How Will YOU Get the Family Together When the SHTF?, by T.W.

If you’re like most of us, your family is very often spread out over a fair-sized area during the course of the day. It’s not unusual for my immediate family of four to be spread out over an area spanning around 30 linear miles. I travel about 15 miles in one direction to work, with my wife traveling about 15 miles in the opposite direction. The kids are usually somewhere between my wife and me. This is by design on my part, although as my son gets older I am relying on him more and more as part of my plan to gather the family together in a SHTF scenario.

You’ve carefully stockpiled food, water, filtration ability, medicine, first aid supplies, batteries, weapons, and ammo. What good is any of that if your family is scattered and irretrievable when the SHTF?

My family and I lead busy lives. We’re at work, school, and sports events; the kids are with friends, out on dates, and you name it. I try to always know where they all are, as close as I can. I’m not obsessive, but I do keep track of everyone, as does my wife. Using today’s technology, we have installed app’s on all our phones that allows us to track each other in real time using the GPS on our phones. I know this sounds intrusive, but we have discussed this among ourselves. We all feel it’s good to know where we are in relation to each other, and we decided that the benefits of that far outweigh any potential privacy issues. Besides, from a Christian viewpoint, I am the head of my house, and knowing my children’s whereabouts IS my business. Thank God my kids are good Christian kids and agree with Dad on that point.

We have decided that, in these uncertain times, we want to be able to regroup our family unit as rapidly as possible if there is a situation that calls for us to bug out or otherwise bunker down. Much has been written regarding “bug out bags” and the like, so I won’t go into that here, other than to say that each of us has our own supplies that we keep with us at all times in a daypack. It’s not that hard to do, and it is upgraded on the fly to reflect the distance we’ll be away from home. Distance equals days in a situation where you may have to travel on foot to meet up with family, so you need to be prepared.

We live in the suburbs of a medium-sized city in the South. This city is intersected by three major interstate highways and numerous smaller state highways, and the road systems are laid out very well for a city of this size and age. Railways are still intact, as this town has been a major rail hub since before the Civil War. Many of them hadn’t seen regular use in many years, but recent expansions to our local industries have seen a resurgence of rail traffic, so the railroad routes are much better maintained than in years past. Vehicular traffic is pretty heavy in the mornings and afternoon rush times, but surprisingly low otherwise. There is plenty of vegetation along most of the roadways in this area (as in most of the South) that could be used as cover for traveling with a lower degree of detection from anyone stranded on the roads themselves.

Each member of my family has been told what to do if there’s ever a situation calling for us to get home ASAP. Home is the starting point, and the final rally point in our plan. Getting everyone there is priority number 1 during any emergency situation. Any potential bug out from there can only happen when the family unit is safe and ready.

If the vehicles are running, it’s as easy as one of us (depending on who’s working and who’s not) going for the one that isn’t able to drive, and everyone meet at home. If the vehicles are knocked out, as in a CME/EMP type event, well, that’s where it gets interesting, and this plan really goes into motion. “Motion” being the operative word. This plan calls for lots and lots of motion, as in moving and walking.

During working and school times, each of us are pretty much in the same location, and it’s pretty easy to know where everyone is. We all have with us at all times, highway/road maps with routes leading to home highlighted, from work/school, as well as some common locations such as friends houses. Each family member keeps this in their go bag. The maps themselves are pretty standard, downloaded from the Internet. However, they have been customized a great deal.

In the event of a major EMP-like event, my hope is that we are all together at home, or that at least some of us are there. If not, I have instructed my wife and our youngest, who is not yet 15, to stay put if a situation arises where the vehicles are knocked out. My son and/or I will come get them. However, the best laid plans of men can and will change, of course, so they might be forced to move before being rescued. Each route has predetermined rally points along it that I have instructed the wife and my youngest child to expect to see me or my son during travel.

As far the routes themselves, we have scouted them very well. The roads and highways are ones that we travel often– some of them daily, on our way to work and school. However, it is an ongoing process, as things are always changing due to construction, deforestation, even the changing seasons. Very often, when we go out, we discuss the roads, terrain features, buildings, traffic flow, and where the most likely choke points would be, if people were stranded. We discuss not only the roads but how and where to walk on each portion of the route towards our destinations. The maps are hand annotated with specific instructions in this regard. There are specific color codes drawn onto the maps, detailing which side of the road we should walk on, depending on the terrain and other features determined from previous scouting forays. I have decided that it will be best to avoid walking directly on the paved roads much of the time to avoid contact with other people. During this period, there will be chaos, confusion, and panic on the part of many. The last thing I want is to be attacked along the way, especially if my wife or children are traveling. Like I said, it may become necessary for one or more of us to travel alone, if things get sideways. I have implemented the plan to travel parallel to the roads and highways, instead of directly upon them as much as possible, taking advantage of terrain features, power lines, gas pipeline right of ways, and wooded areas as much as possible. Walking on a predetermined side of the highways and roads will give an added advantage; it will be much easier to find someone who is walking on the same side of the road as you are. Imagine if I walked past my son on the same stretch of highway, just because we randomly chose which side to walk on? Something seemingly as simple as that could spell disaster.

