Corona Virus Panic & What Matters Now

I put back some of the articles on my page, articles that I find are make sense for new situation in the world about this new Corona virus.

I felt there is need to put back some of that in this situation.

Whatever happens with this new epidemic or pandemic chaos around the world, as I always said it it will come to the bare essence of the people vs. resources combination.

Was, plagues, climate changes, asteroids… at the end it always come to the same: more people than resources.

Some of the articles here on page I wrote years ago, most of them are about situations that happened 25 or more years ago, but if you read it carefully and if you “transfer” some of that to your settings or this time you ll see philosophy and basics are same, for most of the situations.

Rest of the my articles archive and my articles from other places, and stories that are not being  published on line anywhere are published as a books for some time on Amazon:

SHTF Survival Stories: Memories from the Balkan War

The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival: The Brutal Truth About Violence, Death, & Mayhem You Must Know to Survive

Corona, system, panic

 

Situation with Corona virus changes everyday, and that change is towards bad everywhere not to good, I still think this virus is not necessary so dangerous like most of us think (time will show if Im right), but that does not mean too much to us in “prepper terms” because I still think it will bring pretty big chaos everywhere.

Chaos will be more or less everywhere because many reasons like poor system reaction to virus, false information on public media about pandemic, panic, and generally poor will of people to live in changed times.

All that essentially and eventually may bring to the situation mentioned above: more people then resources.

We have being bombarded with information that system will take care for this thing, and in the same time as a preppers we need to know that system can not take care about things like this, if this gonna last for a long time.

 

Few examples:

 

stay tuned

 

 

Staying “tuned”  or being mesmerized by info that “officials” will provide you for latest crisis makes sense if you wanna be kinda “aware” where things may go, or if you want to “check pulse” of the system, but to be mesmerized by it to the levels that you base your important decisions on it is simply wrong (as i mentioned many times before).

System job is simple-to keep the system running, so you are probably not gonna heard on TV official warning something like “we are out, it iseverybody for himself”.

At least you not gonna heard it on time to make some difference to you.

I listening here for days public announcements that “there is no need to stash up, to buy huge amonts of food, meds, water etc, because there is no need for it, goverment had it under control”.

Then yesterday I read bit shy government statement that “every household should have enough food, meds etc, so it can survive for couple of weeks without need to go out”

Now, if you waited here in my region for that announcement yesterday and go out to buy stuff, you could not find some items like masks, hand gel sanitizer and similar.

So, if you are prepper, survivalist, it really does not make sense to wait for someone to tell you “you need to go out and stock up”.

Smart people (survivalists) did that long time ago.

 

system and panic

 

I do not know how things are going there wherever you are, but here in my region it seems that people who are handling this crisis and make decisions are kinda idiots, at least majority of them.

There were so many flaws in dealing with this that often I am thinking about conspiracy theories now.

But then again, here everything is politics, and everything is about how things are “under the control” even when they are very far from any kind of control.

So people who are not competent will go out with info that will bring more panic, more false info, and at the end more misunderstanding and eventually chaos.

I have friend who works in goverment “crisis center”. He was out on radio, making statement that everything is under control, no need to panic, no need to buying stuff… on same day he called me privately and told me “you need to stock up  and be prepared”, i told him “thank you i will” , of course he do not know I am prepared since the time of his elementary school.

What about people who trust his public anouncment?

Again, job of the system is to keep system running.

 

 

what going to happen?

 

Well nobody knows, but if you telling me that this virus does not have impact on society just go and check what measures China government took, in order to contain it.

And then think is your goverment is ready to do measures like Chinese, and are people around you ready to “agree” with measures like in China?

I know for sure here it would bring society to complete stop, and then to chaos.

So do I think we all going to die from virus, no, definetly not, but I do think there is huge possibility we might be pushed back, in some cases we might be pushed back in chaos and system collapse, for some time.

So, it definitely makes sense to be prepared for it.

What I think about how SHTF will be

I have a question. Would you please take a moment to explain your own prediction of how SHTF will occur in USA? How do you think it will be different than in your own country? How do you predict it will start, and how will it spread? Finally what is your prediction of how will SHTF end? Of course it is only your personal prediction but I highly value your words. If you would respond to this question I would be most grateful. Thank you.

It is hard to give any prediction for anything, but my opinion, and i say again it is only my opinion. It is gonna be very bad. Worst. Why? Several reasons, and to say at beggining most important reason is not about it is USA, most important reason is because it is highly industialized and modern society.

And great majority of people is forget, or even never heard about lot of things, like how to grow food, or how to be without eletricity, internet,clean water. How to fight for that almost every day.
How to wash their clothes, with hands, how to roast coffe beans on fire, how to transfer big tree into the small firewood. How many households in modern society have wood stoves in their houses, apartments?

There s gonna be lot of desperate people.There is gonna be a lot of angry people.

It is not about USA, it is actually how modern society is, funny but for poorly organized countries it is gonna be like “oh my God, not again” but for modern societies it is gonna be like “oh my God it is the end of everything”. Big difference.

Now please do not understand me wrong, at the end all comes to the single man,and groups of people,how good they organized. Societies will fail. Prepared man can survive lot of things.
Everything comes to the end, i am beliveing that we are not first here, and not gonna be last on this place, important thing is what kind of people we gonna be?

We as humans have become arrogant and forgot where we come from.

Sleep Deprivation and SHTF

 

Image from Häggström, Mikael (2014). “Medical gallery of Mikael Häggström 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.008. ISSN 2002-4436. Public Domain.

 

 

It is one of those things that lot of people do not see, that when SHTF they will have big problems with and due to sleep deprivation.

Reasons are many, maybe it is going to be too dangerous so you’ll be forced to stay awake for prolonged time, or simply your sleep cycle will be messed up because you’ll be depressed when SHTF, or you will not have enough time for quality sleep…

It is important to understand what you can expect when sleep deprivation gets you…

 

 Your Performance

I use to call that feeling –„being in a bubble“.

It is like being on drugs that makes you feel like you do not care about things around you.

For example you find yourself in situation when you do not care are you going to be shot, you clearly see that you have high chances to be shot from sniper on very dangerous intersection, you see that odds are high for that, but you taking that small chance (of not being shot) and go over that intersection, partly because you do not care and partly because you are feeling invincible.

You are in the „bubble“, in a strange state of feelings and processing information around you and that „bubble“ came, largely, from sleep deprivation.

Your perception of danger situation gets twisted in weird ways, and you react different, sometimes you want to be hero without reasons, or sometimes you become coward – again without reason.

Let’s at least say it moves you out of your „normal“.

 

Once, I was hiding for 3 days in ruined house with my friend, while unit of soldiers were out on the street.

Maybe 50 people with one tank, they were drinking and occasionally entering houses around our house to check for stuff, their tank was broken, something with engine and they kept the engine roaring almost all the time, fixing something with fuel or oil.

We did not sleep for those 3 days, we were ready to jump in a split second if they entered our house. On the third day my friend announced to me that he is writing poem about this situation, and I myself was very close to going out to the guys and tell them that I do not believe in war or something like that, in the belief they’d respond with ‘Okay, well then go from here(!?!)’.

Luckily that day they moved away after they fixed the engine.

 

Weird Things

It is subjective, but based on my personal experience you can expect after 3-4 days of no sleeping during SHTF  to see things that are not there, or on the other hand not to see things that there. (Toby comment: Be aware this can happen MUCH sooner in some people, even in less than 24hrs depending on the stressors around, age of the individual and overall fatigue level, among other influences)

This fact was reason for many deaths, and also it was reason for many scary legends in that time.

Personally I saw couple of times people that are not falling down after clearly being shot several times, dead people walking,  strange lights, sounds, or simply let’s say ‘ghosts’.

I learned over the time to notice and observe things like that, but not to react, otherwise I would probably have gone crazy.

When you hear baby crying 10 meters from you in abandoned and ruined house in the middle of night and you follow the sound and go there, and there is nothing there, but now same sound coming from other room that can give you some weird feelings in your guts.

You observe, but not react-otherwise you go crazy.

Fear and lack of sleep will play with your mind.

 

What Can You Do?

 

Just like with lot of other things connected with SHTF very often you can not do s..t with sleep deprivation because it simply will be there, but there are things that you can consider because they help:

-Stay Healthy

Sleep deprivation when SHTF is always accompanied with other things, so it is good to at least take away that other things. If you are having diarrhea, or you are malnourished, or simply you are out of shape AND you are in the middle of sleep deprivation that makes things a lot worse.

If you are in good shape and having lack of sleep, it is something that you can work with, you can survive.

– Do Not Be Alone

It is good old SHTF advice- do not be alone. Being with someone means that you can have support, someone who can recheck your decisions (or vice versa), someone who can take lead when you are „down“ or simply someone who can be awake while you are taking short sleep.

Be Careful With Stimulants (drugs, alcohol. etc…)

It is maybe not „politically correct“ to say, but again based on personal experience drugs and alcohol are helping in sleep deprivation BUT only in short terms, on longer terms actually they will f..k you up even more, so be VERY careful with that, nothing can beat a short normal nap.

Have Short Naps!

I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I had a full night sleep during my SHTF period. But I did have short naps. 20-30 minutes. And they help.

Even in the middle of shelling or fight, somewhere hidden (more or less) I would put sunglasses on and cotton in ears and had short nap. It was very „shallow“ sleep.

