It’s really happening. The “brown stuff” hit the fan and there’s terror everywhere. To top it all off, you’re not even at home so you need to think and act fast about whether or not it’s a good idea to get there and how to do it.
In what follows I’m going to give you my best tips for getting home safe in a disaster situation. Of course, this assumes you have a home to come back to and that it’s safe to get there. Depending on the circumstances, you might have to bug out and never look back.
But let’s assume for a moment your home is the safest place to be in. You can’t just rush back to it, that would be irresponsible and foolish. There’s a whole slew of perils awaiting you so let’s learn to do this one step at a time, shall we?
Step 1: Getting to safety
Before you figure out what to do, you have to make sure there’s nothing life-threatening nearby. No armed gangs, no flash floods, no hurricanes or anything else that would make you run for your life. The first thing when it hits is to get somewhere safe FAST, a place that will allow you to think for a few minutes and make your next move.
Step 2: Assessing your situation
Are you injured? Do you need medical assistance? How much time can you stay at your current location? Is anyone injured or dying around you and can you help them without risking your own life?
Turn on the radio, the TV or ask around about what’s happening so you can figure out what to do and how much time you have before your current location is compromised.
Step 3: Getting to your get home bag (GHB)
Whether you need medical attention or you’re ready to go home, you should get to your get home bag that’s hopefully in a drawer at your desk, in your car etc. A get home bag is different than a bug out bag and should contain the bare essentials to get you home or just far away from immediate danger. A few items to consider include:
- a first aid kit,
- a cell phone charger, an extra battery and even an extra phone,
- a water filter such as the LifeStraw,
- a walkie-talkie (your family members should have them as well),
- a good fixed blade knife,
- a lighter
- a weapon for self-defense purposes,
- and so on depending on your age, sex, location (urban, rural).
Step 4: Starting to make calls
One of the things you may want to do before you start heading home is get in contact with your family and your other household members. When some of them are home when it happens, they can give you precious information on whether or not it’s safe to go there.
If the phone lines are busy, hopefully you can contact them via your walkie-talkie. If that doesn’t work either, perhaps you can use your signaling mirror to communicate via Morse code with them? This assumes you’re fairly close by, of course.
Step 5: Figuring out the dangers that await you
Before you rush home, you need to make sure the path you choose is the right one. Are there traffic jams, riots, fallen trees on your way home? Are the roads inundated? Find out from radio, TV or, worst case scenario, use your binoculars as you move towards home to sop dangers from afar.
Most of all, always be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances.
Step 6: Getting home safe
You need to know the distance, you need to know the route you’ll be taking as well as the mode of transportation. If you’re only 5 or 6 miles and you’re in an urban setting, you can probably walk. Keep in mind that if you take your car, you might have to abandon it at some point or even get trapped inside for whatever reason (being surrounded all of the sudden by angry mobs, water etc.).
If, on the other hand, the distance is longer, you have to consider a mode of transportation. Which one depends on the type of disaster but what I can tell you is that if you’re dealing with a riot and you’re thinking about taking the bus or subway, forget about it. You never know when a bunch of protesters gets on at the next stop or when law enforcement stops the vehicle to check the passengers one by one.
The ideal “bug in vehicle” is definitely the bike because it’s fast and allows you to squeeze through the places most cars can’t. Plus, it’s not a big loss if you abandon it to save your skin.
Related reading: How to bug-in and survive.
If what you have is a car, don’t hesitate to use it to get home even if you risk abandoning it at some point. Your life is worth more than your car.
A few tips to keep in mind while getting home safe:
- As you’re advancing towards your house, stay close to walls and in the shadow as much as possible.
- If there’s fighting between rioters and law enforcement, don’t stop and watch or, even worse, to take pictures or film them.
- Don’t move faster or slower than everyone else around you. Use the same pace to avoid standing out.
- When you see tear gas, run like hell.
- Don’t stand out in any way. If you have jewelry, hide it in your pockets. If you’re wearing a hat and no one else is, ditch it. When everyone else is wearing t-shirts, get one too before you venture into the unknown.
- Avoid eye contact, never show that you’re scared and walk as if you have a purpose.
Step 7: Bugging in
Ok, now that you’re home safe, you obviously want to bug in until it’s all over. This means:
- gathering all your family members,
- turning on all faucets to collect as much water as you can,
- talking all your valuables inside your home,
- locking all your doors and windows,
- turning off all the lights and staying quiet so it appears no one’s home,
- avoiding cooking if it might attract the wrong crowd,
- living off your food stockpile,
- and staying close to your T.V. or radio to know how the events unfold.
Step 8: Staying on red alert
Speaking of staying up-to-date: don’t think that, just because you bugged in, you can stay there indefinitely When the situation changes every hour, when things go from bad to worse, you need to be ready to bug out at a moment’s notice. Who knows what could happen that would compromise your location.
See, the prepping community talks about bug in and bug out scenarios a lot but very few think about the fact that a bug in isn’t necessarily the end of it. There’s absolutely no telling what will happen in SHTF situations so always prepare for the unexpected. Always.
This article was written for Prepper’s Will by Dan F. Sullivan.
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