Monday, January 6, 2014

Four ways home...

While folks who do much prepping at all have most of their preps at home... you may someday be faced with having to get home.  Every day there is a chance you might find yourself at work, store, school, church, a friend's house, or somewhere else you frequently or occasionally travel to and you need to get home.  Ninety-nine out of a hundred times, that is not a problem... but there is always that time that arises when getting home and be difficult, delayed, or impossible.

Are you prepared to make it home? Do you have a Get-Home-Bag (GHB) or Bug-Out-Bag (BOB) with you? Do you have multiple plans and routes to get home in case of bad weather, an accident, road construction, or other unforeseen disaster or problem?

Let's talk about four ways home the the gals and I have prepared for and see if it's helpful for you to consider for your situation:

The Rut

Many years ago, after completing a patrol tactics seminar that challenged law enforcement officers to examine and break out of predictable routines... I went in the "exit" road to patrol through a cemetery in our jurisdiction lookin' for the usual suspects... like kids drinking, young lovers, tokers... and then... I saw it! I had always gone into the cemetery through the "enter" access road and there was a tombstone that had the quote, "See you on the other side."... and when I went in through the "exit" road... and came up on that tombstone... on the back side it simply said, "Hi there."  Now THAT is a guy who literally took his humor to the grave.

The Rut is the route, manner, and mode of transportation that most of take to and from our destinations like work, the gym, the kid's dance studio, and the store almost every single time without really thinking about it. It is often the quickest and easiest way to there and back home again. We often develop these "Rut" routes without really a lot of strategic thinking or evaluation and then use them over again.
"It's pretty far, but it doesn't seem like it." ~Yogi Berra
Should we abandon The Rut? No... but you should recognize that The Rut becomes routine, makes you predictable in your movements, and leaves you vulnerable because you tend to drop your alertness and become passive in your travels.

Maybe you need to re-examine The Ruts in your daily life and see if there are more efficient, strategic, or less predictable ways to travel from home and back again.

The Back-Road

If some of us do have an alternative to The Rut, it is often The Back-Road way to get home... and if you don't have an alternative to The Rut, The Back-Road should be your first approach. Most folks take major highways or thoroughfares from home to their destinations and back again.  What if an accident has those routes closed?  What if there's a major snow storm or other problem that shuts them down?

This is where you need to become familiar with the secondary, country roads, and back alleys around your home, destination, and in-between. Take the time to turn off the GPS, get out a map and sometimes just drive. The GPS will often try to guide you back to the main highways and shortest route. I've seen too many people blindly following the GPS without really paying attention... just turning and going wherever the dashboard teleprompter tells them to go.
"When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it." ~Yogi Berra
Can you make it from work in the city to home in the suburb or country without using the main highways and major roads in your area?  If your map reading skills are getting rusty... it's time to dust them off and plan out a few back-road ways home to try... and adjust... and who knows, you might even find some really cool out-of-the-way places you weren't aware of in your area. You should have a good road atlas and maps in your vehicle and your GHBs and/or BOBs, but don't forget to pick up a good, detailed, street-level map for your more immediate area that shows all those back-roads in detail. They will also come in handy when you have a detour or delay on The Rut.

The Round-A-Bout

Sometimes you just can't get there from here.  I have a good friend who drives over an hour to work in Columbus every day.  His rut is Interstate 71. A couple of years ago we had a bad winter storm and there was a pile-up on 71 and the Ohio State Patrol had the entire southbound interstate shutdown. The rapidly accumulating snow would like make The Back-Road way home very slow and difficult as those roads are often the last to be cleared and tend to drift over quickly with our southwest Ohio winds.
"If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." ~Yogi Berra
The solution was not provided by the GPS. He took Interstate 70 west towards Dayton and then ended up cutting south on U.S. 68 to make it home. A bit farther to go, but far quicker than waiting on 71 to be cleared of the pile-up and better than chancing the smaller back-roads not being in very good shape.

What's your round-a-bout way of getting home?  Have you thought about it? Get out the map and when you can't head south to get home, how can you get there by starting off east or west, or even north.

The Long Walk

You may find yourself in the very unfortunate situation of having to walk home when you normally drive or ride home. Always keep a good set of walking shoes with you in your GHB, BOB, vehicle, or at work.

Walking down the interstate is probably not going to be an option unless it's the Zombie Apocalypse. Your back-road route might work, but may not be ideal either. Is home within walking distance given your physical abilities? Do you need an alternative location to walk to? Do you have friends or people within walking distance that you can rely on?
"It gets late early out there." ~Yogi Berra
If you do have to "hoof-it" on foot, take with you what you can, think ahead about the weather, hydration and water needs, etc. If you're leaving for home on foot at the same time you would typically leave in a vehicle, you know it's going to take a lot longer to get home so plan accordingly.

Some tips that may help...

Lose the GPS and tune up your map reading skills. Don't have a map? Get one! Take some time to explore the areas around your home, work, school, destinations, and everything in-between.

Plan for unexpected delays. If you typically use 2,000 gallons of gasoline each year in your vehicle, you will not likely use and more or less if you fill your gas tank up when it still has a quarter of a tank of gas left than when it is on empty. Do the math, it works out the same.

Always keep water, supplies, and a GHB or BOB in your vehicle. Have you checked the air pressure in your spare tire since you've owned your vehicle?  Is your vehicle's maintenance up-to-date? Have a working flashlight? Two? Three? Ok, I'm a flashlight nut... what can I say.

Finally, at least one day each week... a different day each week... don't use The Rut in your daily travels.

This post has been on my to-do list for a while, but with the pending snow storm and sub-zero temperatures predicted for the next couple of days around here... it seemed like a good time to start thinking about... Four ways home...


  1. I work 60 miles from my home and on the other side of a mountain ridge. I have a medium ALICE pack in my vehicle with everything I need to make the walk home come the day that I have to hoof it. A separate small bag with weather-appropriate spare clothing rides next to it and that gets changed out twice a year, ensuring that I'll always have the right attire for the trek no matter what I wore to work. I got food, I get water purifiers, I got fire-starters, etc., I also have multiple routes pre-planned that can be make on foot or on bike--rails to trails paths that cars can't even get on. I also know where to get a bicycle for that trip and the pack is balanced for a bike ride. Worst case, I plan on a three-day walk or a two-day ride. There's a bug-out long gun in my vehicle as well more often than not.

    As to using the roads if cars still work...done that. Been nailed twice trying to get out of the major urban area I work in during major blizzards when everyone else was trying to get home too and the roads were impassable. Lot of back roads but I made it in 8.5 hours while many neighbors and co-workers slept at work or wound up trapped in their cars overnight on blocked roads. 4-wheel drive paid off in spades and so much for my Ford-Probe-driving neighbors who get such good gas mileage but never did make it home from workplaces a lot closer. Weather event or armageddon, I will make it home because that's where my supplies and my dogs are and I've got plenty of plans on how to get there, including back-up plans for when the primary plans go pear-shaped.

    1. Murphy... good stuff... I didn't mention the bicycling option... but if I was regularly 60 miles away I would definitely have a bicycle available...

      Dann in Ohio