So what is SHTF: Short for “Sudden, Very Short Term”? It’s an acronym that applies to any disaster situation. It may not even be temporary. The phrase was coined by Army intelligence officer Frank Wright during World War II, as he worked with the OSS (the Office of Strategic Services) in Europe.

We’re talking about “shock and awe.” That’s the point. You have to deal with the reality of your environment, while simultaneously acting on a plan of action. In other words, you’ve got to think… really think… and act fast. In the case of the Bosnian War, the enemy may not have all the weapons they’re supposed to have, but they do have a lot of people.

And they seem to have a lot of men, women and children that are all very vulnerable. And that’s before you count the “vulnerable civilians” associated with them. When you’re surrounded by water, land mines, RPG fire and how strong the Serbs are, you may not be able to see past the smoke and the fire for days. I know from first hand experience. My mother was only four months old when we were taken out of the city.

It may seem like it takes forever to get help when you need it. The Bosnian Serbs was ruthless. The men would rape, burn, eat, be eaten and generally die. If you have a female survivor, her life may be even worse. Her rape might be fronted by some boys as an initiation to join the ranks. What a cruel and surprising twist of fate.

But when I was telling my story to one of the SHTF guys at our church, he laughed. He said, “You probably have PTSD, or you wouldn’t be here.” That was a good point, and so I continued, “And if you do, you’re just like everyone else. You need to find a way to survive. You’re going to be alone, so what are your options?”

He grimaced. “I don’t know. If I had a nickel for every time my clients told me they wished they could have survived, I’d be rich.” Well, actually, he is now, rich enough to give away to starving kids in Africa! Or send money to pay the bills.

There are stories of people literally going into shock while reading about how to survive in a hostile wilderness. You may think you know what you’re doing, but you never really know until you’ve been there and done it. No one on this earth has ever done anything exactly like what you’re doing, but you can make a difference by taking action. You’ll be amazed at the things you’ll come up with.

My favorite SHTF: Survival tips from Bosnian War survivors is about getting supplies. It’s not just food, supplies of course, but water, shelter and other necessities. The government and the UN won’t let anybody camp in the country, so your best bet is to get as much as you can carry in one trip. Most people in that region use aluminum cans to pack a variety of goods, and then each person carries a small portable water purification system. It’s also a good idea to take a few bottles of water and a little extra food and you may never need more.

A lot of military vets who were in that part of the world are now retired. Many of them talk about how the first days (or weeks) were the hardest, because things could get so bad quickly. It’s important to have a positive attitude and believe in yourself no matter what happens. If you see someone struggling, you may want to help them, but take a moment to assess if they really need your help. Sometimes helping someone who appears to be down and out will do more harm than good. It’s important to keep your head above water no matter what the circumstances.

Other SHTF: Survival tips from Bosnian War survivors talk about building an emergency kit, which consists of food bars, water purification tablets, candles, blankets, toiletries, cleaning supplies, doctor supplies, medical kits including prescriptions, gloves and eye protection, and other items. If you’re equipped, this should not be too difficult to put together. However, in case it becomes necessary for you to improvise in an emergency, remember to have some food, water, and hygiene supplies with you too. That may seem like common sense, but if you forget some of these items you may die before others do.

Most of these SHTF: survival tips focus on personal hygiene. It’s a good idea to always keep clean, dry clothes, including socks, jeans, or pants, as well as comfortable shoes, so that you won’t end up smelling badly. Your hair and body can also be protected from the effects of the cold and rain by using caps and hats. You may have to learn how to swim when you’re in a war, so make sure you have life jackets on whenever you go into the water. These tips are just a few of the things you can do, but it’s good to have a plan of action when disaster strikes.

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