What is Bugging Out?

people hiking out

What is bugging out?  Well, bugging out in prepper circles, is when a circumstance in your area gets so bad that you need to leave your home.  Preppers usually are referring to a SHTF (shit hits the fan) scenario, like EMPs and global economic collapse.  But many authorities believe it is important to be prepared to leave your home quickly and be equipped to fend for yourself for three days in the event of many natural disasters.


What is bugging in?  Bugging in is having your home prepared to live for a while off the grid, and be defensible, if a power grid collapse or SHTF scene arises.  It is having food, water, bathroom readiness and a defensible area, in case that becomes necessary.

So how do you know what to plan for, if you have limited resources?

Honestly, most folks can’t afford to do everything, but everyone can afford to do something.

family -hiking-packsIn my opinion, every  person in your family should have a basic bugout bag.  If the police knocked on your door, and said there was a natural gas leak, get out...could you?  That is what a bugout bag is.  You build one for each member of your family, and tailor it to them.  It should grow with your children.  You should also have one for any older people who would be with you.  You should also build a pet bag.

This bag should have enough stuff to keep each person safe, clothed and fed for three days.  It should have any meds that are specific to each person.  You should also have a list with the last minute additions…meds that live in the frig, the snuggly from a kids bed, whatever, and pin each list on the top of each person’s  bag.

I will give you a basic list for a bag.  Each bag should have

  • Comfortable backpack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Silverware
  • Nalgene bottle
  • Filter straw
  • Metal cup fits on nalgene bottle
  • Sturdy warm layers clothes for three days
  • Food for three days
  • Firestarter
  • Tent
  • First Aid kit
  • Personal hygiene kit
  • Small Pot
  • Thumbdrive with all personal documents on it
  • Towel
  • Dish soap
  • Compass
  • Local map
  • 550 paracord
  • Good knife
  • Small shovel


Each of these items will be explained more, and there are best practices for each.  This list is not your ultimate bugout bag, this is  walk away from the computer and get these bags built NOW.  Get a bag for each person and put as much stuff as you have in each bag, and evaluate where you are.  We can refine it later.  Now after you have a bag for everyone, you are are ready to begin the next step…So after preparing a 72 hour emergency bag…

It’s time to evaluate your situation.  Should you begin fortify your home or readying an evacuation plan?  There are some basic ideas that should guide your next preparations.  You will have to choose whether to start laying in supplies at home, or developing a bugout plan.  Here are some things to consider…

water-faucet-drippingWater Supply. Do you have a source of clean water that is big enough to sustain the population who will be putting demands on it?  If you have a lake close enough to your house to carry a five gallon bucket home, you have a good source.  If you have a well that you could draw water from manually, you have a good source.  If the only surface water in your area is a duck pond in the park 3 miles from your house and the fountain in the plaza, you may be in trouble.  Most fountains and many city ponds are supplied with water through pumps which would be off in a blackout situation.  If you live in a city, every person in all the buildings around you will be competing for the water within a mile circle of you.  You can store water and stay in your apartment, but how much water can you get up there? a month’s worth, maybe?  You might consider making other plans.

dried foodFood Supply.  This is the same idea.  If there were no trucks to supply the grocery stores, is there a way for you to get food?  Are you close to the ocean to fish? Are you close to a wooded area that you could forage and hunt for squirrels if you needed too?  Are you capable of fishing or hunting?  Do you have the skills and equipment?  You can plant a garden to supplement your supplies, but can you get it water if the power was off for a while?  How many people will be competing for the same food sources?  Granted you may be able to scavenge food from abandoned homes and businesses, you could also get mugged for your findings.  How prepared are you for confrontation?

outhouse-classicSanitation.  This is a gross subject, but one that needs addressed.  There are also more and less obvious issues.  In a city, with no power, there is no water or sewer.  If you live five stories up in the air, where will you poop?  The toilet won’t work without water.  In the short term, you could go in a bucket, but what happens when the bucket is full?  If there is enough liquid in the bucket, you can manually flush the toilet, but this is a temporary solution.  This may gravity feed it out of your apartment, but as the solids fill up the pipes, it will back.  If you are in the lower levels, the buildings’ waste will start backing up into your apartment if the pumps aren’t working.  I would be planning an out, if I lived in a big building.  But the suburbs have some of the same issues.  Most burb houses have community water and sewer.  Does your house have a sewer shutoff so if the main line becomes clogged, you can shut off your home so it isn’t flooded with community sewage?  Can you imagine spending years making your home secure and defensible and stocking it with food, only to be chased out by poop?  You can build a small latrine in the yard, but if the neighbors are all trying to flush toilets, without the pumps running, it could be a mess.  Do some research to find out what the deal is with your area.

