Anyone who doesn’t have his or her head buried in the sand has probably considered what they would do if something happened and they had to flee their home. Sort of like when people imagine what they would do if they won the lottery.

The common refrain is “I’ll bug out.” But clearly it’s far more complicated than that.

Unless your house is on fire, bugging out in an emergency should be akin to pulling the trigger in a confrontation. As in it is something that’s done as truly the last resort – because nothing good happens after you execute that trigger pull.

Just like people who reach for their gun at the first sign of trouble, some people seem inclined to “bug out” from their homes the moment the going gets tough.

For some, especially apartment dwellers in big cities, bugging out early might be a good call for them.  Provided they have a place to go where they will be welcomed.

On the other hand, staying at a private residence, around neighbors you know, will prove better than leaving – for most folks.  Especially those in sub-par physical shape, overweight, older or disabled.  Or those with kids, pets, or other special needs.  Or those with family nearby.

At home you (hopefully) have a handle on who’s who and what’s what. You have all of your clothes, tools and your supplies right there. Home represents normalcy psychologically as well. What’s more, if you’ve made half an effort to get to know your neighbors and shown yourself to be an asset, you’ll have help nearby.

Build relationships and communications with the good people nearby and identify the dregs to watch. Be polite to the dregs, but have a plan to, ahem, “deal with them” if they become… dangerously uncivilized.

“How many of you know your neighbors by their first names?” Nick Klementzos asked at a GSL Chicagoland meeting back in early 2020.

Nick encouraged everyone to build relationships with their neighbors. Learn their names, their kids’ names and even their pets’ names. Get their phone numbers and email addresses and share yours with them. Assess whether they are a potential asset or a liability in “challenging” times.

Help your neighbors put you into the asset column. Whether or not you let them know you’re a gun owner is up to you. But if you do, offer to take them (and their kids) to the range sometime. Either way, let them know if they need help they can call upon you.

He gave the example of his neighbor needing someone to dog-sit their mutt after their usual dog sitter became temporarily unavailable. “Sure, I’ll watch your dog,” he told them, assigning his teen daughter a task she truly enjoyed.

Hey, it’s summertime. Buy some cookies, then share them with the neighbors as you introduce yourself – or build upon previous introductions.

As Mr. Klementzos suggested, get to know your neighbors. Later, among the best and most dependable friends, family and neighbors, make agreements to look out for one another and provide assistance during an emergency.

Then if there is a multi-day power outage for whatever reason and things get worse as food and fuels become scarce, you’ll have identified allies nearby instead of unknowns and suspicions.

No matter if it’s a housefire, tornado or a local or regional disaster such as an earthquake, good friends and neighbors (and family) will prove priceless. Allies can turn life-threatening problems into inconveniences. Especially if traditional first responders become unavailable or greatly delayed and everyone is pretty much on their own.

Allies in your neighborhood and the support they provide are a precious reason to stay put during a crisis and not “bug out.”

But let’s say you decide to execute Plan Bug Out.

You load up the car, van, SUV, or Lord forbid the Tesla, and “bug out.”

Finding the hotels full – or unwilling to take your credit card because the internet’s down – will pose your first challenge. So then you decide to stop and “camp” at a local, county or state park. There you find it loaded with mostly ill-prepared folks, some of whom are desperate.  Very desperate.  

Desperate people do desperate things.

The ethically-challenged desperados will eyeball your “stuffed to the gills” vehicle and smile. While you’re taking a leak, they’ll bust out a window or two and help themselves to your stuff. Maybe truly derelict sex offenders will help themselves to your son or daughter, too.

Oh, you’ll shoot the bad actors? Have you considered they will likely be armed too? Maybe with rifles or shotguns – and you, if like most, haven’t practiced for months with your pocket carry piece. How’s that gonna play out for the home team?

Okay, you’ll skip the state parks and rest areas and sleep in the woods somewhere. Great. Got tent? Know how to set it up? How many nights have you tent camped in December or January anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line?

Whatcha gonna eat? What will the property owners think of squatters like you camping on his/her/their (or whatever their preferred pronouns) property? Don’t expect a warm apple pie or a bottle of wine as a squatter-warming gift.

Nah, if you don’t have a pre-planned destination not too far away where you will be welcomed and a way to get there that doesn’t involve an Interstate or crossing bridges over major bodies of water, you should start planning – TODAY. In addition to getting into better physical shape (a tall order, I know) and beefing up your emergency food supplies and potable water solutions, build those relationships as part of your layered preparedness plan.

Have a way to communicate with your circle of friends that doesn’t involve a cell phone or the internet. Yes, that means either smoke signals or radios, so if you don’t have a radio, you best be getting one and figuring out how to use it to communicate. Or you better get good at waving a blanket over a smoky fire.

The alternative to planning ahead? Finding members of your family dead, or traded or sold into sex slavery, or maybe sent to a government camp as refugees.

For most folks who aren’t apartment dwellers, staying home is probably the best course of action in any emergency except under the worst of the very worst conditions.

Plan accordingly and work towards improving your “stay at home” option. At the same time, flesh out plans for where to go in case of fire or other emergency forces you out of your home. Just don’t plan on coming back to your residence if you leave when things are really bad, because if nobody’s home, it’ll probably get looted at best, and burned to the ground at worst.

One thought on “Are you planning on Bugging Out? You might want to re-think that…”
  1. The most powerful words in this article is this statement; [The common refrain is “I’ll bug out.” But clearly it’s far more complicated than that.]

    This my opinion. Bugging In/Bugging Out, Escaping and Evading are in response to different types of threats and require different skill sets.

    Nuclear War Survival survival also requires a specific level of Knowledge.

    Most people understand the need for food and Potable Water. But the need for medical for severe trauma is often is overlooked.

    Its common practice for some gun owners have a Blow Out or Gun shot, first aid trauma kit.

    I STRONGLY suggest that everyone purchase a Blow out kit or IFAK Pouch (with Blood Stopper) for Severe Trauma for every member of your Family.

    We live in a state and nation where you or a member of your family maybe attacked at anytime for no reason at all.

    Preparing NEEDS to be a priority for everyone. Having a plan in place for a designated gathering point or signal/Code for your family is essential.

    For those wanting to go a step beyond; Building and Maintaining a 5-10 program should be considered as part of your preps.

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