3 Bug Out Lessons From A SWAT Officer

Let me admit something right up front.  Being a SWAT (law enforcement special operations) Officer is a blast.  But here’s How to survive SHTFsomething nobody will tell you.  Compared to bugging out, a SWAT deployment is a walk in the park. Ok that’s just my opinion, but having done more of both than the average bear, I speak from some experience.  To be clear, I’m talking about bugging out in the sense of fleeing-for-your-life from a terrifying situation that turns your entire world upside down in a matter of minutes (or seconds).

By Scott B, a reader of SHTFBlog & Survival Cache.

So let me share some lessons I learned in SWAT that have also been immensely helpful (and in two cases life-saving) in the bug out realm. These are strategies and tips I’ve learned the hard way, from some of the best in the business.  Because facing life threats of all sorts on every mission, every warrant service, every hostage situation actually has a lot of relevance to bugging out from the many of the complex dangers you and I may face if we have to bug out for real.

Ironically, being a SWAT cop facing myriad life threats on every mission, every warrant service, and every hostage situation actually has a lot of relevance to the complex dangers you may face bugging out from when the SHTF.  So here we go, and I hope you find them as helpful as I have, and that you never, ever have to face a situation where your life depends upon applying these strategic tools.

Camouflage (Not What You Think)

1: Evade Dangers En Route – When you’re in life-threatening situations on a regular basis, you learn to minimize your Bug Out Bagexposure to unnecessary dangers.  In SWAT, this meant that we worked to avoid being detected by bad guys before we were in position to swiftly resolve the situation, while minimizing the risk of harm to everyone involved.  How do we apply this to enhancing our bug out survivability?  Simply be strategic in avoiding exposure to predatorial dangers while we bug out. Common sense, but here’s where we take the strategic concept and bring it down to the tactical (i.e. practical) level.   In order to reduce our exposure to dangers from the human predator, I strongly urge you to apply a holistic approach to your ‘target signature’.

When we talk about disguising your signture, we mean to be smart about camouflaging ourselves from the sensor systems of the human animal.  You can read a whole field manual about camouflage, and another on patrolling and tactical movement, but you want fast answers that can help you out right now, not after you’ve earned a master’s degree in visual detection.  In order to help save you from detection from predatory criminals, whacked-out zombies, and opportunistic looters, we need to work on reducing that ‘target signature’ in 2 key areas.  So here’s a ‘quick and dirty’, but surprisingly effective, cheat-sheet-like approach that has worked well for a lot of our operators, and can help you too!

See No Evil:  Eyeballs.  Marvels of engineering.  Arguably the most adaptable imaging devices on thevarious products EPIC20 code colorado veteran 400x250 planet.  We used to call ‘em the ‘Mk1 Mod0 Target Detection Device’.  When most of us think of ‘camouflage’ the first, and often only, thing we think about is being spotted. And for good reason.  Our eyes are tuned to detect motion, color and shape aberrations, misplaced textures, strange contrasts and more. Which means our job as we craft our bug out strategy is as simple as reducing our likelihood of being observed when we don’t want to be.  In rural SWAT, this meant doing several things. It meant choosing a uniform camouflage pattern appropriate to the region and season, which helped us blend on approach and also helped identify teammates amidst the semi-chaos following the breach.

However, for many of us wearing camouflage while bugging out is often a bad idea. Why is its own article, so ping us to get that put up for you. Here I will simply say that you want durable clothing in subdued colors, and perhaps a couple cans of spray paint!  But don’t stop with the obvious aspect of clothing/camouflage/visual detection, because we need to handle the other senses as well.

Sounds Like Silence:  In SWAT, and I’ve found in bugging out as well, we should also handle another key sense, sound.  Sound is one of those ‘obvious’ senses that a lot of teammates struggled to really grasp.  Especially new troopers tended to think that we were all about ‘shock and awe’. And that was certainly a tool in our toolbox.  But even when we chose to use that tool, we routinely employed these tools to minimize our target signatures. We still needed to infiltrate sniper/ observer teams into position, and often stage the team nearby without drawing unwanted attention.  Thus, it really boiled down to having control over our noise profile. And the same applies to us preppers, we simply want to control when, and how much, noise we generate and attention we draw to ourselves.

Team Sergeant Solution:  Now I’ll give you the simple, yet surprisingly effective tool we used before epic water filters(pretty much) every mission to help ensure we weren’t jeopardizing our own and team safety.  Ironically, I was first exposed to this by a crusty old Special Forces Sergeant Major, so when the SWAT element commander first did the same thing, it felt comfortingly familiar.  Do this:  Put everyone in your ‘bug out team’ in a line, and simply conduct a basic visual and auditory target signature assessment.
In English that means walk down the line and make sure nobody has shiny stuff hanging off them, forgot to cover the backs of their hands (Pro tip: use gloves when bugging out!), etc.  And then have them jump up and down and see how much noise they make.  If they’re good-to-go, you will hear very little apart from their boots hitting the ground.  No equipment rattles, no sloshing canteens, no clicking of weapon on gear buckles, you get the idea.  Hard core? Sure.  Are you hard core about saving your life? I hope so!

