I previously wrote that the beginning of any prepping plan is goals. That is, what is it you are actually trying to accomplish? In other words, you must have SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound.

So, at the beginning of 2011, I sat down and really thought about what I realistic could achieve via prepping activities and what I could not.


Here is my premise:

  1. I live in urban area – Houston, Texas.
  2. I have no bug out location within a reasonable distance. Even if I did, the logistical issues of reaching that location with the hoards evacuating are insurmountable.  My wife and I did not know each other when Rita threatened Houston. Our separate evacuations were horrendous. I was stuck in traffic for well over 10 hours and she finally had to turn back to Houston because she was running out of gas. In a real SHTF scenario, it would be similar or worse. Granted, we successfully evacuated together for Ike, but that was very well telegraphed and controlled by local authorities. I will say they did a good job; I cannot count on that being repeated.
  3. Thus, the most likely scenario for my household is bugging in. That is not to say we won’t have a situation requiring evacuation (a Cat-5 hurricane baring down on us or a nuclear detonation), but my most likely situation is shelter in place.
  4. We do need to plan for evacuation with a variety of lead times, <1 hour (as quick as possible), 1 hour, and 2 hours. If we have more time, the 2 hour plan will work just as well.
  5. Both of us spend 5 days a week away from home. Getting home might be a problem if the SHTF between 7 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday. In this case, a Get-Home-Bag is necessary.
  6. I realize I cannot plan for everything. This is also just a start. As I complete these basic plans, I can expand from there.

So, I described these goals and shared them with my wife.  She may think I am crazy, but she has to know what I am spending time, energy and money on.

Goal: Have a fully-formed emergency and/or evacuation plan and preparations in places such that:

  • Have Level 1 “Go” bags available (always available in cars) <1 hour notice to leave.
    • Always available in cars – Jim and wife
    • Dog(s), Cats – assembled and in garage
    • 72 Hours food, water
    • Documentation

Status: Goal 1 is complete. The cat’s are less prepared, but we can hit the road in an hour or less, 30 minutes if we needed. I can hit the road in 5 minutes if I necessary.  Of course, I think I can do better by having a back pack fully prepared with extra supplies, but the basic goal is met.

  • We can load vehicles and depart the house with Level 2 supplies within 1 hour.
    • People, Dog(s), Cats
    • 72 hours of food, water  and supplies
    • Documentation
Level 2 means extra food, water and supplies necessary to sustain us for five days.

Status: This is mostly complete.  The supplies are in plastic totes ready to rock and roll. My only concerns, again, are the cats.  Since they are my wife’s cats, the best I can think of is to have a checklist of all the stuff they need to get out the door. My wife would move fast if told we have to leave in an hour.

  • We can load vehicles and depart the house with Level 3 within 2 hours – (Category 4 or 5 hurricane)
    • People, dogs and cats
    • 72 hours of food and supplies
    • Extra supplies (clothing, toiletries, etc)
    • Documentation

Status: If we have two hours, we could easily be loaded and out the door.  I would like to be faster and would have to push my wife and cats, but we could do it.

  • Have ability to survive five days at home (Level 4) without external food, water, fuel, electricity, or supplies.
    • Generator
    • Gasoline
    • Food and water
    • A/C or Heat
    • Sewer system
Status: This was recently completed. I have 21+ days of food for us all. There are some weakness. Once again, the cat’s food and litter. Of course, my dog is accounted for because he is easy. I have a small propane backup heater, but need to have a space heater that could plug into the generator or the backup battery system.  I have water stored, but if it went on longer than 10 days, I would need either rain water (plenty of totes to collect) or a source I could collect, filter and purify with boiling and/or chlorine and/or iodine.  I have convinced my wife to get a rain barrel giving me 50 gallons to work with and a system to collect more.

Am I happy that I accomplished these goals? Yes and no. I have a lot in place and have accomplished a lot in three months this year. However, everywhere I look, I see gaps and weaknesses such as:

  • No written evacuation plan
  • Cats
  • Poor checklists
  • Cats
  • No practice drill
  • Did I mention cats?
  • Ready to go toiletry kit and extra cloths in my Level 2 preps.
  • The cats really are a prepper problem!

Not only that, I am concerned that I don’t see the gaps and blind spots.  In the coming weeks and months, I hope to explore those weaknesses and expose my blind spots with the help of the prepper community.  That is what we are all here for.

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We’re a group of suburban preppers in the Northeast and live in the NYC suburbs that write The Suburban Survival Blog to talk about preparedness and self-reliance out there to help others prepare for what could be an uncertain future due to economic, weather, and other reasons.