For most preppers the bugout is a central part of their planning. Where to go when the SHTF, how to get there and what to take with them are important issues they spend a lot of time on, all with the goal of getting to a safe place where they can ride out the crisis in relative safety. So it’s probably going to ruffle a few feathers when I say that, a lot of the time, you’re better off staying right where you are.
Most of us know that a bugin is another option, but a lot of people ignore it and focus on a move that might not be necessary, practical or safe. Yes, there are times when you’ll have no alternative but to move – if your neighborhood is on fire staying where you are isn’t really an option, for example, and if tensions with Russia are rising and you can see a Minuteman missile silo from your kitchen window you really want to hit the road as fast as you can. But, a lot of the time, staying put isn’t just a viable option; it’s the best option.
Look around your home. The chances are you have a lot of stuff there that would be very useful to you in a crisis, and even if you bug out by vehicle you won’t be able to take it all with you. You’ll have to rely on what you can take, plus anything you’re able to preposition at your bugout location. If you can avoid it, do you really want to start a crisis by abandoning a load of useful stuff that could help you survive? In fact one of the most useful items you’ll be abandoning is your home itself – a valuable provider of shelter and security.
Related: If You See These 6 Signs It’s Time to Bugout
Stay or go?
When it comes right down to it, whether to bug out is going to depend on a lot of things. You might not be physically capable of bugging out, in which case you’re going to have to stay home and make the best of whatever happens. Or your home may be in an inner city neighborhood that’s just too dangerous to stay in if law and order breaks down. The factors will be different for everyone. But, if you do decide that bugging in is the right option, you need to be just as prepared as you would be for a move.
The first thing to do is evaluate whether bugging in is a realistic option. You need to make sure that any essentials your home can’t provide can be either stockpiled or obtained nearby. For example, unless you have your own well you need to have either a water supply nearby you can rely on, like an unpolluted river – and that won’t be an option if the crisis that hits is a nuclear attack – or space to store several weeks’ supply. If there’s no way to have access to enough water in your home, you can’t stay there. The good news is that by bugging in you’re probably giving yourself plenty of space to store food, water and other supplies. You’re also not going to make the move to your BOL and find that someone else has already moved in and taken possession of everything you stashed there.
On the down side, there’s a serious risk that someone will try to take possession of what you have in the house. If you’re prepared while your neighbors and passers-by are starving and desperate, eventually someone is going to come after your supplies. That means one of the top priorities for a successful bugin is defense.
Defense in a bugin scenario isn’t the same as normal home defense. Defense against a home invasion is usually something that’s over in a few minutes. The situation isn’t going to drag on because law enforcement will arrive to deal with it. After the SHTF, that all changes. Attackers will have time to besiege you or lay on a set-piece attack on your home. To survive you need to be able to withstand that.
The best way to avoid attack is to not be noticed. Do everything you can to keep your home, and especially your preparations, low profile. .
There are plenty of ways you can hide the fact that you’re ready for a crisis:
- Put generators in a shed. This will hide them and also cut down the distance they can be heard from.
- Try not to plant crops where they’re visible from nearby roads.
- Cover root cellars, fallout shelters or buried fuel and water tanks with soil and turf, to blend them into the landscape.
- Use heavy curtains at night to hide the fact your lights are on.
- Place woodpiles round the back of the house, or in a shed.
Hiding your preparations will reduce the risk of an attack, but not eliminate it; you also need a defense plan. Everyone in your group should know what to do if you come under attack, and it’s a very good idea to practice it regularly as well. Choose fire positions that give all-round cover, with overlapping and interlocking arcs of fire to ensure there are no blind spots. If there’s dead ground that can’t be covered by any of your fire positions put obstacles in it. You can set up some barbed wire, or grow a good dense patch of brambles, to slow any attackers down.
Be ready to fortify your home when a crisis begins, but don’t make it too obvious. Boarding up windows with plywood will make the place look abandoned and create an obstacle to entry, but don’t take away your ability to look and shoot out – and remember that boarding the windows will also mean using more fuel for lighting, so there’s a tradeoff here. An alternative is to cover the windows with chicken wire, securely fastening it to the frames. That will protect the glass and keep out Molotov cocktails; it will also let light in and bullets out.