Defense

2: Maintain Situational Awareness – Want a great saying I learned from a Delta trainer? (I didn’t just tell you that, ahem.)  I’ll Doomsday Preppersgive you the pithy maxim, and then fill in the context.  “Keep Your Head on a Swivel, or else the bad guys will put it on a stick.”  My version: “Head on a Swivel or a Stick, its Your Choice.”  Which is another way of saying: maintain situational awareness all the time.  Remember that we need to prepare for the worst-case, which means we have no support, no backup, no resupply, no advanced medical care, etc.  Thus avoidance of life threats is one of our most valuable and effective survival tools.  And maintaining your situational awareness, keeping your head on a swivel, is a key way to help protect yourself.  Simple, yet life-savingly profound! (yes I made up a word, this concept deserves it)

Terrain

3: Find Good Ground – From Sun Tzu to You, via SWAT.  Want a way to dramatically improve your survivability without spending a dime?  Assess your bug out terrain ahead The Answer Water Bottle Filtration Solution 300x250of time.  You would be stunned how many otherwise squared-away people don’t do this.  Don’t make their mistake, fire up Google Earth and get it done today. Fast, easy, and very helpful.  What are you looking for? That is an entire book chapter, but let me help get you started.  Look for the obvious natural dangers (rivers, cliffs, mountain ranges, etc.) and then look for man-made sources of danger.

That could be an industrial chemical plant, or simply an interstate freeway leading out of an urban area that creates a natural escape corridor for criminals and looters. If you want to take it a step further, look for natural ‘lines of drift’ and other natural funnels that the ill-prepared, and those who prey on them, are likely to gravitate towards.  Then plan on avoiding those sources of danger as you plan your bug out route.

Final Thoughts

While you’re at it, use that assessment to also start figuring out the fastest way to bug out, which may not always be the most direct route.  Finally, look for additional resources along the way that you may be able to utilize.  Remember that in our holistic, pragmatic survival approach, almost everything is a potential survival resource.  Oxygen is a resource, as is ammunition, canning jar lids, time, health, and like-minded compatriots.  Needless to say, there’s an imperial ton of strategy and tactical tips I don’t have room to share with you right here on all of this, so if you want more, comment below!  And there you have it, an unusual article sharing lessons I learned from SWAT that I’ve found very helpful when bugging out in real life, and I hope these serve you too!

All Photos by Scott B

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68 comments… add one
  • clay January 9, 2015, 2:00 pm

    I like the knowledge you offer in this article ,I have two kids so sound would be difficult to disguise, but I have one thing I’m concerned about how can you asess friend from foe when in a time shit hits the fan , or do u not bother with assessing that for the sake of my family and compromising our camp , area, or supplies,etc .. thank you for your service and knowledge

    Reply
    • Lee January 9, 2015, 3:23 pm

      I just want to share my .02 cents on this one. Build those close friendships NOW. A single human E&Eing with family in tow will be a target. A single human by himself is going to be a target for that matter. I’m not suggesting to start you own militia by any means, but a squad of close adults that coordinate will be a great asset. The idea of going it alone is border line suicidal, you need support from other people. One man couldn’t defend a castle, and in a SHTF where it’s bad enough to Bug Out, you’ll want someone you’ve built trust with watching you and your family’s back. Together you can pool resources, knowledge, expertise, experiences and talents to increase your chances of making it. Humans owe our existence to out bonding and working together. How many times did you have someone who you thought was moderately trustworthy turn on you, or someone else? Best to get to know them and the content of their character well ahead of time. Just my take on it.

      Reply
      • Scott Becker January 9, 2015, 7:35 pm

        Lee, great perspective!
        And one that I by-and-large completely agree with.
        To me your assessment regarding pooling of resources, and “working together” are spot-on.
        Indeed, the idea of bugging out as a “squad” or team is superb!
        In fact SHTF Blog recently posted an article about that idea:
        https://www.shtfblog.com/assimilate-the-ideal-shtf-bug-out-team-doomsday-preppers-survivalists-survivor/
        I respectfully disagree with some of what Dr. John said, but the core concept is just like you’re suggesting; bug out with a team, and vet (or choose) that team ahead of time…
        God bless,
        Scott

        Reply
    • Scott Becker January 9, 2015, 8:03 pm

      Hi Clay,
      Man, good question; that’s one I think we all struggle with.
      Unfortunately, I don’t have the perfect answer, and what I do have warrants an article unto itself. :)
      Re: kids.
      No worries Clay, we ALL have some challenge we’re faced with. Indeed the lone-wolf idea that Lee mentioned below is indeed not ideal.
      In the case of your kids, some ideas you’ve probably already thought of:
      – Coach them ahead of time about the bugout; stay close, don’t yell, tell Dad if you see someone coming up behind us, etc.
      – Subdued clothing; no need for cammies, but if they are going to be wearing fluorescent snow coats, might want to tone things down a bit (in a pinch you can use flat spray paint)
      – Pack a few comfort items in your bug out bag, to help them. You’re probably going to need to carry most of the gear they need anyway (if they are small), so don’t feel bad about keeping those comfort items light and small (depending on age: favorite story book, etc)

