Selco’s SHTF Survival Lessons – Part 4 – ‘M’ to ‘R’

Reading time: 4,903 words, 11 pages, 11 to 19 minutes.

If you haven’t read the first two introductory pages in Part 1, I recommend you do so. Among the things I wrote was that Selco is the most credible source for prepping and survival advice that I have ever read. He survived the Balkan war of the 90s and one year in a besieged city with no electricity, water, sewage, food distribution, medical system, police, etc. I arranged Selco’s lessons in alphabetical order to make it easier to search and review because Selco provides such an abundance of experience.

If you haven’t read them, here is Part 2 – ‘C’ to ‘E’ and Part 3 – ‘G’ to ‘L.’ It doesn’t matter in what order you read them because they’re arranged alphabetically by subject.



MARTIAL LAW will not be called ‘martial law’ because it will be called something more innocuous like ‘fighting terrorism’ or something patriotic, and most people will welcome it. In Selco’s case, martial law went through different stages. At one point, people were ordered to keep their doors unlocked to make it easier for the authorities to enter. Those who resisted simply had their homes blown up. Troublemakers disappeared. And, after the government completely collapsed, the gangs took over.

Selco writes, “you’ll be labeled by the majority of folks as a ‘enemy’ or ‘terrorist’ or ‘lunatic’ or whatever because it is what majority of folks are going to believe. In times like that, the majority of folks will obey because of blind trust, fear, or simple stupidity.”

Many delusional Americans will find this hard to accept. They’ll be among the first to die. Read the braggarts’ and blowhard comments on Selco’s article on SHTFPlan. “I will fight to the end!” Yeah, sure buddy! Bang, Bang! The end….

By the way, there won’t be any outside threat or blue helmets. The last time Amerika was attacked was in 1812, and according to Selco, the UN couldn’t run a lemonade stand.

Amerika has already been a police state for decades, but most of the indoctrinated sheep don’t realize it. At present, there are 17 heavily-armed American security agencies.

Here are just a few examples of the U.S. Police State’s martial law:
Kent State [Link]
The Ruby Ridge Massacre. [Link]
The government siege at Waco, that Texas left 75 men, women and children dead. [Link}
Philadelphia police bombed the Move ‘compound.’ [Link] According to the ass media, good guys live in homes; bad guys live in compounds.
The FBI raided the home of a whistleblower after he turned over documents regarding the Clinton Foundation and Uranium One to the Justice Dept. [Link] Actually, he’s lucky he’s still be alive (for now.) [Link]

U.S. martial law has already been enacted and accepted. Below is a video of the search for the alleged Boston Marathon bombers. Police went door to door forcing civilians outside at gunpoint with their hands on their heads while their homes were searched without warrants. [Video] Not only ‘can it happen here,’ it already has, and it works, and the civilian population just rolls over and accepts it.

Police already conduct asset forfeiture if they find anyone with a large amount of cash. Over 1,100 civilians are killed by the police every year. Freedom of speech is controlled by politically correct ‘progressives,’ the news is as fake as government statistics. Social media and search engines control what we see. Smartphones reveal our location. E-mail, texts, and phone calls are recorded by the NSA. Everyone is watched by security cameras, license plate readers, red light and speed cameras. Information is a powerful weapon. The government has it; we dirt people don’t.

Think it ‘can’t happen here?’ Blissfully self-medicated Americans are already surrounded, controlled and occupied by massive armed forces, weapons, and government surveillance. It already happened, and incrementally it gets worse. Most people just go along to get along; all of it aided and abetted by sophisticated propaganda about the “land of the free and home of the brave.”

Selco writes, “Forget about the movie illusions of openly being a freedom fighter. No matter how well-organized you are, those who impose martial law have a better organization than you. Remember that martial law usually means an information blackout. ‘They’ will own information and present it to the public the way that they want to present it.”

MEDIA. Don’t believe the media or politicians. When the SHTF, other countries may or not report it, but then they’ll move on to other things leaving us alone and forgotten. On the other hand, Selco says the local media was responsible for dehumanizing and whipping up hatred between ethnic groups and thus increasing the violence.

