SHTF School is a website dedicated to urban survival and preparedness. On this website you can read about Selco's experience during SHTF, talk with him and others who are interested in REAL survival, instead of Hollywood or fantasy survival.
Barter is a hot topic in prepper circles, so I thought we thought we should tap into Selco’s knowledge more deeply on this matter.
How quickly did people turn to barter once your city was locked down?
It was a matter of a few weeks.
Actually, for ordinary folks, it was a matter of few weeks because we did not get the new reality right at the beginning of everything.
Later when I remembered that period, I realized that even right at the beginning of SHTF there were people who did not want to take money for goods. They asked for valuables like gold, jewelry, or weapon for goods that they had.
Some of them were smart enough to realize that money was gonna become worthless really soon, and even gold and jewelry were only good in the first period, and then only if you had a connection to outside world to exchange it for something useful.
Ordinary folks needed few weeks. It was a process that went from buying goods with money, then buying goods from people who still wanted to take money (at outrages prices) to the moment when money was worthless, and only goods for goods were accepted.
It was rare, but sometimes you could find someone who would sell you something for foreign money but at the 20-50 times bigger prices.
For example if pack of cigarettes cost around 1,50 German Mark (outside of the war region) we could buy that pack for 40 German Marks.
US dollar and Canadian dollar had even worse value.
Obviously, people would accept that money had connection to the outside world, and some of them ended up as millionaires because of that.
Same ratio was for precious metals and jewelery.
For small and quick trades, the usual currency were cigarettes, because of the percentage of people that smoked.
Even values were expressed often like “Oh, that’s worth 10 cigarettes.” In other situations it was ammunition-bullets.
How were trade items valued? If someone wanted to make a trade, who set the terms?
Nothing was fixed.
Through the whole period, the value of goods went up and down based on a lot of things.
For example if a UN food convoy managed to enter the city and some local warlord (usually) took it all, and the majority of the food was cans of fish, you could count on the fact that that month those types of cans gonna be cheaper then the month before. Or if that day’s US airplanes managed to “hit“ with airdrops in our area then MREs were going to be bit cheaper to find.
Sometimes a simple rumor (planted by rival groups) for example about “poisoned“ cans of cookies meant that people did not valued it so highly anymore.
Some things did not change value too much during the whole period, like alcohol, simply because it was available.
Other things’ value was a matter of the situation.
For example, if you had a sick kid at home, and you needed antibiotic and you spread that word, you could expect high price simply because you give that information that you need something really hard and fast.
But usually, we knew the value of things (goods) for that week for example, at least approximately.
What were the general rules of trade during this time?
The value of things and trading “rules on the ground“ were similar to trade rules at normal life flea markets.
A few of those “rules on the ground“ during the trade were:
If YOU need something then the price is going up. (Do not look like you desperately need something.)
Do not offer all that you got in “one hand“ or on one try. (Do not go to trade with your best shots all together, it looks desperate, and you are losing all the advantage then.)
Do not ever give a reason for someone to take the risk of attacking you because you have way too cool stuff (or way too much stuff) with you. (Have some amount of food, or ammo, or whatever, do another trade at another time with more of that. Remember people will take chances if they calculate it is a risk worth taking.)
Never give info how much of the goods you actually have at home. ( The reason is same as above.)
Never do trade at your home (unless you trust the person 100%) because you never know to who you are giving valuable information about how much you have, what your home look like, how many people are there (defense) etc.
Doing the trade in other trader s home might mean that you are at his “playground“ (or he is stupid) so you are losing the edge. You are risking of being on unknown terrain. Always try to choose neutral ground somewhere that you can control the situation, giving the opponent the chance to feel safe. (But not safer than you).
It is most important that you understand when SHTF (for real) system is out, and only thing that protect you from losing everything is you.
Trade is gonna be a matter of carefully planning. It starts with information about who has something that you need, then checking that information, and rechecking, and then sending information to him that you want to trade, then setting the terms about the place and number of people where you’re gonna do the trade.
Usually, there was a rumor or information about who was safe to trade with. There was information about people who like to scam other people during the trade. If you did a good and fair trade with a man you could “save him“ as a safe trader (to some extent) for future trade.
Everything else is matter of trust and skills.
Maybe, just maybe, if you are living in some nice small town there is gonna be something like a market, where people freely gonna exchange their goods between each other.
I never saw anything like that because it needs some kind of system to back it.
Trade when SHTF is a high-risk situation simply because it is about resources, and there is no law, no system.
Are skills or products more valuable?
In the long run, skills were more valuable, simply because you can not “spend“ your skills.
If you had medical skills you could expect that people over the time (through the word on the street) will hear that, and that you simply will have opportunities to get something for that skill.
I pointed out in an earlier article that when a serious collapse happens, things fall apart around you fiscally, there are no services, so skills for “repairing“ were valuable, and so were technical skills.
Medicines were substituted with home (natural) remedies so knowing that stuff was valuable, making simple cloth pieces was good, and repairing weapons. I knew people who did good because they made very basic cigar holders from wood and empty bullet shell simply because people smoked bad tobbaco hand rolled in paper.
Skills that made the new reality easier.
Skills were also more safe to trade simply because by attacking and killing you, the attacker cannot take away your skills from you.
What were the top physical items for barter? Do you recommend that people stock up on things specifically for barter? If so, what kinds of things?
In my case those were MREs, meat cans, alcohol, batteries, candles, cigarettes, weapons and ammo, drugs, and medicines… but if we are talking about the future, preparing, some things need to be mentioned.
