One of the big dangers in preparing for a disaster is not seeing things clearly. It’s so easy to create an idealistic scenario in our minds, and think it through idealistically. But if there’s anything that our personal back-story should teach us, it’s that things don’t often go the way that we expect them to.
Planning a bug out is a prime example of this. Typically, the scenario starts with the entire family at home, engaged in unimportant tasks, like watching the TV. Then, in a moment’s notice, everyone is expected to switch over to survival mode, grab their bug out bags and the dog, and get into the family’s chosen bug out vehicle, armed, in tactical clothing and ready to go.
But unless a disaster shows up in the middle of the night, that sort of beginning to our scenario is not likely to happen. Rather, the emergency will hit while the family is at work, school and/or other activities. We won’t be able to put our bug out plan into effect, because we won’t even be at the starting point. So we need a plan to get us there. Hence, the “get home plan.”
Actually, your family probably needs several get home plans, one for every member of the family. How each member will get home will depend on where they are, how far that is from home, how old they are, whether they have transportation and whether or not another family member might be able to pick them up.
Those plans also need to take into account the possibility that your vehicles aren’t going to be running or even if they are, the roads will be impassible. An essential bridge might be out, in the case of an earthquake. In such cases, it might be ne necessary to make your way home on foot, abandoning your vehicle.
Most of our kids go to school close enough to home that they should be able to walk home, regardless of the situation. Make sure that they have a clear route that they will take, so that they can be picked up by one of the parents along the way.
Those children need to have a few basic survival tools in their backpacks, specifically a rain poncho and a good flashlight. Their phone should be charged, and they should have a backup battery for it; make sure that the phone numbers of all family members and friends who might pick them up are in it.
Someone who drives should be tasked with picking up each child. This may not be the person who normally picks them up. Rather, it should be whoever would have the easiest time getting by there, during the day, to make the pickup. That usually means whoever has to go nearest their school, while driving home themselves.
Things can be a bit more complicated for the adults in the family, because they often work farther from home. In some cases, those parents might work far enough away that it would take them more than a day to walk home, if the cars or roads are down. They might even be on the other side of a river, which would need to be crossed in some way.
Planning a get home route and strategy for those adults can be challenging; but must be done. Without a plan, there’s no way of knowing what they’ll need to have, in order to accomplish it. Some of those are obvious, like good walking shoes and a coat. But others, like a small inflatable raft to cross that river, are going to be situation specific.
In any case, at a minimum, the adults in the family should have a get home bag in their car or office. That will contain essential survival gear for a couple of days, to give them time to get home, if they have to do so on foot. For that matter, each family vehicle should have that sort of survival gear, just in case.