5 Reasons Why You May have to Bug Out Even Though You Don’t Want to

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

One of the most hotly argued points in the prepping community is whether it is advisable to “shelter in place” or stay in your home or bug out when there is an emergency.  Many preppers would readily choose to shelter in place to be close to their emergency supplies.   Staying put would also be easier if you have no bug out retreat or destination.  I say it really depends on the type of disaster you are facing, so there is no definite answer to the shelter in place versus bugging out question.

Why bug out?

Even though we would all rather stay at home, there are five reasons you may have to bug out:

1.  Natural disaster in your immediate region.   When hurricanes approach, people are asked to evacuate if they are in the direct path of the storm.  We’ve seen from previous disasters that in some cases, people in the worst hit areas who decided to stay put and become stranded and drowned.

2.  Fire approaching.  If you live in an area prone to wildfires, and one is headed in your direction, you will be asked to evacuate.  Authorities go around the neighborhood announcing the threat and give residents about 15 minutes to pack up belongings and head out.

3.  Industrial accident causing chemical spills, poisonous emissions or nuclear disaster.  We’ve all heard about the recent anniversary of the Fukushima, Japan earthquake and many of the areas affected have still not recovered.

In Houston, certain neighborhoods that are close to industrial sites have been affected by chemical spills and noxious gases.  In some cases, these neighborhoods have been evacuated.  Residents are able to return only after the “all clear” has been issued.  If you live in an area that can potentially be affected by these short term emergencies, have your go-bag ready and in a handy place at all times.

4.  Infrastructure has widespread damage.  If you live in an area that was hit by a disaster and has no electricity or water, with no estimate on when the fix will be made, you may want to get out and stay with relatives or friends for a while if you can.  If there is no water for a long period of time, sanitation will become compromised.  Similarly, if you live in an area where it gets hot or cold enough to endanger your health, and there is no power to make the house liveable, then you will be forced to leave the area.

5.  Post disaster, widespread looting/crime with no law enforcement available.  If you decided to stay put during a disaster but later find that there is no longer any “rule of law” being enforced in the area, then it will become too dangerous to stick around.  You may want to stay and defend what’s yours but if there is a risk you become overrun by a greater number, then you must consider bugging out.

No one wishes for any of these situations to happen, but the possibility exists.  The choice whether to stay put or bug out is entirely personal and will change according to circumstances.   Picturing various scenarios and what you would do in each one will help you make your own decision when the time comes.

About the author:

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.


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  1. Good summary. One not covered but that I’m afraid is becoming a more likely scenario; governmental restrictions and mandates.
    Sad to say that I can foresee a time where the government steps way over the line and tells people to turn in excess food — say no more than 3 days per person in the house — or turn in firearms. Or restricts movement, gasoline access, etc.

    Many preppers fear Without Rule Of Law but there is also a danger of martial law.

    1. Hi Bob S, That would be dire indeed. Let’s hope it doesn’t ever get to that. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Yup, these are the main reasons we would bug out. Also if I can’t take a car I would be less likely to leave. I would want to take a lot of supplies with me.

    1. Hi JL, I’d definitely hope to be able to leave in a car, to be able to take as much as possible. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Me & a buddy of mine are going for a weekend hiking/camping trip taking nothing more than our bug out bags. I believe this is the best way to find out if your bag has everything you will need.

  4. great post. spot on about the bug-in/bug-out dilemma.

    I grew up in San Diego and saw a fair amount of #2 in my time there. Sure you guys have probably experienced a lot of #1 in Houston.

    “Bugging Out” is something that I think so many “preppers” are almost hoping for because of how cool it seems (red dawn).

    In reality, bugging out will probably happen when your house floods and you have to go to your sister’s house in the next town over for a couple days. Or in San Diego, my family went and spent a couple nights at a local church until the winds shifted. Usually way too circumstantial and short term to warrant driving off to your hilltop fortress. 🙂

    Made a vid about it a while back… https://thedailyprep.com/will-your-bug-out-plan-work/

    1. Staying in seems easier, but bugging out does get a lot of attention. You’re right reality is a whole lot different. Thanks Dan!

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