SHTF Survival Q&A: A First-Hand Account of Long-Term SHTF Survival

by Erich

Mac Slavo from recently posted a compilation of a forum thread put together by Chris Kitze from Before Its News. The original thread, found on the Survivalist Boards, features one man’s (name Selco) first-hand account of living in a SHTF situation with his family during the Bosnia collapse of 1992. Many of the forum members peppered Selco with questions which he was graciously willing to answer. This is a compilation of those questions and answers.

In this compendium, Selco describes what it was like living in a city for a year without power, fuel, running water, food distribution or any semblance of traditional commerce. Their currency was useless, there were no police forces or government, and the streets were ruled by gangs and violence. The survival strategies that he, his family, and community used to stay alive are eye-opening and may change some of the priorities that you have when it comes to preparing for a SHTF scenario where you live. Although it’s long read, I highly recommend it given the wealth of knowledge taken from someone who’s lived it.

“Nobody wins, we just survived, with a lot of bad dreams.”
– Selco

From Selco:

OK, i wanna share with you my own experience. (be patient with my English, i am from far away )
I am from Bosnia, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year i lived and survived in a city of 50 000- 60 000 residents WITHOUT: electricity, fuel,running water,real food distribution, or distribution of any goods, or any kind of organized law or government.The city was surrounded for 1 year and in that city actually it was SHTF situation.

We did not have organized army or police force, there was groups of defenders, actually anybody who had a gun, fight for his own house and his own family.

Some of us was better prepared, but most of families had food for couple of days, some of us had pistol, few owned AK-47 when all started.

Anyway, after one month or two, gangs started with their nasty job,hospital looked like butchery, police force vanished, 80 percent of hospital staff gone home.

I was lucky, my family was big in that time (15 members in one big house, 5-6 pistols, 3 Kalashnikov s) so we lived and survived, most of us.

I remember US Air force dropped MRE every 10 days (god bless USA for that) as help for surrounded city, it just was not enough.Some of houses had little gardens with some vegetables, most did not.

After three months rumors started abouth first deaths from starvation,deaths from low temperatures, we stripped every door , window frame from abandoned houses for heating, i burned all my own furniture for heating, lot of people died from diseases, mostly from bad water (two of my family members), we used rain water for drink, several times i ate pigeons, once i ate rat.

Money did not worth sh..

we traded things, black market worked, few examples: for 1 corned beef can you could have woman for couple of hours(sounds bad, but it was reality) i remember, most of that womans were just desperate mothers, candles, lighters,antibiotics,fuel,batteries, rifle ammo and of course food, we fight like animals for that.

In situation like that lot of things change, most of people turned to monsters, it was ugly.

Strength was in the numbers, if you were alone in the house, you ve been probably robbed and killed, no matter how well armed.

Anyway, war ended, again thanks to America (and again god bless USA for that). It is not important witch side had right in that war.

It was almost 20 years ago, but believe me, for me it was just like yesterday, i remember everything, and i think i learned a lot.

Me and my family are prepared now, I am well armed, stocked and educated. It is not important what going to happen, earthquake,war, tsunami,aliens terrorists, important thing is that something gonna be.

And from my expirience, you can not survive alone, strength is in the numbers, be close with your family, prepare with them, choose your friends wisely and prepare with them too.

And at the end, this is my first post, and my English is not so good, so don t judge me too hard. ”

Q: How did you get around safely?

Actually city was broken in something like lot of street communities, in my street (15 or 20 houses) we organized patrols (5 armed man every night) to watch on gangs or enemies.

We traded things between people in that street, 5 miles from my street there was one street with something like organized traders, but it was to dangerous to go there, it worked only during the nighttime (during the day it was sniper alley) and you had more chance to be robed there than to trade, i used that street only 2 times, and belive me, only when i am really need something bad.

Q: What about wood? It looked like there are many forests around your city, why did you have to burn doors and furniture?

First, thank you for your questions, i did not expect this amount of interest for my post.
I ll be glad to share lot of things with you guys beecause i want to learn lot of things from you.


Bosnia have lot of woods and forests when you check map, but i lived in city closer to the croatian border, more to the south, i don t want to mention name of the city, but if you check map, south part of my country closer to croatia is all in rock.

Yes we had some trees in my city, parks, fruit trees, but most of the city is building and houses” but belive me all trees in the city is going to be burned very fast when you dont have eletricity for cooking and heating. After that all what you have is furniture, doors, wooden floors… (and belive me that stuff is burning too fast).

There was almost no car use in town because: most of the roads jammed with ruins, abandoned cars, destroyed houses stuff like that, and petrol was like gold.

If i needed to go somewhere i almost always used night time, never go alone but also never go in big group (2-3 man maybe), always armed, very fast, always in shadows, trough ruins, rarely openly on the street, actually always hiding.
We did not have suburbs and farmers, in suburbs were enemy army, we were surrounded with enemy army, and inside town you did not know who is your enemy.

And yes, there were organized groops of gangs, 10-15 people, sometimes even 50, but also there were normal people like you and me, fathers, granddads, decent folks, who robed and killed, there was not too much good and bad guys, most of us was gray, ready for everything.

Q: Did you prep and what kind of skills did you need?

Of course you can ask.

We use what we had, we was not prepared for that situation,we did not know for prepping.

So you can imagine in some aspects we go back in stone age, actually in most of.

We just used everything what we had, one example, i had in my propan(or butan i am not sure) stowe big bottle, cylinder (i am not sure is that right word), and i did not use it for cooking or heating, it was to valuable, i manage to built (fix) that bottle with my friend so i can attach a hose on some kind of ventil (sorry my english is going down here) so i can fill those disposable lighters,(they are not disposable if you knowhow to) those lighter worth a small fortune.

