Odds are, you will be in your home region when the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan. That is, in general, a good thing since you will be able to better cope with the crisis. In theory, you are familiar with your environment, and you should be able to use it to your advantage. However, being familiar with and mapping your home region are two separate things.
As preppers, we make a lot of preparations to survive the unexpected, and most of us have a well-drawn plan to survive various emergency scenarios. Yet, without accurately predicting how a certain scenario will unfold and what its outcome will be, we are just basically hoping for the best.
Survival depends on your best course of action, and you have two choices when it hits the fan, you either evacuate and take your chances on the road, or you bug in and do your best to outride the disaster and survive it (perhaps longer than your neighbors).
Regardless of what you’ve planned for, being able to map your home region will make things easier for you in the long run. Let’s look at each type of unknown and learn how to prepare for it by learning about your region.
Tips for mapping your home region
No matter what anyone will tell you, the human element is the most unpredictable uknown in a disaster scenario, and it can also become the most dangerous one.
Population density plays an important role in your survival, and while many say there’s strength in numbers, a lot of people being crammed in a packed space like today’s cities while create a chaotic environment when things go south.
Those living in a big city will have to evacuate at the first sign of danger, and they need to be out the door long before the general population starts to grasp the reality of an unfolding disaster. Lock your doors and follow the road to safety.
The problem with bugging out is that you need to map your city and figure out alternative routes to get out of dodge as fast as possible. Certain roads will be jam-packed with cars due to heavy traffic, there will be certain routes leading you to choke points or hot zones (city center, commercial areas, etc.), and there could be roadblocks preventing you from crossing a region.
It’s up to you to map various routes and figure out alternatives to circumvent the “dangerous areas” when leaving the city. You should start now when you have all the time in the world, and there’s not the added stress factor of a real disaster. Map various routes, drive your vehicle by strictly following the mapped roads and see how well these routes will serve you. And most importantly, test these routes with every occasion you’ve got.
Since the winter holidays are just around the corner, if you already have something planned for your evacuation route, how about testing out your bug-out plan? Get in your car and try to make it out of the city as fast as you can, write down your impressions and figure out ways to overcome the roadblocks you’ve encountered.
Mapping an evacuation route is mandatory even for those who live in the countryside or in cities or towns with a low population. Your home region may not be crowded on a typical Tuesday, but if a natural disaster strikes your area, everyone will be in their cars trying to leave the town. You’ll quickly discover that even the roads of your small neighborhood can quickly get congested by just a few dozens of cars.
Every inhabited region has a certain area that needs to be avoided due to its social elements. The “bad part of town” is not the place you want to find yourself in when the brown stuff hits the fan. While most people will be busy looting and destroying properties, there’s no telling what the intentions of a mob are and if they will target your vehicle or not if you cross a certain region that’s of interest to them.
The human element can become dangerous not only when it forms a mob, and even a single individual can ruin your evacuation or bug in plans. Certain folks do not have a good relationship with their neighbors, and even in small towns, there are troublemakers that will make life miserable for others.
You may be on the road trying to reach your safe haven, but back home, the neighbors you’ve always suspected of being no good will steal everything of value from your home. Or perhaps you are deciding to hunker down and hold your fort since there’s no need to evacuate. Can you protect yourself from the less desirable social elements in your town? If one of them believes it’s “the end of all,” chances are they will try to settle old scores, and you need to be prepared to welcome them if they end up on your front porch.
Regardless of whether you’re on the road or if you decide to hunker down in your own house or condo, the human element is always of concern, and you need to be able to protect yourself from its unexpected actions. Most humans act irrationally during times of high stress, and they will see everyone as their enemy and target them for whatever reasons they seem justified or just to try and cover their survival needs since you might have plenty of things to go around.
Mapping the vegetation
When you are mapping your home region, you should also cover the vegetation in your area since knowing what plants grow where you live is highly recommended.
First of all, plants provide various resources that can be used in times of adversity. Certain trees can be used to build a shelter, or they can be used as firewood, and you could harvest them as needed. Mapping the region that would be used for firewood will not only tell you what type of trees you can find, but you will also figure out how far these trees are from your campsite/home and make arrangements to carry the logs back. Perhaps you will cut the logs in place, and you need to make sure you have the proper tools to do so.
Second, there could be certain plants in your home region that are edible. In fact, I can bet there are many wild edibles in your area that can provide you with vitamins and nourishment if food is scarce. If you map your area right, you will be able to discover edible roots, flowers, grasses, berries, and even fruit or nut trees.
And third, since any state in our country has more than a dozen medicinal plants, mapping the vegetation in your area will help you figure out which plants you could use to heal yourself and your loved ones. Nature provides an abundance of healing plants, and this natural pharmacy can come in handy when there’s no doctor around.
Now let’s look at the realities of foraging since mapping your home region is much more difficult when it comes to plant identification.
As a forager with more than 30 years of experience, I can tell you from experience that finding the right plant is not always easy. Most foragers do not talk about the challenges of foraging, and they make it seem like it’s just another walk in the park. Here are some things to make you better understand what you have to deal with when mapping your home region for useful plants:
1. As a forager, I always tell people to start by learning the dangerous plants in their area. You should know what poisonous plants you need to avoid in order to have a successful foraging experience.
