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Friday, February 20, 2009

One View on the Ultimate Vehicular Bug Out by Jerry the Generator Guy

There hasn’t been much discussion regarding what might be a well-planned bug out. The following is an overview of our vehicular bug out plan. This overview is offered to assist others in fleshing out their specific needs and plans.

If you are like us, then you believe that the local area is not viable for long term personal survival. Thus we are forced to consider quickly getting to an alternate location. I won’t present our criteria for the destination as everyone has different needs.

We selected a locale for serious consideration and visited there. The “boots on the ground” impression is worth far more than any data mining that you may have done. We have also subscribed to their local paper for the last two years. Our initial positive impression of the area has increased with time. The local paper gives a detailed behind the scenes view of what the real issues in the area are or are not. Taking the local paper will also allow us to blend in faster with the locals by being talking about the latest area news. If you don’t get good “vibes” during a on scene visit then you should select another area. You have successfully avoided something that for you would have been a mistake.

We have listened to the various local radio and/or television stations here to determine which could be deemed “credible”. We judged local emergency reporting as this would show what the actual station resources and attitudes are. Most stations, in their emergency coverage, all seemed to simply parrot whatever was provided at the on site command center via the press sessions. Locally, a daytime country/western station has demonstrated careful and accurate news reporting in two major emergencies. They were the only station to send reporters to potential areas of concern to discover facts. An out of state radio station does better at forecasting our local weather than the nearby stations. We have noticed, during our travels, that most of the country/western stations seem to present a more accurate view of the news than the bobble heads on talk radio. This accuracy is probably a reflection of their “tell it like it is” listeners.

All of us should have thought out what event, or events, will trigger the launch of the exit plan. We recommend careful listening to various shortwave, local and out of state radio and television news. The news that is presented from a different locate will occasionally surprise you with different facts and/or opinions. Research for yourself the facts concerning any items of concern and/or interest. Draw your personal conclusion and take appropriate action(s) once facts are separated from propaganda.

Okay, so we now have a trigger mechanism and need a detailed plan to quickly and efficiently get from “here” to “there”. It’s time to start adding some detail to the draft plan. Since we know each specific vehicle MPG [and fuel tank capacity] then possible locations along the travel route, for fueling, can be determined. We plan to use the every two hour “Chinese Fire Drill” approach. Once every two hours, at previously-determined locations, all vehicles stop. All people receive a situation update and describe any items of concern. Vehicles are topped off with fuel. Everyone can get prepared food/drink items. Those who need a restroom stop quickly does so. [JWR Adds: Avoid using public rest areas. In the event os a crisis, they are likely gathering places for very desperate refugees that are nearly out of fuel! Pick out wide shoulders on side roads, well in advance. Assuming that you are traveling well-armed, these should offer some semblance of security when stopping. ] Plan your fuel allocation on worst case fuel consumption not best or even typical usage. We top off fuel at the two hour intervals since we are already stopped and can get extra use of the time. If we later discover any unexpected need to quickly travel for some distance we have already shifted “extra” fuel into the tanks. We plan to have each vehicle carry enough fuel so that it is able to make the entire trip without depending on any gas station being open. This approach allows success even if any vehicle does break down. All other vehicles can still finish the trip even if one is not quickly repairable. If the group is close to the destination then a tow rope will be used to [hopefully ] allow all vehicles to finish the trip. The tow rope can also be used to remove some road obstructions.

We will listen to various local radio stations along the planned route. You can get a list of the stations, their frequencies, locations and audience focus by entering the state name along with radio stations into Google; Example: Montana Radio Stations. This monitoring will allow us to become aware of any sudden need to modify our plan based on the actual local status. The monitoring is done by high school young adults and any adult who desires to assist. Each listener uses a set of earphones so they can focus on what is said. Any significant items that will be submitted to the group are written immediately on a notepad. Yes, we have a means to immediately update the group if the issue needs immediate attention. All drivers do nothing but drive. All other activities are done by others in the vehicle/group.

We strongly suggest that you, or several people, drive your planned exit route several times to discover any areas that might either become a potential problem or maybe offer an unexpected benefit. [JWR Adds: It is important to plan and practice a secondary and tertiary route.] You may be surprised--we were--about additional items that are noticed on more than one trip. At one location that we had planned to use for a stop, the overall local area feeling was very negative. We quickly decided to proceed further along the highway.

Check periodically during the year and see if the planned route has any recurring traffic or weather related problems. What’s the speed that you plan to travel between individual town “ X” and town “Y”? Your overall plan should use worst-case MPG and alternate plans already prepared if the road is not in the expected condition or weather is not as planned [hot/cold/windy/snowy ].

The travel maps that we have prepared all have some disinformation. The direction arrows for the travel route all point to the “from” and not the “going to” direction. In addition, the arrows stop one town short on both ends of the route.