To make story short, somebody bring me empty lighter to me and i fill that lighter with gas, usually i took one can for that or one candle or whatewer he can offer me.

I hope you understand my example, my english is poor on some things.

one more example, i am a registered nurse, in time like that, my knowledge was my thing for trade.

And yes, be trained and educated, in times like that it worth a fortune if you know how to fix things, all your goods is going to be exhausted one day, but your specific knowledge can be your food.

I mean learn to fix things (shoes or people, whatewer you can).

My neighbor use to know how to make some kind of oil for oil lamps( oil in glass, peace of rope) and he was not hungry, he never show me how he made that oil

i belive he use some tree behind his house and small amount of disel, i don t know.

My point is learn things, people always need somebody who know to fix things.

It was not survival movie, it was ugly, we did what we have to do to survive.

Nobody wins, we just survived, with a lot of bad dreams.

Q: Wasn’t it religious, the war?

Sorry man wrong info, that was not Cristian vs Muslim war, it was civil war, with lot of switching between sides.
And sorry i am not to go in to the politics, i dont care to much for that, i am not going into religious stories, i mean i believe in God as higher power, and I am trying to live by his laws, i am not belong to any dogma, Muslim or Christian.

Q: Who was your support group?

My group was only my family, my blood (relatives like uncles, grandmother…), in my street and in my town trips i had some close friends, but my best friends was my family. I never take stranger in my close group.

Q: If you had three months to prepare today, what would you do?

If i have extra three months to prepare?

Hmmm, probably run overseas 🙂 Joke

OK, Now i am very well aware how things can go very bad in very short time so i have food, hygiene, energy etc. supply for 6 months, i live in apartment with some improved security, i have house with shelter in a village some 5 miles from my apartment, in that house also supply for 6 months, that village small community, most of them are my relatives,most of them are prepared (they learned that from war), i have four kind of fire weapons with 2000 bullets for each (sorry, can not go in details, laws are different here for rifles).

I have big garden with that house and some good knowledge about gardening and farming.

I think i have knowledge now to smell trouble, you know when everybody is saying that everything is going to be fine you somehow know that is everything going to fall apart.

I think i have strength to do everything what it takes to keep me and my family alive, because when everything is going to sh.., be sure, you are going to do some bad things to save your kid. You don t want to be hero, you want to survive with your family.

I am nurse, also i am paramedic (US standards)

And i am willing to learn from all of you.

One man survivor, no chance ( OK it is my opinion) no matter how well armed and prepared, at the end you gonna die, i’ve seen that, many times. Family groups or closest friend with lot of preparing and lots of different knowledge, i believe that is best.

Q: What items should we stockpile?

Thank you

Well depends, i quess if you stock only one thing you are not going to survive, unless you want to survive like robber, then you need only gun and lot od ammo.

I believe besides ammo food hygiene and energy things (batteries etc.) you need to focus on small things for trade, pocket knives, lighters, flints.

Also LOT of alcohol, kind that can stay long, i mean stuff like whiskey and that, does not important what kind, you can have cheapest kind, it is very good thing for trade in desperate time.

Also lack of hygiene things killed a lot of people, i ve seen that.

You gonna need to have some simple things, like for example lot of garbage bags, i mean a lot, many uses for that, and a LOT of duct tape, many many uses for that.

In case of weapon keep it simple, i mean now i always carry Glock 45 with me, because i like that gun, but it is not usual gun and usual caliber here, so i also have two 7,62 mm TT russian pistols hidden, because almost everybody have that gun here and a lot ammunition.

I don t like Kalashnikov, but here there is that rifle on almost every 3rd house so…

Most of the time i collect my water from roof in 4 big barrels during the war, then cooked to desinfect, we also had river in that town , too poluted but if you can’t choose…

I don t think i am expert, i am here to learn.

I quess it depends how far you going to go to survive with your actions, you need to be prepared to do some ugly things.
Oh yes it changed my perspective on life, i know now that bad things can happens, and on more important thing, actually i believe it is most important: I don’t anymore believe government and authority, not at all. When they really doing their best to assure you that everything going to be fine, you can be sure that something bad is happening.
Do not just believe, research.

Q: What about the civil war…and the religious fighting? Did gold and silver help much and how did you get the alcohol and other supplies?

Hello to all

It is me again

I believe in some point this discussion gone wrong way, and no i am not offended, everybody have right for opinion, so here is few of my opinions:

It was a civil war, yes there was a great influence of religion, but somebody mention “what did you do with people of other religion?”

Well in my family there are people with different religious beliefs so what do you mean with that?

I ll try to explain you simple; it was an attackers and defenders, lot of switching sides, civil war. War ended without winners, it ended with truce, thanks mostly to USA.It was the wrong war, wrong reasons. I did not fight for religion or ethnicity, i fought to keep my family and myself alive.

For last 15 years we have peace, we live with people who use to be our enemies, i do not to want to have war and enemy again because ethnicity or religion or any other reason.

Please do not try to generalize anything about that war, there was not good and bad side, we all suffered and we all try to live together again.

And yes every side did bad things, and every side had booth good and bad guys.

I am here for one and only reason- survival, i want to learn, and i can share some useful stuff with you.

I don t think about your religious beliefs, your ethnicity or your politic opinion.

Few words about my city before war, it was a usual Bosnian town, normal life, decent people, schools, theaters, parks, college, airport, crime rate very low, town like most of the smaller towns in USA (i think). I was a young man, just like any of you maybe.

Now very important think: i am not here to discuss about war reasons, or sides, religion or anything similar.

