Bugging in can be defined as staying in your house and holding down the fort during an emergency situation. If you have everything you need in your home to survive there is no need to leave and head for a distant location. You will have to bug out only if there are substantial reasons to do so and if your bug-in plan failed.
Reasons that are usually a threat to you and your loved ones. Even though the trend is to bug out and there is a lot of literature dedicated to it, for some this isn’t an option. In fact, bugging in is usually the first choice for suburban and urban preppers when a crisis occurs. Since not everyone has the chance to go to the hills or get access to a bug out location (BOL) is better to know what to do to bug-in and survive.
When I’m discussing with my friends and family about preparedness, the number one question I always hear is: what disaster should I prepare for?
The answer is never simple. I tell them to first make a list of what disasters are most likely to occur in their area. Afterward, start preparing for the disaster that is most probable to happen and work their way down on the list. Many factors have an influence on the level of preparedness for each family.
However, the most important one is the budget. The reality is that you have to prepare for as many disasters as you possibly can. You should do so without affecting your quality of life, social exposure, and monthly budget. Although it may prove hard to do it, the best part is that many preparedness actions will be useful for different types of emergencies.
Before deciding to bug-in, some common sense questions have to be acknowledged.
Ask yourself this before you decide to bug-in or bug out:
- What is the number one threat to my family and me and how likely it is to occur?
- What will happen to my house if it does take place? Will it affect the integrity of my house?
- How long is the crisis going to last? Do I have all the supplies I need to survive that long?
- Will there be an imminent danger to me and my loved ones if I bug-in? Am I staying because of comfort and because I don’t want to leave?
- Is bugging out a safer option? If so, where will I bug out and how should I get there?
- Is my BOL safer than my current location and does it have the supplies I need?
Based on the answers you get to these questions, you can take a decision and do the best thing. They will provide the definitive answer to the question: to bug-in or to bug out?
Planning is key
If you have decided to bug-in, you have to know that it will require a lot of planning. You need to have short-term plans (to survive on your own for a year) and long-term plans (to survive on your own indefinitely). You should take each project one step at the time, to avoid getting lost in the big picture.
Try to prepare, to survive for a week, then for two and aim for a month. Do so on until you can live for a year without outside help. Most emergency situations will be under control in less than a week, so you should have at least enough water and food supplies to last that long.
Here is what you should do to bug-in safely.
Assess the integrity of your shelter
Your house might be damaged if a natural disaster occurs in you are. You have to make sure the structural integrity isn’t affected. If the walls or support beams have been damaged, the house could collapse and it’s better to move out.
You should have at least 2-3 tarps that you can use to cover holes in the walls, broken windows, roof holes, etc. These are a temporary solution until you can rebuild or repair the damage. Also, you’re going to need a good tent. It will serve as a temporary shelter if your house is damaged and as a permanent location if you don’t have a BOL.
Another thing you have to do to assure the integrity of your house is to shut down the utilities. If your home is still standing, you don’t want it to catch fire or get flooded. Installing shut off valves and labeling them accordingly should be a must for every house regardless if you bug-in or bug out.
Water, you must store water!
Regardless of the nature of the crisis, you’re going to need water and lots of it if you bug-in. You won’t last much without at least half a gallon of water per day. Water takes up a lot of space and it’s bulkier. This is why most survival experts will advise you to store at least one month of water supply. You should also find other options to obtain water without wasting storage space.
There are many ways to earn drinkable water, even when you bug in:
- Get a commercial water filter or make your own. Here are some tips on how to make one if you’re out in the open.
- Collect contaminated water, boil or distill it.
- Collecting rainwater.
- Acquire purification tables or use bleach to purify the water. You need to add between 10 and 20 drops of bleach per gallon of water.
- Get a bathtub storage bag – this is a plastic bag that can hold between 50 and 100 gallons of water. Amazon sells many models.
The main idea here is that you shouldn’t use all your storage space to stockpile water. Instead, you should have as many ways to purify water as possible.
Another alternative is to make a device that makes water out of the air, as shown in this video. Being able to produce your own clean water is vital when you bug-in.
Don’t starve, store some food
A stockpile of food is a must. Just like water, you have to make sure it lasts if you bug-in. Use the same tactic as you did for water storage. Aim to stockpile a week supply of food, move on to a month, aim for 3 months and so on. Of course that here the options are many and it is all up to you of what you buy or make.
A good pantry will save you a lot of trouble in the long run. I’ve explained in an article about what are the essential foods for a good survival pantry.
