Be Prepared – Bugging Out

Posted at 4:37 PM (CST) by & filed under General Editorial.

My Dear Extended Family and Friends,

Staying home or leaving in an emergency was discussed briefly in the original “Be Prepared” article,

and again in “Be Prepared – Leave or Stay in an Emergency”.

“Bugging Out” is an expression which likely originated during the Korean War and is used by military personnel for swiftly leaving.  We may not always have the ability in an emergency to remain at home even if we had previously planned and prepared to do so.   It is for this reason this topic needs to be addressed further.  This is evident in this past week’s evacuation of nearly 200,000 people in Northern California in the path of the crumbling Oroville Dam.

If you live in a place where an emergency can be predicted, or is predicable, you have time to plan and being prepared and staying home may be your best choice.  When an emergency arises where you cannot, or are unlikely to survive if you remain at home, your planning to remain at home goes unexpectedly out the window.  It is best to be prepared for any eventuality.  People living in New Orleans had advance warning that Hurricane Katrina was coming and were expected to touch land there.  Many people remained in their homes despite mandatory evacuation orders.  Many could not evacuate because either they did not want to (probably from normalcy bias) or they had nowhere to go other than a shelter.  They had no plan to get elsewhere.  The normalcy bias can be created from repeated and constant warnings, which do not manifest.  This is the “crying wolf” situation which may give people a false sense of security in not leaving from the belief that this situation will be like so many before it, which did not result in dire consequences.

Many emergencies are not foreseeable and arise without warning, like the recent incident with the Oroville Dam.  You may have planned to be able to remain home for a grid down situation or other possible/foreseeable emergency, but probably not for a massive flood which would destroy everything in its path.  Planning to Bug Out, even if you don’t anticipate the need to, is just good planning and common sense.  Not all emergencies may permit us to remain at home.  Not all Bug Out situations are large-scale mandatory evacuations.  Some emergencies that may make you leave where you previously planned to remain could be small-scale emergencies, like a fire in your apartment building.  The previous Be Prepared article regarding staying or leaving in an emergency was more addressed at situations and circumstance in which you could anticipate the danger and also concerned assessing your risks to make an informed decision to leave or stay.  This article addresses the scenario where you previously planned to stay, but you find yourself in a situation where you see no choice but to go, your survival dictates that you leave.

Water, food, clothing and supplies (medications, first aid protection, etc.) should be planned and provided for in advance, even if you don’t see the need for a future Bug Out scenario.  These lifesaving needs must be consolidated into a grab and go bag.  These are called Bug Out Bags (BOB) and should be your first order of preparation even if you don’t plan to leave home.  You can Google recommended and suggested content and carriers for your BOB.   A backpack used as a schoolbook bag isn’t very expensive and they are readily available in most places in the US and most countries.  The content of your BOB is not discussed in this limited article.  Your needs are as unique as you are.  Comprehensive lists can be easily found on the Internet.  Consider your circumstances and do a bit of research.  Looking at the lists prepared by others will give you ideas for your own BOB.  Do you have children, pets, disabled loved ones?, etc.  Every individual in your household, family or group should have a BOB.  This includes children and pets.  These bags are sometimes referred to as GOOD bags.  “GOOD” is short for Get Out Of Dodge.  Regardless of what it is called, your preparedness needs to include a BOB.

Where Be Prepared – Leave or Stay was about what to consider in determining whether to hunker down or bug out, this article is more how to plan and what to do if you must leave.

Have and maintain your BOB.

Have a place to go – don’t just show up unexpectedly and uninvited at Aunt Millie’s rural home.  Be sure you are welcome and expected in a Bug Out situation.

Plan your bug out route.  Know many ways and routes get where you are going, and know them without needing to resort to electronic communications/devices, GPS, cell, etc.  Have a good map and know how to read it.

Plan rest stops along the way.  Have enough fuel for your car already stored and stabilized at home so you don’t need to stop to refuel.  Renew your fuel every few months.  Recycle the stored fuel into your car or lawn mower, and store and stabilize fresh fuel.

If you are in an urban area, you may not have a vehicle of your own.  Depending on how quickly you must Bug Out, know where to rent a car, and have enough cash to pay for it.  If you don’t have the option to rent a vehicle, know how to get as close to your retreat by public transportation and know walking routes in the alternative.  Plan the safest walking routes you can and have a companion or more if possible.  Many people, especially in urban areas are on their own on a daily basis.  There is safety in numbers, and if possible plan an evacuation with others your trust.  If you can’t plan to be with others for whatever reason and you must leave your home, suggestions for travel on foot are below.

