Ask The Survival Mom: What if you can’t bug out of a city, my smoothie recipe, and inexpensive Christmas gift ideas

From Judy on Facebook: I just saw a re-run of Doomsday Preppers, a New York City fireman & his family. As always at the end of the segment the prepper experts gave their opinions & suggestions: more water, get a bug out place away from the city, same old Blah Blah Blah. It angers me because the NYC apartment dweller may not be able to bug out with his/her kids. So why not give realistic info, like how does a family of 4, that have to “bug in”, maintain sanitary toilet conditions??? I mean they can’t run out and takes care of their “toilet” behind a tree.

SURVIVAL MOM: This is a pet peeve of mine. Many survival experts have a template they apply to every circumstance they encounter, and they trust that template so fully that it never seems to occur to them that they might be wrong.

image by DieselDemon

Case in point, my own Doomsday Preppers experience. My family and I agreed to be in the pilot episode. When we were asked about our bug out (evacuation) plans, we said there was no bugging out of Phoenix. It’s an island of 3 million people surrounded by hundreds of miles of desert and only 3 main freeways. Unless you have plenty of notice, trying to get out in a big enough crisis to warrant evacuation will be signing your own death notice.

We explained to the producer the reality of living here, on the episode they showed a map of Phoenix highlighting the 3 highways and still their expert complained that we didn’t have a bug out route, a bug out location, etc.

The fact is, most Americans, by far, will have to hunker down and figure out creative ways to survive. Citizens of war-torn nations around the world have had to do this. It’s nothing new, and neither will it be easy. If Doomsday Preppers was in business to provide real help to people instead of attracting viewers and ad revenue, they would devote time to your questions.

One way for city-bound folks to prepare is to make connections with trusted people.  This will be an absolute must. If you don’t have a network of family and friends who are also preparedness minded, that is something that can’t wait.  It takes time, a lot of time, to establish mutual trust. Start with people you already trust and bring up prepper-related topics, such as growing your own food, concerns about current events, the plight of the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and even ask if they watch Doomsday Preppers. Since you already have a strong relationship, they will be more likely to confide in you their concerns, and you may discover they already have begun storing food and other supplies.

Another thought is to research parts of your city or town that will probably be safer than your neighborhood. It might be an area that is on higher ground or on the edge of town, where you might be able to stay with friends or relatives. Perhaps a good friend lives in a gated community and might be able to provide a roof for you and your family for a while. Some preppers are even planning on staying in commercial buildings, rather than their crime-prone neighborhoods. Think creatively, but be sure to talk about your plans with anyone you might be hoping will help you out and be more than prepared to “pay” your way via stored food, practical skills, ability to protect the household, etc.

Here are more suggestions for people who have no choice but to bug in. Click here.

From Kim: Just read your book. It’s great. I would like the recipe to your morning smoothie that you mentioned in your book with the powdered peanut butter and coconut oil. I think it would be refreshing while ponder my next step in preparedness.

SURVIVAL MOM: I haven’t made that smoothie in quite a while, but it’s plenty good! Here’s the recipe.

1-2 scoops of chocolate protein powder (vanilla is good, too)

3/4 c. almond milk (regular milk or even water are fine as well)

2 T. coconut oil

1 T. flaxseed oil

1 T. powdered peanut butter

1 c. ice cubes

Put all this together in a blender and blend the heck out of it until smooth!

From Teri N.:  I am looking to buy a few things for family members for Christmas to get them prepping (whether they like it or not). I have about $100 to spend. I was wondering if you had a list of top 3-5 items that I may be able to pick up for them to get them started.

SURVIVAL MOM: How about a light stick, emergency blanket, and a box of water? You could also add one of those SOS emergency food bars — they come in packages of 6. Dollar stores should have inexpensive nylon backpacks or other type of bag, one per person. Add a roll of toilet paper and a little bottle of hand sanitzer, and you’ll have a homemade emergency kit for each person!


There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2012 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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  1. says

    Loved your Bug-in reply. I have people sk me about bugging out a lot and I reply that I don’t have a bug-out spot that I own yet. I’ve got my eye on a few small mountain properties, but until I can swing it, I have a couple of spots picked out that are with a two day walk. They are remote, with water pump access (for the cows) and no houses within many miles. However, things would have to get really, really bad for me to actually use these spots.

