This is a reprint of an article I wrote a few years ago and it originally appeared on Modern Survival Online.
One of the issues to consider when preparing for a disaster is where to focus your spending:
- Do you focus most of your money on buying supplies to prepare your house or apartment (Shelter in place)?
- Do you spend money on gear so you can leave your area when disaster hits (Bugging Out)?
We’ve struggled with this question ourselves. Naturally you want to cover both scenarios all at once, but resources are limited so there has to be some direction to your spending.
Your choices will depend on your own particular situation, and on what you feel is the most likely emergency you will be facing.
Here are some considerations:
- Do you live in or close to a major city? Think about what will is likely to happen in your surrounding area if a disaster were to hit today.
- Can you defend your home or neighborhood if necessary? If you live in a close- knit neighborhood near people you can rely on, then you can potentially band together and protect your neighborhood and homes. This would allow you to be able to stay in your home a lot longer.
- Do you have a place to go in the event of a major disaster such as a cabin retreat or relatives you can stay with? You do not need a cabin or retreat out in the woods; you just need to have a plan. Identify friends and relatives you can potentially stay with should your area become uninhabitable. Or plan out a route to a hotel in another town. In either case you will need cash for gas and a hotel stay.
- Would your family be able to leave on foot if needed? There is always a chance the roads become impassable and you have to walk out of your area. Would your family be able to leave? If you really cannot leave, then you will most likely need to shelter in place.
In our case, we live in an apartment, in the middle of a large city. We know that the city can potentially degrade into an unruly, crime infested area when a major large-scale disaster occurs, as in Hurricane Katrina. We would want to leave before a powerful hurricane directly hits our city.
On the other hand, it is not always necessary to leave when an emergency occurs. In 1992, we experienced the Los Angeles Riots. For six days, thousands of people rioted, looted and burned parts of the city. We got sent home early from work and drove for hours looking for a route around the rioting areas. But once we got home, we stayed home until things calmed down. Because the emergency occurred in another part of the city, and our utilities and infrastructure was not affected, it was a “shelter in place” type of situation.
At this point in time, we consider the highest risk to be economic in nature: with high unemployment, rising fuel and food prices, and the country’s debt piling up. So we concentrate 60% of our emergency preparation fund toward staying in our home. We are purchasing food in bulk, storing water, having back up sanitation methods, communications, fuel, first aid and other supplies that may be too expensive or hard to come by, should there be a financial emergency. Our supplies are also a hedge against inflation, since we are buying at today’s prices and using them sometime in the future if prices go up.
We also know that there could be a chance we may have to leave our home, such as a Category 4-5 hurricane, fire, civil unrest, etc. The other 40% of our budget for supplies is going toward gear that will be needed to leave the area, such as hiking shoes, backpacks, portable food, a portable water purification system, First Aid kit, fire starter, tent etc. We are getting our gear as inexpensively as possible, by shopping sales and buying quality used items where available.
One thing to remember is, the two options do not have to be mutually exclusive: many items such as “Meals Ready to Eat”, portable water purifier, first aid kit and other light weight supplies can be brought along with you should you have to leave. Just make sure you have all your supplies in one area that is easily accessible so you can grab them quickly.
You may feel differently and decide on a whole different set of threats to prepare for. I would not recommend “putting all your eggs in one basket.” Regardless of what area you focus on, the items that you buy now will be good insurance against whatever comes your way: economic collapse, natural disasters or man made threats.
Get the real deal. Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:
For beginning preppers
Good ideas for building a food storage plan can be found here: