Post-EMP Survival: What If You Can’t Get Home?

One of the most haunting emails I’ve received this year is from Mallory:

I recently started reading your blog (love it!) and have your EMP First 15 Steps PDF. I have a couple more business trips planned for the rest of 2015, and some are quite a distance from home. I wondered if you could give any advice at all on what I should prep for, gear-wise or even mentally?

The thought of an EMP happening when I am NOT at home, maybe not with my spouse and children, it scares me.  I just want to be as prepared as I can be, because who knows when something like this could happen — 2 minutes from now or 2 years from now?

Once you’re aware of a power grid failure due to an EMP, cyberterrorism, or a solar event, you can’t help but share Mallory’s worries. Lights Out: A Cyberatt... Ted Koppel Best Price: $0.25 Buy New $6.10 (as of 10:20 EST - Details)

This past month I’ve been reading Ted Koppel’s newest book, Lights Out, and, frankly, it has done nothing to ease my concerns. In fact, in this book, he clearly lays out how our nation’s leaders have done virtually nothing to protect our power grid from any type of attack, nor are there effective plans in place to help the millions of citizens who will be completely unprepared.

He knows because as part of his research, he interviewed those who should know, such as Janet Napolitano, Leon Panetta, and Admiral William Gortney, who provided a Pentagon news briefing earlier this year on the topic of power grid vulnerability.

You can never get home, or can you?

One memorable example from Lights Out that might provide at least one solution for Mallory and others in her position is Craig Kephart’s plan.

Craig is an avid bicyclist and a prepper. They live in an upscale area of St. Louis and his business requires that he make frequent business trips around the country. From the book:

“Craig worries that he may be trapped out of town and that all conventional forms of travel could be shut down. He always carries enough cash so that, no matter which city he’s in, he would be able to buy a bicycle, biking shoes, and whatever other equipment he would need to take him back to St. Louis.”

“Craig assumes that he could ride 150 to 200 miles a day. He’s thought about this a lot. “Last place I want to be is in a major metropolitan area during a time of national crisis.”

Craig’s plan might be a very effective one for him, in the case of a cyberterrorist attack. This type of attack on our power grid would disable the grid itself but wouldn’t be as devastating as an electro-magnetic pulse.

Craig has realized that getting home from hundreds of miles away when the world has erupted into chaos won’t be easy and he’s come up with a plan and is training for that possibility. If this should happen, there will be countless scenarios which he may not have anticipated, but at least he has a plan for getting home. Your plan should include:

  1. Transportation. Planning on hoofing it home? Better start getting into super-shape now!
  2. Water. Where you’re stranded and the terrain between you and home will determine if you will be able to find a plentiful supply of water on a regular basis. If you’re not sure you can, stay where you are.
  3. Food. Can you set traps? Hunt and fish using alternative methods? Can you identify edible and medicinal wild plants? Do you know which parts are edible and which are poisonous? Do you know how to start a small fire for cooking and purifying water, and, if so, what will you use for a cooking pot? These are just a few of the issues to consider.
  4. Shelter.  Putting up a lean-to is one thing, but surviving the elements within that shelter is quite another.
  5. Security. You may be surrounded by people more desperate than you. More fit, more strong than you. Can you survive on your wits alone? What self-defense skills do you have?
  6. Weather and terrain. Those will both change as you travel. Are you ready for all possibilities? Do you know of alternate routes that might be easier or would allow you to avoid populated areas?

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