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Surviving on the road is something every prepper dreads. But, it’s necessary in case of a major disaster or catastrophe that causes you to evacuate your home. In 2004, a record-breaking tsunami struck South Asia, killing more than 300,000 people. The next year, we witnessed the destruction of New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. Then, there were the Southern California wildfires, recorded as the worst in US history. These wildfires caused the evacuation of more than one million people.

During all of these disasters, no one had access to local utility services. Stores were shut-down or ran out of emergency supplies, including food and water. If this happens to you, it’s crucial to your family’s survival to be prepared to survive on the road. So, here’s a list of ten items you need to survive on the road.

1) Bottled Water – You know just how important clean water is while on the road. Make sure your bottled water comes in “food grade” storage containers. Experts advise storing one gallon of water, per person, per day.

2) Procurement Supplies – However, when on the road, it may be difficult to tote around gallons of bottled water. So, as a prepper, it’s just as important to learn how to use contaminated sources to procure your own water. Here are two common methods:

– Distilling Water: This method requires that you boil the contaminated water. Then, you collect the steam that comes from a “run-off.” This results in clean water dripping into a clean container.

– Filtering Water: With this method, you simply pour the contaminated water into a “filter” system. Your homemade or manufactured filter system will help to procure the water.

3) Non-Perishable Foods – These are foods that never require refrigeration. The food is packaged and/or processed to give it a long shelf life. Some of these foods include canned foods, dehydrated foods, and freeze-dried food, which has a 25-year shelf life.

 

4) Battery-Operated Flashlight – You should have multiple flashlights on hand. There’s no telling where you may end up at night. Not to mention, some natural and man-made disasters can cause darkness, smoke, etc… even during the day. So, make sure your flashlights are heavy-duty, with the ability to withstand moisture. Also, pack extra batteries for your flashlights.

5) Fire & Other Light Sources – When you’re trying to survive on the road, you’ll need various light sources. If you’re on the road for a long period of time, candles may be your own source of light. This is especially true if you run out of batteries for your flashlight. Be sure to pack candles that burn for longer periods of time than traditional candles. You should have a large supply, along with other light sources. Some of these include matches and lighters. These will also come in handy if you need to start a fire to cook or stay warm.

6) Battery-Operated Radio – While on the road, your only source of communication may be your radio. If radio news stations are still broadcasting, you can stay updated on the current status of the emergency situation. Battery-operated radios are very common in these situations if you have enough extra batteries on hand. However, there are other non-electrical options, such as a wind-up radio. They generally last about 30 minutes without having to be cranked up again.

7) First Aid Kit – Every savvy prepper owns a basic first aid kit. Check yours regularly to ensure that it stays well stocked. Most kits come with basic supplies. But, there are a few things you may need to add in order to be prepared to survive on the road. Some of these include:

– Fever reducer
– Pain reliever
– Antiseptic spray
– Hydrogen peroxide
– Rubbing alcohol
– Anti-diarrhea medication

8) Shelter – No prepper should ever be caught trying to survive on the road without shelter. Most use heavy-duty tarps. Experts advise that you choose a dark-colored tarp, so you stand out less. You never know. The emergency situation may require that you hide out for a while. Tarps can be used to build shelters outside, as well as underground.

9) Sleeping Bag – Many natural disasters affect the weather. That’s why it’s very important that you’re prepared to survive extreme weather conditions while on the road. Pack sleeping bags made specifically for cold weather. Prepare for twenty degrees below zero to be safe.

10) Outdoor Clothing – The clothing you pack should be appropriate for heavy, outdoor use. Be sure you have an assortment of clothing to last for a while. Pack wool socks, thermal underwear, hooded sweatshirts, sweat pants, jeans, heavy-duty boots, and a heavy coat.

 

 

Other Self-sufficiency and Preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Surviving on the road is something every prepper dreads. But, it’s necessary in case of a major disaster or catastrophe that causes you to evacuate your home.

A frequent topic in Preparedness and Survival circles is the subject of Bugging Out and more specifically the question of whether you plan to Bug Out or will you Hunker Down. This simple question easily elicits all manner of responses and you will rarely find consensus on which is the better option. The only good thing about this question is there are only two options and one of those has to be the correct one in someone’s eyes. A 50/50 shot of getting this right isn’t too shabby if you are looking at odds, but there will be those who maintain an absolute position on one option or the other.

To Bug out or not bug out, like most questions that we must ask ourselves as we prepare for emergencies is an individual question and there is no universal wrong or right. This question is probably only second in notoriety to “What caliber is the best defensive round”.

If you can imagine going into a big underground bunker full of Preppers who are getting ready for the next Emergency and shouting that question; you will get as many answers as you have people. In reality, there are only a few common calibers but each person will have their own reason, preference or bias toward one and they will tell you in a very matter of fact tone, their choice and more importantly why you should take their word as the Gospel. Actually, it is probably simpler but just as much fun to pose this question in a survival forum and watch the sparks fly.

The factors that drive each person to reach their own personal decision are too numerous really to discuss in detail, but I will attempt to add my own opinionated two cents to the (already well covered, I know) argument and in doing so, completely invalidate everything I just said above. The reason is that I believe there is only one real answer to this question in almost any situation and my way is the right way. Most of the time.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, you may be asking “What the heck is he talking about?” so a quick definition is called for here. “Bugging Out” is the act of packing up your supplies and leaving home to go to another location. This may or may not coincide with the belief that you will never come back. A common example for Bugging Out is people who are forced to leave town due to a natural disaster like flooding or a Hurricane. They pack up their cars and get out of dodge. This is one of the reasons FEMA and other places recommend having a Bugout Bag or BOB with supplies that will keep you alive for 72 hours so that you can leave at a moment’s notice.

 

 

Bugging In or Hunkering Down is the complete opposite of Bugging Out. When you Bug-In you are staying put in your home with your supplies intending to ride out the storm or chaos that is coming. Thus the question is asked in preparedness circles usually in the context of political, biological or terrorism types of chaos: “Will you Bug out or Hunker down?”

To answer this for yourself, you have to ask several questions to determine which is the better option for you in your circumstance. The questions are pretty basic and revolve around:

  • Your Situation – What pushes your button internally that says “We have to leave”?
  • Your Location – This can apply to both where you are and where you plan to go
  • Your Health – Are you physically able to leave and possibly walk the distance
  • Your Dependents – small children or old relatives. Pets?
  • The Threat – What is the threat we are planning to leave for?
  • Your Destination – Where is the place you are going to?

 

Your Situation – can greatly affect the decision to Bug-Out or not and you have to decide when you will actually make the choice to go. If you are planning for an economic collapse, what events will trigger you leaving home and heading somewhere else. How bad would things need to get before you made that call. What if you are away from home? In that case you will be more concerned with getting home. What will your family do until you arrive? Is it the middle of winter and there is 2 feet of snow on the ground? Do you have a means of defending yourself and your family?

Your Health – Are you physically able to get up and strap a backpack to your back, walk out the door and never come back? Would you be able to run if needed? Do you require medication that must be refrigerated or taken daily? In some cases you simply won’t have a choice, you will need to Bug-In and plan accordingly.

Your Dependents – Do you have smaller children who may not be able to travel long distances. Are your children still in diapers or do they have special needs? Even healthy children below the age of 10 would have a tough time coping with a Bug-Out situation if the event lasted a long time and there was no stability. Are you pregnant? Do you have pets that you would never leave in a million years or that you would not be able to transport?

Your location – Are you located in a major city or a rural area with miles around you and nothing to look at. Do you live in a place that would allow you to live if the grid came crashing down tomorrow? I am not discussing whether or not it would be difficult, but could you plant a garden or do you live in a high-rise apartment in Chicago? Would you possibly need to walk with millions of other people out of the city? If this is the case, where would you go?

The threat – This one may be the easiest to answer but you will most likely have more than one answer given the specific threat. If we are talking about a flood or natural disaster and you have plenty of notice you may decide to leave. If we are talking about a viral outbreak or Mutant Zombie Bikers from Mars you may decide to stay. Has your city descended into chaos with riots and fires and mobs of people looting?

Your destination – Where are you heading? Do you have a place to go with a survival kit filled with supplies to last you? If the threat is a natural disaster like a hurricane and you have time, you can probably go stay with relatives for a few days. This may be one of the first things you should think of. Will you pack up the family, load down the car and hit the highway? Where will you go? For me I think this was the first factor I built all of my other choices off of. I do not live on a retreat in Idaho with 50 acres of land and an underground bunker complete with livestock and solar power. I do live near a large pond in a relatively small city with enough land to have a garden that would feed my family. I don’t have any retreat property (yet) so I don’t know where I would go. I would not go driving off into the sunset to try and live off the land unless I was desperate. This may be the circumstance that you are facing too and when the time comes you have to decide.

 

 

 

One factor I really like about the Preparedness and Survival community is the wealth of knowledge and experience we have out there. Just like me, everyone has an opinion. Some are based upon experience and others have made decisions after much reflection. Regardless of the experience one has you have to ask yourself questions when making a decision like this as it could affect everything you have and/or love. No expert can tell you what will work best for you and your family in your situation.

Taking all of the criteria above into consideration, I think for the average person with no place to go Bugging in is the best option. You will not be able to walk into the forest, kill deer and squirrels and live like a boss. That simply isn’t happening for the “average” person. For one thing you wont be alone. There could be millions of others with you too.

I have thought long and hard on this question and I know that if circumstances in my life were different I would most likely have a different answer. As it stands now, my vote is for Bugging In. I have all of my supplies here and we live in a relatively rural area. I am not naïve to believe that we would be insulated from the chaos but I think we would have a better chance here with some shelter as opposed to walking in the woods sleeping under a tarp. As much as I like camping, a home is a better place to defend.

Could that change tomorrow? Sure it could. I am constantly evaluating my situation and when things change, my plans change. Who knows, I might update this site before it’s all said and done with one last message.

“So long folks! I am outta here.”

A frequent topic in Preparedness and Survival circles is the subject of Bugging Out and more specifically the question of whether you plan to Bug Out or will you Hunker

In a SHTF situation where you can’t stay in your own home, and moving in with a friend or relative is not an option, what will you do? If bugging out to the wilderness suddenly becomes your only option, will you survive? Probably not for very long, if you believe the experts. Nevertheless, if your survival plan doesn’t include a bug out to the forest option, it should, but coming up with a good plan might be more difficult that you think.

For starters, do you have a reliable bug out vehicle? If your bug out plan has you escaping the city or suburbs in a modern vehicle, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Most modern vehicles won’t survive a strong EMP event. You may find yourself traveling on foot, away from a major metropolitan area, in search of food and water. But at least you won’t be alone. When food and water run out, millions of others will be traveling, mostly on foot, away from large centers of population. Even if you have a working vehicle, it may be useless, due to the gridlock created by people and disabled vehicles, all on the same escape routes. You may avoid some of that if you get away quickly, but will you? How much time will pass before you’re packed, and ready to go? Will the roads already be jammed by the time you depart? As time passes, the situation will get worse. Can you imagine what starving, desperate, people are capable of doing? I’m thinking “zombie apocalypse”.

My Bug-out Plan

Understanding the predicament, I don’t have to look any farther than my garage for a solution. My bug out plan doesn’t depend on a full-size vehicle, but I won’t be bugging out on foot either. I suspect that I wouldn’t last very long, with just the items I can carry on my back. Instead, I’ve decided to use my garden tractor (riding lawn mower), pulling a small trailer. Don’t laugh, it’s more practical than it may seem.

  • It would probably survive an EMP event.
  • It can travel off-road, avoiding traffic jams and bypassing bottlenecks.
  • It can pull a small trailer, loaded with essential supplies.
  • I can avoid people who may want to harm me, or take what I have.
  • I’ll have a 360 degree view, helpful for situational awareness, and if I have to use a firearm.
  • I’ll be able to travel to places inaccessible by car, which in theory will make me more secure.
  • My getaway will be at a whopping 6 miles per hour, maximum, but it beats walking.

There are drawbacks, of course. I’ll have no shelter from the elements, as I would in a car or truck. My traveling companion will have to ride in the trailer, or walk along side. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that I won’t be able to outrun anyone. For that reason, it’s important to pack and leave quickly, before things get out of hand.

The bug out location I’ve selected is far from the densely populated area where I now live, and is an area that provides opportunities for hunting, fishing, growing crops, and is near a fresh water source. I know what some of you are thinking… A city boy, living in the wilderness, wouldn’t last long. You might be right, but what choice do I have? Since I don’t own a wilderness cabin, or even a camper, how can I best prepare for a situation that forces me to abandon my home? For starters, I’ve compiled a virtual library of information that will be helpful in such a situation. I’ve also purchased some basic survival equipment and supplies. I practice the skills I’ve learned, and I’m a pretty good gardener.

While living in the wild will be a challenge, I first have to arrive there safely. Traveling with a fully loaded trailer screams “Hey look at me! I have food, water, and survival gear!” How do I get to my destination without being robbed or killed? I see two main problems:

  1. Starving, thirsty, desperate people won’t hesitate to attack me and take what I have.
  2. Those already settled in, near my bug out location, won’t appreciate the competition for limited resources.

To make matters worse, the noise of the tractor will announce my presence. In either case, one bullet could ruin my day.

Bugging out is risky, but I’m thinking of a scenario where I have no choice. I’ll improve my odds somewhat by getting away quickly, before anarchy is commonplace. To do that, all of my things need to be organized, and ready to toss into the trailer. This includes items that are protected from EMP’s. The list that I’ve already prepared helps to make sure that I don’t forget anything.

As I travel, I expect to cross paths with others who are also bugging out. The majority of the people I encounter will be just like me, trying to survive. Many of them will be traveling on-foot, with very limited supplies. My survival odds will improve if I join a like-minded group of travelers, or convince others to travel with me. I’ll bring extra food to share. Travelling with a well-fed and motivated group should help to keep the criminal element away. I’m not trying to be a group leader, or a macho tough-guy, but just one of the many people fleeing an area that has become unsafe. Being armed, and avoiding likely trouble spots, will also help.

