Bugging in vs Bugging out – Which is for you?
When the proverbial “poop” hits the fan, should you ride out the SHTF event at home? Or should you hit the open road for safer areas? This question has perplexed preppers for years, and understandably so. Many preppers prefer the safety and comfort of home, and make their plans accordingly. Others have a sense of adventure and excitement, and yearn for the day that SHTF so they can take off and leave civilization (or what remains of it) behind!
In reality, both have merits that we will cover here. Let’s take a look…
For most emergency and disaster scenarios, bugging in should be the preferable way to go. The vast majority of emergencies are localized, and you can ride out these events by simply being prepared at home. FEMA recommends having a 3 day supply of food and water, though most preppers will have much more than that. With enough supplies and equipment on hand, staying home during a disaster is typically the smart thing to do.
Bugging in during a disaster has numerous advantages to bugging out:
- Familiar resources – you know the layout of your home, and the areas where your gear and supplies are located. Storing supplies and gear is WAY easier than trying to move it! You should also know about local sources of water (lakes and streams), grocery stores, etc that are close by
- Familiar location – you should have detailed knowledge of the area around your home and neighborhood. Where is the closest grocery store? Hospital? Police station? Are there side streets you can use to avoid heavily congested main roads?
- Familiar People – you should at least have working knowledge of your neighbors and people living in close proximity to you. Neighbors you can trust and/or have useful skills. You should also keep in mind about neighbors or people who could be potential problems in larger, more dangerous emergencies.
- Safety and security – During times of disaster, movement is not without perils. And I’m not just talking about roving bands of marauders. Things such as torn up roads and buildings can present dangers and unseen hazards. So to can the outside elements. Freezing rain is a lot easier to deal with when you are inside! And it is should be easier to defend yourself inside your own home as opposed to being out on the open road.
If you do not have a bug in plan, start developing one now. As I stated, a vast majority of emergencies can be ridden out safely by simply being prepared at home. If a tornado hits your area (but misses you house) and you are without power for a few days, staying home with your preps would seem like the logical thing to do. A sudden snow storm leaves you home bound and without power…now you put your bug in plans into place.
To help you start to develop your “Bug in” plans, here is some of what I wrote in an article for my friend Graywolf’s site about developing plans for bugging in.
You need a plan for events that could realistically to happen to you. Based upon your location and conditions, what sort of emergencies could you see happening in your area? Are you on a coast that has a chance of a hurricane? Are winter storms likely to happen in your area? What about earthquakes? Do you live on a flood plain? Is there a nuclear reactor in your area? These are questions you have to answer. Identify emergency events that could happen in your area, and then base your plans accordingly.
I live in Oklahoma, so I’m not really worried about hurricanes. But tornadoes and ice storms here are a way of life. I have made contingency plans based upon those events.
Let common sense be your guide. If you are not sure what you should plan for or how to plan, study and research. This and other websites are a wonderful source of information.
Once you have plans in place for local issues, then you might start focusing on regional issues, then national, and so on. But again, one step at a time.
While you are developing your plans, (and don’t be afraid to revisit and maybe even change them from time to time based upon different conditions as they happen), I would begin to build up an emergency “72 hour kit”.
What’s a 72 hour kit? Basically, it is what you would need to survive for 72 hours in the event of an emergency or disaster. Everyone here should be aware of the events that unfolded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many people were on their own for days or even weeks before help arrived. It has happened before, it could happen again. A 72 hour kit is designed to help you get through such an emergency.
Once you feel like you are adequately prepared for 3 days, then you can start to branch out and look at more long term planning and survival goals. But for right now, let’s concentrate on keeping you alive for the first 3-5 days of a crisis. That is a good start for a new prepper.
FEMA recommends that all families have at least 3 days’ worth of food and water stored for emergencies. That’s three days’ worth for EACH family member AND pet.
Now every time you go grocery shopping, grab a few extra items above and beyond what you normally get. Over the next few weeks and months, you will find your little stockpile has grown. But let me give you a few tips.
- Buy food that your family will actually eat. That makes it easier to rotate your stock, and ensures that food does not go to waste. If your family hates Spam, having ten cans of it is a waste. No one will eat it so you can’t rotate it, and eventually it will reach its expiration date.