Mainstream media are the government’s propaganda handmaidens. They lie. When the media tells us not panic then that’s the time to panic. Governments never tell us bad news. They don’t want us to panic and they refuse to admit their incompetence. We need to determine the bad news for ourselves. People were told to remain in the North Tower during 9/11. The stupid sheep obeyed and died. The smart people disobeyed, evacuated and lived.

MEDICINE, 1ST AID & INFECTIONS. From minor cuts to bullet wounds, infection is almost a certainty in an SHTF situation. We’ll be dirty, and lacking in medicine and medical skills. The first line of defense is hygiene, but it’ll be difficult keeping ourselves and living quarters clean. The time to learn 1st Aid is now and the time to acquire a 1st Aid kit is before the SHTF.

Selco says it’s better to build a 1st Aid kit than buy a ‘pre-made’ kit that contains cheap or useless items. Building our own gives us knowledge of its contents and how they work. Quick access is important. You can live with a headache for a couple hours, but we need immediate access to “items that can save a life in a matter of minutes, for example, shears, field dressing, bandages, tourniquets, and similar.”

He suggests building a 1st Aid kit in layers:
First layer: a bandana on your head, neck or wrist (tourniquet, splinting, bandage.)
Second layer: sterile dressings, field dressings, povidone pads, alcohol pads, water tabs, allergy drugs, trauma shears… in your pockets or belt pouch, belt bag.
Third layer: antibiotics, anti-diarrhea tabs, existing illnesses medicines, prolonged care meds…

Selco was an Emergency Medical Technician before the SHTF. In building a 1st Aid kit, he goes into greater detail in this [Link.]

Fish antibiotics can work on humans as well, but you need to research this for yourself online. They can be obtained online before the SHTF, but remember that they have a limited shelf-life. Expect antibiotics, colloidal silver and home-made medicine to have a different effect on different people.

Some people have severe, pre-existing medical conditions making them unlikely to survive, but they’ll drain our time, meds and strength. Heartless as it sounds now, we may need to cut them loose. This is just one of the many difficult decisions we’ll need to make. Selco writes, “A lot of people with chronic illnesses died. The majority of them did not have a stash of medication needed for their condition, and when you add to that fact that overall life quality went down very sharply and very deeply, people who were chronically ill and needed medical attention had serious problems.”

Anti-depressants and other ‘psychotropic’ drugs to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders will be difficult to obtain after the SHTF. Some people will try self-medication like alcohol, marijuana, etc. and some will ‘get over it.’ Expect a lot of ‘crazies’ shortly after the SHTF because when their meds run out, it can cause violent homicidal or suicidal behavior. Selco writes, “I knew cases when families locked in their loved one who had mental illness in a room, controlling him in that way because there was no other way.”

On the other hand, just because someone has a mental disorder, they may still be able to help the group survive. Everyone will be different. Selco writes, “They can be tougher and more used to stressful and terrible situations because they are used to it… Even if you take on some unstable people, make sure you have solution to cut them lose from group when you cannot support them anymore.”

Although it’s essential to learn 1st Aid to treat injuries or wounds, we must remember that there are many people with existing chronic medical conditions that will not disappear when SHTF. Unless a large quantity of medicine is stockpiled for these medical conditions, we may need to try ‘natural remedies’ that may not work as well as pharmaceuticals.

Selco warns, “if you put all of your money on natural remedies, you need to consider again your prepping philosophy… Natural remedies have their place as an important skill for SHTF, but as an addition to conventional medical knowledge, stash, and skills. Or, in a worst-case scenario, for use when it is the only way to treat illnesses or injuries.” He says it’s essential to learn the basics first, and then use natural remedies to supplement them.

Selco says many of the discussions about medical preparedness in today’s prepping community involve treating patients until help arrives. In Selco’s case, there was no help coming. They had to do the best they could with what they had not knowing if SHTF would ever end.

There are several recommended medical and dental books. Books (not cheap) are preferable to PDF unless you can guarantee electric power in an SHTF.

