•Do not be interesting (or attract attention) when the SHTF. This means a lot of things, for this article I can give a few examples with shortened explanations because it is a huge topic:
•Do not look like a prepper (before or after SHTF). There is no sense in announcing that you are prepping for EMP, civil collapse, apocalypse, or whatever. With that you are risking the probability that when the SHTF, people will remember that you have interesting things in your home. Your home should look ordinary. For example, if you are living in the city on a street where all houses look similar, there is not much sense in making your home look like a fortress. You’ll just attract attention.
Your defense should be based on more subtle means. Some examples are having means to reinforce doors and windows quickly when you need it, or to reinforce them from inside. Make changes in your yard to funnel possible attackers where you want them to be (trees, fence, bush…). You can make your home look abandoned or already looted.
•Think about what survival is! Survival is about staying alive, it is not about being comfortable at the expense of losing your life. I have seen many times people lose their lives simply because they were too attached to their belongings (house, car, land, goods…) so they simply did not want to leave something and run in a particular moment.
•Everything can be earned and bought again except life. Forget about statements like “I will defend it with my life” or “over my dead body” or similar because the real SHTF is usually not heroic or noble. It is hard and brutal. When you are gone you are gone and there might be nobody to take care of your family just because you have been stubborn or trusted in movies when it came to violence.
To rephrase it: Be ready to leave your home in a split second if that means you and your family will survive, no matter how many good things you have stored there.
•Be mentally ready for violence: In a way, it is impossible to be ready for violence, especially widespread violence when the SHTF, but you can minimize shock when that happens with some things. If you are not familiar with what violence is, you can try to get yourself close” to it today (in normal times). It can be done, for example, by doing some voluntary work for example in a local hospital, ER or similar… or simply by working with homeless people. Sounds maybe strange but activities like this can get you a bit of a feeling of what it is all about, not to mention that you can learn some practical and useful skills for SHTF.
•Have means and skills (physically) to defend – or to do violence: No matter how old or young you are, your gender or religion I assure you that you are capable of doing violence. It is only a matter of the situation and how far you are going to be pushed. It is not just “some people are capable of violence.” Everybody is capable. Not everybody enjoys doing it or is willing to do it so easily.
In today (normal times) you can learn some violence skills and you should do it, again no matter if you are a woman or old or young. You should own a weapon and know how to use it. You should practice with it, or have at least some basic knowledge about hand-to-hand combat. The worst case scenario is to have a weapon that you try for the first time when SHTF.
Be familiar with your means for defense, let your family members know what they need to do in case of attack of your home, have plan, and go through it. Only through practice will you minimize chances for mistakes.
•Use common sense: I know lot of survivalists almost dream about how they are going to use weapons against bad guys when SHTF, and that they will be something like super heroes from movies, saving innocents and killing villains. Truth is that in a real collapse, a lot of things are kind of blurred and you are not sure who the bad guys are. Good guys turn out to be lunatic gang members who want to bring food to their kids. There are no super heroes when SHTF, and if some of them show up they end up dead quickly.
There is only you and your skills and mindset and what you prepared. Use violence as a last resort because of the simple fact that by using violence you are risking of getting killed or hurt. Remember when SHTF there is maybe no doctor or hospital to take care of your wound. It is a time when even a small cut can eventually kill you through infection and lack of proper care.
I’m a single mom with a household full of girls. In an SHTF situation, what would our best strategies be to remain safe? Just like I have mentioned before, strategy is always same for any part of survival, and shooting from the rifle is pretty similar no matter are you man or woman. Being single mom with household full of girls on first look make you as a ideal target in some situations, but we are talking here in prepper terms so there is no reason not to be perfectly well prepared as a single mom with girls.
But yes I admit it is not perfect situation, even if you are prepared well, some things are sure, you need to connect with other people even more. House with couple of girls will always look like easy prey for some people. It is like that.
Were people in the city safer than people in the country? Can you tell us more about rural living during this time? In my case definitely no. In the essence it always come to the resources and people. City meant more people less resources, country (rural) meant less people more resources, and because that level of violence simply was lower. That was most important reason.
There are few more reasons why it was much better in the country. People in the country (rural settings) were much more “connected to ground” they were more tough if you like, they grew their own food, had cattle, lived more simple life prior SHTF and when everything collapsed they had less problems getting use to it. Yes they also did not have electricity and phones, running water or connection to other places but they adapted easier to the new life because they had more useful skills then people in the city. Life was harder for them too than prior to the collapse, but they had means to get resources: land, woods, river…
Another thing is that people in small rural communities “in the country” were more connected to each other, people knew their neighborhood and some things were easier to organize, like community security watch, help in case of diseases and similar.
