Top 5 SHTF ‘Surprises’

I recently ran one of my newest courses, called ’A Mile In My Shoes’. This is where I take a small group of students to the city where I survived the war and take them around and physically show them the realities of what was faced. A lot of lessons, of course, are learnt during the course and most importantly (and what I hoped for) Students come far closer to realizing the ‘reality’ of a true SHTF situation.

I thought I would share you the ‘Top 5’ surprises that the students faced, meaning things they had not thought about or realized before the course, but had to accept and come to terms with during…

1) How ‘Close’ the fighting will be.


This picture, taken very close to my house, was one of the ‘front lines’ for some time. One side was in houses on the left of the alley, other side (enemy) were in the right side houses. This seems INCREDIBLY close (and it is) but then realize, there were times when the ‘dividing lines’ were even closer than this.

When you put that into the perspective then you can start to think about new reality because there is nothing very static and sure when SHTF, one day the house next to you can be completely safe, other day there might be someone inside who wants to harm you, or simply you’ll never be sure how safe and secure are your surroundings.

It is the most dangerous aspect of urban SHTF, because you’ll have lot of people in a relatively small area and you’ll have higher demand for (very limited) resources because the ‘system’ is gone.

Now when you add to that calculation the fact that lot of houses are going to be be destroyed, you get to the point that you never know anything for sure, where is someone and what intention they have.

That is especially important if you planning to survive urban SHTF alone (lone wolf theory) so you can get a feeling how hard that’s going to be.


  1. The ‘Enemy’ will look, sound and speak like you.


They may even have been your longtime friends, but are now on the ‘opposite’ side. Fighting here was divided by all sorts of reasons, race, religion, affiliation, heritage, politics and often a big mix of all these things. ‘Sides’ were always changing as well. That’s just the ‘enemy’, when it comes to Survival you will fight to get what you need or protect what you have from whoever…

Having thoughts that some foreign forces will invade your country, forces that will look, act, speak completely different then you and people from your surroundings are mostly just fantasies, especially when we talk about USA.

That may be case, but you’re going to have a lot of ‘local’ fighting and surviving before that.

Strong systems are going to have a “bigger and longer” fall, there is way too many people and weapons in the US for some some foreign force to choose to invade and pacify the country… it is impossible.

What is possible is to “push” some country into the chaos, in order to turn on themselves, suffer hunger, prolonged chaos and similar, and maybe then to invade.

At the end it all comes to you and people who want to harm you. The fact that the people want to harm you were people who you use to know does not make it easier.

Do not expect martians or Russians, expect people who look, act, and talk like you, who want to survive just like you.

Again we come to the point that you will be forced to fight with your neighbors, fellow countrymen for resources


  1. How ‘busy’ an average days was.


Fighting for survival is an all day, every day task. You are constantly hunting, scavenging, gathering, finding information, looking and checking things. All while the most stressed you have ever been and under constant threat, all while being hungry and thirsty.

There is no ‘day off’, or ‘break’. This is the big difference between a soldier and civilian in war. A soldier has a job to do, and all his other needs are taken care of. He can just focus on his one job. In a civil war, you (and your group) need to cover all tasks, all the time…

If you served in Army, you had clear orders, topics, outside of that you did not (need) to think about too many things.

You had “backup” or “rear”.  Your job was to do tasks, and someone else take care of all the other things in order for you to finish your tasks successfully.

In SHTF you are the first unit, rear and back up. If you fuck up and break your leg there is no medical evacuation. If you did not find food (or any other resources) there is no service who will do that for you.

It is hard time, and day is full of “acquiring” things and finishing jobs.

Shooting at someone may look like a fun idea today, or romantic in some way. It is maybe more romantic then to think how to manage your waste, or do bath or lower your kid’s fever in the middle of SHTF.

You are everything when SHTF, because system is out.


  1. The level of the threat.


In SHTF almost everything is a threat to you. Yes, easy to understand threats like sniper, gangs, angry neighbors etc, but the lack of food, complete lack of hygiene, level of contamination, risk of illness and injury, being found, being informed on, being tricked, getting captured and many, many, more make up a larger amount of threats than most ever think of.