At night sunglasses can minimize the effects of flashes around you, and cotton can take away a bit of detonations sound. (yes, good thing to store today is „eye covers” for sleeping and ear plugs)

 

Sleep Deprivation and You

 

I have to point out that my SHTF experience was bit „drastic“, so you may not be found in middle of shelling, but still I can assure you that you will have problems with sleep deprivation when SHTF because of the amount of new situations that SHTF brings, so be prepared for that.

Some Thoughts on Bugging Out

 

We at the SHTFSchool are launching our new „Bug out“ course. The first one will be running in Sweden (More details here) so it is perfect time to consider again some things about bugging out.

I written before about it, but it is never ending topic, simply because there is too many variables and small change in your particular scenario can push you toward the plan and action that would not work at all in someone else’s case (and scenario).

Over the years of writing articles and reading other folk articles and comments, and having my own SHTF experience there is clear that people „fixate“ on more or less same topics concerning the bugging out, so I’ll comment some of those topics.

Do I Need to Bug Out, When and How?

I wrote before about timing during the SHTF event when it makes sense to bug out, but what kind of event do you need to experience in order to bug out and how you are you going to do that?

If you expecting that you’re just going to jump in your car and drive to your BOL without problems then you are missing something or you are really good.

There are countless details that may be thrown in equation of bugging out but lets stick to the most important:

Making decision

  • Is event that is happening (or will happen very soon) a serious physical threat you and your family? (dirty bomb attack, serious weather event, civil unrest…)
  • Is staying at your home mean more danger to you than to go out and travel to desired location (bug out) considering all known factors of risk during the trip? (you are expecting that things going to be better out of your current area)
  • Your current resources at your home are clearly going to „run out“ much earlier than at your BOL (you have preps at your home but clearly you have much more in your BOL)

As advice, in a case of some serious event I would choose to move away from the area where there are more people (urban) to the area where there are less people.

It is general rule, but that does not mean that I would blindly run from my home out to the unknown just because I am in the city.

Sometimes bugging in make more sense even if you are preparing your whole life for bugging out, just check factors from above.

Way There

Getting to your BOL location can be simple like driving 100 miles to your location, but that 100 miles may turn out to be 10 days trip on foot.

You never know how it will turns out, but on some things you can be prepared.

I am big advocate of being „grey“, and that is very important especially while you bugging out.

What actually that means?

  • Your decision about using weapon needs to be made based on circumstances in that moment and for that particular situation. Sometimes it make sense to carry weapon openly, sometimes not.

Use common sense, if there are bunch of scared and confused people outside, trying to understand what kind of event is happening do you really want to go outside in full camouflage gear with rifle in your hand? What is the point of that?

If there is obstacle on your route (check point, armed people for example) can you avoid it and take other route?

If you really need to use weapon then use it to completely terminate threat, usually it will not be time to just „show the muscle“  it will rather be time to quickly and efficiently „use the muscle“.

  • Expect that lot of problems on your way you will have to solve by „bargaining“ , for example sometimes you ll be in situation to give money (alcohol, marijuana, bullets, medicine,clothes…) on some check points in order to go through maybe,-as a general rule for that there is this: do not ever give good reason to people to take the chance of attacking and killing you.

What that means?

If you are passing some local militia (neighborhood watch for example) check point (if you can not avoid it) you may offer your wife wedding ring, or your kid’s golden necklace, or your last 50 dollars, or last 25 liters of fuel… but you never offer 10 silver coins from your stash of silver coins, or your 1 pack of antibiotic out of box of 25 packs, or 50 dollars from the pile of 500 dollars.

Use common sense, usually people will avoid trouble if there is no gain from it, if they see good opportunity they might take chance, even if that means some of them might end up dead, it simply worth the risk in that times.

You need to look like ordinary guy, not like experienced prepper with lot of fancy stuff. You need to be grey.

Today,in normal times, people often see something in other people possession and they think „I wish I could have that“, when SHTF lot of people will think „ oh, I can take that“.

Being grey means a lot, and it means different things for different situations, but there is general rule here, and it is very simple: look and act like everybody else around you – do not stick out.

It goes for your vehicle, your equipment, clothes, way how you act, talk…

Examples are numerous, let say it is SHTF and you are bugging out with your pick up truck with 5 steel military canister of fuel clearly visible (among the other equipment) on the back of pick up.

It is great that you thought about extra fuel that you had stored in your garage for bugging out when SHTF.

It is not smart to show that to whole bunch of other people who are also trying to run away from chaos in the city in the middle of fuel shortage.

They were not smart to store that fuel for bugging out like you, but they will kill you for that fuel, because they like their kids more then they hate feeling of killing someone.

After fact that you need to be grey, let’s mention few more basics here:

  • you need to have at least basic knowledge about your vehicle. For example „fixing“ flat tires, radiator leaks, changing belts, ways to unblock cars from compromised roads and you need to have parts and means for that.
  • Your car might be your home for prolonged period of time, maybe your trip is few hours driving, but you do not know on what problems you might stumble and how long it is going to be.
  • You need to be ready to leave (forever) your car in a matter of minutes or even seconds, and continue on foot, so try to organize it on that way that you do not in hurry leave something with your car that is of life importance (for example water, or ammo, or weapon) Load the car with small packages, small containers, things easy to ‘grab and go’ (We DO NOT advocate the use of ‘totes’ in vehicles, unless you have a clear plan and means to empty that tote FAST into an easy to carry bag or similar method of easy to carry equipment.)
  • And in worst case scenario-no matter how good vehicle you have, maybe you’ll be forced to bug out on foot from the start, so have a plan for that too

That means you have to have equipment for long walk, plans for resources on your way, means to spend more nights in the field…

Few more things about planning and mapping your bugging out:

  • Have at least two alternate routes to your BOL
  • Try to understand- recognize, mark on map and avoid possible danger spots on your route (for example gas stations, police stations, malls, bridges,“choking points“…
  • Try to have either secret stashes (fuel, food, water, medicine, ammo…) or help (safe friendly houses, safe places…) on your route
  • Be ready to change plan, change routes, be ready to improvise and adapt, your traveling may look weird (not straight forward) on map, but it is more important to come alive then to stick to the original plan or to come there to fast.
  • Remember when SHTF that means new rules, so you may pose as a policeman, you may have uniform of city services, you may be reporter… all old rules are dead and your task is to get there. Improvise and adapt
  • Check map of your area for natural obstacles (and weather too) but have open mind. That means if for example there are rivers in your area of traveling then no matter that you are planning to drive the car still you need to be prepared for the situation that you gonna swim over the river (what kind of river is, how fast and cold, do you have right bag to put your most valuable items in for that river crossing…) if there is a mountain and winter be ready to spend night outside (have clothes and equipment for that) no matter again that you plan to travel with car

 

Good exercise would be that you go once per year and travel your „bugging out“ route by foot. It would give you some sense of few things. It would be without re-routes, real dangers and problems but still you would notice lot of things and you would get a few good ideas…

These are just a few thoughts on the matter. Those joining us on the physical bug out course, will learn and practice this and much much more…!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survival lesson Re-visited: Staying Out Of Trouble

 

This new article is actually a re-post of one of the my old articles that I wrote almost 3 years ago.

The guy that I wrote about in that article died few days ago, and that is the reason why I am re posting this.

I use to knew him very well, the man that he became at the end was almost a stranger to me.

He did not die shooting an AK47 at the politicians who once “pushed” him to war with their “infinite honor” and “our cause” stories, he did not wrote book about his experiences, he did not become hero.

At his funeral there were 9 people, including guys who are paid to finish the job with shovels.

This man was “eaten” by cancer, and I am sure that cancer started in his soul first.

I drunk few gins for his soul and decide to re-post this.

Message of this is same. Stay out of the trouble and simply do not believe everything, especially if the message is coming “packaged” and in “big words” (Students in USA should take special note of this now…)

 

Looking for goods and usable items during the war often meant I got myself in some weird situations and scenarios. I knew lots of guys who risked their lives just to go to some destroyed places because they knew they could find some items that meant a lot for them personally, but actually those items were useless in given situation around us at that time.

But people often act like fools and if you find yourself in a survival situation it is the perfect time to lose your life if you act like fool.

Like a friend who lost his eye, just because he went to his house and searched through a closet full of audio tapes in order to collect some of his favourite punk band titles. Not to mention that electricity in that time was something like faint memory, and he could not do anything with those tapes even if he did find them.

Anyway booby trap exploded, luckily he survived, but he lost one of his eyes.

When you have young people or in general, inexperienced people and fighting around you, it is the perfect combination for some people to act like fools.

There is something in dangerous (and new) situations that makes you want to act like fool, and to do stupid things, young folks do that mostly, but it can happen to anyone, it happened to me too.

Good old „stay out of the trouble“ advice is one of the best survival lessons one can learn.

Whenever I read on survival forums, threads about gangs and how during SHTF people should get organized and simply defeat them, I remember how young and enthusiastic I was about that too, but luckily enthusiasm went away quickly and I survived.

The problem here is holding onto old concepts and not accepting change. One day you have law and order and you can call someone when you see trouble because it is not right, next day suddenly there is no one to call and you might feel you have to jump in to make things right.

You may find it cowardly that man wants to stay put when bad things happen around him but in reality in most of the situations you can not do anything without huge organisation that helps you and a big personal risk.

My relative was outside the country when the war started, he was working for an electrical company in the middle east. Contract was good, and he had a monthly salary there equal to 6 months salaries here at that time.

On first news about fighting and war, he returned to the country to join the army and fight. Blockades and battles already started and his trip back to his town took lot of time and troubles.

