We know that waiting till the last second is not a good idea, but for some, it is the only option. So we have taken three possible average scenarios and broken them down for you. All scenarios will include a family of 4 – Mom, Dad and two kids under high school age – living in the suburbs of a megaplex city…
Scenario # 1: Large Suburb or City
- You have a few cases of water
- You have some freeze-dried storage food, maybe a 30 day supply.
- You have some sleeping bags and some basic camping supplies.
- You have a general idea of the area to which you want to go.
- You think maybe something might happen in which case you would need to get your family out of the city.
- All supplies are in the garage, ready to load into your minivan should the need arise.
You live in a suburban area of a megaplex city – first and foremost, where the hell are you going to go? If you are starting out with only a general idea of where to go, you are planning to fail. Knowing exactly where you are going and a little preparation are very much in order. Even if your plan is to squat on BLM land, National Forest Service land or private land, just having a general idea of where you are going is dangerous. You, see, in your suburb of a megaplex area, how many other people have the same general idea? Of those of like mind, most likely that’s a very high percentage. So have something better than a general idea. Know exactly where you are going and if it’s remote enough, you can hide supplies (not what you must have for survival, but that which you would like to have with you there) in the trees. You just need a camo cargo net and some rope. Hoist it high into a tree, hidden by the foliage.
Here is an idea I’ve been discussing with people lately. Call it “Free Advice”: If you have nowhere to go then the National Forest may be your best bet. There are several very remote FREE National Forrest campgrounds, (http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/list/nflist.htm) that you can take advantage of. There is one around here (20 miles away) that is very remote and almost no one comes around unless its elk season (Sept. thru Dec.). So before you decide on a campground, check out what dates are the hunting season. Some National Forest campgrounds have water, some have toilet dumps, most have toilets, some have showers… I have even seen a laundrette at one, and almost no one ever using it. The occasional park ranger will pass by. The Free campground space can be used for 14 consecutive days at a time. Some park rangers interpret this to mean that you must leave the park others to interpret it that you have to move to another space in the same campground every 14 days. Either way, if you had to leave the park for one day, only to return the next day, that works, too.
Next to consider is, what would prompt your leaving? Most everyone completely ignores this one because they believe that when the time comes, they’ll “just know”. What is needed is a clear-cut definition of what event would prompt your bugging out. Even if you jump the gun and get to your survival location too soon, you can always go back to suburbia if you feel the coast is still clear. Some possible guidelines would be: a war in Syria or Iran, a banking holiday if you see military troops in your town setting up checkpoints.
Back in the day, there was an old hippie bumper sticker that said, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. It is also true that CNNFOXABCNBCCBSMSNBC et al will NOT have a news flash that says “Marshall law will be declared in 30 minutes, so if you’re going to boogie, do it now!” Just remember, if you wait until there is clear unambiguous proof that it’s time to go, you just might find yourself in a traffic jam and no further.
For transportation, a minivan is not going to get you any place safe enough. Consider getting something more robust, such as an older pickup truck (pre-95 is best – simple electronics, less susceptible to EMP and solar flares) with an extend-a-cab or club-cab for the kids. The RV market has collapsed. Prices have never been lower on used RVs of all types.
With a pickup truck, you could get a cab-over camper quite inexpensively. These slip into the cargo area of a pickup. Most sleep 4 or more, have a toilet, shower, water storage tank, oven, range, sink, dining area, a closet, and cabinet space. With the economy the way it is, watching craigslist you will find great bargains. Most people are paying in the neighborhood of $500 for an older but still serviceable cab-over camper. If a pickup truck is just not something you can do, then you may want to consider a Coleman-type pop-up camper, which can be towed behind even some compact cars with ease (also about $500 on craigslist). You can use either type of camper to store everything you will need to take with you to your bug-out location, and you’ll be able to just hook up and go when it’s time, no need to think about what to bring. It’s the ultimate “bug-out-bag”. You can have hundreds of pounds of food and water and supplies in it, without having to crowd the supplies and the family into the minivan.
If the only water you have is a couple of cases, that won’t do it. A case of water is about 2-1/2 gallons of water on average. How many cases can you carry? If you have a cab-over or pop-up camper, both have a freshwater tank to store in the area of 150-200 gallons of water. Check and see if the place you have chosen for your bug-out has any access to water – lake, pond, stream, river, pump, well, etc. The average person, under Spartan conditions, can just get by on one gallon per day – 2 quarts to drink and a couple of quarts for cooking and hygiene. Consider the water you’ll need if your food is dehydrated or freeze-dried! So for 4 of you, with a 200-gallon water tank, you would have enough for about 50 days.
If all you have is freeze-dried or dehydrated items for food, you will want to have some items to supplement that, so that you don’t experience appetite fatigue. We would suggest some of the following be added to your supplies for long-term evacuation:
- Cocoa Powder
- Cooking Oil
- Dried Fruits
- Baking Soda
Plus any family favorites, just to break the monotony.
