When To Bug In & When To Bug Out



Folks often want to know how they can tell if they should Bug IN or Bug OUT.  The easy answer is that it depends on the situation and your skill level as a Prepper.  Some good info to have on hand about Bugging In or Bugging Out:


You will want to “shelter in place” or “bug in” if the situation is one you cannot avoid (unable to evacuate due to finances, medical conditions, or just waited too long), would be made worse by you being on the road, or is known to last only a short while.  Examples of these situations would be:  tornadoes, hurricanes (depending on how close you are to the storm surge), blizzards, an isolated chemical spill, temporary power loss, etc.

Most likely, you and your family staying home with your preps is best in these situations because you have the comfort and safety of your home and supplies, the scenario will end in less than a week (sometimes it ends in only a matter of hours), and putting yourself at risk by being on a road, stuck in a traffic jam is not only dangerous but useless as it demeans the reasons to “shelter in place”.  You must consider a few things when “sheltering in place” though:

1) Direct Impact– If you are in the direct path of a storm that will cause severe damage to your home, life, and property- you might want to heed evacuation orders if you are in a known flood zone. Same applies if it is a chemical/nuclear spill that is upwind of you where dangerous fumes/radiation could be carried downwind and infiltrate your home, putting you and your family at risk of exposure and suffocation.

2) Medical Emergency– If you have a medical emergency and cannot get through to 9-1-1 to get an ambulance, you may have to risk transporting the person to the hospital to obtain help and medical aid.  Same goes for supplies, if you failed to Prepare, you may have to venture out (which is HIGHLY risky) to find supplies.


Bugging Out is not as simple as everyone thinks. Most folks think you just hope in your car and leave the area, but forget that planning must be Priority One when Bugging Out. You MUST make an Emergency Plan for you and your family- where to meet, where you are headed to, what to take, contact numbers, etc.

1) Practice- you need to practice bugging out with your family and pets so everyone remains calm, knows what to do, and doesn’t accidentally forget important things at home because they were panicky and scrambling to get into a vehicle. Have several alternate routes that you practice taking and keep the maps in your vehicle so they are already in place when you do need to Bug Out.

2) Bug Out Bags- Have your BOBs ready to go, either near the exit of your home (maybe stored in a closet near the front door), or already in your vehicle you plan on using to Bug Out in. Practice carrying you BOB because you may have to in the future. It shouldn’t weigh more than 25% of your total body weight.  Make sure they have everything you need (see our BOB page for what to put in them), and make sure you have some CASH ready to go because banks and ATMs may be closed or not working.

3) Scenarios- You are going to NEED to bug out in the events of biological pandemics, nuclear meltdowns/war, martial law, riots/looters, long-term devastation caused by storms, EMPS, natural disasters, etc. It will be hard to leave your home, but you may have to for the safety of you and your family. Come to grips with the thought that it may be bad enough that you can never return….the future is unforeseen. Have radio ready with the Emergency Broadcast Channel on it so you can get updates on the situation.

4) Checkpoints- you may encounter checkpoints by the military, national guard, or police. You may encounter fake check-points set up by gangs or bad people looking to carjack you or steal your supplies, or do worse to you and your family.  You will have to use judgement when approaching a checkpoint. First, do not pull all the way up- leave yourself room to manuever around the checkpoint (even if you have to go off-roading to get away), because you do not know who is conducting the checkpoint or whether it is a scam to take what you have.  Observe the people at the checkpoint- are they wearing regulation uniforms with name tapes, communication devices, and ID or badges? Or do they look like they are a band of roving gang members? If it is being conducted by officials, they will want to see your driver’s license and will probably ask you what you are doing or where you are going. You will have to decide what you tell them. If martial law is underway, they may try to prevent you from leaving the area for whatever reason. At this point, you have to make your own grown-up decisions as to what you are going to do or how you are going to handle the situation and whether you are going to continue Bugging Out or go where the officers tell you to go. Use common sense and trust your gut feeling. (Disclaimer- we cannot advise you to commit any illegal activities and this blog is for informational/educational purposes only. You are responsible for your own actions and decisions).  The same goes for ambush scenarios- someone pretending to need help on the side of the road (whether it be a broke-down vehicle or medical attention), be cautious as there will be plenty of people faking so they can trick you into stopping….that’s when they ambush you, so stay alert and again, trust your gut.  If you have an uneasy feeling, a feeling of anxiety or heartburn or your stomach churning, that is probably a sign that you need to be on your way and avoid the trouble your gut is warning you about.


Until you have been through a short-term disaster (whether that be a tornado or other storm/catastrophe) or a long-term disaster (like a nuclear plant meltdown), you may not recognize the warning signs that should have you considering whether you are going to Bug In or Bug Out.

What to look for:

1) When everyone is raiding Walmart (or any other store) to get food, water, candles, and camping supplies

2) The news/radio are talking about impending threats and possibility of needing to leave the area

3) Long lines at the bank and ATMs of folks trying to get money withdrawn; banks closing due to insufficient funds

4) Long lines at the gas stations or stations running out of gas with no re-supply trucks

5) Long lines at home improvement stores where folks are buying up boards, lumber, nails, generators, etc.

6) Increased presence of police, military, national guard, or federal agencies in the area

7) Long lines of traffic on the highways where traffic is at a standstill (don’t confuse this with normal accidents or construction)

8) Spikes in Gold & Silver on the stock market (these will be HUGE and very noticeable as people buy up commodities and gold/silver)

9) Schools closing (do not confuse with normal holidays or snow days)

10) Hospitals and Pharmacies overwhelmed with patients or people getting refills on their ‘scripts

11) Sirens blaring in nuclear plant areas that might indicate a reactor leak

12) Discontinuation/closure of local government buildings

If you see 3 or more of these signs, its is probably a good idea to turn on the news or radio to find out what is going on and start making a plan to Bug In or Bug Out, depending on what is happening.  Keep your wits about you.  Make sure you family knows where to meet-up if you are unable to meet at your home (have a secondary location to meet at- a favorite restaurant, park, or at the school). Then execute your Emergency Plan as to whether you are Bugging In or Bugging Out.

Please feel free to contact us with questions. Remember this information is for educational purposes only and we cannot be held responsible for your actions/decisions.


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