The Plan “B” Map, by T.L.F.

To everyone who reads this article, I want you to ask yourself one question: “If a major catastrophe happened tomorrow, would I be ready?” In all honesty, my answer would be no.

For me, this is a very scary scenario. I do my best to budget, plan and  continue to stock my supply closet with food and water, but we all know in our current economic state,  it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the funds to build up supplies for “The End of the World as We Know It”.

I know there are many people out there who are like me. People who do their best to stock up on supplies so their families will be prepared in case of emergency. There are a lot of people who are well on their way to having everything they need to survive, but are definitely not there yet.

What can we do to remedy this? Personally, I don’t want to go into debt so that I can have a fully stocked supply closet so I have put a lot of thought into this very situation. What would I do if things went bad tomorrow? How long could I last on what I have? What would I do if I started to run out before things got better? These are some of the questions I have spent countless hours thinking about.

Many people think that if a major catastrophe happened that they could just take a trip down to the local grocery store and stock up on everything that they would need for the next few months.  This is not only a very unlikely scenario but a dangerous one, as well. Here is an example: A few years ago, during the winter, the city I live in was hit with a huge snow storm.  Almost three feet of snow fell in 24 hours. The city was crippled. Most of the roads were virtually impassable, hundreds of homes were without power and, according to the news, it was only going to get worse. Within a few hours the store shelves were empty. My car was stuck in the parking spot so I had to walk to the grocery store near where I lived. When I got there, I was amazed at the sight of a bare shelved store. What surprised me even more was that it had only been a few hours since the storm hit and everyone was trying to stock up for the next few days of bad weather. I nitpicked through the store trying to find your average grocery list items, but was unable to.

The next morning, when I was watching the news, there were stories being reported of the police being called to local grocery stores because people were fighting and hurting each other so they could get the last gallon of milk. It took about a 1-½ weeks for the grocery stores to recover and get new shipments to stock their shelves. City Officials asked the local food banks to open their doors to the general public because many families were out of food.

In a Colorado town, where people should be accustomed to large snow storms, a mild case of pandemonium broke out over three feet of snow. People literally were fighting in the grocery store over milk and bread. Imagine the chaos that would take place if something of substance were to actually happen? This experience cemented in my mind how dangerous things will become when people are desperate to feed their families.
I will share with you what I did to remedy the potential supply shortfall that many of us could face if major catastrophe happened before we were fully stocked up on supplies. I call it the “Plan B Map.”           

Start out by visiting your local Wal-Mart or similar type store, and find a road atlas for your state. Within this atlas you will find some fairly detailed maps of your neighborhood. For now, mark those pages and set the atlas aside. Next, when you have a few hours, grab a notepad and pencil and take a drive through your neighborhood. Go around and make a list of every single business, store and shop within a 2-mile radius of your home. In addition, take note of every source of water; ponds, rivers, streams, swimming pools, water towers, water wells, etc. Once you have finished this task, head back home and make index cards for every location you have on your list.

Now comes the hard part. Go through these index cards and think about each and every business. You will need to decide if there is the possibility of any type of useful item that might be kept or used by that particular business.

Here are a few examples:

  • Dental offices often have bottled water available for their patients. I have 5 dental offices within the 2-mile radius of my home.
  • Health Clubs are another source for useful items. I have a gym about four blocks from my house that has two industrial refrigerators full of energy drinks, bottled water and protein snacks that are available to buy.
  • Sporting Goods stores often shelf different foods and beverages geared toward the outdoorsman. I have a bicycle shop three blocks from my home that have shelves and shelves of energy bars, protein bars and energy drinks.

Also within the 2-mile radius of my house, I have nine ponds, three swimming pools and two streams.  You will be surprised how many resources you will find in unsuspecting places, and we are not just talking about food and water. For instance, any doctor’s office will have very useful medical equipment, your local hobby shop will have needles and thread, string, twine and craft wood that can be used for fires. There is an endless list of the items you can find right around the corner.            

Now combine your maps and your index cards, marking on your maps all the locations with a number. That number will correspond to a number on an index card. That index card will have listed the items at that particular location that would be useful. You will want to plan to and from routes to all of these locations. Include in these routes places to stop or hide and alternate routes in case you see something on the way that you don’t want to pass on your way back.  Create a list of importance and which locations have the most important items.

The next time you take your dog for a walk or go out for a stroll, try mapping out the routes that you have made. This will give you the opportunity to adjust your routes if needed to avoid certain things. Keep you map and index cards updated to new businesses, or businesses that have changed locations or closed down. You may need to update your list as your importance and immediate needs will change. As you continue to work on your personal stock of supplies, the things that were important may become less important because you had the opportunity to stock up on that item. Pay extra attention to the sources of water that you find. These may be sources for more than just water. Are there fish in the streams or ponds? Do you see ducks and geese in these areas frequently? Think of all the different ways you can take advantage of these water sources because they can be food sources as well.

In addition to making the map, you also need to have a way of transporting the items you go after. You cannot rely on the idea of having a vehicle to drive. So this means you will have to come up with an alternate way of getting to your locations and a way to bring supplies back. In my case, a bicycle is the most practical means of transportation for me. Not only is it faster than walking, I also have the ability to attach duffle bags or backpacks to the frame and rack.

So now you are done with your “Plan B Map”, and you have figured out a form of transportation other then your car that fits your situation and surroundings, keep up with your map and your index cards. Don’t feel like you have to throw your map and cards away if you have reached your goal of the amount of food, water and supplies you wanted to stock up on. Even if you are fully stocked you never know what situations you may be faced with in the coming years. Your map and index cards could be an invaluable asset no matter what you level of preparation is today.  If you are diligent with this project you will provide yourself with a safer way to scavenge for supplies if faced with the need to.

While everyone else is fighting it out at the gas stations and grocery stores for the last couple cans of food, you can be safely making trips to and from the locations marked on your map.