Prepping: Continuous “Escape Plans”

Some “way out” thinking is in order.

Basics first:  Do you have, every moment of every day, an “instant escape plan” in mind?  If not, it may be time to at least begin mapping a personal remediation plan for this deficiency.

Classes of Escape Plans:  At one level, you need such plans for land, air, and sea exposures.  On land, what are your escape plans when shopping?  In the event of an accident, or more like, a crazy road rage perpetrator?  How about the less likely event of a nuclear war, earthquake, or city-wide terrorism event?

At sea the basics include things like having a life-preserver for everyone on a vessel.  Then comes a radio or waterproof cell so help can be summoned.  It’s useful to have some “hypothermia basics stored in memory, knowledge of weather, tides, currents, and a get-home plan in the event of engine failure.

In the air, pilots in command are taught to be ready for anything to fail at all times.  You can plan for such emergencies mainly by keeping a “landable runway” in view at all times.  Having flown across the country in our own plan several times, I can assure you that from 8,500 or 9,500 feet, you can continuously have a landing spot in sight.  Never needed one, but there’s something reassuring about seeing a long golf course hole that could become a grass strip in an emergency.

Small plane exit plans aren’t the only ones:  When you sit on a commercial plane, do you habitually pick the seat over the wings where the emergency exits are located?  One row behind  works for us because some emergency row seats don’t recline. Depends on equipment.

See how your mindset changes?  It’s a constant state akin to “combat thinking” – until proven otherwise, everything is a threat.

Even with the idyllic life here on the ranch, I find myself looking at the road edges and drainage into culverts; they provide some protection from threats.

Have an escape plan for lightning?  Seems absurd, but if you’re outdoors and hear thunder, start to pay attention to those “hairs on the back of your neck…”  There is oftentimes a reported charging of the air – like static electricity build-up – just before nearby lightning.  Since it will take the path of least resistance (i.e. greatest conductance), hitting the dirt (better, a ditch) will keep you from being a “target of opportunity.”

It goes without saying (so we will) that  continuous escape plans can be a bit involved.  They may also be staged.

Let’s take a radiation event in a city.  Explosion of medical waste, terrorists with a man-pack bomb, or tensions between the US and a nuclear power are at an extreme.  How do you pre-plan those kinds of things?

  1. Prepare to be mobile:  Habitually run your car with 3/4’s of a tankful of gas.  You mileage will be minimally impacted.  Your “escape plan primary zone” is 250-miles for most cars.
  2. Know Weather:  Many events (terror of all sorts) are designed to use the forces of nature, like wind, to great advantage.  Sure, you may know the surface winds, but what about winds aloft at 3, 6, or 9-thousand feet?
  3. Avoid Plumes of Doom:  Keep a “mental plume monitor” going.  Imagine you are under constant threat.  Never move into the wind – that will just make the source stronger.  Never move away from the wind, either.  That will keep you in the plume a very long time.  Instead, remember to move across the plume.  That will be the shortest route to safe air.  This works whether it’s a forest fire, pollution from an industrial accident, terrorism, or warfare of the global type.
  4. Pre-Plan Your LZ:  Landing zones are important.  If there was a massive breakdown of infrastructure, ask “What are the odds my bug-out destination will be better-off than sheltering in place?”
  5. Move First:  Faced with a chance to move, be first.  Nothing is worse than being in line for…well, anything.  To avoid the rush, see threats before anyone else and take decisive action.  If that means packing up and heading out of town based on knowledge of a specific threat, don’t waste valuable time reconsidering.  Start moving.  You can always turn back if information changes.  In the meantime, in the event of an actual emergency, bein g first out means lots of benefits.  Stores will still have food, there won’t be lines at the gas station, water is still available.  And when you get  to your LZ, you might still get a good hotel room to stay in until danger passes.  Late-comers and slow thinkers won’t be so fortunate.

Outliers kill.  Still, they deserve thinking about.

