How to get home safely after SHTF!

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How to get home safely after SHTF!

We talk about a deluge of survival techniques, methods of preparedness every dramatic morsel of tactical methods, but you know what we have created a gross oversight of an important element to train for; how to get home alive.  Thanks to a user’s email suggestion we spent some time, and did some try outs, and are comfortable in offering readers’ our suggestions and advice.  While all of us super battle hardened badasses that drink monkey blood for breakfast after festooning the walls with our enemies’ entrails, the reality is many of us will by trying our damndest to get home safely.  No doubt a difficult task for anyone after the shit hits the fan. So prepare to humble yourself, death dealer, and let’s discuss our options…

A likely scenario…

You live just twenty miles outside of town in a quaint colonial outside.  It’s two in the afternoon, your daughter’s at school, your wife’s home, and you’re at work, a tall industrial building on the opposite side of the city.   You hear an initial pulse, that is followed by a blast of air a few seconds later that shakes the panes of glass surrounding your building.  You look outside to see a large plume of smoke jutting up into the atmosphere.  The gears start turning in your head, and you realize we’ve just been attacked.  By the sounds, and the mushroom shaped cloud hovering over you know it was a dirty bomb.  A “dirty bomb” is one type of a “radiological dispersal device” (RDD) that combines a conventional explosive, such as dynamite, with radioactive material that may disperse when the device explodes. It is not the same as a nuclear weapon.   (Ever wonder what a nuclear bomb actually sounds like? Click to hear.)

Since your wife is only around the corner from your daughter’s school, you know the plan has always been for her to get the kid, giving you enough time to make it home while mom loads up the bug out vehicle.  Now here comes the tough part, your original expected bug out time (had you been home) was under ten minutes. Now you have to condense down a commute that normally takes you thirty minutes in the face of panicked human herds, congested freeways, and every road block you’d dread under normal circumstances.

Know your emergency route…

It’s no jump in logic to assume your normal work commute route will likely be a no-go.  In every emergency the hive-mind kicks into high-gear with everyday civilians having the same thought ‘get out, get home’, with the bulk of them having the same route in mind.  Now this is the part of the story likely to split depending on your circumstances. Is your work vehicle equipping with 4X4 or are you driving the sedan?  Your answer to this question severely dictates your travel time and options.  With a sedan you are limited to highways, surface streets, and rural roads.  WIth a 4X4 equipped vehicle you have all those options and the ability to go offroad around congested areas, and country roads (dirt roads, back tractor roads, hillbilly sticks).

Regardless of the kind of car or truck you have, your emergency home route should take four things into consideration; current amount of traffic between your work hours, shortest travel time with expected variables i.e. likeliness of others using your route, road conditions, and you must absolutely have a backup plan!  You’d be surprised how many people don’t have a backup plan for their backup plan, but what happens when your route goes through ground zero?  Exactly.  By having two routes planned you guarantee at least one of them would be safe.  Obviously Route A is the safest and fastest with Route B in a close second.

Demographics and Statistics — When trying to plan your emergency get-home route, demographics and statistics are going to play a major role in your planning!  For example if your shortest route goes right through a Section 8 neighborhood with high crime rates, is it truly safe to take that route?  Let’s be real, rolling up your windows aren’t going to work in this situation. Hell, just take a look at the black supremacist organization BLM (Black Lives Matter), who can block a road with fifty idiots and a couple cellphones.  If you don’t know the neighborhoods you’ll be travelling through check out state and local census websites, or ask other people that know the neighborhood(s) you’ll be travelling through.

EDC’s Role

EDC (Everyday Carry) Roles can be defined as the gear you have on you at all times of the day, not excluding what you keep in your car but we’ll talk about that separately.  Before I get fully into this, I have to say there are EDC fanatics that will make themselves targets when the shit hits the fan because their entire persona screams preparedness.  If you’re a long time reader of ours you know we are no fans of gauche grandstanding, we prefer our readers blend in with their surroundings.  Discretion goes further than gottiness. Now let’s discuss EDC items you should have that will help you get home…

Personal Self-Defense — Maybe it’s just me, maybe the people I work for don’t actually care, but my building has a ‘gun free’ zone policy.  A policy I really don’t care for.  In my fashion I conceal carry every single day and none’s the wiser. In my humble opinion, I’m not going to let your insane beliefs to opportunity to trump my personal protection.  Point being, if you can get away with it always be armed.  When everyone else in your building and surrounding area realizes what’s happened they’re going to panic, hopefully you won’t be targeted on your way to your vehicle, but if you are be prepared for it.

Personal Loadout — your personal loadout is the stuff you carry on your person every day that can be used in the event of an emergency.  Most the people who read our stuff already have a good line on their loadouts but for those who’ve not gotten the hang of it yet, let’s go over some standard items.  You will not find a ‘tactical pen’ on this list, when you find a story of someone’s life being saved by their pen, let me know.  The idea is to be a discrete minimalist.

