How To Start Prepping For When The SHTF
Where will you be when the SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan)? It’s a loaded question, and one you may not have an answer for if you are reading this article. First and foremost, unless you are homebound for some reason, there is no way to know the answer for certain.
If you are like the majority of people in the U.S. then you probably don’t have an adequate plan for what to do in an emergency situation. A recent survey shows that 59% of Americans don’t have an emergency disaster plan.
Perhaps you, like many people, wonder why you would even need such a thing. Isn’t ‘prepping’ something that only people in religious compounds and lone wolf lunatics who live in the woods with their tin foil hats do?
Those fringe elements, who give a bad name to prepping, do fall under the umbrella. A prepper is no more or less than someone who tries to be prepared for dangerous situations.
Do I Really Need A Plan?-
If you find yourself wondering if that is just a little over the top and alarmist perhaps the following current events will help to clear up the question.
Unfortunate and dangerous events can unquestionably happen anywhere to anyone. So far this year twenty-one people died in January because of the polar vortex (which caused temperatures to plummet so low that Chicago was colder than Antarctica according to the weather one day).
Those individuals along with many of the areas affected had no real plan for how to deal with the situation they found themselves in. Schools and stores shut down and frostbite could occur in minutes on exposed skin.
Additionally, more than three hundred and eighty thousand government employees affected by the government shutdown were furloughed. That is a fancy way of saying ‘forced unpaid leave’.
Nearly half a million more were forced to work without pay for weeks due to the essential nature of their work. Sure, they were also eventually promised and given back pay.
Back pay won’t cover medication refills now or keep gas in the family car. Regardless of your position on the government or even human rights, public safety jobs were being done by folks who, in some cases, were running out of food or facing homelessness because they had no money.
Hopefully, you can see how these current events pose a real and present danger to people who had no backup plan.
Consider these other real American examples: The stock market crash of 1929, caused bankers to commit suicide, the panic and fear that came with The Great Depression that followed were felt for years. Jobs were almost nonexistent.
Housewives actually pickled tumbleweeds to feed their families in some places. Sewing clothing out of flour sacks was so common that we still use the term ‘sackcloth dress’.
People in Flint Michigan didn’t plan for lead-contaminated water. As of the date of this publication, they expect to have all the lead and galvanized pipes replaced… by next year.
15 Million people in Louisiana weren’t ready for the massive scale of destruction and loss of lives wrought by Hurricane Katrina. The Northeastern part of the country was surprised by a blackout in 2003 that deprived people of power for days in some areas.
The two largest cities in Arizona have dealt with record high temperatures, large scale power loss in some areas for days during the middle of summer and more than one serious water issue in the last three decades, not to mention the dust storms, tornadoes, and monsoon flooding.
These are hardly isolated incidents. The proverbial feces can hit the powered rotary air mover at any time, and anyone, anywhere, from any walk of life, can be caught in the splatter.
“Never before has humanity faced such a threat as it does today. The sheer number of people at risk at any one time is unprecedented!”
-Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation From a speech given to The National League of Cities
Read that again if you still think the champions of the preparedness movement are the type who wears a sandwich board that reads, “The End Is Nigh,” and shout on street corners.
From getting fired to house fires, from government shutdown to government collapse, freezing, baking, no water or a deluge, the reality of disasters is one we all must face. The argument for preparedness should, in fact, be a simple, practical and universal conversation about common sense.
Perhaps you are reading this for the opposite reason, you feel incapable of prepping and overwhelmed by just how bad things can really get. If so, you’re in the right place.
Whatever your reason for coming to this post, the truth is that everyone needs to be better prepared for disaster. At some point, short term or long, something awful that deprives you of those comforts to which we are all accustomed IS going to happen.
That is why you need this information. More importantly, it is why you need to learn preparedness before the world comes crashing down around you. Good prepping will not happen overnight, but anyone can achieve it. Begin with the smallest step. Stay Calm and Read On.
Now that we’ve covered the ‘who’ of prepping it is time to discuss the ‘what,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ aspects. To begin with, being aware of what types of problems there are to tackle is the only sensible way to plan for what to do about them.
The duration and severity of a situation determine what you need to survive a dangerous incident. Here we’ve compiled a fairly comprehensive list of potentially lethal problems that over half of our country is unprepared to deal with in any manner.
These are usually fleeting and impermanent troubles. They have little scope beyond an individual or family. Under normal circumstances, those affected can recover fairly rapidly and simply move on with their lives.
Sadly, this is not always the case. How quickly, if at all, you and your loved ones get beyond these transitory dangers depends on you.
- Job Loss or Temporary Injury/Disability Workman’s Compensation may cover medical bills, and typically provides about 2/3 of your normal salary, but what if it’s disputed for some reason or your payment is delayed due to a paperwork error?
- You may need a lawyer. Do you have the ability to pay bills and cover basic expenses for a while? If you are forced to quit there is likely no relief coming. Obviously getting back to work ASAP is the most desirable, but complications can arise.
- Illness, Pregnancy and Other Unexpected Large Expenses Something as simple as overextending your finances can put you in a situation where you find you suddenly lack the basic necessities.
- Becoming Lost or Stranded People can get lost hiking and camping, weather can trap you in an unfamiliar location where you are cut off from your usual sources of assistance. What if you are driving through Utah, and your car breaks down on the stretch of highway with 106 miles of uninterrupted road? You would not be the first motorist to get stranded.
- There are no turnoffs, no gas stations or towns anywhere and it is a very long walk to find help if you don’t have a cell phone and a signal. We all know phones can fail, batteries die, they can be dropped or even catch a virus like a computer which may interfere with making a call. Even if you have a perfect, charged, functioning phone, signal interruptions happen. The kindness of strangers is all well and good, but expecting that to always happen is neither a plan nor a smart move. Many situations can arise, that make it unlikely for help to reach you quickly.
- Theft or Assault Like it or not, carjackers, home invasions, hold-ups, and other frightening predicaments can arise. Surviving these crises at the moment is vital, but of equal importance is the impact they can have beyond the immediate threat to your personal physical safety. Losing a TV is not fun, but losing your wallet or purse can leave you without identification, access to your money and other small but essential items. Self-defense is common sense. Having a backup plan if that doesn’t work out could also save your life.
- Identity Theft A violation of this variety is different from in-person attacks. You can’t use force to stop it, can’t run or hide to escape it. Having a second account or extra passport may not help. Waking up to discover that your accounts have been drained, or receiving notice that you no longer have any credit and possess a bad rental history in a place you have never even visited can be devastating. There is, of course, a process to report all of this and often your funds can be returned and your record cleared. That is good news, but it takes time. You may think it can’t happen to you. Think again. Over 10 million people per year are affected by this specialized form of theft.
When Nature Gets Nasty-
No matter where you live, even in a bunker underground, nature can reach you. You need only watch the weather channel to see the plethora of sticky and tricky situations that arise.
Nature cannot be reasoned with or halted. Nature has no motivations, no pressure points, no weaknesses, allies or compassion. It can only be predicted to a limited extent.
Nature is the number one killer of life forms in the history of our world. The term ‘force of nature’ says it all. Even so, there are plenty of things you can do to increase your survival odds, beginning with a basic awareness of the tricks and troubles that simply living on earth can throw in your path.
Some of these are unlikely to affect your area, but being aware of them in case you have to leave familiar territory could make all the difference.
- Freezing- Ice, Snow and Blizzards, Avalanches, Sleet, Ice Storms, and Hail Cold weather is more than a nuisance, as many people have discovered too late. Each of the freezing conditions comes with different challenges. All of them need to be taken seriously. Beyond warm clothing and a heat source, there are plenty of ways to assure you don’t become a statistic. It can be difficult just to walk when hell, or simply your neighborhood, freezes over. The largest hailstone in recorded US history was eight inches across. At that size, falling from the sky, at speeds up to terminal velocity, anything is dangerous.
- Burning- Extreme Heat, Fires, Lava Opposite the frigid problems of a lack of warmth are those that burn. Without adequate hydration or a way to escape from the scorching conditions, your chances of survival are almost zero. Presumably, we don’t all live near fault lines with active or inactive volcanoes. It still helps to recall the lesson of Pompeii, turning a blind eye will not save you from the heat.
- Stormy Weather- Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Ha-boobs and Rain and Thunderstorms Ha-Boob is a funny word, and one not everyone is familiar with, but you will not be laughing if you get caught out in one of these intense dust storms. They can blind and even scour the skin from your bones. No one wants to sound like Chicken Little (The sky is falling, the sky is falling!), but getting caught in a monsoon, or being struck by lightning are real things that happen to people often.
- Water- Drought, Flooding, Fog and Tsunamis Water is essential to life. Without it, survival isn’t even an option. What can you do in a drought? Do you know the dangers and locations of your local flood zones? How do you navigate in fog? The questions of survival are most useful before you get into deep water. Plenty of us will likely never see a Tsunami and may never even travel through an area that has been hit by one, but with sea levels on the rise, concerns over water-related perils have never been more prevalent.
