If SHTF Will You Bug Out Or Shelter In Place ?What’s Your Plan?

If SHTF Will You Bug Out Or Shelter In Place ?What’s Your Plan?

When you’re faced with an impending disaster the question often becomes “should I stay or should I go?” There really is no definitive answer, because it all depends on “what’s coming” and how prepared you are to deal with it. Where you live, and the make up of your family will also be key factors.

Bug In vs Bug Out

You’ve all seen the images on the news of the stalwart New Englanders, or laissez faire “Conchs” in Key West, who refuse to leave in the face of a Hurricane, even when they are in a mandatory evacuation zone. Sometimes they did the right thing, and other times there were tragic results.    The point is, before you decide to stay or “Bug Out” in any given crisis, you must be ready to do either. That means if you decide to stay, you better know how to hunker down and prepare your home against attack, both by Mother Nature and Mother Fuc*ers, and if you decide to get out of dodge you have a place to go, and a safe way to get there.

Stay Home Stay Safe

Whether you are dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, a terrorist attack, or worse, civil unrest rioting, looting, etc – is par for the course. It’s human nature, and it happens all the time. In fact, the less prepared your friends and neighbors are, the worse it’s going to be. No matter what, the most dangerous place to be is out on the streets.

So Rule Number One is to stay off of the streets and get yourself and your family well-prepared so there is no need to leave the safety of your home, unless it becomes absolutely necessary.      Listen very carefully. The only reason that an “ordinary law abiding citizen” would ever have to venture beyond the safety of his or her home during a time of crisis is if there was no power, and you needed food or water. As long as you have food and water supplies in your home, and some portable or alternative power, you can stay where you will be safest inside. The major Emergency Management Agencies say you need to have enough food and water to “shelter-in-place” for at least three days. That’s BS. If the Sh*t hits the fan the stink is going to stick around for a lot longer than three days. You need to be prepared to stick it out for at least three weeks, maybe more.

Here are the minimums


You need to store at least one gallon of water per person per day. To determine your water needs, take the following into account: One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water. A medical emergency might require additional water. If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double. Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person. In order to prepare the safest and most reliable emergency water supply, stock up on commercial bottled water. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open until you need to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date in cool dark place.



Have at least 3 weeks of non-perishable food on hand. Stock up on the stuff you would normally eat, and it won’t go to waste if you have to use it before the expiration dates. Probably the single most versatile emergency ration is peanut butter, it doesn’t have to be cooked, it is high in protein, it has a very long shelf life and even kids love it. Other good suggestions, many of which you may already have on hand are:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables (MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CAN OPENER)
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Crackers
  • Canned juices
  • Non-perishable pasteurized milk
  • Non-perishable cheese spreadsMy Home, My CastleArm yourself. Reinforce all of your doors.
  •   Owning at least one firearm will give you the peace of mind that you can protect your family as well as the capability to do it. However you should not own a firearm without being properly trained how to use it.
  •     So it’s not safe on the streets, and if you are going to have to stay safe in your home, that means you are going to have to defend it. A lot of hardcore preppers think they need to build a fortress, armed to the teeth, that’s just Hollywood BS. Forget the zombies and fantasy-land, but a likely real scenario for the U.S. is an economic collapse followed by several months of panic and turmoil until order is restored.    During this period, some people may still be working, but a lot of people will be hungry, out of work, and scrounging around for food, water and other supplies. The same is true in the aftermath of any major disaster. Beyond lack of food and clean drinking water, the biggest threat to your personal survival will be thieves, rapists and murderers. Crime will be rampant, so your house better not only be stocked, it better be secure. Here are some basic home security tips that will help keep you and your family safe and protect your home from criminals, disaster or not.



  • In addition to vitamins, have on hand, apple cider vinegar, honey, garlic, sage tea for colds, mint tea, golden seal, herbs for cooking, including dried garlic and onions, cayenne pepper, cumin, basil, coriander and salt. These are all useful for their medicinal purposes and can enhance the taste of dried goods like beans and rice.

Most criminals don’t know how to or even try to pick locks; they just kick in the door. But if you have a sturdy door that can’t be busted down very easily, they’re likely to just move on to the next house. Get motion detector lights. Especially the kind that run on solar or batteries, in case of a power outage. Criminals don’t like to be seen, and if a bright light hits them they’ll probably flee. In my opinion the bugging out vs. hunkering down debate is moot because it all comes down to the type of threat, your personal situation and preparedness level – in the end you’ll have to make that decision based on that knowledge and common sense.

Get an alarm.

Make sure it is loud, and again, make sure it will work if the power is out. If you don’t have the budget for a major home security system,just pick up a few doorknob alarms. You can get these online or at Home Depot for about 10 bucks.

Reinforce your windows.

Windows are just too easy to break through and too tempting. If you live on a ground floor put bars over all your windows. Build a security fence. It has to go all the way around your property and be at least seven feet high. Yeah a determined criminal might find a way past it, but they may not want to try, and just move on to an easier target. The key to most of these measures is deterrence.

Use a decoy safe.

Your “real” safe should be very well hidden, but get a decoy safe that is fairly easy to find and filled with some cash, junk jewelry and documents that look important, but aren’t. Special Ops love the art of diversion. Use your “real” looking decoy safe, and put your valuables in a diversion safe that looks like a book, or various household items, like toiletries or drink cans.