  • Survival bracelet, or survival carabiner clip — 550 paracord, fishing line, hooks, matches, etc. When browsing your options, choose the setup that would blend in with your daily wear without standing out.  Many of these tools could assist you depending on what situations you encounter en route to your home.
  • Handcuff key and pick set key ring — You can find these anywhere online, and can be used in the event you get hemmed up, or need to make an unconventional entry into a locked room, safe, car, etc. Do not just ‘own’ these items, know how to use them.  In the event of an emergency there will be panic, power could possibly go down, doors would automatically lock, or people can just be careless in their fervor, meaning you’ll have to get through that door to even get out of your building.
  • Reliable watch with compass — Do not be one of those guys who have a compass watch with no clue how to read it, or understand topographical maps!  I know guys who thousand dollar ‘tactical’ watches with no clue how to navigate.
  • High powered flashlight — Again, the power could go out in your building, leaving you to rely on emergency or ambient lighting, putting you at risk, so have a compact and high powered LED flashlight that can be used in conjunction with your concealed pistol.
  • Knife + Multitool — there is a swath of sub-cultural elitist knife snobs that turn a lot people off.  As long as your knife and multitool are durable, and will help get you out of a pinch, then by all means stay within your budget!

Commuter Vehicle — Regardless of the vehicle you drive you should always have these items in your car; Fix A Flat, jumper cables, portable jump start, spare tire, hydraulic jack (a scissor jack will get you killed), pry bar, and the correct socket for your tires. You have no clue what is going to happen from point A to point B, and it’s better to be prepared for whatever happens.  No matter what your vehicle should always have over half a tank of fuel.   

In addition to standard automotive preparedness items, you should always have your 3 Day BOB stowed in the trunk.  Your goal is to get home immediately, but what do you do if there’s a situation where you can’t leave immediately? Exactly. Anything you can discreetly keep in your vehicle like extra ammunition or your primary weapon that’ll help you get home safely would be a good idea.  I keep a NBC mask in my trunk, so nothing’s outside the range of normality.

Judging The Variables

Your car is stocked, you’re armed, a dirty bomb just went off downtown, and already everyone around you is going totally ape shit.  What do you do now?  Judge the variables, formulate a plan, and execute.

VARIABLES:  Determine the direction of the detonation, extrapolate if you need to deviate from route A to B if in trajectory or path of bomb, and the likely path of that mass of people surrounding the detonation zone who will be attempting to evacuate.  You do not want to be anywhere near those people after detonation.  They will be contaminated, dying, and desperate.

PLANNING:  You know which route you are taking, now you need to take the fastest path with the least resistance to your vehicle.  You have to decide what to tell your wife while communications are still up (in previous articles we’ve advised to have a previously agreed upon plan prior to disaster), and if there are any changes to that plan each member of your family should be dully formed.

EXECUTE:  While the above sounds like a laundry list of tasks, it really isn’t.  Just get to your car as fast as humanly possible, and on the way you can make any snap decisions that need to be changed.  In this scenario you’ll want to dawn your PPE the minute you get to your car, and get the hell out of dodge.

Stranger Danger

I shouldn’t have to tell anyone this, but in the event the shit actually goes down, strangers, and acquaintances, represent a significant amount of risk to you and your family.  Whether it was a dirty bomb, chemical attack, or a biological weapon being deployed, stay away from other people!  On your way home you will run into desperate people who weren’t prepared, criminals seeking to take advantage of the chaos, and even worse there’s a possibility you may run into an opposing militarized force. Your goal is to get home alive as fast as possible, to protect your family, so you need to stay away from;

  • Large groups of people
  • Sick and or contaminated people
  • Roadblocks/Checkpoints
  • Disabled vehicles
  • Anyone attempting to flag you down
  • Major interstates
  • Major surface streets
  • Anywhere substantial looting may occur i.e. retail districts

It’s safe to say the ROE are going to go out the window when your own life is at stake in your own country.  That being said, don’t be an idiot.  Trust your gut. If your life is genuinely threatened do not hesitate to take the shot.

Practice, practice, PRACTICE!

As with all my articles commit this knowledge to training exercises.  The information and advice we give you is 100% worthless if you can’t take it from the drawing board to the real world.  A while back we wrote an excellent article on ways you can make your own bug out simulations, you should read it and apply those same principles here, especially if you’re one of the lucky few who commute a lot for work. The best reason to train with these scenarios is to properly prepare your mind for certain elements that are always present during disaster.  Shock, hostile fire, fear, and everything else you’re not mentally prepared for could result in you making a mistake during a critical time.

Final Synopsis…

This article was written from the perspective of someone who has to get home safely after their city was attacked, but there are several possible scenarios that could completely change your overall plan.  My advice to you is to have a general plan that encompasses the ‘most likely’ versus the highly unlikely.  We put a lot of time, effort, and research into our articles, but we don’t claim to be the authority, and we appreciate the input of our readers.  If you have any advice, or ideas you’d like to offer be sure to comment below.