- Have several days’ worth of food that you don’t have to cook and is non-perishable. 3 days’ worth of frozen pizzas and burritos does you no good if you lack the ability to cook it or keep it fresh. (IE no electricity or gas.)
- Don’t buy dented or almost out of date canned good. I don’t want to have to worry about botulism 6 months from now if I find myself in an emergency situation.
- Have a decent manual can opener
In addition to buying a few extra canned goods, I would also buy a gallon of water in a plastic container. Maybe two. I write the month and year that I purchased them on the containers in permanent pen. I use the water every day, and make sure that my stock is never more than 6 months old. Some may argue that bottled water will last longer than that if stored properly. But for me, 6 months is my comfort level.
The rule is a gallon of water per person per day. Having some extra water for pets, cooking, and cleaning would be a great idea. (Pets will drink more than you think.)
While you build up your supply of food/water, think about your ability to keep you and your family warm (or cool) in the event that you lose power. Sure, you probably have enough bedding and blankets to stay warm when your thermostat is set at 72 degrees. But what happens if you lose power for several days?
In addition to having zero degree rated sleeping bags, I have several extra wool blankets and comforters just in case. I have the ability to prevent my water from freezing should the power be off several days during very cold weather. I also have plans in place should I find myself without power in the middle of summer and need to keep things cool.
No electricity means no light. So do you have extra flash lights? Extra batteries? Have you tested them lately? I have multiple flashlights, both rechargeable and ones that require batteries. And I am well stocked with batteries. I also have many candles that I can use. Enough to last quite a long time. But having enough for 3 days is a great start.
A few other items you should consider in your 72 hour kit:
- Emergency radio. I have one requiring batteries and one that is powered by a hand crack. Knowledge is power, and knowing what is going on around you could save your life. This emergency AM/FM (with NOAA weather) radio keeps you in the loop, has a hand crank for power, and will recharge your cell phone
- Extra medication/medicines. Many physicians will prescribe you extra medications that you take regularly if you ask. (Non-narcotic anyway). Always having at least 3-5 days’ worth of your medications on hand is a very wise move.
- A first aid kit – having some first aids skills is a must as well
- Extra sanitation items. Staying clean is a morale booster. Hand sanitizer and wipes helps keep you clean. (Your stored water should be for drinking, not showering.) Women, two days into a crisis is a terrible time to realize you are out of feminine hygiene items. Also keep in mind…if you have no running water you most likely have no toilet. (How much toilet paper do you have right now?) If you have an infant…..extra diapers and wipes are a must.
- Garbage bags…..see above
- Board games, cards, and books. No electricity means no TV, Xbox, internet, or way to recharge your cell phones. What are you going to do when boredom sets in? Some items to help pass the time would be very beneficial
- Tools. A wrench might come in handy if you needed to turn off your gas or water for example
- Important documentation. Things such as personal identification, insurance policies, bank account info, etc. Keep these in a waterproof, portable container
- Fire extinguisher
- Some extra cash. No electricity renders your bank card useless. Cash is always king
- Local maps. Main street might be torn up right now. Having and knowing alternate routes is a good idea.
- Paper plates and plastic utensils. Again….save the water for drinking
Self-defense is something that every prepper talks about. This site has numerous articles dealing with firearms and even impromptu weapons. I am not going to rehash them all here. But I am listing some links to these articles. They are great reference material for new preppers.
Bugging in will be what you need to do in most situations. The above material is just some ideas to help get you started. But that does not mean you should not also have contingency plans for bugging out!
Many times, where preppers begin to have problems and issues with their planning, it is their Bugging Out plans that showcase their shortcomings. I have found a lot of preppers that either A) have no plans to bug out at all, or B) plan to head for the hills and live off of the land…ie no real plan other than leaving.
In my opinion, both could be fatal mistakes!
If you have vast amounts of stores, gear, and renewable resources at your home, then kudos to you! But if your only plan is to stay home and ride it out, you could be making a BIG mistake.
What happens if there is an out of control forest fire heading your way? Or your house catches fire and burns to the ground? What about a flood? What if an earthquake demolishes your house? A toxic chemical spill in your area makes it poisonous and unsafe to remain…now what?
