There are a lot of rescue personal who vow by the theory of staying put if you are lost but those rules apply to people who are hurt or lost, have no idea where they are and with a car or some object which is so large that it is visible by air. But if you are well and can determine direction you may indeed be better walking out. That debate is something you need to weigh on a case by case basis. Is it just you alone? Are there members of the group who are too sick, young or old to make it out? One thing for sure is if no one knows to be looking for you it does no good to stay in one place. Movement is life.
For the purposes of this blog “72 Hour Bag,” the whole point is to get home, so forward motion is key. Keep moving, get home, period. End of discussion. If a large scale earthquake hits, first course of action will be to get to your car utilizing your EDC (Everyday Carry Bag). If you work in the film industry crew parking can be several miles from location so it’s good to be prepared with a bottle of water and something from craft service like a power bar already stashed in your EDC. On your way to your car evaluate what the condition of the roads are and take note about what is happening around you. Are there mass casualties? Is looting taking place? Are people helping one another? Does there seem to be a sense of community or are things falling apart?
Once you get to your car get your 72 Hour Bag out and take a moment to quietly and as secretly as possible evaluate the bag and the condition of your car. Think about the routes home and turn on the radio to try to figure out affected areas of the event. Will you have to drive through the epicenter? If so would it be a better plan to go in the opposite direction and make a giant circle around areas where there may be trouble. If the shortest route home is directly through downtown you may want to rethink the shortest distance between two points is a straight line theory. You may be better off circumnavigating areas where civil unrest could become a hot zone. If you are able to get your car moving survey your fuel tank, is it at least 1/2 full? The roadways are going to be full of debris from the event and inevitably glass and crap from cars getting in accidents with each other. Did you buy extra cans of fix-a-flat which are in your trunk? If so get them out of your trunk and put them on the seat next to you. If you get a flat you are not going to want to open your trunk on the side of the road, a clear sign of distress making you a very large target. Have the cans of fix-a-flat next to you and ready to deploy. The less time you spend out of your car the less opportunity people will have to exploit your situation. If you get a flat make it a NASCAR pit stop, get out use the fix-a-flat and get moving again. Do not take the time to change the tire, keep that as the last resort. The only way you’ll ever be able to do this of course is if you have practiced this skill well ahead of time. Know how fix-a-flat works and try it out on an old tire.
Do not speed, traffic lights will probably be down and going through intersections will be something you will have to do with extreme caution, don’t get lazy about it and do not think that the rules of the road will apply any more. People will be freaking out and they will think their lives are the only ones which are important. Do not get on the freeway, grid lock is inevitable and unless it’s a roadway like on the East Coast where there is woods on the side and if you have a four wheel drive vehicle you won’t have a way out of the black top prison.
After you have exhausted all forward motion the car will provide because you’ve either run out of gas or it has become incapacitated it will be time to hoof it. This is when you need to move with purpose and caution. Do not become a target, be aware of your surroundings. Become the gray man, meaning blend in as best you can and do not attract attention to yourself. There’s a great article at ITS on what a Gray Man is. Unfortunately walking with a backpack on your back during a disaster puts you at a disadvantage, that’s why getting home within the first 72 hours is of utmost importance because it will be before most people have exhausted their resources and begin to become desperate.
If you are confronted you have to make a judgement very quickly as to whether you will confront the person or try to evade the person. If you must confront the person become the Alpha as quickly as possible and show no restraint, most likely there isn’t going to be the cavalry to come and save the day. You will be on your own. If you are threatened and fear for your life, then it is just that and know you must either surrender the possessions you have or possibly worse or fight. The only thing you have in your advantage is striking first. Most attackers want to control the situation and if you strike first it should come out of no where and focus towards their most vulnerable parts. Remember they have only two arms and can only defend a limited amount of their body. Look for an unguarded area. There are eyes, ears, throat, testicles. Look for the targets and strike quickly. Fight dirty, there are no rules in this situation – no fair shots, throw sand in their eyes, use your keys in between your knuckles, throw something in their face and kick them in the groin. Be as savage as you can – summon no fear. When your blow lands, do not stop until they are incapacitated – then move quickly and get out of the area. If you have pulled the trigger don’t look back – trust your gut that you made the correct choice and did what you had to do.
Most likely within the first 72 hours there is a sense of community so if someone is trying to take your possessions then most likely they aren’t an upstanding citizen to begin with. For the most part however that first 72 hours will be a window in which you will be able to move and will hopefully be able to avoid notoriously troubled areas, you need to have a road map with you and plan your route to do this. Sometimes taking a longer route will make all the difference and it may save your life. After the 72 hours all bets are off. By this time though there may be Red Cross shelters set up and hopping from one to the other on your journey home could help, but do not stay put. Keep moving. Knowing where Police station and Fire Stations are is a good plan to make as waypoints on your way home. When you get to one tell them what direction you are trying to go and ask what the next station is along that route, they are usually a mile or two apart and this will provide you with safety along the route. They may not have resources to take you in and give you shelter and indeed they may be swamped, but you are less likely to be messed with at one of these facilities. Hopping from one to the other will at least give you a goal. You aren’t traveling the whole 30 miles, just from one station to the next. It’s like in Ultra Marathons, we don’t think of the whole distance, just get to the next aid station, you’re only running 3 miles at a time. That’s it but keep moving forward.