Bugging out represents a major disaster scenario, especially for me. I’d much rather bug in and “ride the disaster out” at home if at all possible. But I also understand not having plans for bugging out is a recipe for disaster. So I have created plans in the unfortunate event that I have to leave my home.
I have written several articles on the importance of having plans for bugging out. (There are links to those articles at the bottom of this page.) In the event of a disaster scenario, having bug out plans in place will help you to remain calm, and will make the whole process much more manageable. Let’s face it, if you are bugging out, it mean you are in a potential dangerous situation.
Part of my bug out plans involve where I am bugging out to, my intended bug out route, bug out communication plans, etc. I also have the items, equipment, gear, etc that I intend to take with me when bugging out. In a perfect world, all of that would go with me.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. And emergencies will NOT happen the way we plan.
I realize that an emergency situation could happen in which I would not be able to take all of the things with me that I wanted or planned. So I prioritized what I was grabbing, and what I was going to have to leave behind in the event that I have to bug out. I did this by breaking down my bug out items into 3 categories. I called this my Categories of 3s.
The first category, as the name implies, is what I could take with me when I have to leave IMMEDIATELY! What can I grab in 3 seconds as I’m running out the door. I would not have time to grab my preps and gear. Instead I have to grab myself and my family and go! But I don’t want to leave empty-handed. So I include items from my EDC in this category.
Situations like a house fire, earthquake, etc come to mind. In this situation, I am running out the door with the clothing on my back and my EDC. (Click the link for more info on my EDC.) This could also include situations where I would have to bug out from work or some other location, and not be able to go home.
When developing my 3 Second plan, I first looked at what I would most likely be doing if I were at home and had to bug out. Let’s face it, we spend a majority of our time at home in bed asleep. (Americans average around 7 hours of sleep a night. That comes out to 2555 hours a year, or over 106 days a year in bed asleep!) So the probability of me being in bed and/or asleep if things go south while at home is high.
One of the things less talked about in bug out scenarios is the things you will take with you. For some reason, many don’t put a lot of thought into this, even though leaving one’s valuables behind is hard to understand.
Sure, when you need to evacuate, you’ll have plenty of other things to worry about… but the things you pack with you should also be a priority.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about your bug out vehicle’s supplies that are there every day. I’m referring to the things you can throw into the extra space left in your trunk (or on the backseat), at the moment of evacuation (if there’s time, of course).
So, right now you may have items such as water, a flashlight and jumper cables, but, as you’re about to see, the things in the list below are well worth packing when the big one hits. Again, if there’s time, as speed is of the essence when bugging out.
#1. Documents (in Original)
Ok, so you probably have copies of your birth certificate and other documents stored on your phone and printed and laminated in your BOB, but what about the originals? These will still be more important than the copies you have, so taking them with you is important. You can’t keep them inside your car at all times, of course, which is why they have to be one of the first things you grab and throw in your BOV as you’re about to leave.
For more information on what type of documents you need, click the link here!
#2. Your Portable Garden
What’s a portable garden, you may ask? It sounds fancy but it’s nothing more than a collection of pots where you grow veggies such as potatoes and tomatoes. These are great because you can move them around in an emergency so, if you have to bug in, you can bring them inside.
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…
I have always believed that when it comes to bugging out, (click the link to learn about when it’s time to bug out) speed is your friend. I have written articles in the past stressing the need to keep your Bug out bag/Get home bag, light weight. The faster you get to your destination, the safer you will be.
When it comes to bags, you may have heard of the old adage, ounces = pounds, pounds = pain. Because of this, I tell folks to strip away a lot of the unnecessary accessories they have packed in their BOB. This includes bulk ammunition. Sometimes this notion has be met with a little opposition.
Many preppers out there believe that being prepared also means being able to adequately defend themselves. They argue that it stands to reason that they may find themselves in a situation where they need to be armed with the ability to adequately fight back. Hence they need plenty of ammo. And in some cases, I certainly agree.
But I also believe that bugging out with an ammo stockpile could, in many situations, cause you more harm than good.
Let me explain.
