A common and risky mistake in emergency preparedness is over-prioritizing the choice between "bugging in" (sheltering at home) and "bugging out" (leaving home) ahead of time, which can lead to neglecting crucial preparations. Prudent prepping acknowledges the unpredictability of crises, making predefining a location impractical. The urge to take immediate action during a crisis often leans toward bugging out, but evidence suggests this instinct is frequently incorrect. It's more effective to "don't just do something, sit there!" By default, the home should be your primary choice for emergency shelter, with bugging out reserved for exceptional circumstances. Effective preparedness involves readiness for both scenarios, home and away, as being able to handle one but not the other means you aren't truly prepared.
While modern emergency infrastructure can manage small crises, it's vulnerable in the face of major natural disasters, pandemics, and catastrophic events. These situations can disrupt essential services like water, food access, medical care, and communication networks. Having a preparedness plan is crucial for safeguarding your family's survival in such scenarios.
Bugging in offers significant advantages: your home provides built-in shelter, offering protection from the elements and potential intruders, and you're familiar with escape routes. Staying in your neighborhood fosters a community where you can distinguish between neighbors and potential intruders, facilitating resource sharing and collective security. Knowing your local area is an asset, simplifying scavenging if needed, and helping you navigate when bugging out becomes necessary. Bugging in also allows for extensive stockpiling of supplies, from food to water, without the limitations of carrying everything on your back when on the move.
Getting Ready for Emergencies
In the world of prepping, preparing your entire family is a top priority. Whether you're a solo prepper, have a spouse, children, or even extended family members and pets, knowing who you're prepping for is the first step. This list of essential tips can help you get started in your family-friendly prepping journey:
Know Your Group: Begin by listing all the individuals you'll be prepping for, including their ages and capabilities. Consider the needs of infants, small children, and elderly or disabled family members.
Assess Your Location: Take into account the specific risks in your area. Whether it's earthquakes, hurricanes, or other local disasters, tailoring your preparations to your location is vital.
Urban vs. Rural Considerations: Depending on your proximity to urban centers or military bases, your strategy for bugging in or bugging out may vary. Factor this into your plans.
Plan for Pets: Don't forget your furry friends. Include pet supplies and considerations in your prepping efforts.
Community Building: Collaborate with your neighbors. Create a network of support, information sharing, and collective security in your community.
Educate and Train: Ensure your family members know the basics of emergency preparedness and how to use essential tools and supplies. Practice evacuation plans and safety protocols.
Rotate Supplies: Keep your prepping supplies fresh and up to date. Regularly check food, water, and other essentials for expiration dates and replenish as needed.
Communication Plan: Establish a family communication plan in case you get separated during an emergency. Designate meeting points and practice using two-way radios or other communication tools.
Stay Informed: Monitor local news and emergency alerts. Keep your family updated on the evolving situation and adapt your plans accordingly.
Evaluate and Adapt: Periodically review and adjust your prepping plans to meet the changing needs of your family and the evolving risks in your area. Stay flexible and open to improvement.
By following these family-oriented prepping tips, you can better equip your loved ones for a wide range of emergencies, from natural disasters to unexpected crises.
How Long Should You Prepare to Bug In?
The question of how long to prepare for bugging-in is a common one, and opinions vary. The government recommends a minimum of 3 days' worth of supplies, but the ideal duration depends on your resources and circumstances. Some start with a 3-day supply and gradually work up to longer periods, while others plan for a year or more. It's essential not to be discouraged by this question; instead, start with what you can manage (even if it's just 3 days) and continue building your preps over time as your resources and commitment allow. The key is to get started and keep progressing.
Alternative Heating Solutions
When it comes to shelter during a bug-in scenario, it's not just about your primary residence; it's about ensuring that your shelter can protect you from the elements, especially when access to modern utilities is limited or nonexistent. In cold conditions, shelter becomes your top priority. You must have alternative heating solutions in place for unexpected disasters during cold weather. Here are some excellent and affordable options:
Wood-Burning Fireplaces: Wood-burning fireplaces are a traditional and reliable option. Even a small stove can efficiently heat a significant space in freezing conditions. Ensure your fireplace can serve multiple functions, such as cooking and boiling water, for added survival value.