With luck, I’ll make it to my bug out spot, probably with a number of other people who’ll soon become my neighbors. As I settle in, I’ll begin to implement a plan that might be described as “Living in the Wilderness, but Not Wilderness Living”. After food and water, my top priority will be the construction of a substantial shelter. As Pat Henry put it “your tent offers zero protection from a sharp stick, much less bullets.” I’ll use modern tools and technology to deal with challenges that come with living in the wild. I’ll have lights when and where I need them, and I’ll use sensors to alert me to intruders, and garden pests. Some of the pests that would otherwise be a threat to my garden, will become food, if I can kill or capture them. My garden tractor-trailer combination will continue to be an asset, as long as gasoline is available. I’ll be able to haul whatever useful items I can find, including building materials, firewood, and water. It’s likely that some of my traveling companions will become the nucleus of a survival group, and the benefits of belonging to a group are many. One could be hunting or fishing, while another guards the supplies and equipment. One could be on the lookout for intruders, while another prepares food, or tends to a garden. One could sleep, while another stands guard. Portable two-way radio equipment, as well as low-tech devices, such as whistles, may be used to alert group members to emerging threats.

My trailer is approximately 48” by 30”. If stacked 30” high, I’ll have about 25 square feet of cargo space. My supplies will be covered with a tarp, protected from rain and wind.

I’m using 3 plastic containers. One is for food, another for shelter, and the third for cooking, cleaning, hygiene, health, and miscellaneous supplies. Those containers account for about 15 square feet, and mine will be similar, leaving me with at least 10 additional square feet. Because I’m thinking long-term survival, I’ll pack clothes and bedding for all weather conditions. I’ll use the additional space for items that will help me survive in the long-run. Included will be the components of a small solar electric system that can be easily reassembled at my destination. I’ll have lights, and a variety of electrical devices that can be powered by the solar electric system. Sensitive electrical items are pre-packed, wrapped in aluminum foil and insulated from each other, which is the equivalent of a Faraday Cage. The ability to use power tools will make construction of a shelter much easier.

Because of the trailer’s small size, I look for ways to conserve precious space. I won’t bring bulky items, like table lamps. Instead, I’ve assembled small and simple light fixtures. I won’t bring a pedestal fan, or even a tabletop fan. Instead, I’ll use small muffin fans, similar to those you find in computers. I’ll mount them on frames, made from pvc tubing, that can be disassembled, saving space when packing. I’ll make good use of paracord, rope, and plastic sheeting. I need not carry books, and volumes of survival literature, because all of those things have been scanned, and stored on a KindleFire. Likewise, carrying a large quantity of water is not practical. I don’t have space for large containers. Instead, I’ll pack several collapsible water containers. I won’t bring a propane stove, or even a charcoal grill, but I will bring a grill top. I’ll assemble a fire pit with stones that I’ll find at my bug out location, and finish it off with the grill top. I’ll pack my cast iron Dutch oven, overlooking my concern for weight, just this one time. Once settled in, my tractor-trailer’s ability to haul things contributes to my bartering opportunities.

The bug out location I’ve selected will be a 7 to 8 hour trip by garden tractor. I have to make sure I have enough gasoline, but my preliminary estimates indicate that I can make it with just the capacity of a full tank, and a full 2 ½ gallon container. I’ll also carry a tube for siphoning, in the event I’ll need to do that. I’ll be carrying a shovel and an axe, helpful if I get stuck or need to clear a path, and very useful when I’ve settled in at my bug out location.

I’ll have the ability to collect and store rainwater. I’ll be prepared to filter water, and boil it, making it safe for drinking. My bug out supplies will include heirloom and hybrid seeds for food crops. Traveling light is an important consideration, and for that reason I’ve created a separate list of items to acquire, once I’m settled in at my bug out location. For the most part, those additional items will make life more comfortable, but are not essential for survival.

Once I’ve settled in at my bug out destination, my first priority will be a sustainable source of food. I’ll start a garden of course, but I’ll need to have other food while I’m waiting for my crops to mature. My bug out supplies include a live trap for small animals, but it is safe to assume that others will quickly decimate local population of rabbits, squirrels, and other edible creatures. My bug out location is near a large lake, and I suspect that I’ll be able to catch fish.

In an effort to avoid bland meals, I’ll pack items such as olive oil, spices, sauces, flour, and corn meal. My list for shelter is similar to Pat’s, but I’ve added an air mattress for additional comfort. I’ll have construction tools, and plan to make tent-living a very temporary arrangement. My list for cooking, cleaning, and hygiene is different from Pat’s list, because I put more emphasis on long-term survival. While I will pack items such as soap and dish detergent, I’ll place a high priority on reusable items, such as wash cloths and towels. Instead of a propane stove, I’ll pack a rocket-stove, and reusable cooking supplies. I’ll have a solar-heated camp shower, wash basins, and collapsible containers for water. I’ll have a good first-aid kit, a variety of medicine, alcohol, bug spray, toilet paper, and other items for health and hygiene. One container, perhaps a backpack, will be for items that need to be easily and quickly accessible. Items in this container will include a flashlight, weapons, maps, a compass, binoculars, cash, a lighter, a KindleFire, snacks, a pocket knife, basic tools, and a rain parka.

My “electronics” box will include all of the components for a small solar electric system, except the solar panels and batteries. It will include test equipment, extension cords, power strips, lights and light fixtures, fans, portable alarms, an AM/FM radio, and a GPS device.

Items that will be packed separately include tools, solar panels (mounted on a hinged aluminum framework), batteries (for the solar electric system), weapons and ammo, live trap, gasoline container, tackle box with fishing supplies, shovel, ax, rake, grill top, and a jump starter (includes tire pump and light). I’ll have the tools and supplies needed to make repairs to the tractor and trailer tires.

After I’ve set up camp I’ll be on the lookout for anything that might be useful, such as a propane stove with a full propane tank, table and chairs, buckets, tools, food and water. If I can find them, I’ll increase my stockpile of disposable items, such as paper towels, zip-lock bags, trash bags, aluminum foil, toilet paper, soap, dish detergent, laundry detergent, insect repellent, toothpaste, shaving cream, alcohol, and other items for health and hygiene. I’ll also stock up on firewood and tinder.

Perhaps the most important item I hope to acquire after I’ve settled in, is an energy-efficient chest freezer. In the event that I have success hunting, fishing, trapping, or growing crops, the freezer will provide an easy way to preserve food. Not needing to find and process food everyday will give me opportunities to rest, and attend to other aspects of survival. The smallest of the chest freezers on the market today are very energy-efficient, meaning that they can be powered by a small off-grid solar electric system. According to the energy-guide tag, 600 watt-hours per day is required for a 5 cubic foot chest freezer. I can get that much power with just 2- 100 watt solar panels, and 2 – 100ah batteries. My system will be a little larger than that, to accommodate the other things needing power, and for extended periods of cloud cover.

Cold Weather Considerations:

Where I live, the months of December through February can include some very cold and nasty weather. Extreme weather may force me to deal with the danger, and postpone bugging out. I may instead choose to make my home as secure as possible, and prepare to defend it. Those traveling through my neighborhood would also be susceptible to extreme weather, perhaps giving me a bit of an advantage. If I’ve already bugged out, and set up camp in advance of cold weather, preparing to survive cold conditions will be a high priority. This includes the construction of a substantial shelter, and a way to provide heat.

The Long Run:

In the event that federal and state government no longer exist, law and order will be maintained at a local level, by an assembly of the people of that area. A protective force can be created, and guard duties shared. Efficiency can be realized in areas such as food production and cooking. Those with special skills will be highly revered, and will serve the entire community. Bartering will be commonplace.

I don’t expect my wilderness life to last more than a couple of years. In a serious SHTF situation, many people will die off from lack of food, or simply from the inability to survive without the conveniences we take for granted today. If that happens, there will be plenty of empty homes to move into. I would choose one with a fenced back yard, to help protect my food source. Most of my food will come from my garden, and perhaps some fish, chicken and rabbit.

Summary:

If I can’t safely stay in my own home, which is at the edge of a big city, or move in with someone else, far from a densely populated area, moving to the forest may be my only option. I need to be ready to bug out quickly and travel safely. I’ll need to bring the appropriate equipment and supplies. And finally, I need to be able to survive wilderness living. I’ll have to depend upon my hunting, trapping, fishing, and gardening skills. My prepping includes the equipment and knowledge to do those things. I don’t expect it to be easy. The competition for limited resources will be fierce, and not everyone will be honest and ethical. Still, I plan for a comfort level far exceeding that of tent camping. I applaud those who can live in the forest with only a knife and the clothes on their back, but I can’t do that.

Perhaps the best things I have are a list, and a plan. I don’t depend upon a modern vehicle, since impassable roads, or an EMP event, could stop me dead in my tracks. My pack-out list helps to ensure that I’ll bring the essentials, while not being overloaded with items I can do without. My extensive database of information will be useful in the event of a medical emergency, or other unexpected circumstances. Moving quickly, with a destination in mind, might prevent me from becoming a victim of the lawlessness that would likely follow a SHTF situation. Getting to my destination quickly means that I’ll also be able to “scavenge” more quickly than some, and acquire useful stuff before it’s all gone. Banding together with trust-worthy, like-minded others may offer the best odds for survival.

We thank John D for his contribution.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)

Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

For starters, do you have a reliable bug out vehicle? If your bug out plan has you escaping the city or suburbs in a modern vehicle, you may be

The plan seems simple doesn’t it?

All you need for the best chance of survival for your family is a well-stocked bug out bag, a keen attention to your surroundings and careful monitoring of what is happening in the news. With these bases covered you will be a very informed prepper and will be able to get the jump on all of the clueless sheeple if something bad happens. You will load your family up with your bags and hike off into the sunset way ahead of the approaching death and destruction. You have a plan to bug out.

It sounds perfect, but in this article I am going to try and convince you how that might not be the best and first option you should consider. There are many reasons and situations I can think of why you do not want to bug out from your home. You may be asking yourself, how can I even say those words on a prepper blog such as this without getting struck by lightning? It’s true that hunkering down is not the option that gets the most press, but in my opinion during most (but not all) scenarios, it is the better choice. That is unless you are a combat trained Navy Seal. If you are like me, just an average guy with a family and a giant subterranean monster unleashed by nuclear experiments is not headed your way, you might want to stay put. Here are a few reasons why:

You live where your stuff is.

I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of these reasons are going to seem incredibly simple and obvious, but I think sometimes that is the best way to approach a problem. As a prepper you have probably started collecting some supplies to help you get through short and long term emergencies. Some of you have stored a TON of supplies because you have been doing this for a long time or else you are independently wealthy and you just blew up the Black Friday sales.

Even if you only have a week’s worth of food and water, that is nothing to sneeze at. Everything you have is stored probably in nicely organized bins for easy retrieval. You don’t have to carry it and the supplies aren’t subject to the elements. Leaving your home will make you potentially have to leave most, or all of your survival supplies at home. You could put them all in your best bug out vehicle, the diesel Ford F-250 with the trailer, right? Sure you could, but are you sure that truck will always be in your possession? It’s just better to stay at your home base because there are tons of advantages like…

Even your kitchen floor is more comfortable than sleeping in the woods

Some parts of Mother Nature are best appreciated when you can leave.

Yes, I know that some people sleep perfectly well in the woods and I can too, once I am exhausted from hiking all day. Honestly, you would have to agree that your old lumpy Serta Posturpedic mattress would be preferable to sleeping in the woods or an abandoned building or even a hammock. Why is that important?

Getting plenty of good sleep has a huge impact on our health. It not only affects your moods, but alertness and even immune system. In a disaster you will be stressed in ways you haven’t even considered. You may be working like a dog and having a comfortable and relatively safe place to rest your head, even if that is the living room floor will be an advantage that the people who think they can just bug out into the woods won’t have.

Built in Community whether you know it or not

In times of crisis, you can almost guarantee that communities will band together in some ways. You probably don’t consider your small neighborhood or dead end street a community but let some disaster happen and you will see humans come together for support, safety and to help each-other out. Being around even just a few neighbors who know you can give you advantages if you need assistance for things like a neighborhood security plan.

Even neighbors you don’t get along with will probably overcome grudges if the disaster is severe enough. Of course there is the potential that your neighbors could turn on you for being the lone prepper but I think in most cases, things won’t go Mad Max for a little while. If it does you will have to adjust, but I believe that most people would benefit by banding with their neighbors for support. You could have an opportunity for leadership here or compassion by helping out others who haven’t prepared. It is much better to strive for this kind of relationship with people than head out the door and face the world with only what is on your back.

Being Cold Sucks and it can kill you

I bet that most of you like to keep the thermostat somewhere in the upper 60’s to low 70’s during the winter. There might be some play in that range, but there are no thermostats outside. Whatever the temperature is outdoors is what you are going to be living with. Can you start a fire or wear warm layers to regulate your body temperature? Of course, but the last place I want to be on a cold winter night is huddled up in my sleeping bag under a tarp even if I did have a nice roasting fire beside me.

There are some situations where you wouldn’t be able to start a fire. Maybe if it was raining and you couldn’t find any dry wood or tinder, or there were people that didn’t look so friendly following you. Staying in your home, even without power can give you advantages of shelter that you won’t easily find outdoors. You can seal off rooms and even your body heat will generate a little warmth. You can black out your curtains with heavy gauge plastic sheeting and even the heat from a lantern or a couple of candles can put out an amazing amount of heat.

