Are You Better Off Bugging Out or Bugging In?
Surviving a disaster starts with developing a survival plan. While that plan, just like a military plan, may not survive first contact with the enemy (disaster), it ensures you have some idea what you’re going to do, when a disaster finally does strike. It’s a starting point, with specific action steps to take, so that you don’t have to stop and think about what to do. At the same time, it helps you to determine what you need to do, in order to be prepared.
The most basic question in this survival plan is whether you are going to bug out (evacuate your home and go to a safe place) or bug in (shelter in place). While you should actually have options in your plan for both, one of the two will be your main plan, with the other serving as a backup.
In either case, it must be what works for you and your family, not what works for anyone else. Ultimately, the decision has to be based upon which you think offers your family the best chances for survival. That will depend on your location, level of preparedness, survival knowledge, type of disaster and whether you have a good place to bug out to.
Forty years ago, we were in the waning days of the Cold War. At that time, I lived in the suburbs, to the west of Denver, Colorado, right up against the very foothills of the Rocky Mountains. At that time, the prevailing wisdom was to bug in, going down in the basement, in the event of thermonuclear war. But since I lived literally on the front slope of the first ridge of mountains, it actually made more sense for me to bug out and get on the other side of that mountain. I could do that in 20 minutes, before the first bombs exploded.
Today, it makes more sense for most of us to bug in, rather than bugging out. Staying in our homes provides us with shelter, as well as all of our survival gear and whatever supplies we have stockpiled. It also means that whatever preparations we do can be done right there at home, which is considerably easier than trying to establish a survival retreat elsewhere.
Of course, where your home is becomes a factor as well. There’s a huge difference between living in a rural area or an urban one. Even within an urban environment, there’s a huge difference between living in suburbia and living in the center city. Chances of survival in suburbia are greater than center city, due to the lower population density and the greater available of resources, compared to the population.
Most preppers don’t have the skills necessary to survive for a prolonged period of time in the wilderness. It’s considerably harder to do that, than most people realize. But if you own a cabin in the woods somewhere, that might actually be a better survival retreat for you and your family. Getting out of town and away from other people lessens the risk of being attacked by those other people when they are desperate and out of food.
There are also situations where it becomes necessary to bug out due to the nature of the disaster itself. Residents of Paradise, California were forced to evacuate their homes when the Camp Fire burned their city to the ground. In that case it didn’t matter what plans anyone had for bugging in, following through on those plans would be akin to committing suicide.
So, while it is best to bug in, in most circumstances; it’s also necessary to have a good bug out plan prepared. That plan must include someplace you can go, which won’t be filled with others who are bugging out too, how you are going to get there, and what you are going to do for supplies, once you are there.
That should probably include establishing a cache of supplies you can use, in the event you have to bug out. Many people mistakenly think that there’s lots of food and supplies in rural areas. But that’s not so. Even a farming community is unlikely to have much in the way of food, except one specific food item that’s grown in that area. If it’s the right time of year, the grain silos will be filled with that one item; but that’s all they’ll have.