Location. If your home is located within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant, plan to leave.  If you live down wind of the sewage treatment plant, leave.  If you live within 50 miles of a prison, leave. You get the idea.  There are many things in our lives, that are perfectly safe, when everything is working well…but if the power was out, or riots or fires broke out, would you still be ok?

If you have a well and sewer, you have a few more options.  You can manually get water or use solar panels , if you planned ahead.  You can also manually flush the toilet since most single family homes are designed to be gravity flow, and don’t require a pump.  This set up allows you more options, but you still have to think your situation through.

checklistIn the event of a blizzard you are fine.  If you have supplies and heat, there’s plenty of snow to melt for water, huncher down and wait it out.  In the event of blackouts, fuel rations, EMPs, or economic collapse… you might be better off to take the tank of gas you have, and get the heck out of Dodge before bad stuff starts happening.  I obviously can’t explain every contingency for every region… and every family is different.  For a well equipped and ready family, bugging out might be the best option.  For a family with an elderly or special needs person, bugging out may be close to a death sentence.  Only you can make those decisions.  I encourage you to make them now.  Decide what you will prepare your home for, and at what point you will leave.  And buy the things you need to get your plan rolling.  Most of us waste money on silly things.  If most people would spend the money they are putting towards downloads and apps for a year, or forgo new clothes, or fancy nails, they would have enough to do these things.  You don’t have to give up all your pleasures, or fun, but you have areas you could cut, to help your family be protected.



  1. This is great information and becoming even more important as we seem to get more and more regular incidents of flood, really bad weather, wild fires and the like. Even if you live in a city having some sort of preparedness would at least give you some options. Nice looking website!

    • Thanks Neil,
      There are a lot of hazards around, and I truly believe you are better safe than sorry. So many people buy insurance, which is fine, but you need to take some practical steps to protect your family until the insurance kicks in. I don’t want people to get twitchy but be prepared.

  2. Enid,

    You have created a very good website to help to give tips on preparing for so many natural disasters which can happen at any time. Your list of items are definitely essential to have during disaster time. I like how you use the relevant images to let what you are saying seems natural. You have given me a clear definition of what bugging out is.
    Thanks for providing this information.


    • Thanks for the kind words. I hope that people pay attention to their locations and act accordingly to stay safe. Have a great day!

    • I am glad you found some useful tidbits. I try to find things that are relevant and timely. I want people to be safe. Have a nice day.

  3. Great post ENID!
    Having these things available when you need them can be really valuable.
    I always think about the movie THE ROAD when I think of stuff like this topic.

    • Yeah.. there are quite a few movies and books out now that make you stop and think. I hope that folks will stop worrying and start prepping. Have a great day!

  4. The Bug Out Bag has it’s origins in military and intelligence circles. The special forces who may operate in unstable forward bases pack special gear for extended survival out in the woods and desserts of this world. Bugging out is to get out of Dodge with nothing more than you can comfortably carry on your back and in prepper circles it’s preparedness for civil unrest, major disasters, and possibly future wars fought on our soil that might drive them into the mountains and wilderness. Be Prepared is not just for Boy Scouts any more.

    • So true.. I appreciate you sharing. I hope that people learn the motto ” Don’t panic…Prepare!” Being prepared and having a plan takes so much stress out of otherwise devastating circumstances. Bad things will happen to everyone at some point. Knowing basic survival skills and having the proper tools can help you overcome!

  5. Thank you for an excellent article.
    I’m smart enough to already know most of this stuff.
    I’m dumb enough to not have gotten any of it done.
    I live in an area where natural disasters are very rare. We don’t get hurricanes (just some rain) and don’t get tornadoes hardly ever. There is an occasional brush fire but nowhere near town and flooding occurs only in the washes near the mountains. Earthquakes are very rare, but since we live over a solid rock plate, if it were to crack, it would be a big one. That said, life is unpredictable no matter where you live. So I’m going to get that bug out bag done. I promise.

    share-a-like dot com

    • I so understand. We all know we should…but few of us get it done. Life gets so busy, but it is important for everyone. We had a car wreck hit the transformer near our home once. Our house and the surrounding neighbors lost power for 4 days. Look how many gas leaks can cause evacuations anywhere at anytime. There are lots of disasters that are small and localized, but they can have a huge effect.

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