What To Do….?


When SHTF, making the wrong decision can cost more than you will ever realize, so advice on what to do and what not to do should be sought out and heeded.

You see many articles like „Ten Things to do When SHTF“ or „ 5 most likely situations…“ or similar.

The truth is that these articles, while a great way to learn something (I’ve written posts like that too) are, very often, ‘over simplying’ situations or scenarios that most likely when SHTF are going to be dynamic and probably complex…

It is essential that you are ready to adapt because there are many variables about what to do (or not to do) when SHTF. So read these ‘lists’ but be careful of how ‘attached’ you get to them.

My main point here is this: there is only one thing worse than being without a plan (for/when SHTF). And that thing is having plan and sticking to that plan so heavily that you simply end up dead (because your plan is not working for that particular SHTF situation)

So what to do (or not to do) when SHTF? Lets look at ‘two sides’ of a couple of things:


One side:

Panic is a „plan killer“. Panic is a fearsome enemy. You may have a very good plan and preparations and end up dead, simply because you failed to understand how bad panic is going to affect you.

There is research that says that 74 % of people who, in a case of disaster and being forced to quickly leave their home would forget to take a lighter and something that could boil water in (in order to disinfect it)

We could say that research is for „non –preppers“, but be aware that in the case of panic and fear (and we ar all are going to experience some level of that for sure) you are going to make mistakes. Be ready to accept, adapt and overcome this.

The ‘Other’ side:

Fear of, or when in, danger is a powerful thing and you need to not deny it, rather go into a mindset like „s..t, of course I am afraid just like everybody else, let me use that fear and do something smart“

The good thing here is that most of the people around you are going to be in some kind of ‘panic’ (fear, confusion). Let’s work on the basis that you, as a prepper, are going to be in a lesser state of panic than these other folks.

So suddenly, panic and fear can become friends in some situations, use it in your favor.

For example while everybody else is in panic still figuring out what really happened, use the moment for a last run to the grocery shop for more food, or use it to simply to get away from the danger.

This short video offers some very powerful examples of how people react during a bad event.


There is also one important moment here to recognize, some researchers conclude that people actually panic much less than we imagine.

So they stated that in cases of some catastrophes (disasters in sports stadiums, factory disasters and similar) first reactions of a number of people is not to panic, rather to help other (injured) people.

I agree with this, but only to a certain level. If you find yourself in the street and see a building collapse suddenly, and hear screams from rubble, most peoples reaction who just saw the event is to go there and help injured people, but if you see (or hear) other buildings continue to collapse you’re going to panic, and other people are going to panic.

It is an example only, but in the case of a serious SHTF event, expect panic and simply use it in your favor, however you can.

Change the rules!

One side:

I’ll try to explain this „change the rules“ rules with one small, short but serious real life experience.

Just after the S. hit the fan here, a man went out to seek help. He saw a police officer, he ran towards the officer and cried for help (his wife was wounded at home) and the police officer just shot him in the head and robbed him.

End of story.

Story could be (and actually it is) longer, because I should go through the events leading to that, panic on street, no info. on what is going on and much blah blah blah.

But the point of the story here is that dead guy simply failed to change rules from the mentality of „their is a police officer“ to the „their is an armed dude in police uniform.“

When SHTF, rules are changing, all rules. Rules like“ police are going to help us, goverment is going to take care for us, there is help in hospital etc etc.

You simply do not know, rules are gone.

Other side:

Nobody said that you can not be a guy in a police uniform when SHTF. I am not saying that you have to put on a police uniform when SHTF and go out and shoot innocent people.

I am saying that you may use other peoples lack of knowledge and adaption to the new rules and for example wear EMT uniform in first day of chaos in order to go through some part of the city, or a police uniform, or act like a rescue worker or whatever you think makes sense in your particular situation and moment.

Switch yourself to the SHTF situation thinking in all ways and means.

ABCs  (Go Back to Basics)

It is again about big and small circles.

People tend to think too much (actually can be bad when SHTF initially) simply because there is no real information.

You need to look for the right information, of course, try to figure what is happening etc, but in the meantime, if you do not know what to do because you do not know what is going on, use that moment to go for your basics.

