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Getting Home In The Event Of An EMP- Part 1, by B.M.

I want to open by saying that this is not a blueprint for long-term survival or preparedness, nor is it the same as a bug-out-bag scenario. This is a guide for getting home in the initial stages of a grid-down scenario. I served in the USMC,  worked the streets of this country for 25 plus years and I have also traveled extensively (to 60 plus countries). I have dealt, on a regular basis, with human beings from all walks of life, and there is no accounting for the ignorant and irrational behavior that they display.

The One Thing You Can Trust in Dealing with People in Duress

The one thing that you can trust in when it comes to dealing with people who are in duress is that you cannot trust them! They are self-serving and will not act or think rationally when under extreme strain. Learning how to limit your interactions with them while moving rapidly out of an urban environment in a grid-down scenario is a must for all those who have to work in the major urban areas of the United States.

Normalcy Bias An Advantage in the Beginning

Most people will adhere to the rule of law for as long as they can. Obviously different places with different cultures have different dynamics, but in the end most people (not all but most) will follow the norms of society in the beginning stages of TEOTWAWKI. The normalcy bias will be an advantage in the beginning, so it is incumbent upon you to capitalize on it by moving rapidly and intelligently. Pre-planning is the most important factor. All the great gear will not save you or your family if you don’t have a clue where you are going or what you are doing. Honing your survival skills, including but not limited to, physical fitness (this is priority one), marksmanship, fire starting, knot tying, and terrain knowledge, is more of an aid in survival than all the gear in the world.

Before You Leave Your House

It is imperative for you to have a detailed plan in place for ensuring the safety and well-being of your dependents while you are away. If you work a long way from home, like I do, and your significant other also works, you have a problem. If your children are older (high schoolers), they might be able to assess the situation (if properly educated and prepared) and make a judgment call to get home immediately or at least get to a relatives or friends close by. Smaller children are helpless; they are trapped at school with no communication, no transportation, limited supplies, and the frightening reality that Mommy and Daddy are not there. It is necessary that relatives nearby recognize the signs of an EMP or Grid-Down scenario and act quickly to retrieve your children, if possible. You can’t get home quick enough (I don’t care how fast you run) to protect them, so you need to put in place protection plans before it happens.

Time- Your Enemy

Time is your enemy. You have to move rapidly but intelligently. Having a detailed plan in place that covers several contingencies will cut down on the time you spend trying to assess your egress route on the day of the event. I understand that no plan survives initial contact, but planning gives you options that the unprepared will not have. The stress and panic of the situation tends to shut most down. Options cut down on stress. Less stress causes fewer mistakes. Fewer mistakes minimizes risk of catastrophic incident for yourself.

Day One

You’ve parked your car, rode the elevator up to the twentieth floor, poured yourself a cup of coffee, and just sat down for a morning meeting with Lou from accounting when the power inexplicably goes out. The elevators immediately return to ground floor, the rooms become dark with only the light from outside coming through the windows to light the way, and the commotion of people trying to figure out what is happening fills the building. You look out the window and notice that all the cars have come to a stop and nothing is moving. Immediately, because of your training and preparations, you think EMP attack. You realize that the clock is now ticking for you and the longer that you wait the more dangerous your trip home will be.

Your Trip Home

Your first thought is your spouse and two children, 15 and 9. You work 50 miles from home, and the spouse works 15 miles away from the house. Trusting in the detailed plans you have put in place for the well-being of your spouse and children, you begin the process of your trip home. It is going to be a very long walk.

Related:  Survival Fitness and Physical Activity: Walking!

The average relatively fit person can cover approximately three miles per hour walking, so those are the numbers I’ll use when calculating this walk. If a reasonable amount of travel time in a day is 8 to 10 hours you should be able to make the trip in two days, right? Maybe not. There are many factors when trying to make it out of an urban setting during a grid-down scenario. For one, there will literally be thousands of people on foot and bicycle. The next thing to worry about is actually making it to the main highway in a timely fashion. The neighborhoods near highways are often not the best, so walking through these can be a challenge. After that, once you are on the highway you will have to navigate through the thousands of stalled cars and people roaming everywhere. Remaining low-key will be your number one ally during this time. You want to move quickly but discreetly. People will be loaded with questions. It is best for you to remain vague, unassuming, bland, and forgettable.