- Dirt- Earthquakes, Landslides, and Mudslides, Soil liquefaction, Quicksand and Sinkholes Regardless of where you live, just navigating the landscape can be problematic. Get to know the hazards, both visible and hidden. Getting Ringworm from going barefoot or sitting down in shorts will not make any situation better. If you want to stand on your own two feet, you need to know how, and where, to put down roots. Good prepping is all about being grounded and sometimes entrenched, which isn’t possible if you have to worry about the bottom falling out from under you literally (or coming down a mountain and landing on your head in some cases). Puns aside, you do need to consider what’s under your feet.
- If It Crawls, Flies or Swims- Animals, Insects, and Infestations Maybe you have never seen a swarm of locusts or a wolf that wasn’t on TV. Plenty of people have never even heard of the insane mouse plague in Australia or seen a rabid squirrel. As a reasonably hygienic modern society, we forget that plagues have been spread by rodents, fleas and even dead cows. Snakes, mosquitoes, and spiders live almost everywhere and can pose a threat. You may never travel to South America, but if you were caught in abroad in Columbia and travel was suddenly restricted for some reason, it might be useful to know that hippos (Yes hippos… from Africa, because sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.) are an invasive and incredibly dangerous problem in some of the waterways down there. A more familiar example would be to simply point out that plenty of people have been chased by strange dogs. Almost everyone has encountered flies, cockroaches, and weevils. Animals can destroy your food supply, your health, and even your life if you aren’t ready for them.
- Dangerous Plants A sometimes less obvious danger than their creature companions. It is a very wise plan to know your local flora, not only is some of it edible, which could be useful in a pinch, but plenty of plants are toxic. Learn the basics. Getting a reference manual to tackle this issue will help you be prepared for countless possibilities. If an invasive species of a poisonous plant takes over your yard then you have a dangerous situation on your hands that could drain your resources or harm your family. Even something as simple as a storm knocking a tree into your house can pose a real threat.
- What You Can’t See- Plagues, Microorganisms, and Disease Invisible killers are a terrifying topic to consider. It’s no wonder that our ancestors coined the phrase, “Wrath of God,” when they could be struck down, seemingly out of the blue, by something they couldn’t fight or even find. There is no practical way to completely avoid what you can’t see, but staying on top of your hygiene, sanitation, and medical supplies can certainly help. Pandemics are not just a movie genre. The CDC website is one resource that can quickly provide you with a ton of useful information on how to handle this type of vulnerability. Knowing what to expect if everyone around you is suddenly stricken is part of being ready. The dangers of living in a world with more than 7.5 billion people in it who share both germs and resources should never be overlooked.
- Threats From The Stars- Solar Flares/Coronal Ejections/Natural EMPs and Asteroids Not every catastrophic event comes from earth. It may seem unlikely that something so distant could cause you personal calamity, but it happens. In our vast universe, asteroids strike every second of every day. Our own sun creates magnetic events regularly. We have been incredibly fortunate in dodging these ‘bullets’ but it is almost inevitable that we can’t avoid them forever.
Man Made Catastrophes-
This topic is one most people are at least somewhat familiar with. If 9-11 and Hiroshima taught us anything, it is that we, as a species, possess a talent for destruction beyond our own ability to control.
Given those examples, it is obvious that at least some of us, possess the will to intentionally harm entire populations of our fellow humans. Not to be ignored is the phenomenon of mob mentality.
The choices of the group drive the individuals within it to ignore any form of personal liability and thus take actions they would never consider alone. Greed, need and faith can also drive the human destructive tendency as often as not.
Whatever the cause, the results are one of the challenges we face as a species. Being braced and armed (not just with weapons) for when other people cause you to need a backup plan is just common sense.
- Terrorism- I feel this prospect needs little explanation. Attacks on groups of people by other individuals and groups, the intent and effect of which is to cause terror and destruction. Americans have seen it often enough in the news to at least be aware of the concept.
- The Grid and Other Services- Dams, Utilities and Power Station Failures Everyone has been in a brief blackout, but what happens if the power doesn’t come back on? Where do you turn when your water doesn’t flow and there’s no gas in the pipes?
- Pollution and Contamination- Fracking, Smokestacks, Coal Mines, Oil and Chemical Spills, Solid Waste Disposal and Backed Up Sewers This is not a simple question of possibility. Pollution already effects millions of Americans. If you are not already one of them it is likely you will be. Any serious local issue with pollution or contamination near you will almost certainly mean you need to include bugging out (leaving home) as part of your survival plan.
