Most of my regular readers and I have a plan for sheltering in place during a disaster, but just because our focus is on urban survival doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a bug out bag, a bug out vehicle, and an escape plan. There are just too many scenarios where sheltering in place would not be an option.
Unfortunately, most urban dwellers would have nowhere to go if their homes were destroyed of if their cities became too unsafe. If you can afford a remote piece of land or if you have friends or relatives in the countryside, great. But what are those of us without a bug out location supposed to do? Here are a few suggestions.
These are a good option, but only if these two conditions are met: 1) It’s the off season. 2) The disaster that forced you to relocate is temporary (such as a natural disaster). If there are too many other people, then it’s not worth it. And if it’s an end of the world situation, campgrounds might even become dangerous.
However, if you just need somewhere to go for a short while, campgrounds are great. Most of them have sturdy buildings with bathrooms, cafeterias, and possibly even emergency supplies. Outside you’ll find picnic tables, fire pits, grills, etc. And nearby there should be plenty of firewood, lakes and streams for water. If you can find a campground that isn’t already occupied, you’ll have a great place to stay during a disaster.
This site will help you find any campgrounds in your vicinity, and here is a list of summer camps. I recommend visiting as many as you can and staying at several of them overnight. You’ll do much better if you’re already familiar with local campgrounds and the surrounding areas, and you could go ahead and plot a safe evacuation route that avoids main roads.
National Parks and Forests
There is a lot of land in this country, but much of it is private property. And if you seek refuge on someone’s property, you could wake up with the barrel of a gun in your face. But with state and national parks and forests you’re far less likely to get kicked out, especially during a disaster when park rangers have other things to worry about. You might find shelter in a ranger station, a utility shed, or maybe even a cave.
There are hundreds parks, forests, and wildlife refuges all over the country (the links will help you find them). If the disaster is severe enough, you might want to disappear into one of these places for a while. Of course, if it comes to this you’ll need to learn some wilderness survival skills.
As with campgrounds, you should familiarize yourself with local parks and forests ahead of time. You could pick out a good place to set up camp (perhaps somewhere near a stream or lake), and you could even bury a survival cache there ahead of time. Print several detailed topographical maps of the area so you don’t get lost, and figure out exactly how you’re going to get there.
Mines – There are hundreds of mines around the country. Except for the ones that have been abandoned, they should be geologically stable and able to provide shelter for lots of people. Find one that the average person wouldn’t know about and pay it a visit.
Ghost Towns – These are all over the country, too, and most people aren’t aware of them. Ghost towns have many different buildings you can use for shelter, and the best ones will have a source of water nearby. However, some of them might not have a good source of water (which could be part of the reason they were abandoned). Here’s a list of ghost towns.
Factories – There are many plants and factories far away from cities that could provide shelter during a disaster. Since none of the owners or employees actually live there, you won’t have to worry about getting kicked out. Factories have lots of space, facilities, and some emergency supplies.
There is one major problem with these locations: They’re better for short-term disasters. If there’s a long-term breakdown of society that results in a Mad Max scenario, you’ll have to be careful because dangerous people in search of supplies will eventually find these places. That’s why it’s better to find a bug out location now rather than after the SHTF.
If you’re concerned about the end of the world as we know it, your goal should be to purchase a bug-out-location that you could stay at indefinitely. Perhaps you could chip in with other preppers and/or family members. The place should have a food source, a water source, sturdy shelter, and be defensible in case it is discovered by marauders. If you want to learn more, check out the book, Bugging Out and Relocating.