Bug In Contingencies

Though Katrina hit more than a decade ago, I remember it like yesterday.  Forty-eight hours before the pundits at Best Bug Out Housethe National Weather Service finally decided on a landfall location, the local grocery stores were already picked clean like vultures working a road kill.  I only wish I had taken pictures of the mayhem.  I walked the aisles just to see what a premier national disaster does to a localized population of scared people.

The hurricane itself would hit land some 150 miles away from our town, but the impact would be felt locally for days, months and years.  Anything fresh was gone, all the fruits and vegetables gone.  Fresh milk, cold juices, bottled water, soft drinks, and most of the beer were gone.  A lot of the meat was gone unless you wanted calves liver or some other weird cuts.  Cold cuts, cheeses, and all that were emptied out.  There was nothing on the shelves that remotely resembled bread, rolls, bagels, crackers, English muffins or anything else you could spread peanut butter or jelly on.  Oh, all that was gone, too.  Virtually everything else in the store food and drink wise had been bought out.  It was a ghost land.  If you had not been in the first wave of panic shoppers 72 hours before the storm hit, then you were flat out of luck.  The question is now and have we learned our lesson that if we plan a Bug In during a SHTF are we any more ready today, than we were ten years ago?

Societal Woes Arrive

Before I get into the meat of prepping your Bug In location for a SHTF, let me relay what also developed in the area SHTF Survivalwhere I live as a result of the evacuation of thousands of people from the Gulf Coast in advance of Katrina.  As fast as they could get north on the interstate highways, we had hundreds if not thousands of people descend upon our city.  Every motel room booked quickly.  Local restaurants were overwhelmed.  Even their food stores ran short.  A fair ground building was set up as a help center to house and feed people.  That situation ended up lasting for weeks.  I visited the site after it was finally closed and it was a virtual trash pile.  You might remember what people did to the Super Dome in New Orleans.  We had the same thing only on a smaller scale.

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To abbreviate the details, for several months, many of these refugees remained in the regional area.  Crime shot up 200%.  Construction, roofing, and clean up crews flocked into the area from all over the country.  Some literally preyed upon the citizens taking money, promising services, and then disappearing.  It took law enforcement and other authorities too long to get a handle on controlling all of this activity.  It left a really sour taste in the mouths of many, even those poised to help the honestly needy.

My point is, besides preparing your own property to withstand and survive any kind of a SHTF, you also have to prepare for the aftermath.  In fact, in our case the aftermath was actually worse than how the SHTF impacted the region.  At my own house and neighborhood we were lucky.  Sure we went five days without power in August, when temperatures went over 100 degrees but we unofficially bonded together as neighbors to watch things and maintain control over our residential area.  For days, I sat on the front porch eying trucks with out-of-state, out-of-county license plates file down the streets looking for opportunities.  Perhaps it was the AR lying across my lap in the rocking chair that deterred them from stopping at my place.  I hope so.

Home Assessment

You need to conduct a firsthand, thorough evaluation of your Bug In house and property.  If you live in a housing Best Survival Bug Out Bagresidential area, then look around your house and your immediate neighbor’s houses to get a complete understanding of access points, how outsiders might get to your back door, easy access windows, garage doors, or other points of entry.  You may elect not to harden these against oppressive entry because of the expense and hassle, but at least you will know your home’s weak points.  Today, they make all kinds of secure window and door entry covers to keep out everyone but the most ardent determined thug.  If those jacks want in, about all you can do is shoot them out a porthole.

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Most garage doors you can lock down in a variety of ways.  However, like I mentioned above the really talented thieves will have a gas powered disk saw that will slice through an aluminum garage door or some steel home doors in a matter of seconds.  They can also cut through the roof, around window frames, through non-brick sidewalls and other suspect points of entry.  If you do not or cannot protect all of these points, then you have to devise a planning and train to defend yourself from inside.

Hey, Nobody is Home Here!

I’d love to hear from everyone in the comments below if you think posting a sign like that outside would have an Survivalimpact on deterring any unwanted entry.  I have seen metal signs at gun shows that say things like “There is nothing in this house worth your life for breaking in” or whatever.  I am just doubtful such postings would deter anyone.  Perhaps a painted marking on the outside of the house as in post-Katrina that identifies the house as searched and secured as nobody being home?


