American Outdoor Guide|January 2022
Brian M. Morris
Mike Tyson once said that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. He had one thing right: No plan ever survives the first round fired.

“Murphy's Law states that everything that can go wrong will go wrong at the absolutely most inopportune time. That might be true, but having a plan to start with is always better than no plan at all. Even if your plan falls short, at least you'll have some basic idea of what to do if things go south.

It's virtually impossible to be 100 percent prepared for every contingency or emergency situation you might find yourself in, but you can drastically increase your odds of survival by personalizing your survival strategy and plans to your own personal biorhythm.


When you look at this from a worst-case-scenario perspective, you need to assume that for whatever reason, your vehicle will be rendered inoperable, and you'll have to depend on your ability to walk to wherever you decide to go. This doesn't mean you don't have to plan for contingencies for which you might be able to get the vehicle operational again; it's just that you always need to plan to walk in the event that riding is no longer an option.

People can, have and will resort to extreme violence when they're scared, hungry or when they believe there will be no repercussions for their actions. As Ronald Reagan liked to say, Trust, but verify. You should assume everyone is a potential threat until you can verify that they aren't.

Predators often prey on the goodwill of others and will, no doubt, take advantage of chaos to benefit themselves. So, keep your head on a swivel, and stay alert. In addition, having a base distance in mind will help you choose the survival gear you should carry with you when you leave home.

If your work is a five-minute walk from your home, you probably don't need to carry a 100-pound pack of supplies and gear with you every time you walk to the office. On the other hand, if your commute to work is an hour or more drive from your home, it could take several days to weeks to walk home, depending on the situation.


How far you can move on foot per day is subject to many variables, such as what shape you're in, how tough your feet are, the footwear you have on, the terrain, weather, threat situation ... the list can go on and on.

As a rule of thumb, you should plan for five to 10 miles a day. Avoiding obstacles and people whenever possible will slow you down considerably—but slowly and deliberately is better than carelessly and full-speed-ahead, particularly when the emergency situation is still an unknown factor.

It's probably safe to say that in an emergency, the vast majority of us would be compelled to, at least in the interim, return to our homes to check on loved ones and assess options moving forward. Think about the farthest point from your home you generally travel each day for work, shopping, appointments, etc., and come up with a maximum distance to use as your base number to begin your personalized GBH, or get back home plan.

Example: The driving route distance from home to work is 25 miles. If your drive to and from work is the farthest distance out that you travel in a day, your GBH distance equals 25 miles. Assuming you're able to travel 10 miles per day on foot with a backpack over even terrain, you should be able to make it home in 2.5 days. Always rounding up, you'd want to have three days of food and water with you at any given time.

This is just a rule of thumb. The distance could be much longer in the event that you need to take a longer, alternate route or travel cross-country to avoid obstacles-or, potentially, people.


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