Thanks to the war, in my town was REAL SHTF situation, and we can discuss only about that, only that is important.

You have a lot internet pages, you can learn everything about that war, and you can choose side if you want.

OK that s it.

About survival.

I don t know about other people on this forum, but i have lot of alcohol stacked now.

At the beginning of war tank grenade smashed front wall of small distillery (alcohol factory) close to my house, so we took something around 500 liters of rakia (it is something like bosnian whiskey, i guess, it made from grape, very strong)
It was great stuff for trading, people used alcohol a lot, desperate times i think, we also use it for disinfection.

About hygiene, cups and plates, paper or plastic, you gonna need a LOT, i know, we did not have it at all.

My opinion that hygiene things is more important maybe than food, you can easily shoot pigeon, if you have grandmother she may know some eatable plants on nearest small hill (my experience) but you can not shoot hand sanitizer.

Water purifying pills, all kind of cleaning stuff, sanitizers, lot of soap, bleach, gloves, masks, all disposable, take very good care about first aid training, learn how to treat smaller cuts, burns or even gunshot wound, there is not hospital, even if you found doctor somewhere he probably do not have any meds, or you do not have stuff to pay him.

Learn how and when to use antibiotics and have it a lot.

Belive me with good knowledge and good amount of meds you are gonna be rich.

About gold and silver, yes, me personally gave all my gold for ammunition in that time, but it did not worth too much.

About pets, i did not have it, i did not notice a lot pets in that time, did somebody ate it? I don t know, probably.

About small family, hmm, not good, usualy few smaller families get together in biggest house and stay together, all relatives (my case)

Small family or single man, not good for survive in town SHTF, maybe in wilderness (i don t have expirience in that) Even if you stay low profile, hidden in your house with lot of food etc, sooner or later mob will come, and you have maybe have one or two guns, very hard. I agree with low profile policy, it is very important not to attract people with anything, but when they come, you need to have numbers, people and guns, best people is your family.

About moving trough the city: always night time as i mentioned, never alone, 2-3 man, very fast, never attract with anything, look like everybody else, if most folks look desperate, poor, dirty you need to look same, there is no need that everybody know you have good amount of food, ammo , clean cloths and everything else back at home. Look and act like everybody else.

When somebody attack you or your family then you need to show that you are very ready.

I never walked in big groups,in that time and that situation big group is gang.

Now, this is all my experience, it was then, i did a lot of mistakes, i am not expert, i am here just like any of you, to learn and share.

For example i don t know too much about wilderness survival, i am here to check it.

Oh yes, few things to the Sedoy: my wife is different ethnicity, and she is also a Catholic, i am not, and to answer you : no i am not going to shoot her.

Q: What happened to those who died? Where did people get firewood?

Well, who ever died or get killed in that period, did not get proper funeral.

Folks used used every peace of free land, close to house for burial, sometimes even in the garden, 2-3 city parks turned to graveyards,after war most of them are exhumed and properly buried.

There was not noting like burning bodies or anything similar, as far as i know.

Oh one more interesting thing about fire, some people use to go few miles during the night only to find fire somewhere so they can fire peace of wood and bring it home, and start fire for cooking or heating, lighters and matches was really precious, and most of the folks did not have enough firewood do keep always fire. For most of the people it was constant search for something, fire,wood,food,ammo…

Q: Was salt valuable?

It was valuable yes, but not too much, for example coffee or cigarettes worth-ed much more.

Q What about cigarettes?

Hm, i had a lot of alcohol as i mentioned before, i traded almost everything without any problem, let me say it like this: consumption of alcohol was probably 10 times more than in normal time.Not to mention cleaning and disinfection.

On the other side you made a very good point, if you have money and time and you have a storage it is probably better to store cigarettes or candles and batteries for trade, or food.

I was not prepper at that time, we did not have time to prepare, few days before SHTF politicians on TV stated that everything is fine, when sky fell down we just take what you can.

Q: Tell us more about cooking and the foods you were able to prepare. Were you concerned about the smell getting around and alerting people that there was food over there?

About cooking, before the SHTF i used in my house electricity for booth, cooking and heating, so when everything started i traded some stuff for some kind of old wood stove, i put it in kitchen ad fix exhaust pipe (right word?) trough hole in wall, i use that for cooking and heating.

During the summer i cooked in my backyard (walled fence, brick, luckily)

Concerning the smell of the food, hm, i ll try to picture situation: no electricity, no running water, sewage off for months, dead bodies in ruined houses, grime and mess, believe me it was very hard to smell something nice.
It was not like in movies, it was ugly,dirty, and smelly.

Yes i had few problems because of cooking, only few, but as i sad before, enough people, properly armed and with will to defend and you can manage most of the problems with that.

Probably situation would be different in wilderness.

I ate mostly some kind of pancakes with local herbs (does not require cooking oil and too much firewood), and of course everything what i could get and trade, rice was good to eat, not too much firewood for that.

I think i had luck, only few times i ate funny things like pigeons.

I always had something to trade, i guess that saved me, and guns of course.

Q: 1. Why would the night be safer than daytime? Outside of the obvious of being easier to hide at night, but were the gangs more out during the days? Also, why only small groups of 2-3? What happened to larger groups?
2. Why would you have to go out at night? For instance, where were you going and why?
3. How did you handle the mob situation when they came for you, or your family?
4. You mentioned trading for bullets, etc. How much shooting were you doing during that time and how much ammo did you have, or would like to have had?
5. How were you able to determine who was an enemy and who wasn’t? How did you manage to get out there trade with people and when/where?
6. What fortifications did you do to your home and what kind of guard, or protections did you have in place?
7. Finally, how did you avoid snipers? What precautions did people take against them?

