Guest Post: The Small Stuff

by Jeff Mills

When I hear someone say “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  it makes me wonder how small the stuff  is that they mean.

I consider some of the small stuff pretty important and sometimes if added in with other small stuff, it can become downright huge.

Some examples:

  1. Are there cough drops for the sentry on a LP? Sunglasses and a ball cap for the gal on OP?
  2. Are there fresh batteries in your weapon lights?
  3. So you have a primary and secondary “blank” (firing position, escape route, route to BOL, etc.). What about a third option?
  4. What was the pass-phrase (not password!) for I am in trouble when communicating with your group?
  5. I thought you added the fuel stabilizer to the stored gas months ago- what’s the big deal?
  6. I took a First Aid course when I was in the Boy Scouts. How much could it have changed since then?
  7. I wear contacts. I won’t need glasses in a “blank” (SHTF, economic collapse, etc.) situation.
  8. I live in a city, why do I need to learn to read a map? Use a compass?
  9. My BOV is a modified 4×4, with camper shell, extended gas tanks, zombie proof windows and an air horn. Why do I need spare parts if my BOL is within xxxx miles?
  10. Of course my kids will behave during the emergency in the car! They won’t be scared, worried, have to pee, get hungry, need their stuffed animal, DS game or anything else. They won’t affect my concentration on the road, the rioters or the map!


I am sure there are many, many more that will come to mind if you just think about it. I sweat the small stuff because the lives of my family could depend on it. A spare drive belt for the truck could spell the difference between having all of the items packed in the back of the BOV and having to grab the BOBs and walk to the BOL exposed to the teeming masses. Who is providing security for you while you are changing the belt or a flat tire?


I have tried to instill in my wife the need for her to have at least three routes home from her office in case in an emergency a particular route has been closed. We rotate items in and out of her GHB so that the snacks are fresh, the map is accurate and she has decent clothes and footwear to change into from her business attire.


We have discussed what she should do in case of mobs in the streets. I have found a couple of places to rendezvous with her in case she cannot get home. We have a plan to collect the kids from school in the event of an emergency and what to do afterward.

The kids have BOBs that have at least one stuffed animal to ensure they have a comforting familiar item from home in case we have to leave. They are still pretty young so they should listen to me in an emergency situation as we have gone over a few potential events such as tornadoes, fires and hurricanes. They helped with the fire evacuation plan and posted it on the back door so they see it everyday before they leave the house.


My point isn’t that we need to freak out about every little thing (I really don’t care that the color of my daughter’s BOB has pink piping, but I do care that it can hold up to rough use)- we need to examine the small stuff to make sure we are not caught off guard and unprepared. There is too much at stake.


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  1. Very wise advise. In the Army we were taught to sweat the small stuff because the small stuff will get you killed. The same applies to a bug out situation. It’s the small stuff that will come back and bite you on the butt!!

  2. Jeff,
    Good post – well thought out and to the point.

    1. Yes, in the ammo can set into the timber wall to the right of the exit steps.
    2. Yes (rotated monthly) with spares in the weapon case, range bag, and BOB.
    3. Nope – 5 options for all contingency plans (easy to count off on the hand not holding the M1A).
    4. None of your business (but, good intell to have on the opposition).
    5. Type of fuel, date and amount of last addition, check box for fuel stabilizer – all on slate near hand pump for each tank.
    6. My last “first aid” course was in the late 70’s when I went through Ranger school. One daughter in law is an ER nurse and one nephew is an EMT, both are part of the “group”. I’ve sewn up dogs and cattle who got into places they shouldn’t have. I did field dress an elk last week, so I know what deer guts look like – does that count?
    7. I wear contacts with reading glasses. Spares of both in BOB and BOV and extras around the BOL.
    8. I live in the country (sort of near a small city) and can read a map quite well. Everybody in my group has been taught map reading and carries a compass and local map in their GHB.
    9. Mine is a 16 year old retired Brinks truck with spares of every thing I can think of (except an engine block, rebuilt that 2 years ago) either in it or strapped on top.
    10. All of my kids are in their 20’s and 30’s. Both grandkids are too small to have their own BOB’s, but I am positive they have a BOTC (bug out toy chest – just made that one up) ready to go. I have car seats, Haz-Mat suits, and Level III body armor for them.

    I tend to be an optimist, but I learned years ago to hope for the best and plan for the worst. I am absolutely certain I have missed some possible issues, but I’ll take them as they come.

  3. Like my grandpa was fond of saying “the devil’s in the details”. And as an adult (well not if you ask my wife. lol) I’ve found he was right.

  4. Thanks for the replies. You had some interesting items in your reply Harry. If we all keep thinking of the “what if’s” we might come through our troubles OK.

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