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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Survival Planning, Prepping and Bugging Out With a Handicapped Family Member

Urban Survival Skills received this request for advice concerning prepping and bug out with a disabled child. I edited the letter to provide some semblance of OPSEC for the writer but want to post this to reach a larger group for potential advice to this prepper with a special needs child.

I am a single parent of a severely disabled child. My child is wheelchair bound, tube fed, in diapers, and developmentally at a pre-schooler level. My child is on medication for seizures. I'm stockpiling Nutren, diapers, and feeding supplies at our family farm which is a fairly short drive away (approx. 28 miles) though a suburban area. I am very concerned about getting myself and my child to the famr as well as having meds for long term care in the case of disaster. Could you please give advice on:

1) How do I know when to bug out?
2) Bug out bags. My child is 80 lbs and I'm 115 lbs. I can put a bag on the wheelchair chair and carry a bug out bag myself, but what weight? What are top priority items?
3) I have a small 4 wheel drive vehicle if driving is an option. Any advice on choosing route, stopping for extra fuel, etc.?
4) I have safety concerns about walking alone with my child. Advice? I am still learning to shoot and getting a gun soon. I am in pretty good shape, but small.
5) What can I do to get seizure meds for long term?

We are working on getting the farm prepared with food, water systems, generators, etc. at the my relatives adjoining property. Getting there with my child safely is my biggest concern. Any advice you have is appreciated. Thank you!
Okay readers, lets help this person out. Here is my initial response:

When to Bug Out. This is an individual call and not a one size fits all protocol. It is based on how safe and prepared you are where you are currently at, and, how far you have to go and the associated risks involved with that movement. I can advise that it would be too late when there are riots in the streets over food, or lack of food; too late when mass of refugees flood the routes; too late when cell phone communications are down; and, too late when martial law and therefore freedom of movement is restricted.

  It may be time to Bug Out when utilities (water and electricity) are intermittent and there are long lines at gas stations and grocery stores with associated shortages. It may be time when your and instincts tell you things are not going to get better. I advise multiple means of communications between you and your family members or friends that are going to bug out and rally on the farm. Develop a brevity code as well so if and when you have comms (voice or text) you can minimize transmission times and therefore chances of misunderstandings or intermittent service cutting you off.

Bug Out Bags. I think the priority are all the meds and supplies necessary for your child. Food, water and all gear necessary to support a walk from your house to the Bug Out location (the farm). This may include food that does not have to be cooked. Depending upon where you live and the seasons, factors, you may need sleeping bags or cold weather gear and things like that. In your case a short walk to your Bug Out location (the farm) could be accomplished in one day, but if you are pushing a wheelchair this may turn into 2 maybe even 4 days depending again on factors outside your control such as weather, threat, etc.

If you have selected Bug Out routes you may elect to emplace a small cache or two to support the movement to your Bug Out location (the farm) as support in case you can't make the distance as planned or the threat is too much that it reduces your travel speed.         

Bug Out Vehicle. A 4x4 is ideal, especially one that's good on gas and has a short wheel base for mobility. If you never let your vehicle get below 1/2 tank of gas you'll have plenty to make the Bug Out movement, based on the travel distance you mentioned. But I would advise an extra 5 gallon fuel can or two. Keep these full and rotate fuel every month. Or you can just get them filed when you think the collapse is beginning and when fuel is till available. You should have several routes if possible. When you have to Bug Out, choose the route based on the current events and threats. You need to drive routes as a rehearsal. You should also look at several foot routes in case you have to move over land on foot. Look for routes that provide cover and concealment and will not be routes for the refugee traffic or obvious routes for anyone else.  This is going to be hard to move a wheel chair over.  Maybe you can look at an ATV with a small trailer to move your child with?    

Walking Alone/Security/Weapon Choice.   By all means learn how to shoot and buy a gun. Actually a handgun and a rifle would be good. Weight and bulk of ammunition is going to impact what you can carry overland on foot. Think about pre-positioning additional ammunition and firearms at the farm. But if you are planning on Bugging Out by yourself, driving or walking, you will need to protect yourself. A semi-auto, magazine fed rifle such as an M-1 carbine, Mini-14, M-4/AR-15 type clone - these are all lightweight (as they come) and would allow you the firepower to defend yourself against multiple bad guys. And here's a hint, almost everybody will be a bad guy.

I have recently been in contact with a lady who just could not afford a modern magazine fed rifle such as an M-4/AR-15 type.  She already had a .22 LR revolver, so she ended up buying a Ruger 10/22 semi-auto .22 LR rifle and a couple of large capacity magazines for it.   Certainly a person would not want to have their safety dependent upon a rimfire cartridge,....but the first rule of a gun fight is to have a, gun and ammo compatibility plus affordability was paramount to this lady.      

Lastly, Medications. I know this is a primary concern of yours. Medications have a shelf life, which is usually several years after the expiration date if you store it in a safe and controlled manner. Research what Vet (animal) meds could possibly be used to mitigate or treat your child's seizures.   Locate the nearest Vet. Many rural vets operate out of a truck with a refrigerator. Vets can also serve as make shift Doctors too in an emergency. You may be able to stock up some meds if you don't use them but continue to get scripts for them but be aware that this is likely illegal. 

You may need to have some silver in order to barter for some meds during a collapse.  Consider having a silver bullion in 1 ounce rounds of bars in case this is the case.  

You have tough conditions to work out, but I know you can do it as you have no other choice.  Get to know your neighbors around the farm (your Bug Out location).  If the houses are close enough you may be able to string a couple of TA-1 military phones and wire between to facilitate communications.  Make sure that stocking food, seeds and having a safe water source are taken care of at the farm as well. 