      Regarding distinguishing friendlies; you’re right that we need to try to identify folks. Even after SHTF, we shouldn’t expect to treat the world like a free fire zone (wait for the flame comments!).
      To my way of thinking, focus on finding those ‘safe’ friends now while you can assess character in day-to-day circumstances. Look for how they handle stressful (to them) circumstances, and use that as a rough gauge of how they’ll react under pressure.
      And trust your gut instinct.
      Seriously, who you bug out with (and share your plans and preps with) is entirely your business.
      So choose who YOU trust. I’ve also found that often women can be better intuitive judges of character, so you might ping a SO, ‘people savvy’ friend, etc.
      One key element that can really create friction, is if you guys disagree on when to leave. So part of your vetting process might be to figure out to your own satisfaction, if this person is going to want to wait too long to leave when SHTF. At that point you’re fighting friendship and self doubt vs the safety of your family.

      Complementary skill sets are really great, but remember that you’re not bugging out indefinitely, so having a diversity of skills is more important at your long-term destination.
      So like Lee said, build your own team while avoiding the militia thing. Bringing extra skills is great, but secondary to simply choosing solid people share your survival goals.
      Sorry that’s a very incomplete answer, but hope it gives you a few easy ideas to consider.
      Thanks for looking out for your family’s survival, and prepping ahead of time!
      Scott

      Reply
      • irishdutchuncle January 12, 2015, 7:20 pm

        how do you know that you’re not bugging out indefinitely? do you plan to surrender at some point? once the battle has started, all preplanning is obsolete.

        Reply
      • Larry January 15, 2015, 11:42 pm

        Good post Scott. Like minded folks are essential.
        My wife and I have a multiple family group in place, in Northern California and we have our 2nd home in Idaho where the Canyon County 27th BN Militia/Oathkeepers is active (google it). Most are former military and I was Army. Some are active or retired law enforcement, and I am a retired state trooper. Gives us survival confidence the months we are in Idaho. The BN meetings are informative and enjoyable, and the training is always challenging. For instance, this weekend they are doing a January over-night camp out so that everyone can test their bags etc., and learn what they should have put in their ruck? These guys and gals really get along well, and look out for each other. A couple of them are former battlefield medics out of Afghanistan and some are registered nurses etc. Everyone learns from everyone. The Communication team has put together off grid communications with ham/fm hand held Baofeng transceivers… and we all have them set up in our homes for 24/7 notifications. The team also gives free Ham training classes to the community. These two ways are also scanners, and cost less than $50 each, with free shipping through Amazon.
        Any groups (families or otherwise) without communications, need to make that a priority.
        Larry

        Reply
  • Ranger James E6 January 9, 2015, 2:14 pm

    So a “swat cop” is now a bug out specialist? Spewing second hand info you were taught by real high speed operators does not make you an expert. It makes you a dilitante’. Your credibility is non existent. Have you been to SERE? Are you RANGER qualified? Here’s an easy one, are you 11B or 0311? BTW, any good citizen can secure training from former Special Operators all year long. Names like Vickers, Howe, Lamb, Panoni, Hayley, Costa. Survival specialists like Canterbury, Wendell, Williams also are available to citizens as well, no need to “wink wink” or “cough cough”.
    Do us a favor…stick to what you know, like raiding the wrong house and flash banging toddlers. I’m unimpressed by your drivel.

    Reply
    • Another Random Person on the Internet January 9, 2015, 2:56 pm

      Is it hard moving around with such a large stick up your butt?

      Reply
      • Scott Becker January 9, 2015, 7:29 pm

        ;)

        Reply
    • irishdutchuncle January 9, 2015, 10:55 pm

      you forgot to include: shooting the family dog, in front of the children…

      that said, however, there’s really not time to waste on a flame war. I’d like to know any useful information you can add, from your experience.
      I stayed out of the service, for the good of the country. not cut out for being a “Ranger”, myself.
      not even the new PC style ones they have today.
      many of us try to keep the discussion here light hearted, because the situation/subject matter is so deadly serious.

      Reply
    • Anonymous January 10, 2015, 8:36 am

      Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder. Praying for you. These are some great ideas. If you have some great ideas, why don’t you post them. The more the better.

      Reply
      • StBernardnot January 27, 2015, 10:54 am

        Sounds like you’re blind to what’s going on around you.

        Reply
    • Betterthanyou January 11, 2015, 9:01 am

      You are a swollen douche bag. STFU and find something better to do. You sound like a jealous little prick with an inferiority complex.

      Reply
    • Oh Yea January 11, 2015, 10:16 am

      Learn how to spell, lady. Clearly an uneducated enlisted. Let me know when you grow up, son.

      Reply
      • jcrururu January 11, 2015, 1:03 pm

        OK, I’ll bite you fatuous dolt. How’s that for enlisted speak?

