The worst blizzard in ten years comes out of nowhere overnight. That hurricane predicted to stay 100 miles off coast suddenly takes a turn in your direction. There’s a pandemic sweeping the nation. The economy totally collapses – banks are out of money and stores are out of food. Peaceful picketing erupts into a city wide riot.
Whatever you’ve been preparing for actually happens.
You have your bug out bag. Now what?
Here are some important questions to ask yourself to get you started thinking about your own bug out plan:
1. Where am I going? If you don’t have a predetermined bug out location already, get one. A bug out location is the first thing you need to figure out because the rest of your bug out plan hinges on where you are going. This could be a friend or family member’s house, your family cabin, a bunker/fall out shelter, an abandoned building on the outskirts of town, a cave, or even just a general area or town.
Most experts recommend your bug out location to be at least a tank of gas away from a major city, but if everyone is trying to get out of Dodge, your tank of gas might not get you as far as you planned due to traffic – if you are even able to move at all. I’m sure most of us won’t be able to afford our own bunker (I know I can’t), so choose the best practical option.
If you have one bug out location then you need another one as back up along with another bug out plan to get to your secondary location. The more options you have, the better your chances are of survival.
2. How am I getting there? Vehicle? Walking? Boat? Bike? Horse? What are the odds of my preferred method working/not working? Will I be making stops/camping along the way? Do I have alternate routes planned? Which way will I be able to stay as inconspicuous as possible? What are the potential hazards along my chosen route? Vehicles break down or run out of gas. Bikes get flat tires. Feet get blisters. You need to have contingency plans in case your first choice for means of travel fails.
3. Who else is involved? You and your wife are at work, and your two kids are at school when disaster strikes. When, where, and how will you meet? Are you picking up your kids, or can they drive home? What’s your plan of action is someone is late? Does everyone in your family have their own bug out bag and know their roles/responsibilities during your bug out? Your neighbors of ten years have become close family friends – are they coming with you or left to fend for themselves?
It might be a good idea to create your own little network of like minded people – you have to be able to trust them with your lives. Even if it’s just your parents, siblings and their families, or close friends, there’s strength in numbers. One downside though is if they aren’t as prepared as you, you end up having to share some of your supplies with them. Sharing is caring, but sharing what could keep you and yours alive could spell out death for you and the ones you shared with because there’s not enough to keep everyone alive.
It’s a good idea to get a mix of skills throughout your network – mechanic, doctor, prior military/police officer, plant expert/biologist, etc. Determining the pros and cons of including extra people in your bug out plan is a very hard yet necessary task that must be done objectively – decide if what this person has to offer outweighs what they might need from you.
4. What resources are available to me? You obviously have your bug out bag with enough supplies to last you at least three days. What happens if the survival situation lasts three weeks, three months, etc? This is more of a long-term survival strategy, but should at least be considered when making your bug out plan.
Are you able to cache additional supplies along your route? Doing so would allow you to lighten your bug out bag if you’re one foot, or include even more essential supplies. What kind of terrain is along your route and/or surrounds your bug out location – mountains, swamp, forests, rivers, ocean, neighborhoods, farms, etc? Find out what kind of resources your particular region offers to you if you don’t already know – the SAS Survival Handbook would serve you very well in this.. The more resources you can gather and use from your surroundings means less weight you have to carry on your back and keep track of.
It’s also very highly advised to keep your bug out location well stocked if you have the means to do so.
As I said before, these are just a few questions to ask yourself when beginning to formulate your bug out plan. Once you have created your plan, try it! Some things look good on paper or will work in theory, but when you actually act on your plan, it completely fails.
It’s good to at least have a bug out plan drawn out and all of your network familiar with it; yet if you don’t try it out, how will you know it works? You might even need multiple bug out plans for multiple scenarios or locations incidents happen – i.e. if you plan on going west but that’s where the dirty bomb went off, you definitely don’t want to go that way.
Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.