You may put yourself in a worse situation

The problem with most bug out plans are that you don’t have a destination. Where are you bugging out to? Do you think the National Forest is going to be reserved solely for you and your family? Do you think you will just set up a tent and start hunting for small game? In a large regional disaster, there could be millions of people leaving the cities. The concept is called the Golden Horde and they will be competing with you for natural resources. With even a few dozen hunters in the same area game will be depleted in days if not sooner. Then you will be stuck near a bunch of other hungry people who blame you for catching the last squirrel.

Being on the road makes you an easier target

One of the advantages of staying put at home is the home field or defenders advantage. When you go out, you do not know what you are walking or driving into. The best you can do is recon very deliberately which will only slow you down more. By staying put in your home, you can set up a neighborhood watch with your fellow neighbors and monitor who is coming in. This gives you the opportunity to set up defensive positions and plans that anyone walking in with thoughts of taking advantage of you, won’t be aware of.

If nobody knows you, you are a stranger

If the people in the town do not know you, they will treat you as suspicious, maybe even hostile.

Have you ever been walking your dog and seen someone strange walking through your neighborhood? This was someone you didn’t know so obviously they fell under suspicion. Had they been one of your neighbors kids you would have recognized them, but this new person stuck out. That is what you will be faced with if you leave your home and go wandering through other towns and cities. In your home neighborhood you will be dealing with known people that you can grow a deeper relationship with. There is a built-in level of trust because they have lived near you for years. If you start walking into a strange town with your bug out bags and AR-15 slung over your bulletproof vest, you may not like the attention you receive.

Gear is heavy and a lot of gear is heavier.

Speaking of walking around in your bulletproof vest and gear, how many of you have walked for 3 days with your bug out bag? OK, now add a full complement of bullets and anything else you think you might need to defend yourself. It adds up quickly even when you try to reduce the weight of your bug out bag as much as possible. These weren’t meant to live for a long time out of. Your food will run out, possibly your ammo and that will help you with the weight, but in a disaster where you are walking out the door in full combat gear, do you think Walmart will be open when you run out of something?

In a grid down you won’t get to call AAA

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones that have a place to go up in the mountains. If you don’t get out before everyone else starts leaving, you could be stuck on the road. What if your old bug out vehicle breaks down? All those supplies you stored in the back of that trailer are either going to feed a lot of other people on the highway or you will most likely die defending them. If you aren’t already living at your retreat before the disaster happens, you will have to be incredibly fast to avoid getting stranded. Let’s say you are ready to go, do you know when you would actually leave? Do you know when the S has actually HTF and it’s time to leave or will you debate leaving with your wife and mother for two days because they think it will all blow over soon?

Leaving home may put you in a worst situation than staying put.

If you get hurt you want to be near a secure shelter not under a tarp

I have a decent first aid supply kit. I don’t have IV’s and a ton of medicine but I can take care of garden variety injuries pretty well. Imagine you somehow break your leg after the grid is down. Would you rather drag yourself into the house, or be stuck in the woods for weeks unable to move? Most hospitals don’t stick their patients out in the back yard for a reason so you will convalesce better with a good roof over your head that is hopefully providing some climate protections. If nothing else, it will be a relatively clean and safe place to get better that beats lying under a log.

So what does staying home mean?

I will write a post about reasons why you may have to bug out later, but staying home doesn’t guarantee you will be safe and secure either. I think each situation has to be taken into consideration as to what is the better option for you and your family. Naturally if there is a fire heading your way staying at home is stupid. It is something to think about that and that may help you begin to form different plans for different scenarios. What are your plans?

The plan seems simple doesn’t it? All you need for the best chance of survival for your family is a well-stocked bug out bag, a keen attention to your surroundings

There are two recurring themes we have in prepping and survival blogs around preparing for disasters of any type. The first is the need to practice any plans you have well before the actual need should arise. This is similar to practicing a fire drill with your children so they will have experience going through the motions and the event will hopefully be more successfully executed because of this training should a real fire break out in your home. Practicing anything you are planning to do when under stress is going to make you better at that task when you are faced with a real scenario. Examples for prepping are to turn off the power for a weekend and live like the grid has gone down. Another theme we discuss regularly is the process and plans for Bugging Out.

Bugging Out simply means leaving the area you are in to move to an area that is safer. It could be safer from a chemical spill, impending flood waters or violence caused by looting. There are as many reasons why you could conceivably want to or have to leave your home as there are for staying. Bugging Out isn’t limited to your home either because you could be anywhere when a disaster strikes and still need to move quickly to a safer location.

Bug Out bags are designed for us to be able to quickly grab enough supplies for each person in your group to live for a minimum of 72 hours at least according to FEMA and although we would like to think we could drive our survival vehicle out of the ruins and wreckage, staying just a car length ahead of the big cloud of disaster rolling swiftly behind us (cue the summer disaster movie music) reality tells us that in times of major crisis, roads quickly become overwhelmed and traffic makes getting out by car at a certain point impossible. Bugging Out on foot is a better plan that will cover the contingencies if travel by vehicle is out of the question.

So, how can you practice bugging out with all of the gear you would actually need to survive for 72 hours or more with only what you can carry and not look like a weirdo? Backpacking into the woods is the best way I can think of to practice bugging out and I have composed a list of 10 ways your first backpacking trip will better prepare you for bugging out below. By practicing an actual bug out for three days in the wilderness you will learn so much that will better prepare you if you really ever have to Bug Out.

A lot of people plan to simply walk into the woods if the grid goes down. I won’t debate the merits of that approach in this article, but I have written on the subject before. All that is fine and well, but you may actually have to leave your home with a pack. If that is your plan, here is your chance to take what you have assembled and do just that. I can almost guarantee that you will learn lessons if you do that now that will change how you really bug out in a potential disaster. I took my family into the woods a few years ago and we have since been back a few times. Here are some of the things I learned from that experience.

1. – Find out what works and what doesn’t. – This is one of the big advantages in my opinion of practicing your bug out plans in this way. When I started building my bug out bag, I had a big list of items I needed and once I had them all, they were crammed into my military surplus bag. After walking around for a while with about 70 pounds of gear I quickly decided that I needed to drop a lot of weight from my bug out bag and that while the military surplus Alice pack was nice, it wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. Also, carrying that bag might make me a target a little more than someone who was just hiking with a regular bag in that someone might think I had a lot of supplies in there (prepper) instead of just some sweaty socks and camping gear. I also learned that in general I just had too much stuff. We packed too much food, that was too heavy and our clothing options were more than we needed. Lastly, I found a lighter water filter and all those things combined shaved a lot of weight off my pack and my shoulders.

2. – Live Simply – Piggybacking on the item above, backpacking should give you a great excuse to live simply and to ignore all the extra clutter in our lives. What do I mean by clutter? I have seen a lot of bug out checklists that have so many extra things included that are ridiculous. Kindles or e-readers, coffee presses and a lot of unnecessary creature comforts. In this exercise, bugging out will be to save your life and your bug out bag should be packed with items that will help you live. It should not be packed with small inflatable boats unless your plan is to escape by water, camp chairs and portable fans. Keeping your bag to the essentials will make carrying it much easier. You will also find that you don’t need or even much use some of the extra stuff you brought. Instead of bringing a whole set of cookware and utensils, a simple pot and spoon might be all you really need.

3. – Learn how to use the bathroom outdoors – This might sound silly, but unless you have gone number 2 in the woods then this is something fun to learn. How hard can it be you ask? It’s just squatting, right? Well, maybe it is, but it wasn’t as simple as sitting on the throne for me. I got it done of course, but in the beginning it was awkward and took a little finagling to get right. Just like anything else, practice makes perfect.

4. -Discover wild water – Probably the single heaviest item you can have in your bug out bag is water and we should all know that we need at least a liter per day for optimum health, more if you are in hot climates or exerting yourself and even more for regular hygiene. Carrying a bag on your bag through the woods will exert you but in order to meet the requirements of 72 hours, you do not want to carry three giant bottles of water with you. Learning how to filter your water and of course finding sources of water is going to be the best long term strategy for bugging out. My kids were amazed when I broke out the water filter and in no time had all of our Nalgene bottles filled with clean fresh water out of the river. I swear it tasted better than anything in a plastic bottle from the store or our tap and they all know how to filter their own water now if they need to.

5. – Discover how everyone in your group reacts – One of my initial concerns with my family was how they would react to the wilderness and carrying their bags for three days so I tried to pay special attention to the weight they had and how they were faring on our hikes to new campsites. To my surprise, they all did amazingly well but that might not be the case with your family. By finding out who hates this whole exercise right now, you could save yourself some headache later when just going back to the car isn’t an option.

6. – Find friends with common interests – Once you start backpacking you will invariably meet friends who are also into this hobby. They may share common ideas about being prepared or at the least common interests and skills that might be helpful to your group should we all need to walk into the woods. If nothing else, you may have another source for gear advice should you need it and experienced friends who also like to backpack can share their observations and lessons learned with you on various locations, routes and strategies that could improve your bug out plans. Even if you meet people along the journey, you can learn from them. We only ran into 2 other people the entire weekend we were out, but they all had hammocks instead of tents and sleeping bags so that was something I started investigating.

Learn what to carry and how to cook outdoors.

7. – Increase your options – Simply being able to live for three days in the woods or a field or anywhere outside of a house or hotel is going to give you options if you are forced to leave your home. The more you experience living outside and traveling over distances with your house on your back, the more you will see options where before there was only dread. Leaving home with a pack won’t be as daunting once you have done it a few times for fun regardless of the scenario. The scenario might be bad, but the thought of sleeping in the woods won’t.

8. – Adapt and reuse – One of the best ways to simplify your backpack or bug out bag and to reduce weight is to use items for more than one purpose or to reuse items for something different. One simple example is to have the water filter so you can refill water along your route or at your site as opposed to hiking it in. Clothing is another area that can be viewed in this way. On our trips, I would have one set of pants, not three but these are convertible so I can make them shorts if needed. One fleece, a hat, gloves spare underwear and thermals. The clothing lists changes with the seasons. You don’t need a change of clothes for every day. If the weather or your climate is relatively warm, a tarp will double as a shelter and weighs a lot less than a tent. It takes up much less room too. Paracord can be used as well as duct tape for a million uses.

9. – Set new goals – After our experience in the woods, I wanted to go on longer hikes to have a greater challenge of both navigating terrain and planning a longer stay in the woods. Successes make you strive for new goals, but even setbacks should give you something to strive for. If you have a miserable time in the woods, analyze what the problems were. If it was your gear, this can motivate you to think more clearly about what you have and how to use it for your next trip.

10. – Build your confidence – Lastly and I think the most important lesson you should take from backpacking is the confidence you will have to live in the woods for a while. This was most noticeable in my wife and kids. I was already fine with camping, but for my family this was all new and before we went, there were lots of questions and doubt. After our three days my family was not only happy with the experience, but were really impressed with how “not horrible” our time was. They had plenty to eat even though we had no kitchen table to sit around. They slept well even though their beds were on the ground and we all had a great time even when there was no traditional entertainment to be found. After our first trip my family was ready to bug out and even if that never happened, we had a great new activity to do for fun. Win Win.

There are two recurring themes we have in prepping and survival blogs around preparing for disasters of any type. The first is the need to practice any plans you have

Caching Supplies

There are numerous articles dealing with the caching of supplies on this and other Prepper sites. Within the context of abandoned mines, my principal suggestion is to evaluate caching locations that are not in the immediate vicinity of the mine workings. The simple reason as that recreationists visit abandoned mines and there is no point in setting a cache that can be discovered by people wandering around the site.

By most definitions, abandoned mines are located in and surrounded by rugged terrain. That gives you virtually limitless ways to conceal a cache that no one will ever find. Take your time. Plan the cache with an eye toward a secure location. One suggestion would be to set the cache some distance beyond the primary point of interest. Most casual visitors are only interested in seeing and photographing a historic mine site; then they are on their way. Mines that are more distant from well traveled 2-tracks, or that are not visible will be less frequently visited.

Planning Considerations

Out of 400 nearby mines, there are twelve sites on my preferred-use list if circumstances require that I abandon my home. A far greater number are ‘workable,’ but not desirable. Even where the use of 4WD is necessary, I can reach any of these twelve locations without consuming more than a quarter-tank of gas. Some are more difficult to reach than others. Some offer superior defensive advantages. Some are more suitable for long term occupation than others. Nevertheless, I would not hesitate to use any of these sites should the situation require it.

It is my choice to stockpile fuel reserves on my property, rather than near the mine site. Simply stated, they are all viable and I cannot predict which of these dozen sites I would want to use in a SHTF situation. I’m fortunate because I have a multitude of choices, but it is impractical for me to preposition fuel and other supplies at or near that many sites. Your options may be better or poorer than mine.

Here are some suggestions that you should factor into your planning:

  1. It is reasonable to assume that you will not be the only one to discover a prospective mine site retreat. You should, therefore, assess several sites.
  2. He who controls the high ground controls the land, especially in a SHTF situation. If the first to arrive is not you, then you will need an alternate location that is still within your driving range.
  3. The drive distance from your home to an abandoned mine may be considerably greater than mine, and the difficulty in reaching your site may be compounded by circumstances that are entirely unpredictable. Effective resource planning dictates that you include considerations for fuel and other basic needs along the way, not just at your chosen destination.
  4. A secure retreat does not necessarily require extensive space. Mine adits may be only a few feet wide, but can still provide hundreds of linear feet of usable area for a group.
  5. Planning factors for situating a camp site within an adit should consider the availability of light. Mines interiors are dark places.
    1. You want to be able to utilize as much ambient light as possible during daytime hours. Thus, an east or west facing adit will maximize the availability of light. South facing adits may be favorable during winter periods.
    2. You will want to be forward toward the entrance during daylight hours.
    3. Regardless of the time of day, cooking and warming fires should be set as far back from the entrance as is practical.

 

This adit is entirely unusable. A lower level stope has penetrated the adit floor from below and ore car tracks obstruct any possible use of the floor. Discussion of other characteristics are irrelevant.