Kerosene Heaters: Kerosene heaters are a practical choice. They don't require electricity, are easy to operate, and are relatively safe. Kerosene has an extended shelf life, making it a reliable fuel source. These heaters can provide essential warmth during emergencies.
Portable Propane Heaters: Portable emergency propane heaters are excellent for smaller spaces or supplemental heat. They use one-pound propane canisters and can provide a surprising amount of heat for 4-6 hours. Ensure you have extra propane canisters in storage.
Close off certain rooms in your house and concentrate in the room with the heat source. Hanging blankets or using door seals can help create a warmer zone.
Insulate your home by hanging blankets in front of large windows to reduce heat loss.
Stock up on good-quality blankets and sleeping bags to keep you and your family warm.
In a pinch, a single candle can raise the temperature inside a freezing car by up to 8 degrees.
Decide on an alternative heat source based on your needs and resources.
Purchase and install the chosen heating solution.
Test it to calculate the amount of fuel you need for your selected preparedness period.
Stock up on an adequate supply of fuel to ensure you're ready for any emergency.
By having a reliable shelter and alternative heating methods in place, you can better prepare your home for a bug-in scenario, especially in cold weather or when modern utilities are unavailable.
Water: The Lifesaving Priority
Water is a top priority when bugging in, as you can survive without food far longer than without water. Ensuring your short-term and long-term water needs are met is essential. Here's how to prepare:
1. Short-Term Water Supply:
Ensure you have bottled water stored, with a rule of 1 gallon (4 liters) of water per person per day as a minimum. Be aware that consumption adds up quickly when drinking, cooking, and washing.
Aim to have a minimum of two weeks' worth of water, but having as much as six months is preferable.
2. Long-Term Water Collection:
The best long-term solution is rainwater collection. Consider these options:
Pool or pond: If you already have one, you're a step ahead.
5-gallon buckets or water barrels can be filled with tap water or rain.
Rainwater cistern: A more substantial option that can be installed above or below ground.
3. Water Purification:
Collecting rainwater inevitably leads to contamination. You must purify the water before consuming it:
Use pool shock to purify and make the water drinkable, filtering out debris first.
Invest in a trusted water filtration system like Berkey, capable of removing 99.9999999% of waterborne pathogens.
4. DIY Water Storage:
You can create your water storage with 2-liter pop bottles. Follow these steps:
Wash and sanitize the bottles and caps.
Fill each bottle with tap water and add 2 drops of unscented household bleach (4-6% sodium hypochlorite).
Refresh your water storage once each year.
Keep unscented household bleach on hand for water purification and sanitation.
Consider installing a 55-gallon rain barrel to collect water from your gutters.
Remember that your hot water heater contains emergency water storage, and the water does not need purification.
In a large-scale disaster, fill your bathtubs with water as an extra precaution.
Don't forget to store water for your pets.
Following the rule of one gallon per person per day is a good guideline for water storage.
Decide whether you're filling your own containers or buying commercially bottled water.
Calculate the amount of water you need (one gallon per person, per day, times the number of people in your household, times the number of days in your chosen preparedness period).
Stock up on water accordingly to ensure your survival during emergencies.
Fire: Cooking and Warmth
In a bug-in scenario, fire serves two critical purposes: providing warmth and cooking food. To ensure you're well-prepared, consider these affordable off-grid cooking solutions:
1. Fireplace or Wood-Burning Stove:
Ensure that your wood-burning stove can both heat your space and be used for cooking. Even an open-concept fireplace can serve as a cooking and water-boiling source.
Installing a metal swing arm in the fireplace allows you to place pots and kettles over the open flame for efficient cooking.
2. Outdoor Fire Pit:
An outdoor fire pit can be an excellent way to cook and boil water, especially with the addition of a tripod and swing-away cooking grill.
