Prepping With Limited Mobility

Due to the responses and comments about the CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE ELDERLY, HANDICAPPED AND SPECIAL NEEDS IN A SHTF SCENARIO article along with a request from a fellow blogger (with much more experience than myself), this is a follow up article to it.

While the first thing that comes to mind when someone says limited mobility is “handicapped”, there are many different reasons one may have limited mobility including general physical fitness level, age and injury or wounds sustained prior to or during an event.

While limited mobility is a concern to anyone with the issue, it’s brought to the forefront in the prepping venue due to the specific nature of the possibilities of extended time without current resources such as EMS, doctor offices, hospitals, grocery stores, public utilities or even vehicles.
General physical condition while the most important, is the also most overlooked aspect. Most people don’t give it nearly enough consideration. You don’t have to be elderly, handicap or even overweight (the ones most people think of in terms of limited mobility) to have limited mobility. You can be an eighteen year old of average weight, but those years of sitting on the couch playing video games are setting you up for failure. Don’t believe me? Try a small challenge such as a pack with 25% of your body weight for a 12 mile hike in under 4 hours (when I was in an Airborne unit we did it in moderate terrain under 3 hours). Check out the “Army SF Guidelines” (USAREC Pam 601-25) for a guide to work up from 30lb/3mi/45min to 50lb/18mi/4.5hrs. Diet, exercise and mental preparedness need to be a part of your everyday routine, no matter what stage of life you are in.
For age and injury there are several levels of assistance options available from the basics such as canes, crutches and wheelchairs to custom fitted/adapted vehicles. And don’t forget the options such as the “fireman carry”, improvised stretchers/litters, travois etc. for emergent or off grid moves.
To prepare for a SHTF event/scenario you should already be well versed in the use of any needed mobility device that you require. Whether it is being able to put on a knee brace without assistance in the dark or transferring down a flight of stairs with a cane or pair of crutches, practice (training) is imperative. The more you are able to accomplish without assistance the better. As stated in the previous article you should have your 72 hour bag with the listed supplies and medications readily available.
To state the obvious, bug in vs out and as part of a group vs alone, unless there is absolutely no other choice is paramount. Pre- SHTF is the time for the most important task of all planning and training. There is no substitute to having a plan ahead of time. This is also the best time for others to see and acknowledge your skills/value to the group whether it’s planning, teaching, canning, radio watch, fire tender, child care etc. If possible consider being the “bug in location” this will be the easiest solution to account for both your mobility and the need to relocate supplies (preps) and puts you on the top of the list as the go to place/person.
An often overlooked area of many groups is the necessity of an infirmary. In almost every Facebook prepper group, you will see the IFAK or even trauma kits with advanced items stressed. While this is great for the individual or even a team medic you will still need much more to survive long term in a SHTF situation. As stated in the “Medic Down” article, some of the group medics responsibilities include teaching other group members “self and buddy aid”, and more importantly camp sanitation, disease prevention and “sick call” (another area a person with limited mobility can be of assistance). The medical room should be well stocked with items other than the obvious medical supplies and medications such as bleach, cots, extremity and joint immobilizers/braces, canes, crutches, walkers and if possible wheelchairs and extra litter along with rolls of thick plastic at a minimum to make an isolation area if needed.
While the main concentration of the article is about limited mobility pre-SHTF we must not forget the very real possibility of injury or illness during a SHTF event. If you are “in the field” and become injured or if your group has to move without vehicles consider the use of a travois they were used by Native Americans with great success. The better known cross pole style with a horse can move a considerable amount of weight. Lesser known but viable options include both dog and man power versions.
In the meantime take advantage of every opportunity possible to put yourself in a sought after position in a group ahead of time by: being well stocked with supplies and food/water and “being the bug out location”. Seek out desired skill training such as canning, herb and crop knowledge or EMT (or higher) etc.
As always I appreciate any comments/feedback to this or any of my other articles, please feel free to contact, comment, email or follow us at or join our Facebook group.




I often see questions about prepping and bugging out with a handicapped family member.
I have hesitated answering many times as a short answer is hard to provide and every family situation is different.
However I read a post a few days ago in a prepper forum stating that in a SHTF situation a handicapped or elderly person should have the decency to basically walk out into the woods to die to relieve the burden off of the family and save supplies as the person would die in the long run anyway. It was with great disdain that after following the post that the author identified herself as a RN and made a statement that she doesn’t see the fascination the we as a society have about prolonging life. My answer is that if she is actually a healthcare provider she is in the long line of work!