The Survival Medicine Handbook”  [Link]
“Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook” [Link]
“When There Is No Doctor: Preventive and Emergency Healthcare in Uncertain Times” [Link]
“Where There Is No Dentist.” [Link]

MENTAL PREPARATION. We need more than material preps and skills; we also need to be mentally prepared “to admit that we cannot imagine how things are going to be.” Selco writes, “I found that part of preparing very important.”   It is difficult discussing things we cannot imagine, but we must be prepared to accept that things are not going to unfold the way we hope. Expect confusion and accidents. Also, recognize that there will be ‘friendly fire’ casualties.

For mental preparation, Selco recommends we start by walking, then running at night on familiar ground or path, so we get used to it before SHTF. Eat some things we don’t like before SHTF. Get dirty without getting stressed about it. Learn to walk different ways to blend in by mimicking others. Get comfortable with unfamiliar environments. Stand in the yard at night blindfolded and listen to the sounds. Learn to sit still in the woods for a long time because if wild game can see us move so will the “bad guys.” Training before SHTF will lessen mistakes caused by stress later.

MONEY only had value at the beginning of SHTF. Selco says he should have spent the money early to acquire barter items (candles, batteries, food, etc.) to later trade for other essentials. After a while, money was worthless. See ‘GOLD & SILVER’ – in Part 3.

MORALITY. Selco writes, “almost everyone did things that normal people in normal times could not accept as a normal behavior… You never know how far you are going to go with some things in order to survive, there is no chance to know that before SHTF.”

He writes, “When man is under pressure, in real hard times, without support from system, his true nature comes out, and then you can see what kind of man he is. Only then. So expect anything from anyone, even from people you think you know well.”  He also writes, “in desperate situations great number of people turns from good to bad.” One example mentioned previously is the mild-mannered guitar-player captured by a gang and forced to play music for them while they tortured people.   Selco writes, “Men adapt and get used to their surroundings.”

Another example is the prim and proper lady that Selco knew before SHTF. Later, he met her again. She was now the ‘plaything’ for a gang. She did so willingly because they protected her and her family.

NEW GENERATIONS are poorly equipped to survive an SHTF. Older generations who grew up on the farm and survived the Great Depression had more practical skills than today’s younger generations. With each passing generation, their ‘survivability’ decreases. A hardship for today’s young people is not finding a Wi-Fi spot. Nowadays, common sense is so rare it’s considered a ‘superpower.’

[Gerold comment:] Forty years ago, the Caterpillar equipment dealer I worked for hired only people who grew up on farms or small towns, but refused to hire city people (‘citiots’) because they had an entitlement attitude and lacked practical hands-on skills. They’re finding recruitment difficult nowadays.

One of Selco’s readers writes today’s young generation “have no way to view reality except through the social media. They will perish first unless they are taken in by some gang and used for slave labor/sex.”

NIGHTS. Selco says they slept during the day and went out only at night as it was safer. However, gangs were a bigger problem than shelling and snipers.

NORMALCY BIAS. Selco says many people had difficulty accepting that everything had changed after SHTF and many were caught, imprisoned or killed because they acted normally in abnormal situations. Marauding gangs sometimes claimed to be from the police/military/government. Those who believe them suffered or died.

People may be ‘nice’ now when times are good (nice street, nice neighbors & nice friends) but EVERYTHING changes when the SHTF.

In the movies, the good guys always win (that’s Hollywood code.) Not so much in real life. Selco writes, “Forget good guys and bad guys. Prepared guys win, they can be good or bad, or both.”  Who is more experienced living without law; criminals or regular folks? The advantage goes to criminals and psychopaths. “It is often hard to imagine for regular people how nasty other humans can become. If you have been to prison, war or deal a lot with criminals you know better.”

Selco tells about his group caught in a shelling that collapsed part of the apartment block. One fellow was stranded with his feet mangled under massive concrete slabs. Selco’s paramedic training kicked in trying to stop the bleeding as the shelling resumed. That’s normalcy bias. Another man pushed Selco out of the way, used a bayonet to quickly cut off the fellow’s mangled feet and carried him out. He writes, “After we left the place, it collapsed from shelling. And strangely stranded guy survived everything.”