He was 26 year old back then and he told me that when he entered the country at a small city where he and few other guys wanted to join the fighting forces, he saw that war is not like in books and movies…

Military unit that welcomed them asked who they are and what they wanted, they said that they wanted to join the fighting forces. He said he expected some kind of questions about their military experience or similar, but instead of that the small unit commander asked them : „Do you want some women?“

They starred at him like idiots so he explained „We have some enemy women in prison close here, so go there first if you want“.

My relative was raised by his grandmother, he was nice kid, no cursing, not too much drinking, he said to me that shock was so big that he could not open his mouth to even say „No man!“

He told me that later he find out that fighting includes doing lots of things in order to win fight and stay alive. He went through lots of fighting, earned the reputation of a tough guy, and one day they got caught up in ambush and he was one of the few who survived.

Machine gun from close distance destroyed his legs and belly. He was removed from the country for rehabilitation, his legs are still there, but only for „pictures“.

He is „glued“ to wheelchair forever, and no kids, no wife either.

He lives today in small apartment that looks at big chimney of a disused factory, elevator is usually not working, and nobody cares to lift him up and down.

Nobody visits him too much, he is no hero, he fought for something that is now considered „ wrong and not needed war“ as they say.

Now and then I visit him in his city and that apartment, and every time I conclude two things:

First how lucky I am. Even with all my issues and traumas from the war compared to him, and second is that every time when I left him in his misery and bitterness I am expecting to see in few days in news something like „old war veteran in wheelchair went crazy and start to shoot from AK47 at people in street from his apartment at 6th floor.“

I asked him once why he returned to the country at the beggining of the war while at the same time thousands fled? I expected to hear something patriotic or similar, but he said „Man, at that time it was something so exciting and new!“

So just listen to first survival and most important survival lesson: Stay out of the trouble. Life is very real and it is easy to forget how brutal “real life” can be. With real life I mean life without our civilized society or just life without all support and help we take for granted.

I hope I will never have to use everything I trained for or any lesson I share with you here ever again.

Do you have examples when staying out of trouble was hard and about consequences of this? Share in the comments below.

Old Guys…

 

My great uncle was a drinking man, he would drink heavily from the moment when he woke up until the moment he went to bed, but I do not remember ever seeing him stumbling, walking funny or having problems with his speech.

When he was at home his favorite spot was on the couch in the corner of the room, just next to the wood stove which was running always except on really hot days.

He drank from very small glasses (shot glasses), bottle was never visible (he kept bottle behind the couch) on the table there was silver box for cigarettes, with tobacco and papers for cigarette rolling inside, and his shot glass.

Table was old type table with a glass plate on top of it, and under that glass he kept paper that says that government and state recognizes him as a member and organizer  of the early resistance movement against the German and Italian occupation (WW2).

Table, his cigarette box, his rakija and everything else in his room was off limits for us kids. He lived with my grand parents, he never married, no kids.

Actually now when I remember he himself was pretty much off limits for us kids, only person who ever had some influence over him was my grandmother-his sister, she was the only one who could tell him sometimes that he need to do something.

He was one tough and dangerous old dude, sitting in the room. Drinking and staring in the spot where the wall connects with ceiling.

Sometimes we kids sneak in the room, seeking for stories, or money from him, in return we would bring firewood from shed for his never-ending stove fire.

He would gave us money often from his big “veteran warrior” pension, stories were rare.

Often kids just sat there, talking something, he would occasionally say “uhm” or “ahm” and stare in empty.

He did not go out very much, except his regular chess meetings in the local community hall.

It  was something like community hall, war veteran organization and heavy drinking joint place in one.

People call it “half leg” because several handicapped folks who were there all the time.

And I was a kid who often went with him there, my grandmother often would tell me “go with him there and wait for him”, I guess she simply was worried for him.

Place was big hall with old tables with games like chess and checkers on them,  great uncle would sat down usually with same folks there, his old war comrades.

They would play chess, drink heavy booze and over the time they would usually forgot that I am even there.

In that time I was taught in the school that we are living in great socialistic and communistic society, where all people are equal, and that we got to that point through the heroic and noble fighting of working class in WW2.

War and fights were something noble, heroic and full of sacrifice. Our war vets were ‘clean’; they were people who sacrifice themselves for our motherland – for socialistic society.

I was taught like that, in my young mind all was black and white.

Over the time I realized that folks on that table together with my great uncle had a bit different picture about war and fighting and honor.

They talked about everything, but with heavy slang  and in what looked to me in that time in ‘codes’, and lot of “remember the Mora(mountain) and how we eat shoes”? and answer would be “yeah, fuck it, and how many bodies there”

Lot of that was not understandable for me, lot of head nodding,

One of those chess games stayed in my mind over several decades of the time since I heard it on that table:

Man who played chess with my great uncle had a pieces of shell in his body, I think it was not option to remove it so he grow old with that in his body, he had couple of pieces in his arm and fingers, and while he was thinking about his next chess move he would squeeze his fist and fingers and pieces of shell in his fingers were producing the sound like something is chewing inside his hand.

It was fascinating for me in that time.

What I understand from their story was this:

He and my great uncle were find themselves in some heavy fighting during the ww2 .

Their unit was carrying a lot of heavily wounded together with lot of civilians who were running from German forces.

Sudden attack of Germans made chaos and they together with couple of guys got separated from the unit.

They manage to break out from the encirclement, then they hide inside some cave for couple of days.

They ate tree bark.

Days later they went out and wandered through woods trying to go to the safe territory.

And then they stumble members of their unit.

Actually a pile of it.

On one small clear place in the woods, there were hundreds of bodies in a big pile, and man with the “chewing” in his fist said he never before or later saw anything like that.

Soldiers and civilians were shot and put on big pile of bodies in the middle of nowhere, and he said that lot of them were heavily wounded but still alive actually, they were put there intentionally still alive, to suffer more before they die.

They found couple of woman tied to the trees… Dead.

They quickly move away from there, scared.

Later that night while they were resting they heard noises, quietly went to check and find out German soldier sitting down and bandaging wound on his leg, probably lost and separated from his unit.

They killed him with bayonet, and as I understand they killed him slowly.

That story terrified me to the bones, and I think I heard it only because they were pretty drunk and not even realized I was with them.

My great uncle died long time ago, he was heavy drinker too to the last breath.

On his funeral there were flags, and speech about honor and sacrifice, even his medals.

We never found his wartime machine gun “smajser” (mp 40) that he hid somewhere after the war never giving up to no one where it is, and as I am older I feel sorry I did not hear more about his experiences.

I am sure he cared a lot more for that machine gun than for speeches flags and medals.

I do not remember him as an war hero, and I am sure he did not think about himself as an war hero.

He was scared often while he was in survival situation, he often did things that he did not like, he was not invincible, and he was ready for trouble again all the time.

He was a survivalist.

 

Point of this article is (just like lot of my article) is memory of something, in this case memory of my great uncle.

And there is one more point, for you more important:

Talk with old folks, with veterans, old or young, there is nothing like real life experience.

Be patient, best (or worst) stories are hardest to get, but it is precious knowledge.

It is better prepper investment to hear how (and what) tree bark to eat then to buy 10 MREs.

Many years after my great uncle experiences and events I experienced similar things, hunger, fightings, piles of bodies…

It is in human nature, things like this are happening and will happen again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Circle…?

defense

 

I wrote my first survival article-comment some 7 years ago, and I still remember why I wrote it, what “pushed” me to sit down and write it so people who read/discuss survival over the internet for years can read my opinion.

I was checking the survival forums to learn something about wilderness survival because I found I missing lot of knowledge there, and then I stumbled upon discussion about what real SHTF looks like and will look like in the future.

And simply there I realize how whole survival movement foundation is messed up, or built on the wrong perception.

It is like digging through a whole bunch of other people good skills and opinions (together with wrong ones of course) but completely misplaced and misguided.

After writing that first article years ago, I am still writing and trying to point out my view of things, and my way is learned through the experience of 4 years of civil war in a destroyed society.

I still do not know lot of things, I do not know how to operate 20 different weapons, I am not ex special forces member, I do not know how to survive in prolonged period in wilderness, and I am still learning lot of things from different kind of people, on internet and forums and in physical courses too.

But I know how I survived SHTF and how real SHTF looks like, and the real problem is that it definitely does not look like majority of preppers imagine it.

Over time, a lot of my articles are telling the story about same thing on different ways, and it might look like I am telling same story over and over, but again, I am writing from real experience and there are good reasons why I am pointing out the same things often.

So please allow me to address again some common misconception about SHTF.

Changing From “Before to Now”

Starting problem about SHTF misconception is that people have problems to imagine something that they are not experienced in, so if you have not experienced collapse of society you will “build” your opinion about it based on many things: other people experiences, books, movies, documentaries…

When you add to this a whole survival industry of selling things for “doomsday” you going to end up forming your opinion about how life in collapse will look like based on some weird things, and as an result your prepping and expectation may be completely wrong.

For example, you have been bombarded with information from internet that if you buy some product you’ll be not only safe when SHTF but also you’ll thrive and you gonna have something like best time of your life in the middle of collapse.

Now when you multiply this with many numbers (products) you end up buying peace of mind for yourself built on fact that someone wants to earn money from your fears.

And it is not biggest problem, real problem waking up one morning in the collapse realizing that you have whole bunch of things that simply do not work for your situation.