- Rioting– Another uniquely human and vastly destructive issue that is most often a problem for those living in larger cities is looting and riots. When tensions get high, or resources too low, people express their frustration by banding together and running amok.
- War- Invasions, Religious, Civil or Nuclear The realities of war on American soil have not been faced in over 70 years, since Pearl Harbor. That was a brief and isolated battle. What happens if armed and organized forces come rampaging through the streets? It is hard to imagine facing anything of this nature if you haven’t done so in the military. People will die, some areas will become uninhabitable. America could be the target of such an attack at some point in the future as it has been in the past. How far and fast do you need to go to escape a bomb blast? What if it’s nuclear? Can you return, and if so, when?
- Hostile Takeover- Martial Law, National States of Emergency and Quarantine These techniques are practiced to help those in positions of power and responsibility (Our own government) control, and theoretically return things to a peaceful state. On first glance that seems pretty sensible in concept, so where’s the danger in that? Well, it allows the government and it’s agents to restrict movement, impose curfews and even seize private citizens resources. Abuse of power has always been a concern in society, and even without it, meeting the needs of the many can seriously damage the few. What if you are among those few, and… how ‘few’ are we talking about? Executive Orders 12919 and 13603 give the federal government direct control and seizure privileges over all civilian communication, food and water resources, transportation, farm equipment, and labor if a National State of Emergency is declared. Read that last bit carefully. Recent decades, for all their troubles, have been largely peaceful and prosperous, you might say we’ve been spoiled into a mindset of ignorance.
- Infrastructure Collapse- What If No Help is Coming Ever? Feeling secure in a society is a privilege and an illusion. Historically most societies only last about 350 years before they collapse, though a few have done better. There is no record of any single human society lasting more than about 1100 years. America is, depending on how you count it, somewhere in the neighborhood of 230 years old. If you count from the pilgrims landing in 1620, then it is closer to 400. There’s a lot of guesswork and wiggle room in those numbers, but the fact remains that, thus far, no society lasts forever. With the end of society comes the collapse of the infrastructure. Services that were integral disappear, sometimes with a bang and others with a long drawn out whimper. Roads will fall apart, utilities will not flow, grocery stores will go unstocked. Given that preparedness is not about what is certain, but rather what is likely, those numbers don’t bode well for us.
X-Factor, The Unknown Unknowns-
Though I wish to avoid the sort of conspiracy theory that gives rise to the myth that preppers are nuts, the fact remains that everything in the universe is impossible until it happens, then it just a reality.
To that end, here is a short list of apocalyptic events that contemporary wisdom considers fictitious. Do you need to prepare for these things? It is unlikely, but you never know.
What is true, however, is that out of the box thinking will help you when considering what is useful in survival situations. If anything here inspires you, if it makes you think of something you can use to prepare for a realistic problem you may face, then it is useful.
The Creature From The Black Lagoon is NOT going to show up at your door howling for the blood of your firstborn children, but sometimes an element of fun, surrealism, and horror can help bring to light holes in a realistic plan.
It can also help diffuse tension and allow you to put a different spin on the stress of trying to prepare for things you can never be certain of. Take this with a grain of salt, and remember that fluidity in your planning is necessary because you truly can’t know what the future will bring.
- Zombies– Hopefully, with their rise in pop culture popularity you know what a zombie is. Corpses, risen from the dead with a driving need to eat the living.
- Mutants- Nuclear, Genetic or Scientifically Created Mutants are very simply altered humans or animals in some cases. Their bodies and minds are physically differentiated from normal humans or animals. Sometimes freakish, glowing with radioactivity and gooey, other times beautiful and evolved, if the near-humans rise to strike, we are certainly all in trouble. Will they have mutant powers? We do not know. Best to stock up on lab equipment to do in house genetic testing… in case they get sneaky!
- Monsters- Godzilla and Other Beasts Rising up from the ocean, crawling out of secret underground cities near the center of the earth or hiding in the empty places (like Bigfoot) waiting to strike, Monsters are literally the stuff of nightmares. What will you do when the apes make their bid for dominance over the earth?
