The following is an excerpt from Prepper’s Home Defense.
After a societal collapse, and once things have settled down a bit from the initial chaos and such, there may come times when you or members of your group have need to explore the area, perhaps in search of needed supplies or maybe just to check on friends and family members. It is important to plan ahead for these expected excursions so as to provide for maximum safety and efficiency. Ideally, you’d have everything you need at home but the reality is, we’re only human. We’re going to forget things or not stock enough.
Regardless of the eventual reason for the exploration, odds are good you’ll have to do it at some point.
Any excursion should be planned out extensively. The scouts should be those team members who are swiftest on their feet and able to blend in with the surrounding populace. They should be intelligent and able to think on their feet, able to make swift decisions and act upon them.
It is of utmost importance that your scouts have intimate knowledge of the area. Any available maps of the area should be memorized as best as possible. As they progress through exploring the neighborhood and beyond, the maps should be updated to reflect known trouble spots, occupied homes and buildings, and other details that may become important later. This knowledge will help your team members avoid detection by being able to work their way around potential enemies.
Scouts should also be kept appraised of the needs of the group. Provide them with “shopping lists” before they head out. Be sure they have the means to transport those items if they are found, such as carrying an empty knapsack in their bag when they head out.
Plan out with your scouts where they will go and how they will get there. While these routes are not to be considered “set in stone,” the scouts should stick with the plan as best as possible. The reason for this is so if they don’t return when expected, the remaining team members will know where to begin searching.
At all times where it is feasible to do so, the scouts should strive to be unnoticed. Most of the time, this will likely involve keeping movement low-key and constantly scanning the area for potential threats of discovery. However, there may also be occasions where acting as the “Grey Man” will be the ideal. This means blending in and being unobtrusive. In today’s society, if one were to visit the local mall while wearing combat fatigues, a large pack, and armed to the teeth, this would certainly bring about lots of attention. However, if the same person were to walk into the mall wearing jeans, an untucked button down shirt, and carrying a messenger bag, few would look twice. No one would probably realize the untucked shirt conceals a handgun at the small of the back and the bag contains bug out gear. Post-collapse, this may mean wearing ratty clothes with holes, rather than the comparatively clean and neat attire to which your preps have allowed you access.
Regardless of how vacant an area may appear to be, scouts should take measures to avoid loud noise and other telltale signs of their presence. Should it be necessary to force their way into a building, it should be done quickly and as quietly as possible. Rather than kicking in a door, for example, look for a ground level window that could be forced open. The sound of a single pane of glass being broken will not carry nearly as far as the smash of a door being kicked, especially if the kick is repeated out of necessity until the door opens.
If this is a scavenging mission, the scouts should get in, get what they need, and get out. While they should make note of items they may wish to come back for at a later time, the scouts should concentrate on the task at hand. Every minute they spend outside the retreat is an increase in risk to not only themselves but their family and team back home. Should their presence be discovered, they may be followed back to the retreat, exposing everyone to danger. They could also be captured, likely leading to serious injury, possibly death. Get in, get out, leave as little trace as possible.
Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, scouts should not travel in a direct line back to the retreat. Instead, they should take a more roundabout route to ensure they are not being followed. If they believe they are being tailed in some way, scouts should travel in a direction away from the retreat while trying to throw off the tail. In an urban area, this may mean ducking in and out of buildings and doubling back here and there. In a more rural area, the scouts should attempt to outdistance their new friends, then circle back in a wide arc. When possible, scouts should communicate with their team members at the retreat to keep them up to date on the situation.
Upon safely arriving near the perimeter, the lookouts should pay close attention to determine whether the scouts have been followed. If need be, the long-range rifles may be used to dissuade further pursuit. While this course of action will more or less verify suspicions that the retreat is occupied and possibly well-armed, sooner or later this information will inevitably become known anyway.
On the other hand, if the scouts appear to indeed be alone, there should be some way for them to communicate their well being to the team inside the retreat prior to being allowed access back inside. The reason for this is to prevent a scout from being forced to provide access to the perimeter by enemies. A simple way to communicate all is well may be to give each scout a purple bandana. As they approach the retreat, this bandana is to be stuck in a back pocket with the end trailing out. If the retreat team sees the bandana, they know all is good. No bandana means something is up and they should proceed with caution. A bandana is innocuous enough that if it were found in the backpack of a captured scout, it wouldn’t be seen as out of the ordinary. Code words and phrases, as discussed in Chapter 11 – Communications, are another way of accomplishing the same goal.
By the same token, the scouts should receive some sort of confirming signal from inside the perimeter to verify everything is copacetic with the rest of the team. Again, this could be a visual signal like a specific hand gesture or the display of a colored bandana. A code word or phrase may fit the bill as well.
It is never a good idea to allow scouts to work solo. Remember, this is real life, not Hollywood and as such, sending out someone on their own without backup is not going to end well in many cases. Keeping the scouts in groups of two or three will allow them to still remain reasonably stealthy as may be needed.
Having two or more scouts in a group will allow for them to watch each other’s backs. At some point, for a number of reasons, each scout may be distracted by something and need his or her partners to keep their eyes open for possible threats. Two pair of eyes are better than one.
Be sure to have contingency plans in place in case the scouts get separated for some reason. Establish various rallying points where they can meet within a specified time frame before heading back to the retreat. Have one or two rallying points in each area where the scouts will be headed. For example, if you are in a relatively urban area, divide the surrounding area on your map into four or five sections. Each section should have at least one rallying point. If the scouts are separated, they should work toward the rallying point in that section. Should a scout not arrive within a given time frame, say two hours, those who did make it should proceed to the retreat.
Your assignments this week:
1) Obtain several maps of your local area, the more detailed the better. Begin planning routes on foot to locations you feel are most likely for you to have to visit after a collapse.
2) Think about the people you will have in your group and decide who you feel would make for the best scouts. Give thought to how they should be equipped when heading out on an exploration.
3) How are you coming on your inventory?