Having said that, I think during any kind of a SHTF either natural or unnatural that you want to maintain a low profile around your Bug In residence, unless you and a survival team or neighbors actively conduct armed patrols outside in full view.  During the day, stay in the house as much as possible.  Use only one exit and entry, one that is more out of public view from the street.  At night, blacken a room you can stay in or keep all windows in the main living area securely covered permitting no light to be seen.  Go outside yourself to double check this. This approach of course is a point of debate.  Is it better to show a presence (armed) or maintain a discrete lack of visibility?  What do you think?

Bug In SHTF Supply Up

This becomes the hard and fast of the survival part.  You have to stock up enough water and food to sustain top_survival_blog_survival_survivalist_teotwawki_shtf_shtfblogyourself for the long haul, while not even knowing what that means.  I think maybe we all hope whatever kind of a SHTF occurs, that at some point, hopefully sooner than later, that calm and public resolve will be returned to normal.  If you are optimistic, then I say plan on sustaining you and your family for a minimum of a month.  If you lack faith in the “system” then you might want to think in terms of six months.  I cannot imagine the efficiency, manageability, affordability, and space to keep enough supplies to hold out at a Bug In (or Out for that matter) for that long.  Perhaps I am self-deluding here?  What say you?

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I recall when attending the University of Missouri back in the late 60s and 70s that the library in the center of campus was a storage site for supplies in the event of a NBC (nuclear, biological, or chemical) attack.  Big drums of supplies, food, and water lined the basement halls and book stacks.  As I look back today, no way would all those supplies have lasted hardly any time at all for a campus population of say 25,000 students, not counting everybody else.  See my point?

So, anyway, initially think in terms of holding out for a month.  That alone will be taxing enough.  You may decide to go with plastic tubs, cardboard cases, or canisters of commercially available survival foods, MREs or other foods.  I can see that as a good option, expensive, but not a bad plan.

You other options made easier by Bugging In at your own residence is to supply up with tons of canned goods of all kinds to weather the SHTF.  I will not detail here nutritional requirements, quantities, calories, food prep, or such.  There are much better resources out there to study for this information, but do keep these ideas in mind especially how you will “cook” food on what and such.

Just keep everything in perspective in terms of how many people you have to feed, and what their general likes and dislikes are.  If you buy ten cases of potted meat, but nobody will touch it with a ten food pole, then you made a bad choice.  Water supplies could be a real issue.  It would be nice to hope that the sink tap water will continue to flow, but what if it does not or it is not drinkable?  Storing large quantities of drinking water is problematic.  I recommend filling milk jugs or other large gallon water containers to keep in the garage or basement.  Maybe this could be done at the Nth hour before a storm of any kind hits, like they recommend filling bathtubs for extra water.  I would plan on maintaining some water supplies though.  It will always take more than what you planned on.

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A survivalist friend of mine maintains a stock of 50 cases of 24-bottles each of plastic bottled water.  He rotates it by purchase dates.  He only has 2-3 people at home to worry about, so I would think this much water would last a while, but who really knows how long?  At least that is a start.

Now, make a list of all the other supplies you might need besides food and water.  A starting list might include medicines, OTC items, paper products, candles, cell batteries, solar panel re-chargers, clothing, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, extra eyeglasses, medical/first aid kit(s), back up heater(s), fuels, propane, charcoal, AM-FM radio(s), CB radio, scanner, water filter, fire extinguisher(s), so on and so forth.

Bug In Defense

I hope at a future date to develop another article dedicated in more depth to this subject.  For now, just know and Survival SHTFrealize that you may not be able to simply huddle up in your Bug In home and hope to be left alone.  I suspect or fear for some preppers that are not inclined as many of us are to be aptly prepared to defend ourselves against unwanted intrusions to our domicile.  This can be a very scary situation even for those that think they are prepared.  It is just another reality of the SHTF aftermath.  Let’s be honest, few of us are really prepared to shoot or kill another human being, but it might come to that in defense of our family.  Scavengers are very likely to be about their business of robbing homes and businesses of anything of what they deem is valuable.

Remember the thugs pushing shopping carts down the streets of New Orleans in three feet of water loaded with electronics and other merchandise?  This could and likely will happen even in your quiet little neighborhood, too, depending on how out of control everything gets after the SHTF resides.  Expect it, prepare for it, and hope it never happens.  So, there is a very thin thumbnail sketch of some Bug In contingencies that you may have to deal with and prepare for.  We can sometimes see natural SHTFs like storms and severe weather coming somewhat in advance.  Societal collapses are more difficult to predict.  Some get out of hand so quickly it is hard to react, aka Ferguson, MO.  Of course, planning and preparation is the key to survival.

Photos By:
Apocalypse 101
Dan Davis

Written by John J. Woods

John J. Woods, PhD, has been outdoor writing for over 35 years with over 3000 articles, and columns published on firearms, gun history, collecting, appraising, product reviews and hunting. Dr. Woods is currently the Vice President of Economic Development at a College in the Southern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of John J.'s articles.

12 thoughts on “Bug In Contingencies”

  1. If a true teotwawki event arrived in my driveway, and law enforcement was nonexistent, then I would not hesitate to kill the first intruder, disembowel him/her and hang the body upside down from my shade tree in the front yard. If that doesn't get the message across then I'd keep killing. General Curtis LeMay once said, "If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting." When law enforcement goes home to take care of their own, we can expect the very worst and we should adamantly, redundantly reply with the very worst also. Pain builds character, and death solves all problems. Game on!

  2. Where I live we were out of power 11 days it did little other than be a pain without AC.

    I keep a case of chemical ice packs put them in a towel breathe in cool air put on the back of your neck and reduces being over heated.

    As far as water I have barrels that stay full and I use them for watering the garden every few months and refill so the water keeps fresh and I have numerous ways to treat water anyway so water is not an issue.

    food that is where a bit of forethought is required we have plenty of warning so have crackers and get a couple loaves of bread.
    people today live week to week BAD idea groceries need to be a month to month and buy bulk it takes a while to get acclimated to it but it saves plenty of money over a year and once your stocked up you no longer need to by at regular prices but buy plenty when items are on sale.

    We did not have any problem with crime this area is as redneck as it comes anyone and everyone knows it won't end well if you play around here I am not so silly as to have a totally electric home if I did I would have propane lanterns heater and a stove just in case.
    most all my neighbors are in some trade or have been I built my home and have a considerable amount of repair or material to do most repairs I can wait until the insurance company pays off.
    of course as anyone we could be wiped bare hardly a concrete slab left in that case I am blessed with many friends that already want me to take up residence I just hope I can make it out with a vehicle of my possessions and I should be fine.

    being afraid that is a issue of people out of their comfort zone or the unknown old rednecks do not really have that problem been there done that for fun even.

    I have OK neighbors I will share the freezer as they have in the past with me stew does not go bad just keep it simmering and add to it vegetables last for days without refrigeration or meats can be canned or kept over smoke until you need a meal another prep is to freeze all your bottled water use your generator sparingly to keep freezer & fridge going to keep food once you run out of fuel put all the frozen bottles in your coolers with what food you have left it should last 3 days more.

    as far as some one cutting into my home or shop I don't think so I hope they do bring a shopping cart so I will have a way to move them to the corner.
    I have animals so I will have warning of trespassers I have fenced property with enough barbed wire to reinforce it if need be.
    if you have to leave your probably not prepared enough food water medications alternative energy full auto tanks and extra gas water storage alternative fuel for cooking and light.
    I run computer fans off vehicle batteries to keep cool I can recharge them off the vehicle during the day and run the AC or heater to get some comfort.

    your better to have a couple of 2500 watt generators than a single large on have some 3 way power spliters and enough and heavy enough cord to run your appliances. try to run them alternately a freezer only needs to run 8 hours in 24 to stay cold a 5500 BTU AC will cool a room 10×10 if you think your going to live like on the grid — you ain't the new propane generators will swallow a 250 gallon propane tank between 5 to 10 days depending on your power usage.and running 24 hours a day.

    most people today are not familiar with violence or repair maintenance / southern engineering
    or have ever walked for more than a day camped for more than a few days without an RV.
    and do not have enough skills to be confident to exist ( it is not really survival) for a few weeks off the grid our society has become too specific and too sedentary and no longer have the broad knowledge of our grand parents how many people can drive a stick or a split axle know how to run a tractor / backhoe so many things and it is hard to get the experience when you work full time and have a family IMHO.