There are lists about “100 things to store for SHTF“, and while they are good lists, they may be completely different from “100 things to trade when SHTF.”
Obviously when SHTF you will miss everything, because the “trucks are stopped“ and there are no stores and normal buying.
The basics that you need to cover are something that every prepper already knows: food, defense, water, shelter, fire, medicine, and communication.
Out of these essentials, you go in deeper. Like under medicine you’ll have antibiotics but also some knowledge about natural remedies. Under food, you’ll have cans but also some way to produce food like seeds or hunting or whatever.
If you are PLANNING to store things for trade then you need to have a strategy for that.
Let’s say you are storing huge amounts of food for you and your family for SHTF but you are also planning to trade that food for other items when SHTF.
Some advice for people who are counting to store things for trade are:
Store things of everyday use, nothing too fancy. For example store rice or pasta (if that food is common in your region), lighters, batteries, or candles.
Store small things, or in small packages, stuff that is gonna be easy to carry hidden on you, in your jacket, for example, lighters, spices, cigarettes, quick soups… not cannister of fuel, bags of wheat. I am not saying not to store fuel. I am saying it is much better to carry 20 AA batteries to trade then a 20-liter canister of fuel especially because value might be similar. Remember, do not give reason to anyone to take the risk of attacking you because you have something.
Think about things that are cheap today, may have multipurpose uses when SHTF, and do not take too much space to store (alcohol pads or condoms for example).
Think about things that you can “sell but keep“. For example, a solar panel with a setup for charging batteries for people. You are selling charging of batteries to people.
NEVER be the “big trader“ or the person who has a lot of interesting stuff. Be the small person who is gonna offer good things through the network of a few people. Being big trader means attracting too much attention with too many cool things that you have. Hide your trading activities through a network of other traders.
Understand today’s value and the value when SHTF. Think about the small things that save lives, antibiotics, anti-tetanus shots, povidone pads [iodine]. For example, candles are really cheap today but will be rare when SHTF.
Do not underestimate things that are people addicted to, no matter what you think about it. Cigarettes, alcohol, or coffee (or whatever is case in your region) – the value will go way up.
“Store“ skills and knowledge. It is best investment. Learn skills that are gonna be valuable like gardening, shoe repairing, clothes making. Maybe you can be the person who has knowledge about natural remedies.
Should you have precious metals as a means for buying goods when the SHTF?
Through human history, gold and silver were valuable. They were used for getting goods in all times, including hardest times like wars and similar.
Having precious metal for SHTF is big in the prepping community but I need to point out some things.
The value of gold went down during SHTF so much that you need to think about it very hard.
For example, in normal times (I am using these numbers as an example) you could buy with one gold ring 300 small cans of meat. When SHTF you could buy 20, and you could buy 20 if you could find a man who wanted to take that ring from you.
He did not usually want to take it because he could take stuff that he could immediately use, like weapons, drugs, or medicines.
He simply could not do anything immediately useful with it.
Having precious metals is a great idea for later, when some kind of system jumps in, because they are gonna be again precious.
Right in the middle of SHTF, the value of it is poor.
That is one of the reasons why some local warlords came out as very powerful people after everything. They simply took precious metal from folks for a “can of the soup“ value (or sometimes for nothing) and they had enough power to store that metal for the time when it would be valuable again.
Do not throw everything into precious metals. Store immediately useful things.
What were the top skills?
It was simple: skills that you might use to kill people or to heal them.
So fighting, security, medical skills, knowing herbal remedies, repairing a weapon, making a new one.
Right after those skills were skills about food.
Knowing what kind of herbs around us you could eat, or even knowing what kind of tree bark you could eat maybe, how to make some plants edible mixed with other ingredients, how to repair clothes and things in your home.
Were there markets for bartering or did people mostly do this in private?
In one period of time there was something like a market, but it was strictly under control of local warlord, so it was not smart to go there since you really could not know what to expect.
Almost all the trades were made in private arrangments after you got information about someone who had something that he wants to trade.
The best situation was if you knew that person prior the war so you had already built trust from before.
Scams were usual, attacks during the trade happened too, especially if the value of goods was high.
If you need to trade for something, do that in advance. In other words, do not wait to be completely without food and then go to look for food through the trade, because you are under pressure, you are desperate. It is not a good setup for trade.
How did you remain safe when trading goods and services? What were the risks?
The basic rule is not to go alone to trade.
The reasons are very simple because you have resources with you for trade, you are possible target so you need more security – more people.
The trade place usually needed to be checked for possible ambush or scam setup. You needed people for that.
You needed a guard during the trade, someone to check up things during your negotiation with the other trader, someone who was going to watch for things.
The ideal number of people was 3.
The risks are scams (bad goods) or an attack.
You could lower that risk by trading with known people or simply by showing enough force so that they understand it is not worth the risk.
Scams were avoided by checking goods of course. If you are buying batteries you need to check them all. You need to taste coffee – is it mixed with old coffee that was used and dried? Cigarettes packs were carefully opened and 1-2 cigarettes could be missing and the pack glued again.
It was like a chess game.
What are some myths about barter that most people think are the truth?
Trade is probably the survival topic with largest number of myths.
It is partly because we like to think that somehow the world will collapse but the majority of people will live by the rules from normal times, and partly because we are influenced by movies, shows, and fiction books.
“When SHTF people simply get all together and help each other, and that goes for trade too.“
No, actually when times get really hard people jump into survival mode, or perish.
