The Prepper Conundrum: Bugging Out (Pt. 3)
by Tess Pennington
As preppers, we know that despite all of the planning and preparing, things don’t always go according to plan – that’s why we have backups. It’s just the nature of being a prepper to try and be ready for anything life throws at us. Making the decision to bug in or bug out is dependent on many factors and the more you familiarize yourself with what could go wrong, the post-disaster environment you would be living in, and the dangers that exist, the sooner you can make an informed decision on what is best for the circumstance your family is in.
Do you remember those two important questions I posed in the introduction to this series?
- Do you have everything that you and your family need to survive?
- Will you be safe until a recovery period occurs?
In part 2 of this series, we discussed sheltering in place and the benefits of having your supplies in your home and ready to go. In the same article, we also discussed the dangers of bugging in while living near high population densities. Because things can quickly go awry in shtf scenarios, our plans should be flexible and reflect contingencies. I want to emphasize that despite all the survival drama in the books and on the movie screen about bugging out as a first option, in my opinion, it should be your last resort.
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Bug Out Scenarios
- Mass evacuations due to natural or man-made disasters.
- Disasters with little or no warning.
- Massive infrastructure damage that will cause long term implications and road blocks.
- Widespread crime waves and lawlessness.
Since timing is important, you want to have everything planned out: Your evacuation plan, your bug out bags for each family member, your vehicle prepped – everything. Further, gas shortages will be a real threat in a mass evacuation. Therefore, have a portable gas container to fill up on gasoline in case you run into the mass exodus of people fleeing. Gasoline is a high commodity during an emergency and one of my largest concerns is bugging out by vehicle and running out of gas. In this case, you’re a sitting duck for looters.
On the other hand, evacuating by vehicle could pose a problem in certain situations. Because there are destabilizing events that could quickly cause our way of life to dramatically change, such as an EMP or even nuclear events, we should prepare ourselves for the possibility of having to evacuate on foot. The grid could be down for an extended amount of time thus propelling us into third world living conditions, or, perhaps extensive amounts of debris have blocked and closed the highway making it impossible to evacuate by car. Whatever the case, these disasters that suddenly occur could make it impossible for us to evacuate by vehicle and on foot is our only chance at survival. Therefore, keep the following in mind when planning your bug out by foot plan:
- Find alternate ways out of the city. Typically, following the railroads will lead you out of the city. They may also be less populated with evacuees if you leave at the right time.
- As well, ensure that you have a reliable mode of transportation. Besides vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles can also make reliable forms of transportation in a bug out situation.
- In your bug out preparations, look for paths that have access to fresh water sources. This could help you cut down on pack weight.
- Keep the terrain, weather and any seasonal factors in mind.
- Since there may be a possibility of hostile activity think of security issues that may come up.
Known Dangers of Bugging Out
- Physical limitations or injury
- Running out of resources (i.e., fuel, food, water)
- Roads may be impassable
- Weather may be life threatening
- Ill prepared evacuees
Read in detail about the five bug out dangers.
Get Your 72 hour Bag in Order
Similar to bugging in, you still want to keep your basic survival needs in mind. But in this case, the survival items will need to be lightweight, multipurpose and be able to fit into a backpack. Each family member should have a pack of their own to carry. This also helps to distribute the weight of all the supplies needed by a family or group.
To learn more about what to add to your 72 hour bag, read this in depth article about the subject. Keep the following items in mind when creating your pack:
Shelter – Have a lightweight tarp, tent or bivvy sac to carry with you. Remember, your shelter should protect you from natural elements.
Water – Three days of water can be heavy. Therefore, cut your weight down and carry a large water travel water bottles and then carry water purification tablets or a water filter.
Food – Ensure that your foods are shelf stable and lightweight. When you are preparing your bug out bag, you want your diet to give you ample calories, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and some fats. Keep in mind that ages and genders will play a role in calorie consumption.
Sanitation – Keeping yourself clean is not only beneficial to those around you, but also to maintain health.
Health – As preppers, you need to plan for medical emergencies. Having a well-stocked first aid kit is essential in the case that someone gets injured. Taking a basic first aid course to give the proper aid is an instrumental tool in providing the right type of care.
Power – If you are bugging out by vehicle, ensure you have ample fuel. Further, make sure you flashlights and ways to power up radios and cell phones when the grid comes up. Solar battery chargers are light weight and can come in handy.
Tools – Meeting your basic needs during a disaster is key to survival, and having the right set of tools to fall back on is paramount in your preparedness endeavors. Keep these 10 tools in mind.
Communication – You will need a way to make and receive communications about the situation you find yourself in. Read more about shtf communication devices.
Security – Weapons are another way of maintaining safety. Having the ability to defend yourself is paramount in a bug out situation.
Personal records – When you are in a bug out situation, carrying around a bunch of paperwork (along with all of your other gear) is the last thing on your mind. Thanks to the power of technology, you have options for storing and backing up pertinent data.
Remember to keep weight in mind when packing your bag as you may be walking the distance in a bug out scenario. Too much weight will put a lot of stress on your body. Further, to condition your body for the extra load, practice walking in your fully packed bug out bag for short distances and slowly add more distance. Additionally, practice using your bug out supplies over a 72 hour period to ensure that you have adequate supplies. Sometimes you will find that you can compensate and use some items for other purposes, thus cutting down on added weight.
Your Bug Out Location
Contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition.
Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years.