27-people have been killed in the U.S. by lightning in the past decade.  The riskiest activities include fishing, boating, camping, and golf.

The World Health Organization figured in 2015 that 360,000 people worldwide died in a single year from drowning.  If you don’t know how to swim, that’s a definable risk with a simple answer.  Yet, how many people can’t even stay afloat for 15-minutes?

Earthquakes aren’t as dangerous:  Unless you lived in 1556 A.D. when 830,000 people died in earthquakes.  Still, having a plan and lots of bottled water makes sense.

Don’t mean to make you gun-shy about getting on with life.  It all comes with risks.  But, to some extent these can be reduced if you always have an alternative course of action.

Everyone, seems, has been exposed to the dangers of driving and it’s why defensive driving is widely taught.  But, what about defensive living?

If, for everything you do, you have a back-up plan, or an “escape plan” you may not be invincible, but something close.

Go have what remains of a weekend…and write when you get rich,

author avatar
George Ure
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25 thoughts on “Prepping: Continuous “Escape Plans””

  1. For everyday commutes, having jumper cables, a tow strap, and get-home-bag in the trunk year round is sensible. Adding winter clothes, a sleeping bag, and bottled water for winter weather is also a good idea. Desert dwellers should always carry a flat of water as a minimum. In wetter climes, a good water filter may suffice.
    For evacuations like hurricanes and fire, a small trailer is preferred. Anything that a looter can use to screw you should be carried with you. Records, firearms, computers, etc are candidates for the trailer.
    For a real desperation bug-out, I would suggest packing bags and a trailer like you are never coming home. Adding a bicycle and trailer will take up room, but I think it would be a good back-up. There are bicycle trailers that can double as a hand cart. Don’t leave home without a place to go lined up. A national forest is not a proper place to go.
    I have done the long commutes, and multiple evacuations, but I hope I am never faced with a real bug-out scenario. My intent is to stay home.

  2. George

    Great post!

    Most people go through life like they are sitting on their sofa and nothing bad is ever going to happen. They drive like that also.

    This past week I updated the first aid bag I keep in the car. It’s made from a fanny pack that has three compartments. Everyone should have some first aid supplies in their car.

    In particular I replaced the Neosporin as it may be heat sensitive. I also added a small bottle of Campho Phenique as it is good for rashes, insect bites and poison ivy.

    The pack has bandades of several sizes and two large surgical dressings for larger wounds. It did not have any thing I could use for major bleeding. That I soon fixed.

    After some research on the web that showed that tourniquets are what must be used if a person is to be kept alive if pressure will not stop bleeding. I put together my own tourniquet kit.

    Not having much space left in my fanny pack I saw that the hip strap for the pack could be turned into a tourniquet strap if it was longer.
    A quick trip to the army surplus store secured web strapping and quick release connectors that I added to the packs hip strap. This gave me an extra three feet of strap that can be used as a tourniquet.
    A piece of surplus 3/8″ by 7″ steel tubing wrapped in white electrical tape became the bar used to twist the tourniquet. Bandage tape from the kit will be used to hold the bar in position. Total cost $8.

    Using a tourniquet requires minimal training. I had mine in the military. Ounce applied the strap should be loosened every ten minuets. It should be used for no longer than two hours.

    Remember a tourniquet is a last ditch effort to save a life! Only use them if nothing else works! Here’s a web site that is worth reading on this topic:

    What would you do if you came upon an accident and someone needed immediate first aid? Would you have any supplies to attempt to help them?

    Would you become a hero or just keep moving along?

    • I like the lower priced elastic tourniquets. Clotting agents as an adjunct to the tourniquets are a good addition to the car bag, even if they are a bit pricey.