    • Kandi says

      Thank you for the link. Yes I do believe you can survive in the city. Even though I am relocating us to a smaller city, approx 70,000, and may try to live ‘out of town’ or a smaller town in the area, I cant get too remote due to my profession. And there’s a lot of us in the same situation.

  2. Kandi says

    I agree, if you cant bug out before then it may not be in your best interests to do it during a crisis. That being said I have relocated us once due to the thought of ‘what if’. 5 years ago we lived in the area that was hit by Sandy, right across from New York City. Man am I glad we dont live there now! I moved us back to my hometown in the midwest. I decided in a crisis I would rather deal with 125,000 people then 8 million.

    That being said I am planning on moving us again to a less populated area where I have some really good friends. I cant get too remote due to my profession, I am a nurse. But again I have decided I would rather deal with 10,000 people then 125,000. My family is no longer here and I want to be closer to someone I know I can depend on.

  3. says

    Excellent advise, as always. There are so many scenarios. Even if you had a bug-out location, you might not be able to get to it. Thanks for the reminder not to get caught up in the hoopla.

  4. PB&J says

    We live on 1 acre of rural. Hubby wants to stay and protect what’s ours. Sons say go rustic and be together with others for added protection.
    I don’t know… What if we can’t all get there? What if they can’t get here? My house is just a thing… But I’d at least want my kids with us. Really don’t know what to do. Can’t afford to purchase anything right now or in the near future.
    It’s definitely keeping me awake at night weighing both sides.

  5. Linda says

    I wouldn’t be bugging out either.Thanks for saying a lot of us would be bugging in. I found Urban Preppers with Kids, Pets, and Parents by James Mushen on Kindle. tI’s a good book for those of us bugging in.

  6. says

    I think you’re so right about bug-out locations.The stuff they have on Doomsday Preppers is really not an option of most people. I know we don’t own a second home and even if we could afford to own a second home we couldn’t maintain it as a “bug-out” location. If things were really that bad where you’d have to leave a city, getting to your bug-out location would be a real issue, honestly I don’t think most people would make it. Staying in your home is the only option for a lot of people, unless you had something like a gas leak or fire (like those folks did a few weeks ago). But being prepared to leave and actually having/owning a location are two different things. You have to be prepared to leave and survive anywhere, that’s why camping skills and survival skills are so important to learn.

  7. Katie says

    We too live in the Valley, though we’re in San Tan Valley, so on the outskirts.

    We can’t afford a second home, or land, right now. The problem is that bugging in scares me here. The heat would make it all but unlivable during the summer, and we certainly aren’t even allowed to have a well, let alone afford one. Without water, growing food would be out of the question, and vegetation has become so scarce that foraging/hunting wouldn’t last long.

    Ultimately, we’d like to buy some property in Northern AZ, but you do bring up a very valid point that our options to get there are few and sure to be crowded or blocked. Sometimes thinking about this stuff makes me so anxious and unsure.

    Thanks for the info to mull over. You rock as always!

  8. says

    Hello Survival Mom,

    I just noticed that you did a short review of my book “Urban Preppers with Kids, Pets & Parents” earlier this month and I wanted to thank you. It has had over 12,000 downloads in 60 days and you helped make it a successful project. I would be happy to post a short review in the “Expert Reviewer” section on Amazon along with whatever urls would be helpful to you- just forward to my email.

    Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year Survival Mom,
    Best Regards,
    James Mushen

  9. says

    The problem with staying put and trying to “make connections with trusted people” is you really DON’T knwo WHO is trustworthy until the chips are down. Thene there’s the typical “normalcy bias” issue that will keep most folks from even having an intelligent discussion with you about survival topics.

    Most preppers I think tend to have my situation: Their family is NOT into it; their friends may patiently listen but are NOT into it; neighbors are crummy/selfish/aren’t interested in forming any relationship with you, etc. And living paycheck to paycheck on crummy wages makes it night to impossible to buy retreat land.

    There are NO easy answers in all this.

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