The Practical Prepper
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As discussed in my previous post, it's important for you and your family to be able to survive on your own for at least 72 hours. While it's ideal to be able to get by for more than 3 days, it is best to keep and maintain a 72-hour emergency kit in case you need to evacuate your home.
Since we have both "bug-out" supplies and a good amount of "shelter-in-place" supplies, we felt it was worth spending a little time thinking about how and when to use each.
Overall, we've decided that we'll typically hunker down and ride out the storm in our home (literally or figuratively) unless the emergency requires us to leave. For us, the real question became, "what would it take to make us leave our home?"
On the most basic level, we obviously plan to leave our home when staying is more life-threatening than leaving. There are no absolute rules for this, of course. We'll decide this on a case-by-case basis as the need arises. Still, here are our advance, "planning" thoughts on a variety of potential catastrophes, both common and not (presented in alphabetical order):
- Chemical Spill: These are most likely accidents, so there's little warning, if any. Our response will be largely based on the guidance given by local authorities. We're prepared to shelter-in-place if necessary, but will likely take our gear and go should something like this happen.
- Civil Unrest: Our response to this will largely be driven by the scope and nature of the disturbance. If the violence is localized to our region, we'll almost certainly evacuate to one of our safe locations (also known as a Bug-Out Location [BOL]) until things cool off. Widespread and/or longer-term strife are likely to be the by-product of some other emergency, and our response would likely have been driven by that already.
- Earthquake: Again, there's little advance warning here. What's more, severe earthquakes are fairly unlikely for us, but not impossible. That said, our immediate goal would be to find shelter during the quake, then stay or go depending on the resulting damage to our home and the surrounding area.
- Economic Collapse: It can be hard to recognize a slow decline into collapse (like what the U.S. is arguably going through right now). As such, we're currently just riding things out. That's unlikely to change either, unless the collapse becomes more sudden and leads to some other event on this list.
- EMP/CME Event: The impact of an Electromagnetic Pulse attack on the U.S. or a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun would likely be devastating. The effects described by experts would end the modern world that we know, essentially thrusting us back into the 19th century. As such, we'd have little choice but to hunker down and survive as best we can.
- Fire: For a home fire, we plan to evacuate, taking our bug-out gear if we can safely do so. Wildfires are less a threat for us, but still possible. We plan to stay in place unless (or until) the rest of the local area is affected.
- Flood: Another unlikely problem in our location, so we'll stay in place unless something truly unique results in a flood threat.
- Nuclear Event: As with civil unrest or a chemical spill, our response to a nuclear event will be driven by the type and scope of the event. A nuclear accident or a terrorist attack on a nearby city may result a need for us to bug-out. In a widespread nuclear war (where multiple locations are attacked), it may be more prudent (ore perhaps even the only option) to shelter in place.
- Pandemic: This is one of the more clear-cut emergencies on our list, since we'd almost certainly stay isolated in our home unless something unusual drove us to risk bugging out and encountering other sick individuals.
- Severe Weather: We generally plan to stay in place. There's sometimes advance warning, so leaving might be an option but only if absolutely necessary. Of course, the most threatening local weather events are tornadoes, which don't give much warning (basically just enough time to get to shelter).
- Terrorism: Responding to such an event will be similar to that for civil unrest, i.e., it will largely be driven by the scope and nature of the violence. If things are relatively localized, we'll probably go to BOL until things get back (or close) to normal.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, nor is it completely applicable to your situation.
Therefore, it is important to review the list of things you're preparing for and consider every threat for a few moments. Turn each one over in your mind, varying the scope of possibilities.
How will you and your family respond to each of the disasters? Do you have the supplies, knowledge, and skills necessary to act accordingly?
We used this process to help develop our preparedness plans, and our list of things we needed to learn and/or acquire in order to make them a reality. What's more, we revisit the list periodically to see if our choices are different for some reason, if we're still missing any supplies, or if we can think of anything better or more helpful for bugging out or sheltering in place, as applicable.