  3. Right on….G Rule # 1 ALWAYS BE PREPARED BE MOBIL ! One of the old native CHIEFS’ said “when that time comes, stay out of cities & towns for 7years ” one of many NATIVE visions FOR our time . peace & love to all

  4. George, an interesting Prepper article would be what to tell the police beginning with the 911 call which could be a recorded confession used against you after a home invasion shooting, where the intruder is shot by the homeowner. Also, other situations like a carjacking, etc.

    911 Call: I was attacked in my house & need an ambulance.

  5. Hear Ye, Hear Ye,

    Let this serve as a reminder to Resident’s of Canada that Her Majesty-owned Crown Land constituting somewhere around 90% of the country is available for camping up to 21 days. After that time limit a resident must move at least 100 meters distance to a new site. Non-residents, and one imagines in theory the many many thousands of undocumented aliens fleeing north from the USA to Canada by avoiding static border checkpoint customs offices, may avail themselves of rustic solitude for modest nightly charges of $10 or so varying by province. USD is commonly accepted in Canada, likely no worse than par. This is a great time of year to score deals on sleeping bags good to -45.

    Citizens of the USA and extended visitors are doubtless more conversant than I with Walmart parking lot opportunities, although a motorized vehicle may a minimum benchmark for admittance with stay?

    • We laws fail, it will pass from being Queen’s Land to People’s land. We ain’t moving.

      We the social contract fails, so has the real estate ownership claim. Quid pro quo

    • If there is ever going to be a major outbreak of cannabilism in North America, I figure it will be on public lands after a major mass-exodus from the cities. I suppose that makes bugging out to public lands a personal taste issue. Leg-o-jester doesn’t really resonate with me.

  6. Regardless — your column is always entertaining to read for an old man ;-) however, you forgot to pack a “vial of morphine” in case it will get catastrophically bad.

      • Sorry, I missed the ad, but since you’re on the subject; Why do get producers get punished for producing what people demand? Aren’t we supposed to have free choice of what we want to consume? Next they’ll punish voters who’re making the wrong choices, LOL.

    • In a radical SHTF situation, I would not want anything which could be intoxicating or sensory-attenuating. The kids and I have aspirin, acetaminophen, and stay (hard) aerosol — the latter available from any “adult” or “marital aid” retailer. The stay spray boasts over 5x the potency of lidocaine as that hypo the dentist shoots you up with (Some tattoo creams are also quite high in lidocaine content, some are not.) If I were going to add a prescription pill to my kit, it’d be Toradol, because it has roughly the same analgesic effect as Demerol, but is not narcotic, and causes absolutely no deleterious issue with respect to either mental clarity or focus.

  7. George,
    One more item for mobile planning. Maps and road atlases. They’re not to expensive and don’t take up much space. Take time to read them and plan routes and alternates.

      • Yes, of course. In a worst case scenario the electronic versions may be unavailable. If you know where your bug out base is l would suggest that you buy the usgs topo ?for your location as well as the surrounding 8. But alas they have gone digital too. Still if you can find paper ones buy them. If you don’t know how to read them, learn.

    • Cartography is a lost art…

      I started looking at maps before I was 3, and could read many types before I got to Kindergarten. I always thought the process intuitively obvious, until my kids graduated and I was exposed to a few of their peers…

    • I buy and keep OLD maps, why? Because Rand McNally ain’t what it used to be…for example…my prior to 2000 one, lists the very small town right before the Southern entrance to Yellowstone, the new ones, it doesn’t exist. This has been replicated all over in the dumbed down maps, globes, you name it.

  8. “Your “escape plan primary zone” is 250-miles for most cars.”

    Err … that doesn’t work so well when traffic is backed up with everybody else trying to get out of dodge. Stories I heard from those caught in the Loma Prieta quake had people trapped in slow moving traffic for >6 hours to travel <5 miles. Some had to abandon their vehicles and hoof it out of the situation.

    A friend of mine who was caught in that mess finally got home to find the entire neighborhood standing in the street talking. When asked what they were going to do for dinner, all he got were shocked looks after informing them that McDonalds was closed.
    Many of them didn't even have a manual can opener!

