This is a subject I don’t really care to talk about but at the same time, I realize how necessary it is. For the 3rd part of our Rational Prepping series (see part 1 on Financial prepping here and part 2 on weather-related prepping here) we’re going to talk about how to be prepared for a chaos event such as a terrorist attack or looting and rioting in your city.
I realize it’s no fun to talk about events like this, but as we’ve seen in the last couple of years (Paris, San Bernadino, Ferguson Missouri riots and multiple other chaotic scenarios) chaos-related scenarios are becoming more and more common. And most of them happen with little-to-no warning. So without further ado, let’s talk about how we can rationally prepare for scenarios like this that may hit close to home.
Prepping for a Chaos Scenario
Learn to Be Aware
I am continually amazed at the lack of awareness on many people’s part when it comes to sensing and being prepared for danger. This can apply to something as simple as driving a car to something as serious as a terrorist attack. I’m not trying to invoke fear here, but people have to start being aware of potential dangers in their lives.
One time when the kids and I were driving in the car, we came to a four-way stop sign in a rural area. I stopped, the intersection was clear, and I was about to proceed to go through the intersection when my “sixth sense” kicked in. In our world we call this the Holy Spirit. Wait, the voice said. I looked to the left, and here was this guy, cruising at 55mph with no intention whatsoever of stopping. He just didn’t see the sign. I waited and watched him sail through the intersection without even slowing down. If I’d have proceeded to go through the intersection without obeying my gut he would’ve t-boned us at 55 mph. Not good.
We all make driving mistakes, even the most cautious of drivers. I personally work to be a careful driver: I don’t speed, I don’t use my phone while driving, etc., yet I make driving mistakes on a regular basis. It’s very easy to become distracted, to “zone out” or to simply “screw up” while driving, even for the most cautious of drivers. This is why a continued effort to learn to be aware on the road and elsewhere is so very important.
Search and Scan
Years ago I talked on the blog about the abusive relationship I was in when I was a teen. When I finally got the guts to break up with this guy, he threatened in no uncertain terms that he would at the minimum break my legs and at the maximum kill me if he saw me again. This experience taught me to always have a “search and scan” mindset.
A “search and scan” mindset means that you are constantly on the lookout for potential threats, be that of a distracted driver or that of a terrorist. A person with a “search and scan” mindset doesn’t live in fear of danger, but they do have one eye and one ear always analyzing their surroundings. Like Jason in the first Bourne Identity talked about, you need to know who’s around you and what potential threat – or help – they might carry in a chaos situation.
Having had to hide from my abusive boyfriend for nearly 20 years before he died at age 37, this habit of “search and scan” is automatic to me now. When we’re at the store, I always know where all exits are and I always have a subconscious plan brewing in my mind for if we need to leave the store quickly because of a threat. We’ve got family code words for “Get over here NOW – it’s time to get the hell out of here” that the kids all know and understand.
Wherever we go, we work to keep one eye on who’s around us and what they’re doing. When we’re driving on the road, we work to keep a serious eye on other drivers. I keep a good distance between me and other drivers, and always situate our vehicle in a way where we can escape quickly if need be, even at a stoplight. These types of behaviors are so automatic for me now that they take little effort on my part.
Here are some tips for making a plan to get out of a chaotic situation:
- Always be familiar with the building you’re in. Where are the doors? The windows? What objects in the room or building could you use as a hiding place or a shelter if a terror situation or riot arose. In our local Walmart, I know where each door to the back store rooms are, where all emergency exits are, etc.
- Always be aware of the people around you. What are they doing? What do they look like (so you can describe for law enforcement if need be)? Do they look like they have a purpose for being where they are, or are they acting suspiciously? If anything seems off, remove yourself from the situation.
- When in small buildings such as restaurants, sit where you can get a full view of the place easily, and where you can remove yourself from danger quickly if need be. In a restaurant, I like to sit by the emergency exit but be facing the main door.
- When walking on the street or in a parking lot, have an “attack mode” mindset. Have your keys in hand, trust no one, and be well prepared to give someone a kick in the kahunas or a key in the eyeball if they threaten you. The rule? Get away first if you can, but if you can’t, kick some serious arse.
- Use common sense. Don’t leave your doors and windows unlocked at home or in your vehicle. Don’t park in a place where you could easily be stuck there. Don’t flaunt valuables and don’t get distracted by your phone. Criminals look for opportunistic crimes.
- Be aware of what’s going on in your neighborhood, your city, your state, your country and in the world. Know your neighbors and know the neighborhoods around where you live. Know who causes trouble and stay away from them.
The more you know, the more you plan, the more resources you will have available to you if you need to avoid or get out of a chaotic situation.
This book had great reviews on Amazon and sounds like it teaches the exact sort of thing I’m talking about here. It’s written by a former Navy SEAL, and these guys know what they’re talking about.
