REPOST: SurvivalRing Guide #1: Five Most Important Skills for New Preppers…Set Your Foundation First (plus bonus Bug-out section)

[emc2alert type=”info” style=”normal” position=”top” visible=”visible” closebtn=”0″ title=”A preface…” ] First published in 2014. It’s the first of a series I’m planning to publish on Amazon, with as much useful, thought out, and timely information to help you make better decisions for your long term survival. These SurvivalRing Guides will be published on a semi-regular basis, and will be very unique with specifically developed and intensive content, all meant to guide you down a better path and help enhance your life. I hope you will find them useful and informative. Your feedback is always welcome.[/emc2alert]

“Hello…We’re the Preppers…”

Emergency-Preppers-Checklist-2The “Prepper” movement has grown exponentially in the last few years, thanks to reality TV shows such as “Doomsday Preppers” (aka DDP), and all the knockoff shows and repeats on many other networks, as well as online TV show services like Hulu and NetFlix.

Mainstream print and online media is following in lockstep as well, using every opportunity to cash in on this new era of self reliance with news stories, special features, magazine articles, and even all new magazines on Preppers, Off Gridders, Home Safety (read weapons), and every facet possible in the genre of preparedness.

Of course, the few felons getting page time, and then getting visited by police or FBI interests when it comes to gun ownership, get their story on the front page, reminding us (as they have for 30 years now) that “survivalists” are evil, racist, selfish bastards.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Self reliance is back in vogue because the conditions that exist in our economy right now, are reminiscent of the Great Depression…a time of great unemployment, frugal living, dietary distress, the Dust bowl and its effects on the US agricultural system, and increasing homelessness, joblessness, and no expectation of things improving in the future. On top of that, increasing awareness that there really are things out in the world that can actually harm us, including Mother Nature, Technology, Criminals, and yes, even our own government, tend to make believers begin their first steps into real personal and family preparedness.

We’ve seen, with some very recent devastating natural events such as the March 2011 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan (and horrible nuclear nightmare generated by the destruction of the Fukishima nuclear power plant), the massive tornado outbreak in 2012 across the southeast US with over 300 tornadoes in a series of tornadic storms greater than the historic 1974 outbreak, and a general national paranoia of growing government intrusion, police killing innocents in wrong address SWAT raids, and international rumblings and frustration with “imperial” America messing with dozens of other countries, via the NSA and spying across all borders, whether they’re allies or enemies. All of these incidents, and so many more, are killing or injuring more and more people, and in this instant global connection with smartphones and instant internet everywhere, we’re all learning that too often, our own friends, family, and network connections are ending up as victims across the nation.

It’s all enough to drive one mad, so to speak…at the very least, angry, frustrated, and maybe even furious…that much of the pain and suffering  we’ve all seen could have been avoided, with mitigation, pre-planning, forethought, and small amounts of actual purchases and labor.  Those of us that are level headed, thoughtful, and dedicated (with an understanding that comes from either direct or indirect personal experience or prior knowledge of these kinds of hazards) start thinking ahead, when bad times appear to be heading our direction, or come zooming in to land right on our front door step.

Simple things, like having enough food in the house to feed the family through next payday, insurance for your car or home in case something bad happens, spare tires in your vehicles (because EVERYONE has had a flat at one time or another)…these are just some of the first inklings of forethought that head us down the path of being prepared…for more and more things in our lives.

Not just ANY list of “stuff”…

foodwatershelterIf you’ve already got some time put into researching preppers and prepping, you’ve undoubtedly come across a huge range of checklists, planning lists, bug-out bag lists, and just a whole bunch of disassociated blather. As you will see below, there are things that EVERY human being needs to have in hand, or have easy immediate access to…food, water, shelter, and security.

This article takes for granted that you already understand these basic human needs, and that you have already begun making arrangements for your specific requirements and uses in these four core areas.  So, instead of pointing out the obvious, we’re taking a different direction, and giving you the educational state of mind (which hopefully leads to peace of mind) aspects of how to become a better prepared father, mother, child, parent, family, or leader…for any future threat to your basic survival.

With all the current demographic shifts in our nation, either politically, racially, religiously, or personally, a lot of our (and truly everyone’s) near-term futures are in a state of flux…undecided, unplanned, unstable, and unknown, and all of it must fall into someplace specific in each of our world views and personal paradigms at some point, seemingly sooner than later.

Knowing that, and really comprehending the potentials and probables that may exist in our lives, and preparing for more and more specific scenarios, means all of us are actually taking action, making real plans, buying more food, gathering more tools, and involving more people in our own unique and individual action plans. Because of the huge change in our nation’s woes caused by floundering and flustering leaders and administrators of our nation, certain light bulbs (soon to not include 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs)  are lighting up over certain heads that signal “hey, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better”. Time to turn off all the noise around you, and search for and find that still, small voice inside you.

In other words, to all who are new to these things we call “being prepared”, you are finally “getting it!”. You may now call yourself a “Prepper Newbie”. I’m thinking you could probably use some guidance to make the best of the time you have, to really get your personal ducks in a row for what looks to be incoming hard times for a large majority of our fellow citizens. Below, you’ll find my top five recommendations on what YOU need to focus on first, to suffer the least, when things get difficult or out of control around you.

rule-of-threeKeep in mind something that should already be quite obvious. Humans require some very basic needs to actually live through a regular day. We eat meals, we drink beverages, we clothe ourselves to keep warm or cool off, and we live and sleep in shelters. We can live 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. These core needs must be met for every single person on the planet. How we prepare for the other things in life, are what separate us from animals, minerals, insects, and democrats. We think about the bigger picture….always.

But First, Here’s some Experience

My specific recommendations below come from many years of personal experience, real world hands-on training, and deep and long research. I’ve dealt with my own personal share of car accidents, storm damage from hurricanes and tornadoes, flooding, house fires, lightning strikes, breakdowns on the highway, unemployment, homelessness, injured and very sick children, strangers in the night, burglary, street crime, and even a drive by shooting.

I’ve been first on scene as a passerby at dozens of severe and deadly accidents. I’ve stabilized people lying in the middle of the highway with wreckage strewn all around, and traffic starting to pile up in both directions of a two lane highway just out of town, directing others who parked their vehicle to help, to check on other drivers, call 9/11, direct traffic, and otherwise brought some kind of order in the middle of bloody chaos, and kept people alive until emergency medical care could arrive.

I’ve heard a wreck in a rural area way after dark, years ago in Bessemer, Alabama, while waiting for my son to return from a Civil Air Patrol field trip to the rural airport his Wing met at,  following what sounded like a race with a bad ending. I waited to hear sirens…and not hearing them, went to investigate what surely must have been a devastating wreck. I found the single car accident, off the road on a sharp curve, down a deep embankment, lodged against thick pine trees, upside down with the roof crushed, and found the driver alive and gravely injured, and climbed back up the hill to wave down fellow drivers to call for help and emergency crews, while I went back down to the wreck to help the driver. The wreck wasn’t visible from the road, unless you were looking really hard, and I was.