I like to use example that I have read long time ago, about transportation in city when SHTF. One guy offer idea of using skateboard in urban SHTF as transport, and lot of other folks commented that is good idea.

On first look it is great idea, no fuel, no cars or buses, so skateboard as a transport means looks good.

Only problem here is that probably man who mentioned it never experienced real urban SHTF so he can not know how useless idea it is.

Or to put it really short:

When SHTF city services will collapse, street are pretty soon simply full of everything, there are other people in the city too, because services are gone there are not enough resources and because of that other people will simply almost always mean possible danger, so point is to avoid people, or to be quiet when moving, so…

You need to stop to think in terms of normal times, you need change your priorities when SHTF, it is a different time.

For example moving fastest (or most comfortable) stops to be priority, new priority is to move safest (or quiet) or you need to stop to think about having coolest things but new priority is to have things that will work for your situation best.

Value Of The Things

Again it is about thinking in new terms, in the terms when SHTF, and those terms are completely different then in normal times.

I have kind of survival philosophy where my goal is to be ready to survive with as least things as possible, and it is like everything else based on my experienced SHTF.

What that means?

By developing and learning skills and techniques I am trying to be less depended on physical things.

In reality that does not mean that when SHTF I will immediately  bug out to the wilderness with knife only, no, I too have preps and things, stashes and plans, weapons, meds etc.

It means when times come I am READY  to leave all of that, EVERYTHING – all my possessions, and move away in split second if that means I will save my life.

Are you ready for that?

Are you gonna be able to leave all your preps that you were buying for years, all your fancy weapons, stashes of cans etc and run with what you have on you?

Or you gonna die in “blaze of glory” defending simple physical things?

Survival is about resilience, to move on and on, to overcome difficult situations and come back again.

Do not get attached on physical things, no matter how expensive they are, or how fancy they are, or even if people promised that you’ll “survive and thrive” if you own that things when SHTF.

Life is precious, things are just things.

Problem here is that survival movement today is built on the way that preppers are “forced” to believe that they can not survive if the do not own particular survival product, so as an result there is gonna be bunch of preppers get shot because they defending physical things that someone told them they really need to have when SHTF.

I was refugee more then once, I still remember the moment when all my possessions were an old Browning pistol with three rounds, T- shirt, boots (with wet socks inside) and pants that could stand on its own because of how dirty they were…

I have lost all my other physical possessions, everything was torched or taken away, If I stayed my life would be taken away too in a very painful way.

I run, and survived, and fought again for survival.

And you know what? I bought all the things again.

Things can be obtained again, life can not.

Sometimes you just have to move on and forget on physical things that are dear to you.

Faith

One of the topics that I’m most reluctant to discuss about because I find it really personal, but it is there, it is important, so some things need to be considered.

And I’ll be short here, because it is personal for me, and every one of you should think about it for itself.

Yes, there were times when I simply had to reach deep in myself and connect to something higher, to find some sense, to have faith in order to not lost my mind or kill myself because everything was falling apart around me.

So faith is important, or spirituality, or some kind of moral values-call it as you like.

You need to have something!

But problem here is that people often think if they are good folks by the nature, everybody else is good by default (until proven otherwise?).

Through my experience I adopt opinion that everybody is bad until proven different (even if I am good guy)

Or let me put it like this, in really bad times, when everything going to s…t you ll see more bad folks then good folks, so be prepared for that…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skills And Training

target

I have just finished delivering another ‘Mile In My Shoes’ (MIMS) down here in the Balkans. As always it was a great event with many insights both for the students and me. Having finished the course I got to thinking more about training in the survival and preparedness community.

Learning real survival skills in the field is something that cannot be substituted with anything, but I see people often try to do that.

Another mistake in learning skills is because they are often (almost always) taken out of the context, or even more often, there is no context at all.

Somehow as a result, there is a whole bunch of people learning skills without mindset where and when to use it, or not to use it. (I agree it is better to have skills even without context than not to have them at all, but that sounds more like an excuse than a justification…)

Prepping is a BIG industry, and for lot of people it just needs to be “sugar coated” in order to be consumed.

 

Levels…

Two examples here:

When you say to me “SHTF” my first thought is partial or complete collapse of the system and its services, so my second thought is about (lack of) resources, and other people realizing that fact, my third thought is about fight with other people for the resources still left.

It is my thought when you say SHTF.

For some people when they heard “SHTF”  their first thought is let’s say ‘power shortage’ that’s going to last for about 12 hours, their second thought is that they need to be comfortable for those 12 hours (only) because after that government (system, services) will jump in and fix things.

For them SHTF is 12 hours without electricity…

Now what is clear here, I firmly believe that there will be event of complete (prolonged) missing of the system (law, medical services, food distribution chain…) and some of the reasons could be new pandemics, economic problems, ethnic race (religious) reasons, chaos, or simply some wide world event.

Important thing is that people believing in any of these two levels have a lot to learn, but the starting point should be different.

For example for the folks who think that it is impossible to meet anything more complicated then short disturbances in electrical supply there is no too much use in throwing to them war scenarios and tactical shooting course, because for them it is maybe going to be fun, but there is no context there for them, no understanding.

It is more use for them to read history books, speak with war veterans-to try to understand that shit (will) happens, even in most modern societies where similar things did not happen for generations.

That is start for them.

 

Skills and Using Skills In Context

 

Real danger here is not about learning skills (which is again great thing to do), it is about not understanding how to put it in correct context and real life situation.

If you putting skills learning into good, practical multi day courses of “basic primitive skills learning course” or “wilderness skills course” and play it like that it is perfectly good and useful.

But again there are courses (or books, publications, media, you tube videos) of “how to survive end of the days”, “austere medicine course” or simply “buy this and you will survive and thrive when SHTF” and inside are skills, and list of items to learn or buy without connection to real situations, it is not only scam (more or less) – it is quite dangerous.

What I am trying to explain is best to show through the example.

Let s say there is “where there is no doctor” or “austere medicine course”, and it is like “advanced” too.

In short part of the course goes like this:

-Students start with drinking coffee, and getting know each other

-It is nice, weather is fine, there are snacks and food available, all students feel really comfortable

-They are injuring a pig (or other good sized live animal) and then trying to stitch the pig, or stop the bleeding in different ways

– The pig does not survive and they learned something about stopping the bleeding, and they feel stronger (and disgusted) because of the amount of blood and screams and how ‘real’ the training was.

Good things here that students get some feeling about blood, and they learned something about bleeding and ways to stop it.

But bad thing here is that they been told that now they are ready for SHTF in terms of the bleeding and stopping it.

In reality they are not even close to be ready.

Preferable this is  how this part of the course should look:

-No coffee on the course

-No food that day

-Bad weather is preffered

-Students are divided in two groups

-Preferable one at least one student in each group should be slowed down (let say evil instructor will “somehow” cause one of the student to have serious case of diarrhea)

-Students (each group separately) are instructed to carry the pig 5 kilometers to a near mountain or a specified place using compass and map only

-Half way to the mountain they have been (each group) instructed to stab the pig, stop the bleeding and carry the pig to the mountain again (while pig is screaming)

-Groups should hide one from another

-Group who get first to the mountain top with alive pig is winner

 

Now this is very banal example, and it is here only to in terms of an example, but point here is to understand – there is no sense only from learning skills without putting (and testing) those skills in scenarios that need to be as close to real life as possible.

I mean, if we are learning about stopping bleeding on someone when serious SHTF do you really believe  that you ll be well fed, healthy, in good mental state, perfectly capable for that?

There is the huge probability that you’ll be in poor condition while you trying to stop someones bleeding, remember it is SHTF? Actually you may be in condition where you may not be able to stop someone s bleeding at all.

What is the point of testing yourself if you do not push yourself at least close to the limits while testing ?

It is much more important  after the some  course, book, or you tube clip to understand and realize that you are not yet ready, and to know your current limits than to be sure “you are ready for full SHTF” because your instructor told you that, or simply book saying you that, while clearly you are not.

If you know your current  limits you know what more to learn or practice or achieve, and that is good, I learn almost every day something, and in many fields there are unknown stuff for me and there is nothing wrong in that…

Remember “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” – Archilochus

 

 

 

‘Ordinary Day’

ordinary

 

A lot of people wonder what an ‘ordinary day’ was like during the SHTF. I was thinking on this and remembered this day. I think it is a good illustration and answers this question… It’s odd to say but we were often glad of ‘ordinary days’ when not to bad things happened…

 

Rain was falling down for days, and we all felt wet and soaked with it.

Moisture was in our pores, our clothes, and kinda in our heads too.

It was kind of weather that pushes down and back the smoke from your stove, back to your room instead of through the chimney.

Holes in our roof were plugged, more or less, in the way that we managed to “channel” leaks  into numerous pots and canisters, in order to keep ourselves dry and also to collect water.

Being dirty is bad, but being dirty and smelly during several days of rainy weather is simply awful.

We dried our clothes above the stove, evaporation of dirty clothes together with smell of dirty bodies, bad “tobacco” (we “discover” some new tree leaves which we used as a substitute for tobacco), handmade oil lamps  and tea boiling on stove (we called it sometimes ‘soup’, other times ‘tea’)  made a mixture of smells which simply added to the depression of the whole situation.

In days like that alcohol intake would go up high.

When weather was fine I liked to go on second floor, remove tarp and plywood “setup” from roof hole that was made with mortar shell few months before, sit under it, watch the blue sky and drink.

