Bug In or Bug Out? Should I stay or should I go?

You will want to be prepared with a plan when disaster strikes. Let’s talk about different scenarios and determine whether you should shelter in place or head out. Bug in or bug out? Should I stay or should I go?

Prepper Lingo Crash course:

Before we begin, I’ll give you a quick crash course on the prepper terms you’ll see in this article.

  • Bug Out Location, BOL: This is the safe place that you can retreat to when disaster strikes and your home is no longer safe.
  • Bug Out Bag, BOB, 72-Hour Kit: Your bug out bag is packed and full of everything you need to survive on the move.
  • Prepper: A person who has planned for a disaster and is prepared to survive. That’s you and me, btw.
  • SHTF: This acronym stands for Sh*t Hits The Fan. It is a quick way to say that the world has collapsed due to a catastrophic event.
  • MRE: “Meals Ready To Eat” are nutrient dense, compact, and lightweight food rations.

Those are all the terms you need to know to understand this article, but I have talked about it more in depth in my “20 Prepping Terms” article.

Let’s talk about Bugging Out

Bugging Out means that you evacuate the area when disaster strikes and your current location is no longer safe. If you plan on bugging out, you must have a safe BOL (Bug Out Location) to retreat to and have your BOB (Bug Out Bag) fully stocked and ready to go. In this scenario, you must be prepared to leave with no expectation of seeing the things that you leave behind.

In reality, the bug out may only be temporary during a short term disaster, but I think of it as a permanent solution. If I prepare as if I’m never coming back, then I’m going to make sure that I have everything that I need to survive a worst-case scenario.

You will want to move to a predetermined location that you have hopefully prepared in advance.

Bug in or bug out? Should I stay or should I go?

Bugging Out Essentials Checklist:

Each person will have their own specific needs for their bug out bag, but these are essential supplies that everyone should have on hand.

  • Food and water. Remember to pack seasonings and condiments. You may be bugging out, but it doesn’t mean that your food has to be boring and bland.
  • Shelter. A tent, yurt, or a tarp with some rope and duct tape work well.
  • First aid kit that has ointments, bandages, and a suture kit. Make sure that you know how to use and apply everything in your first aid kit. For that, please take a look at my complete first aid skills guide.
  • Sanitation and hygiene supplies. This will help you to stay healthy, clean, and comfortable.
  • Flashlight, batteries, and fire-starting kit. These are all very necessary survival essentials when you are on the move.

Some Likely Bug Out Scenarios

Here is a list of situations when bugging out may be the best course of action. Every situation is different and you will have to use your best judgement to decide whether you should stay or go.

  1. Natural disasters. Sometimes Mother Nature decides to get some action and we are faced with wildfires, floods, volcanic eruptions and other destructive natural forces. These are all good reasons to bug out and relocate to a safer location. Be aware of potential natural disasters that could affect your region, create an evacuation plan, keep your BOB close. Listen to emergency broadcasts for weather warnings and evacuation instructions. I use the emergency alert system, Nixle. It keeps me updated on local crimes and alerts.
  2. Pandemic. Is anyone else still concerned about the pandemic? As we recently learned, a viral outbreak is just one lab rat away. Biological weapons are a real threat and access to medical care may dwindle with rising costs and political posturing. As a result, disease rates could increase in unprotected areas. Keep an eye on the news for possible signs of attacks and waves of disease in your community. You may be able to stay safe if you bug out in an area with a lower population, better healthcare, and plentiful supplies.
  3. Cyber threats. Not so long ago, cyber attacks almost seemed laughable. Unfortunately, cyber terrorism is now a real threat. It’s even more serious than just identity theft and phishing scams. Hackers can shut down power grids, damage infrastructure, and even disable safeties on nuclear power plants. Civilization as we know it, could come to an end on the whim of a disgruntled programmer. Bug out when the hackers attack and go off grid in a safer location.
  4. Civil Unrest. Civil unrest often follows a primary disaster. It could be in response to a natural disaster or man-made trouble and the resulting chaos could be deadly. People located in urban areas are especially vulnerable to civil unrest scenarios. If there is looting, riots, and general disobedience, you should bug out before things get worse. If you are caught off-guard by a surprise uprising, be prepared to protect yourself as you move to safer ground. It’s best to try to move as stealthily as possible and to try to be invisible. I am going to write an article on stealth and a guide to making a ghillie suit.
  5. War. During a war, civilians often become collateral damage. This means that you have to defend yourself and find a safe place to survive. Safety is relative in the case of a nuclear war. Nuclear fallout will become a significant concern and survivors of the first wave will start scrounging for scraps. If you can get out before the bombs fall or shortly after, you will be in a better position to survive.

