When thinking about being prepared for an emergency, it’s important to consider where you will go. Will you grab your bug out bags and try to get out of town or will you hunker down at home and try to ride things out as a family? There are many factors that go in to deciding just what to do in a disaster situation, and what the best course of action is for you and your family. If you are struggling to decide between bugging in or bugging out, here are some tips to help you choose.
First, remember that flexibility is key for any prepper. Even if you have a plan in place, it might have to change at a moment’s notice. If there is a natural disaster like a hurricane, generally you have time to consider the pros and cons, and then make an informed decision. Other events, like tornadoes or earthquakes or a biological warfare event, typically don’t give you much warning so your decision will need to be made fast with little time for debate. Whether you plan to bug in or bug out, be prepared to do the opposite if it’s absolutely necessary.
Think about where you live. Are you in a rural or metro setting? Your immediate surroundings can have a great effect on whether you should bug in or bug out. A rural setting might be safer in terms of being further away from looters, collapsing buildings, or biological attacks, but it also would mean it might take longer for life saving help to get to you if you needed it. In that sense, you would want to make sure you had enough food and supplies to last you indefinitely, as well as basic medical equipment and other survival gear. You would need fuel and a huge stockpile of water to make it for an extended period of time. If you don’t have adequate supplies, you will probably want to bug out and leave the area.
Evaluate Your Home
Is your home prepared to withstand an earthquake or a major tornado? Do you have a safe room, underground shelter, or basement where you could stay if the majority of the home was damaged or destroyed? Is your property protected from looters or intruders? Do you have an alternative heat source or power source to sustain your family if electricity fails? Do you have access to a stockpile of firewood for your wood burning stove or fireplace to heat your home? Those are a lot of questions, but each one is important. If you want to bug in, you have to get your home ready to withstand the crisis. That might mean building a bunker or a designated safe room. You might need to make some structural changes to your house and implement some self-defense strategies.
Know Your Neighbors
Do you have a good network of support within a few miles of your home? This could be your church, family, close friends, a strong neighborhood watch program, or other community groups. If you do have a tight-knit community, you are more likely to have success by bugging in. You can work together and share resources to make things much easier if you decide to stay put. Banding together with your immediately neighbors is vital in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency.
Weigh Pros and Cons
Bugging in might be the most logical and practical option, simply because home is typically a safe place. You know where things are located, your belongings and survival supplies are there, and you are familiar with the surroundings. Plus you have the local support of friends and neighbors. But, there are some times where staying put could be dangerous for you and your family. Disaster situations can turn chaotic very quickly, particularly in areas where the power may be off for a long time. Bugging in is usually a bad idea in a crowded metro area, but it can even be challenging in rural communities if food supplies get scarce. This is when looting and rioting can occur, and people make rash decisions that endanger the safety of others. If you think a disaster aftermath could turn into this type of unstable environment, then you may want to bug out.
Ultimately, unless a mandatory evacuation is ordered, the decision to stay or leave in an emergency is up to you. You have to weigh all the possible outcomes and decide the risks you are willing to take. The key in any of these situations is to have a plan in place ahead of time or at least think through possible disaster situations and what you would to do stay safe. This might mean preparing a stockpile of emergency items in your home, or packing emergency bug out bags for everyone in the home and keeping them ready to go. Even if you have a short window of time to actually act on those plans – having a good idea of what you might do to stay safe – ahead of time – can make all the difference.
What are your plans for an emergency… will you bug in or bug out?