December 17, 2017

Challenging Bug Out Myths

Challenging Bug Out Myths

Over the years I have read several blog posts, and statements in many different preparedness/survival forums about bugging out that I want to challenge today. I call them “myths” because, as I see it, they are just not true. The trouble with these myths is that the person saying them might not mean it as a hard and fast rule but the person new to preparedness who reads it, might not understand that.
Myth One: You Have to Bug Out

This is probably the biggest of the myths; that there are many reasons that you’ll have to bug out. The truth is that for the vast majority of scenarios, you will be safer, more secure, and more comfortable by battening down and staying home. Home is where your family feels the safest. It is where you have a routine and familiar surroundings. In dire times, those two things go a long way to uphold our mental wellbeing.

Home is also where all of your preparations are and where you’re best suited to face the most “come, what may” scenarios.
Myth Two: You Don’t Need a Bug Out Plan

This is the other camp that says they won’t ever bug out and don’t need a bug out plan. As I mentioned above, in the vast majority of scenarios, staying home or “bugging in” is a better solution. To me, this means that the events you do need to bug out for are much more serious. Events that could push me from my home are things like imminent fire, flooding, a prolonged grid down or civil unrest in an urban and some suburban areas. When do you know you should bug out? When you would be safer leaving than staying. The events I described could be extremely dangerous, so not having a plan to put in action, having BOB’s and a plan for bugging out, is equally as dangerous.
Myth Three: You Need a Bug Out Location (BOL)

The majority of preppers don’t own a separate piece of property that they consider their BOL. The truth is, you don’t need one. Sure, it might be ideal, but it isn’t needed. Below is a way to develop multiple locations. That way you have four routes out of your area. First, if you have a relative or friend outside of your general area, consider asking them if you could head there.
If you don’t have another location to go, I recommend finding a town that’s big enough to have a hotel but small enough to be inconspicuous, which is thirty to sixty miles away. I say “large enough to have a hotel” because that is the landmark. If they have a room available, stay if you like. If you want to continue on, do so. Do this going north, south, east and west. Now develop a couple different routes to each location and label the routes “1” and “2”. We purchased plastic foldable maps and have one in our BOBs and one in the vehicle.
I think each car should have a map and the directions to each location. If you’re at work and your spouse is at home when you need to bug out, you can send a text or email that says “North, route 2”. Now you know where they are going and the route they’re taking to get there.
Myth Four: BOB’s Need to Last 72 Hours

Many times BOB’s are referred to as “72 hour kits”. The purpose of a BOB should be to get you from your home to your BOL and to last a minimum of three days, or 72 hours. As I have stated above, the events that would actually force me to bug out are pretty serious. If I have to leave, there is a good chance it won’t be safe for me to return to my home in 72 hours.
My point is that you might have to make do for longer than 72 hours. Keep that in mind when stocking your BOB. You don’t know if you’ll find a working ATM while you’re out so you might consider keeping cash or precious metals in your BOB so you can restock while you’re bugged out.
Myth Five: Your BOB Needs to be as Light as Possible

There have been more posts and comments about this than any of the other myths. Anytime someone makes a forum thread and shows their BOB, there are always people who make a comment like “Good luck carrying that”. I always wonder where these scoffers are planning on bugging out to. Me? I plan on driving. If there is some type of event that keeps me from driving, I can think of five ways to carry my BOB and other gear as well.
Maybe they plan on heading to the deep woods? For 95% of people, that is a bad idea. Even if you are a primitive skill master and can make do with a knife and a dirty look, what about your family?

Since the events that you actually need to bug out for are severe and you don’t know when you’ll be able to go home, what will you do in the woods when your supplies run out?