Of course, to defend against an attack you need to know it’s coming. If a dozen looters with semiautomatic rifles get to within 50 yards of the house before you know they’re coming, you don’t have much chance of stopping them. You need to consider sentries. That’s going to use up some of the bodies you have available, but it’s worth it if it keeps attackers at arm’s length. Sentries shouldn’t stay on watch for more than two hours at a time, and static ones give more security that roaming ones – the ideal is a couple of people on the roof, so they can keep a lookout in all directions.
If visibility around your home is limited you might even have to consider setting up one or more outposts to give advance warning. This is where manpower really starts to get eaten up, and membership of a neighborhood group comes into its own. Outposts need to be able to observe the approaches to your home, and they also need to be able to defend themselves – a sandbag or log position, with a tarp roof for weatherproofing, is good. Camouflage the outpost so it isn’t easily visible to anyone approaching.
Outposts should have at least two people in them, to keep each other alert and give mutual support if an attack happens. Depending on the ground and how many people you have, you might want the sentries in the outpost to abandon it and fall back to the house when they spot a threat. If you do that, make sure the outpost can’t become a fire position to shoot at the house from – a U-shaped sandbag wall, with the open end towards the house, works. Alternatively, larger outposts can fight it out, disrupting and hopefully driving off attackers before they come in sight of the house itself.
Bugging in is going to be a viable option for many people in almost any crisis, so it makes sense to examine it and do what you can to be prepared. Most of your preparations will work even better for a bugin than a bugout, so the main thing you need to add is your defense plan. Military experience isn’t essential here but it does help, so consider asking any trusted local veterans for ideas. Most of all, plan to defend your home now so you’re not doing it on the run when bullets are already coming at you.
You may also like:
What a Prepper Should Do Around The House
Do You Recognize this Tree? All Parts are Edible (Video)
10 Reasons Why You Do Not Want to Bug Out
Ways to Make Your Home More Defensible
Good article. I have a bug out playing , but I work mostly for a bug in. Too many people don’t seem to realize the inherent risks of a bug out, such as getting attacked on the road to the location or it already being raided or occupied by the time they arrive.
Yes a lot of people are stupid especially when disaster strikes. But criminals and the like, are crafty. One of the places they list in other articles about where to go to find food is a distribution center. The one nearby was robbed during the last hurricane by homeless people looking for food. No location is immune, especially when your enemies are ruthless and possibly even veteran soldiers.
When shit hits the fan, there isn’t one among us who wouldn’t do anything and everything for those we love and care for.
Which hurricane did you all go through?
You have a problem with veteran soldiers? Try to remember you wouldn’t be here to make comments like that if not for them.
I don’t think Labienus meant any disrespect by that comment about veteran soldiers. I believe what was meant was that IF the ruthless person were a veteran, they would likely pose a huge challenge since they are well-trained to wage war.
If you are planning on bugging in in a city or near a major city, you have not considered all the risks.
Once the rule of law is no more, gangs, rapists serial killers and arsonist will make it a hell hole. This does not include the dangers escaped or released prisoners, Zoo animals and Psyche patients will pose. Dogs will start to run in Wolf packs attacking anything and anyone.
With no city services such as water or sanitation, disease will be rampant and deadly.
If Arsonist’s or Looters start fires there will be no one to put them out. Consider reading up on the Dresden fire in WW2, to see how bad it could get. Yes that was a fire bombing that started it. But without water, similar effects (the fire storm) could easily occur during SHTF. Fire Storms occur anywhere conditions are right for it to occur.
As for worrying about raiders in bugging out:
Raiders will not appear for at least 3 days to a week after SHTF, Looting is easier and less risky. It will also be mainly confined to high traffic corridors at first..
Thieves like it easy with plenty of target choices..