- Computer Dominated Hostile Takeover- Robots, Cyborgs or Maybe Just Your Roomba As we continue to produce mechanical wonders of increasing technological complexity and artificial intellect, it is possible that at some point it may achieve independent thought? Living in the era of the IOT (Internet of Things) means every day we face more interconnected systems. Gone are the days when a talking toaster was a silly story or a sign that you need medication. Technology can scan your refrigerator, order your groceries, start your smart washer, order your dinner, have it delivered and paid for, check the weather, pick a place for date night and get you an uber. As far as we know, none of that tech is thinking for itself, but it may learn to do so. Scientists are actively working on AI all the time. What happens if it gets angry? Slave races do have a history of rising up to overthrow their oppressors.
- Aliens- Is there life out among the stars? The universe is vast and our knowledge of it very limited. Could we someday be faced with conquerors from another world?
- Mythic Beings- Magical or Psychic Attack Our legends play host to an abundance of superhuman beings. Ghosts, vampires and other strange creatures could rise up out of our story books and attempt to stage a coup.
Are you still with us? Good. The magnitude of what you can face is enough to make anyone want to bury their head in the sand. The first step on any journey is the hardest.
When you are new to emergency preparedness it can feel overwhelming, like the whole world is out to get you personally and you don’t know what to do.
It can feel like the monsters really are coming. Set those feelings aside. You can freak out later when you’re safe because you prepared before you needed to. Now that you have some idea what to prepare for, it’s time to get organized and take the next steps.
Who is Coming With You?-
Before you can look into what supplies you may need, there is a fairly obvious question that needs answering. Who are you planning to save? If it’s you and the against the world feel free to skip past this part, but having a group is beneficial.
Even if it is you and the dog there are still extra considerations. The dog has to eat too, and that’s not the only thing a pet needs to thrive. Deciding who you are willing and able to include in your plans is a necessity.
If the world falls apart, are you taking grandma with you? Do you have a spouse, or even just a plan to get one? They won’t last too long without water. If you have kids, or dear friends you can’t do without, then they have to be accounted for and supplied as well.
Will you take in anyone else? If so, who, why and under what circumstances? Will your kid’s best friend or your favorite cousin be allowed to join you if they show up at the door and have nowhere else to go? Does your super nice neighbor work at a hospital?
It’s not likely that you’ll be able to take the whole town under your wing, but looking at how many people you need to save and what they are capable of is the first part of successfully creating a way to reach that goal.
Operational Security (OpSec)-
Who do you discuss your plans with and when? Maybe that nice neighbor who works for the hospital would make a great addition to a survival team, and you’re friends with her.
She’s good people and she grew up an orphan. She moved to town recently and doesn’t have bosom buddies stopping by every day, she doesn’t even have a boyfriend. Great, she sounds like a perfect addition to your SHTF team.
Do you invite her over for a barbecue and a chat about the apocalypse? Do you create a plan where you have enough supplies to invite her and not tell her about it? Having enough for an extra team member is never a bad plan.
It can be hard to make a choice about what to say to people. Starting a conversation with anyone, even your family presents some challenges. Some people see sense right away, others see tinfoil hats.
Anyone you talk to will probably remember, if their lives depend on it, that your place probably has some much-needed supplies.
Start small. Unless you are one hundred percent sure they will take you seriously and keep mum about it, talk to your crew of choice about your concerns from a standpoint of the smallest sort of problem.
“Hey, remember when the power went out last summer? I didn’t see any light in your window. You don’t have to sit in the dark you know. Next time stop by our place and share some sandwiches and melting ice cream by candlelight.
You’d be doing me a favor since I hate to waste good ice cream. If you want, we can even help you put together a little emergency power outage kit so you will have a flashlight and stuff if we’re not home. Maybe, since you work at the hospital, you can help us put together a better first aid kit too?”
The same goes for your friends and family. “Hey guys, remember that time we got stuck on the side of the highway? I was thinking we should brainstorm and put together a little bag for the car in case something like that ever happens again. That way we’d have snacks, extra water, a road flare and some backup batteries for the phone so we don’t have to wait around until someone nice drives past.”
You can always add more than you discussed initially. Taking the conversation further will be easier as you go along now that you already have a dialogue going about emergency preparedness. There are some people who would resist the idea, or blab about it.
Maybe you don’t need to tell your chatty preschooler or rebellious teen about what mom and dad really do sometimes after they go to bed. Discretion will save you a lot of headaches and they will thank you if and when you need those emergency supplies.
As your conversations progress, you need to begin working out your strategy for bugging out and bugging in. Whether you stay put or need to leave the area, everyone should have a job to do.
The most difficult and possibly most important is the question of who is the spokesman. They should be able to make quick decisions and stay calm under pressure. You don’t want to have to handle an ego battle and a dangerous situation at the same time.