First almost nobody were out during the day because of snipers, line of defence was very close, so whatever you have to do, you do it during the night, trade something, look for firewood (i can express how much this was important in town, and hard), looking for anything, check somebody, go to hear news (very very important, lot of people get killed because they go somewhere just to see what happening, or what s new) remember, no news, no radio ,no tv, nothing, rumors fed lot of people.

Already explained, you can stay home and die of hunger and cold, or even infection of some small wound or go out and risk your life, try to find – trade anything useful.

I did have situations concerning my house only, it is no need for too much details, we had more fire power, and brick wall.
Also we had something like street watch, people from my street were good organized, in case of gangs, now there were a lot shootings.

There was pretty much shooting in town, i did not have enough weapon at the beginning, one rifle and one pistol (ww2), maybe 100 bullets, later i trade some things for more rifles and ammo, remember i gave car battery for 2 rifles.
How much ammo ?

A LOT, as more as you can.

Most of the time you are not able to determine who is enemy or friend, expect my family and few real friend, everybody else is potential enemy. When your friend must choose between his child s death and your death quess who is going to choose.

Rumors, somebody tells you that some old guy few block away have some cans and he is looking for ammo or whatever, you go there, as i say you are always looking for something. Same some people would came in my street as traders, witha some goods.

There was something like trade street during the night, actualy it was a big ruins of sport center, you can go overthere and look for something or offer something, but it was not controlled by anyone so it was too dangerous.

It was primitive pretty much, brick wall around house,bags of sand on windows and doors, over that bags we used whatever you can, big pieces of metal, stones, inside house we put all kind of stuff on windows, only small openning left for rifle, always 5 members of family ready for fight, one always outside on street hidden.

Stone age situation

To avoid snipers, we stay home at day, it was not so much night snipers, even during the night we never walked openly on the streets if we can avoid that, always shortcuts, trough ruins, fast and quiet.

Q: What was your bathroom situation? Where did you go? Did you have anything to wipe with? Sorry ask such personal questions, but this is something that I’ve wondered about in this type of situation.

we used shovel and any piece of land close to house, sounds dirty, and it is dirty, washing with collected rainwater, sometimes go to river (most of the time that was too dangerous) Most of the time we did not have toilet paper, even if i had it, i trade it.

It was a bad situation all the time.

If i can give some advice: first to prep is a weapon and ammo, then everything else, i mean everything, depends how much money and space you have, if you forget something no problem there is always somebody ready for trade, but if you forget guns and ammo then you may not be able to get to trading places.

I do not see big family or group of really( i mean really) good friends as more mouth to feed, i see them as more guns and strength, it is in people nature to adapt.

And keep it simple and use common sense, in the first period weak people vanished, other fight.

Go with small thing, lighters, candles, flints. It is great idea to have fuel generator( electrical generating unit?) but i think is better idea to have 1000 bic lighters. Fuel generator is great, but in shtf scenario in town it is going to attract whole army,1000 bic lighters don t take too much space, cheap, you can always trade it for something.

Real SHTF scenario demands completely change of normal mindset, hard to explain, i ll try through examples.

Q: How easy/hard was it to get weapons AFTER the SHTF and what could you trade for weapon and ammunition

(I remember you saying a car battery for a rifle) and where would I go to find the people who trade in weapons?
Hm, you re right, after the war every house here had a weapon from war, and yes police did some actions to take illegal weapon from population, depends from man to man i quess, lot of people find ways to hide their weapon somewhere, just in case.

I also have legal weapon (license), and authority here have some thing they call it “temporary collecting”, it is says something like : in a case of unusual event (riots, unrest, etc) government have right to temporary collect all legal weapon, so i keep always in mind that, and i acted like some people.

You know some people have legal weapon for everyday carry( i have glock 45 and taurus 38) but some people with legal weapon also have illegal weapon hidden somewhere just in case SHTF and “temporary collecting”.

It is not hard to get weapon in SHTF if you have good stuff for trade, but other thing is important, first days of SHTF is worst in terms of chaos and panic, maybe you not gonna have time to get gun. And to be unarmed in chaos panic and riots is bad.

In my case man needed car battery for radio i think, and he had some extra rifles, so we trade.

Q: What about medical care for people who were shot or became injured?

Wounds was mostly gunshot wounds of course, without specialists and everything else, if wounded manage to find doctor somewhere he had like 30% chances to live, again it is not movie, mostly they died, lot of died even from minor cuts infections, i had antibiotics maybe for 3-4 treatment. Of course for my family only.

Simple things killed people, diarrhea can kill you in a few days without meds and rehidratation, (fluid therapy, IV) especially small kids. Lot of fungal skin deseases,and food poisoning, we could not do too much. Basically we treated diseases mostly with local herbs, and if you had wound, put rakia on it and try to find antibiotics somewhere.
So i was good at fixing wounds in term of emergency help, but longer procedure-bad prognosis.

What i learned? Hygiene again, and a lot of meds, especially antibiotics. You need to learn to treat lot of stuff, go online, finish some training, EMT maybe, first aid etc.

In SHTF things are different, learn how to open IV, when to use certain drug, or antibiotics.

Get your self ANA TE (anti tetanus ) shot injections , snake poison kit, adrenaline kit (allergic reactions, different kinds) thick removal kit, (thick related illness can kill you, learn how to remove thick)…

Get in your prepper storage some reanimation kit (simple one) like small oxygen cylinder, BVM mask etc. It is not really hard to learn to use all of these.

OK let s clear something, of course you can not use anything of this in real world unless you are certified and trained for that ( EMT, nurse, physician ).

