Guest Column: Living On The Edge – Like There’s No Tomorrow

Source: A Michigan woods

by Barbara Van Doeselaar


I exist now. To experience this minute and hour is core to my philosophy of life. I live on the edge of a woods in Michigan with my dog, a Siberian husky.

In an emergency – who can I really depend on reverberates through my mind every now and then. To balance those thoughts I plan ahead and have designed my own “bug out” strategy for worse case scenarios. Expect the unexpected is my motto.

Here are some thoughts I’d like to share about “bugging out” or fleeing:

The first is a Go-Bag and should contain items that you can’t replace. Say there is a huge fire and the neighborhood goes up in smoke, and you must be out in 15 minutes or less. A home fire doubles in size every minute. It is smart to plan ahead. Being hurried and frightened, you may grab some good things but leave important items behind. So, place copies of important papers, non-replaceable photos, prescriptions, extra pair of eye glasses, food bars, and cash all sealed in a plastic bag. The plastic bag and a change of clothes can fit in a small backpack. Information can also be stored on a flash drive (keep it updated). Grab your pre-packed backpack and water bottle and get out in 15 minutes or less. Any family members or really close friends you might have should know your strategy and what to expect – that is, again expect the unexpected. Remember – channel your fear! Un-channeled fear is not your friend, so devise a plan. It’s good to jot things down for memory sake.

Some people would say they wouldn’t want to live…most of those thoughts are situational. Try to envision beyond the moments of crisis. That may mean staying busy with an objective in mind.  You will have more of a chance at reflection and a bit of comfort if you prepare. There is a prep rule called “The Rule of 3”. It is: Humans can survive for 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. Prepare and plan for each. The goal is a denier pack of about 25 pounds and enough supplies for 72 hours. There are plenty of online lists of needed essentials.

The second bag, a “Bug Out Bag” is for a SHTF (shit hits the fan) scenario. A friend of mine feels a bottle of fine wine and a waiter’s cork screw would be essential in this category. As hunger and thirst set in, human nature will fight to live. If you have a change of heart it is not wise to approach others. It is unknown how they will react, tending to get a bit protective of their own effort and planning. I am pretty sure they won’t be welcoming. So, prepare. With just a little prep you could live to drink another day. Even for a non-prepper; a change of clothes would be very helpful. But just one article of clothing is the start of a first aid kit. It can be used for gathering, camouflage, water filter, warmth or cooling. Planning and a detailed map and compass  can keep you from going in circles. Plan! Then update the plan as you gather more information.

3 minutes without air. Say a train derailment occurs and it causes a chemical spill. Most people will not choose to have a gas mask, although in a gaseous type leak it is a life saver. At least have a painter’s mask.

3 hours without shelter becomes life threatening in certain weather conditions. Making it to a warm area is essential. In the United States, we also have dangers from wild animals and poisonous plants, bites and stings. Knowing geography and where you go depends on your level of fitness and is a situational emergency. Most able-bodied people can walk about 20 miles a day. (Not me, I’m good for about 10 miles with my bug out bag.) On a bicycle I can go much further, if needed.

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the government opened the Superdome sports area. It was far from ideal, there was enough food (MRE’s or meals ready to eat) and water for 3 days for 1500 people. There was no power, not enough generator fuel, and the people were entombed there for 5 days. The government said they didn’t want to make it too comfortable, but, wanted the people to evacuate the area. “It’s not a hotel.”  Plan ahead and keep your gas tank full. The government’s plan ended up with many thirsty, hungry, fighting casualties and 3 dead.

Out in the countryside, building a stick shelter takes an axe, connectors or rope and plenty of muscle. But I have tried to make a shelter, it was a fun week… My sleeping bag hooks (on the outside of my bug out bag), along with a ground/or roof cloth sheet.  Plan on where it is your traveling. There are times it makes sense to stay put – being able to think on your feet is helpful. 

3 days without water is highly unlikely in my area. Michigan has 40 major rivers and 3,288 miles of freshwater lake shorelines. So, important water for cleaning or for dried food is available. For water purification I use the All-in-one-Filter from Cabela’s World’s Foremost Outfitter. It is guaranteed to make 1 million gallons of safe drinking water. It weighs 3 ounces and goes in my Bug Out Bag. Practice using this and other tools you need and make sure all the shipping/packing material is cut off prior to packing.

3 weeks without food would probably do me some good. But, seriously people would be desperately hungry if the power is hit by an electromagnetic pulse. All electronics become worthless. Most generators, stores and gas stations would be empty or not usable in this amount of time. So, it is suggested to have 7 days of food on hand. For traveling or for on-hand emergency food supply, (MRE’s) are light and easy to prepare for eating. They are complete meals, including milk.

There are over 68 million preppers (1 in 4) spending millions, 1/3rd of which are millennials (According to Costco has a doomsday prep kit that costs $6000 contains NukePills. It is good for a year and has 600 cans of food. The food collection is pasta, beans, beef, chicken, fruits and veggies. It also contains things like a throwing axe. A man named Bob McDevitt of Reno spent $2000,000 stocking up on supplies. It has been a banner year for sales.

A significant and important item is your weapon of choice. The DD4 AR rifle from Daniel Defense can still work after an explosion or fall from a helicopter landing in a river and is still accurate. A rifle usually gives a kick that may hurt your shoulder, but, this one barely moves. It is 6 ½  pounds. Being that heavy you may want to choose a Smith and Wesson, 38 special or another smaller, carry weapon. Knifes and all-in-one Super Tool 300 Multitool can be critical and are available online and at sporting goods and hardware stores.

Remember even a minimal plan will help you channel your fear. 

Use your fear to your advantage.


Plan for the unexpected. Adapt.