P1030163I’ve stopped countless times to help change tires, get antifreeze, replace a fan belt, or make sure that the stranded driver had help on the way. I’ve towed cars to the next town when they were movable. I’ve done a myriad of things to help fellow travelers, because….well….in my youth and early marriage, sometimes we were the one stuck on the side of the road.

I stay prepared now, to help others who may not be as prepared as they should be, in the least populated state in the country, where cities can be two hours and 120 miles away from each other. I carry tool sets, gear, floor jacks, antifreeze, baling wire, and emergency food, clothing, and comforts…not just for me…but for anyone who may be in need at any time. It took one time with a water pump breakdown in the midst of winter, on a long lonely stretch of Wyoming highway, for me to get reminded that I need EVERYTHING…all the time.

Those distances and emptiness can kill…year round. I know. sshot-24Just two days ago, my oldest grand daughter was a passenger in a car driven by her aunt, that was involved in a one car rollover accident in rural Wyoming, outside Saratoga, south of Interstate 80. She was wearing a seat belt, but was ejected during the wreck, and landed more than 50 feet away. She survived with a broken wrist, bruised lung, cracked ribs, and bruised pelvis, in the most common accident type in this state to create fatalities.

She was one of the 17% who don’t die in a one car rollover ejection injury scenario, where the other 83% die from their injuries. The most frightening aspect of this wreck, was that the first cars to pass…kept on going, instead of stopping to assist or call for help. Unbelievable, but true.  Right now, I could be writing her eulogy, instead of this preparedness article, so I am very concerned in helping everyone stay safe and alive, including my very own family…with every breath I take. (see the image of the car she was ejected from above. It’s a wonder anyone survived)

Time spent on the streets as a federal employee, decades of driving any kind of vehicle in all kinds of environments, and extreme weather are part of my history. Early on, I didn’t have all the answers…but experience, and suffering, and a steep learning curve that some threats and incidents aren’t just one time events, helped me grow and learn to think ahead, when I recognized the signs and symptoms of bad juju approaching.

Having given you my disaster biography, what follows is a short list of extremely detailed areas I believe are important steps that you can apply to your near future planning, and hopefully avoid some of the pain and suffering that come with not knowing enough about the lifestyle of being prepared.

There are a couple of things you need to be aware of as a beginning prepper. It is VERY important that as you begin your own journey into preparedness, you must practice some simple, yet realistic, situational awareness and privacy procedures. Don’t share any private details with ANYONE that you don’t know, or even those you’ve only known for a short time. Make people EARN your trust, and get to know them really well, before you ever show your cards. This is literally a moral imperative, and in a bad situation, could mean the difference between life and death. In a grid down situation, you could become a direct target of raiders, neighbors, or even your local police and sheriffs departments, if you’ve made it very plain to the world that you do prep.

Reality check time. Types of preppers, and what to be, or not to be

  1. Prepper – someone who simply plans for their family needs for extended lengths of time,
  2. Survivalist – a prepper who has a much larger supply, as well as methods to protect their supplies. They have a lifestyle of self reliance, no matter where they live. Their goal? To survive…and be free. Liberty is their mantra.
  3. Merchant – someone who prepares and invests to help preppers and supply needs using fair payment for fair value
  4. Leech – someone who ingratiates themselves into your world, and provides no skills, tools, energy, or support to your prepping
  5. Mole – same as a leach, but reports back to their friends what is available and where.
  6. Spy – combine 4 and 5 above, and you get this…someone who actually goes looking for stored items, and reports them for personal gain
  7. Vermin – rats…plain and simple. They’ll get a sniff of what you have, and then when the moment’s right, take it.
  8. Doomers – individuals and families, and even communities, who have set goals to prepare for specific, life-altering events that most don’t or won’t comprehend…a special kind of over achieving prepper.
  9. Separatists – not the racist kind…these are the kind of people who want to be left alone, to be self reliant, self sufficient, and owe nothing to anyone. Sometimes lone wolves, sometimes hermits, always wary of what strangers REALLY want.
  10. Raiders (a.k.a. Marauders) – These are the worst. They spend their money hoarding ammo and weaponry, and no time setting aside real needs like food, water, meds, etc. They’re going to take, by force and blood, anything and everything they want.


(There are more, but this list will get you started)

Now, having given you a list of stereotypes and potential paths to choose, let’s get down to the very basics of being prepared, starting with the most important, and proceeding down the priority levels. Remember, these are just a STARTING point, but from my experience, these are the most important skills to build, maintain, and nourish at every opportunity.

Above all else, the key point, and absolute heartbeat, of being prepared is BALANCE. You need to really focus on thinking things through before spending all your rent or mortgage money on 5 years of food storage, an arsenal of defensive gear, all the highest tech gadgets and bug-out toys, and camo. You don’t want to spend every penny you have, or every dime of credit from your credit cards for a buried bunker in your backyard, or the most powerful off road truck, or even a full blown bug-out retreat. Budget, plan, and improvise in every way…step by step. Plan your preps, and work your plan.

Preparedness is NOT sitting in your home, a gun within reach, alarm systems all over the place, with enough food and ammo to stay put for months. That is not living…ever. The goal here is to develop skills in every way, covered in the areas below. The life you want to live, is one that let’s you enjoy every day of your life, with your family, working a job you love, and providing good memories to your family and friends…and when needed, stepping in when someone gets hurt, stepping inside to avoid strong storms out in the open, and being able to repair, rebuild, and strengthen those things in your life most important to you, that suffer some kind of calamity in your sphere of influence.

Preparedness is a lifestyle…above all else. In this age of information and instant global communications, ignorance is a CHOICE. Don’t wait until it’s too late to be ready for the next storm, the next car accident, the next broken arm or leg or severe cut in your presence. Learn now, how to deal with the realities of life, and you’ll suffer a lot less loss and anguish in your life. Balance everything. That’s what this world is about. With all that said, let’s get started.

EDUCATION is the key component to real preparedness.

Skill 1 – First Aid and CPR

First Aid is called first aid for a reason. When an injury occurs, if action is not taken as soon as possible, the victim could eventually degrade in health and even die in a very short time. Dealing with injuries and health issues are the most important thing we all should be able to handle.

6006First aid is not the end result of helping someone…it’s about stabilizing them and getting them to trained medical technicians (EMT), hospitals, or whatever doctor, policeman, fireman or trained personnel is available, to make sure the victim has every opportunity to survive the injury they’ve sustained. Getting training in basic first aid, CPR, AED operations (for heart stoppage), and more is available in every city in the nation, either through the Red Cross, FEMA CERT classes, local college non-credit courses, or your local county emergency management agencies.

