Let's imagine for a moment that you have good supplies in your home ready for a limited or lengthy emergency. Whether you have the perfect fully equipped prepper house or you are just supplied for a few months, you know that you will have a good chance of seeing it through in your own house. After all, shelter, food and water, prepping equipment and weapons, if relevant, are a good start to getting through a disaster.
If you are all at home when disaster strikes, that's great! You are all together, safe and ready to think about what to do next to secure your home. But what if NONE of you are at home when it happens? What do you do? You need an emergency or get home plan. This post is not a get home plan, just a few things to think about when you put your own together.
1) Think About Your Location
When you aren't at home, where are you most likely to be? If you aren't at work daily, what other places are you at regularly during the week ie visiting other relatives, voluntary work, weekly shopping, meeting a friend in town for a chat, sports club, dropping off kids at school, going to the gym etc. You could be at any of these places if something happens and you need to get home safe from every one of them.
Think about how long it takes you get home by car from each place, and think about the best route home if a car or bike is an option ie you still have power in your car. It's easy to imagine the quickest route but in an emergency will everyone else on the road at the same time be using this route? If so you might end up in a traffic jam and be going nowhere at all. Look at possible alternative routes on quieter roads where there are less traffic lights, less workplaces and shops where workers are all trying to leave from, and where there should be less people. The more alternative routes you have in your head, the better your options if the worst happens.
Be aware of any roadworks, areas prone to flooding, burst pipes or other issues that suddenly appear on your favoured routes as this can also slow you down. Which routes may be impassable in certain weather? Keep up to date on planned roadworks or when pipes under the roads are being repaired. Look for diversion signs and when this work finishes. Think of which routes you could take if you are on foot as these may differ greatly from roads you travel on by car and be more direct. Is it safer to walk on a longer main road or take the wooded short cut? Can you defend yourself in each circumstance? Plan what hazards you might face if you cut across fields ie angry animals, water Plan out what supplies you will need for this length of walk and ensure you have suitable footwear and clothing for the journey, and adjust your plan for each type of seasonal weather.
THINK about what kind of area your route takes you through. Is it an area where there is high crime? If so you may be at risk of car-jacking, or robbery if on foot or bike. Try to avoid these areas unless you are confident of getting through before trouble breaks out. If you pass through quieter areas with less trouble, depending on which disaster you face, there may be time to stop for more food, water and supplies. You might be able to stop at small local grocery stores to grab more supplies on your way home, places not already attracting looters. These places might be slower to descend into chaos but be ready to pay cash and inflated prices for what you buy and the shops may already have closed up for safety reasons.
2) Your Family's Route Home
You need a plan for each family member. You have to decide on whether your plan involves getting to your kids schools to collect them, or if they have to make their own way home. For example if their school is a few minutes walk away, you can get them to run straight home and wait for you to get there. If they are young kids ten miles away from home, the situation changes and you may need to go and get them. If you drop off a spouse at work and you have the sole car, do you collect them or expect them to come home themselves? Will the schools bus the kids home in an emergency? Does your school have a disaster plan or require parents to come and collect the kids? Is the route home safe enough for the kids to make their own way back? How long would it take you to reach them by car or by foot? You could look at the route and perhaps find a rendezvous point that your family can get to quickly and wait safely out of sight for you or another family member to reach them.
Do you gather the whole family at one home or will you all be staying in your own homes? If one of you is a prepper and have a lot of supplies in a defendable home it might be worth getting your family all under one roof for safety. If cars are still usable, decide which supplies you can ask your family to bring for the stockpile or if they can pick up anyone else en route. Do family members need to be collected before they can be brought to you? There are a lot of things to think of and the type of disaster can dictate your actions. An EMP is a long term disaster so you might want to be together for that whereas hurricanes are a short term situation where you can all stay in your own homes if it is safe to do so.
3) Are You Bugging In or Bugging Out?
This is the question that preppers disagree on most often. If a disaster comes do you stay at home and survive in an area you know, defending your supplies? Or is it not safe in your area and you want to bug out to a safer location? I personally have no choice but to bug in. We have no family outside of our urban environment who can take us in and we have no rural prepper property that we can try to get to in an emergency. We have no guns to protect us and no hunting or camping skills so we will have to stay where we are and hope for the best. If you decide to bug out straight to another location, know where you are going, ensure your routes are well planned and ensure you have the supplies and skills to get there.
3) What do you need to Get Home? A few things that might be useful.
-carry cash as credit card payment scanners may be down if the power is affected in a disaster
-BOB (Bug Out Bag)
-suitable shoes. Wear them always or have a pair in the car/workplace to change into
-paper maps to plan route as SAT-NAV might not be working
-salt/grit in case you need to get out of snow or go off road through a field in a real emergency
-ensure you have a full petrol tank in your car in case you need to take a longer route
-fold up bikes-excellent to store in boot/trunk and are easy to assemble if car is not an option
-if in a car, lock your doors
-if something looks dodgy ahead, don't stop and get away from the trouble
To sum up:
Whether by vehicle or on foot, you need to be sure of where you are going and what you may be facing so do your homework before it comes to disaster. Think about routes, supplies and how your family are to get home or to another location NOW. Don't wait. If a disaster was to hit tomorrow, you don't want your family to be in a panic wondering what to do. It'll do you no good if your kids are fleeing home by one route while you charge to their school by another route and you all miss each other. Make sure everyone in the family knows what to do in various circumstances and there is less likely to be panic.These points are to get you thinking about how to get home, and are a starting point but only you can make the actual plan.
Do you have a Get Home plan?