You’ve Bugged Out, Now What?
Generally, preppers are concerned with either bugging in, or bugging out. The problem comes when they don’t think about what to do after you bug out.
I think by and large, most people plan to stay put initially — unless the impending doom lands directly on top of them. That’s actually the smartest thing to do, too (in my opinion).
But eventually, we all have to think about bugging out.
Packing your bug out bag with the latest emergency supplies, tactical clothing, and homemade MREs is fine — but you’re going to have to end up somewhere.
So what do you do once you get there?
It’s Time to Bug Out!
So it finally happened, huh? You were drinking your morning coffee in your favorite mug, and the zombies showed up… the lights went out… and all those romantic ideas of an urban escape and survival situation finally struck.
The End of Days.
You think it’s going to be fun and games, right? You’ll go live in a cave forever with the bears and be perfectly safe.
Ok. I’m a little out in left field there, but you know there are people like that in the world. The think that they’ve got it all together. They think that when it all breaks loose, all they have to do is grab their bug out bag and hit the trail.
Unfortunately, most people don’t make it past that stage in the planning. Why? Because for a lot of people, prepping is a fad. They start it, buy up a bag full of cool stuff (like this killer wood burning camp stove that actually powers your USB-chargeable device), and then it sits in a corner somewhere and collects dust.
The reality is, when something DOES happen — and trust me when I say I fully believe it will one day — they’re totally lost as to what to do next.
Never fear, we’re covering that subject today. After all, a “real prepper” wouldn’t buy a gun, but leave it the box, expecting to read the instructions only after the stuff hit the fan. They’d practice with it beforehand.
That’s what we all need to do. Formulate a plan, and practice it — multiple times. So jump in your survival vehicle, and let’s talk about that plan.
1- Meet Up with Your Survival Team
You did build your own survival team, right? Sure, you could go out into the woods by yourself with your 10 piece emergency kit (made up of these 5 items and these 5) and live off bugs and pond water for a while, but eventually you’d go crazy. (Just ask the guys on Alone.)
If you haven’t thought about a bug out team yet, be sure you read my article about How to Build Your Own Survival Team. It may change your mind.
In order to meet up with anybody, you need to have a communication plan in place as well as a location in mind where you’ll be meeting.
“Why not just meet everyone at the bug out location?”
Keep reading, and you’ll understand.
2- Get to Your Bug Out Location
If you do, that’s great! If you don’t, this is what you need to focus on if you have any kind of plan to bug out.
- Where will you go?
- How far away is it?
- How long does it take you to get there?
- How many different routes do you know to get there?
- Do you own the location, or is it owned by someone else?
These are vital issues when you’re thinking about your BOL (bug out location). If you don’t have that yet, start a “to-do” list right now, and make that priority #1 — Find a Bug Out Location.
There are basically two scenarios to a bug out location — obvious and hidden.
The “obvious” option is basically just another house or some other structure that would serve as a “safe house”. This may be the worse option of the two. In the event that there is a mass exodus from your city/state, other people may find your BOL and decide to claim it for their own — including everything you have stored inside.
The “hidden” option is totally obscured from the typical Joe Schmo looking for a place to hide. For instance — if you happen to have a piece of land somewhere that is undeveloped that you could plant an underground bunker, if done right, nobody will ever know it’s there. Is this the best option? Probably. Is it feasible for everyone? Probably not.
You either have a location that you can make into a BOL, or you have a BOL design in mind, and go from there. Either way, be ready to think on your feet.
I would also recommend burying caches of supplies around the property — near the perimeter of the location — so you don’t have everything in one place. Some 5-gallon buckets would be great, or something like the container pictured to the left. You could have 4-5 caches in different location with a variety of items in each one, just in case you can get to one, but not the others. Then, going in closer to the base of your BOL, you can bury larger caches of specific supplies — one for each “category” (ie- one for weapons, one for food, one for communications, etc).
By burying caches around your property, you’re almost guaranteeing that you have some supplies, even if the main location is overrun to the point that you cannot access it. Putting together survival storage containers should be considered high priority on your prepper survival list.
3- Secure Your Perimeter
Let’s move on assuming you have a BOL, and that you have free run to do with it what you want.
In reference to the question, “Why not just meet everyone at the bug out location?”… If the location has been discovered by rogue zombies or a horde of wandering marauders, the last thing you want to do is go in alone.