Get a big dog : Enough said.

If You Plan To Bug Out

If you decide to leave, or are even thinking about leaving, the two most important things you need to have are a Bug Out Kit, and a designated Bug Out Vehicle.Your Bug Out Vehicle must be 4-wheel drive, preferably an older but well maintained one, with a manual transmission and a carburetor. “Modern” vehicles with electronic ignitions, and fuel injection, could be rendered useless in the event of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) that can occur as the result of a Solar Flare or nuclear detention.

A vehicle with a clutch and carburetor can always be rollstarted.Knowing how to drive a stick and start a car by popping the clutch is a must have survival skill.You can pick up a mid 90’s Jeep Grand Cherokee almost anywhere in the country for under $2000.00. Do so! Even if it just sits in your driveway be sure it is gassed up, in good repair, and ready to go at all times. If it is beat up on the outside good leave it that way. This way you don’t look like a target. The ultimate Bug Out Vehicle looks like crap, but drives like a dream.Remember if you’re going to leave there is a chance that traveling by roads under normal conditions may not be possible, especially the later you decide to bug out.

Communications, public transportation, streetlights, traffic signals, and other infrastructure that normally make traveling by road easy, may not be functioning. As part of your evacuation plan you must be prepared to travel by foot if necessary. You should know your evacuation route before an emergency occurs. Drive it several times looking for spots along the route for shelter or other facilities, just in case you have to leave your vehicle and make your escape by foot. If you do need to evacuate on foot, that means you will have to carry your Go Bag with you slung on your back. Traveling for miles in uncertain conditions carrying a rucksack is not easy for someone untrained. In the military, we drill for a forced march in full pack and gear.

A forced march is when you have to move out from one location to the next faster than normal. If a forced march is ordered it usually means you are in trouble, or someone else is. Military units train for a forced march so that when it’s issued they will be able to handle it. Now you may not be faced with a forced march, but part of getting in “Survival Shape” should be to throw on your Go Bag, and go hiking with it a few times a week. This is not only great all around exercise, but it will help you to build up the strength and stamina to carry your pack when you must. This kind of training can be especially useful for younger family members. Practicing evacuations can be made into fun family adventures.

A Place to Go

Just about every ex-military guy I know has what is called a “Safe House” or “Bug Out Shelter.” It’s a place you can go to for long-term shelter and survival if things really get rough. I know that you may not have the will, ability, or the desire to create such a place, and in that case the best thing you can do is to stay in your home, and defend it. But I recommend you do think about creating a “Bug Out Shelter,” and if you do, here are a few things to keep in mind.Everything that you have done to your main residence, you should have duplicated in your remote shelter, multiplied by the time you expect you may need to hold up there in terms of days, weeks or months.

When thinking long-term Survival Shelter, you must think not only about what is in it, but also where to locate it, and how to get there. Make sure it is: Off the beaten track, ideally accessible only by a single dirt road, and by at least a 4WD vehicle.Plain, not fancy. On the outside it should look like a simple hunting cabin, or weekend shack, so as not draw a lot of attention from locals and/or become a target for vandals.Close to a spring, well, stream or other natural source of water.

Within 10 to 20 miles of a village or small town where you can get to by foot,if necessary, for additional supplies, and news of the outside world, should you need it. Have enough land for growing your own vegetables and other crops.Close to a natural, easily harvestable food source, such as plentiful wildlife for hunting, or lakes, rivers streams for fishing.Stocked with enough weapons and ammunition to defend yourself from small groups of marauders or bandits, should you have to.

In my opinion the bugging out vs. hunkering down debate is moot because it all comes down to the type of threat, your personal situation and preparedness level – in the end you’ll have to make that decision based on that knowledge and common sense.

Do you plan to “bug out” or “shelter in place” please let us know in the comments below…

Stay safe,


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4 Replies to “If SHTF Will You Bug Out Or Shelter In Place ?What’s Your Plan?

  1. Bug “in” until no longer tenable or after the initial shit storm has passed. (3~5 weeks), then possibly “hit the trail”. As long as home is livable, we’ll sit tight with the preps to bail out by the door.

  2. Great article. The problem I have with the idea of bug in until it’s no longer possible is that by that time, it will be way more dangerous to bug out than if you just did it in the first place. Being able to anticipate the dominos falling and human behavior in your area is very helpful if you can do it. Most events will cause temporary unrest, but there are a few events that will cause a total collapse. If the event will cause a total collapse, just bug out right away. (eh, I guess there could be some in between possible total collapse ones as well.)

  3. The type of Threat-I would Think-is the most Crucial Determinator of whether to stay or go. “Weather to stay or go” may be the operant phrase. Katrina was predicted at Least five days in advance. Matthew is now on the move towards the Southeast Coast. Driving away from the Coast is most important. Hunker Down, and you may Drown like a Rat in the Storm Surge. For something like a Nuclear Strike, if you’re not Too Close to stricken cities, hunker down. If you ARE close, you must shelter in a Radiation-proof Bunker, or Bug Out.

  4. We are staying put, we live in a semi-rural area, outside of town. I’m really broken, if we couldn’t drive to a bug out location, I’d never make it. I would in fact sacrifice myself for my family. My man, he won’t leave me for anything. If it ever came down to a situation where my family needed to leave and I became a burden, well, I might make that sacrifice or force them to go and stay behind.
    I pray it never happens.

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