Many of us have Bug Out Bags. Some also have what are called GMHBs (Get Me Home Bags) which are what I think of as Bug Out Bag-lites. This is a kit designed with the specific purpose of assisting one getting home from one�s place of work in the event of some emergency/calamity.
We as preparedness folk love kits. We love making them, we love talking about them and we love show and telling them. I have gone on and on in the past about our love of �stuff�. That horse is dead.
But you need more than a GMHB when the Interesting Times arrive. In addition to stuff � you need to think. THAT is the subject of this article.
First, you need a plan.
You need several plans, actually.
PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency)
Let’s say you work in an office 20 miles from home.
Plan A (Primary)for getting home is probably to walk out to the parking lot, get in your car, and drive home.
Okay. Do you keep your keys on your person? Where is your coat? What about your GMHB? What is your route from the desk to the car? What is your alternate route? Yes, you need PACE for everything. What is the excuse you will use to suddenly depart? (It may be a false alarm and you will probably want to keep your job in that case). How will you get out of the parking lot? Is it secured? How much gas is in the tank?
What routes will you take home? You should have at least 3. You should drive these three routes regularly to maintain awareness of changes, developments and so on. What are your decision points for choosing Route A over Route C? Where will you make those decisions? Where are potential choke points? These are things to think about NOW.
Plan B (Alternate) may be to have your spouse or a friend meet you at a link up point and carpool home. What are your contact plans? What is your alternate link up point? Communication means. Security.
Plan C (Contingency) may be to take the bike home. What bike? Routes? Flat tire procedures. What will you carry with you? (Less than in the car) And so on.
Plan D (Emergency) may be to get home on foot. Your routes are probably different than the driving routes. Have you scouted them? How long will it take to walk? How do you know? Proper clothing/footwear? Hide/hole up positions. Will you be navigating cross country?
Notice that each plan is completely independent of any other plan. Notice that each is not just a different version of another plan. Notice that each is viable.
Abilities and Tools
Once you have plans (please note the multiples). You need to make sure you have the needed abilities (physical prowess for one) and tools (keys, bolt cutters, shoes, kit, raft) as well. Now you need to test your abilities and test your plan. If you plan on cutting a lock with the bolt cutters – what kind of lock is it? Buy one just like it and cut it – it may be harder than you thought. You need to drive, bike, swim, walk your routes – with the gear you plan on using and taking.
Think your 4WD vehicle will surmount any obstacle in your way? I laugh (mean of me, I know) at sheeple with shiny clean, no scratches �cause it never leaves pavement 4WD SUVs tricked out with all kinds of off road gear � that is never used. If you plan on going over obstacles or cross country I highly suggest you start four-wheeling. It is a fairly steep learning curve. Pun intended.
Gonna hoof it cross-country? I was watching “The Alaska Experiment” on Discovery and it took a crew of three IT professionals forever to hike a few miles cross country to their cabin. They went in a big circle at first. These are seemingly pretty good folks with excellent attitudes, good fitness, and some skills. Land navigation was not one of them. This stuff sounds easy reading about it with a frosty one in your hand. It�s different out there. But it is doable � if you take the time to learn and practice.
I know one guy who has a raft in his car and plans on �blowing it up and swimming across the Potomac River if the bridge is blocked�. Uh-huh. I used to regularly swim with a rucksack. Yes, I did. This is not something that the average couch potato or cubicle rat is going to be able to do. While it is probably not advisable to practice on the actual Potomac, one could find a calm body of water like a lake or even a neighbor�s pool and practice � in the clothing and toting the gear one planned on having. Heck, how about practicing blowing up that raft?
What about the children?
That’s just you. What about those in your household? How will THEY get home? What are their plans? They need them too � in multiples. What are the link up procedures? Practice them. What do we do at the link up point if we have no communication (cell phones are terrible in large emergencies) and one person doesn’t show up? How long do we wait? Then what? Who’s in charge?
What about if, on your way home, the situation at home becomes untenable and the person in charge at home decides to leave? How is that communicated to all interested parties? See, Plan A was to go home. And we have several sub-plans for how we are going to do that. We also need additional plans for where we are going.
That�s a lot of �what ifs�. How do we keep track of them all? Heck, how do we make sure they are all viable? It does not good to have an alternate plan if that �plan� is unworkable from the get-go.
First you have to spend some quiet time thinking. Just sit back and think. No distractions. We don�t do enough of this. Start jotting things down. Make some notes, make some lists. Look at some maps. Walk around some buildings, some parking lots and so on. Revise your lists.
Start outlining your plan. Put it on paper � this will help you to start cementing it together and follow logic trails. Just remember PACE and alternates for everything.
Start asking yourself �what if?� questions. When you are driving Route C home from work on Wednesday and get to the rail road crossing, ask yourself, �what would I do if the crossing was blocked by a dead train?� Actually think through your answer. If it works, add it to the plan.
Once you have a working plan start exercising it. Practice it. Give it a few test runs. You will discover things you never thought of. That�s great! Better now than during some crisis. Adjust your plan accordingly.
Can you see that just having a magic bag full of goodies (useful as they are � and I have such bags myself) may not be enough?