Just even start to imagine every ‘supply’ you take for granted (Fuel, electricity, water, stores, emergency services etc) being taken away and not knowing when it will ever come back. Then imagine the worst person you have ever known, someone you would not trust to help you in any situation. Now imagine everyone around you is like that person. Then imagine everything you climb on, through or over can hurt you, and that everything you touch has the potential to make you ill… You got all that? If you do, you are maybe about 40% of the way to imagining the reality…

Level of threat is going to be a BIG shock to you in the beginning, if you survive that shock it is good because then you get yourself into the mode of real surviving.

No matter how well you are prepared you will go through that shock, with good preparation and correct mentality you can minimize that shock and make it shorter, and that is the point of preparing.


  1. The reality of defending/keeping your assets.


I know. All the points mentioned don’t bother you that much, as you have nice house, lots of supplies and ready to fight. But how is your plan working once your house or apartment looks like this…?


And inside like this…?


And anyone who is ‘fit’ must go out a lot to find things for every day survival. How you protect all your ‘stuff’, who is going to protect all your things…?

What, when one day a group so big comes to ask you how you’re doing so OK, and what you have there, that to protect your stuff from them is a clear death sentence.

Having right mindset about difference between defending something and get killed, and adapting yourself in order to survive without it make sense here.

You have to adapt fact that maybe you’ll be forced to survive only with your skills. You do not know, and cannot be sure.

Understand, in SHTF, every house in the city is going to look like this, or worse (not be there). In my city there are many houses you see like this. You see them because they are made of stone or concrete. You don’t see the wood buildings because they all burned down…

There were many, many more things realized and discussed during the course, and I want to say well done to the students for coming with such enthusiasm and asking such good questions in the course.

Soon I will write more about the big problem of really ‘misunderstanding’ the reality so present in the preparedness community just now. Until then, you can read more about the ‘Mile In My Shoes’ course here:

We are making these courses as affordable and accessible as possible. If you want to join, you can either add your name to the waiting list, and as soon as we have enough students we set the date for the next course, or you can book a ‘private’ course for exactly the same price, all you need is a minimum of you and two friends.

Trust me when I tell you there is not a course like this anywhere else, and you will learn many things that you hadn’t expected when you join me on a tour of the place I survived…

27 responses to “Top 5 SHTF ‘Surprises’”

  1. Linda S says:

    Biggest dose of reality I’ve received. Overwhelming – I imagine a lot fewer Americans surviving than I previously thought.

  2. Bruce A. Forster says:

    Just READING this article sent chills up my Back! Even though I’m prior military, it brought back memories as well as giving me a dose of present-day understanding of just how precarious America’s situation truly is. I have said before and I echo the sentiments of some experts on the subject of SHTF: I believe the most violent people-at least in the early stages of SHTF- are going to be the young people and those on Welfare or other entitlement programs. Because these people have NO concept of putting back supplies or funds, they will be the first to become hungry, the first to make demands on others, and the first to turn violent when they realize the Gravy Train isn’t running anymore.
    My biggest fear personally is the danger my family will be in, and the fact that I will very likely have to take other lives to protect mine and the lives of those I love. GOD HELP US!

  3. John says:

    In 2001, I was based in Sarajevo as part of the peace-keeping force. Yes, I saw first-hand what you described above — and more … the depression, alcoholism, etc. We visited the schools and orphanages with supplies. We had an interpreter that helped us with translation. Through him, the people told us what they suffered. Very sad. Very depressing.

  4. Joe Morton says:

    Thank you Selco for all you do and have done to help wake people up to realities we all will most
    likely face. We here in America have lived in fantasy land for a long time. Americans have been
    blessed far more than most Americans realize and most Americans will not be able to handle SHTF
    I don’t know if I will be able to handle SHTF. When I read your article’s it’s very, very sobering!!
    I repeat what Bruce said above GOD HELP US !!

