Now that the lockdowns are easing up, there’s one particular part of being prepared that I recommend every survivalist get serious about. And that’s the actual practical aspect of being prepared. Because all the gear in the world isn’t going to do you any good if you’ve forgotten to pack it in your kit, and it’s stuck at home in your basement.
You may also find that there’s key items you’ve stuck in your bug out bag, that you realize you don’t actually need when you’re only trying to survive 72 hours on the road. We’ve all got a habit of “overthinking” and that can actually be what gets you killed. Too much gear, will weigh you down and keep you from getting out of dodge as fast as possible.
With this in mind, this last weekend we rand through a full test of our bug out plans. Of course, it was a little easier as we were all at home (normally kids would be at school, my wife might be in at the office), and we’d have to coordinate getting reconnected as well. But that still doesn’t mean it’s not worth putting your survival plans to the test. Because that’s the only real way you’ll find out if you’ve missed something. In a controlled environment, it’s not a death sentence. When the SHTF, it just might be.
Here’s how it all went down.
The actual pre-planning of our plan
So for starters we needed to make a plan, one that involved our entire family (I’ve got two teenage kids). Trying to keep things as easy as possible, we figured there would be two key priorities to our plan. Either, get home fast, or meet up at a rendezvous point on the way to our bug out location. Because my kids are a little older, we figured they could decide which made the most sense in the moment, and head to the rendezvous instead if that was the best option. The whole key to our planning is to have multiple options and alternatives.
Setting up our rendezvous
Now a lot of people have told me this is overkill, but I’ll be damned if my wife or kids aren’t armed in a true bug out situation. Trouble is, they can’t actually carry weapons with them to their school, for obvious reasons, and my wife isn’t allowed at work either. And because neither of them drive, opting to ride their bikes instead, keeping a pack in their car is a non-option too. So we hired a small storage space. Nothing more than a locker at a facility nearby, there’s a bug out bag for each of us in there, packed and ready to go. We’ve all got the access codes, and yes, there’s adequate means for self-defense packed in there too.
Pulling the trigger on the plan
I’d let my family know we would be doing a trial run sometime over the next 48 hours, but that was all the mention they got of timing. I sounded the horn at 10am the following day, and gave everyone 5 minutes to grab their kits and meet us in the car. As you expect, when I pulled the trigger it was complete pandemonium, even though everyone had a day’s notice. They were frantically grabbing last minute items, and running around a little crazy. Goes to show you that even when you know it’s coming, there’s always something you never “get around to” until it’s time to go. Best you sort this out before it’s time.
Don’t forget about the sabotage
Now here’s where it gets fun. I gave my wife five post-it notes the night before, and she could “sabotage” whatever five things she wanted in our planning. The idea here being to test our alternatives, because when a disaster hits you can bet things are going to go wrong. I found the first post-it on the car, informing us that it had broken down and we had to find another means of transport. Fine in this instance, as we had two motorbikes ready for this exact purpose, but a welcome reminder just the same. We discovered later items sabotaged included a missing striker and flint, a water filter with the filter broken, a tear in one of the tarps, and no changes of socks. Interesting choices, as they all reflected things that could easily go wrong in a real-life bug out.
Getting camp up and running
Using just what we had in our bug out kits, the idea was to set up an easy camp for two nights, emulating what could potentially happen if we were stuck or unable to keep moving towards our bug out location. The tarps we packed helped incredibly, making it just a few minutes to rig up a roof over our heads. We did everything, from collecting water to purify, getting a small campfire going, and spending the nights in the great outdoors, just like we would in a real disaster situation.
Reflect on everything learnt
Looking back, there were a few big takeaways that only came to light when we put our survival plans to the test. Our bikes lacked the ability to transport fuel, unlike our car, which meant that this would be in short supply unless we planned for it. I also discovered that an additional tarp would come in handy to give us a little more cover, and despite being completely unappealing to look at, the MRE’s we’d bought were surprisingly tasty. We’d need more fishing gear stockpiled at our bug out location (there wasn’t enough poles for everyone), and more changes of clothes as well, for once we arrived.
There’s no point sitting around planning what you “would” do in a disaster if you never take the time to put your plans to the test. Because it’s only when you give it a go in real life do you discover what may be missing, the elements that may go wrong, and how important it can be to think on your feet to ensure the safety and comfort of your family, when the SHTF.