My thoughts are that if I do have to bug out there is a pretty serious reason. Since I don’t know how long I might need to be away, I want to make sure I have enough gear to take care of my family. I’m more concerned with making sure I have what we need than I am with the weight of the pack. On the very slim chance I can’t drive and have to carry it, I can find means to negate the weight.
My Bug Out Plan

If there is something that forces us to leave, we’ll grab the BOB’s and other gear and load the truck. We’ll then head to one of our locations and keep an eye on the situation. If something happens that would force us to walk, we have a wagon and would find a shopping cart nearby as well. In the winter we have a couple children’s sleds we could load up and tow behind us.
I hope this helps clear up some misconceptions about bugging out. I look forward to reading your comments.

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Rules for Extended Company

snowed in

I recently received an email from a new reader asking about what rules one might put in place when extended family comes to stay, either because they were ill prepared, or are forced to leave their home for some reason.

Andrea said “…much would depend on what type of emergency situation we were facing, but that having some guidelines on things such as how much water, food was to be used per person, what the thermostat should be set to, shared tasks would be helpful.”

Having made two six month cruises on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, I know a thing or two about living in close proximity to others for long periods of time.  The US Navy came up with some of the policies on how we would all get along.  We developed others out of necessity along the way.

I think this is a great idea.  If you have a wide list of potential guidelines, you can pick and choose the ones that might fit your life and the situation you’re facing.

The scenario I had in mind while writing this was one other family staying at my house with no supplies of their own for more than just a few days.  If the visiting party brought their own supplies, you’ll just need to focus on the areas where they are dependent upon you.  With that being said, here are some general areas and some guidelines.



Sharing space over an extended period of time with anyone can be stressful.  When you add extra people there need to be some boundaries established that respect private space as well as shared, public space.

If you want certain rooms to be private, bedrooms for example, establish a clear boundary that no one is allowed in anyone’s bedroom.  Making bedrooms off limits can also help give you a private place away from everyone else.  One of the hardest things about being on a ship with 6,000 other people is that alone time is very hard to come by.

Request that everyone please help keep the common areas that are shared by everyone clean.  If you make a mess, clean it up.


Shared Chores

We raised the boys with the understanding that each of us had to contribute to get the chores done.  I think this is the only way to go in a small group scenario, where people are sharing an address for an extended time.

This area will vary largely, based on the type of scenario, the location where you live and the makeup of your group.  Instead of coming up with a chore list, here are some things to keep in mind.

There is a good chance those staying with you will want to help earn their keep.  Be willing to share the duty with chores they are capable of doing.

Kids will either be very eager to help, or very eager to avoid helping.  I do not recommend letting anyone off.  Favoritism can quickly lead to resentment.  To avoid it, give small chores that can quickly be done by all kids.  If those who are eager to help want more after, they might be allowed a special reward for doing extra.



People differ on how to raise kids, but having multiple sets of rules for different kids is just asking for Billy to be angry because he has to go to bed at 8:00 PM and his cousin Robby who’s the same age can stay up until 10:00 PM.

Not all rules need to be the same, but on things that might show favoritism it might be a good idea.



Depending on the scenario, you may or may not have power or heat.  If utilities are working, my feeling is that whomever pays the bills sets the thermostat, keeping everyone’s safety in mind of course.

It will need to be understood that shower times need to be limited to a short duration, so that everyone can shower.

If the power is out and you have a generator, you’ll need to agree on what gets powered.  If you can keep the fridge and the freezer cold by running the generator a few times a day, setting a rule about who is allowed to go in them might be a good idea.

When I was in the Navy there was only one or two television channels available while at sea.  Believe it or not, that was probably a good thing.  Trying to get a group to agree on which show to watch is like nailing Jell-O to a tree.  If you have a working TV, and/or DVD player, putting all options in a hat and drawing one might be the best way to go.


Food and Water

This is another area that will depend greatly on the kind of scenario you’re faced with.  If the event is short in duration or is longer duration and you can still get to the store and purchase goods, it is much different than a long term duration where the support infrastructure has collapsed.  If you have a well, this is a much different conversation than someone on municipal water and sewer.