  5. There are millions of survivalists, but as a percentage it is very low. So “if” it is 20%, which I think is high, we will have 80% against us; dirty cops, many of “our” military following orders, the wealthy who have been preoccupied making more money, the entitlement army, and useful idiots of communism and islam. Plus we will have to be very careful who we trust or commune with within our 20%. And, at first, we WILL NOT BE PREPARED to act as an assembly. I understand what Selco teaches, but right now I am broke and have just a few co-patriots. I do have supplies, and I do know I can never guess on what to expect. I simply say, “tomorrow may be completely unimaginable.” And our country will the zealous and traitorous acts promoted by Bill Clinton saved 600,000 muslims and then destroy western allies. Why would we vote his damn wife in?

  6. Hillbilly says:

    Can’t talk about the east coast, I live on the west coast. From L.A. to Seattle, can you imagine trying to get out of the big cities? Hell just the SF Bay area would be a complete disaster. I see a population reduction as a most realistic outcome.
    Those that remain in major cities after a week or two would have to be insane or insanely lucky. I actually think Americans would do better than expected in smaller cities as we are a resourceful nation, just over populated in some areas.
    That said the last time we as a country had to deal with anything like that was the south-east in 1860-1865. There’s a lot of snow flakes, older baby boomers and just stupid people out there. I’m more prepared than most, live in the mountains of the pacific north-west and I look at it as about 50/50 chance of survival. Just my opinion, but I think everyone that can ought to have items for barter and the ability to control the transactions. Best wish’s to all and Merry Christmas.

  7. Benjammin says:

    People have no clue just how vital hygiene is, and how much it can impact daily life. Dirty bodies = death is soon to follow. Hang-nail becomes infected finger becomes septicemia becomes morbidity. Human waste becomes contaminated water source becomes Cholera outbreak becomes dead bodies piling up. Americans think there’s a big chasm between our living conditions and those in Haiti. The reality is it is more like a crack in the sidewalk.

    • Selco says:

      Yes, it is very very close-distance between modern society and chaos, no matter how good you are living today it can turn to very bad in matter of days.

  8. Thanks Selco for all that you have given us. I first read your interview in my LDS preparedness manual and it woke me up to a reality that I just didn’t comprehend I look at the world differently now.

  9. Steve says:

    More reason to learn how to live off the land and take survival schools..

  10. Someone says:

    ”Well that is Yugoslavia, but here in the Netherlands we don’t need guns..”
    ”Will you stop talking about it you give me a headache…”
    ”Yes, war is coming, and you’re right… but I don’t wanna talk about it… [or prepare in any way]”
    ”We live in great times, we’ve never had it this good.”

    Survival is going to be a bitch here in the Netherlands with a family of sheep who believe the system, who happily didn’t get kids (more elderly folks than young ones), don’t believe in preparing, don’t believe we need fire-arms (if they were legal). And the country is sooo crowded and very multiculturally enriched… And we’re a very sick country with very, very weak families, often no children, and lots of divorces, highly individualistic..

    Also we’re getting polarized very much before elections in the srping of 2017, but people still only wanting to think in terms of political solutions but not like: let’s see what we can do ourselves to prepare…. And in the meantime blacks and muslims are out there robbing houses and businesses with AK-47’s. Also lots of good muslims are here btw.. But they will be ”enemy” because they are not Dutch… And in my neighborhood the old Dutch population is dying off, replaced with Ethiopians, Turks and Moroccans…

    Anway, thanks for the articles and knowledge that you share Selco, from a longtime follower of this website.

  11. GRA says:

    Very good article and information. Exactly as I thought such a situation would be.

  12. Gordon in MO says:

    Civilization is a very thin veneer over the savage beast. The beast shows up quicker in some people but it is there in all.

    When SHTF comes (not if) if you hold onto your civilized veneer very long you will probably not survive.

    Be Prepared !

  13. SurvivAllExpert says:

    It would be interesting to have Selco talk with “country folks” to see what their experience during the same time was. How far did they need to live from the city before they had barable conditions.

