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Where will you be when an emergency strikes? The odds are you’ll probably be in your home region – beyond that, it’s a mystery.

There are a lot of preparations people make for emergency scenarios. Yet without being able to predict what the circumstances of the scenario will be there’s no predicting your best course of action. For example, would bugging in be an option – or would you be forced to bug-out? If so, which route will be deemed safest, and can your supplies even last the duration?

A great way to prepare for this type of “unknown” is to learn about your region. In the event that you had to find refuge in your local wilderness, it is critical to know what resources are available – and how to avoid the dangers within.

Vegetation

Many plants have the ability to save your life. But if not researched carefully, they can easily be confused with others that cause an adverse effect. Take the time to practice plant identification in your surrounding area. Learn which will aid in your survival, and which to leave be.

I’d recommend keeping an Identification Guide in your BOB.

Take the time to practice plant identification in your surrounding area. For example, the seeds of the castor oil plant contain ricin, one of the world’s most lethal toxins.

Take the time to practice plant identification in your surrounding area. For example, the seeds of the castor oil plant contain ricin, one of the world’s most lethal toxins.

Edibility — Some plants in the wilderness can provide you with the vitamins and nourishment needed to survive. Discover which edible roots, grasses, herbs, flowers, berries, or cacti grow abundantly in your part of the country – and how to eat them safely.

Medicinal — There may not always be a pharmacy around…but, fortunately, nature provides its own. From headaches, to sore throats, to blood-clotting– there are many plants that have the power to heal minor ailments and injuries.

Poisonous — Eating the wrong type of plant can easily make you sick or end your life. Some will make you violently ill, while others will leave you cold as a doornail. It is for this reason that making a positive identification before usage is extremely vital!

Building Materials — You may have to rely on using natural materials for building things like shelter, tools, weapons, etc. Because time is of the essence, it’s a good idea to know beforehand which items are best for getting the job done.

Animals

Finding an animal in the wilderness can be a blessing when you’re hungry. The focus is in learning which are friend and which are foe. In other words, which can be eaten and which will try to eat you.

Potentially dangerous animals lurk in most outdoor environments, so care and understanding of them need to be considered. The mountain lion, when properly motivated, can easily make a meal of you.

Potentially dangerous animals lurk in most outdoor environments, so care and understanding of them need to be exercised. The mountain lion, when properly motivated, can easily make a meal of you.

Prey — Every region has temperate creatures that are ideal for consumption. Learn which ones in your area are the easiest to find, the best hunting techniques, and the right way to cook them. This includes mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, and everything in between.

Predators — Do you know what deadly beasts stalk your neck of the woods? If not, it is imperative that you find out. Every place has its own potentially vicious animals – from bears, to mountain lions, to wolves. There are also many less overt poisonous and stealthy ones, such as snakes and spiders.

For each predator, there are recommendations of what to do when one is encountered. Spend time thoroughly educating yourself about the proper protocol for handling the dangerous animals that reside in your region.

Weather Conditions

There are threatening weather conditions that occur all across the country. Extreme temperatures or winds, blizzards, floods and many other phenomena could all be dangerous if you were bugging out in the wild.

Knowing your region’s weather patterns and the likelihood of a weather event will help you not only choose the right path but might provide you with much needed information about surviving.

Knowing your region’s weather patterns and the likelihood of a severe weather event will help you not only choose the right path but might provide you with essential information about surviving.

It’s a good idea to pinpoint the most deadly weather risks in your region, and the time period during which they occur. Research and discover solutions that would help you survive when facing them. What steps do you take to avoid overheating in the desert? How can you create fire in harsh conditions? Prepare yourself with plans for various scenarios.

Escape Routes on Foot

The type of escape route you take is dependent on whether you are in the city or in a rural environment. Let’s pretend regardless of your location, you were forced to flee on foot from your home. Do you know enough about your area regarding the location of the closest water source, an alternative safe destination or shelter, a reachable meeting spot for you and other local family members, secluded routes you feel no others are aware of or an area with an abundance of natural resources?

It’s always important to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. By studying the details of your home region – it should give you a better chance of surviving when SHTF.

 

Editors Note: A version of this article first appeared in the June 2015 print issue of American Survival Guide.