But in SHTF nobody ask you for license, just learn and have in your storage big part for medical things.

So to answer question how did i help and treat, most of the time very poor,i help some with resources that i have, i took food or something else for exchange, i was badly prepared for that, now i am what do i need to have.

Q: Did your local currency/money still hold value? Were you still able to use money to purchase items from other people?

No, not really, i mean sometimes you can use foreign money if you had it to buy something, (dollars or German marks) but even in that rare occasion rate was unbelievable for examples 1 can of beans for 30-40 dollars (normal value was maybe 0,50) i quess somebody had connections with outside world, black market you know, so he can earn lot of money.But it was very rare. Trade was main thing to get something.

Local currency crashed very fast, in few weeks or month maybe.

Q: How much space should I keep for alcohol storage? What was security like?

About alcohol first, you right but you are right in booth ways, people need alcohohol more in desperte times then usual, so it is kind of gambling i guess , it is very good item for trading, i never had problems with alcohol trading and having than problems with trading other things.

Also i am thinking about something else, maybe it is better to fill my storage with something less space consuming but still interesting for trade, like batteries, antibiotics etc.

Thing is i had all that alcohol for free, i did not buy it. I don t know about this.

In most of the situations people attack me because they think they are stronger, they did not know for sure what i really had.

About ammunition trade, it depends how much ammo you are going to have, sometimes i trade ammo for food, and in few weeks again food for ammo, but i never never do trade at my home, and never bigger amounts, very few people knowed how much of anything i had in my house.

The point is store as much of anything as you can store (space , money) later during the situation you ll see what is most popular, correction ammo and guns always gonna had 1 place for me, but who knows maybe number 2 for trading gonna be for example masks with filters.

About medical issue , i ll write in my next post what do i have now in my medical part of storage.

Defence were very primitive, again we were not prepared, we use what ever we could, windows were broken, roofs mostly damaged from shelling, all windows were blocked with something, sand bags and rocks,every night i blocked my yard gate with junk- rubble from the street and i use old alluminium ladder to get over the wall, when i come back i called somebody from house to get me that ladders so i can move in.

Guy from my street barricaded his house completely, if he go out at night he use a hole that he maded in one room that is connected with neighbor s house, and go trough his (ruined and destroyed) house out, actually he had secret entrance.
It may look weird to say but most secured houses are gone first, of course we had some very nice houses in neighborhood, with walls, dogs, alarms, steel bars on windows, alarms. And you can quess what happened, mob attacked those houses first, some were defended other not, depend how many guns and hands thea have inside.

So i think security is great, but be sure that you keep it low profile, forget about alarm, if you live in town and SHTF you gonna need simple looking non interesting secured house, with lot of guns and ammunitions.

Just keep it low profile and not interesting.

On my apartment door now i have steel door for security reason, but only to keep me trough first short period of chaos, then i am moving out to connect with bigger group of armed people (family and friends) in the country (i hope).

Well in my case migration did not happen because it happen very fast, other army just closed city in ring and that s it, if you ask me where was that army and how we did not seen them coming, the answer is simple, that army was an ally of army of my side and people, and one day we woke up and figured they are enemy now and they are closing all ways out. Politics . It is true, one more side of civil war.

But i heard from others parts of country, and my frends who stayed in villages in the other parts in state, that they have much better situations,countryside had land,corn,wheat, fruit trees, farms etc they had enough food, it was bad, but much better than in city.

I know one thing if we had some way out from the town, we would use it, we did not have it.

Q: What was the situation with banks and stores?

About banks, loans, credit cards. Complete monetary system died for about one year, so nothing works.

It is complex question in many ways, i ll try it to answer it in some future posts, need much more time and much much more space to describe it. Even now almost 20 years later folks are at European court suing banks, because they dont want to admit their savings in banks, lot of different things happened in that period , they changed money, i mean monetary name, they changed it 2-3 times , hyperinflation occurs, lost of paper trails about savings, loans … i remember some people use that situation to get rich, they still rich.:)

So i ll try to describe that in separate post.

There was a lot problems with proving people s property after everything, for example: my father had nice apartment and because war he must leave it, after war ended he was at court for about 4 years proving that apartment was his, reasons for that were different, because politics in that time, but also he did not have enough paper work to prove that apartment was his (he did not took papers from apartment when he fled, he had more important things to care).

On the other side during the worst period, people just moved in empty house, and that s it.

I mention rural areas in other post. As far as i remember it was better there.

In that period there is not running vehicle, actually i remember tank at the front line, and Lada Niva (check it on web) with cut of doors and roof and installed machine gun ( i think it was an old m53) and those two only moved when they fired( they keep it hidden behind ruined houses).

For let me call it “civilian population” there was no moving with vehicles, streets were mostly under rubble and unusable and fuel was too expensive.

Not to draw attention was a big thing, about clothing, there use to be some sort of town defense, it was not like real military,mostly mixed civilian clothes with part of uniforms, different weapon, so no rules.

But as soon as go in to that things and try to talk about two armies, their strength, war crimes, politics i am not gonna like it any more, because people gonna start to choose sides, and i think it is not important for us here.

As i said before there was not organized army, but we all been like soldiers, we had to, most of us carry weapon and try to protect from enemy army and robbers.

Inside the town you did not want to look fancy because somebody shoot you and took your good stuff, you did not want to have fancy rifle, because probably you not gonna find ammo in that caliber and also you are drawing attention.