Other folks would say “he is up there again waiting for mortar shell to land on his head” but it was nice and peaceful to do it, and sometimes I just did not care.

Even that weird relaxation was out of the option because of the endless rain.

In days like that we were closest to animals as we could be.

We ate potatoes for days, we managed to get it through one UN convoy that somehow entered city month ago, and it was mess to get those bags of potatoes because while UN forces tried to organized some kind of delivery system- like small bag of potatoes to each family that show up-folks simply overrun them and started to fight each other over it.

Several people get killed then, but we managed to bring home quite a stash of it.

We were happy because of the potatoes, but few days later rumors exploded that potatoes that we get were poisoned, actually it was not for human use, it was meant for seed only, or something like that and apparently they were treated with very hard chemicals.

We continued to eat it, only difference was that we were not so happy anymore about it…

And then a trade chance came to us.

It was my turn to go to visit the guy who “had some stuff for sell-trade” or at least it was information that we get it.

Good thing about this guy was the fact that I knew him little bit prior SHTF, when SHTF he had strong connections and simply had interesting stuff from time to time. He was something like “trustful” trader, he kept his stuff in his house and did trades there, which usually meant either he is stupid or very protected, and he was not stupid.

“Gogo” was his nickname, and we felt good because we are going to trade with him, because his reputation was pretty big and he (we thought) could not afford too many bad stories about trading with him.

It was as safe a trade as it could be in those days.

My relative show me our possession for trade while we were preparing for trip-it was 10 packs of Kent cigarettes, and when I saw that, it was like I saw UFO landing in backyard, with aliens bringing to us food, water, candies, and safety, and flying me then to a rock concert.

In that period cigarettes were rare, sometimes impossible to find and we were even lucky to have tobacco-which was not actually tobacco but grinded “tree” of tobacco plant, or simply all kind of tree leafs that we experimented with.

White filters Kent cigarettes in that moment were something like wet dream of every smoker.

It was pleasure to even see them, to smoke them meant pure happiness.

On my question where he get it? He answered “from some mercenaries”, and I did not want to ask more, I did not care.

We started our way to Gogo’s house around midnight, because plan was to be at the most dangerous place around 0100hrs.

On our way back we would choose a different way.

That dangerous place was big opening between houses, some 100-150 meters of space where we are completely open to the near hill where Anti Aircraft gun and few m84 machine guns were located.

Those machine gun was nicknamed “sijac smrti” which translates from my language to English as a  “death seeder” or “death bringer” or similar, and when I first time heard that nickname my thoughts were:”oh c’mon-somebody is watching too many movies, it is bombastic nickname for ordinary weapon”

Later when I was targeted first time from that weapon, when they shoot at me, I correct myself and I thought something like” death seeder? It is more, much more, it is Satan, it is hell, it is pure horror…”

And much later I also realized it is more or less common nickname for some other similar weapons.

So I built pretty fast my respect for “sijac smrti”, that shit was way too fast and deadly. It sounded like whole bunch of small deaths flying directly to you while they screaming.

 

(years later, after my SHTF ended and all things go back to some kind of let s say normal, I was watching member of Serbian elite parachute unit, while he was trying to explain his battle experience to another guy.

He and his small unit were holding position in dense woods on some hill during NATO bombing of Serbia, it was on Kosovo, and they were attacked by Albanians, Albanians were much stronger by numbers, but poorly trained, as he said, and he and his comrades did pretty well, morale was high, they were tough guys.

And then he said airplanes came. He said planes were firing from cannons destroying the hundreds years old trees like simple matches and obliterating his unit.

But he said that was not scariest thing-pure horror was sounds of that planes and cannons while they firing down on them, while he was trying to explain that he opened his eyes wide and said” it was sound like there are 10 big cows is in the air flying to you and they are screaming because they are being slaughtered”

Other guy was watching him probably not understanding what is so scary about that sound to terrified big strong elite dude.

And I said to myself “Oh man, I know that horror”)

 

Anyway we came to that open space without too much problems.

Nobody know what kind of view they had there on the hill, but during the night they fired often, without real cause, on that opening, so it was matter of luck sometimes are you going to be shot.

And somehow it was a myth that it is safest to cross it around 0100hrs.

In that time it was many openings like that in the city with different weapon and different tactics for crossing it and different myths about it how to cross it safely.

Lot of folks find God and faith on openings like that while they run or crawl over it.

Of course lot of folks end up dead there too.

I have seen guys being shot dead there while they run as fast as they could, I saw some crazy dudes walking slowly there and nothing happened, some guys were wounded and screamed there for hours with their guts hanging out until they died…

No rules.

We sat down behind the wall next to the opening and I told my relative “ok give me the cigarettes”

He said “it is not smart, it is for trade”

I did not care, so he gave me one pack, I opened it and smoked a cigarette.

It was cool to smoke it, white paper cigarette with white filter, after long time of smoking trash tobacco in any kind of paper that we could get.

It smelled like perfume to me in that moment.

I finished it and told to him “ok I can die now if I need”

He answered to me “fuck you man”

We run across that space while rain was pouring down, nothing happens, not a single shot on us.

Gogo’s house was close by after that, and nothing dangerous happened until we came to his home.

After some guy show up to us at the yard, we were allowed to enter the house with weapon, which was good feeling but not necessary good sign, but when we saw Gogo he recognizes us, and after some casual conversation which includes people that we together know we started to feel better.

We entered small room, two of us and two of them, sat down and had a drink.

 

Rakija (A strong, locally brewed spirit) was available then, so it was not a surprise when he gave us two glasses with that drink.

Numerous different kinds of that drink were circulating around, most often it was pure poison, simple not finished product from destroyed distillery diluted with water, but his was soft and nice.

Room where we sat was something like weird version of display room for customers, so we could see all kind of different stuff around in bags or open cabinets.

I saw pack of beer, even couple bottles of coke, and room strangely smelled of coffee which was high luxury in that time, everything there was set up for turning your senses “to want stuff”.

Bags full of something were lying everywhere and steel cabinet from army barracks was locked in one corner.

After some chatting he put down his hand under the table and put “Zolja” (“wasp”) single use RPG on table and said to us “this is good stuff for you folks, and it is cheap”.

I take it and said to him” it is empty man, fired, useless”

He open his mouth laugh with joy and said” ok man ok, you know that and I know that, but how many idiots outside know that? You could paint water pipe in green and state it is RPG and 90 percent of folks would trust you in dark, this looks real man.  Just fill it with something, point that thing on someone and ask right question”

“Yea, and then I can be killed from the guy who know that weapon is fired long time ago, he could choke me slowly with his bare hands, no thanks”

He said “ok ok, I agree, but here is right one” and then he pull out brand new one, same type, not used.

We said no man, we do not need weapons right now.

He said “ok ok, I have this too, I sell a lot of these and everyone is satisfied man”

Than his buddy opened wood cabinet behind his head and gave him wooden box, size of shoes box, bit smaller.

I look at my relative and look back at me with short surprised expressions.

It was wooden engraved box, pretty common in households in this region prior the war, something that you would put as a display in your living room, and when you opened it there was small wooden bird with mechanism inside, mechanism was activated by opening box, and melody would start, like birds singing…

Is he trying to sell us wooden singing bird in middle of the civil war?

Then he opened the box and push it to me.

Wooden bird was not inside, box was full-maybe some 25 bottles-vials of Penicillin. It was pretty expensive stuff.

I took one bottle and check it, expiration dates were good, Serbian manufacturer, labels looked originally “glued” on bottles.

But on the top of the bottles some of those were missing small thin metal “cap” that is covering rubber sealed “plug”(trough that rubber Penicillin powder is being diluted and aspirated into syringe)

First thought was that some those of the bottles could be used and then filled with flour.

He noticed what I am checking and said “ yeah, some of the caps are missing man, it is being transported through some rough situations before they came to me, but they are good”

I said” cool stuff man, but we do not need it” It was bit suspicious stuff and way to expensive for us at that moment.

He asked finally what we want.

And I said” Meat man!”

He leave the room and get back with one can, and I know he finally meant business because he brought only one can, without showing how much he actually has of it.

He put it on table and said” I have it, it is “Konj“(horse).

In that time different kind of canned food was circulating around, lot of expired stuff, broken, spoiled…

But popular was “horse”.

Horse had good and bad sides, but more good then bad sides.

It was canned meat, stamped label on tin was saying only something like “help from EU” or “help from UNHCR” I do not remember exactly.

Funny thing was that under the marking “type of meat” was written “meat”. Just that: “meat”.

It was kind of partially cooked meat with huge amount of grease inside that looked like snow.

If we ate grease alone it induced bad cases of diarrhea, but you could use it for cooking, melt it and use like oil for lamp, or simply folks stated that it is good to put it in places where you have pain, like an ointment (“bad knees pain – horse grease, rifle butt to the head-horse grease…  😉 )

Meat alone did not had any particular taste, it was unrecognizable, and people simply after some time said it is horse meat because nobody had clue what exactly it is.

So that can was nicknamed “horse”.

There were attempts to call it “kangaroo” but “horse” just stuck to it.

Simply it was usable.

He asked what we have, and I take out one pack of “Kent” he said “nice” without too much enthusiasm but his buddy stand up and said “where you get these man? Cool”

And that moment I knew we gonna get good deal because they are interested, they just kinda “blinked”.

He said to his buddy ”sit down man and shut up, you smoked too much pot” (Use of cannabis was rampant during the war)

And he asked how much of these we have, I answered it depends how much horse he have and bargain started.

