How To Bug Out From Mother Nature

Are you prepared for an emergency evacuation due to Mother Nature?  Between forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other natural and/or man-made disasters, none of us are completely immune to the threat of having to bug out from our homes.

Be Prepared

For certain people that live in high risk zones, it is especially important to be prepared at all times.  When you walk out the Survival Planningdoor, you need to be mentally prepared to never see your home again.  The team at Survival Cache wants you to be prepared, so here are some of our ideas on what you need to do before an emergency evacuation in order to be prepared, and what to bring when it actually occurs.

Before any threat has occurred, you always want to make sure that you have an inventory of all the things in your home for the insurance company should a disaster occur.  Photos and videos are the best way to inventory, however then you also have to consider how to store the photos so that they are not ruined in the disaster. There are many websites now that allow you to store your photos and videos online for free.   Google drive and Apple iCloud are two that provide ample space for free.  Your photos/videos will be stored in the cloud at one of their secure data centers.  Another idea which we highly recommend is to backup your photos and other important documents to a fireproof and waterproof external hard drive, such as the ioSafe hard drive or a solid thumb drive like the Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth Thumb Drive.

This also goes for important documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, social security cards, etc. If you haveDoomsday Preppers these items scanned into the computer and backed up to a safe location, this will make your life a lot easier should a disaster occur that causes you to lose everything.


Secondly, you want to prepare your vehicle for an emergency before any threat is imminent.  This includes always having certain items in your vehicle such as flashlights, extra batteries, hand crank emergency radio, Life Hammer, fire starter or matches, first aid kit as well as emergency food and extra water/water purification method. We also recommend keeping things like gloves, coats, rain gear, good walking shoes, emergency shelter and boots in your vehicle at all times if you have the space for it.

With your vehicles comes route planning.  Plan alternate routes from your home to safe areas.  Scout different ways home Doomsday Prepperswhen you drive back from work, don’t always take the easy way.  Know the back roads, know the back highways.  Have a link up plan for your family.  Plan a link up plan as if mobile phones and text messaging will not work.  Example: “If something happens to the area we live in, meet at Uncle John’s house on the hill.  We will be safe there and I will discuss with Uncle John.”

As far as what to take with you during an evacuation, this all depends on how much time you have. Also, we recommend that each individual prepare a checklist of items that is the most important for their family. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Don’t Wait, Get Started

1. Important Documents:
-Birth Certificates
-Drivers’ licenses
-Bank documents
-Insurance papers & cards – health, auto, etc
-Marriage license
-Corporate Documents (If you own a business)
-House Deed
-Legal documents such as will, etc.

2. Things of Importance & Value:
-Expensive Jewelry
-Check book
-Cell phones

3. Health Needs:
-Medications for all family members and pets
-Hearing Aids
-Group First Aid Kit
-Non Perishable food
-Can Opener

4. Pets:
-Pet Food

5. Clothing:
-Several days worth of clothing changes for each family member
-Underwear, PJ’s for all family members
-Coats, hats, gloves depending on weather
-Shoes and/or boots

6. Shelter:
-A solid 3 or 4 season tent
-Sleeping bags
-Pillows and blankets

Depending upon how much time you have before leaving your house, there are also certain things you can do to The Answer Water Bottle Filtration Solution 300x250prepare your home and your family before you evacuate.  The following evac list was prepared by Dick Oates, and can be found at this website (click here). Many of these items apply specifically to evacuation for a forest fire, so they may need to be adjusted for your particular disaster threats.

What to do Before Leaving (compiled by Dick Oates)

Close evacuation car windows, DO NOT LOCK CAR and leave keys in ignition
Close fire resistant window coverings, heavy drapes, and Venetian blinds
Close garage door, leave it unlocked (disconnect automatic garage door opener)
Close or cover outside vents and shutters
Close sliding glass doors into the center of the house (DON’T lock them)
Determine where separated members will meet
Disconnect propane tank
Don’t tie up telephone lines (notify friends and relatives by e-mail where to contact you)
Establish an evacuation plan, travel route, probable destination
Fill bathtubs, sinks, and containers with water
Fill evacuation vehicle gas tank
Follow any official agency’s evacuation instructions
If instructed, tie large white cloth to front door knob
Leave one light on in each general area of your house
Lock doors and windows
Make safety equipment obvious for firefighters (spigots, etc)
Move overstuffed furniture away from windows
Park evacuation vehicle in the garage heading toward street
Place a ladder against the roof of the house on the side opposite the approaching fire
Plug air vents and openings that are close to the ground
Prepare an “information note” to leave on the door detailing who you are, where you are, how to get a hold of you
In your “information note” tell where flammables are (such as gas, ammo, chemicals – move them all into one place)
Release any livestock in the area
Remove combustible items from around the outside of the house
Remove lace, nylon, or light material drapes and curtains
Soak burlap sacks, small rugs, or large rags in containers
Turn off appliances, thermostats, fireplaces, stoves
Turn off natural gas at meter
Turn on exterior lights

With this information, we encourage you all to make your own lists and keep them somewhere where you can easily find them should you ever need to do so.  As always, we welcome any additional ideas on how to prepare for an emergency evacuation in the comments section.

Photos by:
Pikes Peak Red Cross
Van Truan


Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

17 thoughts on “How To Bug Out From Mother Nature”

  1. I won’t be bugging out without a GPS. In realistic and expected scenarios such as you describe, a GPS is a godsend when dealing with new territory, alternate routes, midnight evacs to other cities, and simply heading out of Dodge and up into the hills.