So let s me try to put it this way: if SHTF tomorrow, i will try to look like most of the people outside, scared, desperate, confused and i ll scream maybe, no fancy looking stuff, i ll not go out in fancy new uniform and yell “I am here, you are finished now looters and robbers” I ll stay low profile, heavily armed and well prepared waiting to see my options, even if i have to go out with all my gear to do things i ll go in night, with best friend or brother. Maybe sounds ridiculous, but from my expirience it works, be wery well prepared, but let nobody outside your house know or see that.

No matter how good is your house security, how good is your weapon, if people see that they have good reason to rob you they probably rob you in town SHTF, it is only matter of time and number of guns.Don t ever give them reason to be interesting for robbing. Stay uninteresting. Now this is my opinion, maybe is not working in different situation.

About robbing grocery store and gas stations, it happened very very fast, as soon as shooting started all valuable things was emptied, there vas some effort of authority to keep it together but everything fall apart in first weeks.

Additional Resources

If you’re interested (and you should be after reading this), be sure to check out Selco’s blog, SHTF School. It’s a great urban survival resource.

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Comment by kevin
2011-11-09 15:23:09

im very impressed with how he pulled all this off WITH NO FORMAL TRAINING its like the old saying goes HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT!!!! HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT TO LIVE !!!!!!! cause thats what it comes down to the will to just stay alive or do you want to thrive??

Comment by Charles
2011-11-09 15:31:39

Thanks Eric for posting this. I appreciate Selco being willing to share with us, I’m sure talking about it brings back some very very bad memories.
This takes all the shiny off Hollywood survival and repeats over and over the ugliness and desperation that SURVIVAL really is. The thing the impressed me the most with the Surviorman series was the suffering and the fact survival is just that, just staying alive.
Lots of endless work, dirt, grime, stench, death,so much we are thinly shielded from, at least for the moment.
Folks like this and FerFal at Surviving in Argentina really are eye openers for benchmarks of civilized people degrading rapidly, social disorder becoming the norm, govermental flight, economy vaporazing. Money being just what it is,,,, paper you carry in your pocket. Electronic money dissapears just by turning out the lights.
Even precious metals were of limitied and devalued worth. Interesting how alcohol and Bic lighters were at the top of the list. Even how oil for a primitive lamp made a man rich (realativly speaking).
Thanks Again Eric for hooking us up with these real survivors and hopefully we’ll learn some truly valuable lessons.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-11-14 03:39:06

You’re very welcome Charles.

Comment by Kandi
2011-11-10 13:09:28

That was very interesting. What I took away from it is something I have always felt, numbers are strength. There seems to be so much discussion on different sites about a ‘family’ surviving alone, about whether or not people will ‘share’ even with their unprepared family members. In my opinion that is just crazy. You are going to need people around you. Who’s going to watch the kids while you are out scrounging? Who’s going to help you do the one million chores that suddenly need to be done by hand? Who’s going to play rummy with you day after day when you are hunkered down? Your family and friends. So keep that in mind when deciding whether to share that can of spam with your mother in law.
Also interesting on how even neighborhoods started banding together and patrolling. You hardly ever see that mentioned in survival information. Gangs of course are smart enough to band together but ‘normal people’ cant figure that out?
And I have always held to the opinion that supplies will eventually be gone. But what you know could keep you alive.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-11-14 03:34:14

Great comments Kandi. Yes, I totally agree. Training trumps gear, but community trumps training.

Comment by Pineslayer
2011-11-13 22:31:25

Who to help and how much? Tough call.I have some like minded friends. Some of my friends believe that everything will be fine and that I’m crazy for thinking that it might not. Some simply cannot think about reality and where we are potentially heading. Some of my neighbors are simply a-holes and are destined to be dog food. Those are the easy ones to deal with. I am putting away as much extra as I can to help and support my friends who won’t. Your circle of survival will be just that, survival. Know who you can trust and build that circle. There is no absolute answer. Hope for the best and prepare.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-11-14 03:42:55

Some good insights here Pineslayer. When it comes down to it, at one time or another we will all need to make the choice as to who to help and who to turn away. Like you I’m gathering extra (beyond our family needs) for family as well as potentially some “charity” although you’ll need to be very careful in how you share. I think that would make for a good future post.

Comment by Guest
2011-11-19 01:10:27

As I have been reading this and other posts on your blog and others SHTF sites I am struck with an interesting dilemma… I am expanding my stores of material to prepare for local or regional events since it is likely there will be a Federal relief effort, but how do you not only survive in the way that Mac Slavo did, but recover from five years of civil unrest? How do I plan for the peace as well as the strife?

Comment by Paul
2011-12-08 16:26:02

I would really like some independent verification of this man’s claims. I don’t think it is wise to unconditionally accept an anonymous post such as this as fact without hard evidence.

It’s interesting as a thought experiment, but knowing that it is true would make me pay much more attention to the story.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-12-08 17:40:30

Hey Paul,

We might never know 100% if his claims are true but I do know that the moderator of the forums (where this conversation was originally posted) was able to confirm that the man “Selco” had a static (not proxy) IP address from Bosnia. This as well as other’s who were involved in the Bosnian collapse have further indicated that his claims are in line with what they experienced as well.

Nothing wrong with some healthy criticism though.

Comment by The Navigator
2011-12-17 04:52:28

Hey Paul

I’m with you being skeptical of almost everything thrown around these days. However, having read many stories re SHTF scenarios, this guy is either the real thing OR he’d make a hell of an author – ‘cus based on what he covers, he either “was there” or has a helluva imagination. My guess is he was there.

Comment by mile
2011-12-13 00:20:14

seems like dey got us surroundes

Comment by TheOne
2011-12-14 23:01:37

Just look at the way people reacted over Black Friday? One lady pepper sprayed a group of shoppers (one was a kid) over an X-box! Just think how they’ll react when they are trying to put food on the table or gas in their car.