For you it may mean that you ‘l be nice, and do only good things, for another, it may mean that he will do whatever it takes so he and his family survive.
That may include killing you over 3 MREs during the trade.
“When SHTF I will thrive because I stored a lot of things for trade, and I will simply be the biggest trader.“
It is possible. People did that and survived. And even got rich after everything was over.
But they had gangs around them, enough manpower to protect the goods, the control to not be overrun, and they were ruthless.
Most probably, you are an ordinary person who just wants to survive SHTF. You do not have 100 armed people with you. You just need to be small and careful.
You are not a warlord.
“When it comes to trade it is all about weapon and force.“
Actually, it is not.
It is about the correct mindset to decide what makes sense in that moment and what you really need (and what you do not). Weapons help a lot but do not solve the problem alone.
It is very similar to bargaining at a flea market with the possibility of violence.
Anything to add?
After years of being in the survival world, talking with other preppers and writing my articles I found out that a great number of people think something like “I cannot wait to go to trade when SHTF!“
In reality, one of the points of careful preparing is to delay the moment when you need to go out and trade as long as you can.
Because you’re gonna need time to scan what is going on and who is who in the new collapsed world. You need to gather information about who is good and who is not, who is trusted and who is a scammer, what area is safe
If you need to go out on the 10th day in order to trade something maybe you are doing something wrong?
Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution.
In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.
He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations like Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.
Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.
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..
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:
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.
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…!
End of the year and start of the new year is usually time for some new decisions, changes in your life and similar.
Usually in this time of the year I write about some expectations in „prepper terms“ about what for and why we should be prepared.
Nothing really changed in what we should expect, the world is going faster in some wrong directions and so there is no need for me to repeat that now.
For New Preppers
I would like to take this chance to just surmise what we at the SHTFSchool are doing and why, because in last months we have quite number of newbies here, new on my blog but also new in prepping.
Many times I read that Selco is „guy who survived year under siege during war“ and that I talk and write from that perspective.
I should mention however It was a long process. This ‘one year in hell’ is the literal tip of the iceberg.
From the moment when I was an ordinary guy prior to the war who did not have a clue about survival, up to this moment now at the end of 2017, a whole bunch of things happened.
Of course from the survival point of view most important thing was that I was part of the 4 year Balkan war, that includes that 1 year under siege, but also other things like being soldier and being a refugee in that time…
It is a process that lasted many years, before the war, during and after. An important part of it is meeting and talking with other preppers through my courses in ‘real life’ live or online, because I have learned, the hard way, that it is impossible to know everything and that you are actually learning all the time.
„The Truth Will Set You Free“?
One of the let’s say „sad advantages“ why I know few things about SHTF in such well rounded terms, lies simply in the fact that I’m still living in the middle of it right now, for years, because post war society is exactly that.
War for me was one experience, it was fighting, hunger, air raids, being dirty and sick… complete absence of system.
Post war society is another experience: life now is life in a corrupted system, political homicides, car bombs between different fractions, teenagers being drug addicts and prostitutes because there is no other way to find food…
It is life where ex war lords (or their children) are political party leaders with their own private armies of mercenaries „disguised“ in security companies, it is life where every (decent) home have AK 47 hidden somewhere, and bedtime stories for kids how „they“ just waiting for next chance to start new war, so we need to hate them… (who ever „we“ or „they“ are, really we are all the same)
It is life where I have to have different amounts of money in different pockets all the time, either to bribe the policeman (if I calculate it’s worth it) or to give it to drug addict with knife (if I calculate not to shoot him)… To repeat, this is EVERY DAY life here…
It is life where I need to have a registered and not registered pistol, based on what I am trying to achieve…
In very short, I am living in the middle of collapse, compared to war this is comfortable, but it is STILL SHTF.
So for all newbies here, and for guys who following me for years, you need to understand one thing: Selco is talking and teaching about real things, and to live here and talk openly about truth means that you may end up in deep s..t really fast, so that is the reason why you won’t ever see my face in an interview, or read my real name, I am not gonna show up in a youtube channel.
People from the events that I am writing on my blog are here, alive, and mostly in power, actually they rule here, they give you job and salary just not to be hungry, they and their people will find school for your kid, or simply find medicines for your mother cancer…
Otherwise a drug addict may ‘find’ your kid from the way back to school, you may be labeled as a „traitor“ maybe, or simply you may one morning when you start your car engine end up in Heavens…
You may watch at your dying mother who was told that „she need to wait for the specialist oncologist appointment for 16 months…”
This is EVERY DAY life here
You must be invisible and not interesting, you need to be small all the time.
You need to be gray. Not in the tacticool interpretation of the word, genuinely, completely blended. This ability to go unnoticed goes WAY BEYOND just the clothes that you wear…
Many times I read that I am ‘not real’ or ‘fraud’ or ‘Russian troll’ because I am staying „hidden“, but it’s like this, I share my advice under this assumed name, take it or leave it, but don’t think these comments are going to change it.
Just this last week I completed an interview with Daisy from the Organic Prepper Blog. It was on a timely subject with Christmas being here, so thought I’d share it here as well.
Have you ever thought about what an SHTF Christmas would be like after an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it event? I’m not talking about a minor issue that just affects a few people, but a full-on disaster that changes everything.
Today, we have a first-hand look at what a post-collapse holiday is really like. I interviewed my friend Selco, of SHTF School, and his answers are really food for thought. I have learned more about long-term survival from Selco than probably anybody else and have based a lot of my own plans on things I’ve learned from him. For most of us who write about preparedness, it’s research and theory. For Selco, it’s real life.
