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Survival Tips for Everyday Life

Survival Tips for Everyday Life

A few years ago, I took a class that was instrumental in teaching me the importance of thinking “big picture” in everything I did. Part of what the class focused on was always being prepared for an emergency situation. There are some SHTF scenarios in which we have advanced notification, like hurricanes and the like. But many SHTF situations simply pop up unexpectedly, think: bombings, terrorist attacks, robberies, etc.

It’s vitally important to have our emotional/spiritual preparedness plan together in the event of a SHTF situation, but it’s especially vital in the event of an unplanned SHTF scenario. In other words, it’s important to be prepared always. Here are some tips that can help you to ramp up your preparedness, even for events you never saw coming.

Survival Tips for Expected AND Unexpected SHTF Scenarios

1. Always be searching/scanning your surroundings and planning a way of escape in case something pops up.

This is one of the first things I learned in the above-mentioned class. When you’re sitting at a stoplight, shopping at the store, perusing books at the local library or whatever, don’t allow yourself to zone out and wander into la-la land. Always have a “search and scan” mentality. Be aware of the people around you: what they’re doing, wearing. Do they look suspicious? Could they have an evil intent? Concerning your kids/family: be on the lookout for potential danger situations and threats: is there water nearby that could attract a young child? A street? A dangerous animal? Our military men and women are taught to always know what’s going on around them – we should learn to do the same. Threats, no matter how seemingly benign, are everywhere.

  • The guy on the road in front of you who can’t stay off his da*n smartphone as he drives is a threat.
  • The speeding driver is a threat.
  • The driving rain is a threat.
  • The impending drought is a threat

Learn to recognize people and situations that could cause trouble for you, even if they don’t mean to. Don’t do this in a paranoid, psychotic way – just learn to be aware and learn to have plan for if that potential threat is realized.  For instance:

  • Stay a good distance back from drivers – especially idiot drivers – or if they’re tailgating you, pull over and let them go ahead
  • If there’s an impending storm that may limit your access to stores, stock up on food/supplies well ahead of time
  • If there’s a creepy guy (or girl) that seems to be a little too close to you at the store, plan out your action for keeping free of them
  • If there’s a major rainstorm on its way, choose to stay home (or leave early or late to your destination) and avoid having to drive during the storm

Always have a search and scan mentality, and use it everywhere you go. Eventually it’ll become second nature and will require very little effort.

Recommended reading: SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere

2. Know the roads and have a backroads route to your bugout location.

If your city suddenly goes haywire because of some type of catastrophic event, everyone will be headed for what they think is the quickest route of escape – the local highways. Don’t follow the sheep to the slaughter. Instead, have at least one (preferably two or three) backroads routes to your bugout location mapped out. Sometimes it’s smarter to take the road less traveled.

3. Never drive in the middle lane of traffic on roadways – always stay to the left or right lanes so you have a way of escape.

This may sound silly, but consider this scenario: You’re driving through the urban streets, simply wanting to get home. Suddenly, a SHTF scenario happens. A road rage incident blows up next to you and somebody pulls out a gun. An accident occurs a half a block ahead and traffic will now be at a standstill for quite some time. You get an emergency call from home and need to get home ASAP, even if it is rush hour traffic.

If you’re in the middle lane of traffic, you’re at the mercy of the drivers around you. However, if you’ve chosen to stay in the left or right lanes, you do have the option to head into a parking lot, take the next side street, or turn around and drive on the shoulder if the emergency warrants it. Never drive in the middle lane of traffic on city roadways, and stay to the right on highways so that you can take the shoulder to the nearest exit if need be. You don’t really need to drive that fast anyway. 🙂

4. Have a list of bugout supplies you need to take from home just in case and know where all of your supplies are so that evacuation from your home is quick- 15 minutes or less.

You should have an easily accessible list of your necessary bugout supplies on hand at all times. Sit down and discuss with your family what things are of utmost necessity and importance should you need to leave your home quickly.  The list should include important things, but it should be a small enough list that you can get out of the house in 15 minutes or less. You should also have a clear knowledge of where all of those important things are so that you don’t waste time looking for them.

Recommended reading: The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals

5. Keep a bugout bag of basics in the car.

Always have a supply of water, snacks, first aid items, etc. in the car in case there’s no time to go home before you head to your bugout location. Have what you absolutely need for survival with you in the car at all times.

Recommended reading: The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide

6.Have a planned meeting place/escape plan for when you’re apart.

If some family members are at work, some are at home, some are at school, have a specific plan for getting everyone together and to your bugout location. Take some time to map out a plan that will detail who gets the kids from school, where all will meet and what code words you’ll use to activate the plan.

7. Have cash on hand or easily accessible without an ATM at all times.

This is part of good financial self-sufficiency. Same goes for passports, birth certificates, etc. Know where they are and make them easily accessible.

8. Practice your bugout plan in your head (or in real life) on a regular basis so that if you need to use it the plan is familiar to you.

Pastor Andrew Wommack, upon completion of his new Bible College, stunned students when he said that the grand opening of the school was anti-climactic for him. Why? Because he’d envisioned himself walking the halls in the school in his head thousands of times before and during the time it was being built. Do the same thing with your bugout plan. The last thing you need in the event of a bugout emergency is to be unfamiliar with your plan. The more familiar you are with your bugout plan, the less you’ll panic if you actually have to use it.