The thought here is that you need to evaluate the availability of morning and afternoon light, the direction and flow of air in the adit, as well as the structural space where fires might be best located.

  1. Adits that have no air flow will require that your fires be located at, or outside of, the entrance. Depending on the terrain, you may still be able to use these sites. (More on that subject in the section that follows.) An example would be an adit that is situated near a wash, but that is surrounded by steep terrain.
  2. Campfire resources are generally abundant in the mountainous regions of the western U.S. Whether the fuel source is pine at higher elevations, creosote or mesquite at lower elevations, you should be able to locate fuel sources within a short distance of the adit. This has several practical applications. Foremost, it allows you to conserve your use of propane or other gas canisters.  Second, the adit enables you to collect and store a significant volume of fuel that can be kept dry and hidden from view. Regardless of your resources, plan to keep your fires as small and concealed as possible. Avoid wood that generates a lot of smoke. If you are not familiar with fuel resources in the area, you may have to experiment.
  3. Determine a safe way to dispose of ash and residue from cooking and warming fires. Do not plan to use an interior shaft for disposal. Shafts, winzes and stopes often contain very significant amounts of timber, and careless disposal of coals and embers can ignite a fire that could burn for weeks. Remember, ventilated mines will have a constant (and sometimes substantial) flow of air, and fire loves oxygen. Visualize a brilliant cone of flame erupting from a shaft and a column of smoke that is visible from great distance. I guarantee you this will get the attention of any functioning government in your area.
  4. Expect that your source of water will be some distance from the adit. Supplying your daily water needs will likely require transporting containers on a daily basis, either on foot or by use of a vehicle, between the source and the camp. Obviously, large groups consume more water, thereby increasing the frequency and/or volume needed for resupply. Anticipate your need for water based upon the group size, as well as the risk of exposure while you are replenishing your needs.
  5. Frequent resupply trips will increase your exposure. What if an unknown group suddenly sets camp next to the source? Can you wait them out?
  6. Anticipate that all sources of water will require some from of treatment to kill or remove harmful organisms.
  7. Even short term occupation of a mine adit requires that you consider the need for sanitation. You will need to provide some means of accommodating and disposing of human waste. A shaft or winze may be a tempting place and convenient place to dump bagged waste, but avoid it if at all possible. Bury your waste away from the adit. In any case, will want to have a portable potty somewhere in your camp. Enough said.
  8. As the accompanying photos show, most adits will have moderate to extensive debris in the form of dirt, rocks, trash and (possibly) timbers inside the passage. If you plan to occupy your chosen site for any length of time, you should plan to clean out the area where you will set camp. Constant back and forth movement will kick up dust and other irritants that will settle on your sleeping and cooking areas. In any case, a clean camp is good for morale. You will probably have the option of deciding where you want to move dirt and debris; that is, outside the entrance or farther back in the adit. It’s your choice. Prevailing air flow (inward or outward) may help that decision. If there is an interior winze or shaft, I would opt for dumping it to a lower level. The obvious reason is that it reduces your outside activity and minimizes the risk of detection. Resist any temptation to clean out the entrance of an adit once you have selected it, but before it becomes necessary to occupy it. Leave it in its original state. There is no point in making ‘your’ adit more attractive and easier to occupy by someone else. Don’t forget to bring a broom.

 

This photo illustrates another adit that is unsafe to enter. Note the collapsed post and cave in. The structural integrity of this mine is zero.

Locating and Evaluating a Mine Adit Site

There are several factors for determining whether any mine site is suitable for your needs. I have compartmentalized them into a series of S’s, followed by bullet notations.   These lists are by no means comprehensive. They represent my best effort for a geographic environment that I am most familiar with. Hopefully, they will be useful and inspire you to consider issues that are unique to the locale that you would consider.

Evaluating Seclusion

  1. Remote, secluded mines are less likely to be visited.
  2. The less well known they are, the less likely that someone will view them as desirable SHTF retreats.
  3. Mine sites that are unnamed on geological survey maps are generally preferable to named mines that were historically significant.
  4. Other, more secluded mine workings will be located near sites that are shown on maps. Many prospect adits are not recorded on current or older versions of maps.
  5. Mine sites that are protected (by favorable terrain features) from long distance surveillance are desirable.   In other words, your candidate site may not be visible at close range due to ground slope or intervening vegetation, but can be seen from two or three miles away at a high point, such as a mountain pass.
  6. A corollary to the above statement is that elevated mine sites may be detectable from some distance, but the trail leading to them may not be obvious at the viewer’s angle and distance. The point is that as long as there is no easily discernible way to reach an abandoned mine site, the risk of compromise may remain low. You must evaluate these potential exposures.
  7. Mine sites that are situated low on hillsides, or that are surrounded by steep, unapproachable ground can offer ideal seclusion, but may provide little advance warning of an approaching vehicle or group.
  8. In desert areas, concealment is easier to achieve where mines are located near washes. The simple reason is that they can support large stands of dense brush and trees.

This photo illustrates how an adit cans be used for camping. Note that the adit is not particularly wide and the ceiling is of moderate height. You can more through the area without crouching.

Evaluating Security

  1. Do not rely on the mine adit as your sole defense point.
  2. Set surveillance LP/OP points that maximize your awareness of approaching vehicles or groups.
  3. Select a site that is defensible. Evaluate and select defensive positions that can be reached day or night.
  4. If you cannot maintain around the clock surveillance, make the approach to your site as difficult as possible.
  5. If you have the means, utilize motion detection and/or noise producing trip-wire devices on trails leading to the adit.
  6. Utilize two-way radios for communication between the adit LP/OP sites and other outlying security points, but avoid standard GMRS/FRS frequencies that are available on common walkie-talkies.       Use the minimum wattage needed to maintain reliable communication. Programmable dual band (VHF/UHF) radios are available at a modest cost and feature selectable power output and switchable antennas. Equipment of this type enables you to have your own SHTF frequencies.
  7. When using radios, do not give specific geographic references that would help someone locate your site.
  8. Minimize outside activity.
  9. In the Southwest, 2-track roads and trails are frequently forced to use long stretches of dry washes. These serve to confine approaching vehicles.
  10. Empty food cans that are suspended on a line can be used as a type of trip wire warning system.  This may be a useful tool that alerts you to approaching foot traffic. Be innovative and put resources to their best use, even if you would ordinarily think of it as trash.
  11. An important factor that bears on site security is having a place to conceal your vehicles. You will want them nearby and visible to you, but not to others. Anything you can do that breaks up the profile and that masks color and reflective components is useful. The solution may require one or more of the following options:
    1. Cover the entire vehicle with dark blankets, topped off with camouflage netting or parachute material.
    2. Park next to or behind an existing structure, such as the wall of a building.
    3. Clear an area in thick brush that is large enough to park.

Frankly, it is advisable to use option ‘a’ plus whatever other means are at your disposal. Shiny reflective surfaces, such as chrome bumpers, wheels and windshields can reveal the vehicle’s location, even at night. Your objective is to be a hole in the dark.

Evaluating Sustainability

  1. No site, regardless how physically secure it may be, can fulfill your needs without water and food.
  2. Sources of water that I have found near mine sites include:
    1. Springs
    2. Surface streams
    3. Livestock water tanks (earthen water catchments) that are seasonal
    4. Shallow wells at the mine site (frequently with a rock or concrete collar)
    5. Working windmills that provide continuous flow to a metal tank or cistern
    6. Wildlife water catchments, sometimes referred to as “guzzlers,” may have been established by the BLM or a state Game and Fish agency in some areas near mines. Some will be marked on geological survey maps if they predate publication.
  3. Hunting can supplement your food stocks, but wild game can be rapidly depleted. Sustained human activity in any area will cause game to disperse.
  4. As you evaluate various mine sites and the natural resources that are locally available, you will inevitably be forced to determine two vital facts:
    1. What size group is needed to provide essential security, food and water gathering, and camp maintenance? Will the necessary sustaining activities at this location require more people than you can muster?
    2. What size group will the adit and local resources support? Will the adit accommodate 20 people, yet locally available water is only sufficient to sustain half that number?

These are tough questions, but they must be answered with absolute objectivity.

Evaluating Safety

  1. Adits that are at or very near the margins of a wash may be subject to episodic flooding. The presence of silt on the mine floor will confirm whether flooding has occurred in the past.
  2. Determine if there is plant debris high up in trees or brush near the adit entrance. This will provide a good indication of the high water mark from the most recent storm.
  3. Narrow washes that pass through steep terrain can experience catastrophic flows, particularly during monsoonal storms in the Southwest. I have found high water marks that were 10 feet or more above the top of an adit.
  4. Mine entrances that have the appearance of partial collapse are inherently unsafe and will be beyond your ability to repair.
  5. Before entering the adit, examine the area above the entrance. Is there loose material that could fall onto the mine opening?
  6. Assessing the safety of an adit will require that you illuminate and thoroughly examine the entire interior structure.
    1. Use high lumen flashlights and a continuous ‘look-ahead’ method so that you are constantly aware of what is in front of you.
    2. Begin your evaluation by determining if there is any wildlife present.
    3. Next, study the floor to identify open winzes, shafts or stopes that penetrate the adit floor.
    4. Determine if the floor is wet.
    5. Repeat this process by thoroughly examining the ceiling of the adit. Identify any raises that lead to an upper level. Assess the character of the rock. Is it highly fractured? Are there large sagging boulders extending downward from the ceiling?
    6. Evaluate all timber structures (posts and caps) in the interior. Wet or collapsed timbers should be viewed as an indicator of risk.
  7. The absence of posts and caps in an adit is an indicator of the stability of the country rock. Adits that have many posts and caps, or that are covered with a roof of planking suggest a high degree of overhead sloughing.

Concluding Thoughts

Over the course of 30+ years of exploration, I have lost count of the number of mines that I’ve entered. I have also lost count of the number that I refused to enter for safety reasons. The notion of entering an abandoned mine – much less living in one for a period of time – may be intimidating to many people. They are dark and mysterious places where unseen dangers (real or imagined) may lurk. It is unfamiliar ground to the vast majority of people. Nevertheless, the contemplation of extreme events, particularly if they threaten your survival, can challenge you to examine options that you would not ordinarily consider.

As a Prepper, you contemplate potential risks and choose to deal with them in a proactive manner. You understand that mere reaction is often inadequate and that it is never preventative.

Hopefully, this article series has provided you with information and tools that you had not previously thought about. I cannot say that using an adit will work for you, but this primmer can get you started on a safety-based course of study and evaluation that can give you the answers you seek.

I welcome in your observations and questions on this topic. Drop me a note any time.

Caching Supplies There are numerous articles dealing with the caching of supplies on this and other Prepper sites. Within the context of abandoned mines, my principal suggestion is to evaluate caching locations

What lured the early settlers and adventure seekers to the vast territory of the American West? In a word: Gold. Early exploitation of minerals and ores were greatly hampered by the lack of economical milling and transportation resources. Unprocessed ore was frequently transported overland in pack trains to seaport locations like San Francisco. From there, the ore might have been shipped around the horn to a mill on the east coast. As the railroad system expanded in the 1870’s and beyond, the extraction of less valuable metals, such as silver, copper and manganese became more viable endeavors. Eastern industrialists and speculators became more willing to invest in prospects – often without proper due diligence. Mining activity exploded and, as a result, there are many thousands of abandoned mines in the West and Southwest today.

How could that bit of history factor into your planning and preparation if you have to deal with a SHTF scenario? Let’s say you made the decision to shelter in place, but now your regional or area security has deteriorated, and you need to move yourself or family to a safer location; if only for a few days or weeks? What if you don’t have that ideal piece of land in the mountains with a lake or trout stream to retreat to? You have an exigent need to abandon your preferred location because it is about to be compromised.

The answer could be a specific type of mine structure known as an adit.

Within a one hour driving radius of my home there are more than four hundred abandoned hard rock mines. That may seem like a startling statistic, but historical records indicate that my state has more than 100,000 mines dating from the 1850’s through the depression era of the 1930’s. Some of these were good producers of ore and have extensive underground workings. Others never got beyond the ‘prospect’ stage of development, yet still managed to establish one or more tunnels, adits, shafts, drifts and/or stopes. Some of them have been destructively collapsed by the BLM in recent time, others are unsafe or possess unsuitable characteristics; but many surviving mines can be used for temporary occupation if you know where they are and have the means to get to them.

Mine entrances may be elevated on a hillside or at lower levels, near a wash or creek. In this example, the adit is at the base of a steep hill, but is several feet above a wide wash.

A cursory examination of geological survey maps in any western state will give you an appreciation for the number of hard rock mines (named or otherwise) that were developed in the west. Map symbols that denote the location of shafts, adits and tunnels provide only a partial census of mining activity. In other words, the number of mine workings greatly exceeds what you will find on any map or reference site. I should add that older geological survey maps tend to provide better information than ‘newer’ editions.

A Serious Word of Caution:

I would be completely remiss if I did not warn you that abandoned mines should be treated with utmost caution, at all times. If you are like the vast majority of people, you will have no working knowledge of underground mines. Frankly, the act of reckless exploration makes you the primary source of risk to yourself and others. People die in abandoned mines because they were uninformed, ignored indicators that would have been obvious to an experienced individual, or they were reckless thrill seekers.

This article is emphatically not about exploring deep subterranean passages or rappelling down vertical shafts; those are activities that, at best, should be left to experts or avoided entirely. Rather, this article attempts to provide you with an option for the use of a specific mine feature; one that bears no practical risk to the safety of you or your family if you use good judgment.

Stay clear of mines with vertical or incline/decline shaft entrances. Aside from the fact that they are not practical selections for shelter, many shafts are flooded at some depth. Moreover, shafts that have no protective collar at the opening may have loose, slippery material. Mine tunnels and adits frequently have vertical passages in the interior that connect to lower workings. Some of these may be hundreds of feet deep. Some adits may have been purposely collapsed, or the entrance may have been rendered unsafe by the passage of time.

