Sunday, March 3, 2019

Survival Advice: Know Your Location

Bushcraft and wilderness survival skills are useful, and homesteading is one path to self-reliance. But for modern survival, you really need to know your locality - the area(s) where you live. work, shop, and go to church and school. By "know your locality," I mean a lot more than just the geography of where you live, knowing the roads you drive (although that is a small part of it). 


Develop Your Local Knowledge.  

Get to really know really know your locality. Start with the geography, but don't stop there. Learn your way around your city or town, particularly the areas in which you live, work, shop, worship, and go to school. Know not just one way, but several, to get to and from places you frequent.

You need to know where the bad neighborhoods and high crime areas of your town or city are, and how to avoid them. All communities, big or small, have bad areas - places where crime and vice are more common, and where the folks you're going to want to avoid typically hang out. 

You also need to know the people of your locality. Do you know an honest mechanic? A good and dependable plumber? A babysitter you can trust with your kids? Do you know your neighbors? Are there any sex offenders living near you (search online for sex offender registries). 

Do you know your local elected officials? Do you know what their plans are for your city? Do you follow the local news, or maybe listen to a local talk radio show? Get to really know your community and its people. Build a network of people you trust, and who have reason to trust you.

Know your local markets. Chances are you know where the Wal-Marts, Targets, Sam's Clubs, and Home Depots in your area are.  But what about smaller stores, and Mom-and-Pop operations. Over the years, I've found many things at these places that I couldn't find at the Big Box stores, sometimes at real bargain prices. And I've met some wonderful people.

If, like me, you are a prepper on a shoestring budget, it is a good idea to learn the locations of the various flea markets, farmers' markets, salvage stores, thrift shops, and pawn shops in your community. It may also be a good idea to find all your local antique stores, coin and stamp dealers, gun stores. used bookstores, small hardware stores, feed stores, and gardening centers. I'm putting together a notebook of all these places near me, along with notes on what I can find where, owner's names, and so forth. Should we ever experience a period of scarcity of goods, like Venezuela, it will be good to know and be friendly with these folks. 

Know local industry. Are there any factories or  industrial parks near you? Where is your local electricity generated? And how? Any mines in your area? Industry is both a source of employment, and a source of potential problems such as pollution and chemical spills. What opportunities and threats do your local industries pose?


Know several escape routes from your city should bugging-out ever become necessary or even mandatory. Have paper copies of directions and maps, in case GPS & Google Maps are down when you need them. If you are bugging-out on foot, abandoned train tracks may be your best option, rather than trying to hike along congested and dangerous roadways. Most cities and some small towns have many of these, and some have already been turned into greenways and walking/jogging trails. Learn these now. Acquire or make maps, especially of the ones leading out of town. 

Resources for learning about your community include local newspapers and local talk radio stations. Local and state road maps can often be picked up for free at visitor centers, tourism boards, or the local Chamber of Commerce. If not, you can buy them for only a couple of bucks at just about any gas station in town. Your local library should have maps of local infrastructure such as railways, greenways, waterways, sewer systems, gas lines, and power lines. If not there, your local zoning board will have them. Many local libraries also have community bulletin boards. My local library publishes a monthly newsletter which is a great source of information on local programs, events, government meetings, and so forth. However, nothing beats actually getting out in your community, exploring it for yourself, and meeting new people.  
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