I hope readers will respond with some additional advice. Many, if not most, of the readers will have better ideas.  Good luck and be safe.       


  1. If cost for your weapon is a major concern look into a SKS. The ammo is widely available for less than 25 cents a round and very capable of handling a serious gunfight. is a great resource for ammo. The rifle is still available in the 200-300 range is rugged simple and doesn't kick too much but extremely ugly which probably explains why it is such a good buy. As for a handgun and close range carrying capacity should be considered. A 380 or 9mm should be the minimum effective round for a hand gun. One major problem as I see it is your child is 80lbs and your 115. That's asking a lot of your body in a time of extreme stress. You could benefit from a cheap, simple exercise routine to improve your lifting capacity that doesn't take hours at the gym and fancy exercise machines. Check out
    Power to the People! : Russian Strength Training Secrets for Every American by Pavel Tsatsouline (Author) and good luck!

  2. In addition to SKS consider the under appreciated Czech VZ-58. Same caliber as the AK and SKS so the cost for ammo will be the same. Milled receiver and aluminum magazines. Look it up and youll see the advantages over the AK. I just picked up a Century VZ for less than the cost of any of the available Century AK's at my local gun store. Mine came with 6 magazines + pouch, bayonet, sling, and cleaning kit.

    Additionally, wanted to add since the writer of the letter is of small frame/build, consider my story. I just graduated from the police academy in my area. During defensive tactics (how to fight 101) they paired the smallest girl with the largest guy. With enough heart, and proper techniques, she managed to fight him off repeatedly. The guy's size definitely gave him an advantage, but she was very capable. Put the fight in your heart. Never give up, never give in to pain. Train hard, win easy! Good luck, be safe,stay prepared!

  3. I'm going to go ahead and be the bastard here and say, at some point or another you may have to consider a humane and emotionally acceptable means of preventing your child from suffering.

    On my bug out team is my modestly diabetic father and arthritic mother. My father would live a few weeks at best after the meds stop flowing, and my mother would simply be dead weight if it came to moving fast. A crude insulin can be made from the pancreas of any mammal, and we need to keep a vehicle available if my mother is expected to move with any speed... so it's manageable... ish... In the short term...

  4. I am a quadriplegic ( basically no feeling or control from upper chest and limited hand control), I would be one of those you would put down in "emotionally acceptable means" but I tell you this I would rather grab my bug out bag and firearms that I can take and go with my family for as long as I can and then be left on my own to try to survive then be put down so I won't suffer.
    As for my medical gear I would take what I could and long term I would have to accept my body will have to adjust. I use catheters and as long as I can find someone with either vinegar or a high heat still I can have them cleaned and reused for a long time. As for medications the article said find a vet, or (guessing) small town pharmacy,
    I have very little balance but have learned to shoot (custom grip pistol) while rolling and If I stop I used an AR15 but just changed to a Tavor rifle that I can carry and shoot without having to worry about balance.

  5. Our son is autistic, basically a 6'2" hormonal teenage boy with the strength of a gorilla and the understanding of a 6 year old. Simple instructions like "be quiet" or "sit still" are a challenge not a request. I can sympathize, I also have an "ass bag" , and a diabetic in tow. We are focusing on making emergency planning a game for our son and we are not overlooking the importance of distractions, he can entertain himself! Have you considered a wheeled sled for any hiking? Also, my son is epileptic and has serious heart issues, we were able to speak with his doctors openly about our concerns and they graciously adjusted our son's medications and dosages to help us stock up a bit. It is not fraud to try new medication to see the effects on treatment, particularly if there's less expensive options.

  6. I would just like to clarify that the diabetic in tow is not an "ass bag"! I wear an appliance due to my colon being removed a few years ago. So I can relate to stockpiling issues with durable medical equipment. I volunteer and have friends who work in nursing homes and hospice care. Most families have no need for their unused supplies.

  7. My mother is in a wheelchair too. Her leg was amputated 10 yrs ago. She is also on tyroid meds, blood thinners, and med to help suppress phantom pains, which can be very intense. She is also diabetic. We have started stock piling her meds. It is only myself, my 16 yr old daughter and my mom. I am fairly new to prepping. We do not have a bug-out plan. We would never make it very far. We talk about options and what we would do or go to, but, I know the only option is to bug-in. She says if things got too bad for me and my daughter to leave her...but how do you do that? She is my MOTHER...but, I am my daughter's mother, my priority is to keep her safe, and I would make the same sacrifice for her. So, for now we are preparing to stay in our apartment and each have jobs when SHTF to secure our apt. All we have are knives and a BB gun for weapons. And when money permits, I'd like to buy a gun, or two. and a bow. I read load of article on all types of survival tips and print out most important ones to have on hands at all times. Knowledge is key. Praying for the survival of mankind.

  8. I have specifically been looking for prepping articles on bugging out (and in) with family members with special needs. My seven year old daughter has multiple disabilities also. She is highly intelligent, can understand everything and is at grade level, but has many physical issues. She can walk only short distances and I would defnitely need to bug out with her wheelchair and/or a bike with a pull behind trailer (which I have) as we have no car.

    I take offense at the insinuation our children or family members are to be put down humanely. It is that type of attitude that left so many dead during hurricane Katrina.

    I am stockpiling to bug -in as well, but I WILL have bug-out plans, packs for each, and I'll be damned if someone is going to put down my child because they think she is a burden when SHTF. No one gets to decide that but God.

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