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In a disaster our first instinct is to move as quickly as possible to safety or to the closest approximation we have to our ideal of safe. For me, if anything happens my goal is to get back to my home as quickly as possible. I have supplies at home specifically designed to help me and my family handle the aftermath of almost any emergency and logically this is our first/main rally point in any crisis. No matter where I am if something happens I will be working immediately to make it back to reunite with the rest of my family. My get home plan is my first priority if I am away unless there is something that prevents me from reaching home. This is less of an issue if I am with my family and we are together, but I like most of you spend a good part of my day away from home.

We like to speak of the ideal of heavily stocked survival retreats located on hundreds of acres of land in the boonies only accessible via a dirt road and after crossing several water hazards. That is the ideal maybe, but almost none of us, when you start looking at the numbers live anything near that type of lifestyle. Are there people who live in remote areas? Of course, but for most of us, our survival retreat is our home in the suburbs or semi-rural areas still easily accessible by plenty of roads with a Walmart within a short drive. Even more live in the cities where our neighbors are practically on top of us. Most of us who call ourselves preppers do not live year round at a retreat taking care of livestock, building barns and furniture from trees we felled and wood shaped with hand tools. Most of us work a job for someone else in an area that is anything but remote and that is almost always away from home. I personally want the retreat, but unless my life changes drastically that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. For me right now, I am where I am so I plan to make the best of it. If something happens I will be heading to my home.

There are multiple strategies for travel needed with the unexpected emergency but the variables start adding up when you consider all the permutations of what the emergency could be and where you are at the time. Today I want to talk about how you can begin to prepare for a situation where you are at work and your goal is to get back home to your family, your supplies and your castle. In a lot of cases you have to plan for situations that are out of the norm. The first plan of course would be to simply hop in our cars and drive home, but what if the roads were blocked? What if you couldn’t even reach your car? You should make a plan now for getting back home in alternate ways and plan for travel that isn’t ideal.

My Get Home Bag of choice right now.

How will you get home?

Before we can really start discussing how to get home, you have to take into consideration how far away home is. For the purposes of this article, I will use the example of a typical work day. For most of us that means we leave home in the morning, go to work and return home the same day. I have written articles on getting home from much further distances, but for this article we’ll assume you aren’t on the other end of the country, you are at your regular day job.

One of the first things I recommend thinking about is a Get Home Bag for anyone who works more than a few miles from home. I personally use the Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack right now pictured on the right. A get home bag has been called by a lot of other names, but it is simply a bag with basic supplies that you might need in order to walk back to your home. This is not the same as a bug out bag, but the concepts are related. All of these bags are simply containers for some essentials you might need in an emergency situation. My Get Home Bag is stored in the trunk of my car and has very basic items because on an average day I am not more than 15 miles away from home. I have spare water, some food in the form of a Mainstay bar, work gloves, lighter, paracord, ammo, multi-tool, headlamp and dust mask along with some blood stopper bandages. Could I pack more in there? Of course but I try to lean toward the minimal side on these bags and focus more on what I really could need versus what would be nice to have. For example, I don’t have a compass because I know my town and where my home is. I don’t have hand sanitizer because that is the last thing I am going to worry about. I don’t have a radio because I should be home in a few hours tops but I do have a ham radio in my car that is mobile. Your get home bag should have what you would expect to need on your trek home.

But what if my car is blocked or I can’t get to my car? What if the parking deck that my car sits in all day is shaken to the ground by an earthquake or an explosion? That is when the absolutely prepared person would grab their back up bag from their desk. I don’t have a bag in my desk and really I don’t live far enough from work that I don’t think I could make it back even without a bag. Couldn’t I leave my Get Home Bag in my desk at work and eliminate that problem? Sure but what if my office is closed or blown up or for some other reason I can’t get back to my desk? For me, the trunk of my car is the safest bet that will be with more more often than my desk drawer and if that doesn’t work out I will adapt. One thing you don’t want to have to adapt to are the elements though. I carry rain gear on days when there is a chance of rain even if I don’t plan on going outside. Cold weather is the same thing. Its easy to leave home and think that you will just be in the car, but what if you are forced to walk? Dress for the weather outside, not the weather inside.

Another aspect of making it back home is to have footwear up to the challenge. I have written before about how so many people wear flip-flops everywhere they go now and I shudder to think about what it would be like in a real disaster to have virtually no protection on my feet. As well as my Get Home Bag I have a pair of sturdy work boots in my car. I never wear flip-flops but if for some bizarre reason I have a John McClain moment and am caught with my shoes off I will have a backup.

Carry your Every Day Carry – EDC

Another aspect of my preps is my EDC or Every Day Carry items that I have on my person at all times when I am away from home. For me, my EDC consists of a concealed handgun, handkerchief, multi-tool, flashlight, knife and water. My water bottle is in my backpack with my computer, but I always have that with me. These items augment what I have in my Get Home Bag and I try to religiously make sure they are on me. If I am walking out the door to work I have an almost perfect track record of taking all of my EDC gear, but it is the odd times where my outfit choices are different when this falls down. Going to the pool for example, I have been known to change things up due to necessity and some of my gear stays in the car as opposed to poolside.

With my EDC gear it is always in my pockets or my bag, but how many of you have gone to the bathroom without your cell phone? How many have run down to the corner store without your car keys? What if something prevented you from getting back to your desk or work location and the only way you had to get into your car was several floors up, or under rubble? I try to take my keys and cell phone with me anytime I leave my desk so that I will have this option if needed.

Plan more than one route back home

Where I live, there isn’t a tremendous amount of traffic so I routinely take the same route to and from work. This is the quickest way for me to travel, but in an emergency, roads could be blocked and impassable. If needed, I can take alternate roads, but in some cases that might make my trip longer by taking me further away from home to route back to a good road. Alternately you could cut through the woods or neighborhoods but this isn’t always faster. In some situations, it might be a bad idea to cut through someone’s yard and you could find yourself in an altercation you didn’t need to get in. What if your travel takes you through a rough part of town? You would necessarily want to avoid those areas at this time so that you don’t become the victim of a predator. It helps to know the area you live in well enough and in some cases to perform what I call Neighborhood Recon to scope out alternate routes and identify obstacles ahead of time. Could you make it through the swamp that is in the woods? Maybe, but would you want to?

Have a communication plan with your family

In a disaster, cellular communications might be down and who has land lines anymore? You used to find a phone booth on every corner but now they are nonexistent where I live. My communication plan is really meant to address a lack of communication I can foresee in a disaster. My family knows what my plans are and that is to come home. I might be delayed but I will stick to the plan. In the event that some crisis hits and my family is not in immediate danger from staying put at our home, they are supposed to wait for me to arrive. Depending on the crisis this could be several hours to a day, possibly overnight. Does your family know what your plans are? More importantly, do they know what to do if you never show up?

What are your plans for making it back home in an emergency if your trusty vehicle isn’t available?

In a disaster our first instinct is to move as quickly as possible to safety or to the closest approximation we have to our ideal of safe. For me, if

What if the SHTF when you are away from your home? What if you are on the big family vacation down at the Grand Canyon and the global economy finally tanks like a drunken toddler going down the stairs on roller-skates? You could be hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away from your home, your supplies and everything you have been preparing for. All of your careful planning, saving and prioritizing would be wasted if you couldn’t get back home to the comparative safety of your home or retreat.