He writes, “It is what I called period of switching to the new world, or new normal… If that period is too long you have more chances to get yourself killed.”

For more details on Normalcy Bias, I wrote an article linked in a previous post. [Link]

PANIC. When the authorities tell us NOT to panic, that’s the time to panic. They’ll never tell us it’s time to panic, so we have to use common sense.

Selco writes, “Panic is a fearsome enemy. You may have a very good plan and preparations and end up dead, simply because you failed to understand how bad panic is going to affect you… (we are all are going to experience some level of that for sure) you are going to make mistakes. Be ready to accept, adapt and overcome this.”

Lack of information can lead to panic so if we don’t know what to do, then we need to go back to basics. Fill the bathtub with cold water for storage, review our preps or check our weapons, and do normal things rather than let panic get the better of us.

PARTIES & CELEBRATION. Celebrations were few but intense because they never knew if they’d be alive the next day.

Selco writes there were two kinds of Christmas gifts; a) “Things that help you in the new reality” and b) “Things that connect you to normal” such as “Candy, beer, spice, or even few songs that someone play on guitar…”  He writes, “Kids were somewhat ‘forgotten’ in the SHTF times. Quite simply not many people paid attention to them other then keeping them safe from dangers.”  See CHILDREN in Part 2. The exception was holidays where they did their best to prepare make-shift treats like “making pancakes (jam was made out of tomato juice and very expensive sugar.)”

PETS. In a long-term SHTF situation, cats & dogs were eaten. Guard dogs were shot. Dogs became a liability, not an asset. When people get to the point where they don’t hesitate to shoot people, they certainly won’t hesitate to kill a dog. Selco says that people who do hesitate to shoot (anything) don’t last long. Dogs need food. So do humans. Pets often became food.

PLANS. Selco writes, “there is only one thing worse than being without a plan (for/when SHTF). And that thing is having plan and sticking to that plan so heavily that you simply end up dead (because your plan is not working for that particular SHTF situation.)”  In other words, yes we must have a plan, but we must be prepared to change it when the situation changes.

POLICE. Before SHTF, police are armed thugs somewhat restrained by laws. After SHTF, they are armed thugs completely unrestrained by laws. The sooner we realize that EVERYTHING changes after SHTF and there are no more laws, the more likely we’ll stay out of trouble by avoiding the police.

Selco writes about numerous apartment dwellers that banded together in a couple of apartments and kept a low profile for several weeks. They didn’t know how bad things had deteriorated. When they saw dozens of police in uniform marching down the street in formation, they welcomed the police who quickly shot most of them. One of the survivors escaped and told this story to Selco.

PRACTICE. We must practice our SHTF skills; otherwise, we may overestimate our abilities. That could be more dangerous than not having any skills at all.

He writes, “Start with “small” things. For example, practice how fast you can wake in the middle of the night by an alarm. Then, without eletricity in your home, gather all the important items and leave home… Then check what you forgot. How much time did you need for that? Then work in the direction of perfection… Later you can throw in some kind of “complication”  – for example, you woke up, gathered important items, left the house, and tried to spot the intruder (your friend) inside the house, yard, or similar.”

By practicing before SHTF, we minimize deadly mistakes when we’re faced with confusion, speed, adrenaline, and panic. The definition of SHTF is an unexpected event so the more we practice before it hits, the better our chances of survival.

PREPS. Selco says that survival involves skills whereas preps usually involve things. Many preppers won’t like to hear this. Preparations are good to have, but they’re secondary to skills. We can make or buy preps, but we cannot buy survival. That’s something we must learn.

He writes, “The ‘Survival Movement’ (in the U.S.) is big business, and it has become more (much more) about selling items (to make you believe that you are prepared) than about learning and gaining knowledge.”   This is dangerous because prepper/survivalists can become so attached to the ‘things’ they think they can’t do without that they’ll be reluctant to abandon EVERYTHING and flee to save their lives when it becomes necessary. He also writes, “I have lost all my other physical possessions, everything was torched or taken away, If I stayed my life would be taken away too in a very painful way. I run, and survived, and fought again for survival. And you know what? I bought all the things again. Things can be obtained again, life can not.”

