Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bugging, Part III: In or Out?

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go? (The Clash)

Many of us consider evacuation more likely than it actually is.

Outside of the geographic areas that regularly deal with floods, wildfires, hurricanes and other natural hazards, in most crises the vast majority of Americans should stay put, at least in the short term.

Whatever the crisis, whether my family stays or goes, our over-riding concern will be our own safety, survival and defense. Those considerations -- not sentiment or the well-meaning advice of public officials -- will drive our decisions.

What's more, altruism and benevolence have no place in our plan. Sound selfish? You bet it is -- becoming a charity during a serious crisis is akin to committing suicide.

Let the prepared survive.

Stocked for Survival
Naturally, our home holds the largest stores of what we'd need to survive for an extended period:
  • Water, or the ability to gather & purify water
  • Food, or the ability to gather & prepare food
  • Shelter & warmth, or the ability to find shelter & create warmth
  • Tools
  • First aid & medical
  • Communications
  • Defense

I won't include a detailed checklist here -- that's not really the point of this installment, and besides, each of us has different needs -- but I do suggest taking full advantage of the WWWeb. Among the resources we've found useful:

We prefer to download Adobe Acrobat (*.pdf) files whenever possible, saving them for later reference offline.

There's No Place Like Home
Where we live, there are few reasons that my family and I would need to "bug out." As described in Part II, we've researched hazards and threats, and we've concluded that our best shelter and most defensible position is right here -- what's known as shelter-in-place.

Safety, survival and defense become more difficult while on the move and, ideally, most everything is simpler in familiar surroundings -- by itself, that's reason enough to shelter-in-place. In addition, our home is well-equipped and well-stocked, and yes, we know what it can provide, but we've gone beyond everyday familiarity and stockpiling.

Within a two-mile radius of our home, for example, we know where natural water supplies are located. (We're mindful, of course, that surface water may not be an option under some circumstances.) In the same area, we know where we can forage for edible plants and hunt game. We've practiced small-scale sustenance gardening, with the goal of expanding it if the need arises. And since the nature of home defense changes during a prolonged crisis, we've created a precise map of the perimeter around our home, out to 600 yards.

The last point I'll make is the need, in my opinion, to keep a low profile. Since most people won't be adequately prepared for a crisis, the quickest way for a prepared family to become a target family would be to shelter-in-place with generator whirring, house lights aglow, and gas-fired grill sizzling on the deck -- dumb and dangerous.

Time to Go
"Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man." (Gen. George S. Patton)
A stay-or-go "pivot point" may present itself at the outset of a crisis, or something may force our hand later, or it may not happen at all.

If we do choose to leave our home behind, we'll make that decision because it's in the best interest of our family's safety, survival and defense. We won't leave because everyone around us is leaving, and we won't stay for sentimental reasons.

That said, we've prepared for two bug-out scenarios: Light (one or two people) and Full (family).

Our grab-and-go packs are subsets of our shelter-in-place stores. Each member of our family has ultra-minimalist kit for a light evacuation. Obviously and necessarily, we'd tote more in a full bug-out. Again, our supplies include provisions for water, food, shelter, etc.

We've mapped primary and contingency routes, rendezvous sites and retreat locales, along with potential hazards and threats -- a calculated bug-out, if you will, not a random dash. Our destinations do not include public shelters -- we refuse, categorically, to join the masses of refugees who chose not to prepare.

Note that I haven't mentioned the word "evacuation" to describe my family's plans. We prefer to call it "bug-out" or "retreat," because we have our own routes and destinations. Despite the fact that we may be putting distance between ourselves and a threat or a hazard, we'd be moving toward something, not merely running away.

Bugging home
Finally, here's an often-ignored piece of the preparedness puzzle: the virtual certainty that our family won't be conveniently assembled when the SHTF. I may be at home, my wife at work, the spawns at school.

That's when preparedness planning becomes especially crucial. Everyone must know the plan and execute their responsibilities -- no freelancing. My wife will bug home if she can; ideally, she'll pick up the spawns on her way. If it's apparent that shelter-in-place is impossible and a bug-out is called for, the drill is to follow the primary route and try to assemble at established checkpoints.

And so on.

Of course, as countless military leaders have observed, "No plan survives first contact with the enemy."

Still, whether we stay or go, we're glad that we have a plan.

We hope we never have to use it.

Bugging, Part I: Securing the Castle
Bugging, Part II: My Tin Hat
Bugging, Part IV: The Right Stuff