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Bugging out is one of the basic pillars of disaster preparedness. While it is usually best to stay at home, there are always those cases where bugging out is essential to survival. If your home becomes untenable, then you have to be ready to bug out and go someplace where your chances of survival are better.
This means you and I have to put the effort into properly preparing for the bug out. I see a lot of preppers who only do this partway. They might put a lot of effort into building a bug out bag or their concept of a perfect bug out vehicle; but they’re not really prepared to bug out.
It’s as if these people are just expecting things to work out; something that true preppers know is a dangerous way to think. If any of us are going to survive, it’s through proper planning and preparation.
It’s not like most of us have a lot of experience in bugging out to draw upon. Few preppers ever actually need to bug out, so rather than preparing based upon our last bug out, we end up preparing based on conjecture. While that is better than nothing, it leaves a lot of opening for mistakes.
Here are some of the most common bug out mistakes that people make.
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Not Having a Plan
Probably the most common mistake I see is people who don’t have a bug out plan. They might have the most awesome bug out bag and vehicle you’ve ever seen; but they don’t know what they’re going to do if things get bad enough that they actually have to abandon their home.
Most of the time it’s not that these people don’t want to have a bug out plan; it’s just that they’ve never figured one out. They’re still waiting, as if they expect the plan to just come to them; when in reality any bug out plan takes a lot of thinking and a lot of work.
Not Having a Destination
A bug out plan without a firm destination isn’t a plan at all. The destination has to be specific, a particular building you’re going to take shelter in or a particular place you’re going to pitch your tent. This is challenging for most of us, as we don’t own property we can use as a bug out location.
But we have to assume that if we’re bugging out, many others are too. If we don’t have any place we know we can stay, we might end up spending a lot of time looking for someplace to stop.
No Alternate Plan
Regardless of what your bug out plan is, you’ve got to have an alternate plan. Things won’t necessarily go as you expect. There’s a strong possibility that you’ll have problems along the route, making a detour necessary. If you don’t know what that detour is and haven’t scouted it out, you could run into additional problems, causing further delays.
Having an alternate plan needs to go so far as to having at least one alternate destination. The place you’re planning on bugging out to may be suffering from the same disaster that struck your home or the route may be totally impassible. I always make sure that I have at least one bug out destination that’s 180 degrees or so from my primary.
Bugging Out Late
One of the hardest things to do is make the decision as to when to bug out. On one hand, we don’t want to just leave home if we don’t need to. Everything we own is there and so our chances of survival at home are generally better. On the other hand, if we wait too long to bug out, the roads will be filled with traffic and someone else might beat us to our intended survival retreat, claiming it for themselves.
The real trick here is determining what disaster scenarios might be serious enough to force a bug out and recognizing those scenarios far enough in advance, when they happen, to beat the rush. That’s an impossible task, but we still have to do it.
Being Too Obvious
There are a lot of preppers who are into the “tacticool” look. From their bug out vehicles to their bug out bags, they have tactical gear and clothes, which announce to the world that they are ready for anything and everything.
The problem is, people who aren’t ready will interpret that look to mean that the individual is a prepper and has the gear and supplies that the non-prepper needs. Some of those people will be desperate enough and violent enough to attack the tacticool prepper to try and take what they have.
The answer I hear to that is “that’s why we’re armed”, as if that ensures survival. Are you going to shoot everyone you see who you don’t like the looks of? Or shoot everyone who looks like they’re in need? How about just shooting everyone who looks at you? Anyone who is going to try and steal from you is going to be aware enough that they will shoot first or find a way to stick a knife in your back.
Being Out of Shape
Let’s be honest, many of us are out of shape. We would have a problem carrying our bodies one mile, let alone carrying a 40 or 50 pound pack on your back for that mile.
While it is hoped that we will all be able to bug out in our vehicles, the reality is that we may not be able to and be forced to go on foot. In that case, it will be critical to be in shape. That will also be important in order to be able to do the physical work associated with survival tasks.
Trying to Carry the World
There is a plethora of survival gadgets out there today, every one of which is presented to us as “essential” to our survival. But the reality is we can’t carry all that. For a bug out bag to be workable, it also has to be light. That means only taking the essentials along.
I’ve got as good a collection of survival and camping gadgets as anyone, maybe more, as I buy stuff all the time just to test it out; but only a few of those things have actually made the cut and are included in my bug out bag.
The rest are either sitting in my office closet for reference or might be included in the larger bug out kit in my vehicle. If I can accomplish my bug out in one of my vehicles, then they might be used; but I have no qualms on abandoning that gear if I have to go it on foot.
Not Bringing Fuel
One of the biggest problems with bugging out in a vehicle is fuel. Mass evacuations are always fraught with fuel problems, ending up with cars alongside the road for miles and miles on end. you can’t count on gas stations having gas when you get there and they will probably be long lines of other travelers trying to buy gas.
The only solution to this is starting out with a full gas tank and bringing extra fuel along. That means storing fuel at home, which is problematic. But if you keep that fuel in metal gas cans and rotate your stock, you can keep enough gas on-hand to fuel your bug out vehicle and bring some along.
Not Doing a Test Run
There’s a good reason why military and emergency organizations do dry runs before needing to accomplish a mission or respond to an emergency. That’s because you can’t anticipate every problem during the planning process.
It takes actually trying things out to see many of those problems. A test run provides the opportunity to find them. But the test run does something else as well; it provides an opportunity to practice, learning what needs to be done. That way, when the time comes, everyone knows what to do.
No Supply Cache
The typical bug out bag has only three days worth of food in it. A few people go a step farther, carrying five days worth of food. Either way, that food is really only intended to get you from your home to your survival retreat. What then? If you don’t have a supply cache in place, you won’t be ready to survive.
Building supply caches is difficult; but essential. Every bug out plan needs at least one cache, if not more; and the caches need to be big enough to survival for a considerable amount of time. That means finding someplace secure to build the cache, then buying the supplies and moving them there, supposedly without anyone knowing.
Expecting to Live Off the Land
As much as it would be nice to be able to live off the land; that’s just not a practical solution. If you were the only one that was bugging out and you were a skilled hunter, fisherman and forager, you might be able to live off the land… Might.
But the reality is that you’ll be doing it in a world filled with other people who are trying to do so as well. While they might not be as good at hunting, fishing and foraging as you are, their sheer numbers will diminish the fish and game populations, making it hard to get anything. Unless you grow your own food, you could very well starve.
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