There is an easy way to determine some of the potential traffic choke points. Find out where the highway gates that are used to block traffic during adverse weather are located. Carefully note these locations during your initial or other trips. My conclusion is these are the natural traffic restriction locations. We carry detailed topographic maps so that we can maneuver around any blockage along the route. You should have an answer ready for “highway X is blocked ahead. What are alternate choices?”

We will be towing a trailer with one vehicle. All goods that are planned to go with us are kept in what we call “here to there” locations. This means when the time comes to load there is no wasted time on “where is X?” or “do we take Y”? All such decisions have been made in advance.

Yes, we keep a supply of knocked-down boxes on site for planned use. The loading simply becomes everything from “here to there” goes – anything and everything else stays. An actual loading of the boxes has shown that the planned sequence, capacity and room is possible.

Note: You can gain a significant amount of extra “free” room by removing the back seat in each vehicle.

Have you ever followed a trailer and seen the lights flicker as it went over a bump? This defect is almost always caused by a poor wiring ground connection at the hitch. The ground capability can be tested by connecting a jumper cable between the metal tongue of the trailer and a good ground on the tow vehicle. If the lights on the trailer suddenly get brighter or a problem vanishes then you can be certain that the ground path needs work. We use an 8 gauge wire for the ground connection on both vehicles.

Should your route include travel on gravel roads then be aware that the crushed rock material may cut or even pop weak or almost worn out tires. Check the tire ply rating and tread depth.
Be sure that they are able to stand the expected use. Could your tow vehicle or trailer benefit from a stronger tire? You can check with a truck tire dealer to find tires with higher weight carrying capability. How do you know if a tire is intended for either a car or truck? Answer: Car tires are rated [marked on the sidewall ] to carry a specified weight at a maximum inflation pressure. Truck tires are rated to carry weight at a minimum inflation pressure. Example: We wanted load range D radial tires for our trailer. The local tire dealers all said that nothing was available (even via special order ). The truck tire dealer, in a nearby town, simply asked did we want the load range D in a Major Brand or the In House brand at $20 less for each?

We strongly recommend that you install radial tires on ALL vehicles. We have also observed a 0.5 MPG mileage increase with radial tires on two different trailers. My super wife and co-pilot says that she loves that the trailer doesn’t sway near as much in cross winds. In addition, when an 18-wheeler goes by the trailer isn’t sucked toward the adjacent lane. This change took her from having a white knuckle experience, when trucks passed, to being able to relax. We also installed shock absorbers on the trailers. The difference in bounce of the trailer when driving over a bump went from several up/down cycles to one. The shocks also reduced the amount of trailer would lean during a fast turn. Any items in the trailer benefit from a much smother ride.

When the potential needs seems to be imminent the trailer will be hitched, lights & brakes checked, loaded & ready to travel. The planned route and alternatives will be reviewed daily for any potential weather or other delays. Most states offer a 1-800 number and/or web site with road condition updates. Find those updates now, and put them on a list!

All fuel levels will be maintained at a 50% or higher level. Vehicle oil, spark plugs and all filters will be changed. We keep this replacement stock on site so that it is instantly available. These changes ensure that each vehicle can give us its best effort. We carry a replacement set of all radiator hoses and belts. We have each vehicle battery load checked semi-annually. Most locales that sell vehicle batteries provide a free test service. We will replace any hose/belt/pump/battery/brake that is questionable. All vehicle light bulbs are also checked . All vehicle tires are inflated to the pressure that we want to use for best weight carrying capability.

Fuel tanks are filled to capacity, immediately before leaving, from on site storage. All vehicles will be parked such that on “GO” each driver can start the motor and quickly move out. Our thought is that by advance preparation we will gain a minimum advantage of 10 minutes. At 60 MPH we will be 10 miles distance down the road ahead of the majority.

We plan, by taking action at the trigger, to hopefully be at the travel end point before most people are even started. The Hurricane Katrina news coverage reinforced the fact that that early travelers were able to move at full highway speeds. Later departures were moving very slow.

Summary: We have tried to make plans for two different scenarios; 1.) We have several days to get ready, or 2.) The need is sudden. In either case we have all necessary items on site for prep and pack. The planning buys us some of the very important variable called time.

Planning also helps to eliminate the “what do we do” panic response mode. Everyone should have or develop now, at a minimum, a who/when/what/where plan. The plan doesn’t cost much, if any, cash to develop. Equipment without a plan doesn’t have any value.

Note: We do not provide discussion on specific roads to be traveled or planned speed as this to should be one of your group discussion items. Unique roads, weather, vehicles and group plans each offer a different series of opportunities and challenges. We hope to see you at the “Troy Barter Faire”! (For those of you wondering what this means, see Chapter 14 in "Patriots".)


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