To Bug Out or Not to Bug Out?
There are many articles online about whether or not having a bug out location is a wise choice. It depends largely on the situation, in my humble opinion, but the truth of the matter is that most of you cannot trust your neighbors. If any of you have seen the Twilight Zone episode called The Shelter, you know what I’m talking about.
People get crazy when things get chaotic and they do things they wouldn’t normally do when they feel their safety or their immediate needs are threatened. As a born-again Christian I work very hard to treat people with love and to obey the commands of the God I serve, but if my kids were starving I wouldn’t think twice about stealing to feed them. I may try other options first, but if there were no other options,I’d resort to thievery if I had to.
You need to ask yourself a question: If you, being a genuinely nice person, would steal to feed your family before you let them starve, what would the “not so nice” people do? Rioters destroy people and material items just for the hell of it – no “need” necessary. Don’t underestimate the desperation of the average guy or gal in a chaotic or desperate situation – ever.
Because my husband and I are well aware of this truth about human nature, we are “bug out” fans. It’s one of the reasons we chose to move out to the country. You need to make your own decision about whether or not you’ll put a bug out plan in place in case of a chaotic situation, but if you choose not to have a bug out plan, you’d better well make sure you’ve got a plan for staying safe at home.
If you’ve got a bug out plan, a supply stash, a cash stash or any other prepping measures in place, you’ll do yourself a favor if you choose to shut up about them. I can assure you that those who go into detail about their grand plans to survive apocalypse zombies and nuclear blasts are well-known targets for those who aren’t prepared and who hear about those plans.
Those with a “taker” mentality don’t plan to keep themselves prepared – instead, they plan who they’ll attack and raid those who are prepared if the crap hits the fan.
For that reason, it’s a smart idea to keep your plans within your own family and to be sure to tell your family to “shuttie” about those plans. The less people that know about your preparedness, the better. Your job is to take care of the loved ones you feel you need/want to take care of – not the entire world. And like any good gossip, news of a well-stocked prepper spreads fast, especially in chaos-type situations.
I hope these tips help you to learn how to be rationally prepared for chaotic situations. Again, it’s not about being afraid, it’s about being smart.
Let’s hope it never comes to this, but always good to have a plan and make sure the family is fully aware. Our school district canceled all field trips to NYC for a period of time due to recent world events. It was criticized by the NYC police commissioner, but safety should always be our first concern.
I agree, Brian! Safety has to come first. For everyone’s sake.
Laurie, I’ll admit that as I started reading, I thought, “This sounds a little paranoid.” But when I got to the bulleted list, I realized that a lot of what you’re saying is common sense and a good way to be prepared for many of the dangers in our world.
I lived in large cities – Boston, NY, Oakland, CA – throughout my twenties and into my early thirties. I now live in a suburban-to-rural area in upstate NY, and I take some comfort in knowing that we’re outside of an area that’s likely to be a major threat. However – and unfortunately – we really just never know these days.
So true, Amy. You just never know where trouble will break out, and therefore it’s always good to be prepared.
The sad reality in today’s United States, is that there are certain groups of people who have such hatred for others that you need not do anything overt yet they are “dissed”, or offended and will very willingly take action to harm you. Just look at all the protests at shopping areas and malls during Christmas shopping season. People disrupted the lives of other people who never participated in any act against that particular group, yet you know if someone tried to shoulder their way through the crowd blocking entrances to stores, they would probably be injured. Also, just diving through certain parts of town can get you in a situation that quickly becomes dangerous. You must keep your wits about you at all times, keep your car doors locked and be aware of streets you can take to escape or avoid entirely that part of town. And, whatever one’s attitude about gun ownership, it is a powerful tool for defense, especially when protecting ones own home. Stay safe my friend.
Sad but true, Kathy. It’s nice to live in denial, but the news shows us every day that denial is not a safe place to live anymore. The risks are real, whether they be found at the local movie theater, the mall, our workplace or whatever. As such, we will work to stay prepared as best we can while still living life. It’s a tough balance, but it can be done. Great comment, Kathy.
These are some serious tips, Laurie and reading them has made me somber. In all honesty, this is something I regularly think about – trying to figure out new ways to stay safe with my family and your tip about scanning your environment constantly is something I find very valuable. We all like to think we are well prepared, but in fact, we are not and it is usually thanks to good luck that we are safe. I notice this almost every day.
Since we live so close to NYC, these are things we think about with all that is going on in the world today. Good reminders and tips, Laurie!
I wish more people were as diligent as you guys in thinking about these things, Cat! Great work!
This is a good set of reminders, Laurie. The next time I go to any place, I’d make sure that I am close to the emergency exit. It’s better to be ready not not.
Thanks, Jayson! I agree – better to be ready. Have a great weekend!
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