Having these skills not only help you care for your family, but also for yourself, should you find yourself the victim of an accidental injury. I can tell you from personal experience, over the last 35 years, I’ve had hundreds of opportunities to render first aid, find victims in accidents, call for emergency services, and keep people alive before the ambulance got to the scene.

Sometimes it’s heart rending. Sometimes it’s a race against the clock. Other times, just keeping the victim calm and breathing helps things become easier. I’ve seen death firsthand , and when it seems there is nothing that can be done for a victim…there really are things that CAN be done…staying until help arrives, and letting family members know that the victim didn’t pass away alone.

Learning the skills are easy. It just takes patience and practice, under the guidance of a good trainer or mentor. There is NEVER any reason to think you don’t need this training…because one day…you WILL need it.

Skill 2 – Background Check…what are your specific threats?  –

Knowing what local threats are all around you is the second most important step in your path toward preparedness. This step requires some research and study, for the area immediately around your home or business, and for the larger region where you are located, in your county, state, or region. This step needs to be repeated if you move around often, or if you decide to relocate to a location that is actually safer than where you currently live.

word_document_37577809_canonical_f394032bf5There are many good sources online to check for local and regional natural and technological hazards. One FEMA publication, Risks and Hazards, State by State (report number FEMA-196 …right click the link to download a PDF version scanned in by me several years ago). A visit to your local emergency management office can provide you with specific natural hazards that are possible in your area. Your local library can also help you find out more.

Using some simple research methods, even Google Maps or Google Earth can give you a bird’s eye view of your city and neighborhood for potential flooding, landslide, technological threats, wild fire, and other types of disasters.

You want to think about the entire range of threats, dependent on exactly where you live. Are you near a coastline? 80% of Americans live withing 100 miles of an ocean. Are you near any rivers or major streams or watersheds? Are you in a mountainous area? Live near any volcanic regions? Remember Mt. St. Helens and the widespread damage it created coast to coast in 1980?

Are you in an area that has very active and severe weather? Tornadoes happen with great regularity in certain areas of the nation, but have occurred in every state, on every day of the year, from sea level to 11,000 feet above sea level (an F-4 hit Yellowstone many years ago on a mountain top). Here in Wyoming, in the least populated state, nestled in the Rockies, we’ve had three tornadoes in the last week, due to monsoonal rains, and wind sheer caused by geological factors in the east half of the state.

Our biggest threat? Yellowstone. But, it isn’t exploding, spewing lava, or killing everyone in the nation with a 20 foot ash fall. I think we’ve got plenty of time before the next audition for “Best. Disaster. Ever.” 640,000 years since the last caldera eruption. 70,000 years since the last lava flowed in the park. 55 years since the last major earthquake in the park (1959 quake that registered 7.5, and created Earthquake Lake). I think we have at least 1,000 years before we have to consider moving from where we are. In other words, NOT a current threat.

Hurricanes have caused incredible regional destruction along the gulf coast and eastern seaboard lately, such as Katrina, Sandy, Andrew, and many more, including the most powerful typhoon (Pacific Hurricane) ever measured by science that just destroyed vast portions of the Phillipines called Typhoon Haiyan last year (November 2013), which as of the time of this writing, has a current death toll of 6,201 dead and 1700 missing, FOUR times the number of deaths of Katrina. 14.1 million people were affected, and 4.1 million people displaced. Utter devastation. And, it could happen here, in the US…at any point in the future.

derechoesEver heard of Derechoes? A titanic storm system 1000 miles long crossing the plains to the ocean…who knew? They are a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with a land-based, fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms. Derechos can carry hurricane or tornadic force and can deliver torrential rains and perhaps flash floods as well as strong winds.

These convection-induced winds take on a bow echo (backward “C”) form of squall line, forming in an area of wind divergence in upper levels of the troposphere, within a region of low-level warm air advection and rich low-level moisture. They travel quickly in the direction of movement of their associated storms, similar to an outflow boundary (gust front), except that the wind is sustained and increases in strength behind the front, generally exceeding hurricane-force

There are also plenty of threats that aren’t natural hazards. Transportation incidents (train wrecks, highway pileups, airliner crashes, etc.), infrastructure disasters (power grid issues, water plant breakdowns, crumbling roads and bridges, dam breaks, home and business fires, water main breaks, sewer system backups, and so many more), technological breakdowns (internet threats, cut optic or communication lines, computer meltdowns, food delivery system snafus, data corruption, etc) and many more threats all over the nation.

kleboldandharrisFinally, there are the threats which seem to be a breakdown of the human condition. We’ve seen a massive increase in active shooter incidents just in the last few years, including many school shootings, military base attacks (Hasan and Ft. Hood, the Navy Yard in DC weeks ago, Ft. Hood AGAIN just recently), running gun battles in most major metro areas, homicides, home invasions, broad daylight robberies and attacks, school stabbings, many instances of ‘stand your ground” shooting, and an ungodly amount of domestic abuse, child abuse, murders, kidnappings, drug world hits, SWAT team attacks at wrong addresses resulting in deaths of the innocent homeowners.

Add corrupt police and city officials, and even slavery as in the 3 woman held in the Arieal Castro home in Cleveland for over 10 years, and repeatedly raped and beaten (and Castro hung himself in prison less than 3 months after being convicted, and sentenced to life without parole), and then add to the mix hundreds of examples of police brutality all over YouTube, caught on video as they happened.

Mass murderers roaming the streets with mayhem on their mind, such as the Santa Barbara shooter just this past weekend (May 24, 2014) who killed seven, and injured seven more. Or take the Virginia Tech shootings, and  Seung-Hui Cho with 32 shot to death and 17 injured, or go back 38 years to the University of Texas at Austin 1966 mass murder from the tower on the campus, where Charles Whitman killed 16 and injured 32.
The Santa Barbara shooter, after killing himself following his rampage... May 2014Psychopaths with weapons have always been among us, and the frequency and repetition of these horrifying events grow with every year.  The 22-year-old man who instigated the Santa Barbara massacre on the May 24th, 2014 shooting had planned it for months, and when he killed himself, he still had 40 magazine of ten rounds each still in his vehicle. His own parents had called the police weeks before, noticing strange behavior from him. Still, he was able to pull off his plan and destroy the lives of many.

As with many mass murderers, the attacks occur where there are gun -free zones, and precious few concealed carry permits…and the law in most states enforce the gun free zones with extreme denial of constitutional rights. 

The value of a human life, by other humans, has hit an all time low. All of the above issues can happen anywhere and anytime. Consider yourself fortunate if you’ve never had to deal with any of the threats listed yet. Millions of Americans have suffered some or several of the incidents above. In other words, in the real world, real disasters occur much more than we all realize. It pays to have a plan and some skills and tools stored away just in case you need them.

