The answer is to survive first and ask questions later. Here’s a guide to help you do the first.
It’s a good idea to make a bug-out kit as soon as you can. Also called a BOB (bug-out bag) or battle box, it normally contains essential items you would need to survive for at least 72 hours. While some people may confuse a bug-out kit for a survival kit, a bug-out kit is meant to tide you over until cooler heads prevail and martial law is lifted. As such, its contents are focused simply on evacuation.
Typically, a bug-out kit contains food and water, among other important and portable items. You need about a gallon of water a day, but pack water purification supplies if possible. Choose non-perishable or ready-to-eat food, but cooking equipment – if compact enough – fall under this category, too.
Other essential items include vitamin supplements, multipurpose tools, lamps, a hunting or survival knife, a hatchet, a tarp, and a length of paracord. (Related: Here’s a list of important items to include in your BOB.)
Invest in an isolated rural safehouse beforehand, ideally within a 10-hour drive from your home. Map an escape route from your home to your retreat, especially if it’s walkable and hidden. Failing this, you can simply chart several safe places to bug out to. Like your safehouse, you should have a ready route to them planned just in case.
Note that some declarations of martial law are imposed because of natural disasters, which means it may be unsafe for you to make the journey alone. Weigh your options.
It's usually wiser to get out of Dodge alone, but teamwork may open locked doors that you alone cannot. Look for like-minded individuals. When SHTF and people are switching to survival mode, you need someone to watch your back, after all. Numbers have a quality of their own.
Figuratively, but sometimes literally too when bullets are flying. In other words, do not attract attention to yourself. Stockpile supplies, especially food, but don’t let others know you’re doing so. Stay away from areas with civil unrest. Under martial law, protesters will likely be high-priority targets for detainment (or worse). Professional soldiers will not think twice about eliminating threats to national security.
Soldiers are neither good nor evil. Remember that their first order of business, especially during martial law, is to enforce order, though that is subject to the interpretation of the ones calling the shots. If the order comes to ration supplies and your neighbor rats you out (see previous section), your supplies may be parceled out to others, leaving you with little to none for yourself.
The best way to survive martial law, however, is to stay informed. Martial law is reserved only for the most extreme of circumstances, and the government has several checks to keep it from interfering with the average Joe. Keep calm, know your options, and treat the situation as you would any natural disaster – one that you can see coming and prepare for.
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