If you are still on the road, 3 days after SHTF you are a fool. If you travel high traffic corridors, you will also be a fool. If you go to places where others might bug out to with out having nearby alternates, you are unprepared.
It is time to really understand the risks, evaluate your choices and to prepare at least 2 courses of action for every major scenario.
Whether I bugin or bugout doesn’t matter at this time for me. I do not live close to missile silos, big cities, military installations, or the ocean, so my SHTF scenarios do not have to take in situations that some might call “normal planning”. Fire, although a possibility, is not as likely to be a long term issue due to more open fields than forests.
I can see/smell a fire.. a tornado has come through my area, but has not hit any of my locations directly for over 50 years (and a couple of locations have never been hit).. the area is rural, so the roaming bands off looters should take a few days/weeks before showing up at my locations.
My concern is that news will be slow, or not at all, when it is really needed. I will NOT put my faith in the government telling us that bad stuff is happening; and the media (all of it) will be told to downplay the disaster/attack/riots as the situation unfolds.
I don’t believe the zombies will take me out, and a big enough asteroid will make any preparations a moot point, but an EMP, civil war, or epidemic (all strong possibilities) will each have its own requirements for surviving.
If an EMP hits, I will lose all of my electronics, because sadly, I do not have faith in mankind to play by the moral rules. If news is not believable now, I cannot assume that it will be more reliable when SHTF. Also, I am old school, so I believe in books and hard copy, over digital media.
If civil war breaks out, I hope that I am living in an area with like-minded people. I think I can trust my neighbors to band together in the beginning so that we will have some small chance of survival.
If some epidemic breaks out, to me, that is the scariest of all scenarios. I will not trust that anyone coming to my retreat will be uninfected. I will not take the “shoot first, ask questions later” route, but what moral standards should be applied when family/friends/neighbors come for assistance? Biologic preparedness is where I am weakest. Not only am I unprepared, but treatment for the current outbreak may not be readily available. Going for medical assistance will probably be one of the least effective solutions due to the sheer number of people that will be seeking treatment.
I am interested in knowing how you would respond. Would you turn people away, or would you jeopardize your health or your family’s health in order to maintain a touch of humanity?
Whether you bug in or bug out should hinge on your water supply options. In survival mode (a few days to a week) a gallon of water per day per person is sufficient.
Unfortunately most “survivalists” and “preppers” do not take into account that this is a survival ration quantity of water, not an extended living allotment of water.
The problem is long term. That is when the real water needs is based upon 10 to 13 gallons of water per person per day. This is based upon refugee camp programs.
This does not include water for gardening,livestock, etc just drinking, cooking, cleaning ( including limited laundry) and personal hygiene.
Now they use medicine to keep diseases under control. Without such medicine, increasing water usage in sanitation related issues to prevent and treat disease might be a good idea.
Unless you have a year round source of sufficient surface water nearby, (less than 1/2 mile away) or a well with a manual pump (or other non electric pump), you have a water supply problem.
If your water storage or water source becomes exhausted, bugging out will become a necessity.
At that point raiders, occupied bug out locations, etc become a problem
So consider that and plan accordingly.
Water should not be an issue. One location has a shallow well, and I can draw water with a bucket if necessary. Another location has a spring, but the water will definitely have to be purified due to taste. All locations have sufficient surface water to last for months/years if it is not contaminated by other factors. Two locations are within a quarter mile of a creek.
I have ample trees, plants, and a growing supply of meat sources. My garden plot needs work, but I don’t have the time or stamina to work multiple plots.
My emergency rations, split between multiple locations, should suffice with careful use, until I can start harvesting from the garden/greenhouse.
I may get tired of eggs, beans, and rice, but chickens get old, and the occasional can of vegetables will help make a nice bowl of stew.
My question still remains…. in case of a biological episode (attack or natural), what is the best defense or preparative action that can be done? Water alone doesn’t stop an infection, and keeping someone hydrated, hoping that will cure them, doesn’t make much sense when you are putting others’ health at risk.
