If a SHTF event occurs in your area, you should prepare if you want to make it on your own. If said event represents a threat for the well-being and physical integrity of your family, you will be forced to act. This means you have to choose between bugging in or bugging out. Regardless of your decision, you need to acquire some critical information before you act.
No action should be taken without acknowledging first that everything matters. That your safety can be affected by every consciously or subconsciously interaction you make. Every sound, every word and every gesture you make can trigger a response and you should be ready for it. Regardless if you’re planning on bugging in or bugging out, you should be convinced that every action you make influences and solicits a response. Being prepared for it is crucial to survival.
The following survival strategies can be applied to any bugging in or bugging out situation:
Know the people around you:
This is probably one of the most important things you should know. While the disaster itself might not trigger a bugging in or bugging out scenario, the social element could. You should learn as much about your community as you can. This involves going to social gatherings (or at least observe them from a safe distance). It also involves researching about the crime rate in your area, especially during particular events that made certain social elements to act up (protesting, rioting, looting, etc.)
And last, but not least it involves direct interaction with your neighbors under various circumstances, during your day to day activity. Before a disaster can directly affect you, one should pay attention to the surrounding elements that could cause problems. And no other element is more unpredictable than human nature.
Know your position:
When we discuss the position topic during a bugging in or bugging out scenario, there are are actually two things to consider: the geographical position and the social position. Learning about your geographical position (or your living area) is a must, regardless of what you plan to do. It will provide you with valuable information and you will be able to answer questions such as:
- Is your area listed on a on an evacuation route (think about masses of people going through your backyard)?
- Is your home situated in a flood zone or surrounded by thick vegetation?
- Do you have more than one road that can be used as an escape or supply route?
- Does your area provide you with any type of shelter? A pre-made bug out location, abandoned buildings, state parks or any other type of land that offers good camping conditions?
- Can you gather supplies from your area in case your pantry runs dry (hunting, foraging, scavenging, etc.)?
- Are there any water sources in the vicinity of your home?
- Can you defend your property on your own if it comes to it? Do you need help from your neighbors? Are you exposed as the rest of your neighbors or do you live in a secluded area?
This are all questions you should have an answer for. The list can go on as each geographical position has its distinctive properties.
Related area: Know your region before disaster strikes
When it comes to the social position, things can get a little bit tricky. It all depends on how you’re perceived in the eyes of the people surrounding you. If you are a respectable person, it’s much easier to get help from your neighbors, should you need it. However, if you are invisible, most people will not even know you are there when it hits the fan (and this can be a good thing if you plan to keep a low profile).
If you are the anxious type, you could be targeted by the less desirable elements of society when things turn bad. If you are the choleric type and you had various “unpleasant” interactions with your neighbors, when things go south and laws no longer apply, some of them will try to settle the score.
You will have two things to worry about, the emergency situation and people looking for payback. If you are the sanguine type, the type of person that is optimistic and way too social, you most likely become a victim of circumstances. As an element of society, you should really think about these things and about how you are perceived by others, especially if you are forced to bug in.
Know your options
While this may sound like a generic advice for some, there are many aspects we fail to consider. Especially if we reach that level of comfort, when we assume we’ve got all things covered. Here is an example I’ve seen many times: If you are new to prepping and you manage to fully equip your pantry, you get that feeling of accomplishment that is hard to explain in just a few words.
You feel proud of your work (as you should) and you get more relaxed and confident. At the same time, you start becoming lazy and you stop paying attention to your rotation schedule, you don’t check the temperature in your pantry as often as you used to and the story goes on.
There is a feeling of false confidence that some people develop. They falsely assume there is no more room for improvement. Some think they have it all figured out, when in fact, there are still many things to be done. Emergency preparedness never stops, and there’s always a thing or two we’ve missed or haven’t thought about.
It becomes a 24/7 job for some people and that’s the harsh reality. It doesn’t matter if you’re bugging in or bugging out and you should always make sure you can turn things in your favor.