  3. Living in Florida, this is our biggest threat and what we first started preparing for. Since we don't live where we would get hit by a storm surge or flooding, we have no intentions of leaving. We will be closing the house up for the storm and defending what we have. When I first moved here and starting getting things together to close up the house, people constantly questioned me. "Why are you wasting all of that money, we haven't had a hurricane in years." It didn't me long to find out that they operated on the premise of buy plywood if a storm was coming and then throw it away as soon as the threat passes. We have all of ours cut and labeled so all we have to do is slap them up. It is also hard to understand people that have no way of keeping the power on, running out and buying cold or frozen foods just before a big storm. We have a small generator, but rely mostly on solar when the power is out. In a situation like Katrina, we would be using up all of our cold and frozen foods first and then falling back to our large supplies of canned goods. We keep all of our 5 gal kitty litter buckets stacked away in the garage and fill them with water just prior to a storm. This is used to supplement our regular stored water supplies and rain catchment. We also have both Katadyn and Sawyer water filters to filter all collected rain water, as well as Pur charcoal filters to improve the taste. All water, other than what is bottled, will be run through a couple of filters, prior to consumption. Our garage door is reinforced with hurricane braces and two extra dead bolt locks. Once it it closed and secured, our large minivan will be parked parallel to it as close as we can get it, on the outside. We also have security cameras around the outside of the house, so we can monitor what is happening, without opening doors and windows. Fortunately, we live far enough out of town on a dead end road, that there are no hotels and restaurants close to us. Hopefully this will help keep down the riffraff.

  4. Remember the 6 P's: proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance! Fortify your home as best you can and don't rely on electronics. The electrical grid is fragile and generators running and/or solar panels will probably make you a target. Short of armored vehicles, fire is the easiest weapon to use against a fortified house/home so make yours as fire resistant/proof as possible. A homemade mortar/catapult to launch/throw fire bombs is fairly easy to make. Water is your number one thing to store, but I would suggest actually running low-water drills because you use a lot more water then you realize; even a gallon per day per person for drinking quickly adds up. I don't think having just one large source of water is as good as several smaller ones since if something happens (leak, contamination,etc.) and you loose your only large source of water, you're SOL. Plus using 5-6 gallon water jugs is much easier to use and refill (and thus rotate) on a daily basis then a large tank! We have a large elevated (and hidden) water tank that is used to refill animal/livestock buckets/tanks and immediately refilled, but of course this could be an alternate water source for the two-legged critters! It's located next to our house and in wintertime, the heated waste air from the clothes dryer is vented underneath the tank to help keep it from freezing; but of course, in a grid-down situation, that wouldn't be an option! To me, long-term food storage isn't too expensive if you only buy freeze-dried and/or dehydrated food in #10 cans on sale and you include them in your daily or weekly menu; best way to ensure rotation of stock and the likelyhood that you can/will eat these foods when you have to without too much gastric distress. How much do you spend on a single meal when you eat out? $10 to $20 per person? I just purchased (on sale) two cases of freeze-dried chicken teriaki with rice for $20 each can, 10 (small) servings per can. Thats 5 to 10 meals for the cost of one or two restaurant meals and a 20+ year shelf life! Makes sense to me! Also, a way (such as a propane grill) to cook large quantities of food outdoors (especially in winter) or to make large amounts of jerky if you don't have enough feed for your livestock and need to cull the herd! Make such you have lots of air-tight containers if this is a possibility/probability! Makes a good barter item too! GLAHP!

    • If there is one truth to prepping, everything is layered. You should have more than one way to start a fire and more than one way to get, purify and carry water.

      I have about 50 one gallon water jugs, and adding, clean and dry in a sealed cardboard box. As long as I have a few hours or more warning, I can fill them all. The advantages are, I can share. If 1 jug "fails", not a big loss. If I have to leave, I can take some. And the bath tub water bag is also good to have. And fill up the clothes washer. Don't forget, you have a water heater.

  5. Low profile or deterrent profile? That's a tough one. I am prepared for both. I have pre-cut window blackouts for most of the house. I plan on maintaining light and noise discipline 24/7. At some point the perimeter of the neighborhood would need to be patrolled. I guess I'm hoping the slackers and unprepared will leave and those of us left will hold the line.

    Unless we are in danger of being overrun by organized groups, I plan on staying put . Looters will be very unhappy with me, but the crows will eat well.

    We are set-up good as possible and doing more all the time. Probably could stay home for a year without seeking any material goods. Scratch that, we need more booze.

    • 🙂

      Booze, especially the hard stuff, is a great resource to have on hand. It can be used for a multitude of purposes from medicinal to recreational to being a cleaner/disinfectant. It keeps virtually forever and has great potential as barter material.