This adit is about 20 feet in length and is located on the margin of a narrow wash. Note the presence of silt on the floor.

A good GPS unit could help you locate your hidden caches of supplies that you store for a SHTF scenario.

Determining whether a mine is ‘safe’ requires preparatory research, on site investigation and a thoughtful evaluation of its construction and current state, as well as an assessment of the resources that may be locally available. There are mines that I will have no qualms about using because I’ve studied them; but there are many that I would not enter for any conceivable reason. In the final analysis, you must determine whether a mine is safe to use and whether it would meet your temporary security needs. Importantly, you cannot wait until SHTF to begin thinking about the selection of an adit.

Basic Terminology

Listed below are a few important terms used to properly identify pertinent aspects of a mine. These are taken from the American Geological Institute.

  1. Adit – A horizontal mine passage driven in from the surface. Adits have a single external entrance point, but may connect to other interior mine workings, such as shafts. This is in contrast to a tunnel, which has openings to the surface at each end.
  2. Country Rock – The ground material around (surrounding) an ore body. In this case, ‘ground’ does not mean dirt. It refers to rock, such as basalt or granite.
  3. Crosscut – A horizontal underground passage driven perpendicular to the strike of an ore body. A crosscut does not have openings to the surface of the mine.
  4. Drift – Usually a horizontal underground mine passage driven parallel to the strike of an ore body.
  5. Dump – Waste rock removed by mining and deposited on the surface.
  6. Incline/Decline – A mine passage driven from the surface at an upward or downward angle from horizontal.
  7. Manway – A vertical underground passage with ladder for upward or downward movement of miners. This could be a winze, raise or shaft.
  8. Muck – Waste rock that is sometimes stacked internally or used to fill stopes.
  9. Pillar – Usually a column of ore left to support the roof in a stope (or room) or to support the country rock above an ore body.
  10. Post – A vertical support member (often timber) used to support a cap (often timber) that in turn supports the roof.
  11. Raise – An underground mine opening driven upward from below to access an overlying ore body or to provide access to an upper level.
  12. Shaft – A vertical mine passage opening to the surface for removal of waste rock, ore or entry of miners.
  13. Stope – An underground cavity left by removal of ore above or below a working level.
  14. Strike – The linear orientation of an ore body relative to the surface. For example, a north-south strike.
  15. Tailings – The finely crushed material left after a milling operation, not the same as a dump, dump rock or waste rock.
  16. Tunnel – A horizontal underground mine passage open to the surface at both ends.
  17. Winze – An underground mine opening driven downward from inside to access an ore body below, or to access a lower level of the mine.

There are many other terms that describe various characteristics of a hard rock mine, but these provide a basic description of features that are relevant to the assessment of a mine.

This adit contains an interior shaft with one or more lower levels. The pipe transported water from a sump area to the outside. Note also the ore car rails.

Reasons Why Mine Adits Might Be Considered

We’ve already established that your primary safe site is in jeopardy of being compromised. We can assume that you have no other quickly accessible and secure fall back location. So, what makes certain types of hard rock mines a suitable place of retreat?

A short list of benefits includes:

    1. Adits are horizontal at the point of entry and possess the general characteristic of having a flat floor. There may be rubble that needs to be removed, but the reason it is flat is because it served the needs of the miner. For example, there may have been ore cars that were pulled by mules, a mechanical winch, or engine at one time.       Mine scavengers will have removed most rails and ore cars long ago.
    2. Frequently, the entrances of adits were situated at a point that facilitated the easiest and most economical way to remove waste rock and ore bearing material from interior mine workings, such as shafts and stopes. That means the adit may be located at or near the same level as the operations that occurred outside. Moreover, the adit may have provided a convenient path for laying electrical cables, drainage pipes and air hoses. Because of this, adits may be relatively wide (eight feet or more).
    3. Adits that date from territorial days are frequently large enough to permit you to stand fully erect. Mines that date to the Spanish colonial era (1500’s to 1700’s) were dug by slave labor and are more likely to be very narrow, cramped passages.
    4. Many mines in remote areas are still accessible via 2-track or 4WD trails. You might have to hike the last couple of hundred yards, but the mine trail is still there. This means that your vehicle can be kept close to (and in view of) the mine entrance.
    5. In the mountainous regions of the West, adits are generally located on what I would call “steep ground.” That is, they are on the side of a hill or mountain. Importantly, that means it has some degree of elevation and a defensive field of view.
    6. The temperature in the interior of an adit is pretty stable. If you are several feet inside the entrance, the temperature may not fluctuate more than a few degrees during a 24 hour period. I have been deep inside some adits where the temperature was quite warm.
    7. It may be raining or snowing outside, but you will be dry.
    8. Many hard rock mines have small, lateral ventilation tunnels. These provide a flow of air that moves at a steady rate. If the mine has additional adits, tunnels or shafts, the flow of air will be in the direction of least resistance. This means that you can have cooking or warming fires inside the mine and the smoke will be dispersed away from you. As long as your fires are not at the mine entrance, no one outside would be able to see the light. The airflow would carry and disperse smoke to other surface openings, making it hard to detect (especially at night).
    9. Successful mines (those that produced ore) generally had an area outside the adit(s) and shafts that accommodated workshops, housing, and a place for dumping waste rock and mine tailings. Although the buildings may be long gone, it means there could be space to set up a bivouac or open air camp (but carefully consider whether you would want that type of exposure).
    10. Successful mines generally had a reliable source of water. Whether it was a creek-fed well or one powered by a windmill, there will be evidence of it. Just remember that in many areas of the arid southwest, water may be below ground level.
    11. Contrary to most imaginings, the vast majority of hard rock mines were not very large. In other words, there is a good chance that the adit might not extend into the mountainside more than 100 feet. I’ve visited quite a few prospects that are no more than 40 feet in length.       Once the prospector determined there was no economically viable ore vein, he abandoned it. Simple adits (those without additional shafts or interior working levels) are easy to evaluate.
    12. Even at relatively shallow depths, no one approaching the entrance of an adit will be able to see you. You have the defensive advantage.
    13. Many abandoned mines in the inter-mountain west are often located on federal or state land that is leased by ranchers for grazing. Cattle need water, so this means that operating wells may be located nearby.
    14. Some abandoned mines will have scrap material, including pipes, sheet metal, angle iron, nails and timbers that can be used for a variety of purposes.
    15. Depending on the depth and bearing of the ore body, successful hard rock mines often had more than one adit to reach the ore strike. While one adit might not be satisfactory (or safe) for use, there may be another suitable entrance nearby.
    16. Adits will sometimes have drifts that branch off in the direction of the strike. Storage or workshop areas may also have been dug into the country rock, providing added space on the same level.

This photo shows an area of the mine where waste rock (muck) was stacked in a stope. It illustrates that interior spaces can be used for storage of supplies, but may require using a portion of the mine that is on a lower level. If it can be reached via a short winze, you may consider using an extending metal ladder. Similar spaces may be available in adits or in drifts that branch off from an adit.

The Downside:

There are a lot of serious reasons to reject a mine site that you might be considering as a potential fall-back location. Here are a few:

  1. I’ve intensely studied more than 4,000 mines and, as noted, there are more than 400 within a one hour driving radius of my home. My definition of “suitable” and “ideal” may not match yours. There are several locations that I would be willing to use if the need arose, but their selection is based upon my personal knowledge of local terrain, water and game resources, remoteness and accessibility. The point is that you cannot simply select a mine site without having some working knowledge of the surrounding environment. Failure to do so is an invitation to disaster.
  2. A wet adit floor could mean that interior shafts and lower levels have become entirely filled with water. The mine may have flooded to a point that the water has reached the level of the adit and is now flowing to the outside.  It may be possible to set a camp outside of the mine entrance, but your use of the adit is limited to purely defensive (bunker) purposes. This also means that there is probably a flooded shaft somewhere beyond the entrance that you cannot see.
  3. Many adits have shafts and winzes that lead to lower portions of the mine and some of them can be hundreds of feet deep. If you are contemplating the use of a mine that contains these features, you absolutely must also consider the safety of your family. My earnest recommendation is to keep looking. You might feel comfortable sleeping in front a shaft, but do you want a child anywhere near one?
  4. There are a variety of wild animals that favor the safety and seclusion of a mine. I once encountered a hibernating black bear in an adit while backpacking in high country wilderness, and I’ve found rattlesnakes in more than one mine entrance. The point is that you may have to clear an adit of wild beasts, even though you didn’t find any the first time that you inspected it. Some mines will provide seasonal or permanent habitats for bats. I am a great fan of bats, but I would avoid mines occupied by them for health reasons.
  5. Selecting a mine adit that is near a well traveled 2-track road may compromise your security. Remember – other people may also be seeking the shelter and security of a mine. If your objective is safety through seclusion, don’t opt for mines that are situated near frequently travelled roads.
  6. Adits that contain wet timbers (posts and caps) may indicate water seepage through seams and fractures in the overhead rock.
  7. Collapsed posts and caps are an indicator that the roof of the adit may be unstable.
  8. Adits that were dug into highly fractured rock may slough material from overhead.
  9. Shafts and inclines/declines with ore car tracks and/or ladders constructed from timber should be avoided. These structures could easily be 70 to 150 years old. They may have been well built at the time of construction and they may appear to be in good condition, but no longer possess structural integrity.   All it would take is one loose or weak rung on a ladder to send you plunging down a shaft.
  10. Mines with incline (upward sloping) or decline (downward sloping) entrances have both practical and tactical disadvantages, even if the rate of slope is modest. In such environments, footing is less secure, moving loads into or out of the entrance are more difficult, and your angle of view from within the adit is either pointing toward the sky or down at the ground.

Accessibility

Generally speaking, abandoned mines are located in terrain that is not favorable to the use of towed trailers or motor homes, and many of the mines I have studied are not accessible to passenger cars (including some with all wheel drive) because of low clearance. In other words, you will need high clearance four wheel drive trucks to reach most mines. There are even a few that are best reached by OHV type vehicles, at least within the last mile or so. If you are a “flat-lander”, some of these trails may be intimidating. Heavy storms may lead to rock fall, wash-outs or minor land slides that weren’t there last time you used the trail. When in doubt, it is best to walk the road and clear any debris that might damage your vehicle. Take your time. Be safe.

Roads leading into mining areas may not be maintained by federal or state agencies. In some cases, 2-track roads are only maintained by local ranchers on an as needed basis, even though they are on ‘federal’ land.

Some mines will be located on patented, private land, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the owner is present. While you are in the scouting and research phase you may want to determine whether the location that you favor is sitting on someone’s private (but otherwise unoccupied) property. In my own research I have located several abandoned mines that are on patented parcels in remote locations. I’ve corresponded with or spoken to some of these land owners and they are all good people. If you establish a fallback site that happens to be on private land, respect their property rights. Do no harm or damage.

Primary all weather roads on National Forests are pretty reliable; however, there is no guarantee that the Forest Service will allow access to forests during a SHTF incident – particularly if martial law has been declared. When you consider that the Forest Service is bent on preventing citizen access to our forests during ‘normal’ times, you would be wise to anticipate complete closure when SHTF. If the intended fall back site requires use of a Forest Service road, I would recommend that you find a ‘back door’ alternate route. If no such route exists, find another mine site.

If you are compelled to use a remote abandoned mine then you are beyond the stage of worrying about brush marks on your vehicle. A lot of mine trails have become overgrown with brush over the decades, which reduces the width of the trail. It will result in some scratches. My advice: Get over it. While we’re on that subject, I would also suggest that you resist the urge to clear the trail. Freshly cut brush and tree limbs are a dead giveaway that someone is using the road. It would be counter productive to leave your calling card where the trail branches off from a frequently traveled 2-track road. At minimum, leave the initial portion of the trail in its native state. You should also consider brushing out any tire tracks that indicate where you turned off.

You may want to consider creating some type of temporary roadblock on the trail leading to the mine site. Vehicles that are already constrained by narrow trails, thick brush or trees will have a more difficult time getting around an obstacle that you have placed on the trail. Anything that impedes or slows down approaching traffic will give you a tactical advantage. Just remember – you will have to clear the roadblock on your way out.

The term “accessibility” can be stretched to include your ability to depart from the fall back site once it is no longer needed. In this context, accessibility implies that you have enough fuel to go both directions. These sites do not come with convenience markets or gas stations, so you will need to bring or pre-position the fuel and supplies needed when you are ready to exfil.

It should go without saying that once you have established your site you should remain in place and limit movement as much as possible. Vehicular movement can be spotted from a distance of several miles when an observer has favorable elevation. The glint from your windshield will alert others to your presence. Button up your site and stay put.

Google Earth can be an invaluable research tool to help you locate and assess the terrain and resources near a mine site.

What lured the early settlers and adventure seekers to the vast territory of the American West? In a word: Gold. Early exploitation of minerals and ores were greatly hampered by

I wanted to address a few common misconceptions that I think some people have with how they plan to address a SHTF event in their lives. There are some that are more dangerous than others granted, but all of these prepping myths give us an opportunity to dissect various topics in the prepping community to better understand the risks and rewards of various approaches. In this article, I want to discuss the myth that some preppers have that if the SHTF they are simply going to don their brand new Bug Out Bags and quietly walk into the national forest. This is the bug out to the woods strategy that I read about often in comments or on forums.

This weekend I was walking with my dog on a new trail we had discovered and as often happens, I began to look around at the trees and water sources and soak in the apparent solitude. I think about how remote we are when we get into the woods and the sounds from roads, picnic areas or nearby neighborhoods falls away and you are left with the feeling that you are in the middle of nowhere. I think about this even though I know full well that I am just a short walk back to the parking lot where myself and dozens of others have pulled in temporarily to enjoy the outdoors and a relatively undisturbed spot of nature that our tax dollars are funding.