A friend of mine was a nurse who lived on the coast. She was part of a task force that pondered those sorts of questions when they were discussing avian flu. The thought was that those on the coasts would be the first to experience it, and what preps should be in place to avoid an epidemic.
She stocked up on masks, figuring that many bugs can be inhaled, and they studied the disease to become familiar with what symptoms to expect.
Turned out the avian flu thing did not transmit to humans as they had expected, and she decided to have in her preps things that would help with some of the symptoms.
I decided to look into herbs, what’s local, and how they can be used.
In the case of an epidemic, while you may want to quarantine those who are sick, it may end up where those who are healthy quarantine themselves and wait it out.
I don’t think there are any easy answers.
Stock up on everclear or some other 190 proof alcohol … it is ussually cheap about $20 a bar size ….. bottle. not only is it antiseptic it is drinkable if diluted thus being a valuable bartering asset … buthey what do i know
Because God knows we need more drunks with guns in a SHTF situation!!
Each one of us will have to answer the moral questions for ourselves. No one else can provide those answers. In my case, most of my family has passed away, With the exception of a brother who lives 2 hours away by main highways, the few remaining are too distant in both relation and location to even worry about. My son and I are closer to our neighbors than to relatives. They are the ones we will help should they need it.
If you want to build a larger “shield room,” as engineers refer to rooms that are essentially large Faraday cages for storing electronics, you can do so by covering the inside of a small room or closet with several layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Overlap all of the seams and tape them with regular cellophane tape.
If you get your self some Tube radios and remove the tubes and store the radio it may well be fine after an EMP.
You don’t have to lose everything in an EMP. Research Faraday Cages and rooms
Very quickly. Thank you for sharing, Fergus. It really isn’t a choice for me. I have to bug in. Hope it never comes to that. Thanks.
I say plan to survive at home, but have a plan to evacuate just in case you have no choice. And hopefully your plan will provide a way to keep and move your supplies. Thus a bug out trailer, even just a flat trailer to haul food, water and gear would be good.
There is no point in going someplace else unless that place is much better in terms of security, is setup for the procurement and storage of water and the production of food, provides wood, and is remote or at least very covert. A ranch or homestead would be superior to a house in suburbia or a city apartment, but then it’s imperative you get to it right away before someone else finds it.
Planning all options and for various events ensures greater success. Printing those plans out and creating guides and cheat sheets for family members is very helpful and should be done. Your plans might be dependent on budget gear and low tech methods, but it’ll work if thought out ahead of time.
article has some good points, as well as the commenter points. Be like an owl, listen and learn. I feel no need to educate anyone about mupyself and my own activities concerning prepping. Thanks for the articles.
We will likely bug in, although have given thought to bugging out. To get where we would go, is 12 to 16 hours away. Through some pretry populated areas. We’Re rural and small town of 4000. Lots of places to hide. Our own well and septic, plus a new outhouse, just in case. Leaving could be more dangerous for us. I don’t believe we can prepare for everything. Fires, tornadoes and the like don’t follow rules. All we can do is just try to think outside the box and be ready for most scenios.
One thing that seems everyone overlooked is making your outpost sentry stations look very appealing to attackers say you build a sandbag outpost take 2 of the sandbags say second or third roll from top and install an ied in the bag with just enough sand to maintain the feel of the sandbag and having sandbags on top if them will help to propel the explosion into the attackers rather than into the sky ….. sounds cold & harsh maybe put like was said they will do what ever they can to take your & your famolies future you can prepare these things in advance h bury detination wires and run them back to your secure location and have them labled in ez code lsyf for left side yard front …. you could actually bury the wires now and have them in position for future use ( hey you want to have places to hook up speakers if you have a party or to hook up led lighting (wink) but anyway instead of making outpost look unappealling maybe make seem like they maybe able to use it and then use it against them and if you have two in a sandbag wall use the first one the they may commit more personnel to that area figuring you already used your trap ……. just a thought but hey what do i know
The thing about sandbags is that they’re there to soak up bullets. An IED is not all that great at soaking up bullets. In fact if you shoot explosives, there’s a good chance they’ll explode. So I don’t think I’d want to put a bomb in the wall of something I built to protect myself.