This is something I think about whenever I have to travel out-of-town so I have developed a couple of processes to help me if my main priority is getting back home. The steps I take are different and my plans need to be adjusted depending on how I am traveling and who I am traveling with. Naturally, the distance and duration of my travel has an impact on my plans as well.

Distance

If I have to travel less than 500 miles away from home, I try to drive. Why drive 500 miles when you can simply hop on a plane you ask? For several reasons, I dislike flying. No, let me say I hate flying with a blind passion.

When you fly anywhere now, unless you are going from one major city to another major city you will most likely be on multiple flights. The airlines do this so they can combine travelers on bigger jets but it makes a simple trip for the average person a pain in the rump. If you have one of these multiple hop nightmares, you could face delays on one leg that make you late for your connecting flight. There are few things more infuriating than running with your luggage across a crowded airport only to arrive at your next gate and watch the plane you were supposed to be on slowly pulling away. No, they won’t come back for you either. Add to this security delays, which mean you need to get to the airport earlier, parking, shuttles, luggage hassles, not to mention the ultimate insult as they grope you and your family.

I do still fly, but with certain considerations and it isn’t my first choice. If you are flying, you have much less you can do in the way of taking major preparations with you. Less than 500 miles I like to drive because my trip starts the minute I leave my driveway. I can also take firearms, extra food and water and other items I may need if I have to get back home. You can still carry firearms on a plane, but in a car, there is almost zero hassle.

Alone or With Companions

If I am traveling alone, I definitely carry fewer items in my survival kit. Actually, I don’t take a true survival kit that you would recognize. I always have my EDC which consists of knife, multi-tool, handkerchief, water etc. I also carry concealed if the state I am traveling to honors my permit. I don’t worry about carrying too much extra food, because I am not as concerned with feeding myself as I would be if I had a hungry wife and kids with me.

Read more: Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

If I am traveling with my family, I bring much more because I have more people to consider. Hunger, at a minimum, can seriously harm morale and is one of the easiest concerns to prepare for.

Food

Traveling with a family, our family anyways, involves food. There is something about a car trip that makes everyone hungry so snacks are necessary just to get us to the next food stop. I think there is some chemical aroma that our car puts off that makes you hungry if you are in it more than 20 minutes. It may be years worth of fries under the seats. We make sure we have more than enough snacks for our trip for everyone in the car. These don’t seem like much, but the caloric count of the snacks we have in the cooler would more than make up for a days’ worth of eating.

Water

Depending on the time of year we adjust the amount of water we carry in our car. Regardless of the outside temperature, everyone has a full Nalgene bottle before we leave the house. We also have enough bottled water to last us each 2 days. This isn’t enough to take showers or cook with, but we wouldn’t die of dehydration.

Read more: Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

Now, if we are driving through the desert, we pack more. I have also packed my backpacking water filters on occasion and always carry water purification tables in my Get Home Bag.

First Aid

I found an excellent combat medic bag at a gun show last year for $80 and this is always in the car with us on long trips. This has more supplies than I would ever use on a standard trip, hopefully ever, but I have this for a couple of reasons. First, if we are in a serious car accident, or witness a serious car accident I would be able to immediately assist with first aid (provided I wasn’t the one injured) and possibly save a life. The second reason is that if we had a grid-down scenario I would like to have my first- aid bag on steroids with me and not at my house. In this bag I have all of the normal items and some major blood stoppers.

Eventually, my plan is to add an IV. This bag is really to treat and stabilize major trauma; immobilize injuries and stop blood loss. I don’t think there is one Band-Aid in the whole bag. I also have a simpler first-aid kit that we bring with us on day trips. This is augmented with survival blankets,but the Combat Lifesaver is left in the car most of the time.

Weather

You should have a pretty decent idea of the weather you are going to encounter along your trip and at your destination. With the prevalence of weather websites and smart phone apps there is no reason except for laziness to not know how to pack. Is there a snow storm planned for where you are taking a vacation? Hurricanes in the summer can wreck all of your vacation plans, but these are the big-ticket items that receive a lot of notice on the news. What if there is no hurricane or blizzard, but you don’t pack a jacket and the temperatures are lower than you expect? You have to plan clothing that could keep you alive.

Read more: The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

At a minimum I try to pack like I am not coming home. I bring too many clothes, but I am usually prepared for any weather. I have a rain blocker and a fleece if I am going anywhere where the forecast is rain or cooler temperatures. Even at the beach, nights can be cool. Could I live without the fleece if I only have to go back inside? Sure, but what if I am stuck outside and that fleece is the only thing keeping me warm overnight? My little trick is to have and wear clothes that would keep me alive if I didn’t have a car or a warm house to go to. This usually involves headgear and gloves which never get used, but it’s nice to have them as backup.

Fuel

Having all of the items you need to survive a collapse is great, but if you don’t have enough fuel to get you where you are going, it could be a much less pleasant trip. If you are driving, never let your tank get below half-full. This way your vehicle can get you closer to home regardless of what happens during your trip. Having the vehicle you are in maintained is a no-brainer also.

Firearms

Every trip I can, the firearms go with me. Why? What if the SHTF and you are hundreds of miles away from your AR? Just like clothing, I imagine what it would be like if I had to shoot my way back home. It may sound paranoid, but I have several firearms with multiple magazines each and at least one rifle. In some cases I have more than that. Again, all state and federal laws should be obeyed, but I don’t like being away from home without some serious firepower. Murphy’s Law states that would be when I would need it.

All of this is fine if you are driving, but what if you have to fly or you are traveling internationally? You can still travel with a lot of the items I mention above but every situation is different. You may need to adjust your plans to your travel requirements. It may help you in the use as I described though and if nothing else; it may help you prioritize when you are packing next time. Is there a case to be made for minimalism and making do with less or using items differently, of course. The main point is to be prepared and if that means another suitcase, so be it.

If you have travel ideas or tips, please share them with everyone in the comments below  and “safe travels”!


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What if the SHTF when you are away from 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

There are many great reasons to start down the road of being prepared to take care of yourself in an emergency or crisis. When you feel that is something you need to do personally, it usually begins a search on what you need to be prepared. This searching can lead to checklists of prepping supplies which can provide guidance or a place to start but in reality; the process is different for each person. The answer to the question of what you need to do in order to get prepared isn’t something that anyone else can answer for you and in the end, is almost wholly dependent on what happens and where you are when “it” happens to you.

I have often sat down and compiled lists of things I need to accomplish in the main areas I focus on with prepping. My very first list had dozens of items and now, since I have been prepping for a little over 8 years, my lists aren’t quite as expansive. I have been acquiring the needed supplies and making preparations so that I don’t need as much as I thought I needed in the beginning. One thing I have learned though is my list overall still contains the exact items I thought I would need back in 2007, just the quantities of what is left to do have gone down.


The concept of making lists again made me think of the question I have asked before of myself. Are you prepared enough for what you think is coming down the road? Have I made the best plans you could have made knowing what I know? Have I made the right fiscal decisions to put me in the most advantageous position should the economy collapse? Have I shared enough information with my family and in my own small way, the rest of the world? Have I done enough? Am I prepared?