There are all sorts of natural disasters and man-made emergencies that could force an evacuation from your area. Being a prepper means being prepared for all sorts of contingencies, not locking yourself into what you THINK will happen. So in some cases, you may have to leave your home and “bug out”. Hence the need to have bug out plans.
The other side of that coin is if your only plan is to take off at the first sign of distress, you could yourself be in serious trouble!
For starters, most disasters may not require you to bug out. Not every disaster will be of epic proportions and require you to get outta town. Needless bugging out at the very least would be a huge distraction and a waste of time and resources.
When developing bug out plans, the number one question should be, “Where are you headed?” If your answer is “we just have to get out of town!”, your situation could go from bad to worse very quickly. Heading off into the unknown and hoping for the best is bad on so many levels.
The vast majority of people today lack the skills and ability to “live off the land”. Sure, you might enjoy camping. Maybe you have a few primitive skills, such as making a fire with flint and steel. You might even be a great hunter. But living off the land with ZERO resupply is an entirely different animal than a week long camping trip. In a long term, grid down scenario, this is not a viable option for almost everyone.
At some point, out in the wild, food sources will dwindle. There might be a serious medical emergency. The elements/weather could catch you off guard. For a multitude of reasons, there is a reason that the typical mountain man of the 1700s and 1800s had shorter life spans than other folks of their day. And those mountain men had the necessary skills that you do not!
If you think you can survive in the wild simply by hunting, think again. Here is an exert I wrote on the subject from an earlier article.
No matter how much of a highly skilled hunter you might be, those skills are USELESS if there is nothing to left hunt. In a true SHTF long term event, the animals available to hunt will be exhausted relatively quickly.
Using the deer population in the US for example, deer numbered around 32 million or so in 2014. With over 300 million people in the US alone, and the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, you can connect the dots and see the potential ramifications when you have that many hungry people with 267 million or so guns.
A large number of people do not know how to hunt let alone field dress an animal. But that would not stop them from trying. Hunger is a POWERFUL motivator.
Yes, suddenly the number of hunters in the US would EXPLODE. And the rules and regulations in place to help ensure that the animal population remains intact would be right out the window.
Unfortunately, it won’t be just the deer. The entire animal population would be sent into free fall. Small game, birds, fish, etc will be wiped out as the shrinking human population become more desperate for dwindling resources.
As you can see, when bugging out you NEED a place to head for. If you have the ability to get a BOL (Bug Out Location), then by all means begin working on that. If you do not have the means for that, start looking for other friendly places you can go. Be it Grandma’s house, the in-laws, or a college friend from years’ ago.
In fact, if you do not have a BOL, I’d make arrangements now to have a few different places in a few different areas you can bug out to should things all go to Hell. It would really suck if you planned to bug out to Grandma’s house, and then find out during the “Poop storm” that she is worse off than you!
But talk to these potential “Bug Out Friends” NOW! Make plans with them now. Showing up on their door step in the middle of “poop hitting the oscillating unit” unannounced and needing their help may not get you a warm reception.
You might also look for local prep groups in your area. Having an area where like minded folks can go to in the event of an disaster could be a huge boon. You could pool your resources and work together. This would save you time, money, and energy.
If you go this route, be EXTREMELY careful about who you “buddy” up to. Most folks are nice and friendly when things are good. But the “animal” comes out in people when things go really bad. You might start seeing a bad side to some people you did not know was there. In the middle of SHTF is a bad time to discover that your prep group is not what/who you thought they were!
On the road again…
Once you have determined where you are heading, you need to start thinking about how you are getting there if things go south. The quickest route may not be the safest. Or the normal route may no longer be passable. So start setting up plans now on how you will bug out safely and efficiently.
To help you draw up some evacuation plans, I thought I’d give you some pointers and things to consider when drawing up your plans. These are pointers from this article:
- Have a final destination already planned out. Simply bugging out into the unknown should be the LAST thing you want to do
- If you have multiple members of your group/family, the chances of you all being together at the time disaster strikes is slim and none. Make sure everyone in your group knows the plans and the final location ahead of time.
- I would have pre-determined rally point along the way to meet at if your final location is a long way off. You might also devise a means of communicating with them should the rally point become unsafe
- Know the routes AND the area in general ahead of time. Where are the gas stations? Is there a grocery store nearby? A hospital? What other points of interest are along your intended route?
