Get Me Home Gear for Commuters, by Jeff J.

Lately, I have been preparing my work location and my commuting routes for the unthinkable “If the SHTF.” I figure that unless I am at home sleeping or on my weekend off of work, there is a great chance that I may be at work and or commuting when the Schumer goes down. This being said, I believe those of us who work away from home should be prepared for a possible workplace G.O.O.D. scenario or trying to get home to our families to G.O.O.D. with them.

I have a bit of a head start or advantage over many of the other commuting working types. I am a detective in a local city police department. This being said, I am able to carry firearms where others may not. I also understand that many others may not have such an easy time preparing or taking their firearms with them to work, depending on your state and local laws.

I would urge you to research ways that you may be able to carry a firearm legally during your commute. Besides, if the SHTF, you will need it and those laws may no longer apply. (Please don’t be the idiot though that decides to use a firearm when he has a tough ride home and someone cuts him off. If that’s you, then don’t carry, you are already too dangerous).

A second advantage I have is being a swing shift detective. This allows me travel to and from work going the opposite direction of the rush hour traffic. This also may aide in my possible hike during night time hours (more on this later).

One thing I have done is carefully choosing my commuting vehicle. I drive my 4×4 Toyota Tacoma to work. Being a V6 it has reasonable gas mileage and still allows me the necessary off road capability if I become stranded in grid lock traffic trying to get home to my family as the world goes crazy. It may not be the most fuel efficient vehicle, such as a small sedan or hybrid, but it is definitely more solid and built for getting me out of trouble.

My truck is also under construction as my bug out vehicle (BOV).  I am slowly turning it into a self sufficient expedition rig. This may not be necessary for a commuting vehicle but with a limited income it needs to serve many different purposes.

Inside my truck I always carry a “Get Home Bag.” Similar to a BOB, but this bag is used for exactly what is says, getting me home to my family. Many of the contents in this bag are similar, if not equal, to a regular BOB. There are some items added that make this bag more sufficient for urban survival. I have noticed that this bag is even lighter and smaller than my regular BOB and contains less since my target is home and not the unknown flight from the city and suburbs or the Golden Horde. I always have this bag inside my truck and it is only taken out to refresh items or add to the kit. I got the idea for my bag from Youtube.

Another important point concerning my vehicle. I try to keep it in the best running condition I can. Sometimes money is tight and I have to push the oil change back a week, but I do my best. It would sure suck to worry about mechanical problems while I am stressed out trying to get home to family while society is falling apart.

I am required to park my vehicle in a designated city parking garage in downtown. I have not completely decided if this is a good or bad thing. I have some ideas that this garage may benefit me but also worry it may hinder me. The parking garage is three blocks from my office building.

This parking garage is made of large interlocking cement pieces. It is kinda built like a large 3D puzzle. The ramps for the garage run up and down through the center of the building, kind of like a twisting staircase. The main floors have parking spots that surround the ramps. In addition to these parking spots, there is additional parking on the ramps themselves. I have decided to park my vehicle along the ramp where there is more cement surface between my vehicle and the outside. Parking on the ramp may also help me get out quicker if there is any structural damage to the building. Parking there may also keep my vehicle safer from looters or those rioting in the streets.

One reason I believe the garage may hinder my flight from the city is the building may be damaged or destroyed by natural disaster (earthquakes or similar) and the possibility of my vehicle being damaged inside. If the structure of the building is damaged, I may not be able to extricate my vehicle from the garage.

Inside the building I work at, I have my own desk in a cubicle. I have taken the time to make sure that even there I am as prepared as I can be. I still need to add things to my work space but already have a plan of action.

When I was in the Marine Corps, I received an award. This award was a Ka-Bar knife boxed in a frame. I keep this award at my desk for more than just show. It the SHTF, the first thing I am doing is opening that box and putting the knife on my belt. It is as if it is hidden in plain sight at my desk.

I also keep a drawer with snacks and small food items. Sometimes I forget my lunch or just need a quick snack. It would not be too hard for me to grab these snacks and place them into my backpack before I abandon my desk and head for home.

We also keep a small refrigerator in the sergeant’s office where we stock bottles of cold water. When we need water, we pay on the honor system in the can and take what we need. There are almost always several cases of extra water under the desk to keep the fridge stocked. If I needed to, I could fill my backpack with as many water bottles as I could carry. One thing I plan on adding to my desk are several military MREs.

We also have a kitchenette on our floor of the building. Inside are two refrigerators and other food supplies and condiments. Many employees will bring their lunches for the week and leave them in the fridge. In all the time I have been here the refrigerators have never been empty (just watch for bad/old food). If I were to get stuck in the building or needed extra food, I would have a fairly decent supply for several days. I am sure those of you who work in the seas of cubicles have similar kitchenettes as well.

Currently, I do not have this at my desk but I have pondered keeping an extra BOB at my desk underneath and out of sight along with a pair of boots.

If I needed to, I could also scavenge the desks of those who are not at work for any items or gear that may be left there. I don’t advocate stealing in any way but, if things go down and you are in need, they may save your life. If you do this be prepared to return the items or replace them.

