Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Planning Your Escape: Considerations for Bugging Out

By Timothy Gamble (September 15, 2018)

Most people's Plan A should be to "bug in" or "hunker down" during an emergency. But, things may become dangerous in your area (wild fires, power plant accidents, rioters & looters, government actions, etc.), so plan now for your possible escape, should it become necessary. When will you bug-out? Where you will go? How will you get there? What happens if your primary path is blocked? Do you know alternative routes? What should you take with you?  

Here are some considerations for planning your escape:

1- Know when to Bug-Out. This is probably the hardest part of your planning.  The best advice for most people in most situations is to stay put as long as possible. Hunker down where you are, unless and until it becomes too dangerous to do so. You don't want to face the open road during a highly chaotic and dangerous time unless you absolutely have to leave for your own safety.

To put it in simple terms:  Bug-out when doing so is less dangerous than staying where you are.  But, how to know when that is? How do you strike the balance between leaving too early and leaving too late? 

The key is applying situational awareness and the OODA loop (link to my January article) to the developing situation. Pay attention to what's happening, not just on the national level, but especially what's happening on the local level. Local news & talk radio will be more useful to monitor during a crisis than national broadcast and cable news channels. Having the ability to monitor local police and emergency dispatch will also be very useful. Check out Broadcastify for a way to monitor local dispatch via the Internet. Other apps and websites are available. You can also get a hand-held or desktop radio scanners for when the Internet is out.

Use commonsense and rational thinking (don't be overly emotional) to analyze what is going on in your area. The goal is to bug-out when things are obviously going south, but haven't yet spiraled completely out-of-control.

"But what if my Plan A is to bug-out?"  Okay. I get it. Many people feel they have to (or want to) live in a big city or other unsuitable location for riding out TEOTWAWKI.  If your Plan A is bugging-out, then do so as early as possible to avoid the traffic jams, limited fuel supplies, and chaos of the last minute escape.  In your case, it is etter to bug-out too early, then to bug-out too late. You can always return home after you realize it wasn't SHTF after all.

2- Plan a Bug-Out location. Obviously, the best bug-out location is one which you already own and have developed for your needs. But for most of us, that is difficult to do. The next best choice is probably a friend or relative's place. 

Maybe your Uncle George has a fishing cabin in the mountains. Or Great Aunt Ida lives alone in that huge old house on the outskirts of a  small town in the Ozarks. Or Cousin Eddie has a small farm in Kentucky. Talk to them about using their place as a bug-out location. You could even stockpile some food, clothes, and other supplies there ahead of time. You don't even have to move into the house with them. Perhaps you could park a camper or RV in their driveway or backyard.  

Other potential bug-out locations include national or state parks, church retreats, and for-profit campgrounds. 

3- Know how to get to your bug-out location. This means knowing how to get there using at least two different routes (in case one is blocked for some reason) without using GPS or google maps. Practice driving all routes before you need to bug-out for real. Keep directions, maps and a road atlas in your vehicle.

You should also learn the potential "hot spots" in your local area, and along the routes to your bug-out locations. By hot spots, I mean areas that are more likely than others to be dangerous. Examples include heavily urban areas and college campuses which will likely see looting and/or rioting early on. Bad neighborhoods, already dangerous high crime areas, will only be worse during SHTF. Areas with a heavy Muslim population, or near mosques, will be dangerous for non-Muslims (forgive my political incorrectness).  Busy intersections and areas where traffic already snarls during normal rush hours, will likely be impassable during SHTF. Road construction is another potential hot spot, as one or more lanes may be blocked by equipment and materials. 


4- Make sure your vehicle is in good shape, and fueled up.  You're bug-out plans will fail if your vehicle breaks down, or if you run out of gas. Keep your oil changed on a regular basis, and quickly make any necessary repair. Make sure your tires, including spares, are in good shape. Check out my article Preppers' Auto Maintenance Schedule for more on this topic.

5- Put together a small emergency kit for your vehicle. Include things to keep your vehicle running (extra oil, transmission fluid, jumper cables, fix-a-flat, etc.). Include a good flashlight with extra batteries. If you can do basic auto repairs (a great skill to learn), keep some useful tools and spare parts in vehicle. Also include things you might need in an emergency (a first aid kit, a warm blanket, bottles of water, power bars or other food, etc.)

6- Have a Bug Out or Evacuation Bag already packed for each member of your family. Include a change of clothes, some food, water, personal hygiene supplies, individual first aid kit, a compact New Testament or prayer book, flashlight and extra batteries, emergency poncho, and whistle in each bag. Adults and teens should have additional items such as a knife, multi-tool, matches or lighters, duct tape, outdoor survival gear, sewing kits, etc. In the bags of children, be sure to include written information such as name & age of the child, family contact info, and lists of any allergies, medications & health conditions, should the child become separated from the rest of the family. Also include a favorite toy, coloring books, crayons, and/or a few other distractions for the kids. In your bag, be sure to include copies of insurance policies, deeds, birth certificates, vaccination records, medical records, bank numbers, passports, and other personal records (ideally in a small notebook or envelope, and possibly on a USB stick or other digital storage). 

7- Decide what to pack. You may only have time to grab your bug-out bags and go. But, should you have more time to pack your vehicle, decide beforehand what you want to take with you. Possibilities include extra food, water, and clothes, cleaning and hygiene supplies, tools (hand and/or gardening), reference books, camping gear, and even sentimental items such as family photos and heirlooms. Thinking about where you will bug-out to will help you determine what extra items you should take if there is time.
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