- How many different ways do you have of getting to your destination? Your primary route may suddenly no longer be accessible, so have contingency plans in place for different routes to take or even different means of getting to your final location
- Do you have not only the gear you need, but a way of safely and securely transporting it?
- Identify areas that you could potentially cache supplies. Are there friendly areas (a friend’s house for example) that you could make a pit stop if needed?
- Identify areas that could potentially be choke points or trouble spots, and ways to avoid them
The better you know your routes and surrounding area, the easier it will be to plan for the unexpected. It will also prevent you from becoming lost or disoriented. Landmarks can be a wonderful thing. But what happens if you are bugging out at night? Or if the landmarks are suddenly gone? That old blue water tower where you turn right has been there for decades, but now it has vanished! Know your route well enough that you don’t have to rely on just visible land marks!
I would make a dry run several times in different conditions. Do it at noon, then again later during rush hour traffic. Try again later on at night, and in conditions such as rain. Make your run via your backup area as well.
I would also make the run from time to time to see if things have changed. It would really suck to have a gas station or bridge you had counted on in your plans to be closed down when it really counted.
For extended routes, I would certainly document your route. This will help you to develop your bug out plans.
My Little Deuce Coupe
I know several preppers that have invested heavily in a Bug Out Vehicle. (BOV) If you have the means and resources available, then by all means get one. For me, I just have my regular vehicles as I do not have the resources available currently to get a BOV. But that is not a problem for me. I have adjusted my plans accordingly. I have several different means available to me to get to my BOL should we have a TEOTWAWKI event. (The End Of The World As We Know It).
If you are like me and either do not have the means or the need for a BOV, then there are steps you can take to ensure that the vehicle you do have is ready for an emergency. Click here to read more about it.
If you decide that your situation warrants a BOV, I would strongly encourage you to find a vehicle that is practical and will work in a multitude of situations and scenarios.
I see preppers all the time say things like “You need THIS type of bug out vehicle because of a possible EMP”. But why limit your vehicle to just one possible scenario? The truth is, we do not have enough data on EMPs to know exactly how they would impact vehicles. Read more on that by clicking here!
And what happens if the SHTF event isn’t a EMP, but an economic crash where gas prices skyrocket out of control? Now your “EMP proof” vehicle that gets 6 miles to the gallon suddenly isn’t very practical! Do NOT limit or lock yourself, your plans, or your gear to only one or two SHTF possibilities. That is a recipe for disaster!
If you are in the market for BOV, there are some things I might look for when considering a emergency vehicle:
- Find a vehicle that is practical to your needs – it should be able to easily hold your family and your gear. The ability to add a luggage rack to the roof is a bonus as well
- Find a vehicle that is practical to your plans – a huge 4×4 diesel truck won’t do you much good if you have to go off road into a heavily wooden area where the truck won’t fit
- Find a vehicle with 4 wheel drive or all wheel drive.
- Find a vehicle that blends in and allows you to maintain OPSEC. No reason to bring extra attention and scrutiny to yourself either before or during a SHTF event.
- Find a vehicle that is reliable. The best off road vehicle in the world isn’t much good if it breaks down a lot.
- I’d look at an SUV as opposed to a truck. SUVs typically have more passenger room, and internally stored gear is not as susceptible to the elements/theft like it would be in the bed of a truck
- I’d choose a diesel over a gas vehicle. The shelf life of gasoline is about 6 months…MAYBE a year if you treat it and keep it in optimum conditions. Diesel engines will run on bio-diesel, which is possible to produce yourself.
- The more common the vehicle is, the more likely you are to find spare parts for it both now and in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. (And the more likely your BOV is to blend in!)
If you aren’t sure when it is time to bug out, click this link here to read about when to know it is time to go!
In The End
Ultimately, any prepper worth his salt will have plans in place for both staying put, AND for getting the hell outta town! They will have talked to their loved ones about implementing these plans should they find themselves in a disaster situation. They will have the gear and supplies they need specifically for their plans, they will have ways and means or storing it, and also transporting it. They will also have plans in place for communicating with each other during a SHTF disaster.
Stay safe out there!
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