February 19, 2018

Bugging Out or Battening Down?

Bugging Out or Battening Down

I am going to use the acronyms here, if you don’t know what they are please see the Acronyms, Mottos and Phrases page.

Some of the favorite topics in preparedness are BOB’s and BO. In this article I want to cover the decision to BO vs. battening down (staying put). I have seen some people on forums say that they will just head out to the woods if they have to BO, or hide out in a Costco, Wal-Mart or a similar store. I’ll cover those options and why I think they are a bad idea.
Batten Down

Some people use the term “Bug In”, I prefer the term “Batten Down”, it’s the term we used in the Navy to secure the ship and get ready for rough waters. We would batten down the hatches (doors) and stow or batten down any loose gear that could go flying as we got ready for severe weather and rough seas.

While I think everyone should have a BOB and a BO plan, I think that unless you own a BOL, battening down is a better option 95% of the time. Unless I have a retreat at a BOL and I must ride out a rough time. My home is the place I would want to do that from. It is where my family is comfortable and depending on the reason why we are battened down, this sense of normalcy will be huge. Also unless you have a BOL or a cache somewhere, this is where your preps will most likely be and BO with all of your preps is likely never going to be an option for most people.

There are things you can do to make your home more secure (or batten it down), both now and if the stuff hits the fan.

Here are a few tips for now, I may write an article about this at another time.

This might be a stretch for some of you but think like a dirt-bag; look at your house like a criminal would. Look for the easiest ways in, look for any spots someone could hide near a door or window and remain unseen from people passing by. If you see any obvious weaknesses find way to secure or mitigate their weakness.

Most doors are secured to the door frame but not to the stud. You can replace the existing screws with 3” screws, making the door much more resistant to being kicked in.

Dogs are very effective deterrents. Big dog aren’t necessary all the time. The little yappers are just as good because the goal is noise not attacking.

If you have a deck door you should have a board that rests in the full length of the track. I don’t know if this is true or if it can still be done, but I have read that it is possible to knock a deck door off it’s track to open it. This is done by just opening it an inch and lifting it and pushing in, this is the reason I say the board needs to be the full length of the track, so it cannot open that inch.

This will keep the door from being opened until the board is removed. It might keep thieves out in normal times, but having a plan to secure that big pane of glass is a good idea, in case things get ugly but not bad enough to BO. The most some of us will be able to do is keep the shades drawn and barricade it with furniture.

Outside lights that are triggered by motion sensors are another good idea.


Bugging Out

Bug Out Plans

There could always be something that forces you to BO, such as wildfire, floods, attack of killer tomatoes (hehehe), civil unrest, etc. When should the decision to BO be made? There are so many variables that there isn’t just one right answer. You may need to have different thresholds and when the circumstances are reached you bail. For instance, if there is a hurricane heading your direction but it is two days away and may lose strength, you might decide to stay until it is twelve hours away. Another threshold may be a true pandemic (not H1N1) with high morbidity and mortality, for this you may decide to either impose a self-quarantine or BO early.

There are two basic types of evacuation orders, immediate and time to react. Authorities will only tell people to evacuate as a last resort. If there is an order given, it should be followed.

For the types of BO when you have time to react, you may desire to take more then just your BOB. Now is the time to make a list of what will go with and where it is, not when stress is high and you’re on the way out the door. These types of events would be hurricane, flooding , wildfire some distance away, but headed in your direction.

I also think there should be a plan in place for an immediate BO. This is the catch all, no time to grab the kitchen sink, you simply get the BOB’s and go. For these things you just have to leave when it is safer to be on the road than it is at your home. These types of events would be something like tornado, near by fire, terrorist attack and other things that don’t give much of a warning.
BOB’s or 3 day kits

a BOB is the same as a 3-day kit, they should be used to get you to the BOL and support you for 72 hours. Unless you have a stocked BOL, your BOB is not going to have enough supplies to sustain you and your family for any length of time. Read here for basic BOB (Bug Out Bag) or 3 day kit list.
Should I stay or should I go?