If water is in short supply, you may have to ration it.  You will have to stop taking showers to conserve water.  The rule of thumb is that a person needs one gallon of drinking water a day, more in warm climates or if highly active.

When it comes to rationing food, there is a big difference between making due for a few days until a trip to the store can be made, versus a life changing event that caused you to make due until harvest time.

If you are forced to ration food, keep health conditions in mind, how many calories are burned doing physical activity and the needs of children.



With many people sharing the same space, tension could be high without facing an emergency situation.  Add the extra pressure and you’ve got the potential for everyone being on everyone else’s nerves.  Finding a fair way to deal with disagreements is something to think about ahead of time, before everyone is torqued off.

If I were in a situation that saw Trudee and I playing host to more people for an extended time, I would need to make sure we had wine, lots and lots of wine.  Just kidding.

I would be tempted to go with “My house, my rules”.  Depending on the disagreement, that might not be the best route.  I try to be objective and understand both sides of an argument, but I don’t always succeed and, like everyone, I make mistakes.  For that reason, every adult should have some say in daily life, and compromise should be well-used.

I think that every group needs a leader, someone who breaks ties and when compromise fails, has the final say.  There are also some things that I am just not willing to tolerate in my house. When it comes to the safety, well being and righteousness of my family, my foot is down.  Don’t ask again.

I am sure I missed some rules or guidelines.  If you think of some, please post them in the comment section.


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Protecting Yourself and Your Property After a Disaster

Scenario:  Jerusalem has been devastated by war and is in ruins.  It’s walls have been broken down and it’s gates burned by fire.  Nehemiah, King Artaxerxes’ cup bearer, has received permission from the king to go to Jerusalem and rebuild it.  Their enemies have plotted to catch them unaware, kill them and stop their work.  Nehemiah has discovered this and decides:

Neh 4:16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 4:17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 4:18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. 4:19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 4:20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” 4:21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 4:22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.” 4:23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

In every medium to large scale natural disaster there are people who come to the area to loot.  There is a second group of people; “disaster tourists”.  These are people who want to go to the disaster area to see, in person, what they have seen on TV.  One of these is obviously a criminal but the other isn’t as nefarious, at least not on purpose.



These dirtbags pray on the misfortune of others during what might be the worst time in their life.  I have heard of people both sneaking around and stealing items that have been relocated by the event, as well as people dressing up, pretending to be representatives from utility companies.  I have also heard reports of items gone missing once a restoration company is hired, the home owner believing their contractor’s employees stole from them.

I think the default tactic most people go to is “I’ll guard my house, gun in hand”.  This may be an option in some circumstances, but it might not always be.  Imagine if there is massive destruction and, God forbid, your home is destroyed.   Your family is okay and has relocated to a nearby shelter on the night of the destruction.  You have nothing but the clothes on your backs.  When you attempt to go back to your home the next day, there is a police officer parked on the road leading into your neighborhood.  He will not let anyone enter without proof of residence.  Remember, I said you only have the clothes on your back?  This scenario is a very good reason to have a copy of the important documents stored away from your home.

Now let’s say there is a smaller amount of damage but still too much for you to feel comfortable letting your family stay there.  Would you put them up in a hotel room and guard the house alone?  Remember, after Hurricane Sandy, there were many people who didn’t have power for over a week.  While that might not be a stressor for some of you, do you want to put your family in a position not only be without power, but possibly face looters and other dirtbags?  Not to mention, whatever destruction is in the area, such as flooding, debris from destroyed homes and businesses, etc.

If the damage in your area is minimal and the biggest problem is lack of power, you might choose to stick it out and guard your home.  If so, the following are some things to keep in mind.  There is safety in numbers.  You might choose to form a group with other neighbors who have stayed behind, forming a neighborhood watch.  Have a 2-4 hour shift from sundown to sunup every night, rotating people so everyone gets enough rest.  If possible, I would want two; one stationery and one roving watch.  If there is trouble, the stationery watch would alert the others.  Having two-way communication would be a huge plus.  Another option for the roving watch is to carry an air horn, giving three blasts if they find trouble, everyone heading for the source of the noise.  I realize this gives away the element of surprise, but if it’s all you have, it is better than nothing.

