Redundancy Matters: Multi-Tiered Bug Out Plan

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Whether you are on a daily commute, are traveling away from home or are preparing for a bug out scenario, you need to have alternate forms of transportation in addition to your primary.  Scenes from the Houston area evaucation from Hurricane Rita, to the 2014 ice storm in Atlanta, GA give us advanced warning of why we need to have get home bags and alternate transportation.

An Everyday Alternate Transportation Option

Most people commute using a car as primary transportation.  If an emergency happens and your car fails, or if traffic jams prevent you from getting out of the area, what other choices are you left with?  A bicycle (even folding) is too cumbersome to have in your car at all times.  A popular suggestion that I provide my clients is stowing away roller blades or a razor scooter.

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These fit conveniently in your trunk or back seat as they do not take up much space and can expedite your trip home or to the nearest location of interest.   Even if you think about the more common occurrence of running out of gas, either of these items could get you out of a pinch.  If you are commuting long distances, you may think a bicycle (fold up or not) may be your best bet.  Although you could reach a consistent speed of ~15-22 mph with a bicycle, there are several caveats.  I’ve been road cycling and mountain biking for several years and I think the biggest limiting factor is physical fitness.  If you haven’t ridden a bike for over 50 miles, test yourself out and see how you fare.  If you don’t think you have the stamina for such a ride, a more practical option would be to use a smaller form of alternate transportation to get you out of the immediate danger area and have spare cash on hand to try to get a ride (taxi or hitch hike).

Multi-tier Bug Out Plan

Every bug out transportation plan needs a backup and when practical, backups for your backup.  Below is a 4-tier scheme that I use for a bug out scenario.  There are multiple other ways of achieving this, but it gives you a good idea of where to start.  The main concept that you need to aim for is to NOT be stuck in the scenario where you are walking/hiking with your bug out gear.

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  • Tier 1 Vehicle – Your car is your best resource so long as your route is not impeded.  We have Rubbermaid totes that we can throw in the back of our cars in the case of an emergency.  These totes store lots of gear, are water resistant, and are easy to carry.  In addition to the totes, we have our bug out bags + bicycles and child carrier as alternate transportation options.
  • Tier 2 Bicycles + Trailer/Child Carrier – If you can no longer travel by car, we will have to ditch the Rubbermaid totes and vehicle.  We will carry our soft packs and other bug out bag gear on our backs, as well as stowed away in the child carrier trailer.  It may be tough to leave gear behind, however if your survival is at risk, learn to leave things behind.  You should have adequate backups in your BOB to make ends meet if you’ve prepared enough.
  • Tier 3 Walking with trailer/child carrier harness – If bicycles are no longer an option, we have rigged our child carrier with a harness to go over our waist and shoulders.  In this configuration, we can have our BOBs on as well as haul gear in the trailer.  I’ve also heard of people modifying deer sleds for this purpose.
  • Tier 4 Walking with Bug out Bags – For reasons of travel time, physical fitness, and inability to store large amounts of gear, this is the last place you want to be.  Due to these limitations, knowledge and skills are your true advantage.

To close, I must stress that your bug out plan should not be running away to the woods.  This is a common miscalculation among many in the preparedness community. Even those who are skilled in wilderness survival advise not to run blindly  into the woods.  Rather, develop relationships with those outside your immediate community and have a household or other facility to bug out to.