Bugging in is my primary plan. Aging parents and lack of a secure, nearby bug-out location make staying put my best option. That said, I have a problem. Actually a few hundred thousand problems – namely all the people that live in the suburbs and towns that now surround my house. It wasn’t always like this, but 25 years of growth have turned my country home into a suburban ‘paradise’.
If there is lead time, I can easily pack up my preps, parents, and supplies and head to a very secure and self-sufficient location. But that is a 4 hour drive. In the event of an EMP ( my biggest worry), there will be no warning.
I have a perennial creek in my back yard and lots of preps. I’ve take pretty much all the steps I can think of to quickly secure my property. But just the sheer number of people that will be leaving the city will be an huge problem.
I’ve been wrestling with this issue and have no good answers. The best I’ve come up with is pre-positioning some preps and a camouflage blind in some woodland nearby. This would be used as a fall-back location.
My next step is to build an underground hidey-hole in the back of my property as a place to escape to when the hungry, angry masses arrive.
Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
For the poster who said he had lived in his location 50 years, so have I. In those 50 years fires have burned the hills behind my home 3 times. The first 2 times, despite some houses much further up the hill being damaged by the fires, my home was never even remotely threatened.
The lat time, however, was distinctly different. The city failed to maintain the water pumps in adequate condition to fill the 50,000 gallon water tank that supplied the fire hydrants in the areas in the hills behind my house.
When the diesel engines designed to drive the pumps and the pumps failed due to lack of maintenance, the fire hydrants went dry. Although the fire department was on scene, as soon as the fire hydrants went dry they pulled out of the neighborhoods. The homes were on a different system and still had water to them. Some homeowners stayed and saved their homes. Some homeowners stayed and tried to save their homes unsuccessfully and some homeowners fled as advised by the fire department. Some of those who fled lost their homes and some didn’t. The guy who was able to move into his aunt’s empty house next door lost everything except his vehicles. He is lucky that his aunt was able to give notice to one tenant and that another tenant had already given notice.
My home was threatened this time unlike the 2 previous times and I evacuated too.
I learned several very valuable lessons in this whole episode. The first lesson was that I was not as prepared as I thought I was. If you do nothing else, make a paper list of what you want to take with you if you have to evacuate. Keep it current. Keep it handy. Make sure to note the location of the items you want to take with you. Identify what they look like. Make sure you keep those items in the place on your list. If you change the location, change your list. Pack everything up and count how many parcels you have and what they look like. That is part of your checklist, so that when you think you have everything in your vehicle, you can go down your checklist. If you have 8 bags and suitcases on your list and you have 10 in the car, that is okay. If you have 8 on your list but only 7 in the car, not so okay.
Unless the world has turned to a large puddle of dog-doo, you will be able to buy things like razor blades, toothpaste, toothbrushes and alike. You can also buy underwear, socks and even clothing. Wally-Worlds, Targets, Kohls, K-Marts (well, maybe not K-Marts any more) are in every town of any size. If you have to evacuate out of your area, you can use good old fashioned plastic or cash to restock. Yeah, it may ding your budget for a couple of months, but consider the alternative, burning to death while you cleaned out your sock drawer. Wow! That makes a lot of sense — or drowning from rising flood waters while you picked out which pair of jeans you wanted to take.
You need to save the important stuff. All the birth certificates, your marriage certificate, your SS cards and Medicare cards, your credit cards, your cash (you do have a stash of cash, don’t you?) Your deed to your house, passports — you get the idea. Note the location of those documents. Many times they are not all in the same box. I had the deed to the house in a file cabinet. I only check it once every 25 years, so it was not in a handy location. Had I had it on my list it wouldn’t have taken me 30 seconds to retrieve it. My insurance papers were in another drawer because I refer to them at least on a yearly basis. I forgot to take them. I did take most of the other papers I listed above. However, I forgot my wallet and out medications.
