Thursday 02-06-16

By now, you probably have a fairly good idea of what you intend to do when disaster strikes. Your evacuation plan should include: throwing your Bug-Out Bag, food, water, other essentials, and your family into the car and heading to your predetermined safe area. It is a little more complex than that, but this is the crux of what to do. We can’t plan for every little thing that might go wrong, but you should give some thought on what to do if your car is removed from the equation.

“Why would my car not be available?”, I hear you ask. Maybe it broke down at the worst possible time because you don’t get it serviced as often as you should. Perhaps you only have 1/10 of a tank of fuel because payday isn’t until the end of the week. Or it might have been stolen after you pulled up outside the house to pick up your family and your gear. The reason is irrelevant; the important thing is that you are suddenly without transport. Obviously, you aren’t going to be able to catch a taxi, and it is unlikely anyone else will have room in their vehicle for you, your family, and all your stuff. (On a side note, if a complete stranger in a big empty van pulls over and offers you a lift, it may be wise to decline their offer).

Not having transport doesn’t mean you just give up, go home and wait for the Zombie Apocalypse to hit. It just means you’ll be doing a lot more walking than you had intended to do. If your evacuation plan didn’t include lots of walking, your preparations may need a little tweaking, and it is better to do that now, rather than in the middle of a disaster.

Basic Fitness
Even if you are a master strategist, you have to accept there will be at least some physical labour involved. If you are out of shape, you are going to struggle to put your plans into action. You don’t need to sign up for the next pseudo-army boot camp (in fact, I’d advise steering clear of them). Instead, get your body used to walking and doing simple bodyweight exercises. Being able to hike cross-country with your backpack is far more important than being able to bench-press 400 pounds, or do 100 kipping pull-ups (in fact, avoid those too).

Is Your Bug-Out Bag Too Heavy?
You have probably put some thought into your Bug-Out Bag, and packed it in a way to make maximum use of the limited space available to you. Working under the assumption you were going to have access to a vehicle for your evacuation, the type of bag you chose was mostly irrelevant; as long as it was sturdy and weatherproof. If you have to walk to the evacuation point (or whatever safe place you have decided on), you are going to have to carry your Bug-Out Bag. If you’ve chosen a standard sports bag, now is the time to change your mind. It is far easier to carry a backpack cross-country, than lug a heavy sports bag.

The other thing to consider is the weight of the bag. Can you actually lift your Bug-Out Bag, put it on without any help, and carry it further than through the house and out to the car? There’s no point having a Bug-Out Bag if you can’t carry it. Remember: Ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain; or Kilos are killers. If your bag is too heavy for you to carry for more than a few minutes you need to review how much gear you want to carry. You don’t want to resort to dumping gear as you walk, just to lighten the load. Be realistic about the amount of gear you are capable of carrying.

Learn how to find North
If you’re in a vehicle, you follow a pre-set route to arrive at your destination, making minor alterations as needed. When you are on foot, following the road isn’t always the shortest path to your destination. You might cut many miles from your journey if you cut across country. But you can only do that if you are sure you aren’t going to get lost. It is unlikely you are going to be able to see your destination from your starting point, or even during your journey, so you need to know how to find north, south, east, and west to reduce the possibility of getting lost. During an evacuation, it is very unlikely anyone will notice you are missing. Even if someone reports you as missing, and there are enough people to go looking for you, where should they start?

Knowing the compass points might sound like a very basic skill, it is one that far too many people lack. For example: if you live on the east coast, and can see the water, it shouldn’t be too difficult to point to east. At least; that’s what I thought. No, in the last four days I have had to provide five different adults with directions (which I kept simple with left/right), which they easily understood. But when I told them the building they were looking for was on the west side of the street; that was where I lost them. It was late in the afternoon, the sun was setting, but they couldn’t find west.

Solid boots designed for hiking are the only footwear you should consider wearing during an evacuation. You have no idea how far you’ll have to walk, or what sort of terrain you’ll have to cross during your journey. You change your shoes before you leave the house. Not in the car. Not when you get there. Before you leave the house. Rolling your ankle is painful and incapacitating. You don’t want to be an extra burden on your family in an already stressful, difficult, and potentially dangerous situation.

Blending In
Camouflage is important if you are going to an evacuation area with a big group of people you don’t know. You’ll need to blend into the crowd. If you look like you are well prepared, or have plenty of supplies, you are going to draw attention from a lot of people in your immediate vicinity. All of them will be people who did nothing to prepare themselves in case of disaster. There will be predators hiding in the crowd who will view you as an easy victim. There will be misguided do-gooders who might decide that you are selfish and should be forced to share what you have with the rest of the group. Regardless, the less attention you draw to yourself, the less likely you are to encounter trouble. You have to remember the people you are going to encounter during a disaster aren’t all going to be filled with the altruistic vision of “We’re all in this together”. They’ll only be looking out for themselves, not you.

These tips should help you prepare for difficult times. Please share this post with your friends and family on social media.