Skill 3 – Training and Practice – Just Do It

You can find training in self rescue, community preparedness, first responder basics, and a myriad of other disaster support opportunities by joining your local CERT organization. If there is not one in your area, contact your local county or municipal emergency manager about getting a group started. Training materials are waiting for you at You can also locate nearby organizations from their website.

contracostacertlogosmallCERT will teach you how to take care of yourself, your family, and your neighbors in the event of an emergency or a disaster. During major disasters, local emergency responders can become overwhelmed by the demand for help, or can be delayed in attending to the community’s needs. CERT members are taught basic response skills, which could help save or sustain life, until emergency responders are available.

The concept of CERT was originally developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department and was promoted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the 1990’s for communities across the country. CERT is now under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security, and is one of several programs that make up the Citizen Corps. In addition to basic disaster preparedness, the course covers fire safety and suppression, triage, disaster medical operations, terrorism, and light search and rescue.

I’ve been a CERT member in my Wyoming county since 2005. Before that, I was part of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) when I lived in Alabama, and currently have state provided yearly re-certification in first aid, CPR, AED usage, and emergency preparedness with my job with the state of Wyoming in Corrections/LEO (Law Enforcement ). In the last 5 years, there were many times these skills were put to use, including a couple of life or death events out on the open road.

Training yearly, regularly, and completely will give you the confidence to think correctly in times of disaster or emergency. When you include your spouse, children, relatives, and even neighbors and coworkers in some of the training, you are expanding your preparedness and emergency network to be more successful, and farther reaching level than any other training alternatives, and increasing your potential for a successful recovery, or even mitigation of damage and loss when events in the real world impinge into your own  life and livelihood.

Skill 4 – Bugging-in, or bugging-out  –  Decision Making

bugoutIn a true survival situation, be it a massive storm, rising flood waters, house to house invasions, or a true grid down episode, knowing what decision to make and why, will be the key to your successful traversal through the event.

Bugging-in is known as “shelter-in-place”, and in most instances is the prudent thing to do. Bugging-out is leaving what is normally your every day home or office, to seek safer locations other than where you are currently situated, and having a pretty damn good reason to leave. YOU have to figure out what “trigger points” in your planning lists require you to actually start the process of either bugging-in to a full lock-down of your home, including sealing it off from the rest of the world; or starting the process of loading your bug-out vehicle, and bringing your family into get the hell out of dodge mode. You really have to work on this decision process, and potentially create a mind-map or some other planning tool that helps you get your ducks in a row.

Bugging-in means locking every door, barring every window, setting secure perimeters, turning on pre-installed home surveillance cameras and equipment, and settling the family down for a few days, weeks, or even months of disappearing off the radar screen. Bugging-out, on the other hand, means having a vehicle that is extremely dependable, repairable, off road worthy, tanked up and topped off, and capable of hauling your most precious parts of your nomad life. Bugging-out also means having a bug-out location to go to. Not having this BOL (Bug-Out Location) means you become homeless, and in a true grid-down situation, that means you’ve just become cannon fodder….unless you are very creative, very intelligent, and very independent.

The key component of this skill is being able to make a decision based on known threats, known potential outcomes, and having a plan to put into place to either avoid completely, or at least lessen the impact of any particular threat. You really have to do your homework here, and be clear in the planning stages of what staying, versus leaving really means.

Bugging-in, or sheltering in place, is always going to be your best chance for survival in nearly all cases. At your home, you already have all your food, clothing, equipment, medicine, sanitation needs, places to sleep, drinkable water, and so on… all right at your disposal. Now, look at what cause you to have to perform a bug-in, or shelter in place, incident. Let’s start on the back end and rule out the kinds of disasters that won’t cause you to leave your home. Natural disasters that don’t damage your home’s structural integrity, such as small earthquakes, wind storms, hail storms, minor flooding, neighborhood house fires, power outages, ice storms, and many similar events can all turn more severe and cause major damage, but a vast majority of these disasters are very localized, and unless you’re at ground zero of the event, you’ll be much safer in your home.

Shelter-In-Place-ButtonWhat most homes, potentially including yours, don’t have is a safe room, panic room, storm shelter, or fallout shelter. These are the kinds of additions you may want to move up on your list of immediate needs to save funds for and finish as soon as possible.  For this section of this article, we’ll just call this room a “safe room”. It can be an inner closet or bedroom, a below grade cement or cinder block specialized room, or an attic or false wall room normally hidden from view. It will need super strong walls, doors, floors, and ceilings, and can be built over a period of time.

Why a safe room?  Crime, out of control fires, home invasions, burglaries, tornadoes, high wind events, and anything generally that can destroy a home, or severely damage it making it unsafe for living conditions. Investing NOW in a hardened, strengthened, hidden and secure location inside, under, next to, or totally including your home is potentially the best investment you can make for your family. It’s not cheap, it’s not easy, and it’s not a guarantee you’ll be 100% safe, but it will keep you safe in most of the very worst of threats.

Bugging-out, getting out of dodge, hitting the road, or escaping disaster all mean the same thing…leaving the safety and security of your home base. The mind boggles at all the things you could potentially lose if you have to escape your home because there is no way to save it all. What would ever lead to this happening? A lot more things you might comprehend at this moment. We’ll have more on bugging out below…

The “List”…what could go wrong?

In Volume 2 of our SurvivalRing Guide Series,  you’ll find a “short” list of just twenty potential reasons you would need to bug-out, and it is by no means complete. YOU have to decide what level of threat it would take for you to abandon everything in your life except what you can carry and who you can bring with you. In Part 2, we’ll discuss “Bugging-Out…What Could Go Wrong? 20 Threats You Need To Think About“. We’ll discuss major events, bug-out potential, post-event return scores, and more. You’ll learn a lot from it, I promise.

Skill 5 – Bugout Considerations  – bags, tools, and when and where to go… 

Bug-out bags, 72 hour kits, Go-bags, or whatever you call them, are tools that every single one of us should have on us, near us, or close enough to get to within moments.  The most basic bug-out bag has 5 components…food, water, extra clothing, something for shelter, and some kind of tools. Your expectations should be enough for 72 hours MINIMUM. Beyond that, your bug-out bag may be your only belongings in a truly bad societal breakdown.

You will have to decide just how bad things will get where you are, and plan accordingly, with the supplies, tools, and equipment to find other food and water sources on the run, make expedient shelter, defensive tools for any threat, ways to make fire, light, and sanitary conditions to maintain your health and sanity. Here’s where having a military training background really pays off. Those without, have to take time to learn the skills, before they’re needed…no exceptions. When you’re now stuck out on the road, your very life and those of your loved ones will be in your hands, and you want to be prepared to face that.

Below you’ll find a very comprehensive master list of a bug-out kit potential items, but remember, you don’t need to take literally EVERYTHING…only what you and your family need to survive for limited periods of time. In truly horrible circumstances, you may not ever be able to go back home. You have to decide soon, what that may entail, should you be faced with that need. My family and I have had to start over before. Nearly lost everything, and wound up living in a motel with no home, and everything in storage. In other words, I know what it’s like. I don’t recommend it, but it is survivable. With those thoughts in mind, let’s cover the very basics of bug-out kits, before getting into the kit content.

