Bug Out or Shelter In?

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Bug out or Shelter in?)


A.  Is a Bug Out Bag even necessary?
11 February 2010, Death Valley magazine, Do-you-really-need-a-bug-out-bag-part-1, by James G. in Urban Survival

“So you have your Bug Out Bag (From here on referred to as a “BOB”) with enough food and water for 72 hours along with a fire starting kit, first aid kit, maps, medicine, guns, food for your dog, knifes and camping gear so you can last indefinitely anywhere in the world.

That’s great and I am always encouraged to see people who have prepared for emergencies but…

Well let’s start from the beginning, why would one own a BOB in the first place?
To put it simple: In case something happened that was so devastating one would have to immediately and without warning leave their home and travel in such a way you could only bring what you could carry on your person.

I really can’t think of a natural or manmade disaster that would happen so suddenly I wouldn’t even have time to pack a bag.

_1.   BOB for natural disasters:
Hurricanes and Tornadoes
I don’t see anyone looking out the window and seeing a twister heading to their house then grabbing a BOB and running out the front door. For hurricanes you would have some sort of warning so you would have time to get prepared and decide to stay or run beforehand.
Even if your first warning was seeing a twister in your back yard you still wouldn’t grab your BOB and run out the front door of your house.

Sort of the same thing here, most areas have flood warnings, for example a state of emergency was issued for the entire state of Louisiana 2 full days before Katrina even hit land.
So if you had several days warning that your town was going to be underwater you would probably load up your car and go, not just one backpack.

With earthquakes you only have a few second warning before the ground starts shaking. Earthquake prediction itself is a not accurate at all, even in Japan where they have the most expensive and state of the art earthquake warning system they are lucky to give a 60 second warning.
So I also doubt that someone would grab their BOB and run outside when they hear the “in 10 seconds an earthquake will hit” sirens or when the ground starts shaking violently.

_2.  BOB For Man Made Disasters:
Civil Unrest
In just about every instance of major civil unrest there are warning signs way in advance, riots are a result of built up frustration over a situation that someone cannot control. The key part being “Built Up” meaning it takes time for thousands of people to get angry enough to destroy a city.
A good example is the riots after the Rodney King beating police trial, everyone knew that there would be civil unrest if a non guilty verdict was delivered and that was months before the first Molotov Cocktail was thrown.
If you knew that a mob of thousands of people were going to be in an area days in advance you would not be there. if you were there than you would be there out of choice like the Korean storekeepers protecting their property in the above riot.
I doubt that if someone were to look out their window one Sunday morning and see 3 thousand people waving torches and walking down their street they would grab a BOB and run out the front door.

Like natural disasters people are warned in advance, and in the case of a pandemic the warning my even be a year or more in advance. You can’t run from the flu unless you have an island to live on and enough money saved up to pay your bills until it passes.
If during a pandemic you see someone sneeze while walking past you house, again, I doubt that you will grab your BOB and run out the back door of your house.

During a terrorist attack you are ether dead, wounded or unharmed. Generally speaking you will not have a warning that a terrorist attack will take place at a certain place or time with enough certainty to avoid it.
Going on the road immediately after a terror attack is foolish due to follow-up attacks and because you would contribute to already congested streets causing Emergency Services to divert resources to crowd control and civil policing when they are needed for helping the wounded and capturing those responsible.
So if I saw that there was a terrorist attack in my neighborhood or town I would not grab a BOB and run out the front door, if anything I would run to the place of the attack to help.
And if you run outside during or after a biological attack, well let’s just say don’t miss your ride on the short bus later.
And it will also be a cold day in hell when some terrorist makes me run away and abandon MY home.

Nuclear Attack
You have been watching too many movies…
But if a Nuke does go off in your neighborhood then feel free to grab your BOB and run.

Zombie Attack
Grab a BOB and run? Are you kidding? I am staying right here for some much anticipated Zombie Killin’ – Death Valley Zombie Killing Rangers!
Now I have been watching too many movies…

[Above: The kind of storage you could develop for “sheltering-in-place” within the relative safety of your home. There is a chance you’d be able to escape catastrophe with a quantity of food like this and your other gear, if you were set up in a tent and held out for months on end. You are already ahead if you stock up, but stay at home,  house walls are safer than tent fabric. Mr. Larry]

So in my opinion the reasons for having a BOB don’t really pan out, in just about every instance where you are supposed to use one you can’t. And the times you would need to evacuate you would have far enough advance notice that you would have time to pack an entire car or fortify your current location.

Q: So should you own a BOB? Well even with the above info it’s still a personal decision for you.
Q: Is it a bad thing to own a BOB? No.
Q: Is it 100% necessary? Probably not.
Q: Is it fiscally practical? Like should you have used the $500 you spent on equipping your BOB    or bought a natural gas powered fridge for your basement or maybe a case of Southern Comfort instead? I think so.”