This interview is in his own words.
I read over the answers to his questions at least a dozen times and thought about how fortunate we are. Even our most difficult times here, in our society, would have been the height of luxury during the war in Bosnia.
But will we always be this lucky?
First, give us a little bit of background. What was going on? Please describe the circumstances in Bosnia during this time.
War in the Balkan region (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia…) started during the 1991 and went on until 2000 (if you include war at Kosovo and NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999), but historians mainly narrow it to a period of 1991-1995 if you do not count Kosovo war and NATO bombing. In some literature, you’ll find the name “Yugoslav Wars“ which is same (all above-mentioned Balkan countries used to be states in Federation of Yugoslavia (Jugoslavija or roughly translated to English it is “country of south Slavs“).
…Yugoslavia (as a socialistic-communist country) founded after WW2 in 1945, and stop to exist in 1991 with the start of the wars. Shortly prior the war socialistic system (communistic) fell apart as a part of bigger events (fall of Soviet Union, fall of Berlin wall…) and democracy came, together with democracy, rivalry between states that wanted to stay in the Yugoslavian union and states who wanted independence raised sharply, that resulted in riots and small and isolated fights, leading to full use of Yugoslavian army (JNA) which was 4th largest military force in Europe in that time.
Wars had all features: Independence fights, aggression between states, civil war, genocide, re-alignments, or switching of allegiances as the operational situational changed, backing up from foreign forces (Such as US and NATO)… through periods of it you could say that it was an ethnic war or even religious in parts, but in the essence it was war for territory and resources between factions who were in power, based on personal gain of wealth and influence only.
I went as a civilian and later as a soldier through the whole period of wars, I was in different regions during that period. Harder period of those wars (because of numerous reasons) happened in Bosnia, and one of the main “feature“ of that period were “sieges“ of a couple of cities that lasted from few months to a couple of years.
Some of those sieges were complete, in terms that everything normal stop to exist in city- electricity, water, police, medical services and everything else that makes normal life, every normal service. Death from sniper or shelling was an everyday thing, but also death from gangs because law stop to exist, or death from malnutrition, lack of medicines or simply lack of proper hygiene.
I found myself in one of those sieged cities. I lived like that for a year and I survived.
Every day, for almost a year, for me was a constant fight for survival, I was constantly either trying to defend myself or to look for resources, for usable water, food or simply firewood. We scavenged through the destroyed city for usable items because everything was falling apart and we have to “reinvent“ things in order to survive, like the best way to stay warm, to stay clean and safe or simply to make home medicine for diarrhea or high blood pressure.
When Christmas rolled around, it was obviously very different than any other holiday people had ever experienced. Can you tell us the usual Christmas traditions in Bosnia BEFORE this all happened?
As said, I grew up in Yugoslavia, which was socialistic and communistic country. One of the thing in that country and system was that religion was not forbidden, but it was strongly, let’s say “advised“ that religion is way down in the list of life priorities.
On the other side, it was strongly “advised“ that we put aside our differences (we had many different ethnic groups in Yugoslavia, and a couple of main religions) in order to build one “ethnicity“ – Yugoslavian. As the result of that all different religions kinda know each other very well, and people from different religions celebrated more or less or know all religions.
Christmas for most of the folks was very much connected to the New year holiday (again something that is connected to the official socialistic system) and it was just like everywhere in the world I guess, holiday of presents and gathering of family. For example, going on midnight mass was matter of being together with family and friends, and meeting each other-not so much matter of religion not too many “real“ religious people).
I was a teenager more or less, but my memories of that holiday prior the war are: peace, good food, family gathering and presents, and of course Santa. It was huge and “mandatory“ thing that kids gonna get big presents then.
I’m sure that then, everything was very different. What were some of the changes? How did you celebrate?
Everything was different when SHTF, yes. Living was hard, comfort was gone and everything was stripped“\ down to the bare survival. Lot of small commodities that we usually do not think about (we take it for granted) was simply gone because of obvious reasons (the whole system was out) but also because simply life becomes full of hard duties, to finish simple tasks and obtain resources becomes hard, dangerous and time-consuming.
Celebrations become rare and not so happy and big (not even near) but in the same time they become more precious and needed too.
Get-togethers (family) become even more important because people lean much more on each other between group or family, simply because they needed much more support – psychological. too – than in normal times.
A lot of religious people lost their faith when they saw family members dying. On the other side lot of people found God in that desperate times – as an only hope.
Being together with family members for small “time off“ become almost like small rituals, like a ritual of finding inner strength and support in order to push more through hard times.
Yes, religion was a big part of it, but it was not only about religion, it was about finding strength in you and people close to you – family, and sharing it between each other.
Without access to storebought presents, what kinds of gifts did people give?
It could be divided in two groups:
Things that help you in the new reality:
All kind of things that helped you to solve all kind of problems that SHTF brought. For example, people who were skilled in handcrafting used to made cigar holders out of wood and bullets casing, it was very popular for smokers and the reason for that was because cigarettes were rare, and people usually smoked bad tobacco rolled in bad paper and good cigar holder (as a combination of cigar holder and pipe) was essential for smoking that stuff.
It was small thing but really important if you were a smoker in that time.
Another example was small handmade stove. It was made from thin metal, and in some cases it was portable. Point was that kind of stove needed really small amount of wood ( fuel for fire was important and hard and dangerous to get in urban settings) to make it really red hot and cook something quickly or boil water.