You must agree on a ‘Simon’. When lives are on the line, Simon says, and everyone else does it. Work it out before it becomes an issue. Never stop to fight among yourselves when you are in danger.
Make sure this is clear to everyone. It is less important to be the one who speaks for the group than it is for the group to survive. If you lack the gift of gab, or you need a map and a checklist to make a decision, assign someone else that job.
Democracy is wonderful, but in a disaster, you simply do not always have the luxury of a vote. Yes, absolutely, every member of your group deserves input and you need unified goals.
Let your cousin the car salesman or your very attractive daughter in law talk to the police if you are stopped in the road, and whatever you do, don’t contradict them unless it is absolutely necessary.
Other important assignments are things like, who is in charge of medical concerns? You won’t always have an expert in any given area, but having someone who knows what supplies you have and how to handle basic physical problems like bleeding, or making sure you remember to take your antibiotics on time if you have an infection will take the guesswork out of the situation.
Who is the navigator? Someone needs to keep track of maps, or landmarks, and concern themselves with any necessary traveling. Even if you bug in, a supply run is likely inevitable at some point. Who has the best eyesight and can keep a lookout?
Who is in charge of your COMMO (communications)? From charging phones to calling the relatives you plan to stay with while that huge hurricane sweeps your area, someone needs to stay on top of communicating. Other jobs will depend more on the situation, but that doesn’t make them any less important.
Ideally, you want every member of your team to be capable of at least two important jobs, and have no less than two people capable of doing each job. This method of doubling up can ultimately increase your chances of survival.
Even if you never need the backup it can’t hurt. Skills and organization weigh nothing, the more you have of both, the less trouble you will have handling situations.
In a perfect world, everyone can pull twice their weight and only has to do half as much even when things get bad. In reality, most teams are not that balanced.
Obviously, if you’re planning to save your favorite granny, she might not be as capable as others at carrying water and a toddler should never have the maps in their bag.
If you plan to take less or differently capable people you still need to make sure they have their own jobs to do. Granny can still check gear, and she might be able to sew.
Your toddler can help pick up trash. Everyone has to contribute in order to maintain a good group dynamic and giving people something to focus on helps keep them together.
Bugging In and Bugging Out-
When problems arise the question often becomes one of whether to stay or go. There are proponents of both sides of that debate, but perhaps the safer approach would be to plan for both scenarios.
All the bug in prep in the world won’t do you any good if the problem you face is fire sweeping through your area, you need to get out. Then again, what if there’s a state of national emergency declared and martial law is in effect. Movement can be restricted very quickly.
Sure, you can make a run for it, but that’s not the only scenario where you could need to stay in. What if the problem is temporary, like job loss? Staying home and making things work where you are can also be the correct choice.
When and where do you Bug Out to? Ideally, you could have a BOL (bug out location) that is prepared as well or better than your home, someplace where there aren’t too many people, with good water sources and sight lines to the surrounding area.
That’s a fairly glamorous concept. In reality, it does you no good to run to your secret farmstead in the hills if you don’t know the first thing about farming, plus that is an expensive hideaway to maintain.
If the problem is more short term, bugging out can be as simple as getting a hotel room. Some people bug out by going to visit relatives. There are times when, even if you have that impractical second home in the hills somewhere, reaching your BOL might not be a reasonable choice.
An extreme example would be if there were a nuclear attack and your BOL was in the radioactivity zone. The idea of having a remote homestead is one developed by experts, some of whom have no realistic experience.
It is probably best to leave that sort of thinking to others who are far more ready and willing to live off the land than that favorite Granny you rescued. Not everyone is suited to a homestead lifestyle, and going from a big city to living off the land is far from being your only choice.
What matters more than having a perfect second home, in an isolated but reachable part of the country, with a basement full of preparedness supplies, is being sensible and having a plan.
Think Ahead, Plan Ahead, Learn Ahead, Practice Always-
Develop your survival mindset. Work on not wasting anything. Learn to cut your unnecessary expenses and use everything as completely as possible. Put some away for a rainy day, money, supplies, all of it. Don’t forget to check the weather and the news daily.
You need to be aware of what’s going on in the world around you so you can begin to anticipate dangers. Get in the habit of checking things over thoroughly and regularly even at home.
If something is not important enough to maintain, you just don’t need it. Similarly, if you aren’t using it, it isn’t useful. What good does it do you to have the equipment if you can’t use it well?