That means if suddenly something bad is happening (SHTF) and you do not know what to do, do something that is useful. Why don’t you use that moment and go to fill your bathtub with water for example?

Most probably you’re going to need it.

Or go through your equipment, or check your weapon?

Just go through the ‘basics’ if you do not know what to do when lacking real information.

We will be covering a lot of ‘decision making’ of this type during our excellent physical course in Croatia, which is happening in just a few weeks. It is a great training opportunity and one you should all consider. More details are here:


 Have you ever had to make decisions under pressure?  Please share your stories in the comments below…!

19 responses to “What To Do….?”

  1. tim says:

    Problem is today in the USA if you run towards a police officer yelling.. they will shoot you dead. and we are not even in SHTF yet. It’s that our police here are trained to shoot first, they are more foot soldiers than public servants.

    Be prepared, have your bag ready and easy to get to so in a panic you just grab and go.
    Be prepared, practice your routes out of town and you will not get lost in a panic.
    Be prepared.

    Awesome advice once again Selco, many people even people that have been prepping for a decade do not think about how they will react when the real shtf happens. I have had a gun held inches from my face while someone yelled orders at me, I have been in a location with a large group of people who panicked and almost got trampled to death. Both times because I had not prepared for it I did what most people do…. freeze as your brain can not process what is happening at that moment. I let emotion and panic take control. And until you expose yourself to it you can not understand how it affects you. simplifying so you dont have to think makes things go smoother.

  2. Timothy says:

    One thing I’ve found very useful is to train vigilance and making eye contact with people on the street.

    As part of my SHTF conditioning, I carry irregular objects for long walks through my neighborhood. It is usually a sledgehammer, weighted bag, or one or both of my children. When carrying a burden, it is more difficult to keep your eyes up and constantly scanning the environment instead of down towards the ground. Carrying a burden while vigilant also makes you realize how intensely vulnerable you are in an urban environment, especially during the day. It is essential to get familiar with this tactical situation before actual SHTF. You learn all kinds of techniques such as staying to the shadows, pacing yourself so that you can sprint whenever necessary, and the infinite ways to shift irregular burdens on your back so that you do not get fatigued. You learn by experience how important is Selko’s advice that if you have to go out during SHTF, do so at night and in the smallest possible group that can move quickly while maintaining 360 degree situational awareness.

    My children and I play a game of “try to see people before they see you.” They love this game and are very good at it and I believe they instinctively recognize what an important skill it is. The people in my neighborhood are so checked out that it is easy for even my four year old to get the drop on them. But it would be different “when the rules change”.

    Another essential skill is making eye contact and acknowledging each person in your environment. It is strange how difficult this is sometimes but it is essential to evaluating both threats and potential allies — and prey, because you must become familiar with the predatory mindset, even if you never intend to adopt it.

    I’m sure this kind of training strikes some people as quite silly but the readers of this site will know exactly how important it is to train before SHTF is upon us. If you practice these things, you will understand too.

    Above all, remember that physical training and nutrition right now are your top survival priorities. Your mental abilities are always limited by your physical health.

  3. Don’t forget to help others when you can. I’m here because a neighbor cared.

  4. Dan says:

    In reply to Tim’s comment… that is not true. Police are not trained to do that, Your statement is way out of line.
    These men and women are public servants trying to work in a hostile environment, that now has many radicals and idiots putting them right in their sights, every moment. Your statement makes you part of the problem and not any type of solution.

    If all goes to hell, I cannot say that the police will not be affected, and some will find it easy to abuse power, but you cast a dark light on a lot of folks that lay down their life every day for you and me.

    back to the article…. well done Selco, well written, and, as always I looks forward to your insight..

    • Carl says:

      Yes they are, just ask any black man, or brown man, or any one else that has had a cop draw a gun on them as they ran towards them.

      You are living with a bag over your head if you dont think cops are trained to shoot first.

  5. Seasoned_Citizen says:

    All good points, Selco, as usual.

    The video clip from the Brussels Airport bombing struck me as follows: not so much the images, BUT, the AUDIO was very revealing—female voices crying, trembling, screaming, mit ach und weh, blessent mon cœur D’une langueur Monotone—these, THESE are the very same starry-eyed Belgian women who held up posters and signs: “WE WELCOME YOU HERE YOU POOR REFUGEES.”