[Despite the reasonable argument presented above, does Mr. Larry have a BOB or standby suitcase packed? Yes. Because even the most reasonable and well thought out investment portfolio can never protect you completely by covering all the contingencies.
The unknown future could surprise practically everyone, by not dishing up a commonly assumed disaster scenario. Instead, we could face a Black Swan event, a single event that crashes the system, or a cascading series of events that become catastrophic. These events could arise from scenarios which are presently considered impossible, or at best, only remotely recognized by a few, as a threat. Realistically, if we knew what might happen and-or how severe it might be, we’d be ready for it ahead of time and the event wouldn’t be classified as catastrophic.
The photo below shows an improved shelter-emergency camping situation over setting up directly on the ground. Raising the platform another 3-4 blocks would provide a lot of below board storage area, and add a little extra security. Extending the deck would allow the addition of a screened enclosure for mosquito protection while cooking and eating. The fellow who took the picture wrote of the tent and platform saying, “My home for 3 1/2 months while white-water rafting in West Virginia,” so this is doable.       Mr. Larry]

B.  The Fallacy of Bugging Out – Are You Prepared to Be a Refugee?

19 April 1012, http://www.SurvivalAcres.com
This article has been generously contributed by Survival Acres – Sustainable Living & Common Sense.

Many websites, blogs and forums have covered the topic of bugging out in excruciating detail, all under the assumption that this will be a necessary escape plan for many of us when the proverbial shit hits the fan. This notion is predicated upon the belief that escape and evasion, necessary for your immediate survival will be a (likely) event that you must plan and prepare for now.

However, nothing could be further from the real and actual truth. This cherished myth is a deceptive and dangerous notion that has little place in reality. I’ve long held a stance against this notion because in nearly all cases and all situations, this is a very bad idea with oftentimes fatal consequences. Bugging out is embracing the refugee lifestyle – a very bad idea. Refugees throughout history have fared very badly, suffered extreme hardship and deprivation, with many not surviving the experience. There is a far better alternative to this.

The rejection of the “bug out” mythology flies in the face of the so-called ‘expert advice’ and theory being proposed by many websites and authors, who are also very active in selling products and gear specifically oriented around this concept. You could say quite rightly, that there is indeed a agenda at work here, but it is not one in your best interests. Hold onto your pockets and read on.

Bugging out entails leaving everything you are, and everything you own, and everything you use, day in and day out, and everything you cannot carry or transport with you, behind. Not only behind, but inaccessible, unusable and abandoned. Potentially forever.

How much of our lives, and the things within our lives, do we truly want to abandon? You will also leaving behind all rules of normalcy, the concept of “plenty” and abundance (which also means replacements and repair), all laws, rules, behavior and expectations that we have come to expect from each other and within our society, both good and bad.

Let’s make a list of these things to put this reality into perspective:

You will be leaving behind your job (income), perhaps your family (wife, kids), your home (shelter), your friends (support network), your contacts (other people you know), your bank accounts (money), your credit (ruined), your retirement (pension), your property and everything you own (everything you cannot carry with you), your vehicles (except perhaps one, at least until the gas tank is empty), your future (prospects, employment, credibility, integrity). Don’t forget things also left behind, such as electricity, running water, Internet access, news and information, communications, telephone and even cell service, a warm, dry bed and other ‘essentials’, some more than others.

You will also leave behind all expectations of normalcy, decency, morality and expectations, i.e., a “normal life”,  forever – more on that below.

If you were dependent upon a job, it will be gone. You will have either been fired or laid off with a ruined reference for any future employment. You would not be able to pay your rent or your mortgage, your utility bills or any of your monthly obligations. If they’ve lapsed far enough, then you would be facing bankruptcy and / or forfeiture of your (remaining) assets, or at the very least, their liquidation (if you still have them) in order to survive a few more weeks.

It’s possible your kids or your wife could be gone, having abandoned you for abandoning them or sucked up into the system by the welfare state or child protective services. Your marriage could be in ruins, your family and friends could disown you, but in any case, what would be left of your relationships could potentially be in complete tatters. Worthwhile? You decide.

Your connections to society and civilization would also be destroyed, or certainly damaged, perhaps beyond repair. In effect, you’d be “cashing out” completely and perhaps forever, of the life you’ve lived and starting over. Worthwhile? You decide.

But you’d be alive! (supposedly).

In effect, bugging out will mean you will be totally abandoning your present life in exchange for huddling under a tree in the woods, trying to avoid hypothermia and starvation, wondering where you next meal will come from, and how long you can hold out in your new ‘reality’. And whatever it was that you chose to run away from — will still be there. This is perhaps the most overlooked point of all.

How long could you hold out? Not long. The reasons are many, but they are sound.