I was walking down trails, crossing small creeks and envisioning how someone could think that if a disaster happened how they could run out here and survive for a while at least. I was even thinking this myself for a while, but the idea that many people could survive a SHTF event simply by walking into the woods and making a shelter is foolhardy. If this is your plan, you might want to consider a few things first before you leave it all behind and step into the woods for what could be the last time.

Could other people have the same idea as you?

What do you think you are running to?

As with any conversation on topics common to the prepping community, it helps to set a framework for discussion. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that you and your family must leave your home. This could be for a whole host of reasons, but we will go on the assumption that you are running from a bad situation (riots, war, plague, and zombies) and your hope is to find peace, safety and perhaps a new life hidden in the woods of a nearby forest. This could be a large national forest or simply a few thousand acres in your town that hasn’t been developed.

It sounds logical at first doesn’t it? You have the gear you need in your bug out bag, you have been camping before so living in the woods on its face doesn’t seem like a bad idea. There is no place else to go and if you simply walk into the forest, you can find a place next to a stream or a lake, set up camp and begin hunting for wild game and frying some freshly caught fish. Maybe you even have a location that you have been to before that you know is perfect and you think that you will be safe in this remote space in the woods and that somehow you will be able to avoid whatever it was you were running from.

Now, I will admit that there are people who can walk into the wild and survive, even thrive. The number of people who can do this with only what they carry on their back is a miniscule number though and the people I have witnessed (usually on TV if I’m honest) have a tremendous amount of skills, experience and luck. Is this a group you consider yourself a member of?

Most of us, even the crustiest through-hiker on the Appalachian trail needs supplies to live. Can we go out for brief times and survive? Of course, but if you plan to walk into the forest for the rest of your life with nothing more than some snares you have never used, your trusty .22 rifle , and some dehydrated food I think you need to revisit your strategy.

What are the downsides?

The downsides to this approach are numerous but I think the main two are that most of us do not live in the middle of nowhere. If a societal collapse were to happen, there would be a lot of other people with bug out bags hiking into the woods right along with you. That wild game you are depending on catching just like they do on the survival shows, won’t stand up to an onslaught of weekend warriors with their expensive sleeping pads and high powered rifles. In this scenario, it isn’t like you can walk back to Walmart and get some groceries and go back to your tent in the woods.

Where I live we have a homeless population that disappears every night. I know that in warmer months, a good number of them live in a wooded area between two interstates, but my assumption is that area isn’t the safest place in the world. These homeless people have a stable society they can walk to for shelter or a handout on most days. What if the stable society collapsed and started moving in with them? What if nobody could eat and there were no shelters to go when the temperature gets cold? Maybe you could find a reasonably remote place to stay where you wouldn’t have other people around you, but you would still find the issues of acquiring food a major obstacle.

If that isn’t enough, safety would be a huge consideration in the woods. Your tent offers zero protection from a sharp stick, much less bullets. Additionally, have you tried to live in them for weeks at a time? Even the best tents start breaking down and hand-made shelters would need to be constantly worked on to maintain their weather proofing. If you are surrounded by forest, it will be harder to see people approaching you and it would be easy for them to spy on you from a distance without being seen. If the SHTF and times are desperate, anything you have could become something that unscrupulous people want to take from you. What about if you wanted to leave camp? You couldn’t lock anything up could you so it could easily be stolen while you were away. Leave someone behind and they could be overwhelmed by larger numbers. Would you leave a woman alone in this situation?

Is there a better plan?

I have said numerous times that my first plan is to bug in at almost all costs. Does that mean I will never leave my house regardless of the reason? No, but I would have to be under extreme pressure before I would take my family into the woods. If I was making my way somewhere and only needed to stop in the woods for the night – that would be one thing. I would not plan on packing all our stuff on our backs and hiking into the forest though and expect to survive for very long.

What if you know how to forage off the land and you can eat nuts and berries? That’s great but all the other issues are still there. Other people are going to be with you in the forest, and you can’t defend a tent as well as you can your house. If you believe that your bug out plan is to hike into the National Forest that connects to your property and you haven’t considered some of these points, maybe it’s worth a second thought. I myself will know when it’s time to retreat and run away, but I will be very slow to leave my home and although I love walking, hiking and even backpacking in the woods I don’t think it is a valid plan to try and live there if the grid-goes down. Give me my home and zero electricity or water over the nakedness of the forest any day.

I wanted to address a few common misconceptions that I think some people have with how they plan to address a SHTF event in their lives. There are some that

 

When the SHTF and Nellie has Dementia

Dementia is not just about forgetting things. Memory loss, confusion and incontinence are some of the earlier symptoms, but definitely not the only things to face.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines dementia as: “A group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.”

According to the American Alzheimer’s Association (2015), five million people in the USA are living with dementia – that’s one person in 64; most of them over the age of 65 (younger people can develop dementia).

For the last five years, I have been caring for my mother who is now 87 years old. She has vascular dementia. Many of the observations made in this article are drawn from my own experience and from talking to other carers. Some of this article will be of use to those living with other disabilities. Not all people with dementia will have all these needs and there will be other things I have not mentioned – it is not meant to be a primer on dementia care. Some points are more relevant to those who are bugging out, but most can be applied to any situation.

For this article, I have chosen to give a name to the person with dementia. Her name is Nellie.

Prepping for those with Dementia

Add to your stockpile: Spare parts and the tools to repair and maintain mobility aids eg. tires, pump, water dispersal spray, oil, small spanners etc. You can fit/hide more than you think in the frame of a wheelchair!

Black cloth or plastic (it must be black) – Nellie may be a compulsive wanderer. Three or four large pieces of something black strategically placed around your living space may reduce the chance of wandering (Alzheimer’s Foundation of America). Why? Nellie’s brain sees the cloth as a hole and instinct takes over to prevent her from falling in!

Melatonin pills (unless contra-indicated) – Nellie may sleep for 20 hours a day, which as long as she is happy, presents few issues. But on other days, she seems to survive on only four. Nellie’s carers (and the rest of the group) need their sleep in order to function.

“Melatonin production slows as we age and is especially compromised in Alzheimer’s disease, a factor that may contribute to disrupted sleep in dementia sufferers. Melatonin supplements may improve some sleep-related symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease.”- (Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation).

Monster spray – A few squirts from a decorated spray bottle of colored water can scare off many of the frightening things lurking in Nellie’s version of the world. In this respect, and in many others, Nellie is like a child. Some will say the monster spray is just playing to her insecurities. Maybe; but a drug-free way to a calm Nellie (leading to a calmer group!) is not to be discredited.

Incontinence supplies – Disposable diapers, pull-ups and incontinence pads are convenient but they are expensive and eventually, supplies will run out. There are washable alternatives, worn with water-resistant plastic pants (watch for irritated skin).  (absorbs up to 570ml of urine) or cloth diapers (absorbs up to 400ml of urine). Expect Nellie to use several pairs of underwear every day. Pads from a lightweight fabric bag stuffed with soft and absorbent sphagnum moss can work for mild incontinence. The moss is available from many garden centers and some hardware stores. Night time requires something much more absorbent but so far, I have not found anything I am willing to recommend.

You will also need to stockpile nappy rash cream, at least three draw sheets (puppy pads or similar are a useful back up), urinary tract infection remedies, soft wash cloths, disposable gloves (they can be washed and reused a few times) and plastic bags.

Suitable food and utensils – secure everything else out of sight – Many people with dementia, especially in the later stages, will lose interest in food; often because they are losing their sense of smell and therefore, of taste. Bitter and sweet are the last parts of taste to be lost. I prefer sweet foods to bitter ones: those with dementia are no different. Nellie may pile on the salt so she can actually ‘taste something’ and reject anything she perceives as tasteless. Are you going to anger Nellie by rationing the sweet things?

Nellie may have difficulty swallowing and will need a soft diet, or even pureed food. Do not be tempted to think that commercially available baby food is the easy option. Nellie will most likely not eat it. Have you tried the stuff? Most of it is almost tasteless to the adult palate, therefore to someone like Nellie, it is totally unappetizing!

A study done by biopsychologists at Boston University (2004) showed that people with Alzheimer’s ate up to 25% more when their meals were presented on a red plate. Why red? Red is highly visible and contrasts with many foods – if it doesn’t, use another color for Nellie’s meal. If she can see it, she just might eat it. You may need to rotate the plate during the meal as Nellie’s brain may not register the whole plate. It may be easier for Nellie to use children’s crockery (plates with a lip, cutlery with chunky or even angled handles, sipper cups or a mug with two handles) when eating her meals.

A word of caution: as the dementia progresses; compounded by the decreasing sense of smell and taste, Nellie may not realize that soap is not food and disinfectant is not safe to drink.

Extra clothing, towels and laundry supplies – You will need extra clothing because of the incontinence, especially if you are unable to wash and dry things every day. A ringer bucket will make laundry day easier. But even then, things may take two or three days to dry; longer if there is not much sunlight. In springtime, mum’s draw sheet took only 3 hours to dry when hanging on the line but a day or more inside. The incontinence pants took 4-6 hours to dry on the line and two days inside.

Lightweight microfiber towels used by hikers are surprisingly absorbent, very compact, and quick to dry. Mine takes about half an hour to dry in the sun or two hours if I hang it up inside.

Twiddle – Appreciated by professional care givers for its calming effect

If you judge it safe to do, write Nellie’s name and address/destination on her clothing in case she wanders.

Something to comfort Nellie – People with dementia can sometimes draw a great amount of comfort from a familiar soft toy to cuddle, a ‘twiddle muff’ or a ‘twiddle blanket’. A favorite piece of music helps too (another reason to include a small musical instrument in the SHTF kit).

Learn how to:

Repair mobility aids – Unfortunately, even with the best of care, wheelchairs, walking frames etc will eventually break or wear out. The ability to fashion new ones from the remains of the old (or whatever random parts you can scavenge) will be a useful skill to have.

Sing Nellie’s favorite songs – As well as providing entertainment, it may help reduce Nellie’s fear and agitation/aggression.

Live in Nellie’s world – Reality may confuse or upset Nellie. Unless it is a matter of life and death, always agree with her: it’s easier on everyone. A lie can be your friend, especially if the short-term memory has gone and they are living in the past. When she asks for the third time this morning “Where’s Johnny?” don’t tell her Johnny died last month, just say he has gone to get some bread, or whatever seems suitable.

Recognize triggers – Similar to PTSD, some things can trigger extreme distress in those with dementia. In mum’s case, a low-flying fighter plane will send her looking for an air raid shelter. In some situations, if you know what the triggers are, you can have a well-timed distraction in place.

And if the SHTF?

Nellie is going to be slower than you or me – “We have to leave NOW!” is not going to be easy, especially in darkness or low-light conditions. Nellie will pick up on the urgency and become distressed even if she doesn’t understand what’s happening. And that means it will take longer than usual to get her ready to leave.

When walking, the group can only move at the pace of its slowest member. If Nellie is mobile, she may tire easily and not be as sure-footed as you or me. Walking frames are not designed for rough terrain and most of the time, their brakes are useless for anything except a straight and level surface. Some wheelchairs are better suited for sand and rough ground than others but none will be of any use with a flat tire. Have someone scan ahead for accidentally – or deliberately – placed tire traps. And someone still has to push the chair. If you think it’s hard work pushing a toddler, try pushing a fully grown adult, even if she is underweight. Test yourself. My current limit pushing mum’s distinctly average wheelchair uphill and down and along slightly muddy ground is about 90 minutes.

Some things are not so obvious:

Nellie may have no depth perception – Shadows may be perceived as steps to avoid, or rocks to go around. And nothing will convince her otherwise. When Nellie is getting agitated and grabbing at ‘nothing’, it may be her trying to reach for something she wants 10′ away.

Nellie may be noisy and will not self-censor – Nellie may not understand the need to remain quiet. She may even make involuntary noises. This could pose a security risk. And if Nellie announces “Gee, he’s fat!” to the lout blocking your way, the rest of the group may not have a chance to smooth things over.

“I want to go home!” – Nellie and others with dementia need to feel safe in their own world (even if their world is not the same as yours). Routines help them to feel safe. In a SHTF situation, this may be impossible. Often the desire to go home is a deep-seated feeling that things are not right, not familiar in the world she suddenly finds herself in. If Nellie is mobile, she may try to get home. Home may actually be her childhood home, not the home she raised you in. This is where the ‘black holes’, the songs and the cuddly toy can really help.

But what about Nellie?

I know there are some out there who would cite their version of the Greater Good theory, saying it is too difficult and too risky to have Nellie in the group. Ultimately, like many SHTF-based decisions, it comes down to “Which decision will haunt me the least?” In other words: a matter for your conscience.

All I can say is that during the Blitz, Granny stayed behind and sheltered mum when she could not get her to the air raid shelter. Mum would never leave me behind and I will not leave her when she needs me the most.

Before you go, you may also like:

This is more than just about your guns…
How to survive any medical crisis situation with ease
10 Easy Steps to Secure your privacy
Secret Military Solution For Power Independence

DIY Unlimited water source
Why a food reserve is way better than the Federal Reserve
Lost Skills of our Ancestors that still work today

  When the SHTF and Nellie has Dementia Dementia is not just about forgetting things. Memory loss, confusion and incontinence are some of the earlier symptoms, but definitely not the only things

As preppers, we are always looking for solutions to problems. The solutions we find can come in many forms; from a different mindset or viewpoint, to skills training and in many cases, simply acquiring gear and supplies needed for survival. In some respects, prepping could be reduced down to the most basic aspect of problem solving to stay alive. One of the main problems preppers seem to be drawn to solve is the very realistic potential of having to drop everything and bug out of your home in a moment’s notice. There is a wide array of considerations on this topic, but today I want to focus on one potential answer to the bugging out problem, the bug out bike.

