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A lot of hardcore preppers insist that you have a bug out bag and a bug out location. Many of them say that when the SHTF, the cities will burn to the ground. And even if they don’t burn, the people living in them will starve to death or be murdered by looters.

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Bugging Out Traffic Personally, I don’t think things will ever get quite that bad. (The only exception would be if there were an EMP blast or a nuclear war, but that is beyond the scope of this site.) The government has contingency plans for natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. I’m not saying they’ll do a great job (for example, FEMA after hurricane Katrina), but usually order will be restored in a few days, long before people start killing each other for food.

There are also contingency plans for an economic collapse. There have been hundreds of examples of economic collapse in history, and it almost never happens overnight. Things can get really bad, but at the same time the descent is slow enough to where the government and the people can adapt and avoid absolute chaos.

So my point is: It’s not as dangerous to be in the city during a disaster as most people claim. And if things actually get so bad in the cities that you can’t survive there, you won’t be much better off in the country, anyway. I want to show you a quote from The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse. The author, Fernando Ferfal Aguirre, was living in Argentina during the hyperinflation and economic disaster it experienced in 2001. Here’s what he has to say about living in the country:

…the kind of home invasions people living in the country have suffered here in Argentina are the stuff of nightmares. The same tranquility [in the country] that people like so much works in the bad guys’ favor. You can scream all you want, but no one will hear you. They can spend days in your house raping and torturing, without worry if a neighbor saw them…

You might be planning on having guards posted 24/7 and that you’ll shoot first and ask questions later. But unless you have an army at your disposal, you could easily find yourself overwhelmed by the criminal gangs that head into the countryside. The reason there will be so many criminal gangs in the country is they know the police will be too occupied in the city to respond in time, and they know people in the country have lots of food and weapons. And sure, you could shoot everybody that steps food on your property, but that’s a good way to wind up in jail. Just because there’s been a disaster doesn’t mean the police won’t eventually be there to lock you up. You have to be realistic.

Now you might be thinking, “No way. My bug out location is impregnable. I’ll be fine.” Sure, but how are you going to get there? Even if you have an off-road 4-wheel drive truck, you’re liable to have a hard time getting out of the city. If you’re stuck on the road somewhere and there is rioting or looting going on nearby, you’ll be dangerously exposed. And what if you get to your bug out location and it’s been compromised? I do recommend having a bug-out bag in your car, but it’s more so you’ll have supplies in case it takes you a long time to get from work or school to your home.

Instead of bugging out, I suggest having great home security (see my article, Home Security After the SHTF) and creating or joining a neighborhood watch. If you get to know your neighbors really well and agree to look out for each other, you’ll be far safer than you would be by yourself in the country. People living on your street can take turns keeping watch, people will be able to scream for help, and the police won’t take nearly as long to respond. I know it’s not ideal, but nothing is ideal in a SHTF scenario.

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  • Lynn Vangsnes

    I agree with you. Bugging out is not feasible for many of us depending on where one lives geographically. We are 7 miles from the mexican border, the only way to go from here is north. I personally think Texas is not the place to be in a full SHTF scenario. I believe that if/when the worst happens, that Mexico will spill northward for 100-150 miles as the international bridges will be unmanned. I do not want to be here when that happens. Bugging out entails supporting two places to live. That is not feasible for me. Instead, moving permanently northwest out of state would be a more comfortable solution for us. We have nowhere to bugout to. If we get stuck here before we move, we’ll have to make do and last as long as we can.

  • Jinglebob

    I’m sorry, but I think this writer’s logic is flawed and just a little pathetic. I agree completely that bugging out may be almost impossible for people in some circumstances, but relying on the grace and virtue of the government may be a bit naive. The government itself is pushing us into economic collapse. New Orleans was only one city.  What if 100 cities were in chaos? Would the government arrive in the nick of time to save them all? It might allow the population to be reduced by 25-50 million starving dependants. That would certainly simplify matters going forward. If you think the people that run this mess have a heart, you really need to wake up.  If I lived in a large city, I would get out now rather than taking the ‘somebody will save me’ route and putting my life and my future in someone else’s hands. It’s people failing to take responsibility for their own existence and looking to the government to do the important things for them that has allowed us to be herded into this decaying society as it is.  

  • alanz11

    It depends on how bad you think things are going to get. In this article I’m talking about riots that result from a struggling economy and temporary disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes. If you look at historical examples, the government eventually restores order in these situations, even if it takes months. And if you have preps, good home security and friends, you’ll be able to wait it out.
    But if things are so bad that millions of people across hundreds of cities are starving to death, then the only way you’re going to survive is if you have some sort of impregnable compound in the mountains. A cabin in the woods won’t even do in that case because the golden horde from the city will overwhelm you. Like I said, that sort of rare situation is beyond the scope of this site.

  • Kurioryu1013

    The writer has some interesting points to make, but, in my humble opinion, has missed the central thesis of the issue; survival.

    There is nothing pretty or dramatic about survival.  It is a struggle between two factions, at least, to determine who will live and who will die.

    He has interjected two factors here.  The first is what the legal athourities will determine about your actions, and the second is the moral question of right and wrong.

    I deal with antisocials on a day to day basis, and I can tell you, they have no problem taking what they want, and this is determined by how cooperative their victim is.  What ever they do is the responsibility of their victim.  If the victim resists too much,. well that is the victim’s
     fault.  If the victim resists, well then that is the victim’s fault.

    The bottom line is simple.  Will you live or will you die.  Forget about the “progressive” view of the poor under-privilaged victim.  This is life and death.

    I plant and can every year, and I am willing to share what I have if there is surplus, but I am not willing let my own family die if some “creature” tries to break into my house and take what I have worked for.

    In short you need to determine if you will survive or not.

  • JimJim

    Im a country dweller but I think it is a great post. Rational, well thought out, backed by fact, thought provoking.

    Too many post-apocalyptic people around nowadays. It clouds their judgement.

  • Jim Shearer

    Every situation will call for different(ish) actions. When I hear that cities will burn to the ground, I don’t read into it as “people will be battling and burning”. I read it as things will be left unattended and small fires will get out of control quickly, and with no fire departments….really out of control. In a catastrophic event, the “street gangs” are not going to turn towards the country. They are going to turn towards the Walmarts, Grocery stores, and gun shops. I’m not disagreeing that rural survivors may find themselves outgunned and outnumbered, even if their Bug-out location is remote and well hidden. Things will be tough all over and even well-prepared folks will be high-strung and somewhat desperate. Those without will have nothing to lose and will be taking extreme risks to feed their group, or themselves. I’m an urban dweller, that plans to stay put as long as I can, but I am not stupid…there will be a time to leave. That time might be 30 seconds after things get bad….but I don’t think so.