So cool and usable kind of inventions.
Things that connect you to normal
In this other group were all kind of things that connect you to the normal (prior SHTF) life. It was not only cool and nice to have those presents, but also it was important psychologically to taste something that actually makes you feel normal again.
For example after living for months through collapse, one simple bottle of beer could make you feel human again, and it would somehow gave you strength.
Sweets (Candy), beer, spice, or even few songs that someone play on guitar for you were precious.
What did you do for the children at Christmas to make it special?
Kids were somewhat “forgotten“ in the SHTF times. Quite simply not many people paid attention to them other then keeping them safe from dangers.
People did not have enough time to take care about their needs.
During the holidays people usually wanted to give some kind of joy for them, or to “keep the spirit“ of holiday alive for them.
In majority of cases it was very poor imitation of holidays in normal times, for example I remember that making pancakes (jam was made out of tomato juice and very expensive sugar) was considered alone like a holiday. Special food, or attempts to make some special food, for kids, were usual holiday presents for kids in that time. Today that kind of food would look ridiculous and not even edible probably, but in that time it was precious.
What did families serve for Christmas dinner in Bosnia during this time?
Traditionally for Christmas and New Year holidays in this region here, we ate huge amounts of meat, and drink wine, so people during the collapse tried to keep that tradition.
Again it was mostly unsuccessful in terms of normal, but in that time having hot stew kind of meal from MRE was considered holiday dinner, and actually it was very very tasty and a “holiday spirit“ dinner considering what we usually ate.
Wine was out of the option most of the time but hard alcohol was there.
In general, were people happy and joyous to find a chance to celebrate, or was it grim and depressing because it was so different?
General picture looked like this: we were cold, more or less hungry, dirty, tired and unsure in future, but yes we appreciate feeling of getting together for holiday and we were trying to keep “spirit alive“.
Truth is that sometimes it worked, sometimes not.
But generally yes, psychologically it was important, it had its place, it had a sense to get together, take some time to try to feel normal again, to remember that we are still humans.
Definitely those moments were not bright and happy, like in normal times but on the other hand those moments were appreciated and were much more real than in peacetime.
Do you have any holiday stories you can share from this time? (Doesn’t matter if they are happy stories or sad – I’d really like to show the reality of post-collapse holidays.)
It is big thing (I guess just like everywhere) to leave presents under the tree for Christmas and New Year here.
It is custom here to buy big bags (kids motifs of cartoons, fairy tales and similar) and fill it with favourite snacks, sweets and toys of each kid and leave that bags under the tree (we did not had custom of socks and similar, we had those bags, to literally translate the name would be “kid package“).
Of course, it was out of the question to have the bags and sweets and toys in the middle of SHTF.
My uncle in that time came into an opportunity to make a deal with local small “warlord“ or gang leader if you like.
The deal was about giving some weapon for food (the guy had a connection with outside world) and my uncle “made a condition“ on the whole deal with the term that he will give a weapon for food but the additional deal was that he also need 3 “kids packages.”
In that time and particular moment, taking into consideration with what kind of people he was making a deal it was like he was asking a serial killer, to his face, to sing a gentle lullaby, and my uncle said that those guys simply could not believe what he asked.
Everybody was looking for or offering weapon, drugs, violent contract deals or even prostitutes from those people but he was looking for “kids packages“.
But they indulge him, and my uncle said that he thought they indulged him simply out of the fun, and out of the fact that it is gonna be a very interesting urban legend that someone could obtain kids packages in that time.
The guy even wrote down the list of sweets and toys that my uncle asked from him.
I think those sweets and toys when they came were one of the most unreal items in that time and place, but they were worth the effort.
It really gives you something to think about.
What a reality check. And how fortunate we are. Our version of “things were really tight this Christmas” is laughable in comparison to what is described above. I can’t thank Selco enough for sharing his stories with us.
I’ve often recommended prepping with things like cake mix, birthday candles, extra Christmas cards, and items that support your family traditions, and after reading what Selco had to say, I believe it’s even more important. You can’t overstate the psychological aspect of being able to provide that sense of normalcy.
More information about Selco
Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution.
In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.
He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations like Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.
Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.
Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com
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…
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.
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:
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.
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.
I’m constantly seeing articles with titles like“ things that gonna disappear when SHTF“ or“ things that you need to stock up when SHTF“, better still, “Top 10/50/100(!) Items to stock before SHTF” or something in that way.
And then, in the article, author goes with huge number of items that will be gone when SHTF.
These articles, like many, are not ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, but it can be used more as an reminder what amount and number of things we are dependable on in everyday life, other then a list what to buy for SHTF. Unless of course you just happen to have a spare $20,000 to immediately to buy everything on the list.
It is so obvious that when SHTF, electricity will be most probably gone, but does that really mean that you need to run today and buy a generator and huge amount of fuel?
Maybe there are smarter, cheaper things to store, more usable and more „desirable“ (for trade) when SHTF….
And again you need to think about difference between what you really need and what would be really nice to have. Necessity vs. Comfort.
I am not saying it is wrong to buy a special bug out vehicle, only for when SHTF, I am saying that I want to give advice about what to store and that items anyone of you can store.
I had always opinion that millionaires do not read my blog (if you do, please feel free to click on my ‘donate’ button, over there on the right hand side of this page ;), so my advice is aimed at the people who need to take care about every dollar, and who need to invest in a smart way for future SHTF.
Here I will write about two items only that you can and if possible need to store, and reasons why.