The bug out bike is not something we have dealt with much on Final Prepper before, but I did mention it as a possibility to consider in an older post on the topic of the Ultimate Get Out of Dodge Vehicle. I recently got interested in this subject again when I purchased a mountain bike for myself. I will admit that part of my decision to do so was from the standpoint that this could be a viable method of transportation if cars/fuel were no longer available due to shortage or EMP effects. It also helped that my wife was on-board with this idea too.

In looking further at my mountain bike, I started to consider the potential for using this as a tool to help us bug out. Since my family all had bikes now, could we use these relatively simple machines to our benefit? There are some advantages certainly, but I wanted to explore whether this bike would be a good idea or could end up being a large mistake. As with most things in prepping, there aren’t many absolutes. You take the situation you are given and deal with it, but there is nothing to say that the situation you planned for will work out the exact way you want it to. Prepping is equal measures preparation and creativity. You prepare for one thing to happen, but you need to be flexible if all that goes sideways on you.

What is a bug out bike?

For the purposes of this article, I am not talking about a motorcycle. A bug out bike in this context is similar to what most of us are intimately familiar with already. As a child growing up, owning a bike was pretty much a given. Your bike is what conveyed you all around the neighborhood to see friends and test the bounds of your relatively small borders. All of my friends had bikes and we rode them daily in virtually any weather until we grew old enough to get our drivers license.

The bikes of my youth were great for zipping down the road or jumping homemade ramps out of scrap pieces of wood but a bug out bike is a little more serious in design. A bug out bike is meant to give you a way out of a danger zone when traditional methods of transportation are no longer available. Ideally, a true bug out bike would be designed to carry the additional weight of supplies or your survival gear and be rugged enough to make a journey over less than ideal terrain.

There are two main types of bikes I see repeatedly that are proposed as the best bug out solution. Touring bikes are routinely used by millions each day to get back and forth to work. They can be outfitted with panniers to carry additional supplies like your lunch, laptop and change of clothes. They are geared to help you climb hills more easily and offer plenty of features for the modern commuter who doesn’t or can’t rely on a car or other mass transportation.

Mountain bikes are the other side of the coin and they too can be outfitted with additional storage capacity just like touring bikes, but they are meant to be treated a little more severely and might give up some of the comforts a touring bike could give you.

Either one of these two options could be a great benefit to your personal well-being even if nothing ever happens. Owning a bike is an excellent way to get exercise and interact with your surroundings in a different way. Just like everything else in life, the amount of money you can invest in this potential survival tool can vary greatly what you end up with. You can find used bikes on Craigslist or you can spend well over $5000 on the lightest bikes with the best equipment. Cost aside, I do believe that any bike would be good to have for both the health benefits and potential bug out options. You don’t necessarily have to have anything fancy as long as the wheels roll and you are in the proper shape to use it. But when we are considering solving the problem of bugging out, we need to look more closely and see if that bug out bike is the best option for your situation.

Does a bug out bike have any uses after SHTF?

When we go back to planning to bug out with the idea that we can ride to safety, let’s look at a few assumptions. First off, bugging out implies that you are leaving home or wherever you are currently located and traveling to someplace else. This could be to a remote bug out retreat, a friend’s house or out of the immediate vicinity of danger. Any bug out situation would ideally see you with the ready capacity to grab your bug out bag and go but travel by bike has just as many risks as bugging out by car of by foot.

Traveling by bike has numerous advantages:

No need to stop at the pump – You don’t require any fuel other than your own pedal power, but knowing this you have to also consider how much more physically intensive your day may be so food is an important factor. If you plan to cover 50 miles a day on a bike, you will burn though calories (unless you are going downhill) like crazy.

Flat tires should be less of a problem – Yes, bikes do carry a risk of flat tires just like cars, but it is far simpler to carry both spare tubes and patch kits for that eventuality. With a hand pump and a spare tube, you can be back on the road in minutes. Cars carry spares of course, but you would be hard pressed to carry multiple spares without losing valuable space. I can fit two spare tubes in a small pack under my seat.

Bikes can go where cars can’t go – Bikes do have a greater ability to squeeze into small spaces making any traffic jam easily navigated. Additionally, you can cut across wilderness using trails if you have that route mapped out.

Bug Out Bikes allow you to carry more gear – Or at least easily distribute the weight off your back. The properly outfitted bike can carry 40 -50 pounds of gear in bags and pouches. This weight isn’t free as you will still need to be responsible for pedaling it uphill but it’s hard to beat. Bug Out Bags themselves can cause injury to joints if you aren’t used to carrying that weight. When all your gear is loaded properly on a bike, even if you are talking about the same weight in gear, it will be easier to manage.

Bikes are quieter and easier to hide – You can easily sneak through areas in stealth mode on a bike assuming that you need to do that. Even the quietest car is far noisier and if you need to hide your bike, that is far easier done than with a car. You can lay it down in a small depression and cover it with branches or debris gathered from nearby.

But the bug out bike is not without its drawbacks

Some of the same reasons I used above for advantages can also be the bug out bike’s most obvious weaknesses in a bug out scenario.

Your bike offers zero shelter – I don’t mean that you can’t pack a tent on the back but you are essentially exposed to all of the elements on a bike. Weather is one thing, but there is some comfort that the mass of a vehicle can provide. You can be easily knocked off your bike by someone who is panicked and sees your ride with all those supplies as a way out. The traffic jam you are breezing through could easily be the place where someone jumps out from behind a truck and smashes you in the face with a bat. You are out for hours while someone makes off with your way out of dodge.

You can’t outrun everyone – Bikes can go very fast downhill but loaded down with 50 pounds of gear, going uphill is a recipe for again getting trapped by unscrupulous people. You won’t be crashing through any barricades with a bike either.

Two wheels aren’t as stable as 4 – slippery surfaces or the potential of trying to bug out in winter could send you flying into a ditch. Bikes are best in optimal conditions and balance must to taken into consideration.

Only one person can drive a bike – You are responsible for pedaling yourself and it isn’t like you can get tired and give someone else the wheel while you catch some sleep. I know this is the same problem a lone traveler by car would have but it is a factor. People riding bikes in the worst types of collapse could consider using night vision and only riding at night for somewhat safer travel.

Should you give up on your bug out bike dreams?

I think bikes offer so many possibilities that they should be considered as options. While I don’t necessarily plan to bug out on bikes, they are in my arsenal as a last resort. We can ride them to our hearts content now and get in better physical shape should we need to rely on them later and I am planning for a 21 mile ride myself this afternoon to further that goal.

Bikes don’t necessarily have to only be bug out options. Bikes could have extreme usefulness in a disaster even if you are staying put. Let’s say gas does run out or somehow the electric grid does collapse, you can still use your bike to get around. You could look at those as potential barter items for people who severely need an option to travel. They can make manning guard locations in an all-out collapse easier than walking. They make a lot of sense for many reasons.

Back to prepping as a way of solving problems. I view bikes as another way you can solve a few problems you might be faced with. They aren’t perfect, but I don’t think many other bug out plans are bulletproof. You try something and if that doesn’t work you have a back-up. Maybe your bikes are strapped to your bug out vehicle and you pull them out if you are unable to go any further with that truck. Options.

Are bikes a good survival option for you? They may be, or they could just be a great way to have fun, get outside and get in shape. Either way, it’s a win for preppers.

As preppers, we are always looking for solutions to problems. The solutions we find can come in many forms; from a different mindset or viewpoint, to skills training and in

 

Bug In or Bug Out?

For me my first choice is a bug in at home though I am not sold on it as a definite concept. For this reason I have one prime bug out location (BOL) at a cottage and two secondary ones at friends’ homes. This is really a personal choice. For all those that say you are 100% dead staying at home in SHTF there are more saying you will 100% die in the woods. The truth is between the two extremes but for me I need a roof and walls so I have them at home and at the cottage. If you bug in will it work long-term? If you bug out can you get there and can you be assured of survival on arrival?

The Bug Out at the Primary Residence or Your Primary Bug Out Location (BOL)

If you do not have a wood fire and close, dense forests then I’d not even consider this. Same is required for several local water sources. Having a great knowledge of the neighborhood helps even if the neighbors are literally a knife throw away! For me I keep them both equally stocked as I am still figuring out the pros and cons of each and likely will be doing so until, and if, the actual SHTF occurs. “Two is one, one is none” seems a good rule except for BOL where many people have one main choice. So rather than having one, either bug in it home or bug out then in at a BOL, I have two. Costs more of course but if you are really preparing for the end of civilization it seems a better idea to me than focusing on only one main alternative.

Food

You should have a year’s supply of food stored in the house and the same buried nearby that you can access even if you cannot use your house. That would be a minimum for a SHTF scenario. As you go beyond this (I’d aim for twenty years supply. I have two at present) keep a year’s worth in the home or BOL and the rest in ground cached nearby in multiple locations but accessible if you cannot safely enter the home.

If you are focusing on preparing for a Winter storm, train derailment, etc. then you are preparing for something other than the end of civilization. I always prepare for the worst possible case as it makes the more likely events very easy to navigate through. This should cost you about a thousand dollars. Buy Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Buy strong food grade buckets and consider the gamma lids for all of them but at least four of them. Unscrew the middle, empty, add a plastic bag, and you have a toilet!

groceries

You should have a year’s supply of food stored in the house.

Buy oats, flour, pastas, sugar, extra virgin coconut oil, rice, beans, and grains (each bucket has most of these as you do not have only one or two types of food in a bucket. If you have to grab a couple and run at least you have a bit of variety) in bulk and freeze them for 72 hours to kill the critters and then decant into one gallon or smaller Mylar bags. Add in yeast and salt and spices to every bucket and you are good to go. Have a good mix of types rather than just white rice and pinto beans (these are a great staple but have a variety available).

On average each five gallon bucket is approximately one month’s food for one person but with decent foraging and careful use you can stretch this to two months. You will lose weight but so is everyone else. They stack well but are obvious so plan where you keep them carefully. Mine has asphalt added to their outside for the driveway sealing I’m never going to do. Consider the Mylar bags only in your attic placed so they cannot be seen if anyone looks into the space if the attic is not a room. Consider tins and cans stocked in under the bed containers placed under the stairs and well covered by the usual junk people have. I have a huge amount of tins and jars padded by blankets in the bottoms of boxes filled with old cassette and video tapes. If able put tins and bottles inside wall spaces which I have not as yet done.

I do rotate food but not the long-term stores. I have about ten cardboard buckets filled with a variety of everyday foods we normally eat and replace the filled pantry from these and then repurchase. This adds up quickly and we believe tins do not really expire if not used before their expiry dates.

Tools for Survival

product

BioLite Wood Burning Campstove – Powers most USB-chargeable devices including smartphones

A full range of gardening tools and prepping supplies is an absolute requirement as is seeds. Seeds go off so get the expensive Mylar sealed ones but spend only $10-20 on these a year. Buy a few every year and store carefully. You cannot have too many nor can you wait until SHTF to learn gardening. It is a lot of fun and not as hard as I figured it would be before I started out. Consider raised garden boxes and have lots of tarps and nails to cover these if the SHTF is radiological. Have poles and clear plastic to construct a greenhouse if, like me, you do not need one at present. Learn how to harvest seeds now and not in SHTF. I have mixed success with beans and amaranth and incredible success with most herbs. I am still learning but it is easy and fun once you get into it. I absolutely will not be gardening until after the first Winter post SHTF. This would be making myself a target.

Have three plans to cook food and make sure all three are not dependent on modern civilization. I have a wood house fire, a BioLite, and a solar cooker. I also have propane for those none long-term events when I don’t really want to cook in the living room. Have at least two good quality cast iron pans and the ability to boil water in 5-10 pint amounts on an open flame.

Have good quality foraging and wilderness skills books. Open these up frequently and look at them and try to use them. Have a large store of plastic bags and bottles. Learn how to boil can as a minimum and have a plan to dehydrate via solar large quantities of fruits and vegetables. Your pre-collapse buckets will eventually run out and your job is to use them as little as possible for as long as possible. Have some ability and knowledge to harvest tree sap for drinking and for boiling down into sugars if you live in a suitable area. Know how to harvest bark and cook it. It is tasty and full of sugars. Again do not wait until SHTF to find the axe is rubbish for this or you do not know how to peel it correctly from a living tree.

For me livestock is not possible for various reasons but if you can you should explore this and make sure you can feed them well in SHTF even if the stores never open again. Fishing rods, lines, hooks, and nets are set up at home and the cottage for us and we know how to smoke them (the fish I mean!).

If you do not sprout seeds already may I suggest you start to do so? It is easy, healthy, and tasty. Again they go off over time so buy yearly but keep all of them. Some is better than none. They also turn into plants and require very simple equipment you should have now rather than try to improvise in SHTF.

Water

berkeyfilter

Berkey Filters are excellent Prepper resources.

Have at least two sources of water within easy walking range. Have a wheel barrow and buckets to transport it to cut down on the time and effort this part of your new life will take. If this is not possible you need to store thousands of gallons of water not a few cases of bottled water.

Have the ability to clean and use the water using various means. Initially I am using stored water and then the Berkey Water Filter. This is expensive but I do feel a good Berkey with four black and four white filters at my home are well worth the investment. We used it in a previous home for all our water but here it is wrapped up in a plastic tote waiting for the day I need it again. Next year the BOL gets one as well as it is an essential and essentials should work very well, for years, and be ready to use at your destination not carried there. Tablets and portable filter systems are for traveling only in my opinion. I have a lot of them so I can use them for daily living if the need arises.

Good quality rain barrels, tarps, and food grade plastic pipes should be readily available to convert rain into water for drinking, bathing, and the garden. Again I have these but they are not set up as I am not keen on screaming “prepper” to anyone who walks by the house or cottage. You should also have a large supply of large clear soda pop bottles. I do not use the stuff myself but collect them from others who do for “starting my plants”. Prefilter, lie in the sun, and consume in a couple of days. SODIS water treatment is clearly explained on the web and is an easy back up plan to provide large quantities of water if the Berkley fails.