My first suggestion is to “bug in” that is obviously the best scenario handicapped or not. Your base of operations/home is where you have the best chance of survival in most circumstances due to familiarity, supplies (preps) and support network. This location should only be left if there is no other choice.

My second suggestion is to have a “bug out location” this is where planning comes in. While most of the posts and comments I read talk about running out into the woods and surviving with the contents of a bug out bag that should be the last resort (again handicapped or not). If you live in an immediate danger area plan to leave for your bug out location early into any SHTF event. This location should be both attainable and secure. Have a plan on how to get there by multiple routes ahead of time and practice it regularly. If your bug out location is not up and running full time you also need to address the movement of both personnel and supplies. (I may do a future article on convoy operations if there is interest).

I’ll start with the more likely aspects. In current times for most people a SHTF situation is most often a localized or limited regional event such as an extended power outage, winter storm, earthquake or hurricane. If you live in the United States of America FEMA suggests that you have 72 hours of supplies. This was due to the anticipated arrival time of assistance.
Lessons learned from the last few hurricanes show that to be a very conservative length of time though. As a prepper this is your chance to shine. If you are well prepared whether you stay or go you will be better off and need fewer resources than may be needed by others.
All states and counties (and most cities/towns) also have Emergency Response Plans. While these plans address things such as evacuation routes and timelines, need for outside agencies to assist etc as part of the logistics moving people who are unable to self evacuate is a large and important part. While most people assume this to be handicap people, it includes others such as the homeless and working poor (IE no gas/hotel money).
In the area that I live this plan is addressed year round by a “Special Needs” program. People who are unable to evac unassisted are voluntarily listed ahead of time with notes of what equipment is required to assist them IE Oxygen, ventilator, stretcher etc. When an emergency is anticipated they are moved by ambulance or buses to a shelter or if the impact area is projected to be large moved to shelters in other areas. Part of the instructions given to them ahead of time include bringing clothing, medications,emergency contact numbers,important papers etc.
So to “prep” for the localized event you should: Have a realistic understanding of your capabilities and coordinate with local officials ahead of time if the need to do so is identified. Have your medications, important papers (including Doctors info, list of your medical history, medications list and medication allergies), emergency contact numbers and change of clothes ready to go.
Have a minimum of a 72 hour bag packed and ready to use or take with you. (if you have a dedicated caregiver or family member assistant they should also have the same items).
This bag needs to be small think “carry on luggage”.

Truthfully the next most likely event isn’t what a lot of people focus on in prepper forums and that is “life” whether it’s loss of a job, spouse/caregiver, home or independence.
For these areas a “preppers” supply of food, gardens, small livestock, alternate living locations and group/family can be a Godsend. The only way to prep for that is to have as much leeway such as savings, insurance, retirement and family ties as possible.

Now for the meat and potatoes prepping considerations: I consider myself a decent human being and can not fathom sending a family member out to parish to possibly make my situation better. Not even thinking about the guilt you and the others in your group will have to deal with. Keep in mind that the elderly may have experience in many areas that you don’t , whether it’s canning foods, gardening or just in life itself. Most have been through at least a few hard times and may have input from a different view. While the elderly and handicap may not be able to go work in the fields for eight to twelve hours a day truthfully most of the people reading can’t either.
Just like the suggestions in the Medic Down article (alternative uses to not risk the asset) other jobs can be assigned such as food prep, cooking, supply inventory, radio watch, guard duty from a fixed site, watching and teaching children etc. Another thing to consider is that if you force an elderly or handicap member from your group you may also lose other team members along with them (sympathetic desertion), can you/your group afford that? So to me the group morale, experience/knowledge and alternate job assignments are an acceptable offset of lack of physical ability.
How to prep for that: My/our plan includes food storage, gardening, small livestock, a medication plan (for withdrawing off of prescription medications). A set medical area well stocked with medical supplies, OTC meds, alternative medications, references and military hospital cots.
Currently we have a friendly Bug Out Location/group that is willing to take us if needed. (yes if you haven’t figured it out already, I have a handicap spouse). Due to both of our medical backgrounds, her medical instructor, my military, construction, mechanical and Emergency Service experience (and a large amount of preps/supplies don’t hurt), it was a pretty easy sell.
Our extended plan is to have our own second location and we are not to far from our goal of obtaining it. At that time we have a great group of family, friends and co-workers who will use us as their Bug Out Location. So the circle contuninues.
By Robert Taylor