Are you prepared enough?

How much preparation can anyone do that we could consider the level of those same preparations to be sufficient? I have stated before that prepping is a journey, not a destination and I still subscribe to that theory, but depending on the situation; I could have more than I needed. What if there was a regional storm that caused minor flooding in my town and the utilities were out as well as roads for a month. Would I have enough supplies to last? Yes, I certainly would.

What if there was a crisis that lasted two years? Would I have enough?

Getting back to how much you need, it all comes down to what the emergency is, what your situation is at the time and how other influences impact you after the crisis begins. You could have enough food to last you for a year, but add in 6 family members who you take in and that amount of time could go down to 2 months. You might not have enough in your eyes, but the hungry family might think you are prepared enough. What if you have 2 years’ worth of food stored safely in your basement but you are away on vacation and a tornado rips right through your town and sucks everything you have been working on up into the air?

We can make as many plans as we want but if something happens outside of our plans we will have to adjust. Thinking that you have the answers to all of the different scenarios posed in your head is well and good, but you should account for contingencies. More importantly, you have to face the reality that you might walk into TEOTWAWKI with nothing but the shirt on your back.

You are asking yourself the wrong question

You can inventory all of your prepping supplies and make lists; I do it too. I use these lists to gauge what I have left to accomplish in my mind. I check items off so that my imaginary supply room of everything I need, will be filled with precisely what I think will be the minimum necessary but I try not to ever think I have enough. Does this mean I am stocking supplies up as much as possible? Does this mean I keep buying ammo or food or weapons until I have no money left? No and I think if you are looking to reach some level where you can say, “I think I have enough to last…” you might be looking at this the wrong way.

There is a danger in thinking that there is ultimate security in your supplies. Why do I say that? For one thing, your supplies can be taken away from you. Your supplies will eventually go bad if left unused or in the right conditions. Your supplies, if you have to rely on them will eventually dissipate down to nothing. Having a 6-month supply of food or a few thousand rounds of ammo and some gasoline stored doesn’t mean I am any better prepared than the neighbor down the street when the time comes. It does certainly mean I have put some thought into this that the average bear might not have considered, but does that make me better prepared?

When my family asks me questions like, how much food do I have or basically, how long could we live on what we have stored, I have to guess. Sure, I know roughly how much food is stored and I have calculated how long we could eat on that food but I don’t consider myself prepared really. I am looking at this as a stop-gap measure. Could my preparations buy me and my family some time? Yes, very possibly we could be sitting pretty while others go hungry, at least for some time. Does that mean I am prepared enough? Not hardly.

Prepping isn’t about storing up supplies and quietly riding out Armageddon from the comfort of your easy chair, happily eating your MRE’s and enjoying reruns of the office on your Solar Powered DVD player. The steps you are taking today might not be enough for the disaster you face. Are they better than nothing? Absolutely, but don’t become complacent and cross the last item off your list and sit back and wait. Prepping should be constant movement, preparation, consideration of your environment and the world around us and you have to reevaluate what is happening all of the time. We shouldn’t think we know what is coming, even though we can prepare for certain scenarios.

When you start asking yourself the question of are you prepared enough, the answer is it really depends on what you are forced to go through. Looking back after you have made it through alive is the only way to answer that question. Making it through alive should be what we are striving for.


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There are many great reasons to start down the road of being prepared to take care of yourself in an emergency or crisis. When you feel that is something you

In almost every post we talk of preparing for disasters or emergencies and the simple steps you can take ahead of time to become prepared. Being prepared for specific or even general instances is a worthy goal, but once you get beyond the basics of survival what else is needed? The basics of survival are food, water, shelter and security and we lay out a lot of ideas and recommendations for how to cover those four bases in our how to start prepping article. But does that advice make sense for you in your situation when someone asks you the question what are you prepping for? In some cases, are the basics really basic? What constitutes a disaster to you and is there only one path to becoming “prepared” for anyone and everyone?

What are you prepping for?

There are some really great prepping checklists out there and the general idea is that you can print out these lists of items to purchase or gather together and when you have completely checked off everything on the checklist, you will be all set. It’s so simple when you look at it this way, but the problem or at least something to consider with any checklist is how it pertains to you and your situation. Does this checklist make sense and more importantly, will it help you get prepared for what you think is coming down the road?

I think the answer could be no in certain situations and that is what I wanted to discuss today. Just because you have a list of survival items, it doesn’t mean that you will survive. Having gear doesn’t guarantee you will make it through anything better than anyone else, but they can be useful tools that could assist you in a survival scenario. I could have all the mountain climbing gear that the professionals own and still not possess the skills to make it up or down a mountain if I had to rely on the gear I didn’t know how to use. Could I use the rope somehow to help me down a sheer face? Possibly, but is getting that type of gear going to help me in my home in suburbia?

I think before you start compiling lists of items and wearing out your credit card on Amazon.com or the local camping store it is important to frame your efforts by getting a general picture of your end destination prior to jumping in and going in directions that might not help you get there in the fastest way. Before you start gathering a ton of gear for your bug out bag, ask yourself the question, what am I prepping for? Doomsday preppers does this every week and they let the preppers state what they are preparing for. You will hear in their own words everything from super tornadoes to massive earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear war, economic collapse, government tyranny, global pandemic and dozens of others. These preppers have all put a figurative face on what it is they are preparing for and they can state what that is.

It’s important to have something you can visualize I believe because every decision after that can be viewed from the standpoint of is this going to help me prepare for X. Is this box of MRE’s going to help me prepare for an EMP attack from North Korea? Will this shotgun protect me from a super volcano? Will these heirloom seeds protect me from an earthquake? You aren’t limited to one thing either and for a lot of us, we see a few different scenarios that could happen and we prepare accordingly for both. Knowing what you are preparing for will help you identify what you need to do and putting these into a priority order will assist you when you ask yourself the next question of what to do first. The priority is up to you based upon what you know.

What will you need to be able to survive that threat?

After you know what it is you are prepping for, the next step is to make those lists that will help you cope with whatever disaster you are envisioning. If you could lay out everything you think you need on the floor to deal with that disaster you identified above, what would that list of items be? I will say that the four basics of Food, Water, Shelter and Security would be at the top of any list for the simple reason that you have to have all of those to live. You must have food or you will die in three weeks. You must have clean water or you will die in three days and you must have shelter from the elements or you could die in three hours. Those are pretty universal and should be at the top of anyone’s prepper list of supplies if you plan on any disaster that will prevent you from easily accessing these items for some duration.


I include security in my 4 basics because history shows again and again that in bad times, bad people will do bad things. Even some good people will do bad things out of desperation. I don’t want to have to defend my home with a can of green beans so I have firearms to protect my family.

But what else? The other items on your list begin after you have taken care of the basics. What does your disaster scenario tell you about your preps? What are the gaps between what you have and what you believe you need to survive a disaster?

Inventory what you currently have

When people ask me how to start prepping, there are a lot of things you could potentially need to take care of but in most cases, you already have some supplies.