However, he reminds us that prepping is more critical now than in the past when more people lived on farms, and more people had self-reliant skills than do today. It’s not wise to assume the store shelves will be full or that it will be safe to travel there. There are many things like weather, solar storms, civil disturbance, etc. that can disrupt our fragile supply chain management systems. Store shelves emptied within hours.

Prepping will also instill a certain amount of confidence that we are in a better position to survive than those who unprepared. There will be much false information after the SHTF so with prepping we’re more likely to be skeptical and less likely to trust the misinformation. Also, the better prepped we are, the less danger we face scavenging or bartering.

Whether we’re ‘preppers’ or not, the best strategy is to avoid trouble. Regardless if it’s an emergency broadcast, or a huge number of law enforcement or panic, disorder, rumors, looting, chaos, smoke or whatever, it is tempting to find out ‘why’ it’s happening. That’s dangerous. By the time we find out why it’s happening, we may be caught up in it. Selco writes, “Go back to the basics … simply try to stay away from the trouble.”

For how many people do we prep? Once the SHTF, the situation will change drastically. Selco says we cannot foresee the future so “You have to make decision to prep for how many people once and stick to it. Simple as that. No back and forth, decide now and stick to it… Prep maybe for another two extra people and then when shtf select the two lucky ones that join you.”  See the danger of ”CHARITY” in Part 2.

Beware prepping ideas and tactics on YouTube. Some ideas are good, but Selco writes that the “internet is full of s..t, so choose carefully where you look to learn something, Check for guys who CREDIBLY tested something or experienced it, or you test it yourself before real SHTF.”

Selco says if we’re not prepared to step outside our comfort zones now in normal times, then our chances of surviving SHTF are slim. As an example, read the comments on this article and note the snowflakes who cannot tolerate curse words. They truly have a snowflake’s chance in hell surviving SHTF.

Many survivalists envision bugging-out to the hills and, while wilderness skills are good to have, Selco writes, “it makes sense to pay more attention to your immediate surroundings” because that’s where we’re likely to find ourselves unless we bug-out before SHTF. He recommends we monitor and record our daily activities for a week “and then throw in an everyday imaginary SHTF event … Now gradually throw in complications. For example, the road home is blocked, cell phones are not working, you do not have enough cash or fuel, or nobody accepts card at the gas stations… Then start a mental exercise of solving that situation.”  Now consider food, weapons, alternate communication with your family, pre-arranged meeting points, etc.

Think about the basics because you cannot cover every possibility. Selco writes, “there is no sense in learning high end skills if you do not have a setup to deal with an immediate SHTF that happened during an ordinary day… Start slowly and with the basic things in your everyday life before moving on to more elaborate scenarios.”

The value of preps changes throughout an SHTF situation. At first, candles were in demand as a luxury item. Later, people would prepare food or read only during daylight, or everyone would gather in one room and use only one candle at a time, so the barter value of candles decreased.

Selco says we need to prep for our own use as well as extras for barter items PLUS what we think other people in our group will need.  Stockpile small stuff like lighters, candles, batteries, small tools, pocket knives, canned food, spices, etc. that are easy to carry for barter rather than bulky items.

Selco says that in addition to food, ammo, guns, hygiene, etc. some of the things we should consider are: “Small precise tools, like tools to fix watch or lighter, flints for lighters, sewing tools, aluminum foil for cooking, garbage bags heavy duty lot of , nylon tarps, containers all kinds (jars, plastic canisters…) ropes all kinds, Velcro tape, duct tape, chains and locks, belts all kinds including tie-down straps, fabric bags (like bags for coffee), stuff to reinforce your windows and doors like metal plates, all kinds of tools … every tool that you need to take one ordinary house in parts, and to take that parts to your home, and every tool to fix stuff in your house … It is much better to have solar batteries chargers and a lot rechargeable batteries (the sound of a gas or diesel generator will get you killed) … keep your storing and prepping as a secret, or keep it inside your group, family, friends if they preppers too.”  Secrecy is vital because if we advertise before the SHTF then when people get desperate, they’ll remember we have stuff.