I’m not a big fan of the “Looters will be shot” signs.  Why tip your hand?  It might also invite Joe Dirtbag to use overwhelming force.  Whereas, before, he might have just snuck around to see what he could steal, now he expects trouble.  He might just shoot you and take what he wants.  On a side note, this is also the reason I don’t open carry.

Nehemiah expected trouble from his enemies.  He also knew that with the limited resources he would need a citizen army, which meant each person would pull double duty as guard and laborer.  He told those who lived outside the gate to stay inside to help stand guard.  They slept in their clothes so they could act immediately.

If we had a modern day example, I think it could look something like this; each family is armed and prepared to defend their home and their neighborhood.  There is a neighborhood watch that had a stationery watch and, depending on the size of the neighborhood, either one or multiple roving watches.  You might think this is overkill, but Nehemiah’s enemies didn’t defeat him.  They could see they were ready for battle by the ever-present sword or spear, with plenty of people on the lookout.  This isn’t to say that everyone has to be armed.  The presence of people will often deter Mr. Dirtbag and company.


Disaster Tourists

As I said, these people aren’t nefarious on purpose, but they can be harmful unintentionally.   If you read the Fox News story on “disaster tourists”, you’ll see that the home owners said the gawker traffic was much higher earlier in the week.  If the roads are in bad shape, there might only be a few routes to use and they are congesting them.

One of the people interviewed for the Fox News article said she felt violated.  I can understand that, I wouldn’t like it very much if people wanted to come and “tour” one of the worst events in my life.

The disaster tourists also can be a means for Joe Dirtbag and friends to blend in to case the neighborhood for later looting.  This would be the reason that police are often posted near entrances and refuse entry to anyone who cannot prove residency.  If law enforcement is stretched too thin, you could always do this yourself.  Most folks will understand if you tell them only residents who can prove residency are allowed in.  Keep in mind that you have no legal ground to stop anyone who demands entry, even if they cannot prove where they live.  You could ask if they know someone in the neighborhood and find that person to vouch for them.  You could also have someone follow them to their “home”, to see if they do, in fact, live where they say they live.

Going back to Nehemiah, having people who take turns working on cleanup and standing guard/watch is a great idea here as well.  While the tourists might not mean you harm, keeping tabs on those not helping to “rebuild the wall” is still a good idea.

Do you have any other ways to protect oneself and property after an event, from looters and disaster tourists?


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Light, Sound and Smell Discipline

While I hope and pray we never see the worst case scenario where society truly does just collapse, I still think about what it might look like from time to time.  It’s a good exercise for seeing possible shortcomings as well as potential dangers.  If we do see things melt down, the rules change and you have to be ready to adapt quickly to keep you and yours safe.  Today I want to give you some things to consider.  Think about how you might make use of them should the need ever arise, while praying to God it never does.


Light Discipline

My neighborhood has underground power lines, so we very rarely lose power.  When we do it is usually short lived.  The power went out this week shortly after I got up at 06:00.  It was still dark outside for the next hour and a half, as we sat in battery powered lamp light.  I looked outside a few times and noticed that there were no lights on anywhere, but I could easily see that someone was moving through their home with a flashlight.

If society does fall off the rails, even for a few nights, you need to make sure you’re using as little light inside at night as possible.  Now, if you have a room where you have somehow completely blacked out the windows, you might be ok using a candle or battery powered lamp.  If you have to move through the house, you might be better off letting your eyes adjust and sticking the flashlight in a cloth to let just a little light escape to guide you.