Recommended reading: Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook, Revised Edition

9. Commit to continued preparedness, survival and off-grid living education.

There’s always more to learn about preparedness and survival. Choose to commit that you’ll spend at least a few hours each week turning off the TV and working to educate yourself further on how to become more self-sufficient and prepared.

Have you implemented any of the above survival tips? What would you do if you were suddenly caught in the middle of a SHTF scenario?


  1. Your advice to be on the lookout for safety threats is spot on, Laurie. In our area this year, a six year old boy disappeared along the river one day. He’d gotten a new fishing pole and wanted to try it out. Even though he was fishing with several family members, no one had seen or knew where he’d gone. His body was pulled from the river several days later. He’d somehow fallen in and none of his family members had noticed. It’s so important to be assessing those safety threats and monitoring those closely.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh dear, Dee. What a sad story. It’s so important to recognize these types of “threats” that so often go under the radar. We have to always be searching and scanning for that reason. Thank you for sharing a story with a valuable lesson, Dee.

    • Laurie says:

      Well, for each person/family it will be different. Might be a piece of land that you purchase and put a trailer on. Might be a close relative’s cabin or a friends out of state home. What’s important is that it’s far enough away from your home to be safe, and a secluded locale is a plus.

  2. When it was just Chris and I, we weren’t as good at staying on top of this but after we became parents, it changed. We still have room for improvement, but we definitely look for threats involving the girls and teach them to be aware of their surroundings and stranger danger. Lauren got a cell phone for her birthday last year but she knows that I read her texts and we’ve had long talks about what to be on the lookout for, etc.

    • Laurie says:

      Having kids definitely makes one more aware, doesn’t it, Shannon! Glad you guys are on track and teaching the girls well. Just like in personal finance, education/knowledge is power!

    • Laurie says:

      Sounds like you have wise parents, Chela! We never knew to be aware of that stuff growing up. So glad I know now. 🙂

  3. I usually crumble in situations that are not worth crumbling over and don’t crumble in situations where others usually would. For example, if I get overwhelmed and exhausted at work, I may end up in tears feeling trapped. Conversely, I’ve taken self-defense classes and feel prepared for any physical attack.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh my gosh, Natalie – I can SO identify with that! Not sure what it is that makes us a bit backwards on that stuff, but I’d rather crumble on the inconsequential stuff than on the big problem stuff. 🙂

  4. Great advice! These are things I try not and think about but really, even a little planning beforehand might save me many headaches later on. One thing I usually make sure of is I always have a water bottle and a snack or two on me. Even if I’m going to run a small errand, the bottle and snack come with me in my purse. It makes me feel secure if I ever got stuck anywhere or had to make an emergency drive, I have a small bit of reassurance in my bag.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s a smart start, Amanda!! That one or two snacks, and water bottle, could give you several more days of survival!

  5. Great points Laurie!! I don’t know if I have always done the “search and scan” thing, but after becoming a mom I know it’s something I do all the time, especially when I have my son on me. I just naturally feel my momma bear instincts kick in to protect him, but it’s a great practice to have in place all the time.

    • Laurie says:

      It really has changed life for me, Shannon. It brings huge peace of mind knowing that I have a plan for every potential situation.

  6. Totally stressed out after reading this post haha. I read a survivalist book a few years back and it really helped me prepare for small disasters – fires and floods – but I haven’t taken it to the next level yet.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, don’t worry, DC, we’ll get you trained up. 🙂 Really, though, living where you live – in such a highly populated area – it might be a good idea to have some systems in place. 🙂

  7. Laurie, I like each of your advice. One survival tip that I can share is that I keep my family’s most important documents, like birth certificates, passports, and social security cards in a safe place in case I need to grab them and leave the house. And, I also make sure I am familiar with the emergency or disaster plan at our office.

    • Laurie says:

      We do the same thing with important documents, Jayson, and it’s such a relief knowing that I can grab them and go in an instant without having to search for them. Smart move on being familiar with the disaster plan at your office too – I’d be willing to bet most of your coworkers aren’t.

  8. This is a great reminder that I need to update and refresh the emergency supplies in our cars. I probably still have the winter packs, with hand and foot warmers and blankets – in them!

  9. Adam @ AdamChudy.com says:

    We’re way too lax on many of these areas, but we’ve got car boxes and bug out bags as well as hurricane prep.

  10. I think that I would have a hard time doing the above without adopting an attitude of constant fear – which I don’t want. I think it is possible to be prepared for emergencies without being scared of them, and for me, the way to do it would be gradual. First aid kit in the car? I can do that. Have cash on hand? I can do that. A bugout spot? That’s beyond me at this point, but you’ve got me thinking . . .

    • Laurie says:

      Prudence, that’s terrific that you’ve identified that in yourself and are working on ways to be more prepared gradually. I’ve found that the more we integrate these things as a normal part of life, the less fearful I get as we plan. Years ago, I would say that yes, there used to be fear behind many of our plans, but now it feels more like common sense and the fear is gone.

    • Laurie says:

      Good question! Depends on the situation. If all hell breaks loose in your city/neighborhood, whether that means rioting or severe weather or whatever, it might be better to be in a far away location. That would be your bugout location. A bugout location might be a cabin several hours away from your home, or a friend or relative’s home a few hrs away, or even just some land that you own with a trailer on it.

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