3. BBQ Grill:
While not the most rugged option, a BBQ grill offers convenience. Ensure you have extra propane tanks or bags of charcoal on hand for sustained use.
4. Natural Fuel Rocket Stoves:
Modern rocket stoves are highly efficient and can operate on various natural fuels such as sticks, twigs, pinecones, charcoal, and biomass.
5. Camping Stoves:
Lightweight camping stoves are a simple solution, but they rely on fuel canisters. Stock up on the appropriate fuel for extended use. Note that these stoves are typically designed for cooking for one or two people.
Whichever cooking stove you select, make sure you have the necessary metal cookware, pots, and utensils for cooking meals and boiling water during an emergency.
Choose an off-grid cooking solution that suits your needs and budget.
Stock up on the required fuel for your chosen cooking method.
Ensure you have metal cookware and utensils that are compatible with your selected cooking stove.
Food: Stocking Up for Survival
Securing an adequate food supply is crucial, especially when disasters disrupt our usual food sources. The food you see on grocery store shelves depends on a complex logistics network that can be easily disrupted during emergencies. Estimate your family's calorie requirements. On average, adult females need about 2,000 calories per day, while adult males require approximately 2,500 calories. Adjust for increased activity and stress during survival situations. To ensure your family's food security, consider the following tips:
Short-Term Food Storage:
Store at least two weeks' worth of your regular, everyday food that your family enjoys.
Long-Term Food Storage:
Stockpile at least six months to a year's worth of food with a shelf life of 25-30 years. Options include Canned goods, MREs, freeze-dried food, or similarly packaged foods.
Seeds for Sprouting: Maintain seeds for growing sprouts, such as mustard seeds, sunflower seeds, and lentils. These sprouts provide vital nutrients and require minimal water and sunlight.
Seeds for Planting: Prepare for the long term with heirloom seeds for planting in your garden, including varieties like kale, spinach, radishes, carrots, broccoli, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, peas, and beans.
Livestock: If possible, consider raising chickens for eggs and meat, goats for milk, and other livestock, depending on available space and resources.
Canning Your Own Food: Canning fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats is a more labor-intensive but valuable preservation method.
Preserve bulk food like grains and dried beans by storing them in airtight, food-grade containers with oxygen absorbers to maintain freshness.
Hunting, Farming, Gardening, and Gathering: Developing skills in hunting, foraging, and gardening can provide additional food sources, particularly for long-term survival.
Ensure your food storage is simple, with a long shelf life and minimal preparation requirements. Monitoring expiration dates and regularly rotating your stock is essential to maintain food quality. Combine various food storage options to create a well-rounded food supply. Don't hesitate to include rice, dry cereal, granola, powdered milk, energy bars, and beef jerky in your plan.
Refrigerator and Freezer Considerations:
During power outages, prioritize consuming the perishable items in your refrigerator and freezer.
If it's cold outside, you can store items on your porch.
Consider investing in a generator to keep your appliances running.
running a generator in a “2 hours on – 4 hours off” cycle makes best use of fuel.
Keep a thermometer in your fridge. If it rises above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours then throw any perishable food away.
Other Food Storage Tips:
Acquire a manual can opener.
Account for any special dietary needs.
For infants, stock up on powdered formula.
Don't forget your pets; they also need food.
Select your preferred food storage solutions or a combination.
Begin building your food stockpile.
Regularly check expiration dates and replace items as needed to ensure freshness.
Waste and Sanitation: Keeping It Clean
Even in the comfort of your well-stocked home, waste management is a critical consideration. It encompasses both kitchen waste and human waste. Let's break it down:
In a disaster scenario, you must manage kitchen waste efficiently to avoid drawing unwanted attention and protect your precious resources. Here's how:
Minimize Leftover Food: Consume leftover food as much as possible to reduce waste.
Recycle Packaging: Get creative with recycling. Reuse cans as cooking pots, glass jars as drinking glasses or seed-starting containers, and crumpled paper as an alternative to toilet paper. The more you can repurpose, the less you'll need to throw away.