CASH!!! Well, I have lots of plastic, why do I need cash? Let me give you a personal example. The Northridge, CA earthquake occurred in northern Los Angeles County. My brother was duck hunting outside a little town 500 miles north of Los Angeles. Preparing to head home after making a severe dent in the local duck population, he pulled into a gas station and noticed a lot of cars parked in the lot and lots of folk milling around. The sign on the pumps said “No Credit Cards” He went inside and was informed by the clerk that due to the earthquake in Los Angeles (There was an earthquake? He had been in a duck blind, not watching the news.) the computers weren’t working and it was cash only.
My brother always carries cash with him on his hunting trips and so he was able to fill up and head on home. There were lots of folks going around trying to panhandle because they had credit cards but no cash. No cash — no gas.
Some lessons from the recent Osaka earthquake. Take comfortable walking shoes with you wherever you go. I don’t care if you are going to the Founders’ Ball and it is strictly dinner jackets and evening gowns, have a pair of sneakers and a warm jacket in the car for everyone in your car. Your wife will curse you forever if you have tennies and she has to hoof it home in high heels or stocking feet. NHK TV was full of pictures of folks trudging home after the recent quake. The same scenes showed in Tokyo after the tragic Tohoku quake 8 years ago. Tokyo is about 150 miles as the crow flies from the epicenter of that quake and the trains, buses, subways etc still stopped running. Just because you took a car doesn’t mean you will be able to drive home. Just ask the cop who drove off the Santa Monica Freeway where it broke over an overpass during the Northridge quake. He managed to brake in time, but the front of his squad car was hanging off the edge of the freeway on the 6:00 o’clock news. Don’t you just hate it when you make the 6:00 o’clock news in that fashion? Especially if you are a cop with light bar flashing and siren running and headlights blinking.
If you take public transportation to work it is especially important that you keep a pair of comfortable walking shoes or boots some place accessible at work. That’s where the get home bag is so important.
I chose the site of my present home carefully. We rejected another site that had nicer homes for a better price because we felt that it was too close to the hills and possible fire danger. Our opinion proved correct in the most recent fires. We also thought there was a possibility of hillside slippage or flooding due to the geology. Despite all of our careful examination of the area around us, we still had to evacuate. It turned out to only be necessary due to smoke, but it could have been much worse with just a slight change in wind direction.
You don’t know what life will bring you. All my other preps were basically useless, the stored water, the food, the back-up cooking sources, kerosene lamps and kerosene, all that didn’t help a bit for the actual emergency that presented itself. Standing to one side objectively, it was an interesting learning experience. From a more subjective viewpoint, it was frightening to me for the safety of my wife and myself. It turned out to be a non-event for us, although 700 dwelling units were burned in this city alone. If our home had burned we would have lost 50 years of our lives. Yeah, we would have survived, but that is a big chunk of lifetime to have ripped away for whatever reason.
Get prepared. Don’t just prepare for a single event. Consider the unexpected.
Thank you for this invaluable advice. Nothing like first hand experience to help those who have not lived though something like this.
Note to self: Make a list. Check it twice….
I think of myself as pretty prepared, and Left Coast Chuck is someone I listen to. Unlike most of us he’s actually had to put his preparations to a real-world test, and as this and many other of his comments show, he’s learned a lot from the experience. That’s knowledge that I’m not going to waste if I can help it.
world governments arre keeping a secret about the return of planet x & return of the annunaki view on you tube or go to one of the 800 FEMA CONCENTRATION CAMPS in america The world governments are on the annunaki side to make you better slaves!
ronald freeland law on Twitter
There is no Planet X and there are no FEMA concentration camps in America. Apart from anything else, FEMA aren’t competent enough to run them.
This article asks the question, Bug-in or Bug-out ? I think there is another alternative. Relocate now to a more survivable area, and begin prepping that chosen location out. I moved to a place in northwestern Pa. about 5 years ago. I am a US Army veteran and retired law enforcement officer / electrician. I am telling you now the problem in a collapse is going to be the people. Get away from the people, do it now if you can. What are you waiting for ???