This could literally be a life or death decision. It is not one you want to make haphazardly, on the spur of the moment, or based on emotion. You need a well thought out plan.
We have discussed things to consider in a bug out bag, what you should consider packing in it, and even how to buy one. We have discussed the bug out vehicle (BOV), and the triggers that would cause you to make the decision to abandon your home and go someplace else that you consider safer. So, you have the equipment ready, transportation of some mode, and have made a decision to bug out. Now what?
First of all, you need a comprehensive plan. Too many people put a bug out bag together and then just plan to “head for the hills” and “live off the land”. The only way that could be considered a plan is if you want to plan for disaster. So what are the things you need to consider beforehand to be as prepared as possible if you have to make that all important decision to Get Out Of Dodge? (GOOD)
Where are you bugging out to?
Way to many websites and survival journals focus on having the ideal bug out retreat complete with pigs, chickens, cows, garden, well and a state of the art warning system. The reality is that few people have access to that sort of set up. And you do not necessarily need to. If you have friends or family in a “safe zone” you should coordinate with them ahead of time for them to be your “safe harbor” and you theirs. Don’t just assume that Uncle Harry or Aunt Martha are going to welcome you with open arms in an emergency, and even if they do, are they prepared? You may end up supporting them with your meager supplies. But if they or friends are so inclined, they can prep also, and you may be able to stash additional supplies with them before hand. Even a remote area that you have checked out ahead of time is better than just hitting the road with no idea where you are going. Depending on the nature of a SHTF situation, you may just bug out to a safer zone and hang out in a motel. Try to have pre planned bug out locations in all of the cardinal directions where it is possible to travel out of your area in case one is blocked for any reason. Which brings us to our next consideration.
How are you going to get there? Route reconnaissance.
Once you have a list of acceptable bug out locations to get to, you need to plan your routes on getting there. You should have bug out routes in all directions from your location, even if you do not have a safe harbor in that direction. If for some reason, all directions to where your safe harbors are located are closed, at least you can “get out” and go from there. You need to put together an organized bug out map book, so you are not wrestling with numerous folding maps on the go. Use a map program like Google Maps and print out a larger map with your location in the center, and then plot each of your bug out routes on it. Try to mark primary and secondary routes using a color code such as red for primary and blue for secondary.
Then you need to print a smaller map of each route. On these you want to mark more detailed information. Some locations you may want to mark would include:
- Rally points that are agreed upon prior to bug out to meet friends and family that do not live with you. Insure they also have copies of the map.
- Water sources along your route.
- Police stations, Dr.’s offices and hospitals that may offer help, or if abandoned may have useful supplies if not already ransacked. Consider these danger areas.
- Potential danger areas such as high crime neighborhoods or areas that you know of where recent dangerous issues have happened.
- Small towns where you might find shelter or resupply.
- Possible fuel, water, and food resupply points.
- Water crossings with bridges where the bridge is the only way across.
- Choke points where you could be ambushed or where government agencies are trying to “help” people.
Print out the driving instruction that come with the Google Maps data you get and post it in the book with the map. Include a seperate sheet for handwritten notes for each map.
The next thing you want to do is drive the routes. It can be time-consuming but definitely necessary. Remember, the map isn’t the land, and things will look different first hand than they will on a map. Take notes on any additional considerations you see in person. Take your camera with you to photograph terrain or man-made features that will help you ensure you are on route. Paste these pictures in the book along with each map. take a GPS and code the routes in it and note the grid locations of important way points in each maps notes. An excellent hiking GPS is the Garmin Foretrex. A very popular vehicle GPS is the Garmin Nuvi 52LM.
What are you going to take?
Your bug out bags obviously but keep in mind that they should be your equipment of last resort. Know how much space and weight you have for your particular vehicle and consider the additional equipment you can take. Tent, sleeping bags, large medical kit, extra food and water, larger water filters, extra fuel, extra ammunition, tools and repair parts for your vehicle are all examples of additional items you can take in your vehicle. These items should be packed, stacked, and ready to be loaded up. You need to occasionally do a full rehearsal “load out” where you pack all of your equipment in your vehicle and time how long it takes. Having this down will speed things up when it is really time to Get Out Of Dodge, and each person in your group will know what to do under stress. Make a checklist of all your items and one person checks them off as they are loaded. Your bug out bag and the items in it should be reserved for if you need to abandon your vehicle. Make security a priority and the person in the passenger seat should be well armed and on watch for potential trouble.
It is critical to have a well conceived bug out plan with definite safe harbors or areas to go to, solid transportation to get you there, pre planned and reconnoitered routs, and the equipment you need to sustain your self packed and ready to go.
If you enjoyed this article and found it useful, please click the “Vote for Me” icon at the top right of the page. Thanks!