At the end, we agree that we gonna gave him 9 packs for 15 cans.

It was great deal for us, and probably cool deal for him, because he knew folks who will appreciate those cigarettes a lot I guess.

After setting up a deal, and after we exchanged stuff we chatted for a bit and he offered me a hand made cigarette.

He gave me a small tin box with hand rolled cigarettes.

And I looked into the box, it used to be small box for cigarillos I think and I looked at the box, I liked it very much.

We carried our tobacco in all kinds of different bags, boxes, foils or whatever, but that tin box simply was “laying” down in my hand so cool. It was foreign stuff clearly.

It somehow “clicked” and perfectly lay down in my hand when I took it.

I gave it back to him asked where he got that, and he clearly saw that I “blinked” this time.

He said ”offer something, it is nice box man”

I only had that one more pack of Kent, with missing cigarette inside (which I wanted originally to keep for myself)

I pull it out from my pocket, gave it to him, he said” ok, I’ll give the cigarette box for this pack”

It was outrageous price, and I could almost feel my relative sending thoughts to me like “you fucking idiot, pack of cigarettes for tin box? We could get more meat for that…”

But I liked the box.

Then Gogo said” wait the second, cigarettes are missing from the pack, it is opened”

I said” yes, but still man, only one is missing and this is Kent real cigarettes”

Then he open drawer from the desk and pull hammer from it, we almost jumped ready for fight, but he took hammer and hit the tin box.

Then he said “ ok, one cigarette is missing in your pack, box is little bit damaged on one end now, but still working, now it is fair deal, we need to keep our business in some rules, it is reputation man!”

I was looking at him, realizing that he kinda lost it, just like most of us did in that time.

But we make the deal done, and all went good.

We get home in one piece, we ate those cans mixed with herbs and potatoes. Older member of family was happy with grease on his knees for some time…

I had a lot of bitching because of that tin box trade, but I survived.

War ended and years go by, I lost tin cigarette box, Gogo moved to Canada, and I heard he is doing apartment decorating business, and sometimes play guitar in some clubs, and have drugs issues…

Then one year, me and my wife were doing big renovation in my old house, and in some box with all kind of mess she pull out that tin box and said to me” oh it is some box for cigarettes, we gonna throw it away or you need it?”

Then she opened it, and inside she read small words that I wrote long time ago “GOGO” and date of trade.

She asked me “what is it, who is Gogo? Is it man or woman”?

From all of the explanation that I could gave her somehow words that came from my mouth were “ Yep, I could have got maybe two horses instead of that box during the war if I were smart”

“you had horses during the war? You rode it? I thought this was city siege! Where in the world you got horses?” she said looking suspiciously at me. (she spent war years in Germany without too much clue how was it here in reality)

I said smartly” no no,I didn’t ride horses, we ate it, it was good stuff”

Then she look at me with horror stating “you killed and ate horses, how could you, they are beautiful animals”

And then finally I said” you know what, forget it, it is long story, just throw away that box, it is useless”

Still, for a week or so she had suspicious looks at me from time to time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post – Real Life Experience – Hurricanes and Hurried Preps

 

One of my readers – Nick, commented on my last article and mentioned some details about his time during a hurricane in Florida. I asked him is he willing to write article about it, so I could post it on my blog because I thought there was some really valuable information too share.

Nick kindly responded.

I consider it as a very valuable and great written article.

He invested great effort in writing down details in it that actually show us some of the very basic and common problems that we might have during any kind of collapse.

I added my comments through the article (in italics) and few words after the article.

Nick – I guess I first started “prepping”, before it was a well-known word, in late 1999 as the threat of “Y2K” loomed.  I was living in a brick apartment building at the time. I bought my first water filters and water storage containers, emergency medical gear (some bandages and gauze), some back-up canned food, a few hundred dollars in stashed cash, and a Romanian AK-47.  It was not much, but it was something.  If the world was going to melt down, I wanted to be able to cover at least some basics.

Selco – It is great start for any “beginner” prepper, actually it covers basics in most of the fields of “survival”.

We can do philosophy for days about what man who is start in prepping actually needs to buy first, but it is basic-weapon, some food, some medicine, something about water and something about food, and some cash.

And then to build on that.

Nick – Fast forward to the 2004 Florida hurricane season when a “then-record-setting” four hurricanes hit Florida in one season.  I had my Y2K preps still, and after power went out from the first hurricane, I added a generator and some stored gasoline.

At the time I was living in a cinder block single-family home.  Hurricane Charley was the worst of the bunch, tearing apart buildings, lifting roofs, scattering debris far and wide, taking down power lines and trees (most of which seemed to end up in the streets), and removing power from neighborhoods for anywhere from a few days to several weeks.  And this was just the central part of Florida… things were much worse on the coasts where these storms initially impacted.

Still, I felt relatively safe in my sturdy cinder block house.  It weathered the storm well, although the roof almost lifted off as a tornado destroyed a huge tree in my back yard (I was in the living room in a leather motorcycle jacket and helmet to protect me from flying debris if the roof came off).  A gasoline generator kept the refrigerator running for days, and just as the food and gasoline was about to run out, the power came back on and everything started returning to normal.

Selco – Having generator in that event was great thing, and I like the idea how you used it (to keep food ok as long it is possible), we all just have to keep in mind  that maybe if that event was more serious fact that you have running generator could attract unwanted quests (noise of running generator means fuel, means possible interesting things in house for intruders)

Nick – Fast forward again to the 2017 Florida hurricane season.  By this time I had been “prepping”for a few years, prompted mostly by Selco’s SHTF School which I purchased access to on advice of a friend.  It was the most eye-opening experience in all my prepping so far.  His first SHTFSchool program was gripping in it’s simplistic honesty…

I listened to several lessons over and over again just to hear the real emotions he felt during his time of survival in a besieged city.  His second SHTFSchool program was enlightening and thought-provoking in it’s expanse and detail.  Many times I listened to certain lessons over and over to be sure I fully consumed all they had to offer.  Even today, when Selco posts a new blog article, I go to it eagerly and immediately.  There is no more powerful lesson than “real experience”, assuming you survive it… and Selco has.

My main concerns in “prepping” had been long-term societal meltdown and the assumed ensuing chaos.  Whether from economic collapse, EMP, civil unrest… whatever the cause, the result I was prepping for was the same… long-term self-sufficiency.  By 2017 I had amassed enough “stuff” to consider myself “quite well prepared”… not as well as some, but certainly more than the average guy on the street.

I had several weaknesses, though… no secondary bugout location, and no network of nearby “prepper friends”.  People in my area have not experienced much real hardship, therefore they don’t see the need to “prepare”.  They spend their time and money on pleasures, then scramble for solutions when trouble arises… so there are not many people to establish “prepper camaraderie” with.

Selco – I definitely agree with your concerns. One of the mistakes in prepper community is that lot of them are preparing for specific (and sometimes low-probable ) events, and by that they are “missing” some preps and plans.

“Societal meltdown” sounds good as a starting point for preparing, to build more on that thought let’s say good thought is that we need to prepare for event when “there are gonna be more people then resources, and as a one (most important) result there s gonna be violence”

Nick – When the 2017 Florida Hurricane season started, I was somewhat “ho-hum” about it… another summer, another storm season.  “Whatever.”  Been in Florida for 30 years now, no big deal.  Plus, I’m “prepared to the gills”, right?  No worries, I thought.  I was ready for anything.  I had a great get-home bag and plan (in case something happened while I was at work), I had a ton of diversified supplies stashed, I had a big lake nearby for water and fish, there’s a hospital a few blocks away, lots of undeveloped land to hide in for a while if things get crazy… no worries.

Oh boy…. was I wrong.

Selco – I have been there, and fact is that majority of us are gonna be there again, in the place and moment when you realize that “ everybody has a plan until they get punched in phase”.

Often comes to good old “adapt and overcome”.

Nick – Hurricane Irma started off looking like it was going to skirt past the south part of Florida and disappear into the Gulf of Mexico.  We watched it for days… we all have weather apps in our phones.  I was watching 5 different apps as the storm tracked, and actually bet my work friends it would zip past South Florida and head out into the Gulf.  I was more concerned about the poor souls in Texas and Louisiana than us in Florida.  But then at the last minute it did a crazy thing… it cut a 45-degree north turn and headed straight up the Florida peninsula.  Projections were anywhere from “running the west coastline” to “straight up the middle toward Orlando”.

That’s when the chaos began.

The Governor of Florida issued evacuation orders for southern Florida.  The streets became clogged with “storm refugees” trying to escape.  Florida has water on three sides… the only way to escape is “up/north”, and there are not a lot of roads you can use to do that.  The Florida Turnpike was clogged nearly dead stop for 2 days… back streets through the countryside were bumper-to-bumper.  The four-lane road that runs through my town was clogged northbound for 1.5 days with endless lines of cars full of people and belongings… it never stopped.  Day and night they came.  I had no idea there were so many people in south Florida, and that it would be so hard to get them out of an area.  I wondered about the simple things… will they get out in time?  Where are they going?  What about gas?…most cars were idling in bumper-to-bumper traffic… where are they going to get more gas?

The gas stations had been sold out of gas the first day of the evacuation, and it was hard for the tanker trucks to get more out to them. Bottled water was gone from almost everywhere, canned food was gone, bread was gone, batteries were gone, flashlights/headlamps were gone, the camping section of the local department store was stripped of everything from camp stoves/propane bottles to dehydrated food to sleeping bags to bug spray… all the normal “panic buying” stuff was gone.  I wasn’t worried, I was just out picking up a few things to top off my stash… but I was concerned about the rest of the population around me.