One of the misconceptions about being a prepper is that the first thing you need to do is run out and get some camouflage pants and buy a gas mask, hop on your 4-wheeler and go tearing through the woods. Leave that to the people who are on Doomsday Preppers. The average family doesn’t do anything like that but again it goes back to what you are prepping for and if those camo pants or that gas mask could help you with your envisioned disaster. Let’s say you are prepping for something that happens every year in every state and that is a temporary loss of electrical power due to storms. What items would you need to deal with a blackout? What items on your lists do you already have and what do you need to consider acquiring?


For starters you should consider light. Most people already have flashlights, some may have lanterns and almost everyone can scrounge up a candle from somewhere. Do you have any way to prepare the food you have stored? Can you cook if the power has gone out? What about backup power? Do you have a generator or solar panels and batteries? Do you have a car? If so, an easy way to provide power in a blackout is to run an inverter off your car into your home. This will give you enough juice to power small electronics and charge things like cell phones and laptops. The only thing you would need really is the inverter and plenty of fuel that has been stored properly to run your car. For my lists, I write down everything I have as well as everything I need so that all items can be considered as part of my plan. This way I can identify where I have some redundancy built in.

Who are you prepping for?

Many of you are prepping for families and most of the items you would need to consider for any type of disaster could benefit everyone in your home, but there are some items you will need to be specific about. Do you have small children who are still in diapers or are drinking formula? Do you have pets that will need to be fed if the disaster prevents you from making it out to the store? What about taking your pets with you during a disaster? Do you have elderly relatives that may need to stay with you? Does anyone have medications that need to be kept cool? Do you have enough of these medications to last the duration of the disaster?


One thing I have tried to balance is my family’s needs versus their fashion sense. In my family, I am the only guy so it isn’t easy getting the women in my life to buy rugged 5.11 tactical pants. I can’t convince them that their trendy footwear is all but worthless and they should buy more substantial shoes that could actually last if we had to walk a hundred miles. I already know that any thoughts of us bugging out into the woods would not go as smoothly as I hope, even if I thought that was a good idea. The amount of gear they can handle, the intensity of work they might be asked to do and their general morale needs have to be considered in a disaster or else you could have meltdowns when you are already stressed to the breaking point. If you are planning to survive, you have to plan for everyone’s needs and their limitations as well. This will further help you know what you need to focus on and what should get priority.

What skills do you have to survive?

Thinking about your disaster that you are planning for, visualize what life will be like in the immediate aftermath. What situations can you see happening to your family that you would be relied upon to deal with since you are the one who was ‘into prepping’ in the first place. Could you offer basic first aid? Do you know how to properly use the firearms you want to purchase? Do you already have a garden for those heirloom seeds? Do you know how to address sanitation issues and keep your family healthy so that an easily preventable bug doesn’t kill them?

In our society that has everything functioning, we stopped worrying about all the things we used to worry about. Clean (relatively) water comes out of the tap and washes our waste away never to be seen again. We have washers and driers to get our clothes clean and dishwashers to clean our dishes. Warm showers keep us clean and if we get injured we have ambulances and hospitals. What if you take all of that away?


Skills in living without the conveniences of life might trump knowing how to start a fire with a fire plough if you have plenty of lighters. You might need to figure out how to take care of everyone’s bathroom needs sooner than you think so don’t assume you need to be a ninja medic and that’s it. Survival isn’t always Rambo running through the woods of Washington state making booby traps. Survival is the small but important things too and knowing how to deal with number 2 might be more practical to know than how to make a booby trap.

How long?

Lastly, once I have all the supplies listed that I think I need, start adding time to the duration. Are you planning for a power outage that lasts 3 days? What if it lasted 3 weeks? We have had that before with winter storms so it is certainly possible. That global pandemic? What if you had to stay in your home for 6 months? How would that affect your supplies?

You can start off small and cover the basics and build as you go. As you build out your supplies, you should be able to weather longer durations of the disaster. How long do you plan for? That is really up to you and your resources. FEMA recommends being able to live in your home for 3 days. I think a wiser goal that should account for 98% of all events would be more like 6 months. Do your supplies allow you to do this?

Hopefully this helps any of you who are trying to formulate a disaster plan. If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know in the comment below and good luck!


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In almost every post we talk of preparing for disasters or emergencies and the simple steps you can take ahead of time to become prepared. Being prepared for specific or

I believe that each of us has an inner voice. Call it what you will; instinct, hunch, feeling, foresight, or intuition they are all the same. It is a compelling force within us that we feel on an almost imperceptible level when you are quiet and your mind starts to ponder things you normally don’t give a second thought. This inner voice or instinct might be ignored or blamed away on bad tacos but for me and a lot of other people out there, our inner voice is telling us that we need to start getting prepared.

For me, my inner voice or ‘gut feeling’ as I typically call it started acting up around 2007. I don’t know why exactly and I haven’t over-analyzed it, to be honest. For me, I simply started feeling like I needed to take steps to prepare my family. There wasn’t a specific event I was worried about, just a general feeling, perhaps brought on by some realization of how fragile our society is. It was around this time that I really began to research how to start prepping and the journey I started back in 2007 continues to this day.

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If you are new to prepping, you must have millions of questions. I know I did and in the beginning, I scoured the internet for prepping websites, survival books and information from a wide array of sources that led me to a lot of insights and some great recommendations. I try to share what I have learned on the Final Prepper every day but even for me, there is no finish line. I am still working on prepping just like millions of other people. Today I want to share some advice for the person who is beginning their own journey and has questions on how to start prepping.

Do you know why you want to start prepping?

Prepping is a word that has only fairly recently become known around the world and it is usually associated with a negative connotation. TV shows like Doomsday Preppers and Doomsday Castle have both helped and hurt the idea of prepping in various degrees but I believe overall most people see the benefits of Prepping and can separate the bizarre actions of some from the common-sense process of prepping itself. Prepping to me is simply taking steps to prepare yourself and your family to better weather disasters. Why do we need to do anything in the first place? Isn’t that what the police and the fire department and government are for?

If you are here on this website, I am sure the answer to that question is obvious. If you have paid any attention to the events of just the last few years there are numerous examples of disasters that caught people off guard where neither the police, nor the National Guard, nor FEMA were able to help in a way that was fast and effective enough to save everyone or to end suffering. The cold hard truth is that in a disaster situation, you are better off relying on yourself than anyone else. Police can become overwhelmed, bureaucracies always have more important things to worry about and the needs of the individual (you) are not first on the priority list. In short, when something bad happens, you need a plan to deal with events if help doesn’t arrive. Relying on anyone in a professional capacity to save you is foolish and it can get you killed. You know that its time for you to get started prepping.

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Start with the basics of getting prepared

There are many types of disasters that can strike. You only have to look at the news to see earthquakes, fires, riots, mudslides, hurricanes, wars, drought and the list goes on and on. Some people want to prepare for a specific event like a tornado and at first, that may seem like the most logical place to start, but what if you are prepared for a tornado and a flood comes instead? What if you are worried about a forest fire, but there is an earthquake? What if you are all set for a hurricane, but an EMP wipes out the electric grid?

There are things you can do to prepare for any event and I recommend you start with these 4 basic necessities. These 4 things are needed for life no matter what happens and if you take care of the four essentials, you will be ahead of 98% of the population.

