Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Bug-Out Plan

By Tim Gamble 
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Do you have a bug-out plan (BOP)? Not a bug-out bag (BOB) or even a bug-out location (BOL), but an actual plan encompassing all aspects of bugging-out, not just your BOB or BOL. Well, you need one.

A good bug-out plan must include:
  • When to Bug-Out
  • Where to Bug-Out
  • How To Bug-Out (Getting There)
  • The Bug-Out Vehicle
  • The Vehicle Emergency Kit
  • The Bug-Out Bag
  • The Bug-Out Kit 
  • What If Scenarios
Let's take a quick look at these various parts of a BOP:

When To Bug-Out? This is the most crucial part - knowing when to bug-out. Wait too long, and it could be too late to bug-out, possibly with fatal consequences. Think this through ahead of time. 

My opinion: The best advice for most people in most situations is to stay put if possible. Hunker down where you are, unless and until it becomes too dangerous to do so. The goal is to bug-out when things are obviously going bad, but haven't yet spiraled completely out-of-control. Use situational awareness, the OODA loop and rational thinking (don't be overly emotional) to analyze what is going on in your area. 

Where To Bug-Out? For many of us, this is the hardest part to figure out. It would be nice if we already had a mountain cabin on a few acres, but most of us don't. Here are some ideas for BOL if you don't have one: 
  • A Relative's Place
  • A Friend's Place
  • National or State Parks
  • For-Profit Campgrounds
  • A Church Retreat
  • Join an Existing Survival Group (very difficult)
  • Create Your Own Survival Group (difficult)
It is probably a very good idea to have a second BOL, some distance away and in a different direction, in case the route to your primary  BOL is blocked for some reason. Or in case it too has become as compromised or too dangerous. 

Consider prepositioning food and other supplies at each of your BOLs, if possible. 

How To Bug-Out? This is the getting there portion of of your BOP. Do you know how to get to your BOLs without using GPS or Google Maps? Do you know alternative routes, since major routes may be blocked? Practice driving all routes before you actually need to bug-out for real. Keep written directions, maps and a road atlas in your vehicle.

You should also learn the potential danger spots in your local area, and along the routes to your BOLs. Some areas are more likely than others to be dangerous. Examples include heavily urban areas and college campuses which will likely see looting or rioting early on. Bad neighborhoods, already dangerous high crime areas, will only be worse during a crisis. Busy intersections and other areas where traffic already snarls during normal rush hours, will likely be impassable during a major crisis. Road construction is another potential hot spot, as one or more lanes may be blocked by equipment and materials. 

Listening to local radio stations along your route, as well as police & emergency bands, may provide information on road closings, police barricades, and areas experiencing looting and rioting.

Caravanning with others in your group is a good idea, if possible. Discuss routes, alternatives, and other aspects of the drive well before bugging-out. Use two-way radios or CB radios to stay in touch with each other on the drive.

The Bug-Out Vehicle - Make sure your vehicles are in good shape, and fueled up. You're bug-out plans will fail if your vehicles break down, or if you run out of gas. Keep your oil and other fluids changed on a regular basis, and quickly make any necessary repairs. Make sure your brakes and tires, including spares, are in good shape.

The Vehicle Emergency Kit - Put together a small emergency kit for your vehicle. Include things to keep your vehicle running (extra oil, transmission fluid, jumper cablesbattery starter with air compressorfix-a-flat, etc.). Include a good flashlight or headlamp 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.) Make sure you have a spare tire, jack, and lug wrench in your vehicle.

The Bug-Out Bag - What must people think of when they hear the words "bugging out", each member of your family should have a BOB. Include a change of clothes, some food, water, personal hygiene supplies, individual first aid kit, 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 (wrap it around an old credit card to save space,), outdoor survival gear, 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 young 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 (keep in a waterproof bag). You might also want to keep this information on a USB stick, perhaps carried on your key chain (encrypt the info if you are nervous you'll lose it). 

See my recent article, Building An Emergency Kit For Your Pet, for what you might include in your pet's BOB. 

The Bug-Out Kit - What are you going to take with you? Your BOB of course, but what if you have some time to load up your vehicle with stuff before setting out? Are you going to take all your canned goods? Extra clothes? Extra shoes/boots? How about extra cleaning, hygiene, and sanitation supplies? All your guns & ammo? What about tools? Fishing equipment? Family heirlooms? Granny's old photo album and Bible with all the family history in it? Useful reference books? 

Figure out ahead of time what you will take, how you will load it in the vehicle, and how long it will take you to load it. Then practice, practice, practice... 

What If Scenarios - What if you need to bug-out, and everyone isn't at home together? What if the kids are in school? What if your spouse is at work, out shopping, or simply elsewhere when the bad event happens? Do you know where/how to rendezvous if you can't bug-out together? Do you have a family communications plan? 

Consider that you may need to resupply along the way (caching items in secret spots along the way might be one way to accomplish this). What if you need to hunker down somewhere before you reach your BOL (maybe keep a small tent in your vehicle)?. Or maybe you'll be forced to abandon your vehicle, and have to complete your journey on foot (good shoes, backpacks, maybe even take up hiking as a hobby to get you and your family ready physically for a long walk to the BOL). Think through all the possible what if scenarios now.

Final Steps To Your Bug Out Plan

Is your BOP written down on paper? Have you discussed it with all the members of your household, and anyone else who might be involved? Have you practiced it? Have you made adjustments to it based on your practice? Until you take these final steps, you don't really have a plan. All you have are some notions in your head. Notions you will likely forget or overlook during the chaos and stress of an actual emergency. 

Obviously, a good bug-out plan is a lot more complicated and detailed than most folks realize. It is certainly a lot more than just a BOB and a BOL. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
Ad: Survivalist Family: Prepared Americans for a Strong America, by Pastor Joe Fox (aka Viking Preparedness), is a great guide to beginner and intermediate preparedness and survival for both short-term disasters and long-term emergencies. Highly recommended!!!  

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