As suburban preppers we are in our cars a lot. The suburbs were created so people could commute from the more desirable urban sprawl into the cities for employment where the cost of living was high and the living conditions were less than optimal.So as a general rule, most of us suburbanites spend quite a bit of time in our cars. Therefore we must be prepared for the S to hit the fan while on the road. Your worst fear should be traveling along at 65 on the freeway when a bright light nearly blinds you. You car goes dead and begins to slow despite the fact that you are giving the car gas. You look around and all the other cars are drifting to a stop and suddenly realize that a nuke detonated close enough to cause an EMP pulse to disable your vehicle (which is basically a big computer these days) and you are now a “freeway refuge” stuck along with thousands of others. You are literally 30 miles (or more) from home. Your mind begins to run wild on you. Is your family OK? Is your wife at home with all the prep gear? Hopefully, but you can’t find out because the cell phones are down and any land line is jammed. Your only choice is get home as soon as possible and at all costs! Your family is depending on you. (and surely as worried about you as you are of them)
What are you going to use to get you home? Your Get Home Bag, or GHB.
What is needed in a GHB?
- Water: You will need a small amount of water to get you going. Obviously more is better, but you are going to be on foot so you won’t be able to carry too much.
- Water purification: Since water is absolutely essential and you can only carry so much, you are going to need a way to collect and purify water as you travel home. You may even be forced to travel off a direct path home to collect water. This is how critical it is. Perhaps a few mylar water bags will help. They are light when stored but can hold a lot of water when filled. Remember: You may be be traveling a long way on foot. Maybe you are not used to such extensive physical exercise so water will be KEY!
- Food: Small amounts will suffice. You shouldn’t be more than a day or two away from home. Average walking speed for humans is 2 to 3 miles per hour. Therefore, if you can make it, a 10 hour walk will get you 20 to 30 miles. If you are further away it might take you longer. You might be able to get by with no food but it is not recommended. Check out these Millennium Bars. They have a 5 year shelf life and aren’t bad. I have taste tested them myself.
- Maps / GPS: You can always take the road you were driving on and that will get you home. But the shortest route between two points is a straight line and roads in the US are usually anything but a straight line. You may benefit from taking shortcuts and the best way to navigate is with a map and compass or a handheld GPS device. You may also choose not to use major roads due to all the other people doing the same. Safety may dictate a road less travelled.
- Protection: You will have to make this decision on your own. Your decision what to carry with you will have to be based on your comfort level and training as well as the laws of your state regarding open carry or concealed carry of weapons. I choose pepper spray that is formulated for a car’s heat. Pepper spray has the added benefit of being effective against animals as well as humans. In California our carry laws are a bit narrow (insert sarcasm) and I do NOT want any police attention when my only goal is to get home. If you are in California, look into the laws for carrying a concealed taser.
- Wide Brimmed Hat: You may hiking home in the direct sun. A wide brimmed hat will help prevent sun exposure. Conversely, it will help if it is raining.
- Rain jacket/poncho: You can’t predict what the weather will be like when you have to start “hoofing” it home so a poncho could be a life-saver if it is cold and rainy.
- Sun screen/lip balm: Again, it could be 100 degrees so be sure you are ready for heat and cold temps.
- Worn-in Shoes: A pair of old athletic shoes will be a welcome addition if you, like me, wear business attire to work. Can you imagine walking 30 miles in loafers or some other type of leather-soled shoe? You want a pair of worn-in shoes that are already molded to your feet and won’t cause you pain.
- Personal Tent: If you think that there is ANY possible chance you are going to need a couple days to hike home then get a 1 person backpacking tent. It should be as light as possible and be just for one person. Nothing fancy is needed, just something to keep the bugs and snakes out and provide warmth for a few hours while you rest.
- Medical: You are going to need basic medical supplies. Be sure to have plenty of pain relievers for headache due to possible dehydration and muscle pain. Also consider any particular medical needs you may have and plan accordingly. You may want to include bite and sting relief as you may be taking a rural route home.
- Small Pack: I highly recommend a small pack for the gear. First you are going to be hiking so the gear should be as light as possible. Second, you are going to want to move as quickly as you can while maintaining longevity and a light pack will allow that. This is what I roll with.
- Miscellaneous: Other items can be: matches, flashlight (LED), spare batteries, glow sticks, multitool, sweatshirt, toilet paper, extra socks, binoculars, gloves, duct tape, walking stick, etc.
Good luck and keep prepping!