I am a member of several survival and prepper groups/pages.
One discussion I always see is the are you bugging in or bugging out, followed by do you have a BOL conversions.
There is much ado about every day carry, get home bags, bug out bags, INCH bags and a plethora of others.
Scenarios range from all out Nuclear War, EMPs/grid-down, economic collapse, multiple natural disasters, loss of central government/foreign invasion, pandemics and yes even zombies.
Most have the basic idea of either being at work or at home when there is a sudden occurrence that that requires them to bug out. While others hope to have enough warning to escape to their bug out location from home. Some have an actual property/location but It seems that a lot of people feel that bugging out to the woods/mountains/rural areas or public hunting lands is the way to go.
For the most part that includes an individual or family group with minimal or primitive equipment planning to somehow survive an unknown or unlimited time.
Then there is the bug in crowd some have only a minimal amount of equipment while others have large amounts of supplies, gardens, chickens or rabbits. They can be in a city, the suburbs, small towns, farms or remote areas.
This is fairly self-explanatory you are at work or another location such as out shopping when SHTF and need to get either get home, to your family meeting place or your Bug Out Location.
Most have basic items such as tarp, water filter, fire starter, knife, cordage and what food and water they can carry and many have a firearm of one kind or another, along with a basic first aid kit. A lot carry primitive skills items, traps and snares and maybe even an ax.
My argument is that for a short term get home situation you need to pack for ease of use and weight. This bag should be small, discreet and kept where you have quick access to it at all times.
I am of the mindset that a get home bag should be simple and light. Unless some of the crazier sudden onset zombie apocalypse scenarios occur the majority of people live within fifty miles of their work place and should be able to walk home within 72 hours. If not, you will need to adjust the plan and bag to fit your situation.
For short term I would suggest a small back pack style bag in a neutral color with two tarps or ponchos and a blanket or poncho liner. Spare socks and tee shirts (optional underwear). A good flashlight (preferably with a red lens option) and spare batteries. A Camel Back or similar water system and one to two one quart canteens and either water purification tabs or a Life Straw or similar device. A Zippo or two Bic style lighters and a pack of fire starters or heat tabs. A good fixed blade knife and six field stripped MREs. A good Topo map of your area, handheld two-way radio set on your family frequency, and depending on where you live a handgun and spare mags/ammo. Cell phone if service is available. A decent first aid kit and cash.
All the above is assuming that a vehicle is not available due to EMP, blocked roads or no fuel source. That you are dressed for the weather including proper footwear and that you are physically fit enough for the adventure, and have at least basic survival skills.
If SHTF occurs have a preset plan including how long to wait for others in your family or group to arrive before bugging out. Have a predetermined rally point if you have to leave prior to their arrival or if you are separated.
Each family or group member should have a working knowledge of your plan and rally point (s), and their own self sufficient bug out bag.
The bug out bag will be more substantial than a get home bag and the inventory will vary depending on both the distance to your destination and the type of destination e.g. Campsite or family farm or cabin, we will discuss the bug out bag more in depth in a future article.
Your bug out plan should include both vehicle and back up plans such as traveling on foot, bike, horseback or ATVs.
If you have a large amount of preps to move you should have a plan to move them, leave them or destroy them and practice it ahead of time.
Unless you have an established bug out location or live in an immediate danger type area, I am a proponent of bugging in vs out due to many factors including moving supplies, children, the elderly, or handicap family members. This is another area that will be addressed in another article due to the many challenges presented.
I have seen a number of posts basically stating that their plan is to stock only minimal food and survive by acquiring supplies by force. Most groups/pages discourage this kind of thinking but the threat is there.
I believe that while there will be a lot of lone wolf type people most people will end up in groups and the groups combining together to form communities. These tight knit communities would have pooled resources as far as security and more than likely will not be the easy target that some believe.
A number of the groups set up and scenarios play upon the total loss of central government. I personally believe that our government is designed with a lot of safeguards in place to prevent that and that SHTF is more likely to be a localized or regional event however I will address it since it is a popular topic.
I picture most groups post SHTF/loss of government set up as an extended family and friends initially with others added along the way as needs are established such as medical, mechanical, farming, blacksmith and military experience. Then latter battering between groups and at some point joining into larger groups with a council of head of households progressing into larger communities with elected representatives and the restart of central government.
Over the next few weeks I will do follow up articles in some of the areas listed above and welcome comments about this or any of my past articles.