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About Administrator Ryan

Administrator Ryan has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Administration and Management from the University of Kentucky, and has been the primary handler for since it's founding. Professional background includes over a decade's experience in survival and preparedness, graphic design, computer programming, website coding, and asset management. Personal background in mountaineering, climbing, rappelling, combat training, and big game hunting.

16 thoughts on “How to get home safely after SHTF!

  1. When considering the Variables do not forget the weather. In the case of a “dirty bomb” wind speed and direction at ground level may be a factor in which way you travel. You do not want to go thru the dispersed radioactive material.
    Something I have never understood is why any city dweller would be carrying fish hooks? Fishing takes a lot of time and you need to get home.
    Another item I don’t get is Paracord. Nothing screams look at me louder then someone rigging up a shelter in a city environment.

  2. Great article.

    I utilize public transportation to get to my work downtown from the suburbs. Because of this I always bring my bike with me. I have my EDC as well as a Work Place Emergency Kit. Together, they provide me with enough gear for an overnight if necessary. About 2 times a week I bike home using the different paths that I have mapped out and occasionally try new ones. I also walk home about 1-2 times a month and take different paths as well. Just in case I ever have to resort to that option to get home.

    Luckily there are plenty of rivers in our metro and most have protected forest areas around both sides of the banks. Plenty of biking and walking paths. If I need to escape & evade, there are plenty of opportunities to do so.

  3. Thank you for the information. It is always good (especially THESE days) to be prepared for the worst.

  4. As a single woman who travels 45 miles one way to work, I appreciate the article. I have 2 routes that are the exact same miles and time. I live in a rural area so I feel comfortable with that. I have the two way radios but never thought about using them for communication when trying to get home only for when I was at home. I think now I’ll put one in my car for that. Thanks for the article.

  5. Guess you aren’t describing an EMP which will disable most types of transportation. I’m prepared to walk if I can’t drive, how about covering that, especially for us senior citizens. Yes I have CCW and ammo, food, water, shelter, etc.

    • No we were describing one scenario that can apply to several outcomes, ergo your 3 DAY BOB stowed away in your car, which you will likely need to get from point A to point B on foot.

    • Also emp will affect mostly new cars that have complex chips, and on top of that any models from 2005 and older will most likey shut off, and after a few minutes it’ll turn back on, and anything with out full injection will keep on truckin. Gov did a study back in 2008 i believe, im aure you can locate the findinga after some good searching. Hope this helped ya.

      • This is one resource, don’t know if this is the one you meant though.

        Here is a relevant quote in part: “The U.S. EMP Commission tested a number of cars and trucks at the L-3 facility in Colorado. Although this was the most comprehensive set of tests on vehicles that has been done, those tests were very poorly done because the Commission was financially responsible for the vehicles, but did not have the funding to pay for any of the vehicles they tested. The vehicles were borrowed from other government agencies (most vehicles came from the Department of Defense); and the vehicles had to be returned to those lending agencies in good condition.

        Those vehicles were tested up to the level that some sort of upset occurred, then further testing was stopped on that vehicle. In most cases, after the initial upset occurred, the vehicle could be restarted. In most of the remaining cases where the vehicle could not be immediately restarted, a latch-up had occurred in the electronics, and the battery could be momentarily disconnected to “re-boot” the electronics, and the vehicle could then be restarted. This temporary electronic latch-up failure mode caused by EMP is something that almost never occurs in automobiles during a typical lifetime of operation.

        Only one of the vehicles tested (a pickup) could not be restarted after some minor work, and it had to be towed to the shop for repairs.

        Very few of the vehicles were tested up to the maximum level of the EMP simulator”

        This is definitely something to keep in mind for everyone here. If your vehicle does seize up post EMP, it may not be permanently disabled even if it appears to be. Disconnect the battery leads to do a system reset, and you might have operation back. If this fails on your car, check the car next to you, because in all liklihood, you will be standing in a sea of abandoned vehicles, and it is quite possible one will work, and most people will likely have simply walked away from their “now useless” cars and left the keys in disgust.

  6. Great article, very thought provoking. I have to go 32 miles, through some of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago to get home. Gray man counts heavily, plus the time of day you are traveling. I have at least 3 ways to get home, from Chicago. Being a older individual and out of shape, I think it will take me 2/3 days. My bag is in the van, with food, shelter, water, & fire making stuff. Carrying a woobie & poncho for bedding.

  7. What would you recommend for reliable comms in this situation? Any help on guiding me towards a quality two way would be helpful. The market is flooded with options, but which ones are best. Your opinion is appreciated. Thank you.

      • Im hlad I could help throw a topic idea your way guys, i dont know if my email is the one that sparkex your intrest but im gonna assume so and im proud of that. Haha, anyways my father in law and I have those radios your talking about, but i have no idea how to really use them, and i cant find any classes in my local area, so should i try to look up tutorial videos on youtube for these, and just wanted to say thanks for putting this topic up on your site. It was a great article.

      • I will be picking up two of these on Amazon as well as the 2M J-Pole/SlimJim Antenna from Ebay for them. Have you guys tried those out? I have seen a few videos and they appear to have great reviews.

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