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When is it time to get out of Dodge? The experts weigh in
The News - Disaster Preparedness
June 17, 2013
when should you get out of dodge?
When to get out of Dodge (GOOD) is the question a lot of survival minded people ask themselves. Sometimes, in the case of massive flooding or earthquake damage, the answer is obvious: get out now!

But looking ahead to a time when the rule of law and the structure of our society may not be reliable, when do we know that it’s time to get out, to leave the security of our homes and, hopefully, move on to a safer location? Last month I asked a number of survival and preparedness experts to weigh in on this question. You can read Part 1 of their responses here. Now for Part 2, another set of experts weigh in with their assessment of, “How will  you know it’s time to get out of Dodge?” [TSM]

From Nathan Jefferson, author of The Wayward Journey

The long and short answer is very binary. You won’t or you will.That’s really helpful, right? So let me clarify: in most possible scenarios you won’t really know that TSHTF right away. To help illustrate what I’m talking about I’ll use two events; Event X and Event Z.

Event X is a regional, national or even international event that leaves you wondering about your next steps. These happen dozens if not hundreds of times a year around the world and usually a level of normalcy returns after a few days, weeks or sometimes months.

Event Z, is the game changer. You aren’t wondering if TSHTF. Instead you are running around and executing your plan (you have a plan, right?) trying to prepare as fast as possible. The easiest examples would be nuclear war, invasion by foreign forces, national or international large scale events.

For this part of the discussion Event X will be our focus:

People, even the unprepared, are pretty resilient and it would normally take days if not weeks for things to slowly fall apart after Event X.

You’ve seen it on TV and in the news dozens if not hundreds of times after localized disasters. People sit around and expect someone to come help them and that everything will be all right. While there might be looting or other criminal elements around that you don’t see in your average day, things are still pretty quiet and society holds together until they eventually get better or worse. You can find hundreds of examples of things getting better; it’s the

evacuation in fog When is it time to get out of Dodge? The experts weigh in, Part 2

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norm and to be expected.

It is this very expectation that helps keep the wheels on the bus for the first few days or weeks. As a prepper person who wants to help restore normalcy and keep you and your family safe you should be spending your time executing your plan, assuming things will get back to normal, but always being ready in case they don’t.

For this, you should have everything you would need for a bug out or to ‘hunker down’, ready and waiting. BOV (Bug Out Vehicle) loaded, BOBs (Bug Out Bags) stashed by the door, window protection pulled out from storage, water containers filled, etc. You are ready to bug out or you are ready to fortify, but you aren’t executing that part of the play, yet.You should be listening to the news; local, national and international. If available check the internet. Contact relatives, friends or those in your mutual support group via any means available, phone, internet, CB, Ham. You want to watch for things like:
  • Widespread rioting
  • Mass evacuations
  • People being taken to relief camps
  • Gas and food shortages
  • Warnings that utilities will be out for extended periods of time
  • Spreading unrest or turmoil
It will be up to you, based on what you learn, to make the judgment call of when to move to the next steps of your plan and bug out or fortify. If you are bugging out, leaving a day before normalcy returns probably won’t hurt, just treat it as a practice drill. If you are fortifying, you might want to wait to the last minute to do any permanent structural changes to your house, but having your protective plywood in position by windows and doors won’t hurt. For Event Z:

You know Event Z has happened. (If it is an Event X that turns into an Event Z, you should already be well on your way to being ready.) You will hopefully have some means to listen to the news and hear details such as:

  • Nuclear attack/meltdown
  • Martial law
  • Invasion or large scale attacks
  • National scale natural disaster/catastrophe (such as Yellowstone Super Volcano or meteor impact)
  • Response to other disasters has failed
  • Almost instant national unrest

If Event Z happens you will be executing your plans as fast as possible, hopefully it isn’t the first time you are testing it.


An Event X that turns into an Event Z is what I believe to be the most likely; where a ‘normal’ disaster finally overwhelms the response and turns into a complete meltdown. For this to happen it would likely come from a combination of two disasters. Think economic meltdown and earthquake or oil shortage and massive hurricane, or any other two things that eventually

evacuation route When is it time to get out of Dodge? The experts weigh in, Part 2

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overcome people’s natural resiliency.

I hope and pray we never have to deal with either of these types of events, but I’ll never stop getting ready just in case!

From Bernie the Apartment Prepper

1.  Temporary situation that requires you to leave immediately, but hopefully come back when it’s safe.  Some of those would be:

  • weather related such as hurricanes
  • flooding
  • wildfires
  • chemical spill

2.  Permanent bug out, when you have to leave and you may not be able to come back for a long time, if ever.   This is a bit more complex and involves carefully watching for signs.

For me, it would be time to leave if:

  • No trucks delivering to the stores, and it does not look like they will be coming for a long time.
  • Infrastructure has gone down:  no electricity or water for a few days, and no anticipated fix.  In this situation, people will start getting desperate in the city and you don’t want to be trapped.
  • No rule of law;  911 and police no longer responding. This means no help will arrive if you or your family are threatened, and looters will start coming in soon.
  • Your gut tells you it’s time to leave.

From Claire Wolfe, author, columnist at Backwoods Home

Of course “before the balloon goes up” we’ll see much of what we’re already seeing: militarization of police; wild fluctuations in financial markets; growing authoritarianism and surveillance; huge disparity of wealth; perpetual wars; crumbling infrastructure; lack of opportunity for young people; smart money going offshore; and (most recent and worrisome) currency wars as central banks around the world all race to make their

evacuation traffic When is it time to get out of Dodge? The experts weigh in, Part 2

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money the cheapest.

But of course, all those things can go (and have gone) on for years.

The real collapse will probably be an abrupt, cascading series of events. All the pundits will scream (assuming they still can) about how “no one could have predicted it.”

My crystal ball is in the shop for repairs, but here are three things you might see right before things go blooey:

1. A sudden doubling or tripling of inflation, which the federal government will either deny or try to fight via silly patriotic campaigns.

2. The military being permanently moved into or near cities “to fight terrorism.”

3. Rolling shortages of key goods (bread, gasoline, crucial industrial supplies). These will be called “temporary” and pundits will say each shortage is caused by isolated, unrelated factors. But, one after another, they’ll keep happening.

Really, though, it’s most likely that a black swan will set the ultimate collapse in motion. Anyone who’s concerned about “when to get out of Dodge” should already have gone. Or go now.

© 2013, thesurvivalmom.
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