How to Fight Off the Elements While Bugging Out
Editor’s note: Please welcome “Dan Sullivan” from Survivalsullivan.com to the site. Dan is a prepper from Romania, and brings us some advice and knowledge he has gained from prepping in Europe. Please welcome him to the site!
If, by some unfortunate turn of events, you determine that your home is not safe and needs to be abandoned, you can expect two things.
Number one, that the bug out will go smoothly. You load your car, take your loved ones, you drive for an hour or two and reach your bug out location safe and sound. This is one possibility, but not the only one… and, as much as I like to stay optimistic, I can’t help but ask myself the obvious question:
What if things don’t go as planned?
It is possible, right? They don’t call it SHTF for no reason…
Now, there are a lot of things that can go wrong when you’re out there. Road blocks, looters, desperate people, fire, downed trees and, then, of course, there’s the distance. But there’s one thing most folks forget to consider and that’s Mother Nature.
Mother Nature can be spectacular and protective, but it can also be vicious… provided you don’t know how to take care of yourself when you pay it a visit. If you’ve even been on a hike before, particularly in bad weather, you know what I’m talking about.
So let’s see some of the things to consider when you’re out there, especially if you are having to bug out on foot…
Fighting Freezing Temperatures
Ever thought what would happen if you caught a cold or the flu while you were bugging out? I don’t know about you, but the last time I caught a cold I was actually inside the house. I was all packed for a winter hike but the next morning I had strong fever and could barely get out of bed. It makes me wonder what would’ve happened if the cold would have been half a day late.
If you’re forced to sleep outside, you could catch a cold despite having a tent, a sleeping bag and warm clothes. It doesn’t even have to be winter, if you have low immunity, you can catch a cold during summer just as easily.
Then what? Here’re a few ideas to prepare:
- update your bug out bag’s first aid kit with cough medicine, aspirin, throat spray and other meds you usually take when you catch the flu or bronchitis
- make sure you have warm clothes including gloves (not just work gloves, those won’t protect you from the cold), wool or polyester socks, an extra jacket, and a scarf that you can wrap around your mouth
- improve your immunity to decrease the chances of catching cold (there are plenty of ways to do that such as reducing sugar intake, eating fruits and veggies, working out, hiking)
- make sure you have means to boil water (a small camp stove is a great addition to a BOB) to make tea
- pack some hand warmers
Fighting High Temperatures
Although a heat wave can be survived by bugging in, it may happen that you’ll have to evacuate when the sun is burning outside. If you don’t have a car and you’re forced to evacuate on foot, you’ll expose yourself to sun burns, get headaches, maybe even faint.
To prepare for this, make sure you:
- pack as much water as you can in your car’s trunk
- get one of those car coolers that sit in the trunk and make sure you have ice-cold water
- pack up some ice packs in your bug out bag
- pack some aloe vera gel (useful for treating fire and sun burns)
- have a clean bandana make cold compresses or to wear over your head, preferably on in a lighter color
- and, of course, make sure you pack summer clothes in your BOB, such as shorts, t-shirts and low-cut socks
The last time we cooked outdoors, we got caught up by heavy rain and… it wasn’t even in the forecast. We spread my friend’s tarp to take shelter for more than 30 minutes until it was over. If you’re travelling on foot and it’s raining, the odds of you catching a cold obviously increase so make sure you:
- pack a rain poncho so you’re able to travel regardless of whether or not it’s pouring outside (Editor: read the review of a great prepper rain suit here!)
- make sure all items that are not waterproof are packed in zipper bags (first aid kit, flashlights, emergency radio, clothes etc.)
- when purchasing bug out boots, make sure they are waterproof
- make sure you have a waterproof fire starter and some dry tinder to make fire, dry your clothes and yourself and warm up
Wind is not that difficult to tackle, but keep in mind that strong winds, such as those from an approaching hurricane, may cause you to lose your backpack and may even kill you.
Still, if the winds are not that strong and you have to move quickly to get away from a disaster, make sure you have the proper equipment. Besides a warm jacket (for examples, some jackets have storm flaps that cover the zippers) and a bandana or a scarf to wrap around your mouth, you may also want to pack a pair of goggles so you can see where you’re going and avoid debris from getting into your eyes. The stronger the wind, the more dust in the air and, with poor vision and irritated eyes, your bug out will be a lot more difficult.
Another thing you can do if the winds are very strong is to get your family members to all share a piece of Paracord. That way, if the wind knocks one of you down, the weight of the others will prevent him or her from falling over and distancing himself.
It doesn’t have to rain in order to get wet. Moisture can creep in without you realizing, and let’s not forget that a good number of people sweat more than others. In addition, you may get wet from crossing a body of water such as a creek.
To fight moisture, make sure you:
- Pack the right kind of clothes, preferably made of polyester or wool. Cotton is usually a poor choice for prolonged “walks” out in nature.
- Have waterproof matches or some other way of starting a fire in wet conditions.
- Remove your boots and socks if you have to cross a river (though this may not be a good idea if the water is ice-cold).
- Layer up when you take a break from moving on foot, and wear less layers of clothes while you’re moving.
- Wear synthetic fibers because, unlike wool, they don’t trap that much moisture.
As you can see, everything Mother Nature will throw at you while you’re bugging out can be handled so long as you prepare in advance. Don’t let her take you by surprise, especially since the preps I advised you to do are so easy.
Dan F. Sullivan
Be sure to check out Dan’s site! Stay safe out there!
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