STRANDED: Sheltering at Your Workplace When Going Home Is NOT An Option

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by Toby Cowern

Co-Author of SHTF Survival Bootcamp

Editor’s Note:  On January 6th, 2021, a lot of people who work in Washington DC found themselves unable to leave their offices to go home for a variety of reasons. Some were unable to leave work before the curfew while others simply could not leave safely due to unruly crowds and protests that in some parts of the city turned into riots.

These people found themselves stranded in their offices for the night with only the supplies they had on hand. If you were in that situation, would you be prepared to spend a comfortable evening, or would you be raiding the vending machine for food and rolling up your blazer for a pillow while you slept on the cold floor? A few simple preparations can help you to get ready should such an event happen to you. And remember – it isn’t just your workplace you could find yourself stuck. These days it seems like violence is breaking out very quickly. You could be at school, church, or someplace else entirely and be forced to wait out a potentially dangerous situation.

Toby has generously shared an article from the Patreon account that he runs with Selco. You can sign up to support their work for as little as $1 per month right here. ~ Daisy

It is entirely foreseeable that the levels of protests will begin and rise along with the reaction to various political issues in various countries. One of the most immediate reactions in the event of a large-scale disorder situation is people, both residents and employees, being told to “Shelter In Place” and remain in the location they are until order has been restored.

If this means staying home, for most, that is not a problem, but an unplanned overnight stay in a place of work can be considered more challenging. This article provides some basic guidance and easily actioned items that can make a significant difference in the event you are caught up in a stay-in-place order.

Due to the nature and need of this article Selco and I have decided to make it ‘Public’ available instead of Patreons only, so you can share with family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones as you see necessary.

What if you are stranded at work or away from home?

With a large variety of foreseeable events occurring regularly, more people are realizing that it is possible you could end up stranded overnight in your workplace or somewhere other than home. If severe weather rolls in, transportation shuts down, or some other incident occurs that affects your routine, leaving your workplace could be ill-advised. Rather than roll the dice and take your chances on hazardous journeys, you may be better off just hunkering down at your desk.

By planning ahead and assembling an ‘Unplanned Overnight Bag’ you can turn such an event into nothing more than an inconvenience.

For a minimal cost, securing a few key items in your car or left in your workplace brings great peace of mind and a large degree of resilience in your lifestyle.

Here are some things to keep on hand for an unexpected night away.

I would recommend assembling these items and keeping them in a sturdy bag (as opposed to say a box) for ease of movement and transport. The kit you keep at your place of work may be different than your bug-out bag.

Start with a bit of food, such as granola bars, crackers, or perhaps some packs of nuts. Many of us routinely have some snacks stashed away in our desk but it is never a bad idea to have some extra goodies in your bag. Check out the list of ‘no-cook’ foods at the end of this article for some suggestions.

Along with your food items have at least 2 x 2-liter bottles of water in your bag.

Cash is king, and if there is a widespread power outage, stores may not be able to process credit cards. Even if the power remains, having some notes and coins to use in vending machines is a good plan. Have a small amount of cash (in low denomination bills) and coins tucked securely in your bag. 20-30 $ or € should get you started.

A good flashlight (or perhaps a ‘hand crank’ flashlight, where turning a crank provides the power) will make you a hero at work, should the power go out. Many office buildings have the bulk of the work space with no exterior windows. If all the lights go out, it will become very dark in there! If your flashlight uses batteries, store an extra set or two in your bag as well.

A few hygiene items can help greatly with morale. These include a toothbrush, toothpaste, a small bar of soap, and a hand towel. Another thing to keep in your bag is your preferred feminine hygiene supplies. I realize most women carry a stash in their purse already but redundancy is always a good idea.

If your job requires you to wear business attire or, you end up dirty and sweaty from working in a factory, a change of clothes would be nice to have on hand. Comfortable trousers and tops, as well as warm socks and comfortable footwear, should be packed. The idea is to have clothes you won’t mind staying in for hours on end, rather than spending the night in a skirt or suit. A hooded sweatshirt might be a good option.

All workplaces should have first aid kits, however, often, these are poorly equipped and rarely maintained. Either buy a small first aid kit or assemble one with supplies you have at home. Adhesive bandages, pain relievers, and meds for stomach ailments should all be included. If you regularly take any sort of prescription medication, keep it in your kit enough to last a day or two at least.

Given that you may end up spending a full night at the office, a blanket and inflatable pillow should be the minimum packed. Depending on your office furniture and layout you may wish to even have an inflatable mattress (and pump!) stored in your bag. Many easily affordable mattress options are available now, and these make a world of difference to the quality of sleep you are likely to get!

Finally, something to help pass the time will be of great benefit. A book to read, maybe crossword puzzles, or word search puzzles, if that’s your thing. A deck of cards can be fun and is a good way to while away the hours.

Assembling your bag need not take long at all, and once assembled can be tucked away in a discreet corner of your workplace until it becomes necessary to use it. Empower yourself today by assembling these items and taking them with you to your office the next time you are there!

Some recommended ‘no-cook’ foods

Having a small dish and eating utensils alongside your food in your bag is a good idea. Here are some ideas for foods you might wish to stock.

  • Military-style rations known as MRE’s (heat sensitive)
  • Energy bars (high calorie)
  • Almonds and other nuts
  • V‐8 juice
  • Canned pasta
  • Canned meals (Such as chili con carne or hearty soups)
  • Energy Drink mix
  • Cocoa mix
  • Coffee/Tea Sachets
  • Peanut butter
  • Jerky
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned fruit
  • Fruit leathers
  • Rice cakes
  • Biscuits/Cookies
  • Hard candies
  • Tuna packs
  • Crackers
  • Cheese spread in jars
  • Pudding cups
  • Packets of dry milk
  • Breakfast bars
  • Sunflower seeds

Get your co-workers on the same page

Depending on your work situation and location, you may wish to encourage others in your workplace to get prepared for the possibility of sheltering in place at the office.

It is a good idea to discuss with your employer and co-workers what plans are in place to deal with these types of situations and make sure everyone is equally informed and prepared.

Are you prepared to shelter in place at work?

Do you have supplies put aside in the event you need to stay at work one night? Are there any items you would recommend adding to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About Toby

Toby Cowern has an extensive background in the military, emergency services, risk management, and business continuity, combined with applied wilderness and urban survival skills. He discusses personal safety, security, and the crossover of military skills to the average civilian.

STRANDED: Sheltering at Your Workplace When Going Home Is NOT An Option
Toby Cowern

About the Author

Toby Cowern

Toby Cowern has an extensive background in the military, emergency services, risk management, and business continuity, combined with applied wilderness and urban survival skills. He discusses personal safety, security, and the crossover of military skills to the average civilian.

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