Also, throw into your packing some board games, a deck of cards, books, etc., toilet paper and RV toilet sanitizer (blue stuff). If you have extra jeans, socks, shirts, sneakers, shoes/boots – the clothing you bring can be used outdoors with ease – as well as toiletries should also be packed. Don’t forget to include a first aid kit. For some of you, it will be a military medic/field surgical kit, for others, it will be some antiseptic, gauze and tape, depending on your skill level.
Scenario # 2: Prepared Small Suburb Home
- You (and your family) are going to stay in your suburban home.
- You have 6 cases of water
- You have 6 cases of Dinty Moore Beef Stew and a few miscellaneous canned goods.
- You have a shotgun
- You don’t want to tell your wife and kids what may be coming up in the near future because it will rock their world. Besides, “they’ll think I’m nuts.”
In this scenario, there is no need to have a bug-out time definition. But you still need to know what to look for so that you know when to hunker down. So, again, some pre-defined conditions bear strong consideration. What to do, when such and such a thing happens, including a rendezvous place for children to meet you for picking up.
Food will be your biggest concern. Let’s first deal with the “having”. You’ll need to have food. Basically, nothing different than the previous scenario, although not having to consider transportation, you can store more of it. More importantly, you’ll need to be covert. Being in the suburbs means being around lots of people. Lots of hungry people. The smell of cooking can attract predators – of all kinds: hungry neighborhood dogs and cats going feral, not to mention your neighbors, themselves, who undoubtedly are hungry. The smell of your cooking anything is going to bring people either knocking on or breaking down your door. What would you do if your kids hadn’t eaten in a week and you smelled food?
Cooking hot food in the suburban environment could garner you a lot of negative attention. For these reasons, ready to eat foods (jerky, dried fruits, and vegetables, cookies, and crackers) are most desirable. For some of you that might be military MREs. We don’t recommend them as a steady diet – too much GMO and MSG to name a few – but in this case, they may be useful against hunger while maintaining a low profile.
The power that pumps water to your house may well be disabled. That means that you will not have water coming from your faucet, nor to your toilet for flushing. The -Mart stores sell 5-gallon water bottles (like those used in water coolers) for about $5 each. Get yourself as many as you can, fill them and cover them up where you have your storage items. Refer to the above scenario for daily requirements. Also, fill all your sinks and bathtubs with water while you still have power. Place a garbage bag over the sinks and bathtubs to keep the dust out of the water. Often times forgot, your water heater has a spigot at the bottom of it, from which you can access the water in there as well – usually anywhere from 20-40 gallons of additional, usable water.
Some rules about toilet water usage… “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” Save the water from washing up (gray water) to use – as little as possible – to do the flushing. Pour it into the bowl until the “brown goes down”. If you want to pour your gray water into your toilet tank, add rocks (too large to get into the flapper hole) or bricks into the tank so that they take up some of the unnecessary water space.
Now, for these scenarios, here is a lesson in “How Not to Be Seen” (with a tip of the hat to Monty Python). For evacuation scenarios, if you are in a very secluded part of say, the National Forest or private land, it’s a safe bet that if you encounter other people who are not part of your group, you will be encountering trouble. So my advice would be, “if people move in, move out” and choose another camping site.
Avoid having large, smoky fires that would attract others. Do most of your fireside cooking during the day and avoid nighttime fires completely. Also, avoid loud talking, loud music, etc. Don’t think that because you can’t see anyone around you, it’s okay to play your Lead Zeppelin CDs at 800 decibels and no one would notice. You would be surprised how far sound travels in the wilderness, without car noises, people noises, etc., drowning it out.
For Suburban How not to be seen, use no nighttime lights, even if you have plenty of candles and flashlights. If you do need to illuminate something, do it discretely and for a short time, preferably in a room that has few windows. It’s a good idea to put heavy drapes on your windows also, as long as there are no gaps. Avoid going outside and therefore being noticed. If you have a garage, put your car into it. A car parked outside lets others know there are people inside – not what you want to do. The car battery can be used as a 12-volt power source if needed, and you can hook up a 110 AC power inverter to use as a house current power source.
“I don’t want to tell the wife and kids what may be coming up in the future because I don’t want to shake their world.”
Better to have them prepared than having to follow your instructions while they are in a panic. Like in the movie Knowing, when the little girl’s mother panics, grabs the kids and drives madly toward a cave she knows (so does everyone else), it’s not a good situation. It doesn’t end well. Even if your family thinks you are a tin-foil-hat-wearing loon, if you have at least told them in advance what the trigger point would be, when that point arrives it will be that much less of a shock and they will be apt to be much more on board when the time comes. At some point, they’ll have to face it anyway. Better they are prepared than blissfully ignorant until that point.
Scenario # 3: Already Off the Grid
- You (and your family) are already living at your survival retreat.
- You are off the grid, self-sufficient and lovin’ the life!
- When TSHTF, it will just be another day.
Way to go!