If you have a BOL then you might decide to BO sooner. If you go too soon and it turns out that you didn’t need to, you might be out a few days of vacation. There is a catch 22, if you wait too long, there could be a lot of traffic doing the same thing.
No BOL? You still have options

Since you don’t own a BOL you’re not tied to one piece of land. Pick a destination in each direction; north, south, east and west. This gives you two to three directions to avoid trouble. I would pick a smallish town, big enough to have a hotel and use the hotel as the BOL. Why a hotel and not a camp or park? If your family is separated, you can call the hotel and see if they are there, you can tell the attendant that your family is on the way and leave a message for them. Once there you can either rent a room, or move on to another temporary BOL.

If things get bad enough to force you to bug out, the most important thing is that you’re no longer at home. Keep in mind that you’ll not be the only one with the idea. That’s why I think a small town is a good choice. It’s important to have a plan ahead of time, as you won’t want to be paralyzed with trying to figure out where to go.
Special Needs

If you have someone with special needs in your life, you are already aware of the extra care they need on a day-to-day basis. When planning a BO or batten down procedure, there may be other things to consider. FEMA has a document called People with Disabilities and Other Access and Functional Needs.
Documentation Package

Here is an idea that I got from Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast. Make a travel folder and stick one in each vehicle. Inside this folder you should have three destinations with three routes to each destination. Label them destination 1, 2, 3 and route A, B, C. Now if you and your family are separated, you can call them and tell them to head to destination 2, route 3 and there is no confusion about not knowing where to go.

I also think that you should include information like local towing companies and your insurance agent’s phone number. This is information that you will want quickly and may not have someone to call to give it to you.
Other Important Papers

It is a good idea to have important papers in one easy-to-grab place. These could include: birth certificates, social security cards, passports, insurance papers and family photos.

As responsible pet owners we need to make plans for our pets. We recently got all of our dogs micro-chipped. This is a good idea now and in an emergency. It could prove essential should one wander away. For their safety having a travel kennel could prove essential. If you’re bugging out, time is of the essence; you do not want to spend it chasing a scared pet. Keeping pets’ shot records with the family’s important papers is also a good idea.

Bad Ideas

Into The Woods

I have seen plenty of people who think that if worse came to worse they would just head for the great outdoors. In this scenario you don’t have a stocked BOL so you probably have your BOB’s and maybe some extra food. How long will it all last? How skilled in the outdoors are you? How much food can you forage, fish or hunt for your family.

I love those survival shows on the Discovery channel, the ones where either a single person or a group of people are “stranded” and they need to survive until they are found or make it back to civilization. I’m guessing there is some element of Hollywood in them but I have only seen a few episodes on all of the shows combined where people got any food, let alone enough food to feed them for any length of time. Sometimes they would go a week with only eating one or two small meals.

Now consider the time of the year. In late spring, summer and early fall, sleeping in a tent here in Minnesota would be fine, but late fall through early spring, I don’t even like being here at all, never mind sleeping in a tent or trailer.

The number one reason this is a bad idea is; if you thought of it so did a huge number of other people. If you know of the perfect spot others probably do as well and when food runs out in suburbia, people will start looking in the places they go hunting and fishing. There are certain people in the right situation that this may be a good option for but for the vast majority this is a bad idea.
Hiding Out at a Store

While I don’t believe anyone reading this would ever see this as an option there are those that think Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, Wal-Mart or stores like these would be a great place to hide out in if things ever got really bad. The main reason this is a bad idea is because it’s illegal. if it is a true survival situation, I think you can “commandeer” needed items for survival. Like I said, “I think” this is something that you’ll need to check in your area. As we saw during Katrina, there are those among us who think 60” TV’s are a survival item.

Let’s pretend that it wasn’t illegal or immoral. Its still a bad idea because; if you thought of it so did anyone who ever shopped there. The supplies will not last long. The shelves will be empty quickly. Since we’re pretending, let’s pretend that it isn’t illegal and you had a store with minimal competition. There are still too many entries to secure to make this viable without a small group.

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