A few days ago I was reading some comments and questions on our Facebook group (The Bugout Network), and I saw a few questions regarding the topic of bugging out or evacuating an area if you or a family member has limited mobility due to a disability or injury. I personally understand this concern. Not too long ago I found myself in a very serious vehicular accident that left me with some serious injuries, none of which were life threatening, but it did throw me into a 6 months journey to recovery before I was able to walk again. Those 6 months felt like a lifetime and for someone like me it was REALLY hard to feel that vulnerable. From my own experience, and with some time on my hands, I made some changes to my bugout plan in order to alleviate the risk if something like this were to happen again. I know this is a common problem and its obvious that not every person, and for that matter, not every family is going to be perfectly healthy and capable of strapping on a heavy pack and walking for miles. In fact, most families will have at least one member who is physically not able to do something so strenuous. Depending on when you have to bug out, you or a member of your family may be ill or injured. This certainly throws a gorilla size wrench in the bug out plan.
If you or a family member has a condition that will prevent you or them from being able to keep up or even walk out, you need to plan for that. In addition, whether disabled or not, its sensible to have a contingency plan in place in case someone is ill or injured when it is time to get out of dodge. You are not going to leave anyone behind, but you don't want to put the entire family in jeopardy. Obviously there are going to be challenges that others will not face, but the whole idea of preparing for anything far ahead of time is how you will overcome those obstacles.
The following are some tips to bugging out with the infirm or disabled.
Have Aids and Tools Available
Be prepared to handle limited mobility by having the necessary equipment. Sometimes an elderly person may just need a walking stick to lean on. This is something you can keep tucked away with your gear. Knee braces and ankle braces can also provide support if that is an issue. A back brace can also provide some support for anybody suffering from back issues that may slow them down.
If walking is truly an issue, a wheelchair will be helpful. Ensure you have a working strap to hold, yourself or the person in the chair as you travel over rough terrain. It won't be easy to get it up steep, rocky inclines, but with a couple of people, it can be done. It is a good idea to practice and if t’s a family member, make sure you take him or her on the evacuation route to get an idea of how to navigate some of the more difficult terrain. Don't wait until your life depends on it to figure out the best way to carry the chair and person over a rocky path.
A stretcher may also be a good idea to keep on hand, just in case someone gets injured before you bug out. These are fairly light weight and two to four people can easily pack the stretcher and injured or disabled person out.
If you or your family member can physically walk, but is weak or not all that steady on their feet, make it easier by carrying or giving them a very light bug out bag. You don't want to be strained or strain them anymore than necessary. This applies to children too. Make sure they have the essentials like water, a flashlight and a way to start a fire and divvy up the rest of the gear to the healthier members of the group. If the person is going to be in a wheelchair, it isn't that much more difficult to attach the bag to the chair or have the person carry it in their lap.
Consider a BOV—Bug Out Vehicle
If walking or traveling even short distances is going to be extremely difficult or impossible, you may want to put your efforts into creating a bug out vehicle. For those who are bedridden, riding in a wheelchair may be too much. A BOV is one way to get the whole family out without any real effort. The only drawback to a vehicle is the possibility roads may all be blocked. This is why it is a good idea to find a rig that is off-road capable. Make sure it has a good set of traction tires and can take a beating.
Limit Your Walk
Although you may have the perfect retreat 45 miles away, if you have someone with limited mobility, you will want to look for somewhere a bit closer. That is a long way to carry or push someone in a wheelchair. If that retreat is the only possible refuge, you will need to make several stops. You may only be able to travel a few miles a day. You must be prepared to sleep outside or have shelters identified along the route. If that is the plan, make sure you have the necessary bedding and shelter to allow yourself or your limited mobility member adequate rest for the following day that will be just as trying.
Ideally, if you can find something that is much closer, you will be doing yourself and the rest of the family a huge service. The strain and frustration on both sides, those who are capable and those that are struggling, will wear you down and make the journey very difficult.
Focus on Strengths
The members in your group who have limited mobility or other physical limitations can be real solid assets. You will need to shift around some responsibilities to use those talents. Maybe the person in the wheelchair is an excellent navigator or knows how to start a fire faster than anybody else. Discover what everyone's strengths and weaknesses are and distribute the work load. Every member of your group can and should contribute. This will make it easier and everyone will feel valued.
Can't bug out?Read how you can protect your home (Security Measures to Protect Your Home)
He doesn't consider himself an expert, but a facilitator and he works hard to provide a platform to those with valuable expertise to share their knowledge with as many people as possible.
He enjoys helping others prepare themselves for multiple dangerous scenarios, by coaching them on how develop their own customized survival & preparedness plans and develop their survival skills. He promotes the core concept of making preparedness and survival knowledge part of their daily lives.