Practice with what you have. Learn to repair your gear as well. The short version, treat everything in your life like it matters and you care about it, anything you can’t be bothered with should probably just be gotten rid of.
If you can’t change a tire then learn. If you don’t know how to use that fancy crossbow your cousin gave you and it’s sitting in your garage collecting dust, set up a target somewhere safe or sell that beauty for cash to buy pepper spray and 72 hours worth of nonperishable food.
Get rid of anything that holds you back or holds you down. Addictions and bad habits hurt your survival chances and distract you. Sure, in a crazy worst case scenario dystopian wasteland future, tobacco and chocolate may be worth as much as gold, but you won’t be trading them anyway if you keep them all for yourself.
A more sensible choice is to just make sure you don’t stop to think about getting smokes when you should be on the road so you can get away from that incoming blizzard.
Ok, you have your team, or at least know who you’ll take with you and whether you’d consider taking in extras.
You know how to talk to them and how to get them organized. You have a pretty good idea how to go about getting your self ready for dealing with this sort of responsibility and you’re thinking about where to go if the SHTF so you aren’t just running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
This is the part most of you have been waiting for. It is time to discuss putting together your gear and supplies.
Running out and impulse buying whatever you think you might need is an impractical and expensive road that probably leads to failure. Don’t go there.
For some, it’s not an option to simply purchase everything they need in one shot. Plan to spread out your purchases. It doesn’t do you much good to have the best gear if you put yourself into a desperate situation to get it.
Perhaps what you want is out of stock, not available in your area or just too expensive. There are alternative ways to obtain what you need. You can pick up odd jobs in your spare time to supplement your income and use that money to prepare.
Sell things you do not need, or trade them for things you can use. DIY whatever you can. Make what you have last longer by using it until it falls apart and then fixing it at least twice whenever possible.
Some skills can replace certain types of gear so don’t forget to collect and practice those skills.
We are not going to discuss stealing in this article beyond these two statements. First, if TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or the complete collapse of society is actually something that happens in your lifetime there may come a time when this is your only choice.
Second, there are plenty of people who will consider stealing as their survival plan, be prepared for them too.
It helps to sit down and make a list of the gear you will need and where you will need to keep it. Now that you’ve looked at what you’re preparing for, who you’re working with and how you’re going to make it happen, you need to break it down and start putting things together where you need them.
There are several different places you can (and should) keep your emergency preparedness supplies. First, let’s break down your supply caches so you know what to do with the supplies and gear when you do start buying it.
You always have the option of buying prefabricated kits. Online prefabricated Bug Out Bags are easy to find. There are advantages and disadvantages to picking things up this way.
Basically, it breaks down to this; a prefabricated kit will almost certainly not have the versatility or quality of customizing your own supplies but it does allow you to be ready instantly which can be very useful.
Whether you grab the ones curated by someone else or put them together yourself, each of the types of supply cache on the list below is essential.
- EDC (Every Day Carry)– Your everyday carry equipment should be with you every day, just like the name says. You wouldn’t leave your wallet behind, would you? Having a small bag with your everyday items that goes where you go is important.
- BOB (Bug Out Bag)– This is a 72 hour bag with basic food and gear you might need to grab in an emergency. It’s a good place to keep your most vital paperwork. The basic idea of a BOB is to have something you can pick up and walk out the door within about five seconds.
- GHB (Get Home Bag)– Having a small bag in another location where you spend a large amount of time, like a drawer at work, is a smart move. If you are caught away from your vehicle, or can’t get through the roads, it is still important to be able to get home.
- BOV (Bug Out Vehicle)– This is your mode of transportation in an emergency. Make sure you have extra supplies and water for a longer trip stashed safely inside. Parts for doing repairs, spare tire, extra oil, a full gas can and other simple sensible preparations like an emergency tent or tarp should be included. Make sure you have the repair manual for your make and model along with your tools. Vehicle maintenance is absolutely necessary. A car or truck that is easy to repair is better than one with computerized systems. Consider getting something with good gas mileage and even a tow hitch. Installing a roof rack or bicycle rack can give you the ability to carry more with you in an emergency.
- BOL (Bug Out Location)– Not everyone will have a second property to prepare the way they prepare at home. Wherever you are going when you need to leave home, make sure you have some supplies there in case you need to stay for longer than a couple of days.
- Home Preparedness– Having your home ready for an emergency is vital. You can’t expect to head for the hills every time the power goes out. Get organized with things like flashlights, canned goods, and other long term common sense safety equipment. If you have to pack up and relocate, you want these things set up in such a way that it is mostly grab and go, and if not you still don’t want to be banging your shins into the coffee table while you try and remember where on earth you put the emergency candles. Keep your BOBs somewhere you can reach them on the way out the door.