        Reply
    • Jon January 11, 2015, 4:33 pm

      Ranger post your DD214!!!! I have found people like you tend to be posers.

      Reply
    • StBernardnot January 11, 2015, 5:25 pm

      My thoughts exactly!

      Reply
    • Airborne 11B January 12, 2015, 12:07 pm

      Amen!!!!

      Reply
    • Anonymous March 10, 2015, 10:39 pm

      Fivers.

      Reply
    • NOTWITHSTUPID March 10, 2015, 10:40 pm

      Fivers.

      Reply
  • MattDaddy January 9, 2015, 2:30 pm

    Good and useful info. I’d like to see more articles.

    Reply
    • Scott Becker January 9, 2015, 7:28 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Matt.
      Comments like that are helpful, and yeah there’s more in the pipeline.
      (look away RangerJames) :)

      Reply
  • woodchuck January 9, 2015, 2:52 pm

    Too bad Ranger James has to be so negative. He might be quite the expert, but I doubt if any of us know it all, and I am happy to be reminded of every detail that I might have forgotten or overlooked. Repetition and practice are very important.

    woodchuck, (0311)

    Reply
  • Ron January 9, 2015, 4:04 pm

    ThanKS scott. All this seems as plausible and sound advice. I’ll put that with my other training, tactics and plans.

    RANGER JAMES, 1) shut mouth 2) repeat

    Reply
    • Scott Becker January 9, 2015, 7:25 pm

      Ron, glad you found it worthwhile!
      Stay safe out there.
      Scott

      Reply
  • Chris S January 9, 2015, 8:42 pm

    Thank you for putting this article together… Very practical information for those digging deeper than the mainstream to use. I look forward to more from you. Chris

    Reply
  • porkybeans January 10, 2015, 12:06 am

    Well, for the sake of entertainment let’s say our host really is stupid, and doesn’t know crap about real life situations. Even in that scenario I adhere to one of the quotes of the great Will Rogers’ , “I never met a man so dumb that I couldn’t learn something from him’. And I did learn a thing or two from this article and welcome more on the same subjects. I just wish there was a way, as he suggested to find serious, trustworthy, level headed preppers to team up with in my area [a little south of Victoria, Tx]. So far the net has come up empty every time. Anyway, God bless and thanks for the article.

    Reply
  • bob January 10, 2015, 12:11 am

    This guy is an idiot, he fluffs everything up in vague terms based on hi “swat” background, and offers little of value to a real world situation.

    Reply
    • jjones January 10, 2015, 12:23 am

      Concur.

      Reply
    • Tom2 January 10, 2015, 3:32 am

      I concur. I think this guy just wants attention. I can regurgitate some useful information also, information is cheap to come by these day. His style of handing out information speaks of a 14 year old trying to insinuate he is something he is not. I met hundreds of “operators” in my life, not one of them talks like this.
      Get out and find the experts and talk to them, they are not that hard to find or contact, pay for the training if you have to. I think this guy is just trolling for converts and followers.
      So sad.

      Reply
      • Anonymous January 10, 2015, 10:25 am

        You notice how he spoke of militia as if it was a bad thing?

        Reply
        • jcrururu January 11, 2015, 1:06 pm

          What else did you expect from a member of the taxpayer supported badged welfare class? They deem themselves so righteous yet they’re behind the scope creep criminalization of life. SWAT a blast? Yes, especially if you’re part of the Police State. I’d trust a militia member over a pig any day.

          Reply
          • Anonymous January 16, 2015, 10:20 am

            Just guna ask…
            next time you are in trouble call a meth head to come help you :)

    • Bill January 11, 2015, 4:37 pm

      Well what wisdom do have to share!!!!

      Oh nothing!

      Reply
  • Chris Webb January 10, 2015, 12:12 am

    So violently entering peoples homes, terrorizing them, killing their dogs, and locking them in a cage because you don’t agree with their lifestyle is ‘fun’? You’re a sick asshole. I hope you get shot in the head by someone defending themselves from your evil. I hear someone is trying to resurrect the gestapo. You should apply, you’d make a terrific goon.

    Reply
    • Cranky Joe January 10, 2015, 2:22 am

      Sweet Christ
      Could you crawl back into your hole?
      What’s the goal of this mini rant anyway? You want him to apologize for someone else’s actions? You want him to find a new job because you think you can do better? Are you bitter about a parking ticket? Your mommy talk bad about the police because she was busted for prostitution too many times?
      I think you don’t really care at all. I think you just wanna jump on the bandwagon and badmouth an authority figure you can’t handle face to face.
      Stay safe behind your computer.

      Reply
      • jcrururu January 11, 2015, 1:13 pm

        Spoken like a true defender of the Police State, how’s that pseudo boot leather taste? A cop, any cop, is part of the tyranny and you don’t want anyone to remind them of that? Newspeak ala 1984 anyone? Let’s all overlook the evil pigs in our nation directly or indirectly contributing to the second American Revolution. A good cop exposes the Nazi cowards in their midst and QUITS.