    Making matters worse by throwing your BOB in the family car and trying to find a parking spot on the freeway just doesn't make sense to me.

    Yes, knowing the back roads to get wherever it is you think will be safer is a good idea, but understand that others are going to know those same back roads, and some are unlikely to be very respectful of other people or their property …otherwise known as a car jacking.

    Generally speaking, the worse the event you are fleeing, the worse people will act.

    Yes, having an exit strategy in place is a good idea – but being flexible in your planning might be the better idea.

    Best of all, develop and listen to your 'gut'. This isn't easy to do, but is invaluable.

    Frequently I have taken a nap when all around me were panicking – my trusted 'gut' was telling me that I was find exactly where I was.
    Other times, I would head out somewhere because my 'gut' said I should, not really knowing why, only to find out later that something nasty was on its way.
    I've even stopped in the road when there wasn't (as far as I knew) any reason to, only to have a large truck come screaming around the corner ahead of me, in my lane.

    Never been wrong yet.

    • ‘Can’t remember now, but I believe it was either Cleveland or Cincinnati, or Dallas, where I learned, many years ago, that 6-8 hours per day, driving “ground-level” in a metropolitan suck-hole is both faster and more-efficient than trying to drive “on the slab.” If you don’t know the backalleys, and the places where rivers and railroads may be forded, you are not familiar enough with “Point A” to successfully make it to “Point B.”

      If you have to cross a significant waterway, say from Cincinnati to Covington or Manhattan to -anywhere, your survival-planning sux and your penance is: You have to find a way past or through a serious choke-point (visions of the Holland Tunnel, 5hrs post-WTC collapse, packed with pedestrians [who were] walking out of NYC, spring to mind…) while it’s seriously “choked.”

      That’s why I advocate living in one’s BOL if possible, and being the first kid through the traps at the dragstrip, if strategic relocation becomes a pressing need.

      I carry a number of not_firearm_related highwayman-deterrents because I drive a lot of miles in a lot of places, some of which are not very gun-friendly, and not-carrying is legally a much better option than risking a felony arrest. That said, were I ever to need to bug-out, my normal deterrents would be substantially augmented and my “internal programming” substantially modified with regards to threat assessment and sanctity of life.

    • Exactly Kas… where you gonna go..

      I have an acquaintance that lives right next to a dumb communications shelter.. I thought it was impressive at least he is going to be ok all he has to do is figure out how to get in. They would have to know a week in advance to get to it..

      • I’ve heard and read, so many people over the years, say they’d go: To “public lands” or “the forest” or “into the wilds” or some such similar nonsense. I never gamble, but would be willing to bet money that, except for those who are, or have lived on an Indian Reservation, or have received Special Forces or Military Survival training, there’s not 1:10,000 people who could actually do this for more than a few weeks, and survive. Heck, I have the knowledge and experience, and would not even bet that _I_ could do it, at this point in my life. Find someplace with the atmosphere of Aridzona, the water, canopy, and game supply of the Upper Midwest, and the temperature of the equatorial Caribbean, and a lot of people could do it. (If’fn you find any such place, please feel free to share. The only two I can think of that’re in the same zip code are the Central Big Island, and Jamaica, and they ain’t that close…)

  9. Do you have, every moment of every day, an “instant escape plan” in mind?


    I bought the book “Sheep No More: The Art of Awareness and Attack Survival” by ex- SEAL, Federal agent, and NYC cop, Jonathan Gilliam, when he first released it. It is repetitive, as Gilliam tries to pound certain principles into the reader, but it’s also very informative.

    It told me NOTHING I didn’t already know, and mentioned very few practices I didn’t already follow, but I also have had a lot of life-experience in places where literally, a moment’s inattention can make you dead — experience very few people ever get.


