Most preppers have never actually been faced with a scenario of bugging out vs bugging in in real life. But we all prepare and imagine what we might do. The freshest emergencies we’ve all heard of lately have been the devastation from recent hurricanes and the massive fires last summer in California. Paradise, California was completely decimated by a fire that engulfed the town and came close to Chico, the neighboring city.
People who witnessed the scene from Chico said the sky went red and then black. Those folks grabbed some clothes, their children and headed west or south, away from the direction of the fire. Some people in Chico chose to bug in and many chose to bug out.
For the people of Paradise, the ONLY choice was to run. One man looked into his back yard as he was drinking coffee and saw flames blowing toward his house. He dropped his cup in the sink and ran out the front door and jumped in his truck. He could feel the heat from the fire at his back. His house was already on fire as he drove away, but he made it. At the time, he had no idea about his wife and kids who were at the school. They also survived and were reunited much later. However, all of Paradise had burned and many citizens died tragically. The fires moved toward the city of Chico.
However, the wind shifted that night, and the brave firefighters of Chico held back the fires right at the city limits of Chico. If the flames had gotten into Chico, this would have been a different story. People who had chosen to bug in would have later tried to leave, and chaos would have ensued. Chico is a college town. There are only 3 ways out and those might have been blocked by fire and gridlock.
The point of this background is that a prepper has to be very aware of surroundings and options. No matter how safe you feel in your day to day life, you have to be able to make a wise decision to bug out or bug in based on your gut instinct and the facts around you.
Most people are probably not going to die from a zombie apocalypse or from gangs gone wild, but rather from mistakes made during natural disasters. You have to know when to hunker down or when to move if the SHTF. As a prepper, we know situations that can come up because of those disasters and after disasters because people get desperate. The key is to be prepared and you may do a combination of both bugging in and out.
The most logical place to stay is in your own home in your own neighborhood. Which is a good reason to get to know your neighbors now before SHTF. You don’t want people you don’t know or worse, don’t like to be the ones you are depending on for additional safety when things get serious. Let’s face it. You have a perimeter beyond your house. Unless you live out in the country, your neighbors are a part of your perimeter and you need to start getting to know your surroundings.
Secure the Neighborhood
Your level of security depends on the neighborhood you have around you. You need to start thinking of the people in the two to three block radius of your home as your team. They may not be preppers, but you can at least build some kind of relationship so that if things begin to go south, they know to look to you for leadership, and you know you can count on each other. Some things to consider to build your community:
- Neighborhood watch
- Exchanging phone numbers
- Sending out fliers of news, etc.
- Neighborhood picnic
- Trunk or treat for the kids in the neighborhood
- Garage sales
- Neighborhood garden – comes in very handy in survival situations
People are just people and they usually come together when it counts. You may need these people someday. And they are for sure going to need you. This is your perimeter if you are bugging in. You need this because you cannot protect your house alone. If a group of people want to storm a house, they eventually can. Survival is better with more people by your side and a larger ground. You’d be surprised how quickly a large group could build a strong perimeter. Better in numbers.
People need one gallon of drinking water per person per day. If you are bugging in this has to happen for every person. There has to be water in supply or a way to get water. Most preppers have water stored. The first thing you have to do when SHTF is to instruct those around you to is to get gallons of water in a hurry. You should have at least 7 days of water just in case. Now if you have running water in your homes when things start to go south and the water supply is good, this is when people should stock up.
Stock up and make sure you have food that will last. If you have that neighborhood garden, then you have a sustainable source of vegetables to last. Hopefully people have been canning tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables. You can also have herbs in your garden for seasoning. But they are more than just for taste.
Herbs are medicinal. Make sure that everyone understands their value. Hopefully someone in your neighborhood has taken on the herb section of the garden by now, but if not, delegate.
If you have a doctor or nurse in your neighborhood, they are probably already on call, but if not, they are extremely important. Make sure when you are bugging in that you have all the necessary first aid supplies you need to take care of any situation that might come up.
When to Bug out
Bugging out should always be a last resort. The home base is safer, has a bed, maybe running water, and is a built-in familiar shelter. Most people may not do well in new, exposed conditions. People who die in survival situations, die more from infection, hypothermia, and dehydration than they do from what they were running from.
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If your neighborhood is under siege, you need to bug out. If you are seeing disarray and looting nearby, and hearing of an increase of crime and police and fire are unable to respond, it may be time to go. In crisis situations, police and fire are in constant demand and they can only be stretched so far. They have to go to the most serious threats. You have to decide if you are safe in your home, with your neighborhood security. If not, it may be time to bug out.
If your home is in danger of fire, flood, or hurricane, you need to bug out. When you have plenty of warning, don’t be the last to leave. The gas lines will be long, the groceries will be gone, and the roads may be jammed. Use your gut instincts. Just because you have a generator, does not mean you can survive a hurricane, fire, or a flood. Look at the Honduras. Look at Paradise. When the sky turns red, run.