When stuff hits the fan, the natural tendency for people is to gather what they can and leave the area. But is that the right thing for you to do? We’ve discussed the basics of putting together a “bug out bag” – a backpack, ruck sack, duffel bag, or some other device you can carry – at length (here, here, here, and here, for starters). However, there could come a time when staying put is a much better – and safer – idea.
For starters, though some readers may have escaped the trappings of big cities, a number of them remain firmly rooted in urban or suburban surroundings. Also, we would never recommend that anyone simply head out for into the wild, wild world of wilderness because, even for the most diehard outdoorsman or sportsman, living full-time under wilderness conditions is just not something most people can do or are even willing to do. Doing that is merely setting yourself up for disaster; furthermore, it is not a very realistic survival plan.
On the occasion when you might have to get out of Dodge City and quickly, you simply have to have a plan in place for that. Too often people will simply say they are “heading for the hills” when SHTF, but many if not most of them have never spent one night outdoors; and depending on where you live, “the wilderness” can be as dangerous, if not more so, than urban rioting.
So, does this mean there is never a good time to “bug out?” Not at all. Indeed, by comparison, anyone who just out and out decides to “shelter in place” no matter what are also not being very realistic. The answer, then, is to be fully informed about both options, and have a plan for each.
Bugging out – the realities
The thing is, once you decide to bug out, you have to realize you are putting yourself and your party at risk immediately. Your safety and security, as well as your ability to sustain and protect yourself, are compromised immediately.
Bugging out should almost always be limited to worst-case scenarios – widespread looting and violence, zombie apocalypse, approaching enemy military forces, etc. Really extreme situations.
That said, before you do bug out, you must:
— Prepare a detailed evacuation plan and you have to know it like you know your own name. Therefore, you must constantly review your route, practice getting away, and then know what must happen before you make that fateful decision to get out.
— A bug-out location: You can’t simply “go.” You have to know where you’re going and, more importantly, you have to have somewhere to go to. Leaving one place to go – you’re not sure where – is no plan at all. You will have to have a pre-determined bug-out location stocked with emergency supplies and rations – enough for at least a couple months – as well as appropriate clothing for the time of year and hygiene supplies.
— A bug-out bag is essential. Take a look at some of the linked articles above to help you figure out what items you should include in your bug-out bag.
— Know the routes you will take, and make a Plan B, a Plan C and even a Plan D, because what happens if your routes are blocked or otherwise impassable? Will you know how to obtain food and water along your chosen route(s) of travel? All things you must consider in advance.
Bugging In – the realities
Honestly, staying put is most often the safest choice because 1) most of what you will need is already there at your primary residence; and 2) in most cases you are better protected and can expect a higher degree of security inside your own home (which you know well) than traveling amongst the chaos.
That said, here are some things to consider about “bugging in:”
— You have initially decided to stay in place but you must always be prepared to leave, especially if the situation around you changes (as in, becomes endangering to you). No matter how badly you might want to shelter in place, there simply will be times and situations that make it impossible to do so. For example, if a major storm is headed your way – like a Category 5 hurricane or a massive tornado – you’re going to have to leave.
— Make home security a priority. You want to make sure you have the ability to defend yourself and “your castle” from outside threats (meaning, people close by who seek to a) do you harm; and b) take your stuff). Consider arming yourself, taking realistic self-defense training, and fortifications that will make it harder to get inside your home.
— Be prepared for neighbors, because when the SHTF, your not-as-prepared neighbors are likely going to come calling because they will be in panic mode. Most of then won’t pose much of a threat, but if things continue to worsen, your once-nice neighbors can change in an instant. Hunger, fear and other factors tend to wear on humans quickly, especially panicked, unprepared humans. So you’re going to have to contemplate how you’re going to handle them. Just remember: You and yours are your priority. You can’t feed and protect everybody.
Where you live will also factor in your decision, or it should. If you live in a high-density urban center, you are immediately going to be in more danger than if you lived in a rural area, making your chances of survival more difficult. We’re not saying that if you live in a big city you should never bug in, but just understand that, as the situation continues to worsen, bugging in will become increasingly harder (imagine trying to cook something on your gas grill and having 20 starving neighbors smell it – what do you think they would do?).
Just assess your situation ahead of time and be prepared to change your plans on a dime because you might have to.