Have you heard of this term -- bugging out? It's the one where you have a ready to go backpack with important items that you grab and then you get out of town to avoid various disaster scenarios. And there are certainly plenty of times when you NEED to get out of dodge, like hurricanes, tornadoes, fire, terrorists rampaging through your neighborhood and putting anyone who can't recite the koran to the sword.
But in most cases, preparing to stay put and bugging in is the optimal survival strategy. Let me explain.
Benefits to bugging in
- Friendly neighbors – If you have friendly neighbors they could be a great bartering resource and extra protection.
- More storage space – For things like supplies long term food stores and water.
- Shelter – Provides safety and protection from the elements.
- Much easier to defend your family (or friends).
- More hiding places in the instance someone were to break in.
Downfalls to not bugging in for the non survivalist
- Weather can be very harsh – Extreme cold, heat, rain or snow.
- Very few people have the necessary survival skills to make it in the wilds.
- Dangerous crossings with others – A lot of mentally unstable individuals plan to "head for the hills" when SHTF happens and often they intend to take what they need from others.
- Constantly moving shelter – This causes unknown surroundings each time.
- If the land you are on is not yours it can be very dangerous. Borders aren't necessarily clear.
- Getting where you want to go will be a long hard road where everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
- You can only carry a limited amount of water and finding water can be tough (especially clean water).
- Navigation can be very tough when out and about if you are not familiar with the area or are not good with a compass and map.
With that in mind, here's a bugging in checklist for how to do bugging in right. Here are the minimum essentials you'll need in terms of gear and preps.
Long term food stores
Preferably natural / organic food storage when possible.
Water and good long lasting water filters
You can't trust municipal anything. A good option for extra water is a bath tub water liner, which is absurdly cheap at around a dollar per liner. Just be sure to fill it up ASAP if things look dodgy and you're bugging in.
Don't fall for the meme and think a karate move from a self-defense class is going to help you. Handgun, mace, whatever tool of personal protection you prefer -- you need something. But know how to use it effectively and safely.
This is still extremely important in the case that you need to leave in a hurry. Never remove the contents of your bugout bag even when you are bugging in.
Plenty of light sources and different forms of electricity
Flashlight, long burning candles, bulbs, solar lights, matches.
Any form of doctor will be limited so it is crucial to keep a nice first aid kit on hand.
Physical handbooks and guides on survival
The trusty Lofty Wiseman SAS Survival Handbook is always a great option for many survivalist situations.
If your house or apartment is boarded up it can throw off your internal clock. A good G-Shock watch or other good way of telling time can be important.
For emergency situations this is good to have for keeping in contact with others or getting status updates on disaster situations. Just remember you may need a form of power for the radio unless it is a hand crank radio or solar powered (USB-powered can also be desirable). You want to be able to receive NOAA, FM, and AM stations, and it should have an earbud jack for private listening. FosPower Emergency Weather Radio is a cheap but good option that can be powered by solar, hand crank, micro USB, and batteries.
Multiple forms of electricity
You already got the solar and hand cranked radio, but you still have stuff that needs power. Get batteries and generic charging methods using solar power, hand cranking, etc. If you aren't in an apartment you should consider owning a generator.
Heat is critical in the winter or cold months unless you live somewhere that is cold year round then it is always critical. Make sure you have plenty resources for a fire to ensure you do not get sick or end up with hypothermia (wood, gas, paper, charcoal etc). Just don't burn anything that puts off a dangerous gas, oh and don't burn your shelter down! Keep plenty of jackets, blankets, socks or anything else that can help provide heat when you need it.
Morale boosters like candy and physical entertainment
As well, often overlooked in this digital age is non-digital entertainment to pass the time. If board games and paperback short story collections are not enough to pacify you when you are bugging in, you may want to consider finding a hobby. Look for something that can entertain you for hours on end and that doesn't require much -- especially not electricity.
If you neglect the comfort and self-care aspect then there will definitely be times where you will be bored and frustrated out of your mind, and that is a bad for morale -- one of the best assets to have in any situation.