Discreet Disposal: If possible, bury your trash instead of burning it, as smoke may attract attention.
Managing human waste without a functioning flush toilet is a serious concern. Depending on your water supply, consider the following options:
Use the Toilet (if Water Is Available): If running water is still accessible, use the toilet and flush with a bucket of non-potable water (not your drinking water).
Bucket and Kitty Litter: Employ a 5-gallon bucket with kitty litter and a scoop. After each use, cover waste with a scoop of litter. This provides an easy and discreet solution.
Portable Toilet: Invest in a portable toilet equipped with a seat and receptacle. You can use kitty litter or opt for biogel bags to capture waste. Remember to safely dispose of waste from a portable toilet by burying it away from your living area and water sources.
Outhouse: If you have ample space, consider digging a hole on your property and constructing an outhouse. Be cautious to place it far from your home, gardens, and water sources to prevent contamination.
Proper waste and sanitation management is vital for both your safety and the security of your resources during extended disaster scenarios.
Evaluate the best waste management strategy based on your situation.
Ensure you have the necessary supplies and equipment for your chosen waste management method.
Familiarize yourself with local regulations and guidelines for waste disposal to protect your environment and community.
Power and Light: Illuminating the Darkness
Electricity is like the unsung hero of modern life, offering us the gift of light and entertainment. When it comes to electricity during a bug-in scenario, caution is the name of the game. Generating electricity can attract unwanted attention, especially if you're using a noisy gas generator. Here's how to handle power and light effectively:
Solar Panels: Wired into your house, solar panels provide a sustainable source of electricity without the noise and pollution associated with generators.
Solar Power Generator: Consider a solar power generator with a charging station for portable electricity needs.
Geothermal Power Generation: A more advanced option, geothermal power harnesses the Earth's natural heat to generate electricity.
Portable Solar Chargers: These small devices are perfect for charging individual devices and batteries, ensuring you stay connected and powered up.
Battery-Operated Camp Lights: These offer a practical, portable solution for lighting in dark times.
Oil or Kerosene Lanterns: Reliable and versatile, lanterns can provide a warm, flickering glow.
Candles: Simple and readily available, candles are a classic source of light.
Flashlights: An essential tool for portable lighting needs, flashlights are practical and efficient.
Headlamps: These hands-free devices are perfect for activities that require both hands while providing focused light.
Remember, maintaining a low profile is essential to avoid attracting attention, especially when the power is out. If you're using lights and want to stay discreet:
Window Coverings: Use dark materials like garbage bags to block light from escaping through windows, keeping your location hidden in the dark.
During a bug-in situation, ensuring a steady source of light without drawing attention is key to maintaining your safety and security.
Assess your electricity needs and choose the most suitable power generation option.
Stock up on the necessary equipment, including solar panels, generators, and portable solar chargers.
Plan your lighting strategy with a combination of battery-operated lights, lanterns, candles, flashlights, and headlamps.
Practice light discipline to keep your location concealed from potential threats.
Communication During a Bug-In
Effective communication is paramount when bugging in, even from the comfort of your home. Staying informed about the world's events is crucial.
Stay Informed: Keep a vigilant eye on local and regional news if power remains available.
Prepare for Power Outages: In case of electricity disruptions, have a hand-crank or solar radio for emergency broadcasts.
Short-Range Communication: Equip your group with walkie-talkies for close-range communication.
HAM Radio: Consider obtaining a HAM radio and license to tune into external communications or even transmit messages. Listening is valuable, even without a license.
Alternative Means: Plan for instances when your group may separate. Establish predetermined locations for leaving messages or use a coded system to communicate securely.
Acquire an emergency radio that includes NOAA and emergency broadcast channels. Ensure it's in working condition and has a reliable power source.
Research and find out if there are local emergency broadcast channels available in your area. Make note of their frequencies or stations.
Determine specific walkie-talkie channels to be used for communication within your group. Ensure everyone is aware of these designated channels.
