Friday, September 17, 2010

Bug out or bug in, guns and other "stuff"

Whether one should be bugging out or hunkering down in response to disaster are big topics lately.  It seems that, just as in the 1950s when backyard nuke shelters were all the rage, uncertain times now have people looking to plan for the very worst they can imagine.  There are, given certain circumstances of natural or man-made disasters, advocates for either course of action.

Staying in place means that you have all your assets such as stored food, cash, water, ammo, clothing, furniture, etc.  All can help you survive. Even if you don't use it yourself any property can be traded for other things you might really need.  People never think of it but some sandbags and a shovel might be a useful adjunct to whatever firearm you have. Another benefit is the friends and family you might have in your established location.  Neighbors who know and trust you aren't bad either. 

As to firearms, something to carry always to get you to the heavy artillery which can reach out but deal with multiples and reload rapidly. For a lot of people that will be a 5.56/.223 autoloader though some will be better served with a .30-something autoloader.

Again, a good defensive position is a force multiplier.  It was an old saw in the military that the defender could resist a force at least 3 times their number. 

As Rob Leahy puts it:
Unless you make your move BEFORE disaster strikes, you might be stuck. many western metro areas can be crippled with a couple car wrecks at the big stack style interchanges. Phoenix officials revealed their big emergency preparedness plan- walk away. HAH! Smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran desert. That will be ugly.

South Central Alaska is worse off; 80 percent of the homes built in the last 20 years are solely dependent on natural gas for heat (Thank you 5 Star energy ratings). If a Quake breaks a gas line a BUNCH of folks are gonna freeze.
We can interpret that to mean a good defensive position includes heat, food and water. This has always been true. However static defenses are subject to siege. You must either outlast the siege or you must destroy that enemy. Likely, you can't do either without help of some kind. In the past nature has helped those besieged by subjecting the besieger to disease and horrible weather. Sometimes, friends/allies have attack the siege forces from behind and destroyed their ability to feed or water themselves.

Bugging out, i.e. being mobile, is supposed to help you avoid those problems but it comes with problems of its own. First and foremost you are exposed to attack because you have no defensive positions but those you happen to be on when attacked.  When you "bug out" you leave your home and you leave your friends, family, contacts and "stuff".  You have limited supplies because you can't carry but so much.  Also, you are likely to be moving through an area where you have no ties to the local population (who might help).  Family and friends (real friends, not nodding acquaintances) can mean the difference between survival and becoming plant food. Remember also, that in leaving you are abandoning the largest part of assets you've accumulated over your lifetime.  The idea really is that you will re-establish yourself in an unpopulated area. There are those who support the concept.  I well remember Bradford Angier's book, "How to Build Your Home in the Woods".

Wherever you are you must have, as said before, food, water, heat (in cold weather), shelter (including shelter from attack i.e. defensive positions), and sanitation facilities (i.e. toilets).  Firearms might be necessary to keep these things for yourself not to mention to keep you alive.  Any injury is to be avoided and is potentially life threatening.  Merely having medical supplies isn't enough, you have to have the skill to use them correctly and without waste. 

Many ridicule such considerations as a waste of time.  Is it?  Ask those who have lived through hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods and riots.  Did reasoned preparations help them?  Of course they did.

The first thing you need is water. Without water all other choices lose their "optional" status. Stores of water, means of purification and an idea where you might get more if you need to are things you should have ready and on hand.

You need flexibility. You may have decided to hunker down and ride it out but if something happens to destroy that you need the option to move. Having a plan to bug out and fuel in a vehicle capable of going makes it a more reasonable option if worst comes to worst and you have to move.

Of course flexibility also means you have to have the means to stay and ride it out.

I think the #2 thing you need (after water) is sanitation. If the water system fails, if the sewers back up or simply don't flow, you still need to rid yourself of waste. I suggest a shovel for a hole in the back yard. If you only have a few days, you can deal with it. If it lasts longer than that, so can the neighbors. I'd put some lime in a nice safe dry place to spread on "it" to keep the disease carrying vectors (flies) off "it".

Then you need food. You'll probably want to cook it as well, particularly if you do the smart thing and start on the refrigerated and frozen stuff if you've lost all power. If you put back canned foods, for extended needs, you will need to rotate it. This pretty much mandates that you actually eat what you store not just buy some food because it is edible and in a can. This is particularly true for those with dietary concerns or picky and stubborn children (or mentally challenged adults).

Which brings us to medical supplies. You must be able to treat cuts and puncture wounds. You absolutely can't have infection and you must be able to stop the bleeding. It is probably a good idea to have meds for those with chronic conditions. Aspirin is always handy. Remember that you won't be able to depend on access to a doctor and/or hospital.

You also need shelter. Shelter isn't just a roof over your head. It must get you out of the heat to conserve water and it must keep you out of the cold. People can survive what we consider extreme temperatures but you must be prepared for the weather in your area. Particularly in cold climates you must be prepared to depend on your clothing to keep you warm. Don't be like the fashion conscious teenagers I see who are wearing no coats in winter because they are counting on a quick transition from building to transportation to keep them warm.

Firearms? You need a handgun to have with you all the time. It will get you to the heavy artillery. In town? Get a shotgun. In the country? Maybe a shotgun AND a rifle. There should be enough arms to arm every person in your group who can shoot and adhere to the "rules of engagement", i.e. the law.

If you can do all this, you just need enough on hand to continue without outside assistance.

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