The Seven Sisters of Urban Survival (Part IV)
A shelter is any structure that provides you and yours with some degree of protection from that which can be harmful as long as the threat exists. It can be as temporary as the inner halls of a building as a tornado passes nearby, as improvised as a poncho tent, or as well built and more permanent as an actual safe haven underground site.
(Note: I use the term “safe haven” to avoid the negative slant the media has put on such terms as “compounds” “sites” etc.)
What type of shelter you will have available will depend on:
1. Where are you when the event occurs?
2. What kind of warning, if any, did you have?
3. How prepared are you?
WHERE: Most of us need our jobs, so you better have a plan and if possible, your gear. If your idiot boss or company demands you come to work no matter how threatening the weather predictions. Your plan should include the usual events (ice storm, blizzard, possible flash flooding, high winds) along with the less probable but possible ones such as tornados and earthquakes in the areas prone to them.
Along with all of these, there is also the threat of terrorist action, urban unrest, and lone gunmen that will cause you to be ordered by the authorities to shelter-in-place. (SIP) Simply put, you are stuck where you are with what you have. If you have children, you should try to plan for them being in school and having to shelter in place also.
If you are in a SIP, or your employer has some kind of emergency plan, your choice may be taken from you. Remember, after the storm passes you will need that job, so you’ll have to go along. Still, use your head and stay away from outside windows and walls, bookcases, file cabinets, or any objects that could come down on you. Under a desk is a fair option. If in a store, try to get away from registers and high dollar value items. If looting starts you want to be hidden around items they don’t care about, like garden tools, which may even provide you with weapons to defend yourself.
WARNING: Some events have warnings (slow moving train wrecks), many do not (bolt out of the blue). And no, preppers don’t live one step away from their bunkers. We go out to movies, shopping, parties, children’s school events, etc. We have a basic plan and some basic gear with us, heed warnings and avoid doing stupid things like those who every winter, go out in the snow without so much as a blanket in their car. That doesn’t end well.
GEAR: But be it work, school or some family outing, you can find yourself in the middle of a mess. That’s where your gear becomes your “ace up your sleeve.” In later articles, we’ll go over the details for everything from a “lunch box” emergency kit you can take to work, to your vehicle “on board bag”. For now, we’ll stick to shelter.
You should have at least a poncho and paracord in your basic bag. If you have to flee from work without any kit, then grab up some large trash bags and any type of strong cord. The outdoor survival folks here can explain any other lean-to’s or improvised shelters from nature.
At home, know when and if you can shelter in place there (hunker down) or leave (bug out). There may be no choice. You may be ordered to evacuate, or your area is too risky to stay in for various reasons. You should always be prepared to leave!! As good as my home is a wildfire or other threats could force us out.
Gear includes any ropes, boards, plywood and tools that you may need to get ready for or help deal with the damage from a major event. It also means the worst case scenario where your safe haven has to be livable in for days, weeks and possibly months.
One last important note, try to avoid as much as possible being scooped up by the National Guard, police or other such well-meaning folks. At the best, this means some kind of FEMA run camp where you have NO control over your life, at the worst this means Katrina, New Orleans and maybe the end of it.