One thing we should all do while we have access to the Internet is to use Google Maps in conjunction with local OS maps to review the area for about 2 to 3 miles around your retreat. If you intend to bug out then also do the same around your bug out retreat. It is worth doing both just in case you get caught short and are forced to fall back to your original position.
In my case I live in a cul-de-sac off a main road. There are two parallel cul-de-sacs on the right hand side while on the left is another main road which runs parallel to our cul-de-sac. Opposite the end of our road is a large school. As it is close to the edge of our town there is only about 700 yards of main road before we hit open country. It is a nice area and what I call a typical middle class suburb, but don’t tell them I said that.
Using Google maps I can see which of my neighbours have garages, sheds and greenhouses that I may be able to salvage tools and materials from when they are gone. I can also see which houses have gardens for existing crops and which have house extensions and similar areas which I could use for my crops and livestock. This will spread the risk and stop me keeping all my eggs in one basket. I can also see any swimming pools, which would be none as this is the UK, but depending on the time of year certain gardens may have collapsible ones set up. You can identify these areas and go looking when the time comes. I’ve recorded the details on my local map with a summary of what I have identified and different size and position printouts of the Google map itself.
I can also see that there are only a couple of ways in to my street for vehicles and thus I can plan what I can do in those areas. Sealing off the end of the road is an obvious trick but will show intent and may attract interest. Collapsing the road further down the street on the water main will look less suspicious and still seal off the road adequately. I’m still considering several options on the best way to do that. The entry points from adjacent streets, between the houses, can be similarly degraded with collapsing walls and removing flagstones. I’m looking at keeping my vehicles in a house opposite mine with access to the parallel main street. That path is not currently paved, typical, but I can do that with flagstones from other houses.
I have also looked at where are the areas that people could come wandering into the street from. There are several paths there that I know about and I have planned to block all those off with brambles and there are a couple of ways in from the next street over fences which I can stop with barbed wire or broken glass. Obviously I cannot stop a determined person getting in but I can also set up alarms and traps in these areas to reduce the risk of being taken unawares by intruders. I have also planned out ambush points and fields of fire just in case. I have also identified points that overlook my home and intend to make them inaccessible or booby trap them. If necessary you may decide to set up sentry points at key locations if you have the manpower and the concern.
All this is based on certain assumptions. There will be few people left in the area after an event and those that are will be part of my group. Regardless, I have looked at surrounding houses and tried to keep everything as close to me as possible. I will worry about neighbours at the time. I’m sure most will be long gone as about 40% of the street is elderly and 15% have children.
While I was reviewing my local area I spotted a small side road that leads to a row of what looks like regimented allotments about 200 yards away, as well as a small area of grassland besides them. I think that will be well worth a look if an event happens. Most people won’t know it is there. I didn’t. It also shows me local fields with ponds and where the farmhouses are so I can plan ahead. I may visit prior to an event or wait until after and then investigate. Very, very carefully of course.
I also have my eye on the school opposite as although it is open and easily accessible, difficult to secure and not viable in a hostile environment it has the potential to be a meeting place and market or a HQ for a large group who could secure it. This could be good or bad depending on whom it is that moves in. Local Hells Angels or the Salvation Army.
Once you have identified areas and recorded them it is well worth walking the area and looking around. One area I had identified with a large garden has a large propane tank and some farming equipment just rusting there. As well as several small barn type outhouses that must contain something interesting. Validate your assumptions regarding access via houses and the state of paths, walls and gardens. Identify any caravans, heavy vehicles and garages not showing on Google. Remember Google is a snapshot and could have been taken years ago. I can’t identify when my own street was taken although it says 2011 I suspect that is the copyright notice. Don’t assume it is accurate, validate. There may be some major changes in your area. I also took a phone with a camera built in to record anything interesting. Didn’t want to look suspicious and be seen taking photographs. The beauty of digital cameras is that you can take lots of pictures and just discard what you don’t want. I took a few on the walk but none were of real interest.
So, I now have an OS map and some documentation of where interesting areas are. I have an action list of things I can do to secure the area and enhance my home and area for additional cops, where I can house livestock, plant crops and where I can possibly find tools and other additional items. All from an hour on the internet and three hours going for a nice walk. Time well spent I would say.