Things can change rapidly and you need to have backups. In order to have those backups you need to plan for them. You need to establish what to prepare for and plan for other options if things don’t go as initially planned.
Know your paths
Once again, there are many approaches to knowing the safe routes from your area. It doesn’t matter if you plan on bugging in or bugging out, the rules apply to both scenarios. A safe route is a path that helps you reach your point. This, regardless of the reason behind the journey, without putting yourself or your party members at risk. Here are some examples for bugging in or bugging out:
Bugging in safe paths:
- One or more routes to reach those dear to you if it hits the fan; to get the kids from school or get your significant other from work or any other location that’s not safe.
- A safe route to one or more rendezvous points so that if something would happen while you’re at work, every family member should have pre-established meeting point
- One or more routes to reach your home without going through major road-blocks, stopping points or iconic landmarks prone to rioting or looting.
- You also need one or more routes you can use for scavenging if it comes to it
- One or more routes to escape if you are forced to
Related reading: How to hunker down and survive
Bugging our safe paths:
- One or more routes to rendezvous points (if any other people are expected to join your party)
- A safe path (or more) to observation points
- An alternative route (or more) to your bug out location
- A safe route to your caching point if you have one
- Safe routes to foraging or hunting grounds that do not go through or near the vicinity of camping spots
- Safe routes to (re)supply areas or friendly parties (friends, distant relatives, first aid, etc.)
Know your limits
This is another aspect that is often overlooked by many preppers. There are many particularities to it, regardless if you are bugging in or bugging out. We are a “can do” nation and we are proud of it. From a young age, we are being thought that everything is achievable if we work hard for it. However, in an emergency situation we should know our limits and avoid putting them to the test. You should go the extra mile only if you life depend on it. There is no point in putting yourself at risk for little to no gain and you need to be cautious about your actions.
If you’re planning to hunker down you should prepare for it based on your possibilities. You should make sure you can ride the storm, if bugging out is no option. This means that you need to have enough supplies to last for at least 6 months and the knowledge to survive after danger has passed. You need to know about your physical limits as well and if you have a disability, going out for a scavenging run might not be an option for you.
If you need to fend off looters and you are alone, rather than a direct, full force attack try to deceive the trespassers by making your house look like it was already looted. Try to fortify your home and surprise the attackers with various traps or any other off-putting elements that would create an advantage for you.
Suggested reading: Home defense at it’s finest
Knowing your limits is equally important when bugging out and you need to make sure you’re fit to make the trip. You might have the best bug out bag there is out there, but if you can’t carry it for more than five miles, it will do you no good. Are you relying on your car for all the heavy hauling, but what if it breaks down or if the road is no longer usable?
You will need to continue on foot and you will have to abandon or cache your supplies. To do this properly, you need to know what you can leave behind and what you need to carry with you. This won’t work without knowing your limits, both mental and physical.
The same principle can be applied for various scenarios and it all has to do with you capabilities. You might have enough weapons and ammo to hunt whatever type of game is available in your area, but if you have no hunting experience, it’s better if you stick to fishing. You might want to build a better shelter or improve the one you’ve already built and once again, knowing your limits is key.
Cutting down trees and transporting the logs back to camp requires experience and proper body strength. In order to avoid breaking your back, you should look for help (family members) or improvise a transportation method that doesn’t put too much pressure on you. It is important to remember that you are not superman. You need to take care of yourself if you are aiming for a long-term survival.
A final word
Bugging in or bugging out is more complicated than you think. The area you live in, the options you have and the type of person you are, all play an important role in the success of the scenario you have chosen. Everything matters when bugging in or bugging out and you should pay attention to details.
Even to those that may not seem important at a first glance. I can tell you from experience that there isn’t a recipe for a successful bugging in or bugging out scenario. You need to make your own plan, test it and learn from it, before the real drill is triggered.
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