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 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.
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.