The main purpose of your bag, be it a Go bag, Get Home bag, Bug Out Bag, etc is to be able to move safely and efficiently out of a danger zone. In a SHTF situation, you are most vulnerable while on the move. And I’m not talking about roving bands of marauders that so many people envision. I’m talking about being susceptible to the elements, to fatigue, to stress; being vulnerable to the unknown. Those will most likely be your enemies early on.
At home (or bug out location) you are not as exposed. You will hopefully feel safer and more secure in familiar surroundings. The more rapidly you can get there, the better off (and safer) you will be. And the less you are packing around, the faster and further you can move. (On foot.) Hence carrying less ammo makes for much easier travel.
A bullet by itself does not weigh much. But the more you carry, the heavier and bulkier it becomes. Below is a chart giving you an idea of how much bulk ammo weighs. As you can see, carrying 300 plus rounds of 12 gauge or 5.56 ammo could easily add 10-28 pounds of weight to your bag. (Magazines add weight too!) Carrying bulk ammo isn’t exactly quiet, isn’t always easy to transport, and is going to slow you down. In my opinion, it is totally unnecessary.
I receive emails from time to time asking about how you will know when it is time to bug out. This is not always an easy question to answer, as many emergencies strike without warning, and typically the situation remains fluid.
I am a big proponent of riding out most emergency scenarios at home. (Click the link for more details.) I believe that if you are properly prepared and have adequate plans in place, you should be able to make it through most disasters and emergencies by staying at home.
But as I have said before, you need to have bug out plans in place as well. There may come a time when you need to get the hell outta Dodge.
“But James, how will I know when it is time to bug out?” you might ask.
If you bug out too soon, you may find that the emergency was not really as bad as you first though. Hence you end up wasting time and resources.
But if you bug out too late, you could find yourself in a worse position than you were in had you stayed.
Well, here is an old adage I have used before. I wish I knew who to give credit for it. I heard it years ago and honestly do not remember who I heard it from. But I like it and want to pass it on to you. When it comes to bugging out, I use the acronym R.E.D.O.U.T to help me know when that time has come. Hopefully this will give you some ideas as to when it is time to carry out your bug out plans.
R – Resources are almost gone
If things get truly dire, and the resources you have stockpiled are almost gone, you might think about moving on to greener pastures. I say almost gone, and not completely gone because if you find yourself on the road, you will need some resources (things like water, food, etc) to help you in your journey.
For example, I have about a 5 day supply of food and water (for me and my family) stored at home. If a SHTF event happens and those supplies begin to run low, I will start making preparations to move on to my bug out location. Depending upon the scenario and my situation, I might leave even before that. But if not, once those supplies are running low, it’s time for me to move on.
I receive emails quite often from people who are new to prepping. A few says they have thought about it for a while, but haven’t really got started. I’m sure it can feel like a daunting and overwhelming process to the beginner. But it does not have to be.
Being prepared is really not hard if you approach it the right way. If you are brand new to prepping, or just aren’t sure where to begin, here are 5 easy steps to help get you started.
There are plenty of links throughout this article dealing with many various prepper topics. These are a great source of information, so please be sure to check them out.
#1 Begin with a Plan
Start off by sitting down and figuring out what your plans would be if you have an emergency or disaster. Making plans now will help you to not feel lost or overwhelmed should a catastrophe strike. Failing to plan is planning to fail. And hope is not a plan!
In the beginning, I would not plan for worst case scenario. Instead, start off with the more realistic and probable scenarios. (The more extreme the event, the less likely it is to occur.) These scenarios should be based upon your location, situation, and the conditions you are in or could realistically be in.
For example, if you live along the Gulf Coast, hurricanes are a realistic possibility. So having hurricane plans makes sense. I know states like Montana and Idaho are subject to winter storms. I live in “tornado alley”, and have planned accordingly. Many large metropolitan cities are seeing an increase of violence, and riots are now something (click the link for more details) that urban city dwellers might consider planning for.
Most emergencies don’t have to be regional or even local. Job loss, medical emergencies, house fire, car wrecks, etc are all things you should be prepared for that are specific to you and your family.