    Depending on the situation, you may have you hands full with chores other than map reading and route finding, especially in the dark where signs fly at you quickly and there may be competition. The GPS can give you instant info necessary to make snap decisions, and a heads-up to what’s ahead.

    I’d also recommend a quality but simple camp stove (like a Jetboil), and at least five extra gallons of gasoline for your vehicle, 10 if possible but in two easy to move/carry/pour plastic cans. This fuel buffer will extend your range to an ever widening circle of options as you increase your radius from the threat.

    A simple document storage method is to use gmail to email yourself your docs as attachments. You can access them from any internet connected device and share access if necessary. Just use a code word in the subject line for later searching, and perhaps use cryptic file names if you must name your files. I would avoid any online storage where your pics could be picked up by social media or accidentally shared publicly.

    Also, redundancy is better than one expensive harddrive. Multiple flash drives or SD flash cards are best in my opinion. I’ve had enough data storage failures to know that even the best fail. I had two mil-spec toughdrives go out within months of each other.

    Carry on.

  2. GPSis invaluable if the bug out reason is due to anything that disrupts your normal transportaion navigation – directional or road signs blown or knocked over, limited visibility of signs since no power to street lights, etc.

  3. Good ideas. Bugging out from Mother Nature is very different from having to bug out from a real SHTF situation. You can expect some sense of normalcy when you reach a safe area, so the list and planning are different from TEOTWAWKI. In a SHTF situation, there may be no place that is normal except your bug out location.

  4. In addition to the valuable suggestions Dick provided, if you live outside a traditional neighborhood or subdivision you can mark your property with indicators for the location of water sources (creeks, ponds, etc.), and alternative exits or side roads back to major roads.

    There is a concept called defensible space which is important as a planned buffer between your buildings and, say, a fire. There is also an ethics situation here where if you want others to take risks defending your property, you must ask yourself “Have I done everything I could do as well?”

    There is nothing more frustrating than risking your life for someone who has not done their share of the work ahead of time. By the way, when a scouting team assesses your property, they will note your contribution. If you drop the ball, they won’t risk breaking a fingernail to save your stuff. Why bother when you didn’t care enough either.

  5. now I live well inside Topeka, Kansas, but in the past I've lived on the edges of Wichita, Kansas. Here in Kansas besides tornadoes we have to keep an eye out on other weather and natural occurrences. In Central Kansas though we didn't have much in the way of woodlands, we did have prairie and pasture lands along with stubble fields in the drier months. Wild fires could burn long distances if a "controlled" burn became uncontrolled. In Eastern Kansas we have more woodlands and they can get rather woolly and if a prairie fire gets out of control and burns into these patches of forested land the wild fire can become a forest fire.

    The worry I had living on the edge of a city was that the grasses in the yards and the patches of trees and bushes around the houses were just as dry as those in the pastures and more wilder settings just outside the city limits. Range fires can spread into cities of the Great Plains and burn housing areas just as well as the can pastured, woodlands, and stubble fields. So this article has authority in this region as it would in others as a guide for getting away safely.

  6. I am enjoying reading all of these ideas and suggestions on B.O.B.s here. I have had a B.O.B packed and ready for years now, but until recently haven’t really thought of it as being prepared for when SHTF. I actually think my B.O.B. is more of a luxury item for me. Every year I pick a wilderness area and spend my weeks vacation being dropped off for 5 days and 6 nights with nothing more than my 2 knives (that I carry at all times), and the clothes of the season on my back. This is what I call my relaxing vacation.

  7. Nice checklist. I think you forgot the flashlight to put on your checklist. It is very important special during night when out of power.

  8. I'm not sure how old this thread is, but I just found it and wanted to add my humble input. We lost our house in the 2003 Pine Fire in San Diego and learned a few things first hand and also from our neighbors:
    1. Good home owner's insurance is worth it!
    2. Scanning important documents is great as a personal reference, but most (gov't or otherwise) agencies do not accept digital documents as proof of anything. If at all possible, take the physical documents with you in a water tight bag or other document container. If you don't have them in your possession, learn where to obtain copies (courthouse, military records, etc.) as soon as you can.
    3. Do not rely on a safe (fire resistant or otherwise) to protect anything valuable, especially documents. Due to the widespread nature of the wildfire that affected us, we did not receive a single bit of coverage from fire fighting agencies (not their fault, there simply wasn't enough of them). That meant most houses burnt clear to the ground and anyone that had a safe was subject to much more than the typical 30-45 minute burn protection rating. All of the documents inside were scorched to the point of uselessness. That included any other valuable they stored inside.
    3. Most things you own are simply material goods that can be replaced. Don't stress yourself trying to fill your car to the brim with items you're afraid to lose. Only take the basic necessities for living plus special (read: irreplaceable) items such as physical photographs or other small keepsakes that can't be reproduced. My pregnant wife and I were early into our marriage and didn't have a house-full of memories to burden us. We easily fit everything into our car with our pets and evacuated safely. Honestly, there was only one medium-sized cardboard box of Navy memorabilia that I wish I could have saved. Everything else was replaceable.

  9. good information here is where a bug in or out bag/s ready to rock & roll just when you think you can stay you gotta' go

    I know it is hard to leave everything you have worked hard for to who knows what fate we all love our comforts.
    I have had to start over and it is not fun just remember to have insurance for contents or renters insurance.
    You may not like to restart but the money will help.

    life is funny what we think we need ends up being what holds us down, like a dime in a pile of sh*t there is a bright side you just have to knock the crud off to see it.


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