As crucial as prepping is, it shouldn’t prevent us from enjoying life today before the SHTF. Too much worry is detrimental in the long run. He writes, “Anxiety, depression and negative thinking can take your energy away before anything starts.”

PTSD. No one remains the same after a long-term SHTF scenario, and everyone reacts differently. Selco was a survivor, but even he has PTSD; what he calls “being dead inside.” He writes, “Even in my group some people can not talk about it. Lot of problems with mental disorders here now.”

Selco was no exception. “Several years after everything ended, it hit me like train, and almost completely break me. So there is no escape from that. Sooner or later man goes through that.”

It affects everyone differently. During SHTF, Selco and his cousin were “walking through the wet green grass, there are maybe 7-8 dead people around us, freshly killed in that grass.” Years later, the smell of grass evoked these horrible memories. He writes, “Hell is not burning fire. Hell is impossibility to forget things. Hell is seeing these things in front of you again and again… I do not have friends because there are no common topics. I am alone… once violence enters your life, once it becomes part of you, you belong to that violence. To the rest of the life.”

Selco’s ‘recovery’ is writing his blog and preparing his survival courses. Reading Selco is a form of ‘primary prevention’ as it helps the reader mentally prepare for SHTF. But there is no real recovery from PTSD. No one who has gone through SHTF is ever the same and some are worse than others with drinking, drugs, and committing murder or suicide. 

REFLEX. In a long-term SHTF situation, if we hesitate even for a few seconds, we die. It will be difficult to overcome our normalcy bias. Shooting is easy, but deciding to shoot someone is difficult.

RESOURCES are everywhere, but we don’t possess them yet. Selco emphasizes the word ‘YET.’ We need to be observant and spot them now before the SHTF so we can grab them when the SHTF before others get them first. “Gas tanks in gas stations, water pools or rivers, fruit trees, firewood, plants…and, yes, even shops that are close to you with all the stuff inside.”

Selco writes, “In a real-life example from my own experience, by the time I realized that the S had hit the fan so hard and seriously, it was too late.”  

RIOTS are to be expected as our situation deteriorates toward the SHTF. The best way to handle a riot is to avoid it altogether because they are unpredictable and dangerous. If caught in a riot don’t assume the protesters are friends and the authorities are the enemy. Assume everyone is the enemy.

Riots have their own psychology, and the dangerous ones are not the size, but the severity. Selco saw hundreds of rioters block firefighters from extinguishing a building fire, then they helped the firefighters, and then they turned on them again.

Rioters are a mindless mob and will follow anyone that others are following. Often the mob ‘leader’ has an ulterior motive, and he and his accomplices will do their dirty deeds while police are tied up with the mob. Some enjoy the violence, others are curious, and some want to rob. But the best way to deal with a riot is to avoid it. 

RUMORS. Selco says there were lots of rumors but they never knew what to believe. That’s why a battery-powered radio helps to keep in touch with the outside world. This, of course, assumes the SHTF is local and not world-wide.

In Selco’s community, there were sporadic airborne ‘food drops,’ but there was no reliable information about where or when. He says people risked their lives to wait for these drops. “But we were hungry, scared, and in the middle of chaos without any real information, so people trusted in a lot of things, especially in good news… Do not underestimate the power of rumors in hard times.”


It’s fortunate I saved Selco’s articles because they are no longer available on his blog, however, his later ones are on Daisy Luther’s The Organic Prepper.

As well, I highly recommend Selco’s online course here:  It costs $147 U.S., and it’s worth every penny. Disclosure: I have no financial interest to bias my judgment.

Stay tuned for Part 5 in early January.


December 19, 2018

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About gerold

I have a bit of financial experience having invested in stocks in the 1960s & 70s, commodities in the 80s & commercial real estate in the 90s (I sold in 2005.) I'm back in stocks. I am appalled at our rapidly deteriorating global condition so I've written articles for family, friends & colleagues since 2007; warning them and doing my best to explain what's happening, what we can expect in the future and what you can do to prepare and mitigate the worst of the economic, social, political and nuclear fallout. As a public service in 2010 I decided to create a blog accessible to a larger number of people because I believe that knowledge not shared is wasted.
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