The first thing I would say is gather your team on the edge of the property, turn your attention inward, and go in with caution. Again, the more apparent your bug out location is, the more probable it will be that someone is already there. Proceed with extreme caution.
Once you have determined that your location is secure (or have secured it from the zombies and gun-wielding thugs), turn your attention outward. Establish a perimeter that can be defended. Be sure your team has some sort of communication plan in place so you know who you’re talking to. Marauders may be slick and sneak up on you trying to make you think they’re one of your team.
When you feel the perimeter is secure, you should begin digging up SOME of your caches (not all of them — just in case you’re attacked). Just don’t forget your survival shovel!
4- Hunker Down and Defend
Now that you have your location secured, and you have your cache of survival supplies, it’s time to set up a watch. This is one of the main reasons you need a “team”, in my opinion. If you’re truly having to defend a location, you’ll need more than just yourself. You can’t sleep and keep a lookout at the same time.
If you did happen to find yourself alone at your BOL, I would highly recommend you NOT sleep inside the structure unless you absolutely have to because of extreme weather. Instead, make a satellite camp at a distance so you can sleep, yet still maintain visual contact with whatever form of building you’re calling a “bug out location”. This way, if your location is attacked, they may not find you at all. Some people may even break in, take some of your stuff, and keep moving. In which case, you — and the caches you have yet to dig up — are safe.
5- Find Food
In the coming weeks and months, your food supply will begin to run short. You can only store so many freeze dried meals (like these Valley Food Storage Pasta Primavera meals), canned goods, and MREs. That may last you an entire year, even… but at some point, you’re going to need to find more food.
This is where your skills in foraging, hunting, trapping, and fishing will come into play. If you don’t have any of these skills yet, may I highly recommend you get at least a couple — if not all — of them into your schedule of “things to learn”.
Most of us have friends that go hunting and fishing. Some of us may even have friends that have trapping and foraging skills. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend (or friends) that have any of these skills, ask them to take you along on their next outing so you can learn from them.
If you are not lucky enough to have a friend with any of these skills, check into classes being given in your area. Utilize Facebook and other social media outlets to find resources, if need be. …and get better friends. (I kid, I kid… sort of…)
Do what you can to get these skills learned. In a true SHTF situation, you’ll definitely be needing them.
6- Grow Food
Eventually the gun battles with gang-thugs and MRE dinners in the dark will have to give way to something. Homesteading is that something. Homesteading is what the “urban escapee prepper” typically overlooks altogether.
Once the storm has passed, and life calms down, you’ll have more of an opportunity to try to begin “life as usual” again — even if life isn’t as “usual” as it used to be for you.
Growing a garden is often easy, depending on the crops you grow. As long as you keep them watered and keep the weeds pulled, they usually take care of themselves (to a certain extent, anyway). Just remember to store seeds in your caches buried around your BOL. If you have no seeds, that’s just one more thing you’d have to find.
Raising your own livestock may include animals like chickens and goats. Both of which can be dual-purpose animals when it comes to food. Chickens provide eggs, goats provide milk, and they both provide meat. Included in this section would be the skill of butchering. If you can’t dispatch and clean an animal, you’ll just be wasting valuable resources when they die.
Now that your garden is in full bloom, and your animals are fat and happy, you’ll need to know how to preserve your harvest. Often times, you get way more food than you bargain for when you’re homesteading. If you can’t preserve it, you’re wasting more valuable resources. Learn how to dehydrate food, properly freeze foods, canning techniques, and how to ferment your food.
7- Rebuild Society
Your gardens are pumping out tons of vegetables. Your animals are producing milk and eggs. You have found a viable water source. You figured out how to procure off-grid power alternatives. Your team is thriving!
Now it’s time to seek out new people to offer them assistance. THIS is the really tricky part.
I know some of you will frown at what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyway, so bear with me.
If you’ve ever watched shows like “The Walking Dead” or “Revolution”, you’ll know that they often times have problems integrating other people into their group. It’s human nature to be selfish — particularly when your life may be at risk.
Learning how to read people will benefit you as much as any other skill you have learned to date. Unfortunately, it is also the hardest skill to learn.
What are your tips for long-term survival after you bug out?
I know some of you will have very strong opinions about what to do once you leave home with your gear. I want to hear those opinions. An open dialogue on this topic is necessary so we all have a better feel for what we should be doing when the SHTF. It helps us all grow as preppers.