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The comprehensive chart provided below will help you achieve that goal without having to start from scratch and make things up as you go along. Remember to keep it simple, you don’t need more food than you can eat or more weight than you can carry.
For those who feel they want to be ready but don’t have the time to go over the list and pick and chose survival gear and items, the next best solution is to find a pre-made kit that will give some level of ease and preparation. You might want to consider a bug out bag that has all the essentials you may need just in case. For your convenience, I have found a highly rated bug out bag that I recommend. It is the Supply Co. Premium Emergency Survival Bag. It contains the items that will give you the essentials to make it through an emergency situation typically lasting no more than 72 hours. Find Out More About This Bag Here.
The Worst of The Worst-
Now that you have your team, gear, supplies and a basic plan to work on, it is time to consider the worst case possibilities.
What could be worse than being in a survival situation where you are forced to leave your home and go to a bug out location simply to survive? Surely things cannot get worse than that, or so most people assume. There are a couple of final issues to consider.
Relocation expert Joel Skousen considers upper North America (The United States and Canada) to be one of the few places that may be safe even in time of great internal strife.
The sheer amount of habitable land combined with social, ideological and genetic diversity allows for more opportunity. In terms of where to live and where to bug out if your first choice is no longer a safe option you still have many choices.
Really preparing to do the best of your ability means you must also consider what would happen if the country you live in is no longer safe. As unlikely as that may seem, it is still a realistic possibility.
When is expatriating a reasonable choice? How can you tell when it’s time to consider leaving the country? Where would you go and how would you get there? As mentioned earlier, Columbia has that hippo issue (also an awful lot of drug trafficking) so looking into your options is wise.
Have a plan for where you would go by plane or boat and a plan that covers what happens if you can only travel by vehicle or even foot. Are you better suited to a cold climate like the north?
Do you live near the southern border or prefer the heat? Understand the legal and ideological differences of the country or countries you would choose, and look at their climate, environment and other factors just as you look at your home and BOL.
With the help of the following, ‘Bugging Out and Relocating’ and ‘When to Bug Out: Knowing the Signs,’ I’ve complied a fairly simple list of what to watch for if you intend to consider leaving the country:
- High Levels of Crime and Street Violence
- Increasing Media Censorship
- High Rates of Corruption
- Long Lines At Banks And Gas Stations with Limits on Purchases or Withdrawals
- Widespread Freezing of Bank Accounts
- Declaration of Martial Law/Suspension of Habeas Corpus
- Blocking Importations and Embargoes on Trade from Other Countries
- Price Freezes
- Deployment of Foreign Troops on National Soil
- Widespread Internet Blackout and Communication Outage
In The End-
The last consideration in making certain that you, and your family or team, survive and thrive to the best of your ability is the hardest of all.
Suppose everything here is done: your home is as ready as it can be, your vehicles are running perfectly and have spare parts, supplies and gear are purchased, sorted and packed, important paperwork and maps secured, plans made, locations prepared and even a regular schedule for checking the gear over and practicing with it is in place.
You are prepared for everything that might happen… and someone might still die. Wrapping your head around the last reality of why you should prepare is different. You simply have to accept that it can still happen.
Assuming that you aren’t going it alone, and you shouldn’t, then death is a part of life. When considering the short term or more personal conditions that could go catastrophically wrong, something as simple as a last will and testament can allow the surviving members to move on.
In a worse situation, something like a hurricane or flood or TEOTWAWKI where you have planned to meet up and leave together, what happens if someone doesn’t show up? Having communications and back up meeting locations is a start, but life is not a television program wherein thirty minutes the happy ending comes from a twist of fate.
If the missing person has the only key to the gun safe at your BOL… well that’s a problem. No one likes to think about death, but it happens to us all someday. You too will die someday, but you are alive now. With good planning hopefully, you and those you love will be around for a long time.
Be Safe, Be Sensible, and Be Prepared-
The end of this article is the beginning of a better and safer life for you. As scary as thinking about all these dangers and problems might be, it is far worse to find yourself inside them without a pocket knife, a match or even a bottle of water to drink.
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The fairly comprehensive Preppers List I’ve provided will help you on your way to a more practical and prepared lifestyle. Developing a survival mindset and the right habits and skills to make it in a changeable world saves lives. All the tips and talking points here can simplify the process of disaster prepping. The rest depends on you.