The Prepper’s Conundrum: To Bug in or Bug Out? (Pt. 1)

Tess Pennington
Activist Post

The longer we delve into the subject of preparedness, the more apparent it becomes that making the choice to bug in or bug out is dependent on many factors. Because this topic is far too in depth to write about in one article, it will become a three-part series where we will explore in detail one of the most important decisions you will ever make for your family – whether to bug in or bug out.

Factors to Consider

Making the decision to evacuate or hunker down are both unique to one another. Moreover, both are extremely stressful situations that involve a lot of forethought and planning in order for a smooth transition to take place. Obviously, we’d all like to hunker down with our supplies and ride out a storm, but there are factors to consider in the bug in or bug out decision making process:

  • Age and physical condition
  • Health considerations or disabilities
  • Family relationships and obligations
  • Financial restraints
  • Household/property security
  • Community stability
  • Geography
  • Climate
  • Road and weather conditions

But we must also consider events that could cause a total destabilization of our way of life. These events can be triggered by natural or man-made sources and have the capacity to wipe out life as we know it – figuratively or literally.

The situations listed above will cause a shift in our everyday lives. No longer can we run out to pick up necessary items at a store, go to the hospital for medical care, or rely on emergency responders to keep us safe. Further, supply trucks will be delayed in resupplying necessary food, water and survival needs, or the government may have felt it necessary to intervene and have a military presence in the city or town that you live. In some cases, banks will shut down making it impossible for you to access your hard earned money.

Inevitably, in times such as these, the survival of our family will rest upon our shoulders, and if we find ourselves in an environment that isn’t conducive to our way of life and we are unable to thrive, then we must make the choice to leave the environment or stand firm and defend it. But before that choice is made, weigh your options carefully (including your risks and odds at surviving). What it all comes down to is which scenario will you be safest in and thrive the most.

It All Comes Down to Two Questions

The above-listed events and factors can cause extreme upheavals in our lifestyles and communities; therefore, we must take these into consideration. To evaluate whether or not to bug in or out, you need to ask yourself two important questions:

1. Do you have everything that you and your family need to survive?

Ultimately, whether or not you decide to bug in or bug out you take the chance of being on your own for an extended period of time. It could be 2 weeks, a month or longer and it’s all on you. The place that you decide to survive in needs to have an adequate amount of supplies to carry your family through. As well, thought should be put into longer term survival needs in case the disaster becomes long term.

Keep in mind that with respect to major natural disasters, water sources are usually questionable following a disaster, fuel is scare, shelf stable food supplies are limited, supply trucks are delayed, flooding and damage to homes could be a problem, and home invasions are also at the forefront. If you don’t have the supplies, tools and skills needed to live on your own for at least a two week period or longer, then you should consider finding shelter elsewhere. Check out the 52 weeks to Preparedness to get ideas and lists of what preps you need for short and long term emergencies.

Note: To determine whether or not you are adequately supplied, consider simulating an “off grid” weekend and live off of your preps to see how well equipped you are. This will help you find any “holes” in your preparedness supplies and areas where you need to bulk up.

Moreover, the climate you live in could play a part in your decision to bug in or out. If you hunker in place in an off-grid environment and have no fuel or supplies to maintain your body temperature, or have to leave your home and bug out on foot in the dead of winter, you could be setting yourself up for hypothermia and frostbite. Therefore, as part of your preparedness supplies, ensure that you have appropriate footwear and outerwear.

2. Will you be safe until a recovery period occurs?

Another important consideration when deciding to bug in is that history has shown that following a disaster social breakdowns typically occur. If the event is severe enough, the government may decide that martial law is the only recourse and legally has the right to confiscate guns, thus taking away your ability to protect yourself. If you live in a highly populated area, where crime waves and looting could pose a problem, then this could leave you and your family vulnerable to home invasions and a family member could be injured.

Further, you need to really examine whether your home is a safe place to bug in. Is the home far enough off the street to prevent flooding? Is your home built on a solid foundation? Can you defend it if attacked? Do you have a strong local community support (i.e., a well- organized neighborhood watch program, church outreach programs, or friends and relatives that live nearby)?

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when making the decision to bug in or bug out. Population density, community support, probability of natural disasters, etc. are all factors to strongly consider. Dangers occur in both situations if you aren’t properly prepared. Therefore, it is essential that you make an informed decision. In the next part of this series we will discuss the bug in option of this prepper’s conundrum and what will be needed in order to thrive.

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years.

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