        Reply
    • betterthanyou January 11, 2015, 9:11 am

      Feeling tough in your grandmas basement, huh? Typical little pencil necked, twat flavored loser.

      Reply
    • Bill January 11, 2015, 4:41 pm

      Chris Webb,

      You my friend are a whack job for sure. So please do the human gene pool a favor and insert and pull trigger.

      Reply
    • laurel January 31, 2015, 7:56 am

      I really don’t understand a lot of you negative unhappy thinkers. I have ‘six kids in the army and one has become a policeman andd is on the SWAT Team….they all are there to protect and save…you don’t know what they face at each situation or you might rethink some of what has come out of your mouths……you really need to open your eyes….some of have lived around where some of this stuff happened..and your right things happen badly….not the way they planed…..but the military and police are not out there to see how many they can kill…..many have never killed and hope there can be a nonviolent ending for every one.
      So do you homework. …they have families they want to go home to..but someone has to do something to keep our families save…the younger people do value life….so find out the whole story before making a blanket statement about police officers and the army without all the facts first

      Reply
  • Kathleen O'Meal January 10, 2015, 8:32 am

    As I look back now over an incident that happened to me in NYC, where I was picked out of a crowd by a psycho predator, for attack, I realize it was my appearance that attracted him. It was the way I wore my purse, it was the new clothes, over dressed thing. In fact NY ers are pretty verbal about appearance and I got some comments. So I started watching what everyone else did and pretty soon blended in better. Then my car was ripped off right in front of a upper Eastside apartment building with a door man watching my car. I realized after the car had been found a few hours later, and then towed from place to place, for 2 weeks, the same amount of time before I was informed it had been found(as back then NYPD got a cut on every tow)because it stalled, 2 streets over and they couldnt get it started, that I had a lot of visible things in the car someone could make some money on. So living in NYC really opened my eyes as to how to not look like a victim. So I appreciate this article. Unfortunately for this attacker his knife got helped into the center of his body just below the sternum and he died horribly and painfully. Middle aged frumpy dressing women ought to work out, lift weights, maintain good flexibility, and maintain awareness of surroundings and escape routes…helped me to have taken hefty self defense classes and martial arts..but mostly in this case being able to bench 225 was the ticket…it was physical power to overcome or not. Then you have to be able to live with taking a life…even warranted, that has been hard for me…I pray the Lord will come soon….yet I have so much to learn and change…maybe a little hard times will be a good thing

    Reply
  • irishdutchuncle January 10, 2015, 10:16 am

    225!
    that’s a pretty impressive stat Kat. he messed with the wrong girl.

    preparedness is not premeditation. You have nothing to feel guilty about, and there is no telling how many other lives you saved.

    Reply
  • Steve-o January 10, 2015, 10:26 am

    Good for you Kathleen. I don’t see any reason for you to feel any remorse. Would you feel better if you had the knife in you? You may have saved someone else’s life further down the road by doing in this scumbag