Identify local ham radio stations and ham radio repeaters that can be valuable in an emergency situation. Take note of their frequencies and locations.
Develop a printed list of predetermined rendezvous locations. Distribute this list to your family members or group, ensuring everyone knows where to meet in case of separation.
First Aid Preparedness
In a bug-in situation, leaving your home may not be an option. Hospitals and pharmacies might be inaccessible, and medical supplies could be delayed in reaching your area.
Prescription Medications: Ensure an ample supply of prescription medicines for yourself or loved ones, vital for short-term bug-in scenarios. Discuss your emergency preparedness needs with your doctor and request extra refills. If your doctor hesitates, consider finding a physician who is more accommodating to these concerns. Just like food, regularly monitor and rotate these medications.
First Aid Enhancement: Beyond prescription meds, strengthen your first aid resources. Consider enrolling in a local first aid course offered by organizations like the Red Cross. Notably, a highly recommended option is the emergency first aid kit from MedCall Assist, an Alaska-based company. If assembling your own kit, use theirs as a reference for a comprehensive and well-organized disaster preparedness medical kit.
Allergies: Check if anyone in your household has severe allergies and ensure you have an EpiPen if necessary.
Pets: Stock up on medications for your pets.
Eyecare: Don't overlook personal eyecare needs, including extra contact lenses, eyeglasses, and solutions.
Medical Supplies: Prepare a diverse medical supplies kit that includes:
Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) for each person.
Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) for general pain and fever, and ibuprofen (Advil) for muscle pain and soreness.
Antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl) and antiseptics like chlorhexidine and hydrogen peroxide.
Antibiotics (if available without a prescription), GI medications (e.g., Pepto-Bismol), and burn salves (e.g., aloe vera gel).
Nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal airway adjuncts for aiding unconscious individuals.
Bandages, gauze pads, and pressure dressings for minor injuries.
QuickClot for stopping severe bleeding, and tourniquets (e.g., Combat Application Tourniquets) as a last resort.
Sutures or staples for wound closure.
Trauma shears for clothing removal.
Irrigation syringes prefilled with sterile saline for wound cleaning.
Tweezers for various treatments, including splinter and cactus needle removal.
Splints for immobilizing sprains and fractures.
Needle decompression kit for treating tension pneumothorax due to chest injuries.
Stockpile of Prescription Medications: Most doctors are willing to provide extra refills for non-narcotic medications if you explain that it's for your personal emergency supply. Ensure you replace these meds as they expire.
Discuss obtaining extra medication supplies with your doctor.
Enhance your first aid resources, by considering a comprehensive kit or assembling your own.
Explore taking a basic first aid course, such as one offered by the Red Cross, to bolster your first aid skills.
Essential Tools and Reinforcements
In times of crisis, having the right tools at your disposal is crucial for addressing various repair and improvement needs around your home and equipment. Here's a list of essential tools and reinforcement materials:
Small hand tools
Nails and screws
A tool chest or cabinet stocked with these basic tools proves highly valuable for a wide range of repairs and enhancements. Moreover, a quality multi-tool can often perform the functions of several tools in one, saving space and increasing versatility.
If you reside in an urban or suburban area, it's wise to be prepared for situations where you might need to secure your home. This could involve boarding up windows or barricading doors during a serious crisis.
Learn how to turn off your utilities. Disasters frequently lead to damage to electrical lines, gas lines, and water lines. In such cases, you may need to shut them off.
Ensure you have the appropriate tools and knowledge to swiftly and safely disconnect all your utilities when required.
Security and Self-Defense in Times of Crisis
Disasters bring forth unusual circumstances. First responders and public safety services often find themselves overwhelmed, leading to delayed response times. The inundation of 911 calls is common, and both landline and mobile phone services, along with the Internet, may be disrupted. Furthermore, disasters can push typically law-abiding individuals to engage in actions they wouldn't consider under normal circumstances. They can also embolden existing criminals.
