A few weeks ago I had the oddest dream. In this dream, I was at home when my husband walked in the door from work and said, “The balloon’s gone up.” Immediately, my kids and I set about getting ready to leave town. I remember feeling impressed because everyone seemed to know exactly what to do.
Now, talk of balloons going up isn’t part of my everyday vocabulary. I use it about as often as I scamper from bush to bush, hiding from black helicopters. In fact, the first time I heard the phrase, I had to look it up online.
“When the balloon goes up” is a phrase used to imply impending trouble. This relates to the use of observation balloons in the first World War. The sight of such a balloon going up nearly always resulted in a barrage of shells following soon after. The expression was reinforced during WW2 when the hoisting of barrage balloons was part of the preparations for an air raid.
Often in survival type forums and blogs someone will use this phrase along with talk of, “getting out of Dodge.”
Obviously, I’m in favor of educating people to survive during all sorts of crises, but sooner or later one has to wonder, “How will I know when, or if, it’s time to gather my family together and get out of town?”
“When the balloon goes up!”
And that gets us right back to where we started. When does one know when that balloon has gone up? How do we know when events have taken an irrevocable turn for the worst and the only way to survive is to get as far away from our current location as possible?
I think that’s the $40,000 question, really. Not, “What do I keep in my bug out bag?”
Rather than try to come up with The Definitive Answer myself, I turned to numerous friends and acquaintances in the survival and preparedness niche and asked them for help.
I received so many outstanding responses from experts such as Claire Wolfe, James Rawles, Rob Hanus, and so many more that it will take more than one blog post to include them all. As you read their thoughtful answers, consider how these events might unfold in your own community.
So, in answer to the question, “How will I know when the balloon has gone up?”, or your own version of that question, here are a few of the responses, with more to follow.
From Brian and Daron Payne of the P2E Emergency Preparedness Expo.
From Timothy French of Americans Networking to Survive (A.N.T.S.)
A.N.T.S has an emergency plan that members can download. It has a section in it which talks about bugging in and when it is time to bug out.
It lists three threat levels and the signs you should look for. They are the same for all disasters because in the end, breakdowns in society are caused by a loss of utilities and supplies.
The signs are:
Level 1 – No danger – utilities are out – people are getting along
- OPSEC is low – neighbors working together.
Level 2- Some danger – utilities are out – people are getting very worried.
- OPSEC is medium, should try to band with neighbors to block off your street.
Level 3 – Dangerous – utilities are out – people are desperate and looking for supplies.
- OPSEC is high – You should bug out or hide in place
So as you can see, your neighbors reactions to an event are your best indicator, and picking up on those little signs before things get bad will give you the advantage. Bugging out before things really get bad will be a judgment call that each of us will have to make.
From Selco of SHTF School
Here are 5 first signs of coming collapse how I experienced it before war started. I’m sure it will be very similar again.
Symptom 1: More violence in your area
Symptom 2: Group behavior changes, survival brings people closer and makes others less human
Symptom 3: Dead streets
Symptom 4: New leaders emerge
Symptom 5: Nobody to trust anymore
From James Rawles of Survival Blog
Five signals of an imminent social collapse:
1. Failure of any of the three American power grids, with no subsequent restoration of power within 72 hours.
2. A stock market collapse of 30% of more of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) in less than 10 days.
3. Simultaneous rioting in three or more major American cities.
4. News of an easily-transmissible influenza pandemic with a high lethality rate, and an outbreak anywhere in the U.S.
5. Outbreak of war, with one or more targets hit in the Continental United States by a major nation state, or multiple targets hit by a terrorist group. (This would include use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.
From Randy Augsberger of The Prepared Christian
1) Warning from the Government or other authority
This one is a no-brainer. As much as I hate to admit it, the government will give us warning in some situations. Think Katrina. It would be a good idea to pay attention to what the talking heads are saying. Just run it through your filter and don’t disengage your brain. These can include natural disasters and health issues like potential pandemics.
2) GMO crop failure
One of the biggest dangers of a global catastrophe I see is a famine induced by some bug (natural or man-made) attacking GMO crops. This will play out in the future as more and more of our food supply is controlled by Monsanto/ Government.
3) Talk of making precious metals illegal for private ownership
Don’t think this couldn’t happen? It happen once already in this country. If for some economic reason, real or perceived, the government declares precious metals illegal to own, there will be absolutely no hard currency other than barter (they will probably try to outlaw that also).
4) Martial law declared anywhere in the U.S.
This one is an alarm bell. Again, be sure to not disengage your brain. If you can see (for yourself) a good reason for it, fine. But if it looks like a government power grab, be ready.
5) Widespread violent rioting
One or two cities in flame are not enough to get me too worried (unless I lived in those cities). But imagine the occupy movement if it was done with weapons and violence. We would be on the verge if not embroiled in a civil war.