Food – It’s very simple to know what you need. You need to store as much food as your family needs to eat for the duration of any disaster. Ideally, this would be food that doesn’t require refrigeration like canned or dehydrated food. If your budget allows you to purchase freeze-dried food, this is the simplest option and you can easily store several months’ worth of food under your bed in nice plastic containers. Even though it is the easiest, it isn’t the cheapest and a wiser strategy is to slowly just buy more of what your family already eats. This way, with a good rotation system you always have an abundance of fresh food your family likes. The freeze-dried food is pretty decent, but nothing like fresh food.

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Water – Another easy one. Water is necessary for life and you need a gallon per day for each family member. If you have 4 people in your house you would need 120 gallons of water to last a month. Ideally, you would back this up with a good filtration system like a Big Berkey water filter. Don’t believe you need that much water? Just look at the residents of Charleston WV a few months back or more recently Toledo who were told not to drink their water for weeks. Could you wait that out? Store water now while you have it and it’s plentiful.

Shelter – This is simply a way to keep out of the elements. If you have a home and it isn’t blown away you have shelter, but what if the power is off in the summer or the heat is out in the winter. Make sure you have plans to keep warm and cool. Sleeping bags work great in the winter, but summer there are fewer options. Unless you want to build your own swamp cooler.

Security – Disasters bring out the worst in people, but it doesn’t take a disaster to bring violence to your town. Just recently riots broke out over the shooting death of a teen. Riots break out all the time over sports games. Imagine if the power is out and the grocery store shelves are bare and people are hungry. Make sure you have a way to protect your family from people who either want what you have or simply want to burn and destroy things. I recommend legal firearms for responsible adults.

Research additional topics

What is your learning style? I guess more accurately, what can you use for motivation or ideas? I have been able to pull ideas out of a lot of different places. At the beginning as I was learning how to start prepping, I frequented numerous prepping websites and we have a great list of prepper sites on our resources page. Let me know if you’re interested.

I also bought books. The Doomsday Book of Medicine is the most complete medical guide ever written for non-medical people, it is also a manual that you can use to keep your body vigorously healthy and disease-free. No other book on the market today will teach you all of this, as well as how to make your own wound care solutions, saline solutions, eye irrigant, natural insect repellent, sunscreen, hydrating fluids, and even toothpaste. There has never been a book like this, so easy to read and so full of life saving medical information that cannot be found anywhere else.

Movies are another source of ideas and inspiration although you do have to have a certain tolerance or affection for the end of the world movies. I love them but my wife isn’t a big fan so I have to judiciously watch these. If you are looking for a good prepper movie, you can try the Best Prepper movie list and see if you can find something you haven’t seen before. I have even found movies do a better job of convincing people to prepare in some cases than all the factual arguments you can muster.

What Next?

Once you have the basics under control, there are tons of other areas where you can specialize for lack of a better word. The pages of the Final Prepper are filled with information around various threats, methods and strategies and all the pages are searchable and downloadable.  You can learn about how to pack your bug out bags, vehicle survival kits and even prepper gear reviews. If you have any questions, just comment in the articles and I am sure someone will help you out with ideas and share their experience. Good luck on your journey and keep listening to that inner voice.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

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Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

I believe that each of us has an inner voice. Call it what you will; instinct, hunch, feeling, foresight, or intuition they are all the same. It is a compelling

There are numerous concepts used in the Prepping community and the concept of a Get Home Bag is one of the easiest to understand because the rationale is very obvious and could potentially affect most anyone. The practice of assembling and using this tool is another matter. A Get Home Bag (GHB) is just what it sounds like. It is a bag that contains supplies to help you Get Back Home. Pretty simple, right?

The next obvious question is what do you put in the Get Home Bag? This is when the answer becomes more complex. Not because it is hard, because I do not believe constructing a bag with the basic supplies you need is difficult, but we frequently want a list of items we can go purchase because its easier. Actually, it would be better if we could go down to Wal-Mart purchase our get home bag along with the latest DVD and some chips and be done with it. Either give me simple instructions or make it easy for me to acquire it and I’m there.

The Get Home Bag is often grouped in with its larger sibling, the Bug-Out-Bag or bugout bag, but the two are vastly different tools and should have two distinctly different uses. While the bugout (BOB) usually contains the same items from situation to situation, this doesn’t necessarily make sense in a get home bag. Let me explain why.

The scenario for a bugout bag is that you are forced to evacuate your home and you are heading somewhere else for an extended period of time. You may or may not be coming back. Your bug out bag carries the basic necessities for living away from your home for an extended time. The bug out bag is usually pretty closely aligned to your Survival Kit List and the bags are larger because you have more stuff that needs to go in there. Most people would share the same necessities (food, clothing, shelter, security) so the general contents of the bag would be similar regardless of location. You would need some type of shelter, but the type of protection from the elements you need may be different for someone living in Alaska as opposed to Mississippi.

The Get Home Bag is not something you should be packing to live off of. This bag’s contents depend largely on how long it will take you to get back to your family and the obstacles you envision facing on your journey. If you are traveling away from home, your GHB should take a completely separate state of scenarios into consideration and it should be packed accordingly. If you are right down the street at a party, would you need the same equipment?

How far will you have to travel?

According to data I was able to get from the US Census Bureau website, the average commute time in the US was about 25 minutes. I know this is an average and some of you out there drive an hour each way. Uphill. In a car made of cardboard… Actually, I used to do that myself for a month. There will always be situations that are on the outside edges and I can’t take all of them into consideration so we will just take the average as our baseline and work out from there. So taking that amount of 25 minutes into consideration we can assume if you jump into your car and start driving at 60 miles an hour right away the average distance would be 25 miles. I know this isn’t the case, so I am knocking this in half for traffic, public transportation, etc. 12 miles away from home for the average person.

OK, now that we have our base distance of approximately 12 miles and knowing that all things being equal, the average person (I am going to use that term a lot) can comfortably walk a mile in 20 minutes. 12 miles X 20 minutes is about 4 hours. If you are being chased by Zombies, that amount of time goes down and you could make it home much quicker, but the average person should only need about 4 hours to get back home. But wait you say, this is a grid-down type of scenario and you don’t know what could be involved with actually trying to get back home. What if I am not at work and I am visiting relatives? That’s correct so we will take another set of assumptions.

What could cause me to need my Get Home Bag?

For the purposes of this article, some emergency has happened, your normal method of transportation is not available and the location you are in (maybe it is a visit to friends) isn’t going to work so you must get back home. We’ll take that one step further and say in order to realistically need your GHB, NO method of transportation is available and you are using your LPC’s to transport you back to home. For those of you who don’t know, LPC stands for Leather Personnel Carriers – shoes. If we had a situation like 9/11 where a catastrophe happened, no public transportation was available but the basic infrastructure was in place, walking is perfectly reasonable. Again, this is your average person, not someone who is in a wheelchair or injured. If this is the case, what needs to be in your GHB? That depends on what you think you will need for your 4 hour (or so) walk home. Do you need a complete first aid kit, cutting torch, welding gloves and hazmat suit? Probably not.

