Monday, October 19, 2009

Off-Site Survival Strategy

When I served on a volunteer fire department in Wisconsin, we had a strategy to protect the department's assets (fire and ambulance equipment) when the occasional tornado would threaten to hit our town. The tactic was to position the fire trucks and ambulances in several different locations, so they were not all clustered in one place where they could all be wiped out at once.

This concept has application for survival preparation. If everything is in one place, it can all be destroyed in one fell swoop. But if you have an "off-site" location you can move to in the event your primary residence is threatened, life can go on almost as normal.

Some folks have an RV, which is a good strategy because it is mobile. Others have a second home or a condo someplace distant. If you keep those secondary locations fully stocked with food and clothing and other daily-use supplies, evacuation from your residence is much less traumatic. The only problem is getting to your off-site location without getting strangled in evacuation traffic. To avoid the gridlock, evacuate early. Of course, early evacuation assumes that you have advance notice that a crisis is about to hit. We don't always have early warning — sometimes our world just suddenly erupts into chaos. All you can do is prepare a place to evacuate to, and then do your best to get there when the time comes.

How you arrange your off-site location depends somewhat on where you live. For example, our secondary living space is a sailboat. That wouldn't be the best choice if we lived in Baker, CA. Near the ocean, where we live, one possible disaster is a tsunami … in which case we would stay in our home because it is built on ground that is high enough to survive. But if the forest that surrounds our area goes up in flames and takes our house with it, we'll head for the boat. For us, a boat is a good choice because it is mobile, yet it is not subject to the gridlock of traffic that land-based evacuees might face.

Not everyone can afford a second home, an RV or a livable boat. For those folks, the best bet is to make reciprocal arrangements with a friend or relative who lives close enough to serve as a logical evacuation site, yet far enough away to avoid being struck by the same disaster that is forcing you to flee your own home. With this type of arrangement, formulate a plan to either store some of your emergency supplies at the off-site location, or be sure you can grab your 72-hour kit and take it with you.

Failing to have a pre-planned evacuation site, you might end up living a refugee lifestyle in a gathering place set up by relief agencies. To make life more bearable in that situation, take a well-prepared 72-hour kit with you.

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