Traditionally the concept of Bugging-out means one leaving their home for a safer, usually more rural location in order to escape a natural disaster or social unrest. People talk about their Bug-Out location, usually a rural cabin stocked with food and guns. They will bring their Bug-Out bag, usually similar to a 72-hr bag or a ultra-light backpacker's bag. They could plan to reach a cabin or just a secluