I’ll Bug In Thank You

One of the most basic premises of a SHTF survival scenario is whether to stay put or pack up the SUV and hit the highway.  If you dodge How to bug Inout the garage to join the caravan of other escapees on the interstate, where are you going?  Do you have an alternative site already in mind or do you just hope to dead end off a gravel road in a national forest somewhere, throw up a tarp top and hope for the best?  Do you have enough supplies, gear, and stamina to handle it?  Or do you plan to hunker down where you reside and wait it out?  Despite the obvious detractors, Bug Ins have a lot of positive perspectives.

Clearly there are circumstances where even a Bug In will not work, nor would it be prudent to stay.  Hurricane Katrina comes to mind.  If your residence is about to be blow to bits by a major storm, flood, or other natural disaster, then you have to go ready or not.  Still even if you plan to Bug In long term, always plan a quick escape bag just in case.  But, lashing down the hatches and sitting tight can be a good plan, too.

There’s No Place Like Home

As Dorothy from Kansas found out, there really is no place like home.  At the very elementary levels of this plan, you hopefully have a How to Bug Inrelatively secure roof over your head.  This may be a house, mobile home, barn or other livable structure.  Mainly we are talking those of us lucky enough to have a single family dwelling.  You might be residing in an apartment house or townhouse, so plan accordingly for the potential of having stressed neighbors through the next wall.  Still a multi-family structure of some kind seems better to me than trying to make it in a cave or lean-to out in the woods somewhere.  A house offers four walls, a roof, and internal rooms for various functions including ample room to store survival stuff.  You may be lucky enough to have a garage or two or more.  Maybe there is an attic or basement, too.  The extra space is important to a strong mind when living out a survival situation.  A house should not be viewed as confining but as comforting.  You know your surroundings inside and out and that means a lot.  A Bug In domicile has to be more restful and that element is critical.

Also Read: To Bug In Or To Bug Out

Likewise you know the basics of your neighborhood.  You should know who lives next door, how many people should be in each house and hopefully something about their temperaments, attitudes, skill bases, and supplies they might have.  You might even have an idea if they could be helpful or a hindrance.  That is a whole lot better situation than having another group set up camp right next to you in the wilderness having come from out of nowhere.  The unknown can really work on the mind and psyche.

Home Defense

Following the Bug In logic, your residence would be easier to defend as well.  That might not be so easy in reality, but again you know the How to Bug Inset up inside and out.  This gives you a heads up on perhaps what to expect and from where.  You know the strong defense positions of your house and yard as well as the weak ones.  Always be preparing for all the possible contingencies.  As with approaching hurricanes along coastal areas prone to such events, I know homeowners prepare in advance by building strong plywood coverings for their windows, and doors.  This might be a suitable idea for prep for a survival scenario of any kind as well.  Again with a Bug In you have that option with the foundations of the structure already in place.  For sure weak points need to be fortified.

Also Read: Bug In Food Options

Inside our Bug In we have an idea how to defend it.  We know which windows to cover, which to guard, and which to use as observational posts.  It is the same with exit and entry doorways, garage doors, or outside basement entries.  We can harden or cover the most vulnerable and/or set up weapons at each point just in case of a breech attempt.

With free movements inside a house, we have plenty of room to lay out defensive gear, weapons, ammo, observational optics or whatever else we may have in store for potential invaders.  Those weapons and gear can be held securely and safe from the elements.  Outside it would be a constant battle to keep weapons operational, clean, dry and protected from extended environmental conditions.

This treatise hardly scratches the surface of considerations for conducting a Bug In plan for survival.  For me and my circumstances, there really is no viable alternative, so I am planning accordingly.  How are you executing your Bug In plan?  What other concerns should we be addressing?  Let us know your ideas.

All Photos By: Dr. John J. Woods

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.

25 thoughts on “I’ll Bug In Thank You”

  1. Hi Dr.,

    I applaud you efforts to make the best of your situation. I know from your other articles that your family circumstance prevent you from bugging out in the traditional sense.

    However, I'm curious, beyond beans bullets and bandaids, how do you plan on handling sanitation and the like? Also, have you considered any of the camouflage methods to make it appear your house is uninhabited or had suffered a fire or previous looting?

    Given your personal lack of options, I would expect your plans to go much deeper in some directions than ours given that most of us plan to pull the trigger on a bugout the moment is starts to stink. Thanks.

    • having your own well, and septic system on the property would be a starting point.
      (including a hand, or a solar operated pump)
      if you can only just keep the property taxes paid, they need another excuse to put you out.
      You can only really travel until the money runs out.

    • """have you considered any of the camouflage methods to make it appear your house is uninhabited ""

      Which is what most unprepared will be searching for!!!

    • Live in Washington dc suburbs. Gotta stay home. Or get out of dodge months before shtf. Impossible to travel on the roads around here when it rains or snows. Imagine if…..

  2. I think that one would be best served to have BOTH plans made …. Bug In or Bug Out, depending upon the type of emergency that arises. I agree that bugging in would be best in many instances, but in a situation such as a forest fire or a flood, bugging out would be more practical.

    • I totally agree that BOTH plans are necessary. I live about 80 miles from Minneapolis and should a nuclear weapon detonate in that vicinity, I would shelter in place. Many people wouldn't dream of leaving their home and likely wouldn't be prepared should it become untenable to stay there. Conversely, other people may grab their bug-out-bag at the first sign of problems rather than let the situation develop before making what could be a rash decision. I think you have the right mindset.

  3. As I am from Kansas I don't worry about hurricanes, but my home sits on the path that the June 1966 tornado took that wiped out a good portion of the city of Topeka back then. We are like only a quarter of a mile from the initial touch down site on Burnett's Mound. The twister sped up through our neighborhood and on into the center of the city. The house my mother and little sister own where we three live is the second house to exist on this site. We are an a slope about midway between the summit of the ridge line that bisects our neighborhood and the nearest creek which about forty to sixty feet below us. The summit is about another twenty to thirty feet above us. We are in the middle of our block on the flattest spot on the slope everything is downhill for us on three sides and up hill on the fourth. The hazards are winter storms which can make the street out front a pain to navigate after even six or eight inches of snow, but even worse when that snow has a layer of ice of any thickness under it and severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes from spring through fall. Other than the power substation about four blocks away we don't have to worry much about wind, tree limbs, or ice bring our local power grid down, yet we do keep alternate forms of illumination available just in case. If marauders or other gangs came through during a serious crisis it could be a bit nippy as the visibility because of the proximity of other homes makes any engagement just about always close quarters. If our neighbors and us worked together we could possibly set up security checkpoints at the intersections that lead into the neighborhood. That hinges on getting folks even those who are prepper minded to work together for the security and safety of the neighborhood prior to a crisis.

  4. Obviously if you stay put the food, gas, ammo, etc.. in the immediate area will be looted, but there will be many useful things left behind that you could use, reuse, repair. You will not find an almost perfect piece of steel to fix something at your house in the woods but you might find it searching a neighborhood. Just a thought.

  5. Some people are hard to please with any information presented. This was a great article, especially for those who are Noobs, and are unsure of good resources to use in their personal planning. For those who consider it a "waste", so be it. Not ever article can be a home run.

  6. good article, in my case, I live in hurricane country so I have an alternate location to go to. My family leases some property with an old homestead on it. even has a dug water well and live stream. It is several hundred acres with abundant wildlife so if that time comes, We are outa here! I have mapped out the safest route to it if things go further south.

  7. I too will be bugging in. My wife and I live alone in our 4000 sq ft home. Our home is in a small community about 2 miles from town. We have 22 homes in the community. 2 policemen live in the community.

    We have our own septic system. I'll be putting in a well thru the garage floor this summer. Water storage will be a 500-1000 gallon plastic tank. We have a wood burning fireplace that can heat the entire first floor. The basement is 8" reinforced poured concrete and insulated on both sides.

    I have 3 scanners, a SW receiver, SSB/CB, and 10 meter radio in the basement with all antenna's hidden in the attic. My son, and his wife will be with us in about 10 minutes. I have enough ARs and AKs to arm 12 people. 30 magazines per rifle are stored at home.

    Sister-in-law is a trauma flight nurse. She and her husband will be here in 60 minutes. I have a 1 year supply of food for 20 people.

    Need to dig the well and get more firewood. I'm considering putting in a pool to store extra water in plain sight.

  8. I think everyone would prefer to stay at home and ride out whatever the calamity may be. Depending on the situation, my plan is to occupy an observation post where I can overwatch my home, property, and the general state of affairs in the surrounding area. Should agents of the government come looking for me, I will be absent. Should neighbors seek to take whatever I have left in my home, I can interdict them should I chose to. Being at the home when either situation arises, commits me to reacting to that situation, whereas being off-site gives me flexibility to react, observe, or simply slip away to another, pre-planned hide site.

  9. It seems prudent to me to have several contingency plans thought out, bugging in being one of them. Having preps stored at different locations, various means of getting there, and a system of communications in place with different family members is a good idea. I would suggest always carriying several items at all times to help insure that the initial shock of emergency be made less hazardous. Carry a good pocket knife, have a lighter and a small flashlight. Keep cell phones fully charged as much as possible. I try to always think "What if the power went out?"
    Just my thoughts while reading a good article.

  10. It seems prudent to me to have several contingency plans thought out, bugging in being one of them. Having preps stored at different locations, various means of getting there, and a system of communications in place with different family members is a good idea. I would suggest always carriying several items at all times to help insure that the initial shock of emergency be made less hazardous. Carry a good pocket knife, have a lighter and a small flashlight. Keep cell phones fully charged as much as possible. I try to always think "What if the power went out?"

  11. There are a lot of good points everyone brings up. Best bet I feel, is to be diverse. Never putting all of your eggs in one place. but there is strength in numbers and networking.,

  12. I have a septic tank but it takes water to flush so I will go with a dug out house they last years and with a bucket of quick lime they do not smell all to bad for very long distances.

    as far as water our water table is within 30 foot to 35 well in the restrictions of a simple hand pump I could go deeper
    and use a venturi with a large belows or a hand operated compressor if there is no power.

    I have a lot of drums for water / rain collection and it rains here 30 inches a year.

    within a mile there is a creek and a few cattle tanks there are no cattle for many years.

    I have a passive solar water distillation pot so water could be enough to surfice of course water tables are dropping and lakes are drying up so thinking you have it in the bag is a mistake.

    as far as making a place look abandon that will bring scroungers just as well as a occupiied home defense is
    your only prevention from intrusion, either way.

    As far as lighting I have numerous lamps candles LED's lights crank charged and battery operated flash lights battery operated with solar panels to charge and inverters I pray they will work when needed but I keep a 5 gallon
    jug of lamp oil many pounds of wax and wick for both wax candles loil lamps and lanterns/.
    Wood and natural hardwood charcoal

    5 gallon copies of the old jerry can colored jugs are great for lamp oil or gas, kerosene, diesel. vienagar bleach and alcohol your going to need it if you have a use right now or not.

    I would tell folks to have a 50 pound sack of 10-10-10 fertilizer a 5 gallon bucket of epsom salt and a good supply o a few types of f insectiucide weed killer / defoiliant and hand tool for grass cutting like a yoyo or scythe scycle.
    I keep 50 pounds of fullers earth and a lot of boric acid.

    I have had to keep alot of this around as I have a garden and building a berry patch and bucket garden.
    building a stock of goods to take care of a mini farm it is also good to have a cove of mulch and good dirt.
    I also keep a few bails of hay for my rabbits and chickens in open top 55 gallon drums with a tin cap they last
    a couple of years as well as animal feed as when the flag goes up there is no telling how long it will be until normalization appears so I would keep chick starter and 20% laying pellets for chickens scratch grains are pathetic and will lower egg production I keep a 30 gallon drum of scratch only to give some eye appeal.

    feeding grass that is not dried will expose your rabbits to worms and other bad critters so dry and store in a hot shed for a summer before you feed it.

    Remember that all county services like mosquito spraying spaying nuetering aninimals dog catcher and many we may not know that helps or impacts us on a daily basis.
    so if your trying to be self sufficent and have a garden or even plan to bait in birds and other small game.
    it is much easier to have the products on hand getting acorns and grass seed as welll as making traps
    after puts you at a disadvantage best to do a little poaching and release now to get your experience.

    I catch a lot of things and release them if they are not my immediate problem or an issue of moment.
    but in tough times I will take a different tact.

    I do not drink but I have a selection of liquors for medicinal purposes here whiskey vodka brandy and Scotch

    you need citric acid powder and or some lime or lemon trees for citric acid to treat many fruits and vegetables for dehydrating to stop browning and fungus while storing.

    Self sufficient is a joke no one has ever been self suffiecent everyone has foraged traded or stolen goods to fill the circle of stomach many people died of difiencies in diet or had life long troubles.
    We have been spoiled and I like it so I keep plenty of spices sauces and additives that make the mouth water and suits foods or disguises flavor of foods not our favorite like bug delight.
    their belly

    one day or another.

  13. Definitely worthy of consideration. In the absolute worse case scenario, bugging out is the final solution I feel. Alone in the woods with a family trying to hide it out will really abbreviate your life. The best bet by far, if things haven't all gone to pot, is to stay in your neighborhood (assuming you've got reasonable neighbors and not a bunch of wannabes or danger) and bond with them for common defense. If you have a family like me it's just too dangerous otherwise to leave. There are those with far better skills…and a really lustful desire to apply nefarious ones when law enforcement collapses, than I'll ever have at my age and with children. I'll need help. Only in the most desperate of circumstances will I pack up and leave.

  14. Our house was built on twenty acres where you can see in every direction. Our neighbors are cattle ranchers and farmers and every household up here is armed for hunting and protection. Our children know that when the shtf they come home. We have at least a two year supply of food, a good well, we raise chickens, have a garden and orchard and the deer and wildlife are plentiful. We overlook a nice river where the fishing is good. This would not be a good place for thugs to come and try their luck at taking anything from anyone. My wife and I have built this place from scratch and were prepping for years before it was popular. Like the saying says, A country boy will survive. Stay prepared my friends!

  15. Okay guys, I love this site and read the articles and all the comments. I am a city boy, moved to the deep woods three years ago. I am amazed at the people that are dying to bug-out and rough it. Alright, you have spent 3 days or maybe even a week or better in the woods…………….that doesn't make you Dan'l Boone!!!!! We are talking about months or maybe even years. Alone, very little chance. With family, forget it. I am alone, 70 plus years old, live very rural, have stored food, have well water, three excellent buildings, always 50 gallons treated gas, 15 gal. of kerosene, two generators, oil and gas lamps, wood stove, etc. etc. etc. Bugging-out is a very remote possibility. Bugging-in is my best bet. Neighbors are great and two friends and their families are one and one half hours away. I am in a very defensible position. There are many in my position, whether they live in the city or the country. We may have family, age, physical or medical issues or maybe just no where else to go. Where ever you are, your best chance is to plan and prepare as best as you can. However, have a plan for the absolute worst event that you may be forced to leave. Read the articles on this site and the comments. Learn, study closely both options, talk to close friends and family, be honest in your skills and abilities and practice with what you have. I would never advise anyone to stay or go. Each must look at their own circumstances. Many of us have survived in the bush with what we carried on our backs and all will confirm that it is no picnic. To paraphrase from Big D's comment, a city boy will survive. Stay safe and prepare my friends.

  16. Im bugging in ….as long as I can! Why would I run from the most recognized place in my life? I can walk through my house blindfolded. This is where my preps are! I have BOB's but id rather not use them. My concern is that so many of us have "purchased or acquired" the "things" we need but haven't given enough thought into the reality of a SHTF scenario, as in thinking through many of the possible situations you might come in to. Would you use your vehicle as a bumper to get through a crowd rushing a store, would you shoot your neighbor, would you panic when it actually HTF. I believe the mental preparedness is just as important as having all the preps. Without the right mindset you have become someone else' cache! Networking with neighbors is a crapshoot. I don't like to judge people but you really need to judge your neighbors to see if they will be a threat or an asset when a crisis happens. They usually give themselves away—you probably already know.


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