During an SHTF scenario, we will often be faced with the choice between bugging out and bugging in.
Each has its pros and cons, and we must weigh the options carefully before deciding which action to take. Often, the choice to bug in is due to the lack of a suitable bug-out location or the inability to leave the area.
It may seem that bugging out would pose the most risk, but there are many mistakes that we can make while bugging in, which could turn out deadly.
Not Maintaining 24/7 Security
One of the biggest threats we can face while bugging in is the threat of other people who would want to take our food, water, and supplies.
Regardless of what early warning systems you have in place, not having someone awake and on guard duty could be a fatal mistake.
Most bad actors who are going to attack your home will do so during the dead of night. This is when you are at your most vulnerable.
During the daylight hours, you will still need to maintain a watch as you go about the various post-SHTF tasks to ensure your survival.
While you are busy and focused on the task at hand is a perfect time for someone to make their move.
Not Helping Those Around You
We don’t want anyone to know the extent of our preparations, but we also need to keep positive relations with those around us.
You will inevitably see neighbors in need; some old bottled water, a few cans of food, some batteries, or medical supplies will go a long way to keep your neighbors from seeing you as a target.
Even if you keep all your preps a secret, those around you will know that you are preparedness minded, and they will notice that you and your family seem to be doing well while others in the neighborhood are struggling.
Not Having An Early Warning System
The best insurance policy against an attack is having several early warning systems to alert you when someone breaches the property line.
These systems can be silent or loud, but they must be hidden well enough so no one can avoid triggering them. Tripwire alarms, pressure switches, cameras, or motion lights are all excellent options.
One often overlooked early warning system is a dog. Our canine companions are always on the lookout for threats and will often alert us to threats that we would otherwise miss. Their heightened sense of smell and hearing is nature’s early warning system, and we should make good use of it when bugging in.
Keeping Supplies Outside Of The House
All the supplies that you need to survive must be close at hand. Therefore, do not keep anything in outbuildings or outside the walls of your home. The exception would be caches of supplies you would have in separate locations for resupply when you are bugging out.
When bugging in, there may be a situation where it becomes too unsafe to leave the confines of your home. For example, if you keep supplies in sheds, detached garages, carports, or storage units, you may have to put your safety at risk to access these supplies.
Using Combustible Items Indoors
Carbon monoxide is the silent killer, and we should never bring fuel-burning devices indoors. Barbeques or camp stoves must only be used outdoors; even a garage is not a good place to cook using these devices.
Candles pose a fire risk, as do heaters and lanterns, even if they are rated for indoor use. It is always best not to take any chances when bugging in.
Running A Generator
Every time you fire up a generator, you are broadcasting to the neighborhood that you have a source of power that can be easily stolen.
Even if no one around you actively tries to steal your generator, you will find that all your neighbors will be dropping by to ask to borrow the generator.
Generators always draw far too much attention, and if you do not have any other quieter source of backup power, you should do whatever you can to build a soundproof enclosure for your generator.
Not Exercising Noise And Light Discipline
If you have backup power, you must keep this fact a secret from everyone around you. If you use electric lights and appliances, be sure that their light and noise are not detectable from the outside of the home.
Like a generator, noise and artificial light will draw much-unwanted attention in a world that has gone silent from the absence of electricity.
Keeping blinds and curtains closed, limiting using devices that make noise during daylight hours, and minimizing the use of artificial light, are all ways to exercise light and noise discipline.
Not Having A Bug Out Plan And Set Escape Routes
A bug-in situation can turn into a bug-out in a heartbeat. The moment that you need to bug out is not the time to start packing your bug-out bag. Everyone must have their bug-out bags packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Related: My 3 Bug Out Bags (with Pictures)
If your bug-out vehicle is parked outside, it should be fully fueled and backed up to the house, with all the required gear staged and ready to load.
You need to have multiple routes out of the area planned in detail and a plan for getting out of the house as well. Comms plans, routes, and actions on encountering obstacles need to be hashed out well before SHTF.
Forgetting About Communications
If you have read many of my previous articles, you probably are well aware of my insistence that amateur radio is a critical component of preparedness. Bugging in is no exception.
Adapting to the changing situation is impossible if you do not know what is happening around you. Ideally, you would have an amateur radio license and HF/VHF/UHF radios through which you can communicate and monitor all amateur radio bands from 160m to 70cm.
Bugging in is sometimes the best solution to an emergency, and if you find yourself in a bug in a situation, it is important not to make any deadly mistakes.
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