Bug Out or Bug In – SHTF Life or Death Decision

Should I Bug Out or Bug In?

This is a question that all preppers have asked themselves at one time or another. Ask two preppers the same question and you are likely to get two different answers, should I bug out when a disaster hits or should I bug in?

The reality is, there is no solid answer to these questions. There are countless circumstances that will affect your decision to stay put or get out of dodge and among these are three I like to focus on but are no way limited to.

  1. How long is the situation likely to last?
  2. How close to you is the worst of the affected area?
  3. Is this situation likely to affect me directly at my current location?

How long is the SHTF situation likely to last?

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There are going to be some questions that you will not be able to answer, especially in the first minutes of a catastrophe. But, the length of an emergency will certainly weigh on your decision to stay or go. Obviously, if the emergency is a few days or a week, you are more likely to choose to stay home unless it is a direct threat (see number three). You are safer staying in your home than getting yourself in a dangerous situation fighting others in traffic congestion or crowds.

However, if the situation is going to last months to years and you have a well-stocked remote location that would be safer than your current situation, it may be best to bug out until things cool down. Economic collapse or a complete power failure due to an EMP are some things that come to mind that would warrant you bug out to a remote location if you have one.

How close to you is the worst of the disaster area?

If the affected area is near your primary home or shelter, it may also be best to stay put. Fighting your way through blocked roads or hostile rioters is not an option. Again, you are better off staying in your home until things calm down or until it is safe to travel.

Locally affected regions by snowstorms, ice, or power outages are things that you can wait out. These are not likely to last longer than your preps. While I am on the topic of snow and ice storms, as a prepper, there is no excuse for not stocking your pantry way before the “milk and bread” crowd realizes they need food and panic.

Is this situation likely to affect me directly at my current location?

Should I Bug Out or Bug In
Should I Bug Out or Bug In

ere is a direct and immediate threat to your home or shelter, it may be best to bug out. Things that come to mind would be flooding, fires or chemical spills. It is by far better to get out while the emergency is still young than wait until the situation gets to a point where travel is almost impossible. Take the recent wildfires in California, those that got out the quickest fared the best. Many didn’t act quickly enough and ended up in dramatic escapes or worse. It is advised if the authorities recommend you evacuate then please evacuate.

Remember, bugging out should only be an option if you have a safe and remote area to go. It is NOT advised to just leave your shelter or home and wander out to the wilderness or show up at a friend’s house unless you are expected. Although bugging out to the hills and living off the land is a fantasy for many, this is usually a very bad idea.

Possible Disasters That Might Require Bugging Out

  • Wildfire/House fire, they spread fast and there is little time for decision making. Keep your bugout supplies updated and ready to go.
  • Flooding
  • Volcanic Eruption
  • Local catastrophes such as chemical spills
  • Local nuclear fall out/dirty bomb/nuclear power plant failure
  • Hurricane, they are getting better all the time at predicting the strength and direction of hurricanes. When it is advised that you evacuate, you should evacuate.

If you have decided to bug out, make sure you have a list of supplies that you will need to take with you. There will be times when getting back to your home may not be an option for a long time or possibly never.

Possible Disasters That Might Require Bugging In

Local civil unrest, it may be best to sit those out rather than taking a chance of getting caught up in the chaos. Being local, the authorities will have opportunities to get help from surrounding communities.

  • Local storms/Ice/Snow/Tornado, as said above, don’t get mixed up in the “milk and bread” crowd. For tornados, there is little time for bugging out, follow the advice of your local authorities.
  • Earthquake, roads may be impassable or blocked by authorities. Unless your primary shelter is severely damaged, bugging out may not be the best in this situation. Further, you don’t want to make yourself a target for others that were not prepared.

This is just a small list of disasters that may require you to wait it out or get out of Dodge. Each situation should be handled accordingly and that is why it is important to have a plan for each disaster you may face in your area. Of course, the best plan is to be bugged out permanently, but this is not an option for everyone. If you are one of those that live on your bug-out property, congrats!

We are more aware and have more information at our fingertips than ever before so there is no excuse for not being prepared. Make a list, prioritize the disasters, and list the things you will need to survive accordingly. Check out our list of disasters as a starter for planning for emergencies.