    Idiocy. Stupidity. Naivete.

    #1 KNOW the enemy.
    #2 REALIZE the enemy’s capability.
    #3 AVOID places targeted by the enemy.

    • J Smith says:

      I recall seeing at least two women on the video booking it out of the airport pretty proactively… not every female there was frozen in terror. And one guy on the audio sounded like he was having a bit of a minor melt-down. I don’t think that SHTF situations discriminate much by way of gender. They kinda suck for everyone, all around. Statistically speaking, survival generally depends on decisive movement away from danger.

  6. Hillbilly says:

    Good advice Tim, I however live in a rural area and am not “Bugging out” This community will form a defensive group. That said, there are some who don’t bring much to the table, yet are sill useful as workers, guards and what have you. Five years ago we could have been driven out by fire, Forrest-Fire especially. I think we have enough pumps and hose’s and water now to realistically combat that, maybe if we can get ahead of it. I am assuming that no services would be dispatched in a real SHTF scenario. The last two fires we had we were under mandatory evacuation, but the sheriffs office was instructed to let a person for each property stay behind, armed to guard against looters. In both case’s we were safe, but winds change and it’s a different game. For us it’s all about community readiness.

  7. Grampa says:

    I live in the Detroit metropolitan area. Our state population is over nine million people a little less than half are 21 and under. We have good farm land and plenty of water. the roads are passable but would be blocked in a crisis. Many would want to leave the city, to go where? The population of our larger county’s are some of the most dense in the state. The idea to “bug out” to survive is considered by many So what ever could be the problem? Would any think of starting for a destination if you dont know which way to go? If we had no gas to get there? If our tires were flat? and I could go on adding up the “normal” items needed to get to our goal. As most would agree this would be the prudent way to insure we get there. Now take away any of these items and your trip could be short. We wont think of the millions who have the same goal..Now I ask How did you make your choice of where and when we are to go. Depending on the crisis the response will also vary depending on the information and ability of mobility of the people. A natural one will get a more relaxed response but moving out of a city as large as Detroit moving about the countryside would cause immeasurable amount of damage. food would be collected and eaten and the land that is occupied cannot grow food. existence now comes down to food and shelter. Depending on the time of year will determine the urgency of the actions. The armed will take from the unarmed. Even forming groups and areas for defense leaves the major problem FOOD. Even if you had thousands banded together to protect what you had your food source isn’t infinite. The percentage that would want what you have gives little chance at keeping it. an empty belly and a child crying from hunger gives you courage many didn’t know they had. What can we do? even hunker down type will be found. A large area with most of the people that do the same has a better chance. not perfect but better. If we train the people in the city to store and rotate the supply’s can give them a chance for survival. better it keeps the traffic from the ruin done to a land that must grow the food or all the well laid plans are for nothing. The organization to get the food into the city is one of the events that must be reconstructed for most of the roads will be blocked. If things go normally any animal large enough to pull a wagon will wind up in the pot. Bottom line is if we don’t look ahead and plan to survive we wont. It will be like a war for the people will have no clue how to function and hunger leads to panic. Panic will destroy and the destruction of America wouldn’t recover for hundreds of years and never to the level at what we had. Sadly I have the questions, or some of them but no real answers. I am sure we have many people with answers. I don’t mean the ones that pack all the tools for survival packed in the handy dandy do all Altoids survival kit. The one thing I can guarantee is that you wont survive. With the exception of matches and compass to direct you we have few things that will fit in the Altoids kit that will sustain for any length of time. As a professional in the trades I well know the tools needed have the multi tool that claims will do what the larger tool will. Not even close for they may function but will usually fail when you run into the difficult problem. I would be rich if I had a nickel for every time I used the handy dandy do all tool only to stop and go to the truck for a normal tool. Counting on the do all kit will get you killed. To start a fire and a way to signal for help will fit nicely. to depend on it to build shelter or provide food will fail.. look at where this tool is demonstrated. put cold and darkness into the picture and the difficulty multiply. The energy expended in the first few hours will determine if you will survive. Having a tool that will do multiple functions is not unheard of. On the farm we had a combination hammer crowbar staple remover that would tension the fence wire Mine had a few openings for hex nuts and square nuts. tighten a nut and it took some time but it did work without breaking. this did not fit in your pocket. What do you carry to improve your chances. It isnt the tool but your skill in its use. Just because I have a computer with spellcheck doesn’t say I can write a book or should I say good book. In my inexpert opinion each must look at their own unique set of circumstances. Are you going to be going in the same direction with how many others. What will you encounter? You are prepared but how may others are not and will want what you have. As you see for every problem solved a dozen or more exist that must be solved. each failed answer is potential death. The better the planning your chances increase. The more people involved your chances increase. We now encounter the law of diminishing returns. at some point too many people with the same skills provide friction for now we have the argument that someone isn’t pulling their weight. and along with everything race will rear its ugly head. This will be the worst one for lingering feelings will never be suppressed. In any community or group wil need to set the rules and quickly. not only rules but the consequences of infringement. Everything from the methods used to accuse to defend and who and how is selected the people who will judge the infringement. who then will carry out the predetermined punishment. How far is the security allowed to go? It sounds complicated but the more that is done before an event the better the chances of survival.
    Well i am sure I have confused everyone. i always enjoy people telling me where I am wrong. That is the only way I will learn. we hear from so many experts how about from people who live everyday in a non ideal real world.

