For the uninitiated, bugging out is just survivalist-speak for evacuating. In the above example, something would happen that would make remaining in that city a poor choice. It could be a nuke, break down of law and order, some disease, etc. So bugging out means Getting out of Dodge.
Of course there are more subtle nuances associated with the term. And, I think, dangerous misconceptions.
Bugging out is a contingency. It should never be Plan A. Plan A should be to shelter in place (.gov-speak) – stay home and weather out the storm. Home is where the heart is; home is where your goodies are; home is where your network of friends and associates and contacts is; home is where you already have a feel for what is going on; home is generally where you are welcome.
“But Joe” some whine, “I live in a really bad place, a dangerous place, a scary place.”
“Then move” says I.
“But I can’t. I have a job, I have family commitments, I have...”
Yeah, yeah. Life is all about choices and choices have consequences. It’s also about trade-offs and risk/benefit analysis. It’s a GREAT job, and you personally assess the risk as low so you are living there. You also know that it is a scary world and TSjustmayHTF so you want to be prepared.
Got it. You are there for now and may want to be somewhere else when something bad happens.
At least give Plan A serious consideration. Bugging out is not a panacea. Essentially (and for at least part of the time) you will be a refugee. This sucks. Trust me on this.
Successfully bugging out will require planning and preparation.
First off, you have to know where you want to go. You cannot flee blindly into the night. Well you can – but you’ll die. Or end up in some Super Dome and wish you had. Make sure you will not be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. This is a whole other subject – for the purpose of this post, just make sure you will be welcome and that you have stuff there to support life.
You will have stuff there, right? Were you picturing carrying everything you’d ever need in your SUV like some latter-day pioneer with a Conestoga? How far do you think you’ll get weighed down with all those goodies? You cannot depend on what you are bringing with you – because you might end up at your final destination with just the clothes on your back. BoVs break down, get caught in traffic jams, or roadblocks, or attacked by raiders.
Your BoV (oh, I’m sorry – that’s Bug out Vehicle) is your primary means of fleeing from point A to point B. Keep it in good repair. Keep it fueled. Keep extra fuel on hand. See, when it’s time to go – it will be time to go. You should have a packing list, have your bug out gear pre-packed, and have practiced loading it several times so you can do so quickly and efficiently. You won’t have time to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. If you do – you will get stuck in that big bad city or in the traffic jam full of people just like that. Stuck is the operative word. Remember the news shots of the jam preceding hurricane Katrina?
So you will have to leave early. Before everyone else decides to. This will require two things: Warning and Decisiveness. You will need to keep your nose to the wind – you will need to maintain awareness and monitor several news and information sources so that you receive ample warning of impending doom. You will also need to be decisive. You will have to be prepared – mentally and emotionally as well as physically – to drop what you are doing and move out smartly. Failure to do so will see you stuck with the masses in a bad place.
This will create false starts. You may take off at 1030 hrs (1030 a.m.) directly from work only to discover 12 hours later that it was a false alarm. You will still want that nice paying job in the city when you return, right? Better save up on sick and annual leave. Better come up with some excuses now for use later. Explosive diarrhea is a good excuse – once.
Pick several bug out routes. Drive them now. Have primary, alternate, contingency and emergency routes. I wrote about PACE a while ago – scroll down. Figure out now where potential choke points are. Have a plan to smoothly transition from one route to another.
Have a plan to smoothly transition from mode of transportation to another. Vehicles break down, they get stuck, they get kinetically disabled. Bicycles on a rack in the back may be a viable alternative. The load you are able to carry just got a lot smaller. Your speed just got slower – which means more time on your bug out route. Plan for it. You may have to walk. This is where BoBs come in. Have them packed and accessible for rapid egress from your disabled/stuck vehicle.
You may want to establish caches now of fuel, food, medical gear and so on along your bug out routes. All part of PACE planning.
If you are taking more than one vehicle (a good idea) you will want to have planned and practiced convoy procedures. Think communications. Think bump plans (redistributing people and vital supplies in the event one vehicle goes down). Think actions at stops, spacing between vehicles, yada, yada, yada.
Bugging out just got a whole lot more complicated didn’t it? I told you it wasn’t a panacea. If this is one of your plans (and it should be) then you have a lot of work to do now to make sure it works for you and yours later.
If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prepared Americans for a Strong America