Heating

As I said I’d not consider staying anywhere without wood heating but I live near lots of woods and in a climate that gets a bit cold in the Winter. Cold enough to freeze your nose hairs! I have a decent tent system and on top of the mattress in front of the fire it will work great especially with the sleeping system we have. I have not duplicated this at the cottage as I’d rather travel with the ability to be warm but I see the need to spend the cash at some point in the near future.

men

Wood-stoves in Northern climates will save lives in a SHTF event.

I have lots of black bags to seal the windows (see Security) and lots of cheap survival blankets to put up for heat reflection and clear plastic for the doorways. It is my number one concern as death will come swiftly to the unheated up here. In the Summer (yes it does get hot in Canada) the basement of the home stays cool and the cottage stays cool as it is on a rock system by a river.

We have decent Winter clothing in both places and SHTF clothing ready to go in the basement. I went with merino wool for the base layers but have cheaper layers to wick if I feel the need to change clothes in the Winter. I plan on getting smelly in SHTF (see Security) initially and during the Winter a weekly spot wash is all I can see doing.
Power

I would love to put up solar panels at the home and the cottage but until more people do it is just a big, fat target on me. The one home in our neighborhood with solar is not defensible and I cannot see how they expect to stay there if armed and cold people show up. One day perhaps when 25% of the homes do this I will but until then it is simply not worth the risk.

I plan to have no lights at night. Up at dawn, work hard, sleep at night when not on watch from day one in SHTF. For millennia that was the human experience and I see clinging to our current lifestyle in any form in SHTF as being risky. I can use solar lights to generate light that is brighter than the current house lights but that is for emergencies only. I am not even sure if I’d risk it then but I have it and it works. I use a few small solar panels that easily get enough power for this when set up on the 300 square foot balcony and the Biolite stove produces a bit.

I am flirting with a gas generator but for SHTF I cannot see the use. We no longer have a sump pump in the basement so really it would be for the fridge and freezer in a temporary Summer blackout.

Transportation

Our car is the bugout vehicle of choice and we keep 40 liters of gas on hand all the time but if I cannot use it then we have decent bikes with small panniers. Walking would be our main transport method so the wheel barrow is an essential bit of kit as well as good quality back packs. Other than the local area I am not planning traveling much at all in SHTF. Kayaks at the cottage would be helpful in the warmer months if a distance travel was needed but I’d not risk it without a clear destination and honestly in SHTF my local area will be the extent of my concerns.

Security

Guns run out of ammo and using them might not be a good idea if people fire back. The noise would also likely attract a lot of unwanted attention. Plus in Canada it is not as easy to equip yourself like GI Joe as it is in our neighbor to the south. I also think it creates a false sense of security but that is just my opinion. If I find a gun in SHTF I’ll carry it and use it. I have some plans on how to do that but it is not really a legal thing.

The home is defended mainly by passive means. Heavy duty iron fencing and another six-foot wooden one going up in the Spring. Having dogs means this sort of fencing is actually above suspicion and welcomed by the neighbors. Barb wire and solar motion lights go up in SHTF as I am not that sociable at the best of times. Doors, windows, and frames have the fixes easily done and available on the web but the wood pile by the garage is basically entering the ground floor in early SHTF. Stacked high and deep on tarps it won’t allow anyone to get in. We can leave the house by the ladder on the balcony as and when we feel it is safe to do so. It does mean I can be burned out but the house is concrete and looks small and uninviting compared to the neighborhood which are wood and much larger. Passive alarms on any entry point and wooden hurricane boards are further things that go up in SHTF.

Operation

The cottage goes for not looking inhabited and the already ransacked method. As a nurse I have a collection of body bags and a few of these around the place with rotting meat inside would likely put off most people along with the danger contamination signs and tape.

Both places have food and supplies in ground away from them in case of loss of the building (fire or intruders) and I have plans to evacuate and retake both places. This is situational and has some legal issues so I am not discussing it here but stay and fight to me seems more risky than running from the determined and taking it back later on. I’d definitely allow any intruders who have driven me from the place to find a large amount of alcohol that is poorly hidden. As hard as it might be to not drink it myself in SHTF I want to make sure a large group of intruders can get well drunk in this circumstance.

Both places have lots of black heavy-duty garbage bags and duct tape. All doors and windows get blacked out but, again, I am not planning to use light sources at night. In the first few months of SHTF I am also not planning to have the fires going at all and later on only at night. If it hits in the Winter this will have to change but we can stay warm enough without a fire for a week or more. Making cooking smells or showing smoke is just not worth it in the early phase of SHTF and we have planned food, clothing, and sleeping accordingly. Use a wood fire at night if possible and have no daytime smoke.

Active methods of security are bows and lots of arrows. The home entry points are blocked so anyone determined enough to scale the 9-12 foot balcony might be asked politely to not do so. We also have a lot of throwing knives and attached to long sticks, they can be useful to spear fish or any other thing dumb enough to try to get into the home. Classic historical methods of deterring intruders from your ‘castle’ and they work silently. A well-aimed piece of fire wood is also off-putting. One thing I have determined that intruders are dealt with in ways that mean they cannot every return to try again.

In both areas we have good relations with our neighbors and plan to help them out a bit depending on the SHTF. We know them and their habits and have studied them carefully for a few years. We absolutely have not revealed ourselves as preppers nor would do so in SHTF. I am hoping for a Winter event so this aspect dies off rapidly but you need to have neighbors who are allies not enemies. In a bad SHTF they are all enemies so mainly we plan to hide out and defend as best we can.

Going outside will be carefully done. The radios are only for emergency use and we would only use planned routes and times of travel to avoid people. Having worked twelve-hour nights for years it will be no issue going outside at 3am and being back by 5am. Each outside trip will be in the same outer clothes each time and no these will never get laundered. Hair and beards will grow as if we cannot heat water to clean them. After a couple of weeks your hair does not really need washing anyhow (yes we tried that!). Food intake will be rationed so we will lose weight except the day before any planned heavy work or travel when we will have a decent 4000-5000 Calorie day. This will also be a Sunday thing for us but mainly 1500-2000 calories a day the rest of the time. Fat people will stand out very quickly in SHTF.

Have one in ground food cache and two in home ones that are okay but you would happily surrender to an intruder if over powered. Giving them something very reluctantly might save you or not but is worth a try. Getting a week’s worth by emptying your “only” stores should make them happy. In a slowly evolving SHTF we will ask for food and water. We will line up for it and use anything supplied locally. Not doing so is a big red flag that you do not need the help.
After the first year we plan to advertise our health care skills if the area is stable and generally join in with whatever community is there. As both towns are old ones with a long history of water trade and lumbering I cannot see someone not starting a community in them once the population has again dropped to a normal historical size for the terrain. Skills are more important than equipment and we both have great health care skills. We also have a lot of equipment and know how to replace it. People will need to give birth and have bones fixed and cuts sutured.

Obviously offering these services will only be done when our community has sorted itself out without our help. I have no desire to be the leader nor am I willing to risk our preps before stability has occurred. I also have no desire to join a prepping community as I cannot see myself being part of either a paramilitary or hippy organization. Maybe I’ll meet some eventually that seem more suitable and I would happily store food and supplies in their BOL but I’d rather be a lone wolf than submit to some else’s authority however benign.

Location

We carefully choose our home and cottage. Both are out of the obvious way especially the cottage and both have large garden areas and plentiful trees and water very nearby. Even this step seems not enough and we are floating the idea of relocating a lot more northwards when we retire in 5-6 years. The cottage can be easily sealed off from vehicle travel and should be the primary bug in location for us. What puts me off this is knowing that the locals will drive around on ATVs with guns for a while after SHTF has happened looting all the cottage places even those not on lakes and remote. The cottage supplies are mainly buried except for old and dirty tools that work great. I see it as a Summer place and the home as the Winter place. I’m actually planning to loot abandoned lake cottages myself by kayak or snow shoe in early SHTF if at the cottage.

Walk everywhere around your locations and make careful notes as to where all water sources are including swimming pools. Note all fruit trees and clusters of wild edibles. Over time note when these are ready for harvest and learn how to store and process them. For us in Canada it is vital we know our black walnuts and acorns. The protein and fats from them is utterly essential to have.

Know all the roads and trails and rail links. Where are the out-of-town food warehouses and how can you get to them easily? If you have local bus and train services where do they normal park when not in use? Diesel is always a useful addition and our local trains have lots of spades, axes, and other goodies stored in them. Police, Fire, and Ambulance buildings should be known and considered for entry. Even if ransacked already likely you can find useful things inside.

Future

I’d like to be able to install solar and wind power after an SHTF but the cost is too much for me at present so I am looking at ways to do so from scavenging materials. Overall prepping is a hobby for me and I am hoping it never becomes my life but if it does then I will do what I can in the now to help my loved ones survive and a new community arise.

  Bug In or Bug Out? For me my first choice is a bug in at home though I am not sold on it as a definite concept. For this reason I

 

Let’s face it, food can be heavy and bulky, even if it’s MREs or dehydrated. Other things may take precedence, like equipment and medicine for someone with special needs, or maybe you are just not able to carry much when you bug out. Carrying some fishing line and a few hooks is much easier than carrying cans of fish! While you may not feel confident that you can catch enough fish to survive, adding plants and occasional meat will keep you alive and even thriving.

A lack of food doesn’t have to mean your starvation. Nature provides food in abundance if we know where to look, how to get it and what to do with it once we’ve got it.

Different foods are available in different seasons and every area has its own wild food so you will have study up on what grows where you are, both plant and animal. Now is the time to find out what all those plants and animals are and how you can use them. The more sources you have for food, the better your chances of survival, not to mention you’ll be happier with a bigger variety of food.

Here are some basic guidelines to get you started, but don’t stop here. Go looking for information that’s specific to your area. Be sure you can identify plants. Most plants are not poisonous, but it only takes one to cause real trouble. Don’t rely on just one guide, but compare several. Look in books and on the internet, and, if you’re lucky enough, get someone who knows to show you.

Winter:

The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

Summertime is the most abundant, but don’t think that just because it’s winter you’ll never find anything to eat. Roots of certain plants are still available in many areas. Even if the ground is frozen, you may be able to dig roots from under the tree canopy because the ground is covered with leaves and needles, creating a protecting mulch. What plants? Look for dandelions, daylilies. You may find cattails standing in partially frozen or thawed water. It will be cold work to get them, but cattail roots can be eaten if you boil and remove the fibers. Dandelions are the hardiest of small plants, with long taproots which can be boiled and eaten or roasted and ground into “coffee.” Daylilies have tubers that taste something like potatoes. There are no doubt other plants in your area with edible and otherwise useful roots or tubers.

You can fish and hunt in the winter if you are prepared, which means that you will need fishing line and hooks and a method of killing game, whether it’s a gun, bow and arrow, spear or a good slingshot. What’s in your area? Whether it’s squirrel, deer, pheasant or robin, find out the best way to hunt and prepare it.

Spring:

If there is dock growing in your area, it’s the first “green” out. Learn to recognize it and you’ll have a tasty dish before anything else appears. Spring is the time to stop digging dandelion roots and let the leaves grow. Use them raw or cooked, plain or fancy. Dandelion blossoms are edible, too. Lambsquarter is young and tender, wild lettuce and mustards are waking up. Learn what they look like and try them out this spring.

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In late spring, watch for maple “helicopters,” those whirly seed bearing things. They are not only edible, but delicious when young and tender. Look for more edible trees in your area.
Chicken eggs are not the only edible eggs. If you observe birds nesting and can get to the nest the first or at least the second day, the eggs will be perfectly edible. Scramble, boil, fry or use them to leaven bread. Also look for duck and goose eggs in the spring. Larger eggs will go farther, of course, but may be harder to find.

Summer:

This is nature in all its glory. You may see purslane, mallow and more to go along with the rest. Dandelion leaves will be bitter now, so best leave them alone until fall, when you can dig roots again. Check out your local flora because there is a lot growing, from wild fruits to greens. Avoid digging roots of any kind in the summer so plants can produce above ground. Almost every area has wild fruit of some kind.

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Wild Blackberry grow abundantly in some areas.

Hunting is not usually done in the dead of summer for a couple of reasons. First, animals are raising their young then and if you kill the mother, the babies will die, too. Secondly, disease is more common in the summer and eating a diseased animal can be deadly. If you stick to fish and eggs when you can find them, you’ll be much safer.

Fall:

Fall is harvest time in wild nature as well as in your backyard garden. Everything that didn’t mature during the summer is maturing now. Here’s the flour for the bread mentioned above. Lambs-quarter seed will ripen slowly. Dock will have already seeded out. Other wild grains will be there if you look for them. Now is the time to do your homework so you’ll know what they look like. Gather them in abundance if you can, then winnow and grind them (with two stones if you must). Using birds eggs for leavening and adding some hulled wild sunflower seed can make bread that is so satisfying you may not need anything else.

You can start digging dandelion and other roots now, too. Fall is a time of real abundance in a way that summer can’t be. It can provide boiled roots, baked bread, and still enough fresh food for a salad or pot of greens. If you are out there in the fall, prepare like our ancestors did and gather a lot more than you think you will need. If you’re there through the winter, you’ll be glad for the variety.

Sure, you won’t be the only one out there looking for food, but if you’re smart, you will know more than most about which wild plants are edible and how and when to use them, and you’ll have enough experience in fishing and hunting so the thought doesn’t scare you.

Food is critical to survival; carrying it on your back is not.

  Let’s face it, food can be heavy and bulky, even if it’s MREs or dehydrated. Other things may take precedence, like equipment and medicine for someone with special needs, or