The Gray-Man

It is important to be forgettable, obscure, and unassuming– the Gray-Man. The Gray-Man is a concept of being able to hide in plain sight, to be the type of person who people don’t take a second look at. This will aid you in moving through large crowds unnoticed, and that is where you want to be in this scenario. I always keep a pair of blue jeans (a waist size bigger and relaxed fit), a black t-shirt (breaks up the printing of the concealed firearm the best), some type of light jacket, and hiking boots in the back of my car. Also, a non-descript baseball hat or black watch cap (nothing that stands out) is useful. I know this seems obvious, but any abnormalities will stand out. Avoid cargo pants (especially olive drab or digital pattern), as this will give you the appearance of a “prepared person” with “good stuff” in your Marine Corp digital pattern super pack. Rifles, shotguns, machetes, swords, et cetera draw attention to you, as does military (molle) gear. Being the Gray-Man will save your life.

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is the most important aspect of your movement. You can have all the guns and gear in the world, but someone only needs a snub nose .38 to take it all away. You need to be able to recognize a threat. Predators are easy to spot, if you train yourself to look for them. Most in a situation like this will be clueless. They’ll look clueless; they’ll act clueless, and if you pay attention you’ll notice it.

During this movement, you will encounter many street people. It is best to avoid eye contact. Remember, they are predatory by nature and are always looking for a “mope”. Use your periphery vision to observe these people. Look for the ones who are stalking. Their facial expressions and their body language will give them away. It is important to focus on your ultimate goal but not so much as to blind yourself to existential threats.

An Encounter

Always give an encountered person an out. Let them know that they can depart and that you don’t wish for a confrontation but that you are absolutely willing to do what is necessary to get home to your loved ones. Showing a willingness to barter or trade and knowing when to do it is important. After an encounter, whether force is used or not, get out of the area ASAP. Try not to use a direct straight route, if possible.


The use of firearms is always a very personal decision. Firearms are loud and tend to draw the type of attention you are looking to avoid. Use only when absolutely necessary. I am a firm advocate of your right to carry a firearm but also knowing how to use them responsibly and appropriately. A fool with a gun is an even more dangerous fool. A firearm is the ultimate equalizer, if handled properly. The Spirit should be your guide in this decision.


Dealing with the police can be tricky. Avoid them at all costs. There is absolutely nothing they can do for you at this point, and they are definitely armed. Most are not wealthy and are not prepared. You don’t want to look tough, shady, or targetable, as this will draw their attention. Cops are confrontational by nature, and if you give them a reason you will get confronted. If you get cute, you are going to get thumped.

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Hiding in Plain Sight

Hiding in plain sight is a skill that needs to be developed. Attempting to sneak around or move stealthily will only get you noticed, so move with the flow as you work your way out in the direction that you need to go. Try not to move against the flow of the crowd as this draws attention. You need to realize that your “Super-Secret Special Backway” is also the “Super-Secret Special Backway” of 50,000 other mopes.

Don’t Linger, First Several Hours Crucial to Escaping the City

The interstate will look like a parking lot with hundreds if not thousands of people roaming around, intermingling, and conversing. It is recommended that you avoid the temptation to opine or “hang around”, as this kills precious time. The first several hours is the most crucial to you escaping the confines of the city. The atmosphere will not remain jovial for long, so the more distance you can put between you and the city the better it is for you.

Exiting the city rapidly is the ultimate goal here. Using the crowd and the atmosphere to your advantage is paramount to you escaping what will soon to become an urban nightmare. You have many more miles to cover, so don’t linger.

This is the day that you need to cover the most ground. Staying alert and remaining focused will help you to achieve this goal.

Tomorrow, we’ll cover “overnight” and day two of getting home after an EMP event has occurred.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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