    • Jack Parker says:

      Good insight Grampa! Wisdom only comes with age.
      Having tools and know how are real wealth in just about any situation.
      Basic hand tools can be a real plus and I think one of the best tools to have if bugging out is a sharp axe with a stone to keep it sharp. Out in the woods you can do quite a lot with a good axe. Also a strong fixed blade knife. Power tools won’t be much good but eventually will be good to have.
      I believe you are correct in your view that the destruction of American society would be something unrecoverable for many, many years. Societies and civilizations are built upon the organization of manpower, plain and simple. When everyone has a job to do, and you have a lot of people, then lots of things get done. When that organization dissolves, so does the civilization. History shows us that over and over. America is on the edge of that abyss right now; socially and financially. As a people we must decide ourselves whether to turn around and walk away from the abyss or fall into it.
      But we must make that decision together.

    • Selco says:

      Thank you very much for taking your time and sharing this with us Grandpa.
      I like too when people telling me where I am wrong, it is good process for discussion and learning really.

  8. Jack Parker says:

    What you are talking about is stress inoculation. Expose yourself to it a number of times in order to train your response. There are books written on the subject. It isn’t like the Hollywood movies, even with the experts. Train like you’ll fight, fight like you train. If it’s a bug out scenario, practice it like kids practice the fire drills. Not at a planned time but at a random time.
    BANG! the text goes out!
    Move! Move! Move!
    Where will you meet up at? What gear will you have? Will you have a car? Will it be full of gas and serviced to be ready? Do you have the correct seasonal clothing? Do you have sturdy shoes or boots? Do you have 72 hours worth of food? Do you have your meds? How about some water?
    All this needs to be with you ASAP since you’re bugging out. Time the event, then grade your response. What were the hangups and where can you improve? Be honest. Make the changes and run it again later on. Eventually you’ll be ready with your group or family and you’ll also be inoculated to the stress this type of event causes.

  9. Plain Jane Prepper says:

    I have an exercise that I use daily that I “hope” will help me in a SHTF scenario.

    I close my eyes, and then proceed to daydream. I picture myself in different situations.

    A gang of 50 bad guys are coming down the street ribbing every house at gun point. What do I do? I run through several scenarios in my head and act them out.
    The police knock on my door and attempt to confiscate all of my food and preps. What do I do?
    I am out on a run looking for preps after SHTF and get caught in a bad situation. (rioting, civil unrest) What do I do to get out of it?
    It is night time and I need water, medical supplies, food, etc., but I risk getting shot if I go out. Do I go, or do I stay home? And if I go, how do I succeed? What is the best way to get the job done?
    I have to bug out, which way do I go to get to my secondary location? What might I run into? How would I handle it?
    What do I hope to get out of this? Well, the reality is that nothing ever happens the way you think it will, but I am hopefully training my mind to stay calm in those and other frightening situations.
    I am not physically strong, so the ONLY thing I have in my favor is my mind. And I hope to stay alive by using it. This may or may not work, but I hope that this gives me some degree of an edge psychologically.

