Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SHTF: Business travel preparedeness

It has happened.

While on a business trip in Atlanta, a news report comes across that "an event" has taken place in New York City, DC or LA. You have worried about this day for years and now it sadly has come to pass.

Whether it is nuclear war, viral outbreak, invasion (alien or earth) or meteor strike, the conditions are the same. What has happened occurred suddenly and your reaction must be equally swift.

This week I am been writing about how to do deal with situations be it with food or water. This is another segment of that same theme.

The first thing to do is get out of town. Be it Atlanta or any other large metropolitan area, the last place you want to be is in a major metropolitan area. This is one of the times you should be thankful you rented a car rather than used mass transportation or depended upon others for lifts.

- Have a rent car

Get to your car and take the fastest way out of town. Make sure you know before the event happens.

- Have a good map or know the area well. Do not depend upon the in vehicle GPS system - they may be knocked out!

Don't stop until you are well out of the suburbs. All too often we think leaving down town is enough. On the contrary, the suburbs are where all the people are and will be heading. Keep the pedal to the metal until you are well out of town.

As soon as you are safely out of town, now plan a stop. Your first stop should be in this order:
- Fuel
- Water
- Food

Hit a truck stop or convenience store first. Fill up the car. Then go inside and make purchases. A list of things to get..
- Spare gasoline can, five gallons, more than one if possible.
- Maps and road atlas, if you do not have one.
- Food
- Small pop top cans
- Dried fruit, nuts
- Ramen noodles, oatmeal, soup
- Protein bars
- Water
- Bottled water
- Some energy drinks for late night driving and times when stopping to rest is out of the question.
- Instant coffee, tea bags, cola and other regular caffeinated beverages.

Other supplies -
- Dust masks
- Rope
- Work gloves
- Duct tape
- Small bottle bleach
- Flashlight, batteries
- Matches and/or lighter
- Emergency candles
- Canned heat (i.e. Sterno)
- Disposable ponchos or tarp
- Garbage bags
- Toilet paper
- Soap
- First aid supplies or kit
- OTC medicines and vitamins

Many of these supplies can be found in a 7-11 these days. You may also carry these same supplies with you when traveling such as a couple of trash bags, a dust mask, gloves, etc.

Pray that credit cards are still taken. If not always have cash when traveling. If the ATM are still working, count your blessings and get some more cash now while it is available. For the first 24-72 hours are when cash will be accepted if at all.

Plan your route. Pick a way home which avoids as many large and medium cities as possible. Consider taking a longer way home but one which travels secondary roads and through smaller towns.

Fill up the spare gas cans, check your water and head out.

If and only now should you consider other supplies. If you have the time and inclination, pick up some basic camping supplies and spare, heavy clothing. Most likely you are dressed in a suit, slacks or sports jacket. A pair of jeans, work shoes and a couple of good shirts go a long way.

Weapons? It depends upon the situation. I know I would feel better if I had a basic shotgun or rimfire rifle in the car with me. Both can be used for protection, but more important, both can be used for food gathering. What's more, long guns can be bought in most states without a waiting period, are less expensive than handguns and the ammunition is readily available.

Get moving. Drive as long as possible towards your destination. Every mile is one closer to home. Expect delays. Listen to the radio for any updates or information. Some if not most may be incorrect or blatantly false. Read between the lines.

Should you stop for the night? It again depends upon the situation. If there is a nuclear war, I would be reluctant to drive at night. Same with urban unrest or insurrection. Curfews and not being able to see who or what is in front of you can be a real problem.

If stopping, where to stop? A motel or truck stop is safe and being around other people (except in a viral outbreak) will be a good source of information and possibly safety in numbers. Be aware of your surroundings and make sure those five guys standing around the gas pumps or motel entrance are really who they say they are and not escaped convicts looking for a ride.

If necessary, stop on the side of the road. I would avoid most rest stops, camp grounds and parks unless they still have some sort of law enforcement presence and allow visitors to leave freely.

Rest. First check your fuel levels, tires, etc. Eat, use the bathroom and drink plenty of fluids. It is better to take a couple of short two hour naps than find a hidey hole to nod off half the day. Keep an eye on your stuff and vehicle. Loss of either may spell your death.

Plan on leaving at dawn multiple routes laid out in writing on your map or atlas. Look for resupply points for fuel, food and water. If it looks dicey keep moving.

If communications are working, stay in contact with loved ones back home. Cell phones, pay phones, internet, any service which may still be up. Let them know where you are and how far you are from home.

If fuel runs out, you may have to ditch the car. Pack up everything useful in as few bags as possible, put on correct shoes, cover your head and start walking. Although you may find help, don't plan on getting AAA to tow your car or fill it up.

Stick to the road and get out of sight when other vehicles come up on you. When you come to a small town, you might seek out the help of law officers, but they most likely will consider you a vagrant or refugee. You many lose your freedom and things.

Keep an eye out constantly for water and food. As the days pass, you will find that the further the crisis goes on, the less likely you will be able to count on civilized behavior from others around you. Be prepared.

At some point, some towns and roads may be blocked or barricaded. Sometimes by authorities and other times by locals trying to protect what they have left.

Remember the television show, "Jericho"? How the mayor wanted to burn out all the refugees during the winter because the town could not support them? This may be the reception you face either driving or walking.

Keep in mind "ad hoc" supply points. These would be abandoned vehicles, trucks and trailers. As fuel runs out, drivers will leave the car or truck behind thinking they will be back in a few days with a tow truck to retrieve it.

The contents may be a truckload of groceries destined for Wal Mart or a pack of cookies left in a glove box. Consider the alternative of starving and repeat "Finders, keepers.."

Should you help others stranded and attempting to return home? It depends upon your own inner voice, resources and experience dealing with others. That woman with the baby on the side of the road may be a lure with five very strong men hiding in a ditch off the roadside waiting to relieve you of your food, water, shoes and life.

However, there is safety in numbers. If you find a suitable group of law abiding travelers, it would only make sense to share what you have and be able to sleep at night.

If on foot, where should you sleep? Under bridges and overpasses offer the best cover. Another idea is to sleep in abandoned cars on the side of the road. They offer protection from the wind and can help keep animals away.

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