One of the basic things that many preppers carry is a GHB or Get Home Bag. The GHB is designed to be within your reach at all times and carries those emergency supplies that you might need if you are at work or otherwise away from home when a natural disaster or SHTF occurs.
The main purpose of a GHB is to carry supplies that will help to ensure that you are able to get home where hopefully you can meet up with other family members and make the decision to either bug in or bug out.
A GHB is not just used during a SHTF event, it can also come in handy for any number of daily inconveniences such as a flat tire, dead battery, construction detour, or another unexpected incident on the way home from work or another location.
The goal of a get home bag in routine situations is to remain as comfortable as possible by preventing blisters, heatstroke, dehydration, sunburn, hypothermia, etc. until you can make it home.
But a primary reason for a GHB is to help you get home following a natural disaster or SHTF event. So let’s say you are at the office, which is fifty miles from home. You’ve got your EDC on your person and you’ve got your GHB hanging on the back of your office door.
The power in the building goes out suddenly and stays off. People around you are curious, they’re calling friends and family members on their cell, trying to find out what’s going on.
Suddenly someone yells out “it’s war, martial law, we gotta get home!” Within minutes your office erupts into chaos. You glance out the window and see co-workers exiting the building in droves.
You grab your cell and send a text to your wife that you are on your way and what route you intend to use to get home. Then you grab your GHB from the hook on the door, change into your sturdy shoes and ditch your dress shoes, and head out of the building.
Home is about a 20-minute drive in good traffic. It’s just over 20 miles away. Even with some traffic delays, you should be home within an hour or so. But what if things don’t go as planned?
In this article, we will discuss ten things that can go wrong during a get home scenario. After each discussion, we will give brief suggestions on how to prevent or resolve the issue so you can keep moving.
#1. Traffic Jams
The first thing that could go wrong in a get home scenario is the most likely and that is that roads can be jammed with traffic. Think about your typical “rush hour” traffic jams that occur at the start and end of each day when most people are on the roads and heading to/from work.
Traffic Jams during a SHTF scenario will be five to ten times worse! Not only will you be dealing with lots of traffic on the roads but there will likely be abandoned cars that broke down, ran out of gas, etc. blocking the road.
- Make sure your GHB and car BOB contain some food and water.
- Drive a different route to/from work during “normal” days so you can gauge the type of traffic, density of houses, possible water sources, etc. Carry a map with notes of these things for each route in your GHB or car.
- Carry extra cans of fuel on the back of your vehicle or in your cargo area.
#2. Running Out of Gas
A second thing that can occur during a get home situation is that your vehicle can run out of gas. Even if you have been diligent about not letting your gas tank get below ¼ or ½ of a tank on any given day, you will use extra gas during a traffic jam that lasts several hours.
Or if your primary route is blocked and you have to take a longer alternative route, running out of gas could be an issue. There is also the possibility that due to either debris on the road or even gunfire, your gas tank could be punctured and start leaking.
- Include a gas tank sealer, some distilled vinegar, and sponge in your car BOB so you can pull off and make a repair, and then refill with your extra gas from the back if needed
- Store a foldable bicycle or if your budget allows a folding 2-seater electric scooter in your car’s cargo area or on a roof rack.
#3. Car Mechanical Break Down
The third most likely thing to happen during a get home situation is that something will go wrong with your vehicle, causing it to break down. This could be anything, from just windshield wipers that quit working to a flat tire, a cracked radiator hose, or worse a gunshot hole in your gas tank.
Basically, anything that can break or stop working on your vehicle that would cause it to stop moving forward can be a problem.
- Commit to keeping your car’s mechanical engine well-maintained and replace parts that are worn before they reach their “breaking” point.
- Make sure that your car BOB includes tools and minor replacement parts such as wiper blades, brake pads, spare tire, spare brake line, so you can make any necessary mechanical repairs.
- Carry extra mechanical fluids such as washer fluid, transmission fluid, oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, etc.
- Be prepared to head out on your bicycle or on foot if something breaks that you cannot repair.
#4. Car Accident
One thing to be particularly aware of during a SHTF or natural disaster scenario is car accidents. With all the traffic on the roads at the same time and people operating in a state of anxiety, fear, and panic, the chances of an actual car accident are far greater than during a “normal” day’s commute. Even if you do everything right, someone else could still hit you.
- Take a defensive driving class and practice defensive driving daily but especially during a SHTF
- Remain calm while driving and take an alternative route to avoid the majority of traffic.