When people ask me what they can do to stockpile food without breaking the bank I tell them to use some simple tricks:
- make a list with what you need, during your shopping trip,
- buy 2-3 extra cans of food,
- buy local,
- purchase in season,
- buy in bulk,
- buy with discount coupons.
When buying canned goods, you have to keep in mind to rotate to the stock you have. Old cans to the front, new ones to the back. Another method is to make your own food; you can dry it and store it in airtight containers. Learn from this article how you can dry your food without breaking a sweat.
Stockpiling food is excellent and it should be done with minimal costs. You should aim for at least 10 months of food as you never know for how long do you have to bug-in.
Even with stockpiling one question still remains: what can you do when food runs out?
The answer is simple: Learn how to make your own food and have a sustainable food source. Save seeds and plant a garden, learn how to fish and hunt if the area you live in provides these options. If space allows it, raising chickens and rabbits will provide you with eggs and meat. Get your hands on an ingenious method to produce your own food and become self-sufficient.
This video shows you how simple it is to build one. You should start to learn from time or at least gather the necessary info to have it available when you bug-in. An iPad full of self-sufficiency books will become priceless.
Another thing you need to consider is that you may be forced to explore the great outdoors when the dust settles. You will have to do so not to enjoy some quality time in nature, but to procure food through any means necessary.
The problem here is that hunting and fishing require proper gear (check out under-the-open-sky.com for tips) and you need to procure it before the brown stuff hitting the fan.
You need to stay warm when you bug-in
Depending on the time of the year and the part of the state you live in, heat will be one of your top priorities when you bug-in. You will need a source of heat since the extreme cold will cause the core temperature of your body to drop and hypothermia sets in.
A source of heat is a must if you want to stay warm when electricity will be just a memory. The best option would be to have a wood burning stove or fireplace installed. Something that can be used as a source of heat and as a cooking place. Make sure you also have plenty of blankets, quilts, and covers or a good sleeping bag.
The more ways you have to stay warm, the better your chances of survival are. One word of advice: if you improvise a heat source, from a barrel drum or candles you should have some battery-powered CO detectors, they might save your life.
You will need an electricity generator if you want to bug-in
A generator is useful for many reasons, from cooking to charging your devices and power up tools. Having a generator running on fossil fuel might not be a good idea when you bug-in and here is why.
First, you will eventually run out of fuel and you will have to scavenge for more fuel if you want to keep it going.
Second, you will get used to it and with having electricity, and in a survival situation the sooner you learn how to live without electricity the better it will be.
And third, generators running on fuel are not silent. If you want to stay under the radar when you bug-in, you will have to reconsider your options.
The best choice would be to go for a solar generator. You can charge it by day and use it at night, without attracting unwanted attention. There are so many models out there that it’s a matter of personal choice and budget. Amazon is full of generators, it all depends on your budget and how much are you willing to spend. Try to get a generator that is portable and reliable. By doing so, you can take with you in case you are forced to evacuate.
Related reading: Starting your off-grid living with solar power
Regarding electricity and light in general, this can be both a good and an awful thing. If you bug-in, you are going to need light at night to avoid stumbling in the dark. It is better to have multiple sources of light in your hose, a flashlight for every room.
A LED lamp will do wonders, but it will also act as a beacon in the night for the other survivors roaming outside your house. If you are trying to stay out of sight when you bug-in, you will have to avoid using any light source during the night. Board up your house so that no light leaks out.
Another thing you should do when you bug-in is to avoid spending too much time in a room that’s lit up with light. If something happens and you need to go outside, you’re not going to be able to see for a few moments. If you are attacked, those minutes could make the difference between life and death.
Protect your fort if you bug-in
During an emergency, if you have secured the necessary items for survival like water, food, and shelter, the next thing you have to worry about is how to stay safe and protect your loved ones. The police won’t help you because they have to take care of their families.
This means that the only protection you’ll going to get is the one you’re providing, for both you and your family. We all know that during a crisis the crime rate increases. Criminals know how to take advantage of these types of situations. There will be rioting and looting in a prolonged crisis.
Safety in numbers works for both homeowners and outsiders. If you have friends and neighbors who are prepared as you are, you can make a stand. Lock down the neighborhood and keep the looters outside. This would work in an ideal world, but during an emergency situation, most certainly, it will be every man for himself.
Your most realistic options to survive are the following: make your home as hard to get into as possible. Arm yourself with weapons you can use and hold the fort down. This article, you can teach you about firearms recommended for self-defense, ideal for when you bug-in.