      My own plans are somewhat variable, largely depending on what goes down. In a serious enough situation I would have to up and relocate with some friends who live a couple of hours' drive away. However, if for whatever reason my vehicle is inoperative, I would not relish the hike. The couple of hours' drive could easily be a week or more on foot.

      Granted I have a bicycle and one of the things I had thought of was using it "Vietcong" style more as something to overload by hanging gear off of and pushing it than riding it. But then that begs the question of how everybody else is reacting to the situation and how desperate they are. In a worst case scenario going on foot could still be the better option as I could cut cross country avoiding roads and paths and would not obviously stand out as somebody who might have a lot of gear that could be worth stealing.

      The other potential problem is how to know when to split. If we end up in some sort of slow motion economic collapse then trying to figure out the optimum time to leave could be tricky. Too soon and I would have effectively given up my job, my apartment and a bunch of stuff I would prefer not to have lost for a situation that might have sorted itself out given time. Also, as long as my personal economic situation hasn't totally gone to hell in a handbasket there's always stuff I can do to improve my situation.

      Too late and I end up trying to deal with the "Golden Horde" problem of all the other refugees who came to the same decision at the same time and are now competing with everybody else for what they need. The other version of "too late" has me trapped in a last stand situation in my apartment or getting jumped on the street while trying to run whatever errands I needed to get done.

      I'm not that worried about the sort of situation that suddenly springs up out of nowhere because if the catastrophe is big, bold, obvious and in your face then that makes it easier to decide what to do. But the slow motion scenarios where you're dealing with a lot of "gray" situations leading up to a serious collapse but with no obvious point of no return are what are concerning me more lately.

  6. I use two liter soda bottles for most of my water storage, I've heard that the milk jugs can grow bacteria if you don't get clean them extremely well, I am trying to eliminate soda but until I do the bottle are free for me, try asking friends/family that drink soda to save empty bottles for you. Also, consider getting a faucet filter and filling your stored water only from that filter in case you get a situation like Flint Michigan.
    The jury is still out on low profile or openly armed, I live in a gated apartment complex that would be easier to protect, but I am unsure if the neighbors would support that effort (as well as my anti 2A sheriff….) so maybe a few guys/gals at the gate with those of us who own firearms on standby out of sight.
    I have enough MREs from the Guard to last the wife and I a month, but I'd rather not eat those for weeks straight (can be mean to your digestive system), so we stock up more of what we usually eat. We do need to get a camping stove to use when the power goes out.

  7. IMHO, a lot of survivalists, and survival writers, need to focus more on water. Water is life. You don't just need enough to drink. You need to cook and wash. And even water your garden during a drought.

    If you are serious about survival, you should have an essentially unlimited source of water on your property. Ideally, a well which can be hand-pumped which produces potable water. Or at least a source of water which requires only killing of pathogens but appears clean, such as a stream or lake. If not, at least some form of bulk water within walking distance, and a some kind of cart to carry it.

    If your bug-in location does not have an essentially unlimited source of water which can be purified, then you will have to bug out when your stored water runs out. Rain water helps, but does not eliminate the need for some other source. Water is simply too bulky and heavy to store.

    Conversely, because water is so essential, you need a week or two actually stored, just in case your primary supply fails.

  8. We went through Andrew in 92 and I agree. The aftermath is the one to prepare for. We prepared and we were able to watch the mobs at the National Guard aid sites. Waiting in line for bottled water, food and clothing. We stocked up on water, filled up all of the bath tubs for utility water, stocked up on drinking water, canned foods, enough to last us months. As a family we banded together and put our resources together. Tools, food, water, fuel, money, everything.

    Afterwards our neighborhood banded together. My grandfather had an old Mini-14, my dad had some kind of 1911, and some neighbors had shotguns and bolt guns. As neighbors on the street, we regularly socialized to keep up with current events, also to create an armed pressence.

    Fortunately unlike Katrina we weren't disarmed. Also we had a National Guard security detail posted near our neighborhood. But they weren't always there as there were other areas needing their services. We would have 'drifters' walk through. They'd have absolutely no purpose in being on our street. We'd watch them as they'd walk through. I like to think it was the armed coordinated group that kept them from coming back. Networking with and keeping good relations with your family, friends and neighbors I think is one of the best preps. Right up there with the basics.

    Stay prepared, stay safe.


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