In other words, the hype and buzz that is ‘bugging out’. (If you’re not familiar with Prepping/Survivalist terminology, I have a small glossary here.)
Bugging out is, quite simply, leaving your home and going somewhere else because it seems a safer alternative than staying holed up in your own abode. Traditionally it’s taken for granted that anyone bugging out plans on living in the wilds like some Rambo-clone, up to the eyebrows in weaponry. For me, the most important question to ask, when some newbie prepper proudly says they’ve packed their BOB and can go in ten minutes, is “where are you going to?”. That, in turn, depends on another question: why are you bugging out to begin with?
The most likely reasons to need to leave your home fast? House fire, gas leak, chemical spill, collapsed ceilings. That kind of thing. You probably need to leave fast, you probably need to go all of a couple of miles to be out of danger and you’ll probably be back in a day or two.
For me, bugging out wouldn’t be in the face of most disasters. I might relocate to a local B&B if the ceilings came down in the house, or if we had a house fire. But if WW III kicks off, a hurricane blows in, we’re snowed in… why abandon a perfectly good weatherproof, warm house in a village where we have friends and neighbours to go hunker in a wood somewhere getting exposure? We’d have to leave most of our supplies behind, our security…. everything that we can’t carry with us! As long as the house is sound, it’s safer and better to stay in it.
Having said that, I do have several bug-out locations (BOLs) planned out in case of need. They’re not spots in the wilds, though. They’re houses belonging to friends and family where I know I’ll be welcome in a crisis. Places I’ve already stashed a few necessities – a change of clothes, for example, a few days’ food so I’m not a burden on my hosts. Equally, those people know that they’re welcome at my place if they’re in need of a bed for a few days. Some are close by, others at the far end of the country and one, even, the other side of the Atlantic (currently…. it’s a yacht and can move around whenever my brother fancies different scenery).
Generally speaking, those pre-positioned caches are simply a useful way to ensure that if I’m travelling around the country, I know where I can break my journey, sleep, scoff a meal, wash and get clean clothes, then move on. Checking on my BOL stashes involves visiting friends or siblings, switching out any older food stores for fresh ones while I’m there. Having a few essentials pre-positioned means I can travel lighter if I need to leave home fast; it may seem unlikely, but as this story shows, sometimes you just don’t have time to round up the pets, grab the kids, pack a suitcase and make an orderly exit.
I’ve never been a big fan of the theory that you need to bury a plastic drum with a complete camp packed into it, somewhere in the woods, either. They can get found by others, or lost because someone builds a supermarket on them. I’d rather put my emergency stashes in the hands of people I trust to stick them in a cupboard out of the way and out of the weather.
The whole concept of bugging out, of course, also brings us to that other prepper must-have, the bug-out bag. I’ve seen some dillies in my time on various prepping sites – the one that I think took the biscuit for me was the sedentary office worker who packed a 75L military bergen with tins of food, a complete cookset including the kettle, a 6-man tent, half a dozen different knives, a stonking big axe and (I had to laugh at this one) his rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition.He didn’t have a sleeping bag or waterproofs. He’d never even picked it up and put it on his back, let alone found out how far he could hike with it!
Some people watch too many films.
Clean clothes, washkit, phone card, a week’s meds if you need meds, a spare pair of glasses if you use them, perhaps a street-legal penknife, a bottle of water, waterproofs maybe, and enough cash to book into the nearest Premier Inn or Travelodge, or buy a bus ticket to a mate’s place. I keep some pemmican in mine but a packet of boiled sweets, or other long-life food that’s easy to store without it melting (don’t pack chocolate!) and needs little or no cooking is useful. If you’re technologically minded, scan all your important documents (insurance papers, birth certificate, driving licence, that kind of thing) and put them on a thumb-drive.
While we’re on the subject of things worth saving, I recently watched a couple of big, tough he-man preppers discussing things they absolutely could not bear to leave behind in an evacuation. These heart-breaking items of value? The family photo album for one bloke and a collection of shoes spanning several years of an infant daughter’s life for the other.
Get a grip, guys! Sentiment will get you killed. If the house is on fire, delaying your escape to grab your daughter is understandable, but risking your life to rescue outgrown shoes? That’s just insane.
Keep it simple, and keep it relevant. If you’ve packed so much kit that you can’t lift it, you might as well not pack any at all. I make sure I can still sprint for a bus, as a useful rule of thumb.
For longer-term evacuations, such as might be caused by TEOTWAWKI, the traditional BOB, designed to cover you for 72 hours, isn’t suitable either. If the country is invaded, WWIII kicks off, civilisation crashes and burns, it’s not going to be over in 72 hours. The whole idea of the 72 hour bag is borrowed from US government advice for natural diasters. If you’re in California and an earthquake strikes, then having 3 days of supplies handy might be all you need. In the UK, you’re either going to need a lot less because it’s not that serious, or you’ll need to be prepped for a lot longer. Even in the States, Hurricane Katrina proved that 72 hours is a complete misconception – it took a lot longer to rescue everyone from New Orleans than that! If you think back to spring 2014, when there was extensive flooding across southern England, it was May before some places had dried out enough to get the insurance assessors in, let alone fix the damage.
At that point, the INCH bag would be more appropriate and I’ll cover that some other time.
In other news today:- 6 more bunnies in the freezer, the garlic is looking good in the garden and I’ve just been tipped off to a ferretting opportunity that needs chasing up! Ironically, the rifle range is overrun with rabbits….