Let me pause right here and say that I am not poopooing the idea of a Get Home Bag. I have one and it is with me daily in my car. I am just trying to put things into perspective. If you work 3 hours away or are on vacation, your bag’s contents need to be adjusted.

OK, back to the scenario where a disaster has happened, no public transportation is available and you are forced to walk back home. There are a ton of factors that could influence what you carry.

  • Is it Summer or Winter?
  • Is there snow and ice on the ground?
  • Do you work in a high-rise office and wear high-heels to work?
  • Are you a lifeguard and only wear a bathing suit?
  • Is it evening time when you are forced to get back home?
  • Are you likely to be in a situation where you are trapped inside a building and need to escape?
  • Could you possibly be trapped underground in a tunnel?

All of these factors start to influence what we pack but they should individually be evaluated against the percentage of likelihood that you would encounter a situation like this. Could you possibly be in a car that is plunged into an icy river and you would need oxygen tanks to survive until you can swim up to the surface? Sure, but is that very likely? Nope.

OK, I think I have circled the wagons long enough here and if you have been like me and scrolled all of the way to the bottom until you see a list of bullets, here you go. I keep all of my stuff for my get home bag in a Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack because it has more than enough room for what I need to carry.

  • Walking shoes – these may already be on your feet.
  • ball cap or boonie hat to keep the elements off your head
  • Jacket – to knock the chill or rain off depending on season
  • Gloves – work type gloves would be better in this scenario
  • Knife (but this should already be in your EDC)
  • Multi-tool (again, you should already have this on you)
  • Headlamp with spare batteries
  • Dust mask or handkerchief
  • Water – amount depends on your situation
  • Basic blood stopper bandage
  • Spare ammo (you are carrying right?)
  • meal replacement bar X 2
  • energy booster – 5 hour energy
  • Lighter
  • Pen/paper
  • 25 feet of paracord
  • 10 feet of duct tape (I prefer Gorilla tape)

 

Your mileage may vary.

Do you need this many medical supplies to just make it home? Probably not. This is a good emergency medical kit for your family though.

Is this going to be enough for you to chisel your way out of a collapsed parking garage, fight the mutant hordes, set up a shelter to weather the meteor storm and feed a group of individuals you have met up with after the disaster for a week? No, but this will get the average person home in a day or two without dying in most situations.

Can you add more water and food? Of course and if you live in hotter climates or have further to go, you should absolutely do that. For me in my every day use though I don’t believe this is necessary. I have reviewed other Prepper’s bags and they account for a lot of situations mine doesn’t. For example, I have seen some that suggest rope (to rappel out of your office window) and bolt cutters and topographical maps and compasses and pry bars and lock pick sets. My belief is that if you can’t figure out how to make it back home without a map, you are very likely to not know how to use a map in the first place. Perhaps you want to take this so someone else can tell you how to get home?

What about a more substantial first aid kit? That’s a great question, but what are you planning for? Most every first aid kit I have seen comes with 250 Band-Aids and a lot of aspirin tablets for the most part. If the world around you has collapsed so completely that you are forced to walk home 12 miles are you really going to stop and put a band aid on a boo boo? No, but you may be injured more seriously so I recommend a basic bandage to stop larger blood loss and patch a bigger cut.

What if you are vacationing and are several hundred miles away from home? That would require you to change the contents of your get home bag. For instance my normal EDC firearm is replaced with a full size Glock and two spare magazines. My water is increased and so are my food preparations. I also have clothing appropriate for walking in whatever weather is forecast. If I am traveling with others, the get home bag starts to look more like a bug out bag but that’s fine.

What about the roving hordes of mutant zombie bikers? Again, if the world has gone to crap like that, carrying more stuff isn’t necessarily going to help you. Your mileage may vary, but this is the basic list of items that can keep you from starving, dehydrating and safe for a day. You may be tired and hungry, but you aren’t going to die.

I am curious to hear what others have packed in their get home bags.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

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The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

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Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

There are numerous concepts used in the Prepping community and the concept of a Get Home Bag is one of the easiest to understand because the rationale is very obvious

The moments after a crisis or disaster can be incredibly chaotic. In today’s world, we receive near instantaneous feedback from news outlets, images on TV and the internet of destruction and rumors. The fog of any major event like this can leave us confused and in some cases panicked. If you are involved in the actual disaster yourself, you may be injured or scared. When you are faced with this type of scenario most people are usually quick to contact loved ones to discuss what happened and to touch base.

If you are in the middle of an event like this though, that need to touch base might require physically moving to another location. In all of the pandemonium you might need to make your way back home and if your family or group is spread out in multiple locations, it is a good idea to have a rally point that everyone is aware of and knows to go to in the case of an emergency. Having a plan for where everyone will meet after a disaster will ensure that there is no question for your family on what to do and where to go. This is a part of a larger plan on how to Bug Out that we will be talking about over the next weeks.

Multiple Rally Point options may be best recorded on a map.

Multiple Rally Point options may be best recorded on paper.

Traits of a good Rally Point

Easy to find – A good rally point is some place that is easy to find. You probably don’t want your rally point to be that stream 5 miles into the woods in most situations. If your family was faced with an event that caused a wide-spread dispersing of people, you want a place that is familiar and your family can find without having to revert to a map, GPS or anything more than memory.

Offers cover and concealment – If you are displaced from your home; your rally point might have to shelter you for the night. I wouldn’t pick a place like the park bench in central park where we first kissed unless your plan is to meet there and move to someplace more fortified. Your rally point should be a hard structure that you can stay in if needed to wait for the rest of your group.  Cover will give you the added benefit of offering protection from small arms fire. This may not be possible or practical depending on where your family members are, but worth consideration.

Away from lines of drift – In a grid-down scenario you might have heard of the terms lines of drift. This refers to the tendency people have of taking the path of least resistance out of major metropolitan areas. Major highways will be the first route people take until their cars no longer work or there is a major traffic snarl. Then they will start walking and gradually take side roads looking for shelter and refuge. You want your rally point to be away from areas like this to avoid being caught in the trap of too many other desperate people who may view your group or supplies as targets.

Defensible for short periods of time –Ideally, your rally point would be someplace hardened that you could defend if needed. This may be a concrete reinforced building that you could barricade yourself into. I know this makes a rally point location harder to find, but may factor into your considerations depending on your circumstances. It could be a high location on a hill with plenty of cover from rocks or large downed trees. It could be a bunker…

Types of Rally

Initial – In a true bug out scenario, you may have in your survival plan several different rally points at various locations. The initial rally point may be your first location that everyone is supposed to meet at. This could be that park bench, a friend’s house a short distance out of town or a central location in town.

Depending on how far you plan to go you may have other rally points to meet along the route you are planning to make. In situations like this, you may have multiple points based upon the route you might have to take. For instance, one route may be blocked to traffic so you would need to take back roads to your destination. Communicating the route you are taking is going to be crucial so having a method to talk to the other members of your group either by radio or shortwave needs to be considered too.

Objective rally point (ORP) – Your objective rally point may be your retreat location or a neighbor’s home in another state or city. This would be the final destination for all of the members to meet and regroup after a situation that caused everyone to have to leave home in the first place.

