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Packing a Get Home Bag
How do you prepare a get home bag when you commute more than 100 miles each day for work? Let’s for a moment presume that you have no idea that some sort of event is about to happen that will render your job irrelevant, your vehicle useless, and your location being close to your office, to which you commute each day, when it occurs. How and what in the world would you consider packing in a go bag and then heading home?
I received a perfect example of your travel day changing due to a recent hurricane. Hurricane Irma forced a mass migration of Floridians to flee the storm and caused all the local roads to be choked. All of my alternative roads were jammed with those trying to get back home to Florida. The entire downtown area was affected because of some folks overloading the local roads. Tempers flared, and driving skills devolved to a sad state of traffic flow. Imagine three roads into town backed up beyond capacity.
Are you planning to shelter in place at your office? You’re not if you have family at home and are confident we just got hit by a CME or EMP. I work in a metropolitan area, and that will be the last place I want to remain.
If a healthy person can walk an easy 30 miles in a day, how far do you think your over-weight self is going to get? Add to the fact that, even without a backpack, about the best you can probably do is 3-3.5 miles per hour on flat terrain.
I recently turned 51 and am 5’9 and 235 lbs. I can tell you from experience that under ideal conditions 3 mph would be a blessing if you are out of shape. Add to that if you begin to suffer from shin-splints, your new walking plan just became a painful endeavor. I have never really been one of those to worry about counting calories; I ate what I wanted and have for the most part been very fortunate to not be as obese as many I have met that weren’t so fortunate. However, I am not as fit as I would like to be.
Planning your survival begins with the basic ability of being able to survive! Can you walk, easily? How about with 20 lbs. on your back? What about walking with 35 lbs? Are you in the shape where you can even carry a backpack? Are you planning on just pulling a piece of luggage home on wheels? How loud do you think that would be? Unless you plan to stick to just a highway road, you will be prime pickings if there is an individual or group that wants your items worse than you.
Am I sounding like your doctor or someone else nagging you to take better care of yourself? Then let it be a lesson that you should. If you on the other hand just don’t care, then by all means go ahead and scroll past and let this lesson fall on deaf ears. But it will be something you will regret someday. This is for anyone that wants to at least have a chance.
Plans To Get Home
Considering the needs you would have to get home, how would you handle this? Have you made plans and communicated them to your spouse/significant other or just your family in general? Have you informed them of a pre-determined meeting place? Did you at least worked out a message that you would want to relay to a loved one looking for you?
At the very least, have you said, “If something happens and I have to walk home, the first place I will stop on my way is at (so-and-so’s) and let them know I’m alright. I’ll gather any intel and warnings on the current situation and proceed onward home”. If you haven’t, then why not? Have you thought about what season you are currently in? If you’re like me, it’s hot 9-10 months out of the year, so you may need to re-roll your pack each quarter year to accommodate for your local climate.
Commuting Between States
My situation is somewhat unique in that I live in one state and work in another. It’s only an hour commute for me and almost all highway. What is an easy commute now would not be so easy for my return home on foot. I am not entirely sure I would want to walk the distance on an open road. It’s all dynamic, of course, given the circumstances, but I believe I would be better off taking back roads home. However, taking back roads would add to the time/distance equation. I would recommend driving these out sometime just to get an idea of the time involved.
Road Map and Topographic Map
Having a map of the roads available to me and a topographic map would be one of the first things I would want in my get home pack. Preferably, I would want my maps waterproof, but the practicality of that isn’t really in my view. Therefore, I would choose to have it enclosed in a zip lock bag of some sort and folded up to take as little room as possible.
Familiarity With Areas Traveled Through
Another thing to consider about this situation is how familiar are you with the areas you will need to travel through to get to your destination. Are you traveling through mostly farmland? Is it mostly urban? This is just something to consider. Maybe you would want to consider a small cache placed somewhere along the way. I’m just saying that it is worth considering.
Time To Get Home
Seventy-two hours is about as long as I would think you would need to allow in order to get home. What if you weren’t in the best of shape but you were at least working towards that goal. Let’s say you have shin splints or Plantar Fasciitis, ouch! Now there’s a painful journey for you. This is especially true if you are planning to continually walk. Your 72-hour journey just turned out to be much longer.
Resting Time and Pain Relief
How much longer we really can’t say, because you are going to need to allow resting time. There’s another thing I would consider, that is as long as you don’t have issue taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) a.k.a. aspirin, Aleve, et cetera. I keep a small 100-count bottle in my bag, because they are just so inexpensive (about $2) that it’s hard not to justify it, and it also doesn’t irritate my stomach. Tylenol is another avenue; they are around $7 for a 100-count bottle, but it would still be worth considering.
While we’re talking about pain relief, you should look into and seriously consider a product called moleskin. If you are susceptible to blisters on your feet, this will be a Godsend. One note to this: Be sure you have a small pair of scissors, whether a small, individual pair or one on a multi-purpose (Swiss Army) knife. Also, learn how to use the moleskin beforehand! Basically, you cut the moleskin to be bigger than the blister and cut out a hole for the skin of the blister to “breath”.
Addressing Pain and Need For Water To Drink
Okay, so now that we have a map, some pain and inflammation medication, and blister protection, what are you going to eat or drink? How do you prepare it? As I stated earlier, let’s presume that you are looking at a 72-hour window to make it home.
Water will be your greatest need and desire. Without it, you will be miserable and eventually succumb to death. Personally, I would have a Lifestraw for the convenience and weight alone; otherwise, a container water bottle with the filter built-in. But a bottle is not always practical, so worst case you will need to sterilize some water yourself with either iodine, bleach, or by boiling.
Sometimes you may want to just consider a way to carry some water with you and then figure out a way to make sure it’s safe to drink when you have a chance to drink. Having a lightweight method is going to be your best method.
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