyes some time to adapt to night and moonlight.

Then it would be fine to walk, when you adapt yourself to constant greyness of everything, and shadows.

Even today when I go out from my apartment, I usually spend some time in dark hall, before going out during the night.

There is something called peripheral vision. You can see objects in night outside of your central (forward) vision.

In reality I went out and moved very slowly, with many stops where I would take few deep breaths and look with eyes wide open, trying to catch any sign of movement.

Try it, practice your night vision, I mean natural night vision, you’ll see that you can see during the night objects that are moving when you are ready for that and you get used to some of the tricks shadows can play on you.

You have sort of tunnel vision when you use your flashlight. Human eyes just need too much time to adapt from light to darkness. And of course too much time if we are talking about real survival situation.

Darkness can be your friend, just like light can be your friend. But again both can be your enemy.

Using your flashlight too often and then your eyes need to adjust to darkness again can mean difference between life and death.

I am not saying that flashlights are stupid, or you do not need flashlight when SHTF. I have around 60 lamps and flashlight, different kinds, from led stuff, hang on wall lamps to powerful torches. I am taking things very serious in this part of preparation. It is just no camping trip where you go out and point light at everything.

Once I was out at night with two friends looking for useful things like always and we met other group. One guy from my group put light on them and we saw they have guns. We turned and ran like hell and got away. That he pointed light in their face might have saved our life. They just shouted some bad words but the light must have blinded them and it seemed they had no real flash light so they could not follow us before their eyes adjusted to darkness again.

Just like with all what I write, I suggest you to go out during the night and test it. It is gonna be maybe hard for you to find destroyed city, without eletricity, with shooting in background, but do not worry.

Practice your night vision

For example go to woods, or bigger park close to your home, and bring lamp with you. Have plan before that, I mean trip plan how to get from point A to point B.
First go trough the park with lamp, all the way. You’ll see clearly part of ground that you are putting light on that given moment, but for everything else you are blind, not to mention you are clearly visible with your lamp in darkness.

Then spend some time, 30-40 minutes in dark, adapting your eyes, then go back without lamp, all way. Depending on terrain, you’ll see that sometimes it is much easier to go without lamp. Using your eyes after adapting them to darkness. You’ll see maybe silhouettes only and shades, but you are seeing bigger picture. Some trees maybe that you can remember and other “landmarks”.

I suggest to use night with moon, partially cloudy, so you can see difference when moon is covered with clouds, and when clouds go away. Get to know your neighborhood in darkness.

Learn pros and cons of moving in both ways, because there is gonna be situation when one is better than another, you never know.
And of course, just like with everything use some common sense, never stare directly to light, lamp, candle or whatever.

When it comes to lamps, flashlights and all other sources of light, there is no perfect answer for every situation. You may find yourself in situation that you need some really small light, just to see silhouetes, or just to see in what you are going to put your shoe in next step.

I mean for example you gonna find yourself trying to take something useful from ruined apartment building in the middle of the night, at the third floor. You can not see anything, so you need some kind of light.

From this picture what kind of light source is gonna be best for urban survival situations?

survival lights

If you ask me I would choose this Pelican light, or that small white „penlight“. All other things on picture are stronger sources of light, and if you ask me why I do not choose them, answer is simple: I want to see things in order to use something. I do not want to flash so strong so anybody can see me and my light. So between good visibility around me, and danger that I might be seen I chose some kind of compromise, with small light.

That Ultrafire flashlight is very good to see clear and at much longer distances, or to „blind“ someones eyes. First one is cool if you want to hang it and light your room, can go very long on three AA batteries, and it is very cheap (around 2.50 Euros here).

I mean there is no too much sense to use UltraFire flashlight to light your room while you having dinner with your family, it is too expensive and not so practical way to do it.

Those are just few examples, not to mention gas lamps operated on gas or oil, so best idea is to have lot of stuff so you can choose.

How do you prepare when it comes to light?