Bags and storage – Suggestions on kinds of bags/totes/carriers to consider…

In this day and age of selective and almost instant nomadic tendencies of young people (millennials), and even some boomers, to just pick up and take a trip, for a day or a month, the choices for carrying the day’s (or month’s) needs have grown exponentially from what we had available just a couple of decades ago.  Used to be that there were a) backpacks, b) duffel bags, and c) shopping bags. Now you can find hydration kits, small to large backpacks from day bags to 6,000 cubic inch external frame outfitting bags, duffel bags from a gallon size to 4 feet long and 2 1/2 feet tall and wide, plastic totes from a quart to 100 quarts, water proof containers for any kind of electronics, bike trailers to off road trailers to 3 axle fifth wheels and up…where do you stop?

Sizing your bug-out bag depends on 3 things….how many people is it going to support, how long will it support them, and how much can you carry?  A single person, depending on your build, physique, and stamina, may be able to haul an 80 pound backpack 20 miles a day into pure wilderness, or more likely, a 30 pound ruck 5 miles into the woods…if that much.

If you have children or even pets, custom carriers and rucks can help them carry at least a small portion of their own load. Again, size should be based on ability. Making camp outs an active part of your family’s recreational activities on a regular basis makes this part of bugging-out much more doable and realistic, and not the beginning of the end.

Finally, how are you going to move the bug-out kit, when you HAVE to hit the road?  On your back?  In your hands?  On a small hand cart? Back of your motorcycle?  Your car trunk?  A trailer?  THAT is the first thing you have to decide. How are you going to move your stuff?  Then, you’ll have a lot of options of containers for hauling the stuff in. Here’s your decision matrix…

  • Who’s carrying what
  • How much is going
  • Where does it have to go
  • How is it going to get there
  • How long will it be needed

Lots of variations on each level, which means you need to make some hard choices, based on research and planning. You’ll have to game multiple scenarios for your family unit, as to the threat, the bug-out trigger, the location to move to, and how long you may be required to stay. Only REAL study and planning will help define you needs, or actual real world experience (and not necessarily your own experience at that…). Once you’ve come up with several real world scenarios, you will need to practice them…and make sure everything in your plan works as it should, and if not…what needs to be changed to make it work.

Food and water – How much, what kind, and where to keep it

Both of these items must top your list of bug-out bag contents. Why? Because without either, you WILL die. A collapsible water container of a liter or more, and the filter or chemicals to make it drinkable will suffice. Food is a personal choice, but you will want food that will be sealed, store-able, high energy to weight ratio, and compact. Protein bars, dried fruit, nuts and berries, and peanut butter are good choices.

Consider how your food will be stored until that day you have to grab your bag as you run out the door. Will the bag see temperature extremes while it awaits your first emergency?  Is it bug and rodent proof? Are the contents something you NORMALLY eat?  Hard changes to your diet during an emergency can debilitate you to the point of not being able to move at times. High protein items are recommended, such as jerky, to provide the energy needed to make good decisions during stressful times.

For your water, a survival straw, small hand pump style filter, or other proven clean water solution can help you provide daily water sustenance needs. In long term emergencies, each person needs at least a gallon per day for hydration and sanitation needs. You’ll probably want to plan to have some larger (but empty) water storage device for your bug-out location to deal with those needs. A folding metal camping cup, cook pan, or fireproof bottle can be used to boil water, a proven way to kill the parasites and bacteria found in water sources in the wild. Whatever route you choose, use and be familiar with the process of getting clean and clear water BEFORE any emergency.

Tools and supplies – Multitools, knives, saws, and repair/replacement thoughts

Most of you reading this probably have some experience with everyday tools, and many of you probably own a few specific tools that could have survival and preparedness applications. You need to have a small bag, or large pocket or tote, with specific tools for any bug-out. It can be integral to your larger overall bug-out bag, or a zip on/clip on/carabiner-on container that can be nabbed quickly and efficiently as times, threats, and needs dictate. You have to be selective in this tool and supply kit, because while taking everything would be nice, you’d have no way to move it.

Here’s the very basic tools I would add to this mini-BOB to cover most needs in any survival situation. First, a good multi-tool such as Gerber, Leatherman, or similar folding plier tools. Doesn’t have to be the biggest, most tool laden model they have…just the most useful features for YOU. Next, a folding camping saw, with a 6 to 10 inch blade, useful for making firewood, shelter building, path cutting, and such. A folding camping shovel is next, helping with sanitation, trenching around shelters or tents, latrine duty, or other dirt movement needs. A couple of knives need to be in your bag as well, including trusted and sharpened lock blades, full tang survival knives, a skinning knife kit (for wilderness food gathering), and a good solid hatchet, axe, or tactical tomahawk. Sharping stones and tools need to be included for these as well, to keep them sharp, usable, and in good repair.

A fire making kit of your choice (preferably MANY different fire starter tools) will be needed for cooking, signalling, boiling, cleaning, and more. Flint and steel kits, waterproof matches, fire pistons, prepackaged or prepared tinder paks, a magnifying glass, butane lighters, or even manual fire starting tools need to ALL be in your took kit. With all these in hand, NOTHING will keep you from having a warm fire going in no time, in any conditions.

Other tools can be mini-kits as well…a small sewing kit to repair clothing, extra shoelaces, grommets and grommet tool, folded and many layered packs of trash bags, aluminum foil, tarp material, saran wrap, and even several small zip lock bags, each and all put into properly sized zip lock bags, lets you keep the materials safe, tightly sealed after squeezing all the air out, and reusable after use…and those zip lock bags themselves can become tools later for holding any future supplies.

Tranportation – Car, truck, SUV, van, motorcycle, boats, planes, on foot

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’ve got your own transportation…and potentially multiple vehicle choices. Any vehicle can be used to get out of Dodge, when it comes to disasters. However, each and every vehicle has good and bad points if used as a bug-out vehicle.

You  need to decide on several things, such as how many people are going with you, how much fuel can you carry and especially how you’ll refuel in a wide ranging disaster, how much bug-out gear you’ll be taking and how and where to load it, and many more options.

Can you go off-road with your vehicle, and if so, can you self rescue if your ride gets stuck or breaks down?  If you had no other place to go once you were out of range of the ongoing disaster, could you use your vehicle as a bug-out shelter?  Can you haul a trailer, or backup vehicles (bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, boats, etc)? Is your vehicle common enough that visits to most junk yards or auto salvage yards would provide you used replacement parts, from electronics, to motors and transmissions, to axles and wheels and more?  Something to consider in a real nightmare scenario.

The movie “Damnation Alley” made a very valid point of having your main vehicle be constructed of common enough major parts that you could get it back on the road by visiting major junkyards for the parts and equipment needed. But then, that begs the thought…do YOU have the skills, tools, and know-how to actually do the work yourself? Being a mechanic, or having one in your group, at times of civil breakdown could be the one thing that saves everyone and everything.