    Road rage – Even the best of cars don’t chase you very long, with a busted radiator, whereas your car may travel thousands of miles with a dent in its posterior. I’d never “brake-check” even an arsehole, but for someone who’s dedicated to hurting or killing me, you betcherass I would.

    Ditches are wonderful things. They provide cover from both bullets and lightning, an ability to move unseen, a way to avoid being devoured by a tornado, a good start on a firebreak, and a bunch of other stuff…

    Lightning in a boat always scares me. In a small craft, if I couldn’t make it to shore before it got close, I’d hug the bottom under a slicker or tarp, and ride it out. Lightning can burn you if it hits the water within 300-400 yards of an open skiff… Not my idea of a good outing.

    If you can’t swim, try to understand that full lungs make you bob like a cork. Even in a rough sea, you’ll still pop the surface frequently enough to blow & breathe, and survive, as long as you don’t panic or become hypothermic, and keep your back to the wind.

    Buggin’ out:

    ALWAYS be the first guy(gal) out of “Dodge.” Unless your BOV is a Deuce, a Unimog, or an APC, the Charlie Foxtrot which will happen at EVERY escape route will halt your ability to be elsewhere with more than a backpack full of gear.

    Except when there’s a sudden, obvious issue (like an earthquake or mushroom cloud), it takes about two days for your local GenPop to realize they’re fuxored if they remain where they are. That’s your POSSIBLE escape window. If’fn you can’t leave within 48 hours, your only viable option is to go to ground and try to outlive the rabble. ‘Thing is, that’s everybody’s “realization window” as well, which means, if you leave just before the roads clog, by the time you get to the next town, THEIR roads will be clogged and impassible.

    Game animals created trails of “least resistance” between feeding or water sources. Indians followed these trails and created interconnects between. Early settlers followed the “Indian trails.” A horse walks at ~3.5-4.5mph. Towns in “The New World” were established at trail intersections, typically an hours’ horseback ride apart. Trails became uprated to roads or highways, as first carriages, then automobiles, demanded. This town-spacing is no longer apparent along the Eastern Seaboard or in metropolitan areas, but still exists everywhere else between mid-Pennsylvania and mid-Washington, and South to well-below Interstate 20. Even if the “settlement” ceased to exist a century ago, there’ll still be a couple houses at the intersection. There will be scared, paranoid, and possibly greedy people living in these houses. They will be a problem for “late-leavers.”

    This is why I tell people: If you have to leave where you live, you need to be in the place where you’ll make your stand within 48 hours. If you’re not there within two days, you’re not going to get there.

    I have two “bug-out” plans — a “one hour plan” and a “24 hour plan.” They are not location-specific. Why? What happens if I’m away from home? Even if I’m in my “popcorn location,” which (in theory) is a safe distance from even a “class D” nuke target, the USMIL has silos secreted all over CONUS. Because their location is classified and hidden, WE don’t know where they are. Russian or Chinese MILINT may, however, and in an unlimited war, would certainly target them. Even a rat doesn’t trust himself to a single escape hole. How can I allow myself to be less smart than a rat? …And yes, I have multiple contingency plans in case I’m driven from my BOL by a bad case of “mushroom intolerance.”

  10. Good article, G –

    I mentioned I was in a Walmart a month or two back during a bomb scare….

    Again I was in a Walmart a couple of nights ago and all of a sudden the fire alert lights started blinking and the overhead speakers indicated we should evacuate. The verbal alert was switching back and forth between English and Spanish. There was no smoke or indication of a situation so I calmly headed for the exit.

    I was about 20′ from the front door when a store employee broke-in over the speakers indicating Walmart was testing the alarm systems. I was in the store for at least five minutes and did not here a testing pre-notification.

    I thought the bomb scare was a lifetime “one off” and there it is, within a couple of months another scare.

    Again I did not know where the local exit was to my position in the store. A real fire could instantly turn into looting and violence.

    The scales of disaster you are typing about surely would include looting and violence.

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