There are several rally points on the map as well. How many rally points along each route is determined by the distances involved as well as the lay of the land. One route has a fair-sized mountain, and it will be necessary to leave the roadside for a distance of a couple hundred yards to climb the mountain. There is a significant section of road that has a sheer drop on one side, narrowing down to granite walls on both sides at the top. So this particular section has a rally point on both sides, as well as the top. This section will take a bit of time, but there are well-established jeep/ATV trails that parallel the highway that we are very familiar with, so losing our bearings really isn’t that much of an issue.

We also discuss places along the way to avoid, such as bridge underpasses, and any buildings that are close to the road. There will definitely be times when it is impossible to avoid walking on the roadways themselves, such as crossing a bridge over a body of water, but these choke points will have to be scouted carefully before attempting to cross them. Underpasses especially can be hazardous, as they are a natural form of shelter from the sun and rain, and will likely be a gathering place for those unable or unwilling to walk. Avoid them if at all possible, and if you must get close or walk through them, use extreme caution.

If you have to cross a bridge or go through an underpass, take the most direct route; do not hesitate, and keep to available cover. If alone, walk steadily, keep your head on a swivel, scanning everything closer than a hundred meters. If traveling with a partner, one moves, the other is stopped, looking for threats. Leapfrog through the obstacle like that, using simple hand gestures to communicate. Voices are distracting and can easily be mistaken. Hand gestures are perfect for this particular situation; just don’t get too complicated.

Of great importance, especially concerning the other members of my family, is personal security during foot travel. My wife is a wonderful woman– a lovely, petite thing who has absolutely zero skills in anything resembling self defense. Our youngest is very much the same, albeit a very good high school athlete. My soon-to-be-18-years-old son is a very athletic kid, a crack shot, and has an advanced black belt in Taekwondo. As he gets older, I am teaching him more skills pertaining to actual hand to hand combat, which brings me to myself. For OPSEC purposes, I’ll not give details except to say that as a younger man I received advanced training in the military and had numerous opportunity to exercise those skills. I keep myself in shape, shoot often, and as any man who’s ever had training and experience in certain areas of training will tell you, you may get older, but the training never leaves you. It’s as fresh in my mind as it was over 30 years ago. I was watching a shooting competition on TV the other day, and a young guy popped off a group of shots, and challenged a fairly older shooter to do better. The older guy popped his pistol out, knocked all the targets down, and beat the younger guy’s time by nearly two seconds. The younger guy had a priceless look on his face. The older guy quipped, “Don’t mess with an old guy. We’ll just kill you.”

As for myself, I wouldn’t be afraid to grab my gear and set out along our route to go get my wife and child. I have my go bag setup for several days’ travel, and I keep my personal weapons stashed as well. My hope is that the sight of an ominous looking guy with a purposeful walk, dressed in full camo, carrying an AR10 (7.62/.308 of course), sidearm, knife, and tomahawk strapped to my back will be deterrent enough. My son, however, is not yet 18, so I am as yet unable to equip him with a weapon other than some hand weapons, which he is adept at using. Taekwondo training does include weapons training once you reach a certain level. As soon as he is legally able to be in possession, I plan to equip him as well as I legally can in our state, so he can also have his security situation augmented. If we have to travel to go get a family member, another concern is how to respond to nearly inevitable contact with others during the journey. I am a Christian, but I am also a realist, and I know that there simply is no way I can stop to help everyone I meet along the way. Given the sheer numbers of people that will be stranded along the roads and highways in the event that vehicles are knocked out, we plan to avoid contact with anyone we don’t know. This definitely presents a dilemma for us as Christians. I don’t know if I can just stand by and watch people in trouble, be it accidents or being attacked by opportunistic thugs. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when it looms ahead. I was taught in the military that the mission comes first. I understand that thought process, and if the mission is getting to my wife and/or child, I guess my thinking will lead me to just haul maximum tail away from whatever situation I come across, but it is definitely something to think about so as not to be blindsided when a situation pops up along the way. Above all, talk about this with your family. Not doing so will cause hesitation during an event, and any hesitation to act or avoid action can prove fatal. Trust me on that one.

Above all else, discuss your plans. Explain your concerns to your family. Show them the news. Let them know why you feel the way you do and why you see certain things as threats. A good resource is the NASA website, as they seem to have information regarding solar storms pretty often, which also shows these things aren’t fluke events– they happen all the time and will hit the earth again. A little history on the Carrington Event, Tunguska, and what might happen during an EMP resulting from a nuclear explosion. My kids are older teens, and they still are surprised when I tell them of such things. Of course, they didn’t grow up like I did, doing “duck and cover drills” in school in case the Soviets shot nuclear missiles at us, and they certainly won’t grow into adulthood learning the nuances of Soviet military tactics, like I did.

No, this brave new world is much more dangerous than the world I grew up in.

Bugging out with the family might become necessary (or bugging IN, if you’re so inclined) but in order to do either, you first must have the family together. In today’s world, that’s very likely going to involve putting your boots on the road to go get them. I hope I’ve given you some ideas. My plans are certainly not perfect, and we are always looking for ways to improve. Above all else, make a plan to reunite your loved ones if you ever need to. Failure to plan is planning to fail.