- Carry a trauma first aid kit as part of your car BOB so you are prepared to treat any injuries because emergency services personnel will likely be overwhelmed and unavailable.
#5. Injury from Debris
Depending on the type of SHTF scenario that you find yourself in, one of the things that could go wrong when you’re trying to get home is an injury from falling debris.
This could be a tree or power line that falls and lands on your vehicle. It could be debris that is hurtling through the air and hits your windshield or it could be falling ash from a volcanic eruption, burning trees from a wildfire, really anything.
- Know the proper safety procedures for different types of natural disasters that may happen in your immediate area.
- Make sure your GHB and/or car BOB includes an emergency radio so you can stay alerted to driving conditions in surrounding areas.
- Avoid affected areas as much as possible even if this means taking a longer route to get home.
#6. Fake Police
When a SHTF scenario has gone on for several hours or days, you may have to worry about “fake” police or authorities. This will be people attempting to take advantage of unsuspecting citizens by pretending to be an authority figure. They could order you to turn around, try to confiscate your vehicle, or take control over your supplies.
- Carefully observe your local police and sheriff departments during routine operations parade crowd patrol, highway stops, and other local events. Make sure you know the details of their uniforms and badges so you can spot a fake uniform or badge.
- Respectfully ask police for their badge and identification if you are stopped or given an order and you suspect the person is not actually in authority.
- In a SHTF scenario, keep your distance from anyone acting as an authority figure unless you actually are in dire need of their assistance.
#7. Actual Police or Military Checkpoints
Depending on how severe the crisis is in your area, you could come across actual police or military checkpoints. Things could be especially tense, especially with all the issues today surrounding illegal immigrants and refugees.
- Always be prepared to show photo ID and passport or birth certificate.
- Carry an emergency radio or other communications device that will keep you abreast of where checkpoints are and avoid them if you anticipate an issue.
#8. Route is blocked by debris
When traveling through town from work or wherever you were when SHTF to your home, you may find that your path is blocked by fallen debris or even deliberately placed debris. Regardless it’s clear that you cannot continue on the route you were driving without some type of action.
Disclosure: This post has links to 3rd party websites, so I may get a commission if you buy through those links. See my full disclosure for more.
- Carry tools such as a hand chainsaw and Fatmax utility bar so that you can make roads passable.
- Utilize one of the several alternative driving routes to get home that you have mapped out in advance. Consider railroad tracks, power line access roads, etc. as a workaround.
- If there’s no other option, make use of your bicycle or scooter so that you can continue moving forward. Try to carry as much of the life sustaining supplies from your car BOB as you can carry.
#9. Your Vehicle is Stolen or Confiscated
What happens if you come out of work to the parking lot only to find that your car has been stolen by a desperate individual trying to get home as well?
Or what if you arrive at a police or military checkpoint only to be told that your vehicle is going to be confiscated because it is a needed resource for police and emergency personnel?
- A stolen vehicle really leaves you no choice but to set out on foot.
- Be prepared to get home using only your EDC and GHB supplies.
- Ask police or military personnel if you can keep some of your supplies before they take the vehicle. Try to get as much as you can into your pockets and GHB.
#10. A Mugger Demands All of Your Supplies
So let’s as in the previous example, someone steals or confiscates your vehicle and you are on foot trying to make it home. In a SHTF scenario, co-workers and neighbors are going to be panicked.
The majority of people will be scared, they will be desperate and trying to get what they need to survive because THEY didn’t plan for something like this. It’s very likely that someone or a group of people will attempt to mug you and take your supplies.
- Buy a GHB that is nondescript and blends in such as a laptop bag or lightweight student backpack.
- Carry both lethal and non-lethal weapons such as a handgun, pepper spray, a knife, etc.
- Get training in physical self-defense and practice frequently.
- Maintain your level of physical fitness so you can run if it will help you keep your supplies.
- Employ the 2 is 1 and 1 is none rule of survival so that if your pack is taken, you will still have what you need to survive as part of your EDC.
These ten scenarios are just some of the things that can go wrong during a get home scenario following a SHTF event.
The idea is to anticipate in advance ANYTHING that could happen and try to be prepared to either prevent it or work around it. Your primary goal following a SHTF event or natural disaster is to get home in one piece so that you can reunite with family and either bug out or bug in depending on the situation.
The more you think about what could possibly go awry, the more flexible you will be when you are actually thrown into a get home scenario.
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.