This like so many of the things I write started out as a conversation, actually several conversations with many people. We have all heard and possibly said "If things get bad I am getting out of Dodge". This sounds like a great idea and could be if we use proper prior planning. Without prior planning we may be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire so to speak. We are going to talk about several aspects of bugging out and how to make them work if we need them. Ready? Great!
When to Bug Out?
This question can have several answers. The reasons we might feel like we need to bug out are many and greatly depend on where you live. If you live in an urban area some of the reasons you might want to evacuate are different than someone who lives very rural. My family and I are somewhere in the middle so we will talk about both.
We are about an hour out of a major metropolitan area and not really on a major route either, but if civil unrest were to occur I will be watching to be aware if it starts spreading. Something centralized like the riots that occurred in Ferguson Missouri, I would stay put. But if the violence were to start spreading to the outlying areas, I would be watching. If I lived closer evacuation plans would go into action sooner, a lot sooner. There is a town between where I live and the major city that if violence spreads to it, we are out of here. Every person has to figure this one out on their own, but as a guide, I would say that if violence started say 50 miles from where you live and has spread to 25 miles from your location be looking to get out.
I will be totally honest. If civil unrest becomes a concern for us something else very big has happened. We are far enough out that I can be certain of that. Even though I am convinced of this, it doesn't mean I do not have a plan.
For us a natural disaster is a statistically more likely reason for us to have to evacuate. Natural reasons to bug out include things like major storm damage, wild fires, and even floods. Floods would not commonly be a concern of ours. We are up on a hill and if we have to worry about flooding we will already be out looking for neighbors because some of them will have been swept away. Not a nice picture, but true. Storm damage is another issue. Storm damage can happen to anyone anywhere. We have to deal with tornadoes. They are not fun. The problem with natural disasters is there is very little advanced warning so you have to be ready at anytime during the times of the year that these types of events are likely to occur.
Where to Bug Out?
Here is where prior planning gets some big time consideration. There are several ways a person or family could bug out to. Each have their pros and cons. We will talk about each and where they excel and where they do not.
Hotels or Motels
I know this doesn't sound very "preppery". Yes I know that is not a word. There are several times that you do not have to have a definite location. A flood or even a semi truck spilling chemicals comes to mind. If a tractor trailer spills a chemical in your community and you have to evacuate it will be very short term, generally only 24 hours or so. Being able to go somewhere and turn something bad into an adventure is a great opportunity. You and your spouse should know of a couple of hotels in each direction away from your home and have their phone numbers handy, so in the event of a needed evacuation you can just call and make reservations. By having this information handy you will have a place to stay even when everyone else realizes they will need one as well. It is a great thing to have reservations when all of the hotels fill up because people waited till the last minute. A clean bed away from a toxic spill turns into a true preparedness asset.
Family or Friends
If as I talked about above civil unrest were to spread or say our home was damaged by a storm, my family would need a longer term, but still temporary place to stay while things calmed down or repairs are made to the house. Friends or family may be the answer. We have two directions we could go, but one would not be preferable if the reason we were leaving was civil unrest. One place we could stay would take us right through the edge of the large city that we talked about earlier. That direction is also completely reliant on the system. If grocery stores were to be emptied that family member would have to come to us not the other way around. But for smaller events that would be an option.
The other direction are family members that are also of the preparedness mindset. No need to run to the grocery, they have it covered. There is room though it would be cramped. Fishing and hunting are an option to add to the food stores and in this area we could hunker down for a much longer period of time if needed. Why would we not go there automatically? Well in order to get there we have to go through a smaller town and if say we were facing a winter weather event, it would be very difficult to get there if we waited too late.
Into the Wilderness
This is the one that every time I hear it I have several questions for the folks who claim they are going out to live off the land. For the majority of people trying to do this is a really bad idea. Here is why.
Do You Have the Skills?
Unless you are a very avid outdoors man there are certain times of year that living off the land is difficult at best. I have no doubt that I could live off the land in late spring, summer and even early fall. I know enough plants and how to get game that I could feed my family at least enough to survive during those times. The winter months would be way more difficult. People who live completely off the land full time stock up all growing season long in order to have enough to make it through the winter. There are still things out there you can eat, but they are fewer and farther in between and during the winter you and everything else that is still awake are competing for the same things. You are not promised game or even a dry place to stay unless you can make it yourself. If this is an idea please take this advice. Go camping during each season. Do not take anything with you that you wouldn't take in an emergency. Try it. It is more difficult than you think.
Do You Know the Area?
Even if you have the skills to make it with nothing in the wilderness not knowing the area amplifies the difficulty level. If I were planning on escaping to the national forest I would do better than someone who just had a map and was going to "make a go of it". Why? I know where there are caves and bluffs that would give protection. I know where there are streams that, depending on time of year, could supply fish or even crayfish.
A warning about caves and bluffs, they are wonderful sources of natural shelter, having said that every animal out there knows that too. I have walked toward a cave that I had camped in before only to find that it had been taken over by a pack of coyotes, wasn't going to use that again until they had moved out.
Do You Have the Gear?Surviving in the wild unless you are REALLY used to it requires a bit of gear, especially if you have a family. Now that I have gotten older I really do not want to sleep on a rock slab. I have done it and when I was younger it was no big deal. Now it would be a huge deal. Things you might want to have are a tent (the tent you would want will depend on how many people will be with you, the terrain you will be setting up in, and the climate in which you are), sleeping bags (climate plays a major role in sleeping bag selection), definitely a way to start a fire (a friend has an incredible tool to help start fires and so much more you can see them HERE), and some cooking utensils also known as a mess kit each person should have at least some if not all of these items. You really do not want to have to make a burn bowl before you are able to sterilize some water unless you absolutely have to.
A Bug Out Location (BOL)
A bug out location take prior planning to the max or at least it can. BOLs can be a different as the people who have them. A BOL can simply be some land that you own or lease that will be the place where you pitch your tent all the way up to a small home where you can ride out any storm and anything in between. I know several people that their hunting property is also their BOL. Some of these have older houses on them that if needed could be used, heck I know of one hunting property that the people who own it actually had barracks and a mess hall built on it.
A BOL can be just the basics or fully stocked, it is up to you. A BOL should be close enough that you will visit it often. I have heard of people that their BOL is hours away. Every time they go to visit their home away from home there are so many repairs that have to be made. I just don't think it is worth it unless you are willing to check in fairly often. This is a goal of mine. I have family that have enough land that are willing to let me put a tiny house on and get everything ready in case we need it, but I am wanting some land of our own.
Has this post made you think about your plans?
What would you do if you had to evacuate your home?
Do you have a plan?
Does your family know what your plans are?
Think about it. I want you to be able to live your
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