  10. Benjammin says:

    Ideally, we would all be fully equipped, in the best shape, and up to date on every situation in our AOC. Realistically, most can’t afford all of the best, we can’t always carry our best gear with us, we are overweight and fatigued, and we only catch the news on our way in or out the door to/from work.

    You can’t be complacent. You can’t let your guard down, you have to be able to think on your feet, see things for what they are, realize the course of action that leads to desired outcome, and execute decisively. That is a tall order, and no amount of gear or supplies is gonna make up for a bad choice. Situational awareness can give you the best edge. Being able to constantly evaluate your immediate area; available resources, people and their behavior, access and egress, and quickly form contingencies. These skills have to be developed, take a lot of mental energy, and may make the difference between getting through a problem or becoming a statistic. Everybody needs down time, so look for those opportunities where your exposure to risk/threats is limited, you can be alerted to any perturbation, and still have access to things you might need to respond. Plain Jane has a good practice to visualize, a great way to get the mindset you need for the real deal.

  11. saffron says:

    Good points all of you. I am lucky – I have only lived in peace (except for one riot when I was a teenager). Lucky,of course, should not translate as “Un-prepared” or “wearing rose-tinted glasses”.
    Knowing what to do – and training your brain what to do – should start at an early age (while it can still be disguised as fun and games?) When I was in primary school, the company that printed our exercise books usually had an environmental or safety message on the back of them. That year, it was all about what to do if you were in a car accident. I think we had some of the high school run as well, but I didn’t know just how much of their advice had sunk in – until 30-year-old me found myself behind the wheel of a van that was going to end up upside down in a creek at midnight.

    Some of the advice:
    Wait until the car fills with water before opening the windows (it will be too hard to open the doors)
    Turn the engine off and keep the lights on
    If you can get out, leave a note (when you left and which way you went)
    If you can’t get out, keep your hand on the horn (SOS if you know it)
    As soon as you know you are past the point of no return, keep your legs apart (to avoid being trapped by the steering column) and cross your hands over your face – palms in to avoid window glass cutting your wrists).

    It works. And I have made sure that my children know.

  12. Realist says:

    Dan, you are right, he was way out of line. If you truly think that way you might want to step back and take a look the way you are living. If you feel that threatened by the police something is wrong.

    Hillbilly I have the same problem. We have a place which is the end of a long dirt road which is great for privacy but it sucks when it comes to fire. One way in and one why out is not good. For a major fire I have come up with a plan which we will have a defensible space. I had an uncle who had irrigated pasture for the animals which surrounded his home. I wish I had the ability to do that. Ours is to clear brush and grass well out and keep the fuel down. Trash pumps will be used to wet down the area since we have the water to do it. Hopefully in the future we can irrigate the area.

    Timothy pointed out eye contact is important size people up. For whatever the reason most people do not make contact with others. The people who routinely do it are generally predators and cops. I have one guy I know who is a cop who told me about an incident he had going to a bank. When he came out of a bank he saw two guys going in, both had prison tats and were checking everyone over. He was checking them out, they made eye contact and it wasn’t broken. As they walked by each other the guy with the tats nodded and said good morning officer. Knowing when to make eye contact can make you stand out or blend in, you just have to lean when it is appropriate.

    Selco as always good thought provoking points. Until you have truly experienced panic you really will not know if you can handle it. The important thing to remember is it can’t always be prevented but it can be controlled.

  13. Atom says:

    Nobody will predict what is coming or what to do about it. Go read Micah 7 and then you will understand what the people are like. Then, for a detailed and valuable understanding of the actual overall status of society read The Jewish War by Josephus. It’s just a giant human sacrifice but you won’t necessarily be a victim. Have tools and at least two bigger work knives and 3 smaller ones like a folder, leatherman, and maybe a Mora type of knife. Cutting tools are indispensable. Cook pot and firearm as well. Bare minimum to be considered useful

  14. Cameron Y says:

    I liked reading a lot of the replies to this article. It is interesting how many people are complacent around us. I talk to people about what is happening in Venezuela, how their entire economy has already collapsed along with their currency. I then make parallels to what could happen around us, but most of them are apathetic or willingly ignorant.

    I feel it is important to surround yourself with like-minded people.

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