Like many of you reading this, I have been in the preparedness community for more than a decade. We have seen the videos, read the blogs, read and listened to books, and thought about the what-ifs and I would-bes…. Seemingly endless “when it goes down imma gonna get my kit and my body armor and my weebo disk made by Acme company” or “in the first hours imma gonna go here and do this and that”. The first person tends to be me, myself and I. To be honest, no you are not. Hard stop! You may have loved ones walking in circles or second-guessing how to move forward and that leaves you trying to figure out where everyone is.
Give me a moment to set the stage:
It is early January shortly after lunch, generally an average day for your climate. I reside in the south where everything is closed at the mention of snow. Others may be in Canada or near the equator, or in New Zealand where it is summer. Let’s play out the classic EMP or CME storyline. The lights pulse and go out. Normies check their phones and the usual normie activities of “my phone is dead”. People look out the window and cars have ground to a halt. (I know the scale and scope of what would happen to vehicles from an EMP is a hotly contested topic, but bear with me.) The family lives outside suburbia and dad commutes 30 miles to the city to the west, Mom works in the next town 12 miles east of home. The baby is at daycare 2 miles from mom’s work. The next youngest is in elementary school 2 miles north of the house and the next child is in middle school 8 miles south and the oldest is 12 miles north a freshman at a charter school. If it helps grab a pencil and paper to draw it out. This is an illustration so feel free to also draw a map of your average circumstances.
So, to recap it is a weekday in early January shortly after noon and suddenly we are set back to a three-mile-per-hour world. The family of six is scattered in every compass direction living a normie life. Stop here and ask yourselves “who is going to do what?” We all know from fiction dad goes to the car and gets his kit and saves the day. The reality is it is five hours until nightfall or less (in the northern hemisphere) and you have loved ones in concrete buildings with no heat, electricity, limited resources, peers with unknown issues, no communications or transportation. So is dad going to cover seventy miles on foot to collect every family member in five hours? What if a family member takes the initiative to start home? What if the Junior High child goes home with a peer, nearby the school? So many what-ifs and moving parts. Make a plan.
This is what I taught my children. I am not saying this is the standard for everyone, it is an example to build off of. As we carpooled to and from school I had the kids remember the route and tell me when and where to turn. We rode bikes on the weekend with our elementary school child to and from the school so he knew the route from the sidewalk perspective. Now for the fun part, a three-question decision tree…
- Power out? No (everything is good) YES find more out
- Telephones out? No (stay put and call) YES leave no doubt
- Cars stop running? No (stay put) YES TO ALL THREE
Time To Go!
Step 1. Fill water bottle
Step 2. Wear weather-appropriate clothes
Step 3. Write a note and put in dead laptop on desk: “Going home, Junior”
Step 4. Abandon everything but the water bottle and leave now through the nearest exit. Do not ask permission. Do not try to get friends to join you, just go, NOW. Did I mention NOW? I know they are somewhere safe but remember the social climate is going to deteriorate come sundown. I have a saying, when normies are walking in circles the prepared walk in a straight line. Some members of the family have a four-hour walk home. If family members start at 2:00pm that leaves three hours of daylight to close the distance and an hour of dusk into night.
Now each member can forge on alone but if some family members have similar paths that cross by all means have them join up. At one time we had a middle schooler in the path of the elementary school so it made sense to have one pick up the other. When they both were in middle school they had an off-campus meeting spot. Knowing that the administration would “lock down” the campus, one sibling would face many obstacles to find the other in the building. It is better to exit separately and then meet up at an arranged spot.
Yes, I am thirty miles from home during the work week but I can be home within five hours on a bike I have hung up at work. If I didn’t have the option to keep it at work a basic folder would be in my car. Again time is of the essence and I need to be through the dense part of the city before the normies start to wake up. In all honesty, my wife is a stay-at-home wife but that does not mean she is at home every hour of every day. She, like every other mom, could be an hour’s drive anywhere at most anytime. To say she can go here and pick up the child closest to home may not be logistically possible.
Why am I suggesting that they go home without hesitation? The simple answer is that is where the warmth, food, protection, and water is. The second reason is it is inconceivable for a parent to go to place A and then walk with a child to place B and continue with two children to place C then walk home with a child that has walked three days another two days and another that has walked a day. I mapped it and it was fifty miles or three days of walking is a decaying social climate with children. The third reason is to get home before society starts to compromise morals.
Today I have two teens in a charter school twelve miles from home in the country. The other is a graduate and the oldest is married and away. So I posed the date and time and the three question decision tree to the safety lead at the charter school last year and got a blank stare. Then asked what is your plan? The response: “We don’t have a plan for that”. My response was would you want an outline of a plan? My suggestion to him was: Have the entire school fill water bottles or take from the lunch area then meet on the athletic field. The director points to one side of the field and says if you live in that direction meet there and continue the process in all the general compass headings. Then they depart together with faculty and students in their cohorts with people peeling off into cross streets and neighborhoods as they pass.
A tame movie that I recommend watching with the family is available on YouTube titled Survival Family. I recommend someone preview it, since it is a subtitled Japanese movie. Watch for transitions from normalcy to crisis to rejection to acceptance and ultimately overcoming. It needs undivided attention to absorb the lessons played out. Being on YouTube one can pause and discuss the action and consequence.
Now for the “why don’t you?” …. Of the action plan. Why not have scooters or skateboards in the school lockers? The school doesn’t have lockers and some students go off campus for classes. How about bikes at a trusted friend or storage nearby? This will add complexity to a stressful set of circumstances and with a trusted friend could add delay or mission creep. A storage locker? I did the math and the juice of an unlikely one-off wouldn’t equal the squeeze in money and time. There is safety in numbers, right? Yes, but wrangling school peers with normalcy bias would take too much time and draw too much attention. Besides, normie parents will be looking for their children so best to leave bear cubs alone. Now we had a neighbor child at a charter school and planned for our child to escort their child home in this event.
In the end, you should plan on what you think is best for your circumstances, your family, and the maturity of the children. Brainstorm how stressful the first hours and days would be waiting for family to arrive or worse yet venturing out to find multiple people in every direction.
You will feel the sense of relief when it all is planned out and everyone shares the responsibility to reunite.