One option for flashlights is to use colored lenses.  They provide less light but it is harder to pick them up at a distance.  If you use say a red lens and turn your flashlight on from a dark room, you won’t lose your night vision when you turn it back off.

If I was Joe Dirtbag and was looking for someone who might be home during a meltdown, I would do one of two things; climb to the top of a tall building or water tower and look for light, or walk through people’s backyards looking for signs of light.  Keep this in mind, just because there will not be any light visible from the front of your house, doesn’t mean there is no light visible.


Sound Discipline

I live in the burbs, not far from a busy highway.  Even so, aside from traffic sound, it still gets quiet here at night.  Much to my chagrin, noise travels very well, and on a quiet night we can hear people from a few houses away.  Right now, aside from being annoying at times, it isn’t that big of a deal.  If things meltdown and Joe Dirtbag starts listening for anything that stands out, it might be a bigger deal.

This can be a much more difficult thing to manage, as I can control when and how lights are on, but I have four dogs and one of them, I joke, barks at gnats farting outside.  So this is something I have given some thought to, as should you if you have dogs or young children who may be scared or hungry and unpredictably loud.

I don’t care for the idea of muzzling the dogs for an extended time, so I honestly don’t have a good solution.  Bugging out might be the only choice.


Smell Discipline

In a survival situation, I know many of you will be eating those beans and rice, so this might be a lost cause. (LOL, just kidding.)  I’m thinking more along the lines of things that smell good and draw attention.   Many of us have some food stored.  One might think that it is safer to cook at night, as it can hide smoke.  While that might be true, you can’t hide the smell very well.  It is very easy to tell when someone is grilling in my neighborhood.  I bet I could track down the house in a matter of minutes just by smell alone.  The smell of something like an MRE might not carry as far as something that is home cooked.  This is just something to keep in mind.


Turning to Your Advantage

You can also use these things to your advantage.  Let’s say the power wasn’t out and I saw someone moving with a flashlight at my neighbor’s house.  Or let’s say that things have gone very bad and everyone in your area is staying put and not making much noise.  If you hear yelling or glass breaking it would stand out and should be paid close attention too.


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How a True Pandemic May Look

A pandemic is one of the “big” scenarios that concerns me the most. The reasons for my concern are: 1) We have had multiple pandemics throughout world history, 2) Modern ease of travel can quickly spread a pandemic and, 3) The super bugs that modern antibiotics are ineffective against. Because of the last two concerns, if we have a true pandemic, things could get ugly very quickly.

I’m sure you remember the Swine Flu or H1N1 pandemic. In the 07/21/09 issue of the German Weekly, Der Spiegel, there was an Interview with Epidemiologist Tom Jefferson

“SPIEGEL: Do you think the WHO declared a pandemic prematurely?

Jefferson: Don’t you think there’s something noteworthy about the fact that the WHO has changed its definition of pandemic? The old definition was a new virus, which went around quickly, for which you didn’t have immunity, and which created a high morbidity and mortality rate. Now the last two have been dropped, and that’s how swine flu has been categorized as a pandemic. “
The morbidity rate is the amount of the population that has an illness or disease. The mortality rate is the amount of people killed by an illness or disease.”

“There are currently 28,774 cases in 74 countries, according to the latest WHO statistics. (There are 13,217 cases in the United States, with 27 deaths.)

Declaring a pandemic is a big official deal, so big that this is the first global flu epidemic in 41 years (the last one was the “Hong Kong flu” which killed 1 million people). A pandemic is something like a global version of an epidemic, which is a disease outbreak in a specific community or region or population. “

So if H1N1 wasn’t a pandemic, what does one look like? As mentioned, the “Hong Kong flu” killed 1 million people:

The 1968-1969 pandemic The Hong Kong Flu
“In comparison to other pandemics, the Hong Kong flu yielded a low death rate, with a case-fatality ratio below 0.5% making it a category 2 disease on the Pandemic Severity Index. The pandemic infected an estimated 500,000 Hong Kong residents, 15% of the population.[4] In the United States, approximately 33,800 people died.”