When you bug out remember to operate as if you are not coming back. You won’t be able to “run home and quickly grab something.” That may be out of the question and downright dangerous due to civil unrest, gas shortages, road blocks, lava flow, or a million other uncomfortable reasons. Plan accordingly.

You are probably thinking that if you have all of your gear, guns, and supplies at home then you should just stay there. Remember that you want to be in the safest location. There are definitely times when bugging in will be the safest option.

Let’s talk about Bugging In

You should consider bugging in if travel is too dangerous and you are well prepared for the emergency in your current location. If you are bugging in, it means that you are ready to “hunker down” and “ride it out.”

Bugging In Essentials Checklist:

The biggest difference between bugging in and bugging out prep is the volume of supplies you will be able to keep on hand. If you are staying in place, then you won’t have to worry about transporting your supplies. In the case of bugging in, you are only limited by your available space.

  • Emergency Food. Your food choices can be significantly better when you’re bugging in. Make sure that you have a significant amount of nutrient dense foods with a long shelf life, on hand.
  • Emergency Water. Make sure that you have a quality water supply that you can rely on regardless of the disasters or conditions.
  • First Aid Kit. You will want to have a quality first aid kit and knowledge of basic medical skills.
  • Backup Light and Heat. Stock lanterns, flashlights, and batteries. If you have room, a generator could be a good investment.

If you decide to bug in, prepare your bug in location to the best of your abilities. You may need to board up your windows and doors if there is extreme weather or looting.

Likely Bug In Scenarios

Any of the scenarios listed in the bug out section can also be reasons to bug in, depending on your circumstances. You will need to assess your situation and use your judgement to decide whether it is more beneficial to stay or go.

  1. Economic collapse. Economic turmoil can cause riots and other human problems, but bugging in may be a better option if you are in a position of self-sufficiency and can adequately defend your home and supplies. This is especially true for rural preppers, but urban preppers can also tough it out if they are well-prepared. If you can go off-grid, produce your own food, and defend your home from looters, then bugging in is a good option.
  2. Viral outbreak. It may be too dangerous to venture outside of your home due to the risk of infection. This is especially true if the contagion is transmitted through the air. If the virus is airborne, then it is time to bust out the plastic sheeting and duct tape and remain safe at home.
  3. Chemical or biological attack. If there is a chemical biological terrorist attack, then it may be best to stay inside of your home and ride it out. This is a situation where exposing yourself to the outside air could be deadly.
  4. Natural disaster. While most natural disasters have warning signs, you may find yourself in a situation where you couldn’t evacuate before things got nasty. If a natural disaster is already underway and your escape route is blocked, then bugging in may be your safest option. As humans we are squishy and breakable. It is best to stay at home unless your location is in danger of total annihilation.
  5. Nuclear disaster. It is best to get away from the fallout as quickly as possible. If things escalate too quickly and the affected area is so broad that you cannot escape the radiation without suffering deadly consequences, then you will have to remain in place.
  6. Civil Unrest. Rioting and looting can happen without warning. If you are outside when the crowds begin to surge, you could get seriously injured or killed. You usually can spot the signs with a keen eye before things spin out of control, but you can’t always be on watch. If there are violent activities happening outside your door, it’s best to stay put. When the movement dies down, you can reassess and decide if it’s time to bug out before the next wave hits.

If you don’t have a safe place to go, then stay put.

Bug in or bug out? Should I stay or should I go?

In an emergency, it can be challenging to decide if you should stay or go. Keep the following in mind:

  • Resources. If your stash is depleted or compromised, then it may be best to grab your BOB and move to a predetermined location with plentiful resources. The best case scenario would be if you’ve set up secure prepper stashes on your route ahead of time.
  • Destination. Where will you go and can you get there safely? If it’s safer to make your way to a more secure location with more resources, then it’s time to bug out.
  • Environment. Natural disasters, floods, and gas leaks can make any location unsafe. Humans are also a threat in a survival situation so watch out for riots and violence. If danger is escalating near your current location, then you better bug out before your escape route gets blocked.
  • Unprepared. The cold hard truth is that even the best preppers may find themselves in a situation they weren’t prepare for. Sometimes you need to bug out.
  • Threat has increased. A new threat can pop up even if the disaster is over.

SHTF Survivalism Should you Bug In or Bug Out?

I hope that you feel well-equipped with the knowledge you need to decide if you should bug in or bug out.

Would you prefer to bug in or bug out? What are your concerns? Please comment below to share!

See you soon!

? Alana