If you are bugging out in your car, have your BOB(s) in the car and also water.  Drive with your doors locked and make very effort not to stop if there is a significant exodus from you area.  Your goal is to get to a safe place you hopefully planned in advance.  Plan to travel in a caravan with others if possible.  Have a meet up place en route.  Turn interior lights off in the passenger compartment of your vehicle so that opening a car door will not attract attention if you are traveling at night.  Have stored gas for fueling en route.  Listen to the radio so you may no what the traffic situation is ahead, if possible.  AM radio stations may be best.  Know the emergency radio channels in your area.  Have a compass if you get diverted on a roadway.  Review the personal safety suggestions below for traveling on foot.

If you need to walk to Bug Out you are much more exposed and need to plan differently.

If you are on your own or only with a couple of other people on foot, great care may be needed.  If there are large numbers of people on foot, you may be safer in the crowd.  If you don’t feel the crowd in a safe place or you are on your own, or there are only a couple of you traveling on foot together, your plans may need to be along the lines of stealth travel, which is basically urban/wilderness evasion.  Follow your gut instinct.  If you don’t feel safe in an evacuating crowd – separate from them.

General things to consider:

If you have a dog, teach your dog not to bark.  A dog may seem like an asset, but if you need stealth, a barking dog could be a death knell.  No-bark training can be accomplished with no-bark electronic collars.  If you can’t bug out with your dog or cat, have a humane and responsible plan for them.  Domestic animals can’t survive on their own and are dependent on humans for their care.  This is very hard to write because for most people, our pets are our family members.  If you are on foot, don’t look like you have money or resources.  Looking like you have expensive/great gear will draw a target on your back.  Don’t buy bright colored (red etc.) attire, footwear and back packs.  Don’t look like you are in the military if you aren’t.  Having lots of visible trick kit is asking for a problem.  Don’t plan to cook food.  If you are in a remote enough area you could consider a Dakota pit/ Dakota fire hole, but otherwise, plan cold food for your travels.  If you don’t know what a Dakota fire hole is, allow Google to be your friend.  Cooking and the smell of food attracts the attention of anyone who can smell it.  The sense of smell in humans is highly developed in most people.  Keep moving, and away from others.  Travel off the side of the road whenever possible, and if on rural roads don’t be in view of lone passing vehicles.  Turn electronic devices to vibrate only.  Don’t use flashlights or other lights after dark.  Even a lit cigarette can be seen and smelled at a great distance and give away your location.  Layer clothing.  Have large trash bags to protect your BOB and your clothing if there is precipitation, or to use as a vapor barrier on the ground.  If you enter upon private property, ask if you can stay the night before you start trespassing.  Learn to hide in plain sight.  In general, the less conspicuous you are, the safer you are.  Have cash in various places hidden in your clothing and gear and some hidden in a separate place when you camp for a night.  There are people who camp all over, even in urban parks who can’t be seen because of their skill and stealth.  Don’t stay in the same place for more than one night.  Know some basics about travel evasion as you move toward your retreat.  Do some Internet research for “How to Stealth Camp.”  A pocket edition of the SAS Survival Guide on hand can be a life saver.  Have extra bandages if your feet get sore and have some duct tape in the alternative.  Duct tape is useful for so many things.  If you are on foot, you don’t have a car for transporting water, know where water is available along your route.  Don’t underestimate the hazard of animals, wild or domestic.  When you move around when you camp, and as you travel, try to leave no trace, especially any footprints.  Use your instinct and situational awareness.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Do a lot of due diligence and research because many bug out plans could get you killed.  The suggestions here are for your consideration and further research.  Most of these suggestions are safety related but only you can decide what is best for you in your situation.

Have a Bug Out plan and practice your plan with some dry runs.  Make sure your loved ones know the plan and what to do in an emergency if you need to leave.

Plan for your defense, safety and protection and the protection of those you love with the weaponry of your choice.  Anything is a weapon in knowledgeable and capable hands.

Know that you can get to your safe area or your retreat and let nothing influence or undermine that mindset.  That mindset needs to be focused on preparedness and awareness.  Don’t stress, but be aware.  Thoughtfully assess the risks you may face in traveling.  As a traveler you are vulnerable to the risks of petty crime. Plan your Bug Out and follow your plan, unless circumstances dictate otherwise.  If Bugging out is necessary for your survival – Know that you can do it.  There is nothing more resilient than the human spirit.

Best Regards,

Jim