Most of the time, it makes more sense to bug in, than it does to bug out. There have been many survival writers who have taken this stance, myself included. Bugging out, especially bugging out to the wild, is something that should not be undertaken lightly, due to the difficulty that one will face in trying to stay alive. At home you have everything you own to help you survive; when you bug out, all you’ve got is what you can take with you.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. Owning a safe, prepared retreat, the proverbial “cabin in the woods” that we would all like to have, makes a huge difference. If I owned that and faced a potential survival situation, I would probably be the first to bug out. That would be my primary plan and my main stockpile wouldn’t be at home, but at that retreat, well secured, under several locks and keys.
I don’t know about you; but I don’t have that cabin in the woods. So like most others, my plan is to bug in through whatever disasters come my way. That complicates my plans somewhat, because I have to make sure that I can survive in place, no matter what happens. If I don’t, then the decision to bug in could prove to be a fatal one.
That means discovering potential mistakes in my plans and finding solutions for them; something that’s not always easy to do. Yet I have found several through the years, mostly by reviewing what has happened in other disasters, through an “after action evaluation.” That’s the hard part. Once a problem is discovered, there’s always a solution to it.
The question is, are you making the same mistakes?
Related: My 3 Bug Out Bags (with Pictures)
The Backup Plan
Perhaps the worst thing that any of us can do is to lock ourselves into a survival plan which doesn’t have a backup. A large part of being a prepper is to be prepared for anything, kind of like the Boy Scout motto. Even a plan to bug in has to have a backup plan.
Circumstances may not allow you to bug in, regardless of what you plan. I’m sure there were preppers living in southeast Houston when Hurricane Harvey struck. They had their stockpile, their equipment and their plans… and none of it did them any good. They still had to abandon their homes when the flooding came, just like everyone else. Whatever preparation they had made to bug in, ended up being for naught.
That was even worse for the people of Paradise, California, when the Camp fire burned down all 1,200 buildings in their city. Regardless of how well prepared they were to bug in, they still had to leave; otherwise, they would have died in place.
If we are so locked into our plans that we are unable to break from them, they’re the wrong plans. I have to bug in, because my wife is part of the city’s emergency action team. She can’t bug out. Even so, I have plans in place to bug out, knowing that it will cost her job.
If we don’t have a realistic backup plan, then chances are real high that we haven’t done any preparations to survive, if we have to leave our homes. I’m not talking about a bug out bag here; everyone has those. I’m referring to equipment and supplies that we can use, once we bug out. All a bug out bag is supposed to do is keep us alive for three days. After that, we need to be able to resupply.
Supply caches can take on many forms and be many sizes, but as the two examples I used above show, there are times when we’re going to need them. Any preppers in Houston, Texas or Paradise, California who didn’t have caches, weren’t really any better off than everyone else. They were dependent on the cash in their pockets and finding an emergency shelter.
Regardless of the disaster, you should be prepared to perform a self-rescue. Going back to Houston, I wonder how many of the people living in the southeast part of the city, who had to evacuate, had a boat… or even a rubber raft. I saw only one family in a rubber raft, in all the video I watched. Everyone else was being rescued by the boats of the Cajun Navy or other rescue workers.
Thank God for people like the Cajun Navy; but I didn’t become a prepper in order to depend on others to rescue me. Since I lived in a hurricane zone, I realized that I needed to have some sort of boat to rescue myself and my family with; if nothing else, an inflatable life raft. Not to brave the wind and rain of a hurricane, but to brave the flooding that follows.
Each of us have potential natural disasters that we face, depending on where we live. With that being the case, shouldn’t we have a plan for rescuing ourselves from them? Pioneering families would go down in the root cellar to escape tornadoes, can’t we at least do that well?
If you’re planning on bugging in, then you’d better lay a general’s eye to your home. Chances are pretty high that you’re going to come under attack sometime. It may not be during the first week of your survival saga, but it will happen, eventually. In fact, the longer you go, the greater the chance of that attack.
Protecting yourself and your home in the wake of a disaster isn’t the same as protecting it during normal times. You can’t depend on a deadbolt to keep the criminal element out. That’s nothing more than another obstacle to whoever wants to get in and get your stockpile. I guarantee you; they can get through it.
When that attack comes, I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be a lone criminal that comes knocking down your door; it will be a small crowd. I tend to think in terms of 10 to 15 people. They’ll all be armed; they’ll all be hungry; and they’ll all be mad. In those conditions and with as desperate as they’ll be, I seriously doubt that any of them will have any compulsion about shooting you and your family, so that they can get whatever food you have.
Do you honestly think that you can fight effectively against a dozen armed people who are bent on killing you and stealing what you have? I don’t think I’m Rambo… at least not most days. While I have a serious defensive plan in place, a lot of it depends on having my survival team there with me.
Related: My Personal Bug In Plan
Team Player or Lone Wolf
That brings me to the next mistake; that of being a lone wolf. Probably the biggest thing, mitigating against trying to be a lone wolf survivalist, is the need to defend yourself. While you might be able to defend yourself successfully against two or even three attackers, if you’re good enough and lucky enough, I doubt you can do it against a dozen.
Here’s the thing though; unless your team’s survival plans include coming together and surviving in one place, you’re a lone wolf. A team mate who lives across town isn’t going to do you the least bit of good when your home comes under attack. For that matter, if your town is big enough and there’s no fuel for your cars, they’re not going to do you any good for any part of survival.
I’ve seen it over and over again; survival teams that are scattered around town. That’s not a team, unless someone has a place that’s big enough for them all to gather at and live together, it’s a survival club. They might get together and talk about what they’re doing; but they aren’t prepared to survive together.
Finally, most of us have worst OPSEC than we think we do. I know I do. While I try to keep what I’m doing a secret, I have too many friends who have been in my home and who have seen what I’m doing. Granted, I’m showing them my projects, because I’m trying to convince them to become preppers themselves; but there are too many of them whose stated plans are, “I’m just going to come to your house.”
It’s tricky trying to convince others of their need to prepare, without letting them know what you’re doing. But each of those people who know are potential problems when things go bad. At least some of them are going to think that they should be able to impose upon your friendship and get some help from you.
Then there are neighbors. Most of them know your business too, even if you’ve tried to hide it. There are just too many things that we all do, which are visible to those who are looking; and there are always those who will be looking. Every neighborhood has someone who’s nosy and that same person is usually a gossip.
The only solution for these problems, besides bugging out to that cabin in the woods, is to have some sort of plan for dealing with them. I’m not talking about the “No, I won’t help you” policy that most of us say we have. I truly wonder how well that’s going to work when our friends and neighbors start knocking on the door.
My solution to that problem is that I have stockpiled large quantities of extra beans, rice and seed. That way, I’ve got something to feel my friends and neighbors with, without getting into my family’s food stockpile. Those friends won’t be eating as well as we are, but they’ll have something to eat. They’ll also have seeds to plant, so that they can start growing their own food. If they complain, I’ll just point to my own garden, showing them that I wasn’t asking them to do anything that I wasn’t already doing.
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