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.
According to the US Dept. of Transportation, there were over 253,000,000 cars registered in the US in 2012. Chances are, you probably own at least one of those vehicles. And if you are like many Americans, you probably commute to and from work, use your vehicle to run errands, and take road trips and vacations with it. This means you spend a lot of time in your car.
But what happens if disaster strikes when you are in your vehicle? What if you need your vehicle to get home DURING a disaster, or OUT of a disaster area? Is it prepared and able to help you? If you aren’t sure, then read on to learn how you can prepare your vehicle for a crisis situation!
Start with a Plan
If you have been following this blog, you know that I advocate beginning anything with a plan. All the gear in the world won’t be of much value without a plan or the knowledge of how it works and in what situations to use it. I would first sit down and determine not the worst case scenario, but the most likely scenarios. The chances of you having a flat tire or being caught in a massive traffic jam are MUCH more probable than an EMP attack.
I talk about this in my article 3 Types of Preppers You Don’t Want to Be.
Once you have your bases covered on the most likely events, then start looking at worse case possibilities.
Do you live in an area that experiences hurricanes? Tornados? Is there a chance that you might need to “bug out” to get out of harm’s way? If so, you need to have an evacuation route (and at least one backup route) planned. I’d also have some possible contingency plans in place as well for unforeseen events.
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:
- 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.
- 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 intented 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
If you are new to prepping, or have been at it for a short time, congrats! The fact that you have the mindset to be prepared ahead of time puts you at an advantage if/when the SHTF! But I want to caution you against certain mistakes I see new and/or inexperienced preppers make. If you find yourself doing any of these, stop and reassess your preps and your priorities.
Stockpiling guns and ammo and believing you are all set
I would never downplay the important of protecting you and your loved ones in a disaster. I have many guns and plenty of ammo. But I caution people to not focus solely on that. Many people confuse their love and collection of firearms with being prepared. It is NOT the same! There are other things that are more important in my opinion.
To those who think that skill and ability with (and possession of) firearms top all other skills in an emergency (even more important than the ability to find and purify water or more important than finding/making shelter from the elements for example), then let me say this:
I have been in numerous disaster situations. I lost an apartment to a tornado a few years back. The next year I worked in Moore, Oklahoma where a tornado killed 24 people and did over $2 billion dollars’ worth of damage. I experienced an ice storm several years ago where I lost power for two days and was snowed in. My brother lost his job last year, and lived on his food storage for about 8 weeks until he found a new job.
Never once did firearms come into play. Food did. Water did. Shelter did. My family and group helping me out did. But not firearms.
Prepping isn’t just about collecting guns for long term, grid down survival. It’s about keeping you and your loved ones prepared for ALL disaster situations. Click here to read a great article on why you should NOT prep for just TEOTWAWKI.
Even if we lose the grid for an extended period of time, you will need food, water, and shelter WAY more often than you will need a gun! So balance your prepping! Spend some of that firearm money on other gear and preps!
Buying premade survival bags, gear and/or not testing them out beforehand.
First, let me say that buying a ready-made survival kit/bug out bag is better than having nothing at all. Many ready-made kits have a lot of handy and useful items that could save your life.
But in my experience, I see many people buy a pre-made bag, toss it in the closet, and not think about it again. Hence the items in the bag do NOT get tested or used before they are truly needed. Some folks may not even know what all is in their bag or how to really use it. Or they may know what’s in the bag, but not where certain gear is located.
In the middle of a disaster is NOT the time to try and figure out how to use your emergency radio. Or find out that the batteries for your flashlight don’t work. Or that your bag only has one poncho and you need 4.
Will you waste valuable time digging through your bag looking for flashlight? Sure hope it isn’t completely dark when you need that flashlight and can’t find it!
By building your own bag and acquiring the gear separately, you will know exactly what and where your gear is. You will be more inclined to test it and become familiar with it ahead of time. And you will most likely save yourself a little money.
If you are like me, you probably have a pet. For me, my pet is a part of my family and has been included into my preparation plans. I would NEVER think of leaving him behind in a disaster. (He was also my partner for years, and at times risked his life for mine.)
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that there are 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Over 1/3 of all US households have a pet.
So if you are one of those people who have a pet, have YOU stopped to think about what you would do with them/for them should a disaster or emergency strike?
Any type of emergency or disaster preparedness starts with a plan, and the same is true for your furry or feathered friends. Formulating a plan now will save you time, energy, and potential heartache for you and your pet if the unforeseen happens.
I want to give you some tips and insights on how to come up with an emergency plan for your favorite animal companion. These include some overall general tips, some tips for bugging in with your pet, and some tips for bugging out with them.
If you are like me, you probably have people in your life that you love and care for who are not “prepared”. Either they do not believe in it, or they simply don’t do it. But for a multitude of reasons, you cannot simply write them out of your life. It might be a spouse, or a sister, or an adult child. So in some ways, maybe you are like me and prep for them “on the side”.
I have a girlfriend who seemingly understands the importance of being prepared for an emergency or disaster, but just cannot put it into practice. (I’m teaching her…so that’s a start.)
I decided, over the past year or two, that she and her son would be a part of my plans should we have a disaster, big or small. I began helping her become more prepared. In some ways, I started prepping for her.
When we sometimes go grocery shopping together, I have her buy a few extra cans of food, and a gallon of water. At the moment she has a 2-3 day supply of food and water. She also has an incredibly warm Teton sleeping bag. I gave her a hand cranked flashlight. As I mentioned in a previous article, for a beginner that’s a good start.
But I knew a good start wasn’t enough. If she was to be a part of my “long term” plans, I knew that I would have to help keep her going.
Began with a Plan
To start off with, the girlfriend and I sat down for a few minutes. We came up with a plan should she find herself in an emergency situation. If the situation was bad enough that calling 911 would be pointless, I told her the plan was simple, she and her son were to come to my house. (We also discussed a few different routes to take.) I have more than enough supplies to take care of her and her son, so if she could drive, she was not to worry about packing food or water.
I told her to grab warm, rugged clothing/blankets for her and her son. I have enough of everything else. But petite women’s’ clothing or clothing for a small child I do not have.
Over the past few years, I have read many articles on various websites concerning “Bug out bags” (BOB) and “Get home bags” (GHB). Everyone has an opinion on what you should or should not pack. What you will or won’t need.
Because everyone’s situation is different, I cannot tell you what all you should have. You should know better than anyone what you will need to pack. But what I can tell you is that there are 3 VERY important elements that EVERYONE’s bag should have. And these elements are often overlooked.
The biggest element is mobility; the ability to move quickly and safely to whatever location you choose. Your bag should be designed for movement, ala speed. The lighter your load, the faster and further you able to travel. This is CRITICAL if your mode of transportation actively involves your feet!
Your bag, regardless of your conditions, should be packed with swiftness in mind. Ounces = pounds, pounds = pain. The more pain you have, the slower and less effective you become.
You are more 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.
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 you will be.