Over the years there has been several articles on numerous blogs that talk about one of our oldest dilemmas of the prepper world…to bug in or to bug out. Well, over the last year I have been thinking that staying put is what we need to do as a family. Every individual and family is different, but this is my attempt of a self-analyst of our decision to bug in and a look of what I am doing with my community.
I believe the thought of surviving some type of catastrophic emergency is unsettling for almost everyone. However, there is nothing more unsettling than surviving such an emergency and having absolutely no plan whatsoever for how you and your neighbors will deal with the aftermath. Therefore, it is vitally important that you consider various aspects of your particular neighborhood such as security and other issues before an emergency actually happens. There are things that you must do in the planning phase before anything happens to ensure that you can perform your duties when an emergency does occur. Of course, there is a great deal that you must do to be prepared in the event that something does occur within your community.
Prior to an Emergency
There are many specific things that you must do prior to and after an emergency that will be discussed in far greater detail in the following paragraphs. However, the first thing that you have to do is start your planning phase in order to determine how you will take care of matters within your own family and within your community. Protection of your loved ones is the most important thing that you need to take care of and once your loved ones are safe you should protect your neighbors. The strength and skills of those around is irreplaceable. If possible, you also need to protect your belongings. You have to understand that an emergency can occur for a variety of different reasons, both natural and manmade. Your plan should include all of your neighbors and you should be prepared to adopt a plan that can be changed in order to adapt to the circumstances that are at hand. You should consider whether or not you or your neighbors own any guns and if so, if it is necessary for someone within the neighborhood to set up patrols until the military or local law enforcement is able to get to the area. In addition, you have to be prepared to be able to survive under these conditions for two weeks or more.
Know Your Neighbors
People in many communities do not know their neighbors’ names, nor do they know anything about them. This is a mistake because in the event that a SHTF emergency occurs, those people will become your best friends and it will require that everyone work together in order to survive. You should get to know your neighbors as well as the people in your surrounding community. Make an effort to become familiar with the people that live on the next street or down the block. In addition, knowing the backgrounds of your neighbors including any particular skills that they may have that can be valuable during such an emergency. If you have someone that is retired military, law enforcement or firefighters in the community you should know this. It is also important to know if anyone lives in your community that has medical experience. Furthermore, you should know the concerns of your neighbors.
Know if any of your neighbors have special health considerations which would put them at greater risk for danger. That way you or someone else in your neighborhood will be able to get to them first. People that have physical or mental disabilities or those who have chronic illnesses and are on medication that must be taken every day are at the greatest risk. They should be monitored carefully for problems. Identify the Skills and Equipment each neighbor has that would be useful in an effective disaster response. Knowing which neighbors have supplies and skills helps your disaster response be timely, and allows everyone to contribute to the response in a meaningful way.
In our neighborhood we now have an optional contact list that people can participate in. The creation of this contact list helps identify those with specific needs such as elderly, disabled, or children who may be home alone during certain hours of the day. Our list asks for the following:
Any person with specific needs
Of course, several people do not have anything besides a last name and phone number listed….but my copy may have a few additional notes from my own observations. Some of the questions I think about are:
Have you noticed any of your neighbors fish, hunt, or garden?
Have you noticed any ham radio antennas?
Have you noticed any of your neighbors go to church (not important to all)?
Have you noticed any individuals who may have special needs?
Have a Plan for Meeting and Communicating
Understand that traditional communications such a cell phones and land lines will probably not be functioning. Have a plan in place where someone can serve as a central point for communicating with other members of the neighborhood. A perfect example is someone that is a HAM radio operator. These types of communications typically survive when everything else goes down and as such, you can make that individual the central point of contact for the entire community. But wouldn’t it be good to ask them prior to an emergency??? Furthermore, you should have a pre designated meeting place where everyone that is okay will be able to go in order to disperse throughout the rest of the neighborhood in search for victims. It is always a good idea to have a primary location as well as a backup location in another area in case the primary location is in a danger zone. We like to use our basketball court as that primary point as it is in the middle of our neighborhood.
Have People Designated to Check on Others
One of the most important things you can do to ensure the safety of your neighborhood is to have people designated to check on others as well as on homes that may be temporarily vacated. Simply having a presence within the community will prevent most people from entering the community and taking your personal possessions. In addition, this helps to ensure that everyone in the neighborhood is safe and that their needs are being met. I did during our last snow storm it was nice to see individuals going door to door checking on their neighbors. Though that was only a mild event, people need to understand the importance knocking on doors.
Consider Having Guards to Patrol the Neighborhood
If the emergency is severe enough, you have to understand that first responders may be delayed in getting to the area. You may not have help from any first responders whatsoever for several hours. You may not have help from law enforcement for several hours to a period of several days. In this case, you have to decide if you need to have people within your community acting as guards in order to ensure that your possessions and the possessions of others are not damaged or stolen. This may be difficult for some people to understand but in the case of a catastrophic emergency, you have to do what is necessary to ensure that members of your community are kept safe. One of the best ways to do that is to ensure that other individuals that do not live in the community or have a legitimate connection to it are not allowed into the area. Setting up checkpoints and getting to know everyone within the community can help prevent problems before they get started.
Have Your Supplies Ready
This is something that you should do long before an emergency ever occurs and I am sure you have seen it before. Know exactly what you need to have with you. Take only what you truly need. Some would say all you need is a three day supply of water for each individual in your party as well as non-perishable food. In our neighborhood, everyone agreed that 2-weeks would be our magic number. Have a good first aid kit and ensure that any prescription medications that are needed by anyone in your party are included. Include a flashlight and a radio that can be operated on batteries. Make sure you have a fresh supply of batteries for everything and include some blankets in order to make sure that everyone can stay warm.
Talk About a Plan and Practice
In order for your plan to work, everyone has to be on board. This is not something that one or two members of the neighborhood can do while everyone else knows nothing about it. Talk with your neighbors and sit down together to figure out what everyone thinks about it. Develop a plan that everyone can agree on. This will be the most difficult part of the entire thing because it is often difficult to get that many different opinions together and get them to agree on one thing. Finally, it is imperative that you actually practice as if an emergency had occurred. Merely developing a plan and not going through the motions to ensure that you are ready will leave you largely unprepared. Just as you would practice a fire drill, practice this at least once every six months and more often if the situation warrants it.
In summary, the last thing you ever want to do is wait for a catastrophic emergency to occur and then decide that you need to take action. Instead, be proactive and get to know your neighbors. Understand the skills and concerns of each individual and develop a plan that works with the strengths of each person. Be able to operate as a community without the help of first responders for at least the first few days that an emergency of this type has occurred. It is nice to know that 70% of my neighborhood wanted to participate. It is also nice to know that 30% do not believe that being prepared is important.