What types of weapons did people have for self-defense? It was different political system prior the collapse where it was not so usual to own a weapon legally. And to own one illegally could mean a lot of troubles. Right prior to SHTF, it became possible to buy different weapons on the black market but still, a majority of people did not own weapons. When it all collapsed, it was possible to get a weapon through trade.
Because of the military doctrine here prior to the collapse, we used “East Bloc” weapons. A favorite was AK-47 in all different kind of editions, or older weapons like M-48 rifle, SKS rifle, 22 and similar. People used what they had, so in one period you would be lucky if you had any kind of pistol and knife. Later through the different channels weapon become more available so people had them more. A lot of that was actually junk that some warlords somehow “imported”. Weapons 50-60 years old without proper ammunition, or not in operating condition. A lot of people simply did not have a clue how to use any kind of weapon so a lot of accidental deaths happened.
I remember people storming abandoned army barracks that was mostly looted, but they found in one building a lot of RPGs while other part of the same building was burning. Two guys were trying to figure out a single-use RPG, and while they were messing with it clearly not knowing how that thing worked, they accidentally armed it and launched a rocket that flew through the crowd, not hurting anyone and exploding in wall 100 meters from where they stood. They were smiling, clearly happy because they thought they figured out how that thing worked.
What weapons do you suggest to have for SHTF? It is a never-ending discussion and a favorite prepper topic, and I must say that whole discussion is overrated. I have used them in a real situation, and tried and tested lot of different kind of weapons and what works for me may simply not work for you. For example, here for me good choice is AK-47 rifle, maybe for you wherever you are it is very bad choice.
Good advice is: you need to have a weapon that most people have around you because of multiple reasons: spare parts, repairing, ammunition availability, possibility that you can pick that rifle from other people and you know how to use it. What caliber and similar is a matter of discussion again. I am talking from the point of owning a rifle.
Another thing is that you need to know how that weapon works. Luckily, most of my readers live in an area where gun laws are great comparing to region where I am. You have much more choices when it comes to owning a weapon and practicing with it. Use that.
And do not forget that using weapon in a real life situation is not like shooting at beer bottles with your friends after a barbecue. In real life you might be in a situation to use a weapon while you are tired, dirty, and hungry and while someone is screaming next to you. It is going to be maybe when you are not ready to do that, maybe in pitch dark, maybe after you have been awake for 48 hours. At least think about that.
When should you use violence? Contrary to some popular beliefs in the prepper community, the point is to use violence only as a last solution. The reason is as I mentioned already, the risk that you can be hurt or killed too, but also once you do violence you change your own rules, or push it more forward, and it is easy to get lost in violence. There are consequences to that, and you are not going to be the same person ever again.
Violence is a tool, not a toy. You need to know how to use it as best as possible, but also to avoid using it when it is not necessary. It is a good idea to set up a clear set of rules (mentally too) when you are gonna use violence and to try to stick to it. For example you will use weapon if someone tries to break your home and attack you, and you need to be ready to do that without hesitation.
What else should we know about post-collapse violence? Think with your head and research. One thing that is absolutely important when it comes to understanding how violent it is going to be and what can you expect in your own case of SHTF, is to understand how much media can influence people in making their decisions about violence.
In my case, the media built up situation where people feared so much from other people that they actually hated them. They hated them so much that they actually strip them down from humanity. In a real-life example, it works in a way that people killed other people, including kids and women, because they hated them so much because media told them.
It may look ridiculous and not possible to you, and you might again think “that can not happen here” but please trust your own resources, look for independent information, not mainstream media, in order to get the right information about what is really happening in the beginning of collapse. Do not be pulled into “popular opinion” just because the “man from TV” (whoever he might be) told you so.
It is easier today. Because of the internet, you have much more choices for correct information than in my time. But still be careful, you might find yourself rioting together with 500 people just because you trusted some media."
•Selco: The Reality of Barter and Trade in an SHTF Economy
•Selco: Who Survives and Who Dies When the SHTF?
•Selco: How to Stay Warm During a Long-Term SHTF Situation
•Stories from an SHTF Christmas: An Interview with Selco
•Selco: What an “Average Day” Is REALLY Like When the SHTF