The significance of self-defense is frequently underestimated in disaster preparedness. Yet, it's an aspect that demands consideration. Large-scale disasters often witness a surge in violent crimes. Some individuals exploit the chaos and disorder to victimize others, driven by desperation or greed. This represents the darker side of every disaster.
Self-defense revolves around two primary categories: Home Security and Self-Defense Tools and Training.
Implementing simple and cost-effective upgrades to your home's security can significantly deter break-ins during disaster scenarios. Consider the following basic security measures:
Opt for solid metal or wood doors without decorative glass.
Install deadbolts on every exterior door.
Explore inside-mounted door bars for added security.
Display a "Beware of Dog" sign, even if you only have a cat or goldfish – criminals seek easy targets.
Upgrade door hardware with deep-set 3-inch screws.
Install exterior motion lights (solar-powered) at the front and back.
Plant 'defensive' rose bushes below ground-level windows.
Enhance window locks and prepare cut wood-block stoppers for the inside.
Consider a well-advertised video alarm system – whether you possess one or not.
Explore various alarm systems, ranging from primitive to high-tech. Even simple setups like tripwires attached to wind chimes can serve as effective alerts.
Self-Defense Tools & Training
While guns are a common choice for home defense, selecting the right type is a personal decision. However, possessing a firearm without knowledge and training can be a liability. Firearms training and regular practice are essential components of gun ownership and effective self-defense. Other self-defense tools, albeit less potent, include pepper spray and stun guns.
Firearms: If you choose firearms for self-defense, stockpile a few hundred rounds of ammunition for each firearm and store them in cool, dry containers. Ensure you have the proper cleaning supplies for firearm maintenance.
Bows: Recurve, Compound, or Crossbows, while requiring practice to master, offer advantages over firearms and can diversify your self-defense options.
Melee Weapons: Survival knives, machetes, baseball bats, and similar items are affordable and effective for close-range encounters.
Enhance your home security by implementing necessary upgrades.
Select a self-defense weapon for your home.
Prioritize training and practice with your chosen self-defense tool.
Remember, a weapon is only as effective as the ammunition you have for it.
Extra Considerations for Bugging In
Bugging in offers a comfortable way to weather difficult situations, but there are a few additional factors to keep in mind:
Comfort Foods and Items: In trying times, having comfort foods and other items on hand can provide a source of solace. A bit of chocolate, coffee, tea, some alcohol, or cigarettes (if you smoke) can help alleviate stress and bring a touch of comfort to your situation. Consider comfort foods that soothe your nerves and lift your spirits.
Barter Items: In ongoing crises, people may begin seeking food and supplies. Having valuable items for barter is essential. These can include goods like salt, seasonings, alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and soap. They can be valuable assets for trade.
Entertainment: To ward off boredom, having a source of entertainment is crucial. Ensure you have books, puzzles, board games, and cards at your disposal. For younger kids, coloring books and toys can be a great diversion. If you have the means to generate electricity, you can even enjoy movies for added entertainment.
Prepping Material Library: Access to the internet and computers may not be available during a crisis. Therefore, it's essential to maintain a good library of prepping material in hard copy.
Print out information from the internet and store hard copies.
Have a collection of traditional books on hand.
Being prepared with these extra considerations can significantly enhance your ability to weather the storm while bugging in.
No matter how thoroughly you've planned for bugging in, it's imperative to be equally prepared for bugging out. Urban settings can quickly descend into chaos, with lawlessness, gangs, pandemics, and unsanitary conditions becoming overwhelming. In such cases, it may be safer to leave the city.
Even if you've chosen to bug in at your rural property, the unpredictability of situations can leave you unable to defend your home. Hence, it's essential to always be ready to depart on short notice.
Every member of your family or group should have a prepared bug-out bag, ensuring you can leave swiftly and safely if needed. It's equally important to have a destination in mind, even if you haven't established a predetermined location with friends or family. Knowing where to go, whether it's a nearby national park or another specific destination, can be a crucial aspect of your emergency plan.
In the world of preparedness, flexibility and adaptability are your greatest assets. Stay safe and stay prepared!