You can install metal doors capable of being bolted shut. Even more, you can get a guard dog and you can install bars across the windows and so on. There are many methods to fortify your house when you bug-in.
Stay clean, personal hygiene is important!
If you bug-in, you need to stay healthy and you have to stay clean. Unfortunately, when water is scarce, personal hygiene will not be a priority for many. Even if you bug-in and you are alone, you still need to wash up and brush your teeth every day. A clean body will make you more comfortable and keep you healthy. Be sure to buy and stockpile unscented baby wipes as they will keep you clean without wasting precious water.
Suggested reading: Survival sanitation and how to deal with it
You will also have to stockpile on other items such as toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste (or make your own) and tampons. Using the toilets if you bug-in is a bad idea. Therefore you are going to poop in an improvised toilet. You can either dig a hole in your yard or improvise a toilet out of a garbage can or paint bucket. You will need to line the bucket with a plastic bag so make sure to stockpile on plastic garbage bags.
Medical care will be needed at some point
Since the hospitals will be empty, you will be the best doctor you can find if you bug-in. This is why you will need a good medical kit. You will also have to stockpile on medication before you bug-in. If you have an understanding doctor, one that knows how to listen, chances are he or she will prescribe extra medicines.
So the best thing to do is, to be honest with your doctor and see how it plays out. Another thing you might want to do is to enroll in as many first aid classes as you can afford.
The more you learn, the better off you’ll be. Here is where your IPad, once again, will come in handy. Try to get as many first aid and field surgery books as you can. Look up for medical courses designed for emergency situations.
The following list of supplies should be added to your medical kit: ace bandages, activated charcoal, allergy medication, alcohol, aloe vera, antacid, aspirin, band-aids, bandages, burn cream (learn how to treat burns from this article), compress dressing, cold packs, gauze, gloves, hydrogen peroxide, needle and thread, Neosporin, pain relievers, petroleum jelly, snake bite kit, slings, surgical kit, tap, thermometer, tweezers, etc.
Related article: Step by step guide to make a first aid kit
You can add to it as you see fit. I’ve read that some preppers add to their emergency aid kit even medical equipment like defibrillators. Don’t do that, unless you have proper training on how to use these machines.
And last, but not least, if a medical emergency is too much for you to handle you have to seek professional medical care. Your best chance, in this case, will be your family doctor. Most probably, during a crisis, he will be at home attending to his family. Look for his address and look for his help.
Take care of your dead if you bug-in
This topic has hardly been discussed among the peppers’ communities. This is because no one wants to think about having to dispose of dead bodies. Especially those of friends or loved ones. The reality is, in a severe crisis, there could be bodies piled up everywhere.
The earthquake from Nepal is a fresh reminder of this horrific scenario. If you have to dispose of a body and you want to give a proper burial, you will have to bury the body 3 feet under to prevent disease transmission.
You don’t have to build a coffin as it will require for you to dig a bigger hole and it can be backbreaking labor. You can wrap the body in cloth before burial; it won’t matter in the long run. Another option is cremation and does the job much faster. For it to work you will need to stack logs on top and around the body, it may take time but it can be done. If you bug-in, you have to take care of the dead ones, and I’m not talking about zombies here.
Get some vice items, they could save your life!
When everything goes up in smoke, paper currency will become useless. Even though precious metals might be of value, other items will be wanted by everyone.
We, humans, are a species enslaved by our vices. It doesn’t matter if it’s the latest gadget or a good bottle of Jack Daniels. If we want it, we will have it!
During a crisis, the first stores that are being looted are the liquor stores and smoke shops. It’s happening even today. During the Baltimore riots, they didn’t steal food or water; they went for the vice items.
Related article: Superior Barter items you should stockpile for harsh times
When these supplies run out, some people are going to have intense cravings for them. Having a good stock of these items will put you in a position of power. If you can protect yourself, you can use these items to barter with people who have the supplies you need.
When you decide to bug-in, you should stock up on cheap alcohol and tobacco (or make your own). You might find yourself an advantage in a crisis if you have those items. Read more about the barter items you should have for SHTF.
If you’re prepared for multiple disasters and you know how to bug-in, you’re going to be in much better shape than those who didn’t prepare for anything.
Other Useful Resources:
The LOST WAYS (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
US Water Revolution (A DIY Project to Generate Clean Water Anywhere)
Blackout USA (Video about EMP survival and preparedness guide)