Antibiotics (In inject-able format)
Of course, antibiotics are like „must have“ items for the time when SHTF.
It is not unknown item for preppers storage, but still there is maybe slight misunderstanding about antibiotics.
I know there are thousands of pages about „fish antibiotics“ out there, and I can only say that if you can not buy antibiotic in better forms then buy that one and have it.
But you need to know that sometimes, actually when SHTF very often only real antibiotic is Penicillin in a form of injections.
There are numbers of reason for that, like severity (prolonged time) of infection, needed levels of antibiotic in blood…etc
You really really need to know that very often „attacking“ infection with „fish-mox“ for example or even real Amoxicillin will be like you are pissing on the forest fire in order to put it out.
It is useless.
I just took this photo, it is „one round“ or one dosage of PNC for a fully grown adult, it covers huge spectrum of infections, (of course you would need several shots), it is small, easy to store and easy to carry.
One „full treatment“ of several vials + water for dilution can fit into your jacket pockets and in your pants pocket you can fit needed syringes and needles.
When SHTF, in those pockets you have the means to save somebody’s life, yours, or your own kid, or simply you can trade it for really cool items.
Now imagine that you have big stash of these.
It is hard to get it there where you live probably, I understand that, but simply I do not believe that it is impossible.
You are preparing for end of the world, for chaos, for violence… I just can not believe you can not try to look for the info. where you can get these without prescription and cheap.
You can store it only for trade, but you can learn how to administer it too.
Procedure for administering PNC (and other injections) can be taught too, and actually it is pretty simple ( I will be teaching this as a module in our new, soon to be released, course).
There are possible complications, possible mistakes of course, and I am aware it is illegal for non medical personnel to administer injections of PNC, but again, you need to think outside the box – it is better to have something and to learn some technique and then never use it, than to not know it and be in dire need of use of it.
Invest in reading about antibiotics; types, allergies and substitution, and ways of applications. Buy a Nursing drug reference book, and find some nurse or medic who is willing to show you how to do it, you do not need to fly to me in Croatia only to learn that particular technique. That said, this and the other things I will be teaching in that course will be worth it…
Yes, other item are condoms.
I watched a video about a week ago, about what condoms can be used for in survival situations, and actually I liked the video.
I did not know lot of those uses mentioned.
But here I am talking about best survival use for condoms, and it is what they are meant for actually.
Maybe you think that sex will stop to exsist when SHTF, but actually it is not true.
Sex was there in my SHTF, actually it will be there always, it is natural, and it is in human nature to be there.
Now one more thing will be there when SHTF, and it will be much bigger problem then in normal times – sexually transmitted diseases or STD’s, especially in prolonged period of collapse, it is simply again thing of human nature, lack of hygiene and medical care etc.
So after some time condoms will be valuable.
And again, they are small, easy to carry and store, and cheap as of right now, today. It is not a huge investment to buy 1000 condoms and store them somewhere.
So as a conclusion, it is not about what things will be gone when SHTF, it is about what of those things make sense for you to have, what you can afford to stock today, what will „pay off“ the most when SHTF…
But most importantly – again it is about thinking out of the box.
Out of interest, what items have you been stockpiling for ‘trade’ and such? Let me know in the comments below. More importantly let me know WHY you are stockpiling these things…?
In one comment on my previous article I received an excellent comment (thanks Nick!) about what lessons he learned while going through Hurricane Irma, and how that event change some of his views about prepping.
He got the points that I wrote about for long time ago, and I still repeat it from time to time, it has to be repeated because you see it as my words only, and most of the people will understand it only in the proper way after they experience some serious event, only then you can put it in correct perspective.
Nothing like real life experience learning.
And there is nothing wrong about changing your (survival) system, I do that too when I figure that something works better then plan (or equipment) that I have.
If you are prepper for years and you did not change your setup and plan from day one of your prepping until now, then usually something is wrong with your philosophy.
„On a Good Day I can…“
I think it was on some forum or in some blog comments, discussion was about some particular weapon as far as I remember, and some guy said like „ (when SHTF) on a good day I can shoot (kill)…“
In that short statement („on a good day“) is condensed one of the biggest mistakes about prepping in survival movement.
There is not too many good days when SHTF. It is simple like that.
In short people are prepping based on imaginary perspective how SHTF gonna look, and that alone is not problem (you do not necessary have to go through serious SHTF event in order to be good prepper-survivalist), problem is that people stick so hard to their imaginary perspective of how SHTF gonna look like, and what they need for it, that they are simply not willing to change their plans.
They are sure.
Whenever I read that someone change his plans based on his experience and thinking and that he recognize that in my articles or courses where he was wrong I feel great.
By the way, on a good day you can sit down and shoot 6 magazines from AK in 5 minutes and shoot 5 people who wants to break in your home while you are singing „Hey Joe“ without too much problems.
You are fed, secured, comfortable, warm, healthy, probably police gonna come in 10 minutes, you’ll get professional psychological help later, maybe you end up in local newspaper as a hero…
On a ordinary day during real collapse, chances are that you’ll be tired from days and nights of not sleeping well, more or less hungry, maybe you gonna have weird and painful infection in your groin from lack of proper hygiene and serious case of diarrhea, your younger kid having pneumonia and of course doctors are gone, and your friend who is a veterinarian gave you some pills and you are not sure is it working, your wife had nervous breakdown and you do not have clue what to do with her…
You were listening to screams from town for weeks while gangs were killing and raping, and your bones melted from horror.
