You might think you know your local area, but do you know all of the survival secrets that it might contain? Read on to find out about five really useful things you should know about your local area, but first make sure you have a good map!
Buy A Good Local Area Map
One thing that all preppers and survivalists should own is a good map of the local area. Don’t rely on online maps or electronic devices as these might not work after a disaster. Buy at least one paper map of your local area, any areas you sped a lot of time in, and anywhere you plan to bug out to. Buy another copy to keep in your bug out bag too.
Use your maps to explore your local area. Identify points of interest on the map, and then find them on the ground. Use your maps to identify multiple routes to and from safe locations.
1. Find Water Sources In Your Local Area
The ability to find water in your local area may be vital for survival after a disaster. You should be able to see many water sources on your map, from rivers and lakes down to small streams. Once you have identified water sources on the map, go and find them on the ground. The map will show you water, but not whether it’s a useful source of drinking water or not.
In a disaster scenario where the water supply fails, it will be very important to be able to find alternative water supplies. The best location to find clean water is from a flowing stream as near to the source as possible. Further downstream, the water is still likely to be reasonably clean but there is the possibility of contamination upstream. Ponds and other stagnant water sources are not as good. Water that is not flowing does not stay as clean.
Don’t just rely on your map. Find several water sources on your map and then visit them to see if the water is there and might be suitable for drinking. The map may show streams that dry up in summer, or are contaminated or dirty.
Any water you obtain should be purified using an appropriate technique before drinking.
2. Local Area Foraging Locations
You’ve found some local water sources, but what about food? Hopefully you will have a well stocked food store, but having the ability to supplement that with foraged food will make your food store last longer.
There are many foods that grow wild that you can forage. For example, many fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables can all be found throughout the UK. Even in winter, there are some edible plants growing. The countryside is the best place to forage for food, but there is a surprising amount in urban areas too. You just need to know where to look.
The best places to look for food are usually woodland areas, and hedgerows. Start by looking on your map to identify areas with these features. Then spend time exploring your local area. Every time you are out, no matter what season, keep a look out for fruit trees and bushes and edible plants. Make a note of areas that you find these so that you can easily find them again when you need them.
3. Bug Out Locations
In most disaster scenarios, we recommend sheltering at home. However, there are some cases where finding a safe location to bug out to would be safer. Identifying these locations now, before any disaster happens, will give you a much better chance of survival. Here are some examples of scenarios where bugging out may be the safer alternative.
In the event of a nuclear explosion, unless you are in the immediate blast zone, the biggest danger is radioactive fallout. A typical house provides little protection from nuclear fallout. The best place to shelter from fallout would be somewhere deep underground, such as a deep underground railway tunnel. If you don’t have anywhere like that near where you live, then the basement of a large building with many floors above would be a good place to shelter. If that is not available, then the centre of a large, multi-storey building in a room with no external walls or windows is the next best option.
A disaster that makes your home unsafe or impossible to live in will mean you have to bug out. For example, if your home is underwater because of floods, you will have to go elsewhere. Identify a number of bug out locations that you would be able to quickly and easily reach, that won’t be affected by the same disaster. For example, find a bug out location on an area of higher ground in case of floods.
Your map will be useful again here, as it will help you identify areas that might be suitable. You can also use your map to plan routes to and from your bug out locations.
4. Escape Routes and Return Routes
During a disaster scenario, main roads might be heavily congested or inaccessible. Being able to move around easily is very important. Plan several different routes to your home from places that you might need to get home from. For example, these places might include work or your children’s school. You need to have at least two alternative routes in case one is not safe to use.
Also plan several routes away from your home to potential bug out locations. Again, make sure that you have several alternative routes in case one isn’t usable.
Use your map to identify potential routes, and then test them on the ground as much as possible. In normal day to day life, you should stick to public rights of way. Remember however that in a disaster scenario you may be able to have additional routes that wouldn’t normally be accessible, for example across private land.
5. Places To Scavenge After The Apocalypse
The fifth item on this list of things to find out about your local area is locations that you might find supplies or tools. After a major disaster, where society has collapsed, there may be many abandoned building that still have useful items.
Explore your local area, and think about which buildings might be abandoned in an apocalyptic scenario. Consider what useful items they might contain. For example, you might be able to find food in a school, a gym or at a marina. Tools might be found in car garages or workshops. Walk around any industrial areas near your home and note down any buildings that might be of interest.
Abandoned supermarkets and shops selling food are likely to be the first places to be stripped bare after a disaster. Don’t rely on the obvious places to be able to scavenge what you need after the apocalypse. If you can find less obvious places, it is more likely that you will find what you need.