Selco – It seems to me that you missed the moment to “bug out”, usually it is not moment when everybody else chooses to bug out. It is bit before them, or sometimes even after.

Nick – I went home and put the pre-fitted plywood boards over my windows.  I charged my emergency lighting systems. I checked my long-term food preparations and stored up/treated some backup water. Everything looked good, and I wasn’t expecting anything bad… as hurricanes travel over land, they weaken… I was expecting a Category 2 or 1 storm by the time it got to me.  But then the bad news came….

Projections were saying possible Category 3 winds at my location, within hours.  That’s a problem.  My house is overhung by several enormous Live Oak trees that have been here for a very long time.  The house I was in at the time of Hurricane Irma is totally wood and built about 95 years ago.  The overhanging trees are at least that old.  They are also huge with very, very thick overhanging branches.  If one big branch were to break off it would go through the house, and if one of those trees were to fall on the house, it would be complete destruction.  I had decided that if the projections were for Category 3 winds or better, I would “abandon ship” so as not to risk being crushed by falling wood.  And now, that Category 3 wind was being projected.

Ok, so I have about 2.5 hours to find a safe place to be.  I don’t befriend my neighbors, and their houses are no better off than mine anyway.  I don’t want to go to a buddy’s place, because the closest buddy is 45 minutes drive away… if this storm is bad, and the roads are blocked like they were after Hurricane Charley, I might not be able to get back to my house for days.  I had not packed for a bugout since my stuff is largely at home… I had planned to stand fast in the event of disaster.  But the overhanging trees said I had to get out… being potentially crushed to death by trees was not an acceptable scenario.

I went online to check for local hurricane shelters (fortunately the storm had not gotten bad yet, and internet was still up).  I found two possible places and went to the closest one… it was a high school made of cinder blocks… very sturdy, and big, and it was less than a mile from my house. “Cool… if the roads are trashed afterward, I can still walk back to my house to protect it from looters.”  But since I had not made a bugout bag, I had to put one together fast.  Food… but how do I cook it?  Can’t make fire inside…. need food that doesn’t require cooking. Fortunately I had some emergency rations.  Clothing… how much do I need?  I might be there for a day.  Water… how much to bring?  No telling if running water will be in stable supply after the storm.  Protection… need to pack a pistol… never know what I’ll encounter on the walk home.  Money, cell phone, backup battery pack for the cell phone, sleeping gear… I saw one lady online had a tent set up inside a shelter so she had privacy…. a good idea.  I packed a tent and a light blanket.  And a poncho. And a headlamp.  And toilet paper.  And anything else I thought was essential.  I had never been to an emergency shelter so I did now know what to expect, what would be provided (if anything), or for how long.

 Selco – It is good that you choose to “abandon ship”, because lot of folks may not choose that (fear for stuff in house etc), checking for shelters (on still working) internet is cool.

Nick – Time to do a recon trip.

I drove to the shelter to check it out.  Outside were four big Army National Guard vehicles and 3 police cruisers.  This didn’t look too good… I felt like I was “swimming into the jaws of the shark, not toward the safety of the shoreline”.  It was raining and windy… the storm was about 1.5 hours away now.  I walked up to go inside, then had to turn around and go back to the truck… “no weapons allowed inside, even if you have a concealed carry license” the sign said.  It was looking worse by the minute.

After ditching my pistol in the truck, I went back inside and was immediately faced with several Army National Guard soldiers in full uniform.  Behind them, three local police officers. Near them, a pair of folding tables with several frazzled-looking young women handling lists of “this and that”.  I walked around surveying the place, which caused the soldiers and police to watch me in turn.  There seemed to be snacks available for purchase as desired, and there was a white board with writing on it listing mealtimes… lunch, dinner, and breakfast.  I asked one of the ladies “You’re going to serve meals?”  She said “oh, yes… we don’t want you to go hungry.”  How nice. She started describing the menu, but I didn’t really hear her….

“How many people are you expecting?” I asked.

“About 300 to 400”.  There were maybe 20 or 30 in the gymnasium of the school already.  I estimated capacity of the floor space to reasonably be about 300.  400 would be cramped and potentially invite “personality clashes”.  Of the 20 or 30 people already there, about 1/3 of them looked like trouble or idiots… too high a percentage in my estimation.  I went to check the rest room facilities… what would that be like for 400 people?  In a word, “terribly inadequate”.  Just three toilets in the men’s room, and other areas of the school were marked “inaccessible”. There was already a homeless guy in the men’s room taking a “sponge bath” and making a mess of the place, and the real crisis had not hit yet.  This was not looking good.

I went back up to the ladies at the desk and asked them what I needed to know about staying there.  If I decided to stay with them, I had to sign in…and if leaving I had to sign out, but I’d likely not be leaving… at least not for 24 hours.  “The Sheriff has issued a curfew for 24 hours… you’ll be with us for that duration.”  Oh, great… locked in here with no ability to leave under threat of police and soldiers.  Not looking good at all.  Still, it was that or risk being crushed to death by falling trees.  I was beginning to accept the idea of the shelter.

…but then the bus came in.  A school bus.  And another school bus behind it.  When the doors opened what trailed out was a stream of people that I am certain were from the local drug rehabilitation center.  All ages, both genders, dressed every crazy which way, many babbling to themselves, most carrying nothing, some carrying bundles of stuff wrapped up in sheets, none dressed for the weather… it was like watching a clip from “The Walking Dead”, if it had a “psychotics” episode.  God bless these poor souls, but it was shocking to see.  I asked one of the soldiers “Where are these busses coming from?”  He was busy staring blankly at the new arrivals… “I don’t know…” he said flatly and quietly.

That was it… I was out.  No protection allowed, insufficient toilets, and 24 hours of “forced safety” in the close company of questionable characters…. that’s not for me.

I drove back to my house and pondered possible answers.  There was another school designated as a shelter 11 miles away, but likely the same rules and a much longer walk back to the house if the roads were blocked.  I had to find a place to hide from the storm that wasn’t an “official shelter”, and I figured I had about an hour to find it.

Selco – Yeah, this may look as a tough choice, for me personally it would be easy choice, even if that means I would need to crawl in some hole somewhere I still would not choose to stay without weapon with bunch of other people, without control when I can go out, with armed people who control that. More about this later.

Nick – I tossed my hastily-formed bugout bag into my truck, grabbed a pair of tall waterproof boots and a heavy duty poncho, some beef jerky and a canteen of water, and drove into town.  I had been scouting out hiding places the day before the storm, just in case I needed to tuck my truck into a cubby-hole somewhere for a few hours.  The places I had scoped out were already occupied by people with the same idea I had… “hide your car from damage”.  Drat.  Now what?  Well, I decided to play it by ear.  I went back to my house, pulled out some panels from my fence so I could drive through, parked in my own back yard out of the reach of potentially-falling trees, and settled in to wait it out.

Selco – You had good idea there, to check day earlier about possible spaces for your truck

Nick – The storm started promptly and in about 2 hours things were going badly.  The wind was up, the rain was thick, power lines and transformers were blowing up with buzzing zaps and green/blue/white fireballs… everything was dark and the rain was sheeting white.  Pieces of palm trees, and small branches from oak trees, were bouncing off my truck, its doors, and windows.  Then somewhere down the street I heard a tree tear apart… that splintering crashing bang of something sturdy completely failing from stress and pressure.  I had to move out… I was too exposed in my yard, and things were getting worse every 10 minutes.

I drove out of my yard and just followed “instinct” into town.  The first thing I came upon was the tree I heard shatter… it was large, and laying across the street in front of me.  The rain was so thick I had to get within two car lengths of it to see what it truly was.  Then I had to back up and take a different route.  I was headed into the wind so my truck was not rocking much, but the rain was so thick I had to drive slowly, even with the wipers on “high”.  It was a number of blocks before I was in the little “downtown” area of my town.  There had to be something I could park under/into for a few hours.  I even prepared myself for being confronted by homeowners if I needed to shelter on the side of their house.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to.  I found a small service driveway on the leeward side of City Hall.  It was right up close to a 5-story high building made of solid brick, and the wall was wide too.  On the other side of that wall was a huge long building, so there was plenty of sturdy protection.  I used my phone to google a satellite image of the top of the building looking for nearby rooftop equipment… air conditioning units, etc… anything that might come loose and tumble off the top of the roof onto my parked truck.  Nope, looked clean… nothing close enough to worry about.

I parked, shut off the lights, kicked the seat back to lower my visual profile, locked my doors, chambered a round in my pistol (I had taken the rifle out of the truck due to curfew…. if I’m stopped, it’s easy to explain a pistol, not so easy to explain a rifle), and set my snacks, water, and poncho nearby to wait it all out.  The storm continued to grow in strength, but where I had my truck parked was so calm there was hardly any wind at all.  Thin, straggly bushes near my truck door were hardly even moving while bushes and trees “out in the wind” were being twisted apart.

The storm intensified steadily and rapidly.  If I remember correctly the winds were 88 MPH (miles per hour) steady, with stronger gusts.  You could tell when the stronger gusts hit…. the rain started blowing nearly horizontally, debris from buildings, yards, and trees would fly or roll by, and street signs would flex and rotate in ways you would not think possible.  In the distance there was the sound of crashing and snapping trees.  Flashes in the dark distance indicated more power line damage.

