Moving Families to Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, Jim.”

Dad called. He doesn’t call me unless I am in trouble or something crazy is happening. I figured this was a call for the latter.

“This feels like a takeover. It doesn’t feel like a virus, to me. I have been reading about stuff like this since 1970, Jim. Jim. I’m telling you. This feels different to me.”

As a prepper, I have a duty to be prepared and to assure than I keep a level head in situations like these. Lately, I am finding out that I also have a duty to help others cope with the changing world.

Because I spend so much of my time reading, writing and talking about situations just like the one we are in now, I live in a bubble. It’s like a kind of conditioning. If you run great distances on a regular basis you barely notice that first mile. In the same way, as I watch this world spiral out of control it’s like my first mile.

I have seen this in my head over and over again. What I didn’t prepare for was the fact that I would have to step out of my bubble and help others cope with the change.

“If they close down I-95 or shutdown these bridges, we are [email protected]&%d,” my father’s words saturated in fear and anger.

Maybe you have long considered moving family members to your location in times of disaster. Well, we are getting close to a time when those chess pieces will need to move. This is particularly true of the Northeast.

However, there are some things to consider

Moving Families to Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Are you Capable of Taking People In?

Beware of the peripatetic ego in times like these. The ego pops up in small fights with your isolated kids, your scared spouse and most definitely when people call on you for help.

After receiving that call from my father I realized that now was the time for smart action and, most importantly, a calm take on this whole thing.

‘What’s the best-case scenario in a situation like this?’

I want my family to stay where they are and get back to the lives they have enjoyed up until this virus. To uproot people and move them all over the nation is not going to be the best outcome.

Unless of course, they plan on reestablishing in your town.

The most important question you can ask yourself is whether or not you can take people in. Do you have a place for them to sleep? Do you have enough food to sustain them and your family.

We have a hard rule about people coming in tough times: You have to bring food. Don’t leave your home without emptying your cupboards of shelf-stable foods. Hit the supermarket on the way down.

If you come, no matter who you are, bring food.

This is not just to fill our coffers a little more. It’s is also to assure those coming to your home feel like they are contributing right off the bat. By providing food they are contributing as they walk through the door and that will set the tone that contribution is necessary and that everyone has value.

The reality of taking in people like grown kids, parents or siblings in times like these is that you gotta make it work. It’s common to hear preppers talk about sending people away who show up at your door. Well, some people you simply cannot send away.

How can you turn away your kids and grandkids?

Do what you can to be prepared for others and don’t forget to put some stipulations on those who plan on journeying to your location. Even if that is to buy a small bed, cot, air mattress because you don’t have anything but a couch waiting for them.

Your Quarantine Policy

If your loved ones are running from an area because the infection rate is much higher than it is in your town, well, they could be bringing an added bonus to your home.

They could be unknowing carriers of the virus or they might pick it up on the way to you.

To mitigate this risk you should consider some sort of quarantine policy for them when they arrive. Maybe they are relegated to their room for a few days. Sure it will be weird but you and yours will be safe.

You might also consider masks around the home for a few days during this quarantine window.

Talking to your Family

Now that we are in isolation we have time to make those phone calls and talk to the family. You should make it a point to touch base with your family on these and other topics.

If you haven’t reached out to loved ones you might not realize what you are going to hear on the other line. Everyone is scared. People are given to platitudes and they might even say hurtful things. They could also speak in absolutes like you have never heard them before.

For weeks now I have been very intentional in my communications with people. I have been very aware of the outlandish remarks they are making and, if it’s out of character, I just chalk it up to fear.

  • No one wants to go through this machine and wind up sick and alone in a bed during the greatest pandemic in history
  • No one is excited about losing their job
  • No one wants to see the bills piling up
  • No one wants to be here

The time to talk to your family is now. You can calm their fears but you have to be aware of the fact that most people are completely terrified of the situation at hand and the uncertain future.

Learning to Listen and Gather Intel

“I’m not supposed to be at work but my boss is helping me out. It’s not like I can just not work!”

Another call I had this week described a scenario that many Americans are facing.

“I get to work and there is a state trooper in the parking lot across the street. He is driving around the lots and I am thinking to myself, ‘well I guess I better just go back home’ but I waited for him to drive away and went in anyway. I need the money.”

Every person you talk to in this incredible time will offer you information that you can use. Just by picking up the phone and talking to someone you are gathering your own intel about what is happening to people because of this virus and the variegated lockdowns across the nation.

Of course, your conversations go way beyond just gathering data.

Your voice and your concern for someone can shift the paradigm of their world in such a powerful way that it can incite hope, action or even revelation.

At least that has been my experience with helping people through this tough time with a simple phone call.

Giving Sound Advice the Non-Preppers Can Act-On

Everyone is a prepper now!

Its a funny statement but its all wrong. Running out and buying everything off the store shelves is very different than spending a decade figuring out the best way to store, grow and preserve food, among many other things, for times just like these.

If you have family members who are actively considering some kind of evacuation, bugout or just want to escape the most radical aspects of the pandemic response and subsequent fallout.

Packing Bags

The timing seems to be the toughest factor to manage in our current situation. Sure, we have seen the most extreme isolation tactics ever used by our government.

Still, there is something in the air, something else in the air, that makes people feel like we are going back to normal at any moment. Even the president wants to get the country back up and running at full speed.

America has taken the #1 spot for active cases of COVID-19 and that hope seems dashed.

If you have families or family members that you would like to move to safety, tell them to have bags packed by the door. We will talk about triggers to leave in the next section but those bags will make all the difference.