Your personal rally point could be as simple as your home. Whenever I am traveling, my family knows that if anything happens, to stay home and I will come to them. If they have to leave for some reason, they will leave a note telling me where they went and I will find them. Having a plan for keeping your family together or reuniting them after a disaster will help you in your preparedness plan.

Identifying which type is best for your family

If you are new to prepping or even if you have been prepping for years, your plans for what to do if we have a major SHTF event may fall into one of two camps. The first camp is going to Hunker down or shelter in place. The second group plans to Bug out to a remote location. If your plan is to Bug Out and your family is not all together, planning a rally point in route to your destination makes perfect sense. On the other side of the coin, if your plan is to Hunker down and shelter in place at your home, but that home is unreachable due to a natural disaster what will you do? It is times like this that a rally point would be wise to plan for.

It may seem to be the biggest hurdle to getting something like this done, but a conversation has to be initiated about topics like this and even more importantly followed through. As parents, in most homes you have a conversation with your child that goes something like this. If there is ever a fire, you get out of the house and meet at the mailbox. That is a simple refrain, it’s easy for kids to understand and visualize and gives them a sense of security that they know what to do if something bad happens. For a major emergency, their house may be just fine and the lines blurred more. If your house is on fire, you know it’s time to go. You easily feel the heat and fear that drives you to get out of the building and move to a location where you are supposed to be.

With something less definite you would need to have gate keeping types of events and a plan for how this works. Most of this rally point idea is focused on a situation where you are unable to communicate with your family. If you are in contact, then meeting is much simpler. However, there may be situations where you will not be able to communicate and your family will need to know what to do if they can’t contact you.  For example:

  1. If all communications are out and you can’t reach me. – Non weather related
  2. If I am out of town and martial law is declared
  3. If travel is stopped – no driving/roads are blocked/ no flights are taking off
  4. If there is a chemical spill nearby – Should have options for different directions – based upon likelihood of this happening.

 

Each families situation is different but identifying the causes that you may be faced with would be step one.

Once you have an idea for what situations would prompt going to your rally point and assuming there are multiple rally points, you would need to determine which Rally point would be used and how long someone should stay there. The last thing you want is for everyone to be showing up at different rally points and then leaving to go to other rally points missing each-other in the process and potentially being in an unsafe situation needlessly. This brings up a good question. Isn’t it better to simply pick one place that you will be safe in and stay there?

In a perfect world, you would be able to say if the SHTF I will be at Aunt Kathy’s. Everyone would be able to get there, knows where it is and it provides a single location that hopefully would already have supplies that you need. If not, you can at least plan to bury caches along the route to your Aunt’s house. Not everyone has a single, remote location they can run to.

On a recent trip my wife and I agreed upon a rally point she would be at if I had to come and find her. She was vacationing with family several hours away and worked out a location. If anything were to happen I was going to get her and if she wasn’t in the location she was supposed to be, she let me know how to find her. Let’s assume for arguments sake the “anything” that went wrong in this hypothetical was the grid going down. Real SHTF time comes to our neck of the woods finally and the world is thrown into complete chaos. In this case, there was a state park nearby. She said she would be 45 minutes’ walk inside the main entrance to the park which happened to be across the street from where she was staying. Knowing about how long it takes her to walk 45 minutes, I could go to that location and reconnect with her. For distances like this it is a plan not without drawbacks, but it does remove one risk that landmarks such as buildings would be destroyed and provided she stayed put for the entire time it took me to find her, this would work.

You can also use the rally point concept if the world hasn’t gone to hell. What if your children are lost at an amusement park or the mall? Identifying a rally point before you start the day will give them a place to go if they are separated. What if you were at a mall and some nut started shooting? With a rally point, your children would know exactly where to go if they could to meet back up with you. It prevents a lot of searching and worry.

I know there are a wide range of other aspects of this concept that I could go into, but for now start planning a rally point for your family. Beginning those discussions can help you all get on the same page so that if a disaster happens, you will know where to go. If you have created your own Rally point, please share what you decided in the comments below.

The moments after a crisis or disaster can be incredibly chaotic. In today’s world, we receive near instantaneous feedback from news outlets, images on TV and the internet of destruction

There is always a very healthy dialog on all sides of any issue when it comes to Survival or the Preparedness movement. From Bug Out Bags to firearm recommendations and caliber pros/cons. What an individual should be Prepping for, or more precisely how they should start prepping themselves is no different.

If you take everything we could cover on the subject of prepping and list all of the permutations for each scenario, the list would be rather lengthy. Actually thinking about this list and everything you need to do can start to hurt your brain. Everything that needs to be done and purchased and planned for can be overwhelming. I have personally spoken to people who begin to wake up to the idea that they need to prepare and they feel a sense of urgency and then one thing leads to another and they shut down. “Why Bother”? There is no way they can do everything that needs to be done.

It is at this time I like to recall one of my families favorite movies, “What about Bob?” and the mantra that the main character is coached to say over and over again is “Baby Steps”. If you have never seen the movie, here is a clip below.

So, how to start? You can never have every tool, skill, weapon, supply or retreat option that you will ever need and most people won’t have the resources to buy everything they need before they may need it. You have to start somewhere.

Start with a Plan. – A plan is what gets you thinking about everything you need to do. I personally scoured websites for a lot of information, read several books and watched a ton of YouTube movies on the subject. Then I wrote down everything I thought I would need to get me to “Phase 1”. What was Phase 1? That was my imaginary line in the sand of the basics. Just the minimal supplies and equipment that I thought I would need to be marginally better off than 90 percent of my neighbors. Think about who you are prepping for. Are you only looking out for yourself or do you have others in your family? Do you have kids younger than teenagers who may not be able to carry their own load? Do you have older parents or grandparents you need to care for? Knowing the scope of people you will be responsible for, or who you think may count on you when the SHTF is important for a couple of reasons. First, you can begin planning based on numbers (6 people plus 2 pets for example) and second you can start thinking about what you will need to do when people you haven’t planned for come knocking.

Establish a priority – If I were to take everything I need or think I need to be 100 percent prepared it would be that long list we talked about. Now, if you are anything like me you aren’t a billionaire with money to burn so I have to pick and choose what my family is going to purchase and when. There is no secret formula for this and every situation is different but here is how I would prioritize things. Water, Security, Shelter, Food, Money.

Water – If you haven’t heard of the rule of 3’s it goes something like this. “A person can survive for three minutes without air,three hours without shelter, three days without water, three weeks without food.” Now you may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t you put air first”? And if you are, it’s because I think that if you don’t have any air, we have bigger problems. Nobody should be worried about lugging around oxygen tanks. OK, so lets take the most likely scenario and deal with shelter next. You don’t have water. A normal person needs 1 gallon of water per day to survive that counts hygiene also. I think that you can skip a few showers and it wouldn’t be that much provided you aren’t sweating a lot but lets stay with 1 gallon. If you have 4 people in your family and a couple of pets lets say 5 gallons of water gets you one day. You can buy 55 gallon jugs, fill them up and start that way or you can buy 5 5-gallon jugs and that gets your family 5 days without any water. Is it enough to last you for the entire zombie apocalypse? No, but its a good start. If you are near water, buy a good water filtration system or install rain barrels to really increase your supply.  Baby Steps.

