What are the Doomsday Preppers judges forgetting about?
I believe the National Geographic television series on Doomsday Preppers is a good thing overall for the prepping movement. Even though the editing tends to make people look whacko and more extreme than they probably are in reality. It helps with spreading awareness about being more self reliant. Which is a good thing. I think most people see through the sensationalism and understand the need for more self reliance. However, there is one aspect to the show that they rarely if ever discuss and that is reintegration after a Bug Out. Reintegration into the community after the disaster has passed is the most important part of any reality based Bug Out Plan. The chances of there being a disaster that wipes out the entire nation is very very slim. Even if it were to happen you can’t effectively plan for that anyway. But you can plan for those “real” disasters that happen all around us all of the time. Think tornadoes, forest fires, earthquakes, tsunami, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, snow and ice storms, terrorism, etc. The thing about all of these real disasters is that they are generally going to be short term. History has shown us that even severe events of this nature usually only last a few months and then life begins to slowly return to normal. So if your bug out plan fails to incorporate the following simple items, you could be over looking the most important thing. Getting things back to normal!
For two great resources on how to effectively deal with and plan for real world disasters see the links on my Resources page. One book is It’s A Disaster, specifically geared toward disaster preparedness. The other is Simple Survival which is more geared towards survival techniques but also touches on some disaster related information.
For the record, my position is that leaving your home should be an absolute last resort, no exceptions. But if you decide it is time to leave, consider planning for the following before you go!
The 6 Most Commonly Over Looked Items In A Bug Out Plan.
1. Mortgage, rent, utility and car payments. You should consider the possibility that you might Bug Out, when it wasn’t really necessary or that will only needed for a few weeks to a couple of months. Maybe it wasn’t “The Big One”. So if you own a home or even rent, you should consider having a separate bank account set up with automatically withdrawn mortgage, rent, utility and car payments. And the account balance should be high enough to cover at least three months worth of bills. Three months should be long enough for you to be able to get an idea of whether or not the disaster will be one that requires you to stay gone permanently or if you will be able to return home. Doing this gives you a huge safety net and peace of mind that you need to have in case you decide its safe to come back home. This is also a very big factor for being able to reintegrate into civil society if it is needed! Lets face it, it is possible that certain events might not be as big of a deal as they were expected to be….think Y2K.
2. Have your mail forwarded to a Post Office box at the nearest Post Office to your Bug Out location. Of course getting the post office box in that area will need to be prearranged. But once it is all it taken care of, all you have to do to get your mail forwarded is drop the post card in your home mail box telling the post master where to forward your mail as you head out the door. Why bother? Mail piling up in your mail box is a very big indicator that your not home and it is telling criminals that it is safe to come and rob you blind. An added benefit is that you will have the option of occasionally accessing your mail. This will let you know what’s going on with your finances, utilities, communication with your extended family, etc. All of this may be important just in case you have decided it’s safe to attempt to return home. And even if you can’t or don’t want to pick up your mail, at least it will be piling up at a post office and not in your mail box signaling criminals that you are elsewhere.
3. Yard maintenance. Its sounds ridiculous at first but it should be on a checklist of items to put in place before or shortly after you Bug Out. You can also work with a local provider to send them an email or a letter asking them to begin a prearranged basic service. Having a lawn care professional mow your yard or shovel snow from your driveway as needed or at least once a month will do a lot from telling everyone in the area that you are not living there anymore. A neglected yard and driveway will be a beacon for thieves and criminals. Even though you may have taken a lot of the important things for survival when you left, you will have also left many important and expensive things behind. Don’t leave your house neglected to become a target.
Sure it is possible that the company may not get to it on schedule or at all because of the disaster, but if later you have to try to reacquire your property through court proceedings because it was abandoned, at least you will have somewhat of a paper trail showing that you “intended” to return and you were attempting to do what you could to keep the property in good shape during your absence. “Intent” is always a central issue in court proceedings.
4. Interior lighting and television and radios. You should consider getting several digitally controlled on/off timers. I understand that many disasters may leave you without power for a certain period of time… But power could also be restored during your absence. If it is, you don’t want your house left looking like it has been abandoned. Here are a few things that may help your home looked “lived in”. Leave your television on at a decent volume. Set several lights or lamps to go off and on and off at different times. Times that simulate your actual routine. Also plug a radio into a digital timer as well. Have it set to a talk radio station, with the volume set a little higher than the TV. Make sure it is programmed to turn on and off several times a day. Also make sure all of the shades and curtains are closed, to make it more difficult for a criminal to verify if you are at home or not. These few things do a lot to making criminals uncertain if you are actually home or not. If they are not sure they will typically look for an easier target.
5. Exterior lighting, security cameras/signs and sprinklers. Have at least two motion detecting lights at each of the main entries to your home. There are solar power options available that may be a good as well as the standard AC powered ones. The key to these lights being a little more effective is having them set to trigger at different zones. The first one should be set trigger with motion further from your doors. The second one triggers when the movement is very close to the door.
Also have your sprinkler systems (if you have one) set to go off sometime between midnight and three oclock in the morning. This is also a good deterrent for petty thieves. This time frame is their “sweet spot”, they won’t want to get wet and be tracking in foot prints and it has the added bonus of making it look like you still live there as well.
Have a security camera with an exterior blinking LED light focused on each entrance. Whether or not its real and actually recording depends on your budget. But even a fake one can do a lot to keep people away. Or post a security system sign near both entrances. The power may be out but there are battery backups available. Most low level thieves will just move along for a softer target. Criminals always look for the soft targets. Don’t let your house be a soft target while your away.
6. Your job and your ability to return to it with no problems. If your like the rest of us your job is your primary source of income. And having a job and relying on will be the hardest thing to walk away from…what if your wrong and you give it up for nothing? Consider the following. It will be a hard decision to walk away after so long and give it all up. One possibility for securing your job while you are gone (if you meet the qualifications) is to utilize the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). See the United States Department Of Labor website (http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/
The bottom line is this. You should consider doing what you can to make reintegration easier for you and your situation. These six things may not be what you choose to do, but plan something that is geared towards reintegration into society. I think incorporating these 6 things or at least some of them into your Bug Out Plan will give you a lot more flexibility upon returning from your trip to the hills (or more sensibly from staying at a friend or family members house that was unaffected) and getting back things back to normal. Even if anyone does notice your absence you could probably just tell them you had to go and care for a sick loved one and they would never know the difference.
Doomsday Preppers frequently fails to talk about reintegration into society and I think that is a serious mistake. It gives people the idea that they should plan to leave and never come back….that is a big mistake. A person who recognizes that they could be wrong and that our society might be a little more resilient than they thought is a rational and well thought out prepper. Just because your prepared to Bug Out if you are forced to, doesn’t mean that you have to walk away from your life never to return. These simple things take very little time to enact, if properly planned out and can make reintegration much more smooth. Don’t plan to leave and never come back! Society will need your help rebuilding, so plan for your return as well as your departure!
What items have you done in your Bug Out Plan that are geared towards reintegration? What have I left out that may be important?
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