Should I stay or should I go?
It is a popular image for preppers and survivalists that the first thing that happens when the SHTF is you grab your bug out bag and head to the hills. In this article we will look at the decision to bug out: should you stay or should you go?
As you begin preparing for that catastrophic event which required all your prepping, the first thing you should consider is if you want to move from your home to another (assumingly) more secure location. If you live in a big city, this decision may be forced on you as services breakdown and supplies run out. Your current home should be a safe haven: it has plenty of supplies and should have some food stockpiled. All of the many conveniences of life and your belongings are in your home. Hopefully, you have spent some time making sure you are secure and that intruders or people looking for supplies cannot force their way into your castle.
So let’s look at the home as a safe haven:
► do you have sufficient water and food stocks to last for a period of time in your home? Don’t forget that you may have to ration water for essential purposes (may not be able to shower every day or take that long hot Jacuzzi soak)
► do you have a means of cooking that does not rely on a power grid that may stop functioning? Not a big deal if you don’t mind your meals cold or raw but if you can’t cook on a stove – can you cook over a fire at your safe haven?
► your home certainly already provides shelter from the elements, but how is your home heated or cooled? If you don’t have an alternative source of power, your home may not be a place that you can safely remain, particularly in extreme hot or cold weather.
► how secure is your home? In other words, can you prevent someone from forcing their way into your home? Heavy exterior doors with deadbolt locks. Are the windows on the ground floor barred? Are your exterior walls able to resist some fire (from guns)? A determined attacked can get access if they have the time and the resources.
► how would you defend your home? I am going to assume that you have a gun of some sort. Pistols and shotguns are excellent close quarters weapons for use inside buildings. But in most cases you want to be able to engage an attacker before he gets into your home. And in this case, a rifle would be a better weapon with longer range and more penetrating power. At this point you might want to look at the layout of your home: do you have a place that you can observe someone trying to break into your front door? If you can see it, you should be able to cover that location with a weapon (you are able to shoot the intruder while they are trying to break through the door). Similarly, what are the avenues of approach to your home? Can you cover these areas with gunfire to prevent someone from even getting close to your home?
► do you have a safe haven within your home? (a place where you could fall back into that is more defensible and harder to force entry).
Important tip: there is a difference between what the military calls cover and what they call concealment. The standard wood frame home may conceal your location but someone could still fire a bullet through the wall; it does not provide cover. So while you might enjoy a slight advantage in that they don’t see exactly where you are and cannot aim a shot at you, you are still vulnerable if they are spraying gunfire through the walls by being hit by a “lucky” (or “unlucky”) round.
► given all the above conditions: If there are numerous marauding groups in the vicinity, how well can you manage your rest/security cycle to insure that you can respond when an attack occurs? Obviously, you can’t stay awake 24/7 but this is where I think a dog is an excellent augmentation to your security.
I have two little lap dogs that raise a ruckus when anyone comes to the door. I have a large German Shepherd in addition.
Now let’s look at how secure you can be if you decide to “bug out”. The nice thing about a home is it has four walls and we will assume at this point that it provides you with at least a measure of 360-degree protection. As soon as you decide to “bug out” you are now abandoning that “fortress home” and exposing yourself to threats you might encounter on the move. When you are on the move, you don’t have that 360-degree cover and concealment so you are always at a greater risk.
► you should know where you are going to move to and that that location offers you some additional protection and stockpiles of supplies. The assumption that in a SHTF event, you can just travel out to the country and take over and abandoned farm is not a good one. There may be someone already there and/or someone else with the same idea that got there first. Many folks have a summer cabin by the lake or in the woods. If you have one, this could be your “bug out” destination.
► just as we did above – does this location have sufficient stockpiles or sources of water and food, a means to cook, heat and/or cool that doesn’t rely on a power grid? And how defensible is this location? One advantage may certainly be that it is further away from population centers and therefore less likely to attract the attention of marauders.
► how will you get to this location? Do you have sufficient supplies with you to make the journey without having to rely on a re-supply (if you are going to use your vehicle, do you have sufficient fuel on board to make the trip)?
► what are your primary routes to the “bug out” location? At a minimum, do a map recon. Run the route now as a practical exercise. What are the alternate and supplemental routes if your primary route is blocked, congested, or impassable? Do you have a means of clearing a road obstacle or a “come along” winch on your vehicle if you get stuck or have to negotiate an obstacle? What types of equipment would you need in this case? Axes, saws or a chain saw, tow straps, and a winch? All of these take space and add weight.
► What if you cannot take a vehicle (the roads are blocked)? If you are planning on moving on foot, or on horseback, what does that do to your travel time? Do you have sufficient supplies for the additional transit time? Do you have sufficient carrying capacity to take everything you want with you on this trip? On foot over land movements: are you in good enough shape to make the move with your bug out bag? Remember our previous discussion about Prepping habits, including hiking?
► Pulling security along the route: if you can, you should have a scout out in front to reconnoiter conditions along the route. If you have a means of short range communication, he/she can advise you to change routes before you have to double back or more importantly before you run into an ambush. If it is a multi-day trip, you have to plan for laager sites and allocated time to set up the camp and security and then break camp the next day. But the most dangerous aspect of moving to a new location is that you cannot predict or control what you might encounter along the route. Your scout(s) may help you avoid hostile encounters and in most cases, it would be better to be dog-led around an encounter and avoid a fight (husband your resources). But if you run into a hostile contact, you need to have already rehearsed how to lay down fire and break contact or push through as the circumstances dictate. More on this in the premium portion of our website.
In general, it is better to remain mounted (in a vehicle) and quickly get out of the ambush site (we call it the kill zone or the “X”). But if your vehicle becomes disabled, you need to dismount and move to a defensible location or cross-load into the remaining vehicles and again, get off the “X”.
This brings us to an important point: if you have more than one vehicle making the move, have you cross loaded supplies so the loss of one vehicle is not critical? Note this does not mean taking a piece of equipment with three parts and putting each part in separate vehicles; the loss of one vehicle means you now have an incomplete piece of equipment that might be useless. To a degree, you want redundancy in any critical capability.
So now you can start to figure out – should you stay or should you go?
De Oppresso Liber