  14. Dr Truth says:

    Those that enjoyed white privilege in a racist society will be the first to snap. They come from a lineage that is based on invading, killing and stealing from others and will quickly and easily revert to such activities. In places like the Caribbean, South America, and Africa people have always lived in harmony with nature and can easily return to such lifestyles. Western culture is what is doomed. Huge artificial cities based on capitalist exploitation cannot survive a major collapse.

  15. Sean says:

    Dr. “Truth”, those huge artificial cities based on capitalist exploitation won’t survive a major collapse BECAUSE they are filled with people from the Caribbean, South America, and Africa, who are not self sufficient, who live on EBT cards and murder, rob, and rape each other in escalating numbers every year. Yeah, I’ve seen how people from those places live “in harmony with nature” both in those countries, and here, eating each other, completely devoid of civilized behavior, hacking each other to death with machetes, walking around in their own filth, and in general acting like the animals in the jungle. They won’t be returning easily to the lifestyles you say they will, because most of them are ignorant of how to do that. Since you believe the whites are racists, and they will snap first, I suggest you steer clear of them, with your Marxist bent, you might live longer. There is not one African country run by blacks that is not a hellhole, and every South American country is a failed state. The Caribbean is a negligible piss pot of rapists and tin pot dictators.

  16. Dr truth is from Berkeley. What an idiot.

  17. Ron says:

    Food,The lack of it was my family’s problem.Essential fats/calories to help keep you from getting weak and sick.
    People will go out to the countryside,Farms get raided. People become crazy scary when starving.
    Hope you never have to live in a situation like this.Even if you think you are prepared,You ain’t.

  18. Hillbilly says:

    Wonder what SHTF on the high seas will be like? Pirates? You bettcha…

  19. Claymor says:

    Reality check! Likely the best Article I’ve ever read on a real SHTF scenario and what it’s like. A real eye opener, I can only imagine what the “Mile in my Shoes” course is like.
    Thanks Selco!

  20. Redleg says:

    In 2017 there are 95 million people in US who are not working. Better double up on food storage and work on family security. Crime here is ramping up with more gun crimes, daytime home invasions and burglaries, and increasing daily car thefts. I see 2017 as more of the same. I’m going to increase personal security measures and am keeping tubs packed. We just did an actual load up and get out of town move yesterday with some other like-minded people. I suggest you all do an actual load and move yourself. You’ll pick up on some critical items you need to correct, and putting your body actively into evasion mode triggers good new thoughts. Last night I wrote down what I forgot and now have a printed new list for our family to use to bug out.

  21. FlatEarther says:

    Thank you Selco. I live in a rural area already, but I see I was only thinking in 2 dimensions. Thanks for the advise.

  22. Victoria says:

    I am an older American Baby Boomer. I live on a small farm, surrounded by people(even now), I don’t trust. SHTF event..questionable.
    I am a herbalist and naturopathic practioner. I am building up my own skills that may prove useful during a SHTF event. Opinion?
    Husband doesn’t share thoughts on prepping. Bless him, he thinks it’s all foolishness. Rather die than live in such a situation. I have grandchildren to protect.
    Opinion? What else could I do to become better prepared?

  23. I just realized how instructive making a documentary video on a topic like this would be. Intercut file footage from past recent social breakdowns or civil wars with scenes in peaceful leafy US suburbs, and describe everything covered here in terms of that suburb, blasted all to hell … Frankly, I find it just overwhelming, and that the odds of surviving would be 1 in 100. I live in Thailand, have lived here in Asia for 18 years. My chief reason for staying now is precisely this sort of SHTF scenario. I’m shocked that 90%+ people in the West are in such abject total denial. Civil wars across Europe within 5 to 7 years. The Left won’t retreat in the USA, they know we’re approaching a precipice so whoever’s in power gets to dictate how the post-collapse world shakes out. So they have every reason to keep escalating until the country explodes. I do feel overwhelmed by it all. Maybe that’s the first stage of facing reality.

  24. RICHFL says:

    I have only one question. If the fighting was within yards of where you lived why stay?

    You put your self in danger needlessly. If you had moved away from the urban center more resources would have become available.

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