    Reply
  • The Wiseman January 10, 2015, 12:44 pm

    Bugging out with a wife and little kids – i.e. post-toddler, pre-teen – has got to be difficult and damnnear impossible if you are on foot and the distance is, say, more than ten miles. Imagine after a doomsday accident at the Indian Point Nuclear Station turns northern Manhattan into glowing radioactive embers, imagine your wife and two kids – one five, the other nine – evacuating your Eastern New Jersey home and being in a crowd of your neighbors running/jogging West across New Jersey on, say, Route 80, all of you headed for safety in Pennsylvania (110 miles to the border).
    Behind you glows the entire Northern half of Manhattan, and as you watch, the George Washington Bridge crumbles and collapses into the 250′ deep Hudson River. You hear the dying screams of thousands of people behind you on that Bridge. You don’t know anybody in the panicked crowd surrounding you, running shoulder-to-shoulder down the Interstate highway. A few ranks ahead of you, an elderly woman suddenly falls flat on her face into the concrete. You and others stumble over her still body and continue on – you can hear voices behind cursing as they trample her body into the concrete. It’s every man, woman and child for himself/herself! You have the older boy – call him “Sammy” – by your left hand to his right hand; he seems to be keeping up OK. But your wife must carry crying little Joe because he lost one shoe when someone stepped on his heel in the rush to access Route 80. His heel is bleeding and may be crushed – the poor kid is sobbing in his Mom’s arms.
    You are carrying your bugout bag – Sally lost hers when she picked up Joe after he began to scream; it’s a mile back in the crowd right now. Of course you don’t have a gun because you live in New Jersey. (Even retired NJ Troopers and NJ Judges cannot qualify for a NJ CCW!)
    First question you should ask yourself: What do you think your chances are, of making it all the way to the Pennsylvania border on foot with two kids? Answer – nil, nada, zero. So, Dummy, make a plan! Here’s the plan; about ten miles West of the GWB, Route 80 begins to twist and climb and the surrounding area turns suburban. If you can make it that far (you MUST make it that far!), then you can get off the main highway, find a way through the sound barriers, and get away from the main crowd – go left (South) off the highway to avoid as much as possible the radiation from the North. As soon as you get into the suburbs, start knocking on doors and see if you can convince someone to take your family in for a few days. If you have Krugerands and/or cash in that bugout bag, that will go a long way toward convincing some homeowner to shelter you. Make the deal at the front door. Second question: What are you doing bugging out with two young kids without some sort of harness to carry both of them with? Be sensible! I don’t care how “good” your kids are, there is no way that little kids are going to be able to keep up with running adults for even one mile! You’re gonna have to carry them! Think ahead! Pack some sort of carry harness. Third question: Are you and your wife wearing “sensible shoes” for this very important hike? Probably not, if you left home in a panic. Ah, but you both had comfortable hiking shoes in your individual bugout bags, except now her bugout bag is lost forever and she is limping along in dress pumps with three-inch heels, carrying little Sammy. Without a carry harness! Think ahead! Pack two sets of comfortable shoes in EACH BUGOUT BAG! Fourth question (CRITICAL): What will you do if you have tried a dozen occupied suburban homes and no one will let you in – even for a Krugerand? Imagine that it’s beginning to rain; it’s getting dark and cold. Both kids are crying – tired and hungry – and your poor wife is about to collapse. You are at the end of your string, as well. What do you do at this point? SHTF, Indian Point went “Nuke”, no cops or National Guard troops around, no emergency instructions from anybody in Trenton. You have a choice – lay down and die right here, or do the following: Hopefully, you have some sort of weapon in your bugout bag. If not, find something nearby like a short piece of pipe, or even a rock. Now – go back down the street to what you opine to be the most sympathetic homeowner in the dozen homes that you just canvassed (remember that he refused to take you in, before. He will now). Bring along your older boy. Explain to your son that he must quickly slip into the house through the partly-opened door when the homeowner cracks it to hear your great new idea – and once inside, the child must then entangle his arms around the surprised homeowner’s legs, bringing him down to the floor of his own living room. As soon as the homeowner is engaged with your child on the floor of his living room, you and your wife push in the door; rushing in, you clock the homeowner with your pipe as hard as you can, your wife engages his wife and you then clock his wife with your pipe. Hit hard – you don’t want to have to do it twice. Ditto any kids in the house.

    Finally, push the bodies out the front door – drag them out to the street and up a few houses. Now, your family has a new home!

    Reply
    • Bob August 19, 2016, 3:46 pm

      Wiseman,

      You make a great case! A great case for shooting someone like you as soon as you come to the door during SHTF…….

      Reply
  • 19Delta January 10, 2015, 9:02 pm

    Bravado and gear will get you killed just as quickly, if not more, than anthing else. Stealth, blending into your surroundings (urban or rural), having allies, blending in with the locals, Eyes and Ears on the ground, learning to develop intelligence from unwitting sources, will keep you alive.

    Being a gardener growing vegetables and bartering them with neighbors to make a positive impression in the community is what I am up to. This internet connection is paid for by home grown Organic Kale bartered for the service. Are you going to learn to barter before or after the SHTF? I bet after, once you have expended your MRE’s and your bullets have run out stealing food from the locals. With no Military Resupply chain backing any of you up, you will not get far.

    I know my bug out route by Truck, Bicycle, Foot, and Google Sat Imagery. Multiple routes from fast and visible to overland and invisible. The daily drive home = fast and visible. Anything else I am prepared for. Military Gear I left behind in the Army, blending in with the local population is much more important than the current tacti-cool apparel. If I am bugging out and I see you in chest harness and gear, I will keep the cross hairs of my scope on you until you clear the area, then I will move out.

    Reply
  • keith January 11, 2015, 5:40 am

    Ranger James. I don’t think we want you to close your mouth but rather contribute to the context of the blog and add an abundance of useful information from your vast experience and your unique perspective to help the rest of us survive when TSHTF. Thanks.

    Reply
  • David January 11, 2015, 7:45 am

    That is for the tips I look toward to more.

    Reply
  • Roger January 11, 2015, 3:14 pm

    Boy, so many haters, unfortunately so many real reasons to hate! A community is, in theory, a group of like-minded individuals working toward common goals. However, in reality, semi-cohesive chaos is usually more common. When a group of people, namely the rich, decide what should be and what will be for all the rest of us, conflict is sure to follow. Take the speed limit, for example, used to be 75 MPH, then 55, now 65 in places, sound somewhat arbitrary? As possibly the only ‘intelligent’ species in the Universe, why don’t we seem to grasp the concept of “balance”; a few people ‘earn’ millions of dollars every year while millions of people barely scrape by, just surviving the leaching effect of unlimited greed! The world is a finite place, crude oil is being used at a much greater pace than it could ever be ‘created’, it will run out, and thus the artificial world that we live on, based on ‘cheap’ energy will come crashing down. In the mean time, the profit margin for the rich (no matter the price at the pump) will remain high, thank you paid-off politicians! Are alternate sources of energy, i.e. solar, wind, thermal really viable? YES! Why are they not more heavily utilized? Profit! I don’t have a clue where to find much less refine crude oil, (to say nothing of the expense of doing so) but the sun mostly shines and the wind usually blows right in my backyard, so halfway there. But of course, making the cost of alternate energy out of reach of the average person’s salary by hyperinflation of the price of the needed equipment, funny how mass production of solar and wind technology hasn’t resulted in great reduction in the cost of that equipment, (and manipulating the ‘laws’ to the benefit of the rich) has had the desired effect (at least for the rich) of keeping the masses squashed underfoot! Runaway overpopulation has an obvious solution: one healthy woman, only one healthy child, the Earth doesn’t need or even want the imbalance of seven billion people, it is not sustainable! To the ‘SWAT’ officer, I ask this, when the SHTF, who’s side will you side on, that of the rich (the authorities) or the barely-washed masses, the haves or the have-nots? Good Luck!