2. It is also important to differentiate between look-alikes since some plants may look like the edibles you are looking for in the first place. Certain plants have only a few perceivable characteristics that can help you differentiate between the plant you want and the one you think you found. It is extremely vital to make a positive identification before using a plant, regardless of whether you use it for your nutrition or for healing purposes.
3. Foraging is an all-year-round activity, and it takes a lot of experience in the field. You have to be able to identify a plant during every stage of its life and look for it throughout various seasons in order to be able to forage it successfully. You may need to use only the fruits from some plants, while from others, you may need to use the leaves or the flowers. For example, you may be looking for certain roots, and you have to dig for these roots in the spring and autumn, but it would be impossible to do so if the ground is frozen.
4. Foraging will not provide you with a complete meal. In fact, many foragers fail to specify that you will not be able to subsist solely on plants. You can do so for a few days or even a couple of weeks, but foraging is a skill that can help you supplement your meal and not replace it with plant-based foods.
Not to mention that eating various plants will not sit well with many since plant material can wreak havoc on your digestion system. I can say that it’s mostly a hit-or-miss activity, and you should never build your survival plan so that you would survive on only eating wild edibles.
5. Regarding medicinal plants, while there are many plants out there that can successfully replace the pills in your medicine cabinet, healing yourself with the help of plants is a skill that requires experience and a lot of trials and errors.
Most foragers and survival experts out there will provide vague information about what plants can be used to treat what disorders, but they fail to specify how to prepare the plants, the recommended dosage you should take daily, and for how long.
Even more, some plants are too powerful for your organism to handle, and they require specific methods of preparation in order to make them safe for human consumption. Some plants need to be dried, and it’s recommended to use them only in dry form, while others should be used fresh, but only when harvested during a certain time of the year and processed following a time-tested process. Herbal healing is no child’s play, and there’s a lot to learn before you can test the natural treatments on yourself.
Mapping the fauna
Most folks wrongly assume that they will hunt or fish if they lack food during a crisis. Mapping your home region for hunting grounds or fishing spots can indeed help some secure a meal. However, finding an animal in the wilderness when you’re hungry or being able to catch a fish or two is more of a blessing and not a guarantee.
I will not get into the details of hunting or fishing since these are skills that you either have or don’t. You can, however, learn or perfect these skills on the field and make a learning experience of any trip you make into the outdoors.
Start by mapping water holes in your region since chances are you can catch or trap fish better than you can hunt big game. Once you map the fishing spot, test them throughout the year and learn what works and whatnot. You will figure out what fish you can catch, how much you can catch in a day’s worth of fishing, and what tactics work (baits, lures, traps, etc.).
As for hunting, there are many things you can cover here as well. First of all, start by mapping which animals live in your home region and figure out if you have the tools and skills to bag those animals. If you don’t, concentrate on smaller animals (including birds and reptiles) that can be harvested easily with minimum tools and a basic understanding of how these animals behave.
When you map the fauna in your home region, always remember that you need to concentrate on the animals that provide a higher rate of harvest success based on your skills and experience. You can learn about the feeding, breeding, and other habits of big animals in your region, but keep in mind that you need to make it worth it. A basic rule of survival states that you should never spend more calories for bagging an animal than the calories obtained from eating said animal.
Also, learning about the animals in your area should not be done strictly for hunting purposes but also for self-preservation reasons. For example, if you decide to camp in the woods and outlast the disaster there, you need to know about the uninvited guests that may ruin your “camping” experience.
If you know what dangerous animals live in your area, you will be able to bring the tools to protect yourself from these animals. You will also learn how to prepare and cook your meal and how to dispose of trash properly without attracting these animals.
Mapping the weather
All across our country, there are many negative weather conditions that can ruin your survival plans. Chances are you may be dealing with extreme temperatures or winds, or your home region may be prone to certain natural disasters that are influenced by the weather.
A good idea would be to pinpoint the deadly weather risks in your home region and the time period during which they occur. Here are a few examples to better understand how to handle this.
Let’s say your survival plan requires you to bug out into the woods. If a disaster strikes during the spring months, you must avoid the regions mapped with a risk of flooding. You will be forced to take certain measures to provide adequate shelter and heating during those months, depending on how mild or harsh the spring is in your region.
On the other hand, if you are forced to evacuate in the middle of winter, you should avoid areas where there’s a risk of avalanches. As for shelter and heating, these aspects become extremely vital during this time of the year, and you must prepare accordingly. You may have mild winters, and snowfall may not become a problem, but the high winds and the chill factor will make survival difficult.
Mapping the weather will not only help you identify the possible weather conditions you will have to face throughout the year, but it will also help you prepare your bug-out bag and vehicle accordingly.
An important aspect of bugging out, which is hardly being discussed by our community, is the constant need to update your gear for the season. Not only do you have to make sure your current bug-out bag and gear is suited for the season, but you also have to check it regularly to make sure everything is preserved properly and works as intended.
Mapping your home region is an important survival task that every serious prepper should do long before the brown stuff hits the fan. It is extremely vital to know as much as possible about your living area and your surroundings to put this information to good use when the time comes.
It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or in a rural area, and you need to do your homework now when you have the chance. I guarantee that once you start working on this, you will discover things you’ve never thought of initially, and it will give you the opportunity to fill in the blanks in your initial survival plan.
Suggested resources for preppers:
The #1 food of Americans during the Great Depression
If you see this plant in the backcountry, don’t touch it!