Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
It’s easy to put together an emergency plan that seems fine at face value. However, when it comes to SHTF, every one of your plans needs to be thought about critically and thoroughly. For instance, many people have a plan for bugging out and in my experience, it goes a little something like this:
Step 1: The alarm sounds, and you grab your stuff.
Step 2: Throw said stuff into a vehicle or on your back.
Step 3: Get out of dodge and go to grandma’s house or wherever your bug-out location is.
Step 4: That’s it.
At face value, there is nothing wrong with this plan because the person has supplies and they have thought about a secondary location that should get them out of harm’s way.
But quite a few things are missing from the above plan. For example, what if the road to your bug out location is blocked? If that happens, you may end up worse off than if you had stayed home.
Let’s dive right in and start discussing ways in which to adjust the plan for your bug-out route.
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Enhancing A Bug Out Route Plan
Before I begin, there are a few things I’m going to suggest you get that should make this process more efficient, detailed, and easier.
If you can, gather up the following items:
- A notebook and a pen.
- A camera, the one on your smartphone will work just fine.
- Several physical maps that encompass your bug-out route (if you can find ones of the same areas with different scales, that would be helpful).
There are some parts of this process that can be done at home, but other parts will require you to be out in the “field.” Once you have the above items it’s time to start planning.
Choose Multiple Routes
Ideally, a person will have more than one bug-out location, but for the sake of this article we will be sticking with one location. Even if you have only one bug-out location, that doesn’t mean you should only have one planned route. You need to have multiple routes to that location. In fact, you should plan on as many routes as possible.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard someone talking about their bug-out plans and they have only one route. Once I start throwing out possible reasons why that route wouldn’t work, they soon see the need for multiple routes.
There are a lot of things that can happen that will make a certain route more dangerous or that can even shut it down completely. Bad weather, construction, riots, traffic jams, take your pick. You need more than one route.
First, lay out your map and mark the starting points. Most people will have two different starting points which are the two locations they spend the majority of their time. For most people, these two points will be their home and their workplace. It’s important to plan the route from both of these locations because circumstances along each path will be different. After you have marked your starting points, mark your bug-out location.
Now, choose several different routes between the starting points and endpoints and mark those routes on the map.
At this point, some people may be asking, “How do I identify a good route?” There are several factors to consider, but a popular answer is to choose the route that will get you to your destination the fastest, and I don’t completely disagree with that.
However, I like to add that the route should also be the safest option. This is because the fastest route isn’t always the best or safest way to go. Remember, just because it is the fastest route on paper doesn’t mean it will be that way when the SHTF.
Drive the Route
The second issue I have with bug-out plans is that they’re usually only on paper and never actually practiced. Once you have established the routes you want to take, you need to go out and drive the route from start to finish.
Now when I say drive, I’m not saying you have to drive a car. You can use whatever you want whether it be a car, bicycle, walking, or watercraft. It doesn’t matter what vehicle you have, just run the route the same way you would when you enact your plan.
Ideally, this route should be run as much as possible so that you become familiar with it. You should run the route both during the day and at night. since environments can appear very different at different times of the day.
At the beginning of this process, take your time when running the route instead of just blowing through it. This is a time for making observations, which is what the next section is about.
When you get ready to drive your bug-out route, be sure to bring the notepad and pen along so you can make observations and take notes about the trip. For this reason, it may be better to be a passenger during the first trip or two.
Take your time during the trip and pull over if you need to so you can properly analyze the surroundings. Jot down or use your camera to record observations about the route that may be good or bad.
Below are some sample questions or things that you should notice and record about your bugout route:
- Does the route become congested with other vehicles or people during certain parts of the day?
- Are there parts of the route that are susceptible to environmental factors such as flooding, rock slides, mudslides, and avalanches?
- Are there places to stop and resupply? This is where different scale maps will be useful because you can make notes about places of interest.
- Are there bridges? Bridges can become dangerous chokepoints, and if they cannot be crossed then you will need to find a new way around.
The previous dry runs were meant for you to become familiar with the route and to make observations. It’s also important to know how long each route will take to travel.
I know, I know. There are probably some eye rolls happening right now because people are thinking that is what online resources and GPS are for. After typing in your trip, it will automatically tell you how long it will take to travel from point A to point B.
Even though these times are usually very accurate, I would still encourage you to travel the route and record your time. Remember, the way things look on paper is not how they always look in the real world.
Putting it All Together
Once your maps, plans, and notes are finalized, it would be a good idea to put it all into your emergency plan binder. You may even want to have a copy of the bug-out route plan in your vehicle so it will always be accessible. However, I will say that this can pose a security risk to you and your plans should your vehicle ever get broken into, so this is something you will need to decide for yourself.
Go The Extra Mile
If you want to be on the top of your game, then the best way to test your bug-out routes is to run them exactly like you would when the plan is enacted.
Here is an example of how this might look:
- One day while at home, drop what you are doing and tell everyone in your group that it’s time to bug out.
- Then grab your supplies and get done what you need to according to your emergency plans. Remember, time is of the essence. Don’t take three hours loading the vehicle and looking for phone chargers because you will not have time for any of that in a real scenario.
- Get in your vehicle and run the bugout route from start to finish. This probably won’t be fun for anyone in the vehicle, but the experience will give you the best insight into how the process will work.
Doing this exercise can be particularly helpful for those people who plan on having a bug-out trailer. Trailers can add a level of difficulty to the plan by affecting loading time and letting you know if a particular route is suited for hauling a trailer.
Oftentimes, it is easy to feel comfortable and safe in just having a plan, and by having a plan you are one step ahead of everyone else.
There’s a saying, “A plan never survives first contact with the enemy.” By having a plan and thinking critically about it, customizing it, and practicing it, you will be able to adapt better when your plan has first contact.
What are some methods you use to enhance your bug-out plan? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Thanks for reading and stay prepared!
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