This went on for hours throughout the night.  I drifted in and out of sleep.  Some time in the wee hours of the morning, still during the darkness, I noticed the steady howl of the wind was lowering… the speed was reducing.  Phone apps said wind speed was down into the 60 MPH range.  Good, it’s lessening…. I planned to go back to my house once it got into the 40 MPH range.  I needed to see if anything had fallen through that flimsy wood structure.  In the meantime, I went back to sleep.

I awoke a short time later… wind and rain were still blowing but it was driveable.  I sat up and rubbed my eyes and prepared to roll out toward home, just a few blocks away.

Then… the cops showed up.

Initially they drove up at a 90 degree angle to my truck and stopped… they obviously saw me move inside it.  Drat…  So I sat fully up, smiled, and waved at them, hoping they would see I was okay and they would go away.  Nope, they pulled up next to my truck, facing the opposite way from me, and rolled down their passenger side window.  There were two of them in their “emergency truck”… a Ford diesel pickup with police markings all over it, as well as all the off-road goodies… lift kit, off-road tires, basher bumper, spotlights, etc… I didn’t know our little town had a truck like that… where do they hide these things?

I rolled down my passenger window so I could hear them, and I kept my hands on the steering wheel so they would not get nervous…

“What are you doing out here??” the passenger cop yelled over the wind.

“Waiting out the storm.”

They both stared at me in silence.

“Why aren’t you home?” he yelled.

“I live in a small wooden house under huge trees… I didn’t want them falling on me.”

They stared at me in silence.

“It’s right down the street, a few blocks away”, and I pointed in the direction I was referencing.

They both turned their heads and looked down the street into darkness and fallen trees.  And they  stared that way for an oddly long period of time.

Eventually I said “…. and I was just leaving to go there now, when you pulled up.”

They turned to look at me….

“Good!” the passenger-side cop snarled.  He closed his window and they drove off.  I likewise closed my window, turned on my lights, and slowly drove off and back home. I thanked God for his help with the cops… they could have easily arrested me for breaking curfew.  For a few minutes there it felt like the Star Wars scene: “…these are not the droids you’re looking for….”

I arrived to find no trees perforating my house, but a ton of “yard debris” everywhere, (took days to clean up), portions of my fence blown down, power out, and some streets blocked by fallen trees.  My suspicion that trees could fall was substantiated, but thank God, none of them were on my house.  I parked in my back yard and went inside the house to check on things… the high waterproof boots, large poncho and waterproof headlamp came in handy for that, but I could have used a face shield to deflect the wind, rain, debris, and roof runoff that was still happening during the steady 40MPH winds.  There was no power on inside, and there were some roof leaks, but overall the place was intact.  God is good.

POST-EVENT EVAL:

While I was sheltering in my truck near the City Hall, I made a list 3 pages long of things I needed to do/learned from this.  I was honestly somewhat embarrassed that after 5 recent years of “focused prepping”, I found myself without a solution for the most likely Florida disaster… a bad hurricane.  That really rattled my “prepper confidence”, which in hind sight is a good thing.  It shook out weaknesses I didn’t know I had, and introduced a “conflicted” situation… curfew, but I can’t stay in my house.  Below are just a few of the things I wrote on my three pages of notes.  Some apply to my hurricane situation, some don’t, but were good ideas anyway.

1 -Stock up on quality “no perish, no prepare” foods in case you can’t cook food where you are sheltering.

2 -Make an overnight toiletries kit, then make expanded versions to supply you for a week, then for a month.  Grab the one you need as you pack your escape bag.

3 -Make a bag of clothes for a day, then expand that to supply you for a week, then for a month.  Grab the one you need as you pack your escape bag.

4 -Make an overnight medical kit, then expand that to supply you for a week, then for a month.  Grab the one you need as you pack your escape bag.

5 -Stage these different levels of kit on shelving near the door so you can grab what you need and shove it all into your bugout pack, just like Selco suggested in his courses and blogs.  Time frames are: 1 day, 1 week, 1 month.

6 -Have tall waterproof boots, and an extra long poncho to cover your back pack and legs.

7 -Pack your electronics in a sealed ammo can and aluminum-tape the seam.

8 -Stock up on ethanol-free gas only.  Stabilize it, of course.  Plan enough spare fuel in the truck to get you out of a danger area without needing a gas station.

9 -Make trap doors in your hurricane window coverings for ventilation. (can also be used as observation ports/gun ports)

10 -Keep colloidal silver in a nose sprayer in your medical kit. (During the hurricane I took a nose-full of dirty roof runoff water and it gave me a nasal infection… spraying colloidal silver solution in my nose cured it in 3 days).

11 -Nose plugs, ear plugs, face shield (riot type) for being outside during blowing rain.

12 -Garden cart with non-pneumatic tires for pulling buckets of water from the lake to the house in case water/sewer services are inoperable.

13 -Have a hand-pump well installed on the property, hidden.

14 -Learn preservation of meat, fruits, and vegetables.  Survival food has only but so much inherent nourishment.

And last but not least, Selco has always advocated a remote bugout location to get to (“use your bugout bag only to get to your bugout location and your stash there”), and “support people” around you to band together with when SHTF.  He is absolutely right, but those two things I lack.  I live in American suburbia… it’s not like other places where you can “head for the hills between villages” and have a cabin there. It doesn’t work that way where I am.  Land with buildings on it is very, very expensive… most people have trouble buying one home, much less a backup building on land elsewhere.  And most land that you can see is owned by the government, companies, ranches, or private individuals… individuals that will shoot at a stranger very quickly even during normal times.

I have two buddies I could flee to in an emergency, one is 45 minutes drive, another is 90 minutes drive… that would effectively cause me to abandon much of my prep gear, apart from what I could take in my truck… that is, if roads are passable in the first place.  So there is much to think about… it was indeed “healthy embarrassment” to my “prepper pride” to find myself stuck out in a hurricane in my truck, trying to hide somewhere like a rat.  It just goes to show… you can be as “prepared” as you want, but God and nature can still throw you a curveball of circumstances.

Selco – I understand your point there-you are prepper for years and at the end you end up sitting in your truck “hiding like a rat”.

 I would not be so “cruel” there, you choose lesser evil in that particular moment and it worked good at the end, you worked with what you got in moment.

 And lot of times it will be simple like that, you ll have to work with what you got.

 And yes, having luck will be always part of everything.

Nick – The best thing to have in any situation, I think, is an open, evaluative, creative mind and the Grace of God.  With these things you have an increased chance of survival… because you can’t possibly gear up for everything.  Do what you can, think of everything you can, run scenarios to test your assumptions, plans, and gear, adjust as you discover and learn things, but for God’s sake, don’t get too stuck on one plan… because it could go to pieces quickly.  Think, try, adjust, trust your instincts, and pray… you’ll increase your odds of making it through.  And don’t keep all your gear/supplies in one “basket”.

-“Nick”

Selco – All post event evaluation points are great and valuable, you realized on your own experience (nothing can beat that) how small things like dirty roof runoff water can complicate things, imagine how some leg wound from dirty piece of wood (debris) would complicate it, or even minor thing like wet socks (and no spare pair).

You mentioned more points in an email to me, so I’ll go through them:

 Overconfidence in your preps?

 I would say that you were missing “speed” in making decision, you made right and great decision not to bug out (congested roads), to abandon your house (danger from fallen trees), not to take community shelter (no guns allowed, possible violence, lack of hygiene etc), you took your vehicle as your temporary shelter.

 All good decisions, but maybe (just maybe) you might plan to use your car a s shelter, prepare it earlier for that, scope earlier for possible “hide out” for your car, and “occupy” earlier that place (before others get there).

 In the equation of dangers at home because possible falling trees and that community shelter packed with people (different kind of people) and armed guard at the entrance (exit) and especially “no guns” rule I would too definitely choose my car and danger of storm by being inside that car.

 Preps are good to have, to have right mindset to decide what to do next is more important.

 Not thinking about worst case scenario, about abandoning your home?

Nobody like to “abandon home”, people take it as a surrender often, actually it is about making decision what make sense in that moment.

 When you really adopt fact that you ll may be forced to abandon your home only then you can make really good plans for that, like BOB in “shelves system”, because you cannot have “one bag for every situation”, it is impossible.

 Other layer could be your car, it needs to be prepare for abandoning your home with things like extra fuel canisters (not so visible of course), blankets, food, water…

 After that next layer could be fact that you gonna be forced to abandon your car, so you can be prepared for that, small bottles of water instead of canisters of water, tarps, lightweight tent, backpack, small waist bag…

 You mentioned above tall waterproof boots and extra long poncho to cover you back pack and legs, yes, it is great, because at the end that may be all that you had from shelter and you started with your home, it is not important how poorly you look if you survived.

 Being a lone wolf

Yea, it is tough if you are alone, not impossible (especially in short term events) but it is tough.

I can only give you two advices there: try to connect with other people, if that still is impossible then just try to be as better is possible in your preps.

There is no other advice, no magical solution.

You are mentioned that you have two buddies (45 and 90 mins driving from you).

It is something, it is some network.

Having all preps in one location

I already understand that you are living in “suburbia” that it is not some perfect prepper settings, but is there option of having some stash hidden somewhere?

Even if that means taking some of the stuff (few boxes) over to one of your buddies?

Yes, it is big “flaw” not to have some stash hidden somewhere.

If any other readers have ‘real life experience’ they would like to share, feel free to submit your thoughts to toby@shtfschool.com for consideration on the blog.