We have talked about preparing for possible disasters in your home with different scenarios and things you may need. The one thing many will take for granted is their preparedness during travel from Point A to Point B. Work to home and back. Travel between home and family locations in your local town. Travel to the grocery store. Travel for folks who work in sales and must spend the day driving in their local community, county and state. They never ask the "what if" questions. Everything will be okay because nothing has ever happened. Uhhhm, right. One of them.
Let's say, you live in a rural location and you drive 30 miles to town to run errands like shop for groceries, medicine and get fuel. You must take your teenage daughters car because your car is in the shop. Your daughter always run her tank down to empty before refueling. It is mid-winter and the temps are in the low 30s. You grab a light jacket because you will be in the car and then inside the stores you plan to shop.
You are set and out the door you go. You first stop for fuel. You gas up the automobile and notice how the temperature seems to be dropping. You move ahead to your shopping location. As you secure your car you can feel the light drizzling rain starting to fall. You realize your umbrella is in your car in the shop. You increase your pace to the entry point of the store so you won't get wet. You look at your watch and determine you have about two hours to shop before you need to head home to arrive by dark. You are pushing your grocery cart through the store reading labels and placing your choices in the cart when you hear an announcement broadcast over the store public address system stating the store would close in one hour because of inclement weather and the rain turning to sleep and ice. You decide to use up the one additional hour and continue shopping. You eventually check out and head to your car with the cart.
As you exit the store you find the parking lot is iced and sleet continues to fall. You realize you must hurry to load and head home. Once loaded, you start to leave the parking lot and feel the tires slipping on the ice. You reach to shift your vehicle in to all wheel drive when you remember you are not in your vehicle. Ouch. You continue forward on a slow pace along with the other traffic. You reach the outskirts of town when you hear your phone beep a low battery signal. You reach to plug in your phone to the charger and your charger is gone. Woops, it is in your vehicle, not your daughters. You now have inclement weather, a drive on ice, and an almost dead phone. Could it get worse? Sure.
About ten miles outside the town limits you are now on a single lane road as the sun is setting and darkness comes quickly. You enter a curve to find a car sideways in the road. You attempt to slow quickly when you go in to a spin and slide off the road striking a tree. You are okay, however your car won't start and is dead. No power. Now you have a dead phone and car, no umbrella, no Go Bag/Day Bag (with car in the shop), you didn't tell anyone when you would return home, and you are stranded for the moment. You exit the car and climb up the embankment for help. The car that had spun causing you to wreck is locked and empty. Now what? You realize you have all your groceries in a wrecked car and you must now either wait for help in the freezing temperature or take off walking. We can second guess and what if this to 1000 times.
The point is, having a bag of some sort with you at all times. The resources within the bag are another layer of preparedness. It is like an insurance policy.
So, let's talk about the Get Home Bag, Day Bag or Everyday Bag. The title isn't important. What is in your bag is important.
We spend a lot of time away from our home and normally our daily patterns tend to be pretty consistent and predictable (another topic for another article). You can use that to your advantage to be reasonably prepared when you're away from home.
Here are a few scenarios you could face:
* Your subway car loses power in between stations or when inside a tunnel.
* While driving home from work in rush-hour traffic, you witness a serious car accident. You could be stuck in traffic for hours. You are low on fuel.
* You're cornered by two muggers while walking to your car from a store at night.
* A shopping mall locks down stores when an active shooter starts firing randomly.
* An earthquake strikes while you're at work and your car is crushed in the parking garage. You work about 30 minutes from your suburban home.
* Your region of the US of A suffers a total grid failure resulting in a power outage. You are now stranded.
Great, so we have all these different scenarios that could impact you directly or indirectly. The question is, how will you react and respond? That all depends on your preparedness level. You must have some level of a backpack otherwise known was a Get Home Bag or Everyday Carry. Let's discuss.
Get Home Bags (GHB) and Everyday Carry (EDC) items.
When you pack these bags you need to ensure you understand local and state laws in regards to lethal force type weapons.
EDC are the few things you have on you at all times. EDC may be as simple as a good pocket knife or multi-tool, a small flashlight and compass on your keychain, a laminated info card in your wallet, maps as needed, and possibly a concealed carry firearm or some degree of protection. Add additional resources to your vehicle glove box if you don't pack a small EDC bag. We keep a first aid kit, life straw to purify water, a lighter and matches, and several Mylar blankets in each vehicle glove box.
Get Home Bags does just that. It is labeled and the intent is that you pack it with the purpose of taking care of you while you are away from home and it will help you get home or to a safe haven. It is also a backup Bug Out Bag in case disaster strikes and you can't make it home.
The GHB is similar to the BOB but not exact. You want to personalize the GHB to fit you and your needs because this bag will be out in the world with you to support you and hopefully take care of you. Once you pack your bag you must decide where you will keep it for support and convenience. If you use a vehicle to get around or drive to work, keep the bag in your trunk or a convenient space. You want to have it within reach to support your needs.
If you don't use a vehicle and use other transportation such as walking, subway, bus or a bike, then you must adjust to not having a vehicle to secure your bag. Consider a desk or secure locker at work. Another option would be to set it up as a cache and bury it in a safe secure place.