If you had no fuel for getting out, could you walk your way to safety, carrying the most needed essentials for basic survival? Backpacks come in large range of types, designs, and capacity. You need to literally find one that fits you well, if you’re going to be carrying everything you own, for miles into the wilderness or away from trouble.  You’ll want to make sure you have good quality, comfortable, WORN IN boots for foot travel, as well as good athletic shoes and maybe even moccasins for the days with little to no travel. Don’ t forget to have plenty of dry socks, washing your work socks daily and changing them at least a couple of times a day while moving overland. If you’re on foot, and your foot health goes south, you’re done…and not moving until you’ve healed…or worse.

Equipment and accessories

These will include more than just the tools and supplies above. We’re talking big equipment now…chainsaws, engine hoists, cable winches, generators, off grid power components for charging deep cycle batteries, like windmill components, solar panels, hydro power turbines, and more. Are you serious enough in your bug-out plans to really plan for extremely long (indeed, maybe even permanent) bug-out living?

Either you are, or you aren’t… and even having some of this equipment doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get it going and operating properly by yourself, in an emergency situation, unless you are already thoroughly familiar with everything in these systems. That means starting them, running them, maintaining them, and getting a few hours of use each month, before emergencies happen. Again, family camping trips help you test the tools, the plans, the skills, the experience, and the teamwork needed, in being ready for the unplanned for disasters.

Eye care, eye wear and optical accessories are a very important part of your equipment set. Your eyes and vision are what will keep you alive, alert, and aware of your surroundings…near and far. If you wear glasses, do you have backup pairs? When was the last time you had an eye exam?  Does your family have a history of eye diseases (cataracts, macular degeneration, etc.)?  How good can you see without glasses?  Protecting your eyes are very important, no matter what is going on. Goggles, safety glasses, even helmets with shields on them (full face motorcycle helmets as an example), will do a great job in keeping your eyes from injury, when used in the right circumstance. Plan ahead.

Equipment and accessories that need to be added to this part of your kit include the best set of binoculars you can afford, a good spotting scope, and possibly low light vision enhancement tools such as infrared or night vision scopes. When the going gets really rough out in the post-SHTF world, those that can see in the dark will rule the night. When you’re out of civilization, and in the wild, or in urban areas, seeing farther out than your threats are is a positive thing. But, while you’re thinking of seeing what’s coming your way from any direction, remember this…DON’T stick out like a sore thumb.

Blend into whatever area you find yourself in. Like a huge large mouth bass sitting in the shade of floating moss waiting for a meal to swim by, you need to hide when your safety is threatened. Don’t stand up on a ridge line in the mountains, where the bright sky makes you a target. Don’t stand in the middle of a beach next to the lake or shoreline. Don’t be the highest object around anything. Situational awareness is the key factor here. If you can see trouble, trouble can see you. Make it as difficult as possible to see  you and your group when trouble is on the move…day or night.

Clothing and Shelter

On the road, you need to be thinking of your own shelter…your clothes, shoes, and gear. Clothes for terrain, weather, protection, camo, storage, and repair…and tents, campers, rvs, and more. Coats, shoes, underwear, belts, repairs replacement, mending and fixing, alternative uses, finding more on the move…you need to be thinking always of your clothing, its condition, and its needs…it’s the difference between warm and toasty, cool and mostly dry, or soaking wet and shivering in the first symptoms of hypothermia.

Good quality clothing is worth the cost. Flannel or fleece jackets can be used quite a bit for most climates. Heavy coats, dusters, trench coats, and good rain slickers are worth their wait in gold. Many light layers instead of a couple of heavy layers is always best. Even canvas clothing is available, and extremely durable…but take some heavy duty planning and skills to make, and they get quite bulky. Carhartt makes very high quality work wear that allow you to work (and travel) outside while being quite protecting from some very harsh elements. I can personally recommend this kind of gear for long term disaster wear. They are that good.

balaklavaHere in central Wyoming, we can have a long string of very cold, sub freezing temperatures over many days (only the mid -20s this past winter…but I’ve seen 45 below as well, AND windchill REALLY sucks when it gets that cold. Think about having an extreme cold mini-pak that can easily added or attached, should you live in a climate that can be viciously freezing at any given time during your winter, and include your gloves, a very warm knit hat for ear protection and heat retention for your noggin, and if you need it, a full face balaclava (full face and head cover….just like a ninja might wear, but for completely innocuous reasons and cold weather health, instead of battle gear)

Don’t forget gloves, including several for various uses. A solid pair of thick leather gloves will help you keep your hands and fingers safe when handling many manly (and womanly) tasks, from cutting firewood, to dealing with ropes and riggings, to mechanical work of any kind. Insulated cold weather gloves (the higher the heat rating, the better) will help ward off frostbite, when in extreme weather conditions.

Some thin cotton gloves will work great during travel and lighter tasks, and can sometimes be worn under your work gloves as an extra layer for warmth. A small package of vinyl or latex gloves (make sure you don’t have latex allergies) are a real requirement in dealing with any bodily fluids in serious injuries, or cleaning game after a hunting of fishing expedition. Nitrile gloves work just as well, and I’ve used them frequently for heavy duty car repairs when detail work won’t allow thicker mechanics gloves, or tactile feel for hidden bolts. Seriously, like eye wear and eye safety, you need to keep your fingers and hands well taken care of…especially in disaster situations.

As I mentioned above, shoes are going to be one of your most important clothing items. You’ll want as many pairs of good, solid, dependable shoes as you can get. Regular tennis shows will be most useful for everyday use. Washable shoes would be best, but big name and high price shoes will not get you any functionality after a few days off the beaten path.Well broken in hiking boots or high top tennis shoes will give you better grip and ankle support for uneven terrain.

Cowboy boots and steel toed work shoes?  Not good for extended use, or really for any kind of travel by foot. Heavy, and not much traction. Good rain boots, insulated winter boots, and even muck boots (farm type for taking care of livestock) might be advisable, especially off road or trail. More important than most shoes are good, well taken care of socks, with crew length style. A mix of cotton and wool socks would be best, and changing to dry socks a couple times a day while moving is very important. Washing dirty and worn socks will need to be planned for, again, especially on the move.  Foot rot can turn into infections and full blown health crises if not taken care of at the first opportunity. Having 1st aid for foot care is an important thought. Mole skin for blisters, anti fungal cream or spray, and triple antibiotic ointment will deal with most foot needs.

For regular shirts and jeans, several tee shirts are good, with a few good sets of long sleeve, thick, and tear resistant materials. Under Armor, long underwear, or a set of long sweats will keep you warm on the coldest days, moving or parked for the night. Dress shorts serve no purpose, obviously, but some flannel shirts and even durable khaki shirts will be a great addition to your pack. I’d recommend a couple of vests as well. One insulated for keeping your core body temps up during cold spells, and a good multi-pocket, photographers, or travel vest. Many survival tools can be carried in a good travel vest and off the beaten path for scouting, trapping, fishing or hunting trips.