Several times strange idea of killing your family and then yourself struck your mind, because listening to screams for weeks put pictures of what kind of things are happening there, and you can not cope with that pictures.
And then there are 5 people attacking your home, they even yell that they gonna spare all of you if you give them all your preps, but you’re thinking about screams, but still maybe they spare you…
It is definetly not your „good day“.
You need to hope for good days when SHTF, but you need to be prepared for bad days when SHTF.
It is equation that takes in consideration your skills, preps, event, circumstances… and given heat (SHTF).
If you show me man who can have all prepared perfectly well for any kind of possible scenario I will bow to him, but, in my mind, it is simply impossible.
If you understand that then you’ll understand two things:
-you’ll need constantly to adapt to the given situation
-you’ll have bad days and fails
But you’ll have a good chance to survive. To show that in an example I’ll use very widespread and popular topic: Bug Out Bags
It is something like holy grail of survival, and it is like a minefield to go into that topics against widespread and popular opinions in survival community, but I’ll survive, and you just need to think about it. So here goes…
Bug Out Bag (and equipment)
Bug out bag is something that is considered you „absolutely need to have“ or otherwise you are not a prepper….
So there you have situation where people (family) have bug out bags, each member of family have his own BOB.
Yours might weigh 25 kilos. You have everything there, food for three days, toilet paper, axe and knife, tarp and small stove, extra ammo, first aid kit and lot of antibiotics.
You have maps and radios.
It is heavy duty military grade backpack, waterproof.
All members of your family have BOB with good and usable stuff inside.
And then city erupt in violent protests for whatever reason and you need to bug out immediately.
You all grab your BOBs go out and get shot after 300 meters just because you have such good and cool looking stuff on you (and in huge amounts)
Or simply you drown in the river because your backpack is too big.
I understand that this example is very rudimentary, but you need to stop thinking that you can cover everything for every scenario, otherwise you end up covering nothing.
BOB is become almost burden because we are being bombarded with info „what we really need to have in order to survive and thrive“ or „you must have this or othervise you end up dead for sure“.
BUT it really needs to be about necessity, not comfort.
There is „prepackaged first aid kit for your BOB“ with nonsense inside, there are stoves that are heavy and give your position away to everybody from 2 km distance, there are ways to start your fire that takes like half hour to start fire and require like 1000 calories of your work… does anybody use lighter anymore for starting fire?
„what if lighter fails“?
Can you have 2-3 lighters for that case?
There are powerfull torches that make“ night look like day“ for only such and such amount of money…and if I want to read my map in the middle of nowhere using that torch I’ll be blind for next half hour, but if there anybody within 3 kms of my position they all will know where I am.
Again, all above are examples, and torch lamp and flints are great stuff,and definitely they have its place (I have it) but did you think to include lighters and micro lights too?
Example of solution would be „shelf“ system. You need to have lot of stuff ready to take really quickly, but based on given scenario.
Some things can cover all scenarios, basic things, but why in the name of ‘everything covered’ anybody would drag big heavy bag when you need speed and „blending“.
Is having sport bag for a given scenario not make more sense than a camping backpack or military type backpack?
Is carryng rifle in your hand having more sense then hiding under coat in given moment in scenario?
Maybe simple sleeping mat being visible on your backpack clearly points you as a target in given moment? Maybe moment demand only heavy duty trash bag in your pocket (as a mean for sleeping on a way to your BOL)
These are only examples, but hopefully you get my point.
Sit down, pull all your gear out, and think about 5 possible SHTF scenarios, and that you have 10 minutes to choose only 30 percent of your BOB stuff, see the difference in equipment selection for each scenario.
It is good practice.
It is reality – you cannot have everything.
Find The Balance
You may find that at the end it is about balance how much preps you have in your home (or willing to carry) with you.
Sometimes it affects your mobility and adaptility.
Sometimes you grow huge connection with your stuff and you are not willing to leave everything and run to save your life (because you have valuable things)
Sometimes all your cool preps will save your life!
Metal container with 300 $ worth of preps inside that you took and bury in woods as your secret stash can worth much more then 50 000$ worth of preps inside your home, simply because you maybe had to leave your home in 10 minutes in order to survive…
It is balance that can not be taught, because you need to put it in perspective of your given circumstances.
There is no magical solution to „survive and thrive when SHTF (for only $99.99)“ there is no „prepackaged perfect solution“ products.
There is a whole range of situations that look completely different in real life situation than in the survival ‘realm’ on youtube.
It is normal that you can not bring full scale of reality in training situation but still some things needs to be shown more real then they are shown in usual shows over internet.
I watched few days ago couple videos and read some stuff about (safe) river crossing in survival situations, and noticed some things.
I will mention most important:
Common sense (yes, common sense… again)
First majority of those videos and articles describe river crossings in wilderness survival situations, and while some of those are pretty good and gives you good advices about basic stuff like how deep, how wide, what kind of ground (under the water), how fast, safest places to cross etc they are forgetting to mention urban river (survival) crossing.
In urban river crossing there is whole new set of things to think about like polluted water, garbage and different kind of stuff in (like car wreck for example) in river bed (that can give you lot of troubles).
Also videos usually shows rivers that are up to your waist deep, or rivers not too wide (so you can use fallen log to cross it)…
But just like with all other internet survival one thing in those scenarios is missing – other people.
If your survival situation will include river crossing in the middle of day in peaceful country settings, where there is no single soul (with possible bad intentions to you) except you and only noise is birds singing etc. you are lucky man, but most probably it is not gonna be like that.