While there was a tragic loss of life, this was only a class 2 pandemic, and the loss of life was mostly seen in Hong Kong.

Pandemic of 1918-1919
“The 1918 pandemic killed an estimated 20-50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States. The pandemic’s most striking feature was its unusually high death rate among otherwise healthy people aged 15-34. During normal seasonal flu outbreaks, severe complications and death are most common among the elderly and young children.“

I like ‘s definition of superbug:

“Definition: A strain of bacteria that is resistant to one or more antibiotic(s) that would normally treat the bacteria”

It goes on to explain how superbugs are caused and why they are a problem:

“The increasing emergence of superbugs is a direct consequence of antibiotic misuse. Misuse of an antibiotic results in incomplete elimination of bacterial infections, which, in turn, leads to survival of strains of bacteria that have evolved to resist that antibiotic. Superbugs can be dangerous because of the limited number of treatment options available. Among some of the more common superbugs are methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) and multiple-drug or extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB and XDR-TB).”

More on antibiotic misuse from the Mayo Clinic:“If antibiotics are used too often for things they can’t treat — like colds, flu or other viral infections — they become less effective against the bacteria they’re intended to treat. Not taking antibiotics exactly as prescribed also leads to problems. For example, if you take an antibiotic for only a few days — instead of the full course — the antibiotic may wipe out some but not all of the bacteria. The surviving bacteria become more resistant and can be spread to other people.”
What Can We Expect in a True Pandemic?

If there was an illness that had both high morbidity and mortality rate, say morbidity of H1N1 and the mortality rate of SARS (which had a mortality rate of 9.6%), I believe we would quickly see a domino effect. Schools would close as soon as there was one infected student reported (this happened in multiple schools with H1N1). It is also possible that truckers would not want to risk catching the new bug and decide to stay at home, instead of delivering food and other supplies to infected areas.

Think about your company and every company you interact with having 30% of the workforce sick and not at work. That doesn’t take into consideration people that must take off work to help a sick family member or those that would call in sick out of fear. Now maybe you can see the blow this would have on the economy.

It is possible that quarantines would be installed to try and keep the morbidity rate as low as possible. Which could make it interesting as this study cited by the Los Angeles Times states that First-responders are needed in a pandemic, but not all may want to work, a study finds.

“When asked about willingness to work various shifts, 35% said they wouldn’t be willing to work any shift. And 12% of participants said they’d rather quit or retire early than report for duty.”
What Can We Do?

We can be ready to take care of ourselves and not be a drain on a system that could very well be taxed to the limits. By taking care of ourselves I mean things like having a minimum of 90 days food stored, having over-the-counter medication stored to give some comfort and aid to any family member that might become sick.

We can also be ready to self-quarantine our families if we see the morbidity and mortality numbers begin to climb. If you cannot self-quarantine, then wash your hands often, use the anti-germ gel as well and touch your face as little as possible. Try to avoid contact with others.

If there is a true pandemic there will be a lot of fear in the populace. People are dangerous when they’re afraid, so even if there is a quarantine there very well could be those willing to break curfew to look for food or other supplies. We should also be ready to protect our family from the grasshoppers.

Here is a little light reading, it is some of the articles I have read in research of pandemic and superbugs.

Hong Kong Keeps Ban on Some Chinese Poultry Imports After Flu Link Found

Drug-Resistant ‘Super Bug’ Hits LA County Hospitals, Nursing Homes

U.N. agency warns of possible bird flu resurgence

Yahoo News: Disfiguring tropical disease surges.

Scientists Find New Superbug Spreading From India, there are almost no drugs to treat it.

Also a new flu virus found in India, believed to come from Australia.

Yet a third virus found: “New Unknown Virus Killed 35 in India and 30 in Ukraine”.

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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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