Now for a few accessories. Belts are always going to be needed, and a very heavy duty belt, such as a good leather one or a Carhartt brand will last you five times longer than any cheap store type belt. A couple of sets of suspenders would be nice, and maybe even an old military surplus web belt harness would serve multiple purposes, When you’re carrying gear by foot, you need all the weight sharing support you can find.

Consider everything.  Hats are a much needed addition in nearly all terrains and climates. Baseball caps are a good start, while full cowboy hats aren’t. Flexible, water resistant, waxed cotton,  or water proof leather or treated wool wide brims hats can serve you nicely in high heat, sunny climes, rainy seasons, and even windblown sandy or dusty days  keeping blown matter out of your eyes as much as possible.

Regarding shelter, the best ideas for vehicular bug-outs would a camper of the largest size you can a) haul with your vehicle, and b) afford on your budget. A hard sided camper will keep you secured in all kinds of weather, and most environments. A cab-over camper for a pickup truck works nicely if you can afford one. It can be offloaded anywhere, or hauled as far off the path as you dare. ;

Tents of any size beat not having a shelter at all. If you’re on foot, there are a multitude of different two and three person tents available. With tents, make sure you have a rain fly that is large enough for your needs, and effective in redirecting water. You’ll want to actually go camping a few times and really use your tent before you HAVE to in a disaster situation. Here, practice is very important.

Study where to place a tent in a camping area, know how to dig a trench to keep water from flooding you out in the rainy season, and make sure you have spare parts should a zipper break or a tie down loop come loose. Parts are cheap, and again, knowing how to repair them takes practice. Get out there and use your campers often and with family. Learn what works, and what doesn’t and adapt and improvise…

Weather and health – Learning it, preparing for it.

In any bug-out situation, weather is ALWAYS a problem to deal with…too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet, too windy, too muddy, too much. Planing ahead in your bug-out scenarios should always focus on what shelter will be available…where ever you end up. Some folks plan to use their vehicles as their shelter. Others far away homes or secure locations they’ve spent time and money setting up. Still others? Whatever they can find, where ever they end up. No matter what…you WILL need shelter.

So, including several potentials in your kit. Several light sweaters or coats, a good solid poncho, Gore-Tex materials, huge trash bags you can actually huddle in, any small tents –  back-packable or otherwise. Something… anything… beats nothing. Think you might find a cave, tunnel, mine, or other natural or man-made shelter in a crisis…easily?   Don’t count on it. Have a plan, and tools to make your own when needed.

2013 flooding in Boulder, ColoradoThe last few years have seen disastrous weather events from coast to coast. Other events such as wild fires in Colorado and California, created conditions that allowed weather systems to wreak havoc in places never expected. Burned out vegetation from massive and historically huge wild fires, allowed torrential rain events to create flash flooding in Boulder and Aurora that had emergency managers stunned by the magnitude. They were left with telling residents to seek higher ground, instead of evacuating. No time. No safety. Just one event. One community. No joy.

Take this one event, and repeat it a hundred times, in all corners of the nation. Lifestyle choices have us make our homes, based on quality of life, environmental preferences, and ease of access to work and recreation. These portions of Colorado were beautiful, lovely places to live and grow in.

They turned into death traps and worse, because long term thinking that events might happen, and were potentially a threat, never created action to mitigate or avoid the threats. People died, drowned, or suffered in some horrible circumstances…simply because the community leaders and emergency managers DID NOT ACT in ways to avoid the threats that were inevitable. Just like Katrina. Just like Sandy.

These events have repeated themselves thousands of times, over eons. You’ve got to be smarter than the people in charge at times. When a disaster or crisis starts, the administrators, managers, and public safety crews are busy looking at maps, telemetry, asset numbers, and potential events and outcomes.

At the same time, you’re the one standing in knee deep water holding your children as the water rises around you. You’re the one having to be on the move, before the sirens go off. You’re the one that needs to have thought of everything, including having your truck packed, fueled and ready, before the first drop of rain every fell, 50 miles up in the mountains.

It’s all you. Everything else is a dream…only taking action will save your life, and your family’s future. Don’t be caught with your pants down, if you choose to live in a place of beauty, that hides the danger lurking out in the wilderness, upstream from your dream home and perfect life.

Your health must be maintained during your future bug-out or you’ll sicken and fall to the wayside much faster than you can ever imagine. A healthy lifestyle is the biggest need beforehand, but a good first aid kit, stashes of regularly used supplements and medications, RX backups, and small trauma kits including suture kits all have a place in your bug-out bag. Only you know what YOU need…so plan accordingly.

Money and Wealth, Barter and trade

Cash, precious metals, barter materials, and safekeeping. In our current perfect world, all of us still lucky enough to have real good paying jobs are very lucky. Many Americans are seeing their investments melt away, their homes equity evaporate, and their health coverage literally taken away by an administration intentionally destroying many of the most prized offerings any family would want in their American dreams…a livable mortgage that is affordable, life and health insurance that gives peace of mind and provides coverage to our families in all the minor emergencies that an average life brings, bills that are budget-able and taken care of easily, because we plan and make do with what we have.

Unfortunately, all that is changing, and our current federal administration is destroying the value of the American dollar right before our eyes. In the recession of 2008, my mother lost 70 percent of her savings because of fiduciary mismanagement at the highest levels of the banking industry. In the last five years, the price of gasoline has doubled, and threatens to rise up yet again. Obamacare has purposely cancelled the insurance plans of millions of Americans, with the potential to disrupt 75 million families by the end of 2015.

Every part of every single American’s lives are being turned upside down in what is truly occurring to the American dream. While capitalism has created some of the most wondrous products ever seen by mankind, federal red tape and bureaucracy are taking more and more of all of our disposable income…in every new day. Atlas Shrugged, the fictional novel on objectivism, is becoming real, right in front of our unbelieving eyes.

What can be done to put an end to this aggressive destruction of our personal wealth, savings, and future?  Bartering, trading of services, re-use and re-cycle of all things possible, and creation of our own personal systems for food, water, shelter, clothing, and living arrangements are just some of the potential ways to deal with government intrusion and overreach, which we suffer up and above the real threats of natural and man-made disasters. We’re going to have to create an entirely new threat matrix of threats to the human condition, and the title is going to be “Government Created Disasters”. Sad, but true…it’s happening before our eyes.

Paper money will always be in vogue, but should the US see a economic crash of the US dollar, triple digit or worse inflation will make that dollar worth less and less each passing hour. Real silver coinage (pre-1964), dollar and half dollar coins, and even copper pennies will be worth their weight, as well as any gold coins of any denomination. Keeping them safe and secure, either at home, or while on the road during a bug-out, can lead to a lot of stress, so very good planning and security must be used if things come to this level. Bartering for food, fuel, clean water, and shelter will take us back to the dark ages, and things that people might never have expected to have to do…to stay alive.