The need to bug out is an exceedingly tiny reality — a future event that will probably never happen. But it is not a zero possibility (nothing is, not even an alien invasion). Yet this topic still receives a ridiculous amount of attention despite its extremely low probability, which makes no sense at all. The reason is because escapism is thought to be a ’solution’ versus contributing to the problem. It’s not, as the points above demonstrate.

Running — from whatever the problem is, usually ensures that you are taking your problems with you. Only if your life is in immediate danger does running offer a better opportunity then staying put and dealing with the problem. Running does not make problems go away, it will very often make them much worse.

Running is also thought of as being romantic, adventurous and even ‘brave’ in some circles. Taking on the world all by yourself while you’re on the run is a common theme in movies and books, but has nothing to do with real life. Running means you’re in full-blown survival mode and all bets are off, including all notions of morality, right and wrong, doing the “right thing” and what you can even reasonably expect to happen. Anything can happen if you run, and often does, because you are replacing all of your security for a whole series of things unknown (and insecure).

Did you know that if you abandon the system, then the system will also abandon you? Nobody much talks about this point, but it is true. You will find yourself outside of society, unhelped and unhelpable, unknown, disconnected and even hated for being what you have now become. With no address, connections, no references, no family or friends, nothing with which to help connect you back into society, society will turn its back upon you in fear, and you will be outside of all normal channels of help and assistance, effectively cut off. This is a huge issue, but nobody ever mentions it.

To The Woods
Bugging out is usually assumed to mean “to the woods” where survivors, patriots, militia, end-timers and others will be making “their last stand” (apparently together, whether they like it or not) while roasting hotdogs and marshmallows. Instead, it will be the last man standing over a pile of rotted and half-eaten corpses, since the food and supplies and the notions of ‘living off the land’ will have died out with the last slaughtered deer to be found. And every ’survivor’ will have been hoping all along that nobody has turned them in for poaching.

Campsites, caves and hidey-holes will have become armed, dirty and infested encampments of hungry and desperate men (the surviving women would have long since been forced into prostitution and slavery), all fighting over the remaining scraps to be found (and newcomers showing up) necessary for their survival. Informants, traitors, thieves, murderers, rapists and thugs will quickly become the defining characteristic, with the strongest ruling (or eating) the weak. Those who arrive “first” will potentially be better prepared to prey upon the late-comers or the weak, so if you are still planning on trying this, get your seat at the table early.

Think not? This is exactly what happens during civil wars and internal conflicts when a country turns against itself. The war in Bosnia saw tens of thousands of murders, rapes and thefts as the people turned on each other. It was a fight for survival, for food, for weapons, for money, for women.

It has happened all over the world, and it will happen again. Whenever there is not enough to go around, and whenever there is strife, secrecy and conflict, those involved will resort to whatever methods of survival that they have to in order that they might live another day by whatever means possible. It will be no picnic, no romantic “retreat into the woods” where faith, truth, righteousness or rebellion will flourish and grow. Instead, it will be a bloodbath where the young, old and the weak succumb the quickest. I suggest you bring lots of Tabasco sauce, as it does make the meat taste better.

Bugging out also means you are leaving the norms of society behind. These are the rules, laws, restrictions and expectations that you have come to expect (and largely appreciate) that govern human behavior. Would-be dictators and gang leaders will spring forth from unlikely sources. Since there is nothing to hinder them, then they will allow themselves to be unhindered. Unrestrained, you will find the true nature of what your “friends” can really be. You’ll soon regret not locking up the mad caps among you and taking away their weapons. If food or medical supplies are in short supply, then expect gang on gang, tribe on tribe warfare to begin. Expect slavery, torture, imprisonment and rape. Also expect the nearby communities (cities, towns, villages) to become their prey, as theft, robbery and murder to go hand in hand with their (daily) need for food and other things like fuel and medical supplies.

Inversely, you could also expect smart and prepared communities to expel, exterminate and hunt down these refugees if things get way out of hand, exacerbating an already bad situation. Forget for a moment the military or law enforcement going after these woodland refugees (a topic unto itself), the locals themselves will not be the helping hand that you may have naively come to expect, especially if you or your gang have already trod upon their welcome mat. They’re trying to survive too, and live normal, unfettered lives as best they can. They don’t need nor appreciate you coming along and messing things up. Camping out in their back yard or nearby forests will often pit you against them in violent and lethal ways. And they will be far more adept then you are outlasting you because they will have the infrastructure and support network to do so.

Survivalism is only rarely about ’surviving in the woods’. Rather, survivalism is about living, and staying alive, and how you might do that while experiencing as few hardships as you can. Bugging out to the woods to survive your end-time fantasies is going to be a quick path to death for the majority of people that try this route. There is a better alternative to this.

