Long before a disaster ever hits, you need to have a plan in place. Will you bug out or bug in? While the answer to this depends somewhat on the actual disaster you face, you need to have a plan either way. There are plenty of pros and cons to each, but if you are ready to decide one way or another in the moment, you’ll be better off than those who wait too long.
Should You Bug Out or Bug In?
The following sections will help you decide what is best for your family and how to prepare for either situation.
Bugging In: What to Consider
Bugging in simply means staying put. If you’re going to be in your home until help arrives, you need to make sure that it is safe for habitation, protected against the elements and against potential intruders. Keep in mind that there are some very unpleasant humans out there who will take advantage of people escaping their homes in a disaster zone. Are you ready to fend these people off?
Other things that need to be taken into account include:
Water: If you don’t have enough water on hand, do you have a way to get more? It may be several days or even weeks before you get help to your area, so if the water is contaminated, what’s the plan?
Food supply: Are you set up for food for the long term? It can take a while for aid to get to disaster zones, possibly longer than anticipated and you’ll want to have enough food on hand and a way to prepare it.
Medical care: Whether or not you have family members with medical needs, you’ll need to consider this area. If you stay put and bug in, you’ll likely be entirely responsible for your own health. Are you prepared to handle sprains, cuts, broken legs, fevers, and more?
Heat: What if you have an emergency in the middle of the winter? Are you prepped for cold weather without electricity? Having a source of heat, whether you’re bugging in or out, is always a good idea.
Communications: If the phones and internet go down, how will you communicate with the outside world? Do you have a radio or other method of getting in touch with family members or the authorities?
Scenarios Where You May Choose to Bug In
- Political unrest
- Major storm/blizzard
Bugging Out: What to Consider
If you’re planning on heading out if things go south in your area, you need to have bugout bags for kids and for yourself. These should have everything you need to survive for at least 72 hours, as well as barter supplies or money, and important paperwork. It’s easy enough to pack these bags and keep them in a handy place, in case you decide to leave. However, there are more issues at hand.
Strength and ability: If you have small children, they won’t be able to walk too far. The same goes for anyone in your family who is out of shape. If a child can’t walk, who is going to carry them? How will you handle the additional load? Who will carry the survival goods?
Bug out location: It’s never a good idea to leave the house without a plan. You need to know not only where you’ll go, but how to get there. Remember that it’s not realistic to travel long distances if you’re on foot with kids.
Vehicle condition: Are you relying on a vehicle to get you out of the area? It needs to be ready to go at all times, with repairs up to date and supplies prepped for repairs on the way. You may even want to take a defensive driving course to ensure you can handle the adverse conditions you may face.
Traffic conditions: In most disaster situations, you’ll be faced with the possibility of hitting major traffic, running out of gas, and getting stuck. Make sure you have mapped out at least one alternative route to your bug out location if you’re leaving in a car.
Scenarios Where You May Choose to Bug Out
- Forest fires in the area
- Economic crash
Making the decision to bug out or bug in can be pretty challenging. You need to be prepared for either eventuality, but knowing what to expect in either case is essential. Only then can you make an informed choice.
What’s your main family disaster plan? Are you going to bug out or bug in?