Why Bugging Out May Get You Killed

November 29, 2013 by | 1 Comment

Many people in the survival/prepping community believe that bugging out is the answer to every emergency. It’s no surprise considering the number of books on bug out bags available today.

It’s almost always best to stay put, where you likely have shelter and plenty of food, resources, tools, etc. There are times when bugging out is the ideal appropriate solution, but it’s far less often than most people realize.

Deciding whether to bug out or hunker down is a simple matter of weighing the risks and rewards of each option, and honestly evaluating your own circumstances. Only then can you determine which choice is right for you and make an educated decision.

What type of emergency are you facing?

The first and often most important criteria is the type of emergency you’re up against. For example, bugging out during civil unrest or riots would expose you to significantly more danger than if you just fortified your home and stayed put. Likewise, if your area became flooded, it would usually be best to sit tight unless you own a boat because you’re unlikely to reach safety by trudging through waist-deep water.

Do you have somewhere better/safer place to go?

Bugging out is about going somewhere safer with more resources. If you don’t have a prearranged location to bug out to, it’s almost always a bad idea to go—otherwise you risk landing in a worse situation.

Can you reach your destination with just the resources on your back?

A typical bug out bag only holds about three days worth of supplies. (Except for water, which you’ll purify along the way.) Based on the speed that you (and your group if applicable) can walk through the terrain you’ll encounter, can you reach your destination before running out of resources—especially food?

Can you actually carry your bug out bag for three days?

OK, I’ll admit that this may sound like a stupid question because even the heaviest bug out bag feels fine when you first put it on your back. But the experience I’ve gained after years of moving from point A to point B with a heavy pack on my back in the United States Marine Corps has taught me that after just a few miles, you quickly learn how well you’ve balanced your pack, how well it fits your body, and most importantly, whether you’re physically fit enough to carry it over an extended distance. I recommend actually taking a long hike with your full bug out bag to see how your body handles it.

Is your bug out bag properly equipped?

I live in Florida, so I pack very different supplies than someone who lives in Michigan because we live in significantly different environments. I also have to carry additional supplies that others may not because I have two children. Your bug out bag must be tailored to your geographic area as well as your personal needs, medical/health issues, and capabilities.

How well do you know the surrounding area?

Even if you should bug out, are properly equipped, and are physically capable of carrying your bug out bag, you still need to know the surrounding area, because the path from point A to point B may not be a direct one. You may have to go around natural obstacles like floods, wildfires, tornado damage, etc., or man-made obstacles like riots, road blocks, or viral outbreaks.

When would I bug out?

My bug out criteria are pretty stringent—in about 95% of scenarios, I will hunker down because my home is well equipped, armed, and supplied, but here are a few examples of scenarios where I would bug out:

  • If my home burned down
  • If flooding destroyed my supplies, gardens, and livestock
  • If a viral epidemic broke out in my area
  • If a hurricane was imminent
  • If a chemical spill occurred in my area

There are several more scenarios where I would bug out, but for the sake of OPSEC, I am not willing to disclose the specifics.

It’s important to point out that I know I am capable of carrying my bug out bag, and how quickly I can move with it because I often carry a similar pack (or a heavier one) through aggressive terrain.

I also have prearranged arrangements with several friends within walking distance that if any of us need to bug out, we are all welcome at each other’s homes. Since we all bring valuable skills and experience that makes us each an asset to the others, it’s a win/win. This is critical because while friends care about each other’s well-being, they won’t risk their own survival for you.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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1 Comment

  • Noel(Grampa) Mullan says:

    Much thought has been published on regular peoples ability but what about people who are with less than he best mobility and health? As a senior and as a segment of the population that is growing, I think needs attention. We are vulnerable in so many ways. Not only for the emergency’s of an immediate nature but in the long term as well. We are easy target of the people who choose to get their supplies from the ones most defenseless. Is their anyone thinking along these lines or website that leans to we seniors? It is not as if we are worthless for many have skills that are quite useful, because we grew up in a time when we had no power tools. I was raised in a home that had no central heat. We canned food and on my cousins farm we cooked on a wood stove. yes we would like to pass this knowledge. How about trading with our elders some home upkeep for some of that knowledge.

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