Security – This category will be worth a hundred other posts but for this one, lets just say you need a way to protect yourself and your family. Again, every person’s situation is different. You may live in New York or Chicago where firearms are basically illegal. Maybe you have a baseball bat. That isn’t ideal, but its something. You need to think in terms of how you can defend yourself. It may be that all you can do is carry a taser or mace. That’s a start. Maybe you get the Crovel? For others I would say ideally you need for each adult member of your family a handgun, shotgun and AR or AK. That can quickly add up, so if you are starting from scratch I would recommend a shotgun before you purchase anything else. Why? Because they are relatively cheap (less than $200), you don’t need a permit to buy and can not only scare people but they can do a lot of damage. After that you have to consider your options. An AR would be the best bet, but since the latest flurry of government threats to take them all, the prices are off the chart and supply is very low. You can probably still score a good deal at a gun show, but time is running out I think. Get your shotgun while you can and then move on to a pistol. I won’t debate pistol caliber’s but a 12 gauge shotgun is a great start. Baby Steps.

Shelter – For most people you have a house, apartment or somewhere to live so why do you need to worry about Shelter? Just look at Hurricane Sandy or Katrina. What if you couldn’t live in your house or had to evacuate for some reason. Shelter would be nice to have.  A tent that you can carry (think backpacking) is great. A tarp and means to support it (para cord works great) will suffice. If you have or are in cold weather, I also count as shelter sleeping bags and plenty of warm out-door gear to include great footwear. You may be walking. Or, the power or heat may be out. Do you have a heater that doesn’t use electricity? Barring all else, to you have warm clothes and blankets? Baby Steps.

Food – This is one area that I think we initially make over complicated. The average family doesn’t have more than 3 days worth of food in their pantry according to some experts. I think it would more likely be that people could make it a week. Again, they wouldn’t be eating well, but they could exhaust everything they have. You can think about this in terms of how long you want to go without being hungry. You can run out and buy boxes of freeze-dried food or you can simply buy some more items that you normally eat. Ideally it would be both, but we are starting here. It is pretty easy to take your one week supply and build that up to two weeks, then a month if you put your mind to it. It does take discipline and remember this isn’t like Christmas. You shouldn’t go put another month’s worth of groceries on the credit card. Build your supplies slowly, rotate your stock and you will begin to be more ready for any supply disruptions that happen.  Baby Steps.

Money – There are a lot of ways you can do this depending on what you believe is the most likely scenario. Even if we are talking about $20 a month you have to start saving and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the bank. I personally think each person should have cash on hand and some precious metals like Gold or Silver stashed away. The first thing to happen would be that you can’t get your money out of the bank. It does you no good to have $10,000 in the bank if they won’t let you take it out. We will discuss later why this is a very real possibility. So buy some Silver; its cheaper than gold, keep some cash on hand and this will give you some security if it all heads south before you can make it to the ATM.

Is that all you need to do? No! I don’t want you to think this is an all-encompassing post either, but it is a start for people who don’t have the first clue where to begin. My personal list was probably a whole page of notes and included a lot of things I don’t yet have, and in all honesty may never acquire but that’s OK. I am not going to sweat what I don’t have (too much) but I will keep striving to be better prepared. I am still working on my preps too, but I have most of the basics covered and I feel more comfortable about building on the preps I have. You will too, if you start with Baby Steps.


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There is always a very healthy dialog on all sides of any issue when it comes to Survival or the Preparedness movement. From Bug Out Bags to firearm recommendations and

I’m sure both you and I have come to realize by now, a properly prepared bug out bag can be the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. A quick search in Google however will bring back numerous results, all with varying articles and suggestions. So what’s a beginner to do?

Simple. I went to the experts.

“What is the one thing every good bug out bag can’t be without?”

I asked them all this very basic question. What you’ll find below are the answers from experts behind some of the biggest and best survival and prepper sites online.

Now while a true bug out bag list might never be complete, I was simply looking for a place to start – a foundation to build upon. I believe this list provides a great jumping off point. I think we can both agree that if it is important enough to be listed as “the one thing” every bug out bag can’t be without, it should be in yours. Check it out:

Water. You need to have some and have the ability to treat water for drinking, cleaning wounds, cooking and maintaining proper hygiene.  You have two days of survival time without water, less if it’s hot out. Water borne illness are insidious and if infected, your survival time goes down to less than a day without clean water to maintain hydration.” – Mike from The Redneck Survivalist

The Leatherman Charge TTi available here or just about any other quality multi-tool.” – MD Creekmore from The Survivalist Blog

“For its size, weight and usefulness a must have is Duct Tape. I prefer Gorilla Tape brand because it is so much stronger and can be used for repairs, makeshift bandage or millions of other creative uses. Duct tape is a must have for any respectable Bug Out Bag.”

“The one item that I think has to always be included in a bug out bag is a solid knife. Preferably a fixed blade, at least six inches in length. This can be used for security, to help build shelter, start fire, and to gather food to name a few uses for a good knife. If size or legal considerations are a problem, a suitable secondary option is a locking folder.” – Tom from The Prepared Ninja

“I think the obvious answer is that every bug-out bag should include a means of protection, such as a gun. If a given bug-out situation is just a short-term emergency such as fleeing a natural disaster, then the gun is useless, though comforting to have. In a long-term bug-out situation, without a gun, you are at the mercy of unprepared, and desperate folks who NEED your stuff. All your prepping is for naught, if anyone can come along and take it from you.” – Spencer from All About Preppers

“The best “can’t be without” item is the proper survival mindset.  Recognize that bugging out is not going to be a lark nor is it going to be a cool way to test all of your gear.  Grab onto a positive attitude to get you through the rough spots and you will do just fine.” – Gaye from Backdoor Survival

“My number one bug out bag list item is a protein source. Carbohydrates and fat are easy to find and store but protein spoils and deficiency for any of the amino acids is nasty. My personal favourite right now is SurvivAMINO by Vitality Sciences (vitalitysci.com/products/survivamino).” – JP from Bug Out Nutrition

“My answer would have to be knowledge. This item weighs nothing and makes all the other stuff in your kit and environment useful. The more you know, the less you need.” -Todd from The Survival Sherpa

“The one thing that every bug out bag should have is a good quality water filter.  The importance of clean drinking water is self evident, but having a good filter has definite advantages over other purification methods.  There is no need to stop and make a fire or use a camp stove to boil, and there is no waiting time as is the case with chemical purification systems.  With a personal water filter, one can simply fill a bottle with stream or pond water and consume as needed, keeping you on the move to  your destination and without the need for fuel or lost time.” – Denob from The Canadian Preppers Network

“In my opinion, the number one thing in any bugout bag is the person carrying it. If that person has the knowledge, and has taken the time to prepare and practice his skills, that person is worth 1,000 time what any piece of gear is worth. Gear is great, and it sure can make things easier, but remember when everything else fails the one piece of gear that you can count on is yourself.” – Robert from Off Grid Survival

Now that you’ve heard from the experts make sure your bag is stocked with those items. If you’ve stuffed your bag full and come back for more, some other items to consider including are:

 

Image Credits: Apocalypsepack.com

I’m sure both you and I have come to realize by now, a properly prepared bug out bag can be the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.