Beginning the journey

I live and work in the SW corner of AZ. My work area can range from the Colorado river west and the Gila River north about 50 miles each way. It’s a 30-ish mile drive one way from home to work. The area is low-elevation desert, with huge tracts of agriculture in between chunks of barrenness. The ag means the areas closer to town and the rivers are criss-crossed with canals. Farther away, though, there’s just the dirt, sagebrush, and cholla.

I’m just starting my “preparedness” journey, where I’m actually thinking about how vulnerable I am if my comfort zones collapsed. I bought my first gun a year ago (M&P full-size 9mm), and recently a second one (Ruger PC Charger), and had security screens installed on my house. Anticipating a possible grocery shortage, I also bought two 3-day boxes of Mountain House from Amazon. I almost feel foolish thinking like this – but I have seat belts, fire extinguishers, and AAA towing for the same reason: just in case! (AAA has saved my bacon a few times!)

Now I’m starting to think about scenarios where I can’t drive down the highway to get home for more than 24 hours. It’s the only main road between the city and any point north. It would probably be one of three scenarios:

— One of the ag chemical plants had a blowout, contaminating the region – including the road – for an extended period of time

— A military exercise (we have two bases in the area, and both utilize live explosives and various weapon systems) went awry and has rendered the highway unsafe to travel

— The most likely is a weather event – probably a heavier-than-anticipated storm with high winds and heavy rain. Flash floods are uncommon, but we do have some washes that will fill quickly and run for more than 12 hours, leaving the roads either washed out or covered in dirt and debris. There are alternate routes home from some points, but they would become unpassable before the highway did.

In any case, I’m banking on being able to at least shelter in my vehicle overnight – perhaps two nights if I get caught farther up north. If I’m working (which is the only reason I’d be up there), I’ll have my lunch box and water cooler. But those are only good for that work day. So what I’m thinking of is a shelter-in-place bag with essentials that anticipate a maximum 48-hour ordeal. So far, my list includes:

— Fire-making

— Food rations

— Water purification

— Keeping warm

— Emergency first aid

— Comms other than cell phone

— Maps of the vicinity (area and topographical)

— Defense (Firearms not allowed: work policies will not let me have one in my personal vehicle on company property, and 30 years long into the job and 3 years short of retirement, it’s not worth it to sneak around it.)

Anything else y’all might recommend?



  • Comments (6)

    • 4

      Sounds like you are off to a good start.  One thing I’d recommend, if you don’t already have it, is two or more gallons of water.  Just buy a couple gallons at the grocery store and stash them in your trunk or under a seat, and rotate them out every six months or so (change them out immediately if you end up opening one).

      You might also pick up an emergency blanket, which are cheap and take up little room: https://www.rei.com/product/813512/sol-emergency-blanket

      Also be sure to add a flashlight and a headlamp!

    • 8

      My circumstances and experience are quite a bit different, but a few ideas for what it’s worth:

      Depending on your work site(s), are you able to stash any extra supplies in a locker/cabinet/etc?  For example I have some very basic extra supplies I keep at my office that don’t violate any company policies.

      Do you have any friends/family in the general area, or even any bars/restaurants where you’re a regular that you could seek temporary refuge?  Churches, community centers, municipal buildings, etc might be good to mark on your maps.

      Is your car off-road capable?  Do you have any gear/tools if AAA isn’t available quickly?

      Does “water purification” include even just a bottle of water that is pre-filled, if you’re in a desert area and stuck someplace where you can’t source any water easily? Some basic sanitation perhaps (a 24-48 hours of TP and hand sanitizer fits in a ziplock bag, doesn’t take up much space)?

      Just my casual thoughts – not exhaustive but some ideas for where to start small.

    • 6

      A few answers:

      — Water: I carry a 2-gallon water jug, usually iced down before I leave the shop, and usually stocked with 5-6 cans of sparkling water drinks.  I also have a LifeStraw at home (at this time!). Wouldn’t hurt to have an extra jug filled in the truck – Safety gives out 3-gallon jugs for the asking.

      — Shelter: There are buildings and other types of shelters scattered throughout the range of my work area.  Nothing like a populated area, though. The biggest concern is: will my vehicle be able to take me there?  If I’m not sure of that, then my vehicle high and dry is a better shelter choice than my vehicle stuck in a wash-out somewhere! Our work trucks are mostly 2- or 4-wheel drive, but some are small trucks and not very powerful.

      — Light: I carry a Streamlight PolyTac as art of my EDC.  I also usually have one or two other lights as a normal part of my work gear – more if I’m working a night shift.

      — Stashing: I can keep a bag o’ schtuff at the shop and just toss it into my work truck.  But I’d rather have something that goes from home to work and back, given that I can drive some pretty isolated sections of road (even if it is a state highway) on my commute.

      — Thanks for the SOL Emergency Blanket link.  I think I need a few of these!! Also a nice rain poncho that will fit over a backpack (I saw one advertised – just gotta remember where).

      Thank for the valuable input!!

    • 8

      EdNerd – What do the security screens you installed on your windows look like?

      I think your list looks good for what you are planning on. I would have a mix of different foods like an MRE, granola bars, and lifeboat rations. An extra change of clothes and maybe a small toiletry bag would be helpful and comforting if you had to shelter in place somewhere.

      For defense, I would carry pepper spray if you could carry that at work. The Prepared had just released an article about the best pepper sprays that could help you find a good one. https://theprepared.com/self-defense/reviews/pepper-spray/

      • 4

        Skip the emergency blankets; they are highly over rated.  Instead get an adequate sleeping bag; for your area, it doesn’t need to be very expensive or lightweight; pair it with something like a SOL emergency bivvy sack – same materials, but a much more useful configuration.

        Carry canned goods of your choosing rather than relying on freeze dried foods; they need water, which is your most important resource. Canned goods (beef stew and similar) will augment your H2O.

        Carry all the water you can.  In your neck of the woods, water is everything.

        I heartily recommend pepper spray as the first choice before resorting to firearms; legal situation if much less complex and pepper is basically just as effective

        I lived, hiked, and performed search and rescue in Tucson for several decades, including trips to the Kofa Mts. and Tinajas Altas;  I am speaking from experience.

    • 5


      You’re already in the nation’s top 3% of those prepared. 

      My views are in 3 categories: admin, personal health items, PPE.

      Check in via visit, website, phone with Yuma (or elsewhere) emergency management authorities and ask about emergency arrangements for citizenry re mishaps at at chemical plant, military exercise, etc. in re your area.  In anticipation of mishaps the military typically have arrangements in place with state, municipal authorities for sheltering, med care, etc. Annotate your map(s) with this info and attach any pamphlets.

      Consider augmenting your first aid/med kit.  Stuck out in the desert could mean an extra tube of anti-wind ointment, creams, blister stuff, tweezers, … valuable and welcome.

      PPE means warm clothes with a little extra, situation dictating. The mentioned flooding means rubber boots and / or galoshers (spell?), the kind that fit over regular boots. Here, SS Farm Supply and Tractor Supply Co carry them. I recommend a hard hat with all wool sock hat. Already mentioned here at thread, add a light to helmet AND a lanyard with whistle. For the heck of it, stuff inside of helmet a mosquito net. 

      PPE for chemical plant mishaps and military ones … you already know the large costs for this PPE. My personal view is that this would have taken priority over firearms.  

      I’m joining Ingred Newkirk of PETA, Norfolk, Virginia in saying hello to the Gila monsters !

      Foot Note: You’ll love retirement !