When and Where to Go in bug-out evacuations.

There will be times when you do have to leave the safety and sanctity of your home because of massive disasters affecting millions. The government word for this action is called crisis relocation. However you or the government want to say it, you want absolute control of your own bug-out to safety, shelter, and security. You do not want to get caught up in having to move your loved ones and yourself in to government emergency shelter. Loss of your most precious items, your self defense tools, extra food, and anything you might have with you…can and will be taken away. You’ll be embedded in a large living area, with only a few square feet to your own area, surrounded by hundreds of other less fortunate people, many of whom will potentially be carrying any of a number of contagious illnesses or diseases, hidden weapons, or the like, and who will want to take whatever you have, that the government may not have already taken (cash, medications, clothing, shoes, etc).

What kind of disaster could force you to leave you home? Wildfires, very strong hurricanes, flooding, transportation incidents with spilled chemicals or noxious fumes, and many more. You won’t have a choice in most of these disasters, and may be removed from your home against your will, and potentially in handcuffs. Think about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the golf coast. Think about Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York. Think about past storms that hit the Caronlina’s, Georgia, Florida, and more. Very few people stayed to ride the storms out. However, millions left their homes and headed inland to safer zones…hundreds of miles away.

Hurricane Floyd triggered the third largest evacuation in US history (behind Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Rita, respectively) when 2.6 million coastal residents of five states were ordered from their homes as it approached. September 1999

Hurricane Floyd triggered the third largest evacuation in US history (behind Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Rita, respectively) when 2.6 million coastal residents of five states were ordered from their homes as it approached. September 1999

Traffic jams on every major thoroughfare and every two lane county road. Families in caravans of multiple vehicles, single mothers, lots of children, or even friends helping each other find safety, without planning on where they were going, what they were going to eat, where they were going to sleep, and where they would be finding restrooms on the way. Gridlock traffic jams for a hundred miles or more. Many ran out of fuel sitting in unmoving traffic.

With all that said, in the event you really do have to enact a full bug-out of your family and pets, you need to really, truly have a well thought out plan, as many different bug-out locations to head to (as humanly possible), and multiple ways to get there.  Talking to extended family and friends before any disaster rears its ugly head, helps get the hard part out of the way…where to go, why, and for how long. Planning the trip and route itself to each location requires testing, practice, and ability to create thoughtful alternatives mid-crisis. Don’t plan on camping in a Walmart parking lot 300 miles away, if you have to head away from the coast with the next category 5 hurricane. The lot will be full, and the store probably devoid of groceries, by the time you get there.

5E75Kc5F63Lc3J63N9ca3bcde6580c9361b1eSimplest solution? Get with your family (everyone including grandma and grandpa), and purchase a piece of land in a safe zone from most disasters you might have to deal with. Put one or more mobile homes (cheaply purchased used in many locations), or campers of any size, and install a good well, water cistern, and propane tank. Have everyone invest in it, and have family or trusted friends to help care for it, and take turns staying there throughout the year.

The one time you need it, you’ll have it. Don’t have extended family, or a close knit group of friends, who could do the same?  Best have alternatives before the storm. It might be 100 acres of wood lots, or 5 acres of arid high desert…but having a lot to call you own, far away from the seething masses of humanity who decided to leave town “a little too late”, may be the best investment you ever made.

You may have heard it from any of a hundred sources now, about “getting out of the cities”. Sometimes a complete lifestyle change may be the only thing that allows you to truly make that change, from big city, to safe rural retreat. I spent most of my life in the big city, and I can tell you from experience…you don’t want to be there when society crashes…when the food stops…or when the power goes off for the last time. Personally, I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and then moved to Birmingham, Alabama, serving as a city letter carrier in both locations, before finally deciding to make the move to a small town area, which is why I moved my family to Wyoming in 2000.

It wasn’t a clean break, changing careers, living arrangements, lifestyle, or habits. Within the first year, we found ourselves homeless, and starting over again, thanks to a junior high school friend, who convinced me to pursue a trucking venture here in Wyoming, and going broke due to fraud, lies, and deceit. But, we stayed, started over, and within a couple of years, returned to college. Tough few years, but putting stakes down, working through the problems, and staying here where we are, gave us tremendous experiences,  many reasons to deepen our roots here, and a new career with the State of Wyoming, starting in 2008. Life couldn’t be better now. We never gave up.

Storms here are nothing, compared to the things we had to deal with in Dallas, Birmingham, and the general southern USA. Sadly, most of the major storm systems that cross the great plains and the Midwest USA, start right here, in the shadow of the lee side of the Rocky Mountains. We get high winds and maybe a couple of inches of snow, on this end on a regular basis, but folks 1,000 miles away get massive tornadic systems, torrential rain storms, and destructive supercell storms that can kill and injure dozens, or hundreds at a time. While in Alabama, many deadly events occurred all around us, and at times very nearly to us (see my disaster experience bio at the start of this article). We danced with dozens of tornadoes throughout the 1990s, including EF-5 monsters. Where we used to live, between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, has been run over by at least two tornadoes in the last 10 years. Timing seems to be everything, sometimes.

So, locations…where to be, when you can’t be where you want to be. Bug-out planning and practice will make any future forced marches a much better choice than having to move into government shelters or camps. Having planted some preliminary roots with family…just in case, gives you alternatives. Effective and solid transportation to and from your bug-out location will be very important, so don’t let your car maintenance go to the dogs. Keep your best wheels running efficiently and safely, at all times. Learn how to care for your vehicle as well. The worst time to have a breakdown, is in the middle of another crisis or disaster. The lives you save, may be your own.

Conclusion – It’s all up to you…

For thousands of years, mankind was required to spend every waking moment of every day, of every month, of every year…just staying alive. Today, it’s much easier to live and breath in a relatively benign and civilized world, than it was to try to take down mastodons or woolly mammoths for meals, hide wherever possible when saber tooth tigers were on the prowl, or make plans to attack your neighbors village because they had better water. In a few thousand years, things we used to deal with to survive, now only exist in ancient histories or archaeological discoveries.

The five skills above, have really basic work you need to do, act on, or implement in your daily routines. They are by no means the be all and end all of starting a prepared life style. But, as I mentioned above, you need to consider all of them, before you truly start to invest in these areas with your plans.

I look forward to hearing from you on any or all of the above. I will repeat what I said above…MUCH of my planning and recommendations of ALL of the above come from a lifetime of experience, bad choices, or simply learning the ways of how NOT to do things. Your mileage may vary greatly with the above…but for newbies, I think you’ll find a lot of fresh ground and ideas to do your own research on.

As always, if there is anything you need clarification on, links to resources, or a simple answer, simply shoot me an email from my CONTACT page above.

Updated: April 13, 2017 — 5:20 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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