Many office type employees carry briefcases and shoulder bags. They are great for what they were designed for and many are just for looks or show, part of the daily ensemble. Well they aren’t for me. I carry a moderate looking nylon backpack. It is nothing special and is actually designed to carry my laptop if needed. I get some weird looks and even a few comments about “heading to school” or “going on a hike.” But for me it is another piece of  gear.

My backpack doesn’t look like a military style BOB, therefore hides its real purpose. It looks more like a students day pack. Aside from carrying my daily work gear, I also carry an EDC kit housed in an Otter Box. Attached to the box is a paracord lanyard to provide necessary cordage if needed. Inside the box I carry a small supply of personal first aid, coins, foldable N95 mask, zip ties, powder sports drink, mini lighter, safety pins, light stick, super glue, a pen, marker, can opener, and several other items. This box stays inside my pack and always travels with me to and from work. I also carry a small flash drive that has copies of my important personal documents (guarded by a password of course). Also kept in the back pack are my asthma meds/inhaler, several flashlights, folding knife, and a multi-tool.

If I were to need to get home from work and my vehicle was not working or could not be extricated from the garage, I would consolidate my EDC and other items from the office into my “Get Home Bag” and head for home on foot. I keep a pair of boots in the truck as I know a long hike in business style shoes would really suck.

At work I have been provided with a city vehicle. This is parked in the garage next to the spot where I park my vehicle. After leaving the vehicle, I drive the city vehicle to the office building. Inside my city vehicle are several items for emergency purposes. Some of the items that I could take are, road flares, fire extinguisher, Hazmat kit with bunny suite and gas mask, and my raid vest.

My raid vest is marked with my name, department patches, and police identifiers. These may cause more of a problem than good if I were wearing this in public during a mass exodus or other societal dilemma. When the vest was made the outer carrier was sewn with Velcro so that the patches could be removed quickly. Aside from the obvious ballistic abilities, the vest also carries my spare pistol magazines, a taser, handcuffs, and a hidden holster for my alternate carry.

I also carry another piece of gear that is important for my personal safety and for use at work. I carry a personal Remington 870P police shotgun. This shotgun is the standard shotgun issued to department personnel. Mine is personally owned and carried with department permission. As with any good police style/defense style shotgun, it is outfitted with the necessary gear and ammunition.

Since the shotgun is mine, I carry it to and from work with me in my vehicle. When I am at work, I transition it to my city vehicle to be used while at work. What a great piece of BOB gear, a 12 gauge shotgun. I can sling it and hike home knowing I have a great detractor with me. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people give up after just seeing a shotgun arrive on a crime scene. Even better when the shotgun is loaded and that distinct sound being “racked” is heard. As an old partner of mine used to say, “It’s a crowd pleaser.”

Because of traffic issues, I have two separate routes I take to and from work. My route to work is longer, 30 miles, while my route home is significantly shorter at 23 miles. This occurs because the shorter route is generally backed up with traffic on my way to work. Coming home in the early morning is cake because there are generally few cars on the road.

Because of the two routes, I have had to plan several alternate routes back to my house in case I need to return to the safety of my family. I urge everyone to try taking different routes to work to see how they work for you. Having these auxiliary routes may save your life and keep you and your vehicle from being gridlocked somewhere.

I would also mention that additional auxiliary routes may be needed for your trip home. Just because you are taking the same routes coming to work does not mean they will work in the opposite direction. You may just find a better and quicker way to commute to work. There are a lot of farm and fields in my area. If you are driving a 4×4, you may have access to areas that can get you home faster than taking public roadways. Know the unpaved roads or jeep trails in your area.

If your vehicle is inoperable or stuck in traffic, and you must get out of town, you may find yourself having to head out on foot. I work swing shift and, therefore, would probably be heading for home during the evening and night time hours. I would suggest if you were found in this situation to try and wait until night time to hike. You may not be able to see as well at night but there tends to be fewer people out. Hopefully, if we were under a TEOTWAWKI scenario, the others trying to head home on foot would settle down at night.

I would urge you to travel with someone else, if possible. Find out which of your co-workers live near you and make plans with them to travel together. There is always safety in numbers. I have a squad mate who lives in the general area as I do. She lives about 5 miles away from me. The two of us could drive or hike together to get to our homes. Don’t just choose anyone who lives near you. Get to know them and make sure you can count on them to watch your back. Make sure they have the same goals in getting home and staying together as team. It may be hard to find them but look for someone who has similar or equal tactical perspective or at least like minded.

Lastly, make a plan and stick to it. If you have a predetermined plan and know what you are going to do you, will know what to do when you need to head out. Try running scenarios through your head or role play. When your mind has already thought about these things and the ways to survive, you will find it is easier to do them. I have always been taught to know what I am going to do before I have to do it, almost like muscle memory. Do your best to be prepared and keep you and your families safe. God bless.

JWR Replies: For further discussion of Bug Out Bags and Bug In Bags, see the recently-posted piece by Claire Wolfe in Backwoods Home magazine.