Packing the Car

Daily growth is up to 100 cases per day in most cities and much higher in larger cities. The growth is exponential in the biggest cities in our nation. I have to imagine the repositioning of families is from a more populated area to a less populated one.

That is going to require a car.

Just like the bags, now is the time to pack that car. Every moment will be precious when its time to get moving. Here are the things to pack for a long road trip and a resettle.

Remember, these are recommendations for non-preppers. We cannot expect the people we are moving to be loaded for bear. Still, we can help them avoid pitfalls during travel and when they arrive.

  • Extra Gas
  • Maps
  • Protection
  • Road Worthy Snacks
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tire Inflator, if they have one
  • First Aid
  • Their stock of dry goods from home
  • Bedding
  • Medications
  • Comfort Items

Ideally, this move will be temporary but we just don’t know how the world will look after its all said and done. While moving a family 6 hours south might be something that just requires driving, today, could be a very different task in the future.

Creating Triggers for your Family Members

Do your family members read the news the same way that you do? Being an aware and intelligent reader here at BDS means that you see things most people don’t. Situations like this one have likely been setting off internal alarms for months now.

Some of your family members may have been giving you the, “It’s just like the flu,” speech and they might still be!

For this reason, you need to help them establish easy to recognize triggers that will help them know when things are getting serious and that it’s time to get going!

Local Bridge Closures

The New Jersey Turnpike has stopped taking cash tolls, as have many toll stations across the nation. This is a notable step in managing bridges and roads during the pandemic.

If we see bridges and access being shutoff to certain infected areas, that is a huge trigger that its time to get moving.

Interstate Closures

While the interstates have not been closed in Washington State the government has suspended maintenance efforts for the time being.

We need tractor-trailers to ride those interstates so it will be very hard for those to be shut down. However, if we do not maintain those roads that could be an issue for travelers, too.

Tell your family to keep their eyes on the roads.

Crime and Punishment

In places like Pennsylvania and Chicago police departments are “adjusting police services” to limit the spread of the virus. Incidents must present a “significant threat to life or property” to warrant a police response.

NYC and Sacramento, among others, are also letting prisoners out to curb the infection. These are “non-violent” offenders but they are prisoners none the less.

I think you can see how the confluence of these two situations could warrant a trigger.


I took a strategic trip to the grocery store yesterday. We are not in a resource crisis right now. We faced a massive increase in demand that appears to be leveling out and production, for now, is catching up.

If enough people are sick throughout the country we could run into serious resource shortages. If our fleet of truck drivers is hit, even a small percentage, it will affect access to resources in a big way.

Overwhelming Force

The National Guard is going to be doing work in large cities all across this nation to aid in the spread and recovery from COVID-19. That is the current situation.

If things spiral out of control larger populations will require greater force to deal with many of the triggers we mentioned above, particularly issues with access to resources. In this case, you could see serious force in big cities.

Overwhelming force is never a good thing and is a great trigger for your family to recognize

Rules on Arrival

The idea of taking people in during a disaster has long been bandied about. Some preppers have strict policies about taking people in and its zero-tolerance.

This always seemed weird to me if you were to establish this without any experience turning people away.

Still, even if you decide to take family in and move them to your location, you need to have some rules for when they arrive. These rules are both for you and for them. Never assume anyone knows what you want, what you need or whether or not you are happy or angry with them.

Our section on quarantine is a great example of a rule that must be adhered to.

House Rules

Your number one concern should be running your home the way it should be run despite the newcomers. Chances are they know who you are and how you act so they won’t be surprised if you are up at 5 am working.

Still, establish mealtimes, quiet downtimes and basic house rules that are important to you. Also, rules on going out. This situation is unique because going out presents serious danger to the whole family. If you are on a lockdown those coming to your home must comply or follow some decontamination procedures when they return.

The more you can explain upfront the less trouble you will have later.

Silly things like the thermostat or when people take showers can create all kinds of conflict in a home with visitors.


Everyone needs at least one duty. This is both for your benefit and for theirs.

“Well, we can just wash all our clothes and you wash yours.”

Are you going to cook two different meals each night? Probably not. Someone can handle the wash and someone can handle the cooking or it can be divided up. Just make sure that people have duties.

Hopefully, you have gardening duties and maybe even livestock duties that need to be accounted for. Don’t be shy about putting good people to work. I say good people because I am assuming you wouldn’t bring lazy, freeloading people into your home in a time of crisis.

Good, hard-working people are going to want to stay active and be productive. It’s that simple. They don’t wanna be an inconvenience. This is especially true of your parents or your siblings with children.

Work em! Keep them busy and you will all finish your day happier.

Whatever you do, don’t try and take the extra burden on yourself. No one is capable of doing such a thing. Nor are there any benefits to wearing yourself out like that.

Your resentment for those people will build like the pressure building under Yellowstone.

Don’t forget, rest is essential to both resisting the virus and fighting it off. How do you think your family would feel if you took them in and then you worked yourself to death, literally?

Trust me, good people want rules and duties and they want to contribute. Don’t be shy here.


In all honesty, it’s very late in the game to consider moving chess pieces. This is something that should have been done weeks ago. Still, hope is eternal and people refuse to come to terms with this new world.

Our leadership, in many ways, is promising us a pathway back to the life we all…hated. But at least it’s not COVID isolation. That makes family members unwilling to move and shake loose the moorings of their life.

There will come a time, at its peak, where this pandemic will make interstate travel illegal. If we see all the major cities on the Eastern seaboard with 100,000 cases or more there will be even more drastic steps taken.

They closed school here in Virginia, for the year, because we have over 200 cases. Imagine what happens when the state reaches 200,000. If you have moves to make, establish some rules and be sure those coming to you are ready at a moment’s notice.

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