If keeping a dedicated backpack isn't possible, then put as many of the core items as you can in whatever you usually have with you, like your purse, school pack, lunch box, or work bag.
Some key items you should have. Remember, one is none and two is one.
1. Knife or multi-tool that is manageable and usable for your environment.
2. Two types of lighting. Ensure you include batteries or a source to charge the batteries. Solar is great but requires sunlight and time.
3. Two fire starters of some sort. Lighter, matches, .....
4. Paracord line that can be used for multiple needs.
5. Any personal medications that you may need to survive.
6. Laminated card in your purse or wallet with emergency info. If you decide to leave a known location during a hazardous event, consider leaving a note or guidance at your point of departure to allow family or rescue teams to know when you left and where you went. Consider security measures when doing this step.
7. Bonus: Consider form of protection from non-lethal to lethal. Know your local and state laws.
Knives and multi-tools If possible, have both tools available. Multi-tools are nice for everyday utility like opening a bottle or fixing a screw on your sunglasses. There are tons of great options from popular brands like Leatherman and Gerber. You may or may not need every feature of the multi-tool, however I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. If you have ever used a multi-tool, you will know the knife blade breaks easily and would probably not be a knife of choice to use as a weapon. If you plan to have and use a knife as your primary weapon I would encourage you to research and find a dependable blade used for self-defense. Consider watching self-defense videos on YouTube that teaches how to fight with a knife. If you select a knife, you may wish to purchase one that has the hook lock when opened that will prevent the blade from closing on your fingers. The right choice would open as you pull it out to defend yourself.
Light: A light is a personal choice that you should know how to use and trust it when you need it. You want two sources of lighting. Consider a headlamp type of light as your primary. You can find several quality type keychain lights also. Ensure you have a secondary power source to recharge as needed.
Fire: Like the light, you need to have two or more choices available. If you pick it, know how to use it. Ensure your fire started is water resistant also.
Para cord: This material is so handy that many preppers wear a bracelet made of braided Para cord that can be pulled apart and used as a normal 20-foot line in an emergency. Some bracelets are just the Para cord, while others have tools like a compass or whistle built in. If you don't want to wear it on your wrist, you can tie such a bracelet to your purse or bag as an accessory.
So, lets now talk about the selected resources for your Get Home Bag.
Remember, personalize your choices.
1. Backpack: Regardless of type of bag and purpose, make sure the bag is comfortable and suits your needs.
2. Water: same as before. If you are walking, consider a life straw, water tabs and a small bottle of unscented bleach.
3. Food: In the GHB, the volume equals weight and you will have to carry it. Protein over desire. You need food to keep you alive for the duration.
4. Light: Two sources are important. A head lamp and flashlight would be prudent. Make sure you have recharge capability.
5. Fire and heat: Two or more fire sources, waterproof is possible, and layer your clothing for warmth. Keep one or more Mylar blankets in your GHB pockets.
6. Medical kit: If you have it, know how to use it. Also add several N95 or N100 face masks.
7. Hygiene: Critically important for your short and long term health. Don't neglect.
8. Field knife: Don't buy a knife to buy a knife. Find what you like and are comfortable using. Know how to use it.
9. Multi-tool: You may spend a little more but buy a tool that is dependable.
10. Communication: Your terrain will dictate what will work best. Consider Ham radio, whistle, mirror,
11. Clothing: socks, comfortable shoes/boots, pants, shirt, underclothes, hat, sunglasses, poncho or tarp. Maintain a change of clothes.
12. Navigation: compass and laminated road maps covering your normal daily routine.
13. Documents: same as BOB, plus car insurance and title. Laminated card with emergency contact info.
14. Cash. Small denominations is best.
15. Car-specific tools: depending on space - window-breaker and seatbelt-cutter, signal flare kit, jumper cables, wrenches, tire patch kit, foldable field shovel, mini fire extinguisher, kitty litter for winter traction.
Practice and plan!
When we talk about plans and exercising the plans I often think back to my military years. The military was big on plans. Lots of plans. The problem was exercising the plans. It takes time, money and resources to exercise plans at that level. Plans would often be completed, signed and stuck on the shelf. Dust collectors.
My point, how do you know what you are planning for if you don't conduct a Risk Assessment, identify threats, how you PLAN to mitigate the threats and then practice it? Regardless of the level we are talking about, you must go through this process to effectively develop plans of any magnitude. Having gear is one thing, but survival experts know that a great prep is a mix of gear, skills, planning, practice, and you. I know lots of folks, including myself, who tend to collect "stuff" and either choose to not use the equipment or else can't find the time to use it.
Regardless of reasoning, the result can be the same. I good standard rule is if you buy it, you should use it at least once. Not just to know how to use it, but how durable the item is. It may come out of the box or package damaged. You don't want to be trying something for the first time during an emergency. On another note, some people think they have to be super quiet about their prepping. But prepping is more effective - and more fun - when you share the responsibility with your friends, family, and neighbors.
Just be smart about when and who you share and discuss things with. OPSEC is essential.
Bravo Echo Out