In this scenario, we will cover the “bug-in” element of our plan. Safety and security will be our first priority after an incident. We are assuming you survived the initial event and your “physiological needs” (breathing, food, water, etc.) are being fulfilled with preparations made prior to an incident. (Refer to this article for information on food prepping and food storage.)

We will also assume that you can fulfill the basic requirements of being able to respond to the situation as it unfolds. Site evaluation and protection, to me, is the highest priority. The human body has an amazing ability to go days without sleep, on very little food. Although we can, and do, amaze ourselves with these abilities, we need a safe place to recover both mentally and physically. You can’t begin recovery without a safe base of operations. You can call it a “bunker,” a “safe house,” your “command post,” or whatever you like. The name doesn’t matter, but the structure itself does.

This is where the engineer in all of us should come out to play. Long before an event unfolds, be it a natural or a man-made disaster, you should know your surroundings extremely well. I am amazed at the number of people that have no idea where the nearest railroad, electrical substation, or telecommunications centers are in relation to their home or emergency site.

Environmental site evaluation is as simple as noting your location in relation to major roads, infrastructure, and potential problem sources such as major shopping centers. I would make a list of these and keep it someplace safe that you can access on short notice. Another item I have heard of adding to the kit is a map. This allows you to have an idea of real-world distances of things to your site’s location.

Often, during chaotic events, things are forgotten or overlooked. A pre-made list reduces that chance greatly. Your environment post-disaster will likely be radically different than what is was before. If you face one of the major events that can be forecasted, such as a weather-related event (tropical storm, hurricane, tornado, etc.), you can be much more prepared than in an unexpected event—say an earthquake or wildfire. On your list or map, note major infrastructures, but also note sources of possible problems and threat areas. These should be noted because they are the greatest risk to your plans, and should be avoided completely if possible.

Remember, we don’t want drama or chaos. Our goal is to recover safely and help out our group. Major shopping centers, drug stores, and large retailers (such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or Kohl’s) will be ripe for looting, riots, and violence. The history of natural disasters has shown us this.

looters Environmental threats can’t be overlooked, either. They can be just as threatening to your secure site as any human threat can be. Due to the hundreds of variable situations that can be played out, we have to limit our scope to just a few of the “major” types of weather-related events.

Long before your event happens, you should ask yourself what types of utilities are at your site. Do you know where the electrical breakers are, or the main water shutoff? D0 you know how your building is heated (fuel oil, natural gas, or electric)? If it’s heated by natural gas, can you locate the shutoff valve?

Many homeowners have no idea where these isolation spots are. They rely on the local plumber, electrician, or handyman to perform routine work. Learning these things can be easy. No one is expecting you to become a certified tradesperson, you just need to learn how to shut things off to prevent further safety issues. Many utility companies will send a service person out to your house to show you how and where to isolate utilities for your house or building just in case there is ever a problem. It might be worth your while to call and ask if they offer this type of service to its customers.

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Assuming you will be at your site for a  few weeks, you need to address the “human element” of the post-disaster situation. Namely, people coming around to see if you are alive and well, and generally being nosy. I would view anyone I didn’t know very well as suspicious from the start. When people are desperate, they take desperate measures. As the Godfather said, “It’s not personal; it’s just business.” In disaster situations, survival is “business.”

That doesn’t mean act without reason; it means you shouldn’t take these incidents personally. Once again, this is not the movies. We are talking about real life, and in real life, ugly things can happen. Our goal is to make sure the “ugly” is limited. When the neighbors or strangers show up, greet them away from the building and never alone. Having more than one person greeting any visitor sends an instant message: You are not alone, and you are alert.

If you can, don’t take a weapon that can be seen with you. Seeing a weapon can make a situation more stressful than it needs to be. If at all possible, have someone observe you from the house or structure during the interaction. This person being armed, calm, and competent is advisable. OPSEC /COMSEC  (Operational Security/Communications Security) should be practiced throughout the meeting. Don’t divulge what you have or who you have with you.

There will be people who read this article and think I’m being irrational or paranoid, but I call it cautious. There are people with nefarious plans who will act as a wolf in sheep’s clothing to gain your trust and get you to lower your guard. Their goal might be to learn what you have and possibly take it from you. This is a high-stakes game of poker—treat it as such.

Your survival or health might depend on it. Keeping your site secure is about protective posturing, not about offensive posturing. Think fortress: an imposing image of protection often makes people look for easier prey.

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This is by no means a one-size-fits-all solution to a fully functional protection plan. Our goal here at is to make you think of scenarios that you might have overlooked, and help you plan accordingly. We hope that our posted topics, gear reviews, and training tips will help give you a framework from which to begin building a sustainable plan. Ask your friends and family what they plan to do, or if they have a plan, be an integral part of it. Help build your team up and train others in what you learn. Next week, we bring you another gear review: the Multitasker series 3, shown below.

How to Survive Anything: Finding water in the wilderness

Read Next: How to Survive Anything: Finding water in the wilderness

This isn’t your average multiplier type of tool; no matter what weapon system you use, this can be invaluable in your tool box for prepping or for a day at the range with friends and family.


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