    Reply
    • Scott Becker January 12, 2015, 3:22 pm

      Hey Roger,
      Re ‘sides’: the intent of this article was simply to share some simple ideas and tips, from the law enforcement special operations side with folks who otherwise might not get that exposure. There wasn’t room to discuss ‘sides’, and if as an inexperienced writer I inadvertently conveyed a divisive or superior tone, I apologize. As you know if you’ve had writing published, it can be very difficult to satisfy reader’s expectation of competence and experience, without sounding high-and-mighty or whatever people want to read into things.

      Which relates to your question very simply. Realize that SWAT officers are real people too, despite the hard-core or even storm trooper exterior. Thus there’s quite a cross-section of beliefs in many teams, so some will no doubt ‘side’ with both of the categories you’ve outlined!

      But remember that many SWAT officer, especially in rural areas, share many of the same beliefs we preppers value. In fact, compared to the population as a whole, I’d say FAR more SWAT officers are into prepping, the second amendment, and staying informed than average; which can make them excellent allies. Choose wisely, because just like with any other group, there can (will) be people you definitely disagree with.
      And my personal answer to your question?
      I use solar, too! :)

      Reply
  • Doc Montana January 11, 2015, 4:51 pm

    Hi Scott. Welcome aboard.

    The audience can be a tough crowd to please, but it keeps us honest.

    We can learn a lot from the reader’s comments since they not only represent a cross-section of the prepared, but also are an information resource given their diverse experiences and variety of concerns. I’m pleased they care enough to share through participation in the comments…even if the delivery of said info can be a little sharp.

    Carry on.

    Reply
    • Scott Becker January 12, 2015, 3:23 pm

      Hey Doc, thanks for the welcome!

      I appreciate the wisdom. :)

      Yeah, its interesting to see the community makeup, and already learned a bunch.
      CTM…

      Reply
  • sirlancelot January 12, 2015, 12:42 am

    The info was pretty basic , but it’s always good to have a reminder of good tactics IE: noise, light and movement discipline.

    Would look forward to articles with maybe a little more in-depth strategies for dealing with SHTF and bug out plans.

    Not sure what all the negative comments are all about. Should our economy indeed collapse it will take good men banding together fighting the hordes that will come for us killing anyone for that last can of beans.

    Perhaps some of our brothers in blue ( or green ) will stay loyal to their slave masters, but there are far more of the unwashed masses. The evil bastards destroying our country right now will meet their fate at the hands of patriots just as they did 200+ yrs ago.

    Pray for the Republic.

    Reply
    • Scott Becker January 12, 2015, 3:36 pm

      Sirlancelot, thanks for the constructive feedback!
      That’s very helpful in knowing how to (try!) to better serve the community.

      Yes, the concepts were pretty foundational, didn’t want to go way overboard and overshoot right out of the gate.
      Next stuff should be more nitty-gritty!
      I’ve added your article ideas to the list, be fun to get some more dialog going about those topics… :)

      And I completely agree that many active and former LEOs and combat vets will, just like our forefathers, side with those founding principles.
      Pray indeed!

      Reply
  • 1/75 Ranger January 12, 2015, 10:16 pm

    Man the hate by some people is disturbing… I was a Ranger in 1/75 at HAAF… 11B2V MOS and retired a SGT after 8 years doing some time in the Guard. I am also a SWAT operator and am proud to serve the citizens who need me. The ones who don’t need me great on them that they can defend themselves. I’ve never shot a dog, illegally entered anyones home or taken their guns or rights away. I have however arrested several drug dealers, felons with weapons, pedophiles, murderers, rapists and some of the most evil trash in the world serving in the Chicago area. I respect all preppers opinions but for the love of God have some respect for others for what they do and try protect others who may not be able to. God bless and RLTW!!

    Reply
    • Bill January 13, 2015, 1:36 pm

      1/75 Ranger,

      I think so many people do not realize how many LEOs are veterans or also serve in the guard. LE is not just a bunch of Barneys any more than the Marine Corps are a bunch of Gomer Pyles.