Comment by mikkey
2011-12-15 14:15:22

I was a refugee in an European small conflict in the 90’s. Selco’s situation was the worst because he was in a city, where everything is scarce (most importantly, food and clean water). However, please know that it is not THAT bad if you are not surrounded without ways of getting stuff from outside, or if you’re in the countryside, where you at least can find roots and tree buds to chew or animals/birds to kill. This scenario will be possible only if the govt forces like army and/or police will try to exterminate civillians, otherwise, in the US such a scenario is highly unlikely. imho, the worst thing you can get is people in cities robbing each other and going into countryside to hunt for food. There will be the poor ones (the unprepared) and the ones doing just ok – the ones who prepared AND have ongoing sources of food and other goodies. The worst thing is to have no means to replenish your stock of ammo, water, food, alcohol and meds.
Overall, the post above is a very informative source and taught me about the importance of having medications: we are 75% water (basically, walking bubbles of water) and bacteria develop the fastest in warm wet environments, like wounds.

Comment by thomas hobbes
2011-12-15 14:46:11

Read Joe Saccos ‘Goradze’ cartoon novel. It illustrates stories from the siege of this Town in east Bosnia. Just as the above desription ,same kind of account as this from eyewitnesses.

Me, Im just glad I live in a place with no guns, even the middle classes cant get hold of guns in the UK. They have NO popular appeal whatsoever. Too many nutters around to want to arm anybody.

Comment by Blacque Jacques Shellacque
2011-12-16 04:08:22

Ha ha ha, if the UK ever descends into chaos in a SHTF scenario, you will likely discover who the people are there that have the guns. It certainly isn’t gun-free.

Comment by Realist
2011-12-16 09:02:29


You have been brain washed and will have no way to defend yourself or your family. The unrest in the UK has already begun. When a group of thugs beats and rapes your family you will have zero capability to help and will have to watch that hell. People can be animals in good times just think what they will act like in bad. Get smart the US second amendment was put in the bill of rights for a reason. To give the average US middle class a fighting chance against runaway government and personal protection in the case of emergency or SHTF situations.

Comment by thomas hobbes
2011-12-17 16:28:26

Ha ha, like i said only the very rich (shooting set, farmers etc) and the state have guns in the UK. So its not gun free. But theres probably more private held guns in say Norway with 5% population.

Murder rate in US puts me off ever wanting to go there, that and having to be retinal scanned etc (fat lot of good the 2nd amd. did for you guys on that runaway govt subject ).

For all its ills, and runaway govt. potential (which govt isnt?) UK is far safer for my family than the US. Come and I’ll show you round, at night, some of the worst estates in the country, we can walk it, (perhaps not Glasgow, the sword crime capital of Europe!).
No guns = better for ordinary folk

Anyway, whats this unrest you mention?

Comment by cod
2011-12-20 17:32:21

I read Selco’s post a few months past on the Survialist board and too was skeptical but now I believe it is true.He was confirmed to be posting from Bosnia and that is good enough for me.One thing I will add is you better be in shape physically and mentally to survive a sit like this.All the 350 pound sedentary types will be in trouble,,,take time to get strong,all the guns in the world won’t help if you are wheezing walking two blocks.Also be prepared to be ruthless and make tough choices as he states on that board

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-12-20 22:50:22

Some good points cod, thanks!

Comment by thomas hobbes
2011-12-21 13:18:51

have a big family, become muslim and take a few young wives. make a clan. kids will look after you, when all else is lost. wives probably wont. might take some time though but better than a pension scheme.
people ate each other in leningrad, as an example of real shtf, so please fat people…..we need you, but only eat organic!

Comment by cod
2011-12-21 16:12:48

The Russians in WW2 are the ultimate survivorists! The horrors of Leningrad and Stalingrad are beyond comprehension.The civilians trapped in Stalingrad lived in holes and ate horse entrails if they were lucky…human corpses were also on the menu.It could happen again as history has a way of repeating itself….Stay Strong!

Comment by untrue
2011-12-22 08:19:05

The whole world want to paint the Muslims who attempted to take the country over as the victims. The Christians said no thanks and fought back. Right or wrong if the Muslims ever attempt to take over my country I will fight back too.

Comment by thomas hobbes
2011-12-22 15:08:27

keep coming back to this, sorry,
Muslims take territory by demographics, big families & subordinate women. If you have 8 kids your group has a far better chance of surviving than if you have say, none.
Then when you realise that your group is not on top in terms of size its too late. Do a fight back and, well ‘Who speaks now of the Armenians’ as Adolph famously put it.

Gadaffi said ‘the wombs of our women will conquer Europe’ thats why we hated him he spoke too much truth.

Look at Lebanon, used to be majority rich Christians 50 yrs ago, now 80% muslim.
Demographics is a bitch. So fat Yanks/Euros need to get breeding faster, ha bloody ha.

Comment by Erv
2011-12-23 13:42:42

“No guns” just means that it will only take two robbers each with a kitchen knife to rape and kill your family and take all you have. ( no disrespect intended for bringing up your family)

As for your fear of traveling to the US….that is really silly. Our violent crime is in very small pockets by people who 1. have let themselves become dependent on the government or 2. new immigrants. (both of those things you are starting to experience in the UK as you are no longer an homogeneous nation) Also, 75% of violent crime is commited by people you know so to a large extent it is a matter of choice/ association. So, since you don’t know anyone here you are good to go:)

My point is I live 75 miles away from 20 million people and I don’t have keys to my front door. Because I live in a safe area.