Forget about videos of shooting anchor with rope over the river and crossing it like that unless you are SAS (in good condition), in reality most of us can not do that.
Also most of the river in urban settings (and lot of in wilderness settings) can not be crossed by „fallen log“.
Either there is no fallen log, or you do not have time to look for it, or it is pitch dark, or simply river is too wide for fucking „fallen log“.
Instead of looking for a fancy solution of survival rivers crossing immediately I suggest you (just like with all other survival tecniques) go from the start, from the very basic.
Check your survival plans (you bug out route for example) and see what kind of rivers are there.
Do not forget to include area that may be your secondary or tertiary choice for bugging out, remember that plan is only that – plan.
Now see what kind of rivers are there on your way, what kind of river beds, what banks are (remember sometimes what it looks like good aproach to river may be mud hell where you can at least lose your shoes if not even something more important).
There are huge differences between „wild“ rivers and rivers (in urban settings) where river bed is controlled and paved or similar. Walking through those rivers are different, approach too.
Good advice too is to think about bridge as a first and easiest crossing over the river, take that as a start and then check possible pros and cons for crossing particular river over the particular bridge.
In other words do not go and drown yourself because you try to swim over dangerous river just because you felt very „survivalist“ while there is a bridge standing close without any danger of passing over that bridge.
Forget being fancy-use common sense and choose less danger in particular situation.
Internet survival techniques
Lot of techniques that works beautiful on internet turns out like into shit and mess in real life, and reason for that is simple: most of the internet survival techniques are based on „philosophical“ or fictional scenarios and can not include all possible real life factors.
Simply- reality can throw on you much more factors that you did not think about.
Still it is not reason not to learn and prepare for different situations.
I can share with you my experiences about „survival river crossings“, my experience is quite different, and actually not smart at all, but i think there is lessons to be learned.
It was around 3am and I was in the part of the town where I should not been in that time of the night, simply because I should be home earlier then that.
I would like to say that I was there to trade, find food, scavenge or fight-it would sounds more „survival“ for the sake of this article and blog but truth was that I was there to see a girl that i like a lot.
On my way back I found myself into the one of sudden raids. A 50 man group attacked the street and I run from them through ruined houses and found myself on the bank of the river (Pictured above).
I always kinda hated that river-I liked the river but I hated how cold, fast and treacherous that river can be.
It was pitch dark and I crawled downhill some 20 meters through small willow trees, and bush on huge stones that stands on a bank (no fucking fallen log there, so you know…)
I crawled through something smelly and soft, I felt like all was rotten in that bush.
I could see river, small waves were wetting my shoes, and I was standing on slippery stone holding willow branch with one hand.
River bed is mix of huge stones and sand, and depth is going from 30 cm to 3 meters- depending on size of stones, stones go very „steep“ so you can actually swim under the stone (and probably drown there) or simply strange current and whirlpool will do that for you, roll you and pull you under the stone and drown you there, or simply throw you on the stone and smash your head. It can be dangerous river for experienced swimmer in broad daylight and swimming suit.
I tried to see what is on other bank-some 20-25 meters far, tracer round flashes reflects on my eyes and all I could see is darkness on other bank and something moving in darkness, same willow trees or people with rifles, or maybe is my imagination, in that time and situation seeing a guy selling popcorn on the other side would not be surprising how my imagination worked.
I expected any moment that enemy would shoot me, so adrenaline worked hard .
I had backpack which was almost empty, 22 rifle which was duct taped (two screws that holding steel part together with wooden part were „worn off“ so it was duct taped to hold it together) tobbaco box and some 15 bullets in pockets.
As I heard guy approaching to my place I hesitated for a second or two thinking what to do then I put rifle over my chest and jumped into the river.
And I immediately started to drown.
Shock of freezing river somehow „turned off“ my adrenaline surge, and my thought was „I am gonna die now“.
Next second river „took“ me and roll me all over and I felt my rifle sling is choking me, if I had enough voice and strength I would yell „help“ to the guys that I wanted to run from, but at that time I simply had no ‘voice’.
Crossing that river was not swimming-it was drowning, it took maybe 20 seconds for me to get to the other side, but it was way longer for me, and I ended up some 100 meters downstream.
Several times river throw me on big stones, I was trying to loosen my rifle sling all the time and when I finally managed to grab stone with my hands and stop the crazy movement I was not even sure am I on the same river bank or I actually crossed river onto the other bank.
I was holding the stone for some 10 minutes probably, then slowly crawl from the river.
I was on the other bank, I was frantically holding rifle sling, the rifle was falling apart, steel part was separated from wooden part.
I lost my backpack, my tobacco box too. I did not see from one eye because it was full of blood from big wound on forehead.
Later I figured I broke two fingers and rib too.
But I was alive, and on the other side. I had huge luck.
Point of the story is that sometimes crossing the river may look much more complicated and dangerous then finding fallen log.
And very often crossing river is like lot of situations in real survival-be ready to leave everything and take just your life.
Or things that you like may pull you down and drown you.
Or point of the story is to carry heavy duty trash bag with you all the time so you can use it to put all your stuff inside and try to swim then…?
Toby Comment – Without going into to much detail just now, River crossings are one of the subjects we cover in our field based courses. It is surprising for us to consistently see folks have not factored this concept in at all to their plans, and even when doing so, struggle to often acknowledge the ‘time sensitivity’ that, in reality, comes with river crossings.
If it is of interest we can write a full article on this subject, please just comment below with your thoughts on this matter…
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