      Reply
  • Roger January 13, 2015, 5:33 pm

    Hey Scott, reading your reply to my comment gives me the impression that you felt I was attacking you personally, this is not the case, I apologize for not being clearer! I am former military (USMC) so I do understand the mentality and have been influenced by it. I did attempt to write (and publish) as a part-time thing, but at that time only drivel such as ‘historic’ romance novel appeared to be popular, no thank you! My main concern regarding LEOs has to be with the fact that anything can be made legal or illegal with a seeming arbitrary stroke of the pen. If and when the government decides that storing more than three days food and water (as recommended by FEMA) is criminal or that possession of more than X-amount of ammo makes the possessor a terrorist, will you or your fellow LEOs be shooting my dogs, and smashing down my front (and back) door; ‘upholding’ the law? Does this ‘law’ seem preposterous? In this state Colorado, use of pot (weed, etc.) is now legal statewide, but not federally! BUT, only if you are 21 years of age, and meet certain other complex legal qualifications, basically as long as they’re making money (lots of it), then you can legally get high on Mary Jane (if you afford it)! Does this stop unauthorized people from using? Of course not, if fact, the market (and black market) is growing rapidly! I don’t indulge, but I don’t fault the average person who chooses to do so recreationally, but what happens when the Federal government decides to clamp down, or the profit margin of legal ‘weed’ becomes less massive for the state (illegal pot is already quite cheaper, supply and demand)? Will the flip-flop of state law not create chaos, remember (or at least read about) Prohibition? Good Luck!

    Reply
    • Bill January 13, 2015, 7:06 pm

      “My main concern regarding LEOs has to be with the fact that anything can be made legal or illegal with a seeming arbitrary stroke of the pen. If and when the government decides that storing more than three days food and water (as recommended by FEMA) is criminal or that possession of more than X-amount of ammo makes the possessor a terrorist”

      Well my friend than 90% would be in the same boat with you!!!!!

      Reply
      • Bill January 13, 2015, 7:08 pm

        Sorry should say:

        Well my friend than 90% of LEOs would be in the same boat with you!!!!!

        Reply
  • extremesgs January 14, 2015, 5:58 pm

    Dear SHTF Blog,
    Where the fuck did you find all these jackwads? I used to enjoy reading the posts and comments. Now its a hate fest put on by tin hat wearing keyboard warriors!

    What makes an expert? Who decides it? Do you have to be said “expert” to offer advice? i ask advice from people who have info that i don’t. Get over yourselves.
    The dude has something to share so did the work to share it.
    Take the machine gun stickers off your monitor, put down your GI Joe guys, and start offering something constructive, or shut the fuck up… please :-)

    and for the “swat” hating… boot leather… tyranny… are you guys serious?
    all that money you wasted on foil to make the hats…
    Less than 1% of swat operations go wrong like you’ve described. So that means the other 99% are as guilty? Get the crayons out- its bad math.

    ALL cops are “the other team” and have boots on our kids necks…? wow.
    Turn off the tv, folks. get out and live your life- they’re too short.
    Or, go around hating everyone from (Texas, California, Ohio.. where ever) simply because you met one asshole/bad person from there.
    Sounds Dumb? Yes, it does, doesn’t it…

    Not sure the haters warrant much more effort… and even that much was likely wasted.

    Scott- from a brother… thanks for the work and perspective.

    Reply
  • Nancy January 26, 2015, 11:06 am

    I not here to fight with anyone I just want to learn to stay alive when the SHTF I never had no training so any thing I learn will be helpful to me I know it hard living a comfortable life then thrown in to having to run hide and try to save your life I sat down and release I live on a nice side of town when problems happen the south side of town will come surging to the north side what then stay and be killed or raped or Bug Out I opt for trying to find a group to bug out with my question is what group and where do we go we are in Texas any ideas I would appreciate if it negative don’t bother I am looking for answers not to argue or fight there will be time for that trying to get away from the mess when it happens

    Reply
  • David February 1, 2015, 5:30 am

    Have you considered writing a book? I definitely would like more of your knowledgeable thoughts on bugging out survival skills… mind frame and considerations.

    Reply
  • Russell Kown March 16, 2015, 1:05 pm

    Very good article

    Reply
  • john May 3, 2015, 7:03 pm

    Nice and concise. Makes the reader want to learn more.

    Reply
  • Kevin Bolt September 7, 2015, 12:20 pm

    I always appreciate survival tips from professionals, and will certainly continue reading to improve both my & my family’s survivability. Two important questions I can table: One, where to locate common-sense, easily understood instructions as to identifying, avoiding & surviving chemical, biological and nuclear releases & attacks–whether accidental or purposeful. Two, sound advice as to leading others if either called upon, or pure necessity–e.g., either no one else is willing/able to lead, or I am the best qualified by virtue of organization & leadership qualities.

    Reply
  • sandman6 February 18, 2016, 3:45 am

    I thought we were all on the same page here.? Everyone is on the same path…some with experience…. Some new to this reality. All have something to offer….just listen. There is NO time for bs or bad attitudes here. Submit positive.. Helpful info and support the cause. Everyone starts somewhere…. Let help others with less experience learn….those with more time in…please guide on. Do be careful with info or Intel here…you never know who’s listening. Keep up the good work all…we Will need it.

    Reply

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