Comment by Angela Broyles
2011-12-24 03:17:18

I’m with Bluewater Publications in the U.S.A. I would like to talk to you about the possiblity of publishing your story into a book. If you would be interested, please e-mail me back.
Angela Broyles

Comment by thomas hobbes
2011-12-25 16:32:38

Erv many thanks for your gracious reply.

I live in one of the safest places on the planet and only really realise it when challenged by folk from dodgier places.(I live in central London btw.). I expect it would all slowly to go to cock if the s really did htf.

It would be a lot easier for ‘the state’ to reinstate the queens peace due to them being the only ones with guns, let them shoot yobs with kitchen knives.
if the state vanished then i better get the kitchen knives out.

Comment by bushi
2012-05-17 09:21:47

thomas hobbes – your attitude just shows how oblivious you are to the grim reality, of the REAL hardship – by which I mean no hot food every day, three to five times a day, actually, no ANY food for days, violence and riots, and mob rule. I’d like to see your government coming to your rescue. Even these funny little recent shop riots in UK displayed their impotence in this regard. Just try to shake off your comfort zone, and try to imagine HOW it will really be, when MOST of the people are hungry, and NOTHING functions as today. God bless you and your family, being looked after by the government.

No offence meant

Comment by Rick
2012-03-11 11:41:37

I carry a gun the same reason I wear a seat belt. Because I don’t want to not have it if I need it. It’s my responsibility to protect my family. Not the government. They don’t protect anyone. They just investigate crimes after they occur and try and find the perpetrator. That’s the difference between a citizen and a subject. One is free the other is owned

2012-03-11 20:49:47

Very well said Rick.

Comment by John
2012-04-24 02:47:13

Thomas, you need to take a look around you, Criminal gangs are importing weapons into the UK on mass, they will be armed and ready for some looting and raping when the time comes. you need to figure out how to defend yourself, if you have too move; do it! when it hits the fan the cops and such are gonna just stay home and leave you too your fate.
at least get a permit for a double barrel shotgun for bird hunting or sport shooting, it is better then nothing.

2012-07-22 12:42:02

My brother suggested I might like this website. He was totally right. This put up truly made my day. You can not consider just how so much time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

Comment by remi
2012-07-29 03:04:44

Is good idea have camo wear for similar situation ? or it is much conspicuous ? THX

Comment by Christeena Snyder
2012-10-03 04:12:14

Hi, I really appreciated this posting! I took to heart everything you spoke of, and tried to outline the key points so I could relay it to my family. Did I miss anything really important?

1. Support group
a. Have a group of close friends and family you trust to come together.
b. Closer relations are better. In an emergency situation you want someone who can cover your back.
c. If your family is small, come together with other small families you trust to share a house, (preferably related to you).
d. Always have 5 people ready to defend.
e. A street watch of three patrollers will warn the group of gangs or other trouble.
2. Defense
a. Stone or brick walls on the house are ideal.
b. Sand bags, stones or pieces of metal should cover most of the windows.
c. If you have a backyard, you should have a wall around it, as well.
d. Ensure that the people on watch
3. Supplies
a. Weapons
i. Keep a handgun with easy ammo refill for each defender
ii. Knives are invaluable for skinning, cooking, and crafting
b. Heat
i. Lighters, flint and fuel are on short supply during an emergency
ii. Be prepared to tear down parts to houses and furniture
c. Food
i. A garden in the backyard
ii. Rice and flour
iii. Meat can be hunted
d. Cleaning
i. Alcohol
ii. Antibiotics and masks
iii. Bandages
iv. Hygiene products
e. Trade
i. Lighters
ii. Alcohol
iii. Cigarettes
iv. Batteries
v. Never trade at home, or for large amounts
4. Hunting
a. Move in small groups, but never alone
b. Remain inconspicuous
c. Do not stray too far from base
d. Know what areas to avoid

Comment by K R
2012-10-04 16:33:25

Fatboy make good longpork! Plus, leftover fat and suet make good candles and soap!

Comment by Eva Song
2012-10-06 10:06:55

It seems so terrible.
In China, without gans,or family numbers,most of us work far from our home town.

2013-01-12 04:10:16

Where exactly did you pick up the tips to publish
““SHTF Survival Q&A: A First-Hand Account of Long-Term SHTF Survival”?
Thanks a lot ,Penney

Comment by Mark
2013-05-11 03:28:25

I am new to this site and I am very thankful that Selco published his experiences here. It is not a glamorous view of what could come to this country. Many of the things he talked about we are seeing here to one degree or another. I am really glad that he emphasized trading for things and what truly is of value in those times. His insight should be required reading for all

In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace – SUN TZU

Comment by Steve Baze
2013-08-15 03:29:00

reminds me a lot of RVN and what happens to people in such horrific situations . The women become prostitutes not because they are whores but simply to survive and feed their kids. Lots of killing for various reasons ? Some for survival and some just because people go whack when stressed to the max . And in some ways it is true that once you start killing it gets easier and I can assure you those are some of the nightmares he is referring to . Most people here in USSA have no idea what these kind of events entail or how to survive such . Although I know in my heart they are gonna find out soon enough . Hard to imagine what it is like facing your death everyday and finally simply accepting it . Then you become very dangerous indeed . I completely agree with training to be fit and healthy and extremely familiar with your weapons and gear . then worry about your caches . All can be achieved and you will be way ahead of the pack and it will be a pack ! Check this out , you will likely enjoy the commentary lots of interesting topics and good common sense and experienced info . Something is coming our way , I can feel it .

Comment by site
2020-02-20 01:34:41

An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I think that you ought to
write more about this subject, it may not be a taboo subject
but generally folks don’t speak about these issues. To the next!
All the best!!

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