The sh*t just hit the fan. Things have gone from bad to worse and you and your family are in the affected area. Now what?
by Chuck Savage, a contributing writer
Whether you are a seasoned prepper or just beginning on the journey down the road to preparedness, there may come a time when you will have to make the decision whether to bug in or hit the road to a safer location with your family. When that time comes, here are the first four things to consider before you start bugging out by vehicle:
- Which vehicle should I take?
- What should I take with me?
- Where am I headed?
- What will be the safest route to take?
1. Which Vehicle Do I Take?
For those of us who don’t own a Hummer, the decision may be a little harder. Things to consider in an escape vehicle are ground clearance, four wheel drive or not, load capacity, fuel consumption and toughness. Even if you plan on bugging in during an emergency, not having a backup plan complete with a remote location that is well supplied could prove fatal.
Case in point and mentioned often is when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Thousands of people hit the roads to evacuate and many had no idea of where they were headed.
This lack of planning led to panic and indecision that only made matters worse. Horror stories of people stranded on overpasses and people being attacked at rest stops filled the news. Many people waited until it was too late to leave and perished as a result of poor or no planning. So, what vehicle will you take? I would take the vehicle that I feel is the safest for me and my family. In my case, we have a GMC Envoy 4WD.
It is not the toughest vehicle, but it is better than our Kia Spectra. This GMC gives me a fair load capacity and the option of better traction if needed. I always keep at least three quarters of a tank of fuel in my vehicle at all times and make sure my oil, fluids and tire pressure are good.
Also Read: The Katrina Rifle
Having 4WD is a nice option but don’t let 4WD give you a false sense of security. My wife and I learned this a few weeks ago while checking a new clear cut on our leased property in our Jeep Liberty 4WD. I had driven on these roads before but the logging activity had damaged the roads badly. I hit a soft spot, came to a stop and sank. I confidently shifted into 4 wheel low range and tried to drive out but with no luck and sank deeper. I rocked the vehicle back and forth but sank deeper. So deep, that I would not be able to get it out. I am confessing this to try and help you avoid my same mistakes.
Things in my Jeep
1. A ranch jack: Can be used to lift the front or rear onto stable ground.
2. Straps or chains: Can be used with a jack or come along.
3. Folding shovel: Dig around the tires to improve traction
4. Ratchet straps: Can be used to strap a board or tree limb for self rescue.
5. Snow chains: Can be used in snow, ice or mud to improve traction.
6. A hand-operated come along: Able to wench the vehicle out.
7. A tool kit: For small repairs.
8. Leather gloves
9. Extra towels
10. Hatchet or hand axe
These are just a few of the most important things needed in a bug out vehicle to be able to self rescue. Unfortunately, my story didn’t end like a fairy tale. I had to hike out to civilization and find someone with a 4WD tractor to pull me out. My wife, (not in the best of moods by now, had to wait in the submerged jeep for me to make it back with help).
2. What Do I Take With Me?
Decide that now and not when you find yourself having to haul butt. My wife and I found ourselves with about ten minutes to make that decision while living in Durango, Colorado. The Missionary Ridge fire had changed directions within minutes and we had to load our vehicle and leave the rest behind. We didn’t have time to deliberate on what was important. We just grabbed the CPU to our computer, a few clothes, water, dog food, people food, sleeping bags and a tarp for a shelter. As we left our drive way, I remember thinking that it may be the last time I would see our home and the things we had to leave behind.
One thing that I learned from living in Colorado was to always keep emergency supplies in our vehicle at all times. The weather in the Rockies is constantly changing and can be very unpredictable. I have seen it snow in August, rain anytime and hail in midsummer. Temperature swings from hot to freezing in a matter of hours. We are seeing more of these extreme weather patterns throughout the United States so be prepared.
My list includes the following:
1. Two blankets (wool if possible).
2. Drinking water (can be used for water for the vehicle if needed).
3. Food bars
4. Fire starter
5. Emergency shelter
6. Small stove with fuel
7. Flash light with extra batteries
8. Multi tool
9. First Aid Kit
10. Cell Phone and charger
I did have most of these items when we got stuck and my ever present firearm with extra ammunition. Fortunately I was close enough to hike out for help but I might not be able to the next time. I learned a lesson to never leave these items at home or base camp again. Now I keep a loaded box with what I need in my garage. Everything we need is prepped and ready to load at a moment’s notice. My advice to everyone is to take the time to do this now, not at the last minute when you are under intense pressure. You will be glad you did. I know that I have forgotten some things not listed above but you get the idea. If you have to leave, you don’t know what you will be facing or when you may be back.
Related: A Campground As A Bug Out Location?
If you take the time now when not under pressure, you will be less likely to forget the things you will need. So please, think it through and put your plan together now. Don’t put it off and become a victim or a statistic we read or hear about on the news.
3. Where Am I Headed?
My family is fortunate to have some leased land that we can use as a safe place to bug out. It has all of the resources that we would need to survive in an emergency. We store some things there on site to help us from having to carry too much with us. Every evacuation plan should have a well thought out destination. If you don’t have a land lease, maybe you should consider State or National forests. The downside to this would be having to share space and resources with other people you may not know and can trust.
Also Read: The Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle
Another safe place may be with relatives or friends who live in safer more desirable location to weather out emergencies. It is good to consider the resources you need to survive and for the location to be defensible against undesirables. In emergencies, you will not want to have to depend on protection from the government. Law enforcement and rescue/EMT personnel will be stretched thin so learn to meet your own needs.
4. What Will Be The Safest Route To Take?
Getting to the bug out location is the last consideration. Evacuation routes are going to be packed. For people who don’t know the back roads, they will all follow the signs and before long the roads will become blocked. I have planned two alternate routes to our bug out location and there are even more if I need them. Study your routes for safety issues like areas that may flood during storms.
The news reminds us of the many people who drown each year because of trying to drive through flooded roads. I plan to avoid Interstates because everyone else will be using them. Avoid stopping at rest stops or crowed public places as these can be a point of ambush for people who want to steal or do harm. Unfortunately we live in a crazy world and it’s harder to know who you can trust. So, don’t let your guard down! Always be alert, have your head on a swivel and be ready to defend yourself at all times. Hopefully this info will help you as you plan your bug out strategy. Get prepared now. Then if and when the time comes you will be ready.
Photos By: Chuck Savage Pixabay.com