Staying Alive
Bugging out is never quite what everyone seems to think it is, where living off the land and finding adequate nutrition and staying healthy is grossly overlooked. Many people claim that they can “do it”, yet return year after year from hunting season empty handed. When the beer runs out, they head home. Or when the food is bland or gone, they’re beating tracks as fast as they can to the nearest restaurant. These ’survivalists’ and ‘outdoorsman’ will not survive their voluntary refugee status by bugging out, but they will (if they show up, far from home) be a serious problem for the locals.

You will burn up a tremendous amount of calories (as much as 3 – 4 times as normal) while trying to live off the land. Finding and building shelter, hunting and gathering for food and water, providing heat, establishing security and working and waking / walking for long hours at a time, will cause you to expend far more calories than you will be taking in. Even if you are very well supplied, you won’t be for long (you cannot carry enough). Foraging for food will very rarely provide enough calories versus what you are expending while looking. You will quickly go into a calorie deficit, burning off fats and muscles as your body adapts to your new environment and demands.

I’ve seen lot of ill-informed discussion of ‘nomadic lifestyle’ whereas the individual or group is roaming about, living off the land. This notion is pure b.s., as it is calorie-deficient, ill-advised for security reasons and will increase the risk of injury and health issues. You will need to preserve calories — not expend them (if you can).

Calorie deficiency cannot last very long (mere days in most cases) before your health diminishes and your strength drops. You risk hypothermia, vitamin deficiencies and a higher risk of contracting illness and injury due to your weakened condition. Unless your nutritional needs are met and you are able to also stay warm and dry, avoiding hypothermia (core temperature drop) and frostbite / exposure, then it is just a matter of time before you become incapacitated, unable to effectively help yourself.

There are countless examples of ‘modern day survivalists’ who have found this out, believing that they too could live off the land and survive, but lacking the skills and experience to do so. Additionally, our forests are not the cornucopia of food waiting to be plucked many seem to think, they’re vastly depleted monocultures of trees, lacking sufficient edible foods and wildlife. Some of these people wound up dead, others were found or rescued. All of them learned that foraging for sufficient nutrition and calories is why we have modern farms — it is the most efficient way of meeting our nutritional needs. Even growing your own food at home in a controlled environment (garden) with a plentiful supply of soils, seeds, water, tools and time is extremely difficult, if not nearly impossible for most of us (really) to meet all your daily nutritional needs, all while leading a far less demanding lifestyle then living off in the woods in survival mode. I’ve long been advocating sustainable living and raising your own food, but here in the woods where I live, I cannot even grow half of the food I need to stay alive and healthy, let alone expect to hunt it down. Nor can I grow enough to feed my family, compounding the nutritional needs required.

Bugging out is in nearly all cases, a very bad idea, fraught with danger and pitfalls, destined for failure and doom for those that believe that this will be “their answer” to whatever they’re running away from. It would only be necessary in the most extreme circumstances (extremely rare) and for very extremely short periods of time and for extremely few (skilled) people. This rules out almost everyone else. You would need to return to civilization far sooner than many seem to be planning for. If you did run off into the woods, you’d soon be back (as many Y2K refugees found out). Wouldn’t it then be a better solution to avoid this unnecessary step altogether if you could?

Ultimately, this then is the far better solution — bugging in, back to safety, food, heat, clothing, medical attention and survival. If you truly think that you foresee a need to bug out — then revise your plans to bug in to a new location within civilization where you can find (or work for) food, clothing, shelter, safety and security (including an income) where your survival is a far more sure thing. This is the only long-term answer there really is. You will also be in a much better situation to deal with whatever the problem was in the first place that caused you to leave.

I do not have a bug out bag anymore, since it no longer makes any sense to me to have one. I do have cash, toys, tools, vehicles and other things of interest at my disposal. Disappearing off into the woods is a dead end and it will not work for the vast majority of people that would try this. You would have to come out sooner than you think (if you survive) and return to life within civilization somewhere. You’re not going to live off the land indefinitely, and not even as long as you may think, so it makes far more sense in your ‘escape plan’ to prepare for living someplace else instead.

The entire concept of bugging out truly needs to be redefined to fit within the parameters of reality and how this would really work for the vast majority of people. Leaving for reasons of safety, security, natural disasters or some other valid reason is perfectly acceptable — but where you go and how you will plan on surviving while you are there seems to be where this theory falls flat on its face against reality. Having the means to leave, but having some place to go, where you can find safety, food, shelter and sustainability is key to a true “bug out” plan. Planning on disappearing into the woods is in all probability one of the worst ideas you could attempt. You would have to come out sooner or later, weakened, possibly sick or injured, broke, destitute and impoverished — a true self-made refugee. Basically, a dumb idea all around, one that should only be tried in the most extreme circumstances and only for the adept.
Visit the  Survival Acres Blog and Storable Food & Supplies:

[Don’t put yourself in a situation where you might be found here. Mr. L.]

(end of post)

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