Access to a stocked survival shelter means the difference between life and death in an emergency. Unfortunately, your safe spot is only as good as its security.
If that’s compromised, escape is your only option. Here’s how to escape a compromised shelter and the backup plans you should have in place if you need to run.
Know All Your Possible Escape Routes
You must know all your possible escape routes before you need to get out of there. This might include anything from game trails through the woods to roads, highways, and even local waterways. Sewers might sound gross, but they can serve as underground passageways to different parts of the city.
Spend some time exploring your surroundings. You don’t need to know every inch of your property, but the more familiar you are with your setting, the easier it becomes to disappear into the wilderness if needed. Look for caves, fallen logs, hollow tree trunks, and shrubs that could provide a hiding place during your escape.
Be Ready to Run
You might have some warning that you’ll need to escape, but it’s just as likely you’ll need to disappear quickly. Knowing how to escape your survival shelter doesn’t help if you aren’t ready to run at a moment’s notice.
Make sure you have a bug-out bag ready that you can throw over your shoulder. It should include provisions, weapons, and other survival supplies you’ll need to keep going even if you can’t return to your base of operations. Make sure anything you can’t live without — such as vital paperwork or items with sentimental importance — are either kept in your bag or stored in such a way that you can grab them on your way out the door.
Remember to eat enough food and get enough physical activity. You need to be able to run away if you must. If your car doesn’t start or your bike tire is flat, you’ll have no other choice but to escape on foot. Thus, maintaining your strength and stamina is important.
Escape by Land
In most cases, your escape routes will be overland. But this leaves many opportunities for variables you’ll need to consider. Will you be taking game trails, back roads, highways, or some combination? Will you be on foot, in a vehicle, or on horseback? Will you be alone, or will you be bringing your family with you? Are you planning to hide out in the woods and return later, or will you be abandoning the shelter and seeking a new one?
This is where exploring your property and all your possible escape routes come in handy. You’ll have a plan for where you’ll go if something goes wrong, and you’ll also have backups for your primary escape route.
Escape by Water
Lakes or rivers on your property can also provide a useful escape route. It will be impossible for your attackers to follow if you only have one boat. If more than one boat, it will take you a few minutes to drag any other craft you have at your dock.
It’s also a good idea to have your watercraft stocked with survival and first-aid gear. This is especially useful if you plan to live on your boat for a while.
If you are crossing a lake, you should stash a vehicle on the far side as part of your evacuation plan.
Managing Survival After Escape
Unless you have a backup shelter, you’ll need to survive in the wilderness until you can build a new one or return home. The supplies you bring with you should allow you to do that. Include nonperishable foods, water, and water purification supplies, tools for building shelters and fire, hunting equipment, and general survival items.
Practice your survival skills long before you need them. Building a fire and a makeshift shelter might seem simple, but in an actual crisis, you might find them a bit more difficult—practice in both ideal and challenging conditions. Building a fire with dry wood is easy while making one with snow-soaked kindling or drenched timber is another thing.
Knowing how to find and purify water, navigate and read a compass, hunt and forage for food, and cook over a fire are also essential skills you’ll need to survive. Practice these as well and research edible plants and bugs in your area. You don’t want to die by ingesting a poisonous mushroom.
Return or Abandon
Once you’ve escaped, you need to make a decision. Do you want to wait it out until you can return to your shelter, or do you want to abandon it and start over? In a true survival situation, the latter may be difficult but not impossible.
If you’re planning to abandon ship, you may even consider destroying whatever you leave behind to prevent others from using it. It might sound extreme, but if you’re worried about attackers following you to your next survival shelter, it’s a great way to discourage them from tailing you. Remember to grab all the food and water you can carry before burning the place to the ground.
Consider your surroundings, as well. How far will you need to travel to reach safety? What kinds of wild animals, terrain, and natural obstacles stand in your way? If you plan to climb mountains, cross rivers, or even a desert to find another shelter, you must prepare yourself for these various challenges. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to survive.
On the other hand, if you plan to return, you must find a safe place to hide and survey the area. Make sure whoever is after you vacate the premises before heading back inside your shelter. Otherwise, you could run into trouble.
In an emergency, staying calm is the key to survival. It’s hard to know what you’ll do or how you’ll respond, but you can prepare for all sorts of scenarios. Be ready for everything, and you’ll never be surprised by anything.