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Survival Bunkers

Recently I saw a show called Extreme Survival Bunkers on TV that got me tothinking. The show detailed several different people and their plans for building bunkers to ride out any mass casualty or TEOTWAWKI events.  If you’re looking for an hour of fairly entertaining television then I would highly recommend it.  If you’re looking for advice on how to Prudently and Reasonable Prepare then I would probably not recommend bothering to take notes…

The concept behind large underground bunkers like the ones detailed in the show is to securely house and provide for multiple people or even multiple families for a period of months or years.  The bunkers highlighted cost between a couple hundred thousand dollars up into the millions.  Two of the manufacturers are Vivos and Rising S Company.  Check out their websites, the bunkers they build are definitely cool.

But what exactly are you preparing for with this type of shelter?  I’m perfectly fine with building a storm shelter if you live in an area of the country that is prone to hurricanes or tornadoes.  I believe that to be a Prudent and Reasonable way to Prepare for a likely event.  But a long term survival bunker is something you would build if you were preparing for mass extinction events like nuclear war, EMP, global pandemic, catastrophic meteor strikes, or super-volcanic eruption.  And, while I did just list five events right off the top of my head that would leave anyone wishing for access to a bunker, they are still five very very unlikely events.

I prefer to prepare for more likely events that may affect a region of the country and could require a person to be self sufficient for a period of time, but which will pass.  Disasters like this happen every year multiple times in this country alone.  Hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, power outages, tornadoes, etc…  We see these disasters strike every year and they are what I choose to spend my money and time preparing for and defending against.  Not an end of the world scenario that is a) extremely unlikely and b) even if it were to happen unlikely to leave me able to reach my bunker anyhow.

Some of the bunkers featured looked to be on their owners immediate property.  A small underground shelter like this that could be accessed quickly in the event of emergency would actually be pretty cool.  Especially if you live in an area often hit with tornadoes or hurricanes.

Some of the other bunkers appeared to be in remote locations (one of them in an old missile silo) and was set up more like a giant apartment complex.  How would one even expect to get to this bunker in an emergency?  And who are your new neighbors if you do all make it?  I don’t even like sharing a table at Beni Hana’s, I can’t imagine living underground with a few hundred strangers for a year or two.

I guess you could build your own large underground bunker and live there full-time, they certainly make them big enough.  But seriously, that’s the life you want?  I’m not too interested in living underground when I could be up enjoying the sunshine.  I’m even less interested in finding out what life looks like a year or two after a mass extinction event.  Every scenario I can think of looks pretty grim.

So, while I would probably have a small shelter set up if I had unlimited cash I doubt I would go for the bigtime “stay underground for years” type bunker.  I’m just too claustrophobic.  I’ll take my chances with the zombies, thank you very much…

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Which Bug-Out Region Do You Live In?

The feasibility of any bug out plan depends a lot on your starting point.  Obviously, some regions of the country have more to offer than others in terms of places to go.  But every part of the Lower 48 has its share of potential bug out locations.  The map below shows eight major regions as I’ve divided them for the purposes of my book: Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late.

There is some crossover between the regions shown here, but the illustrator has done a pretty good job of placing the demarcation lines approximately the way I have divided the bug out locations described in the book.  Note the page numbers that will correspond to the beginning of each regional chapter.  The first four chapters are on general information and planning, including gear and methods of transportation.

My reasoning for these divisions is that these specific regions offer distinct variations in terrain, climate and plant and animal communities.  Again, there is some crossover in some areas, but anyone familiar with all these areas of the U.S. will see how survival skills and gear can be different from one region to the next.  Natural hazards including everything from weather to dangerous wildlife vary according to these regions, as do resources such as the availability or lack or water, edible plants and game animals.  It is this variation that made working on this book such an interesting project for me over the past several months, not to mention the real time I’ve spent out there backpacking, canoeing and kayaking in all of these regions at various times during the past 25 years.  Writing each chapter made me reminiscence about past trips and long to load up a canoe or backpack and go again. 

My home base is in the Gulf Coast region, and I stay here because of family ties as well as my love of the water – both the rivers and the Gulf itself.  I’m lucky to have a large number of bug out options close by because I live in one of the least populated states east of the Mississippi River.  Those of us living in small towns or rural areas are the least likely to need to bug out to begin with, but each region on the above map has its share of densely populated cities where the residents would do well to have a working knowledge of where to go if the SHTF and they have to get out.  Keep in mind that the vast majority of the populations of those cities are not going to have this knowledge and most will not even try to leave, but will instead wait for outside help that may or may not come.  Out here in the small towns and rural areas of America, most of us would pull together in such a situation and help each other out, as has been proven time and time again when the big Gulf hurricanes have hit the nearby coast.  In the aftermath of Katrina, the media covered the chaos and violence going down in New Orleans, while people along the even harder hit Mississippi Coast quietly rolled up their sleeves and went to work digging out of the rubble and rebuilding. 

So it’s obvious that where you live has a lot to do with how you should formulate your survival plans and can be a big factor in your chances of success or at least the degree of difficulty you would face.  But one thing we are blessed with here in the U.S. is plenty of undeveloped and uninhabited lands.  It may not seem so when you’re driving past mile after mile of strip malls and suburban sprawl, but compared to so many other countries in the world there is a lot of unused land here – both public and private.  Have you explored all the potential bug out locations near you?  What if you travel a lot for your job or for pleasure?  Do you know where the big uninhabited areas are in other regions you frequent?  If not, you should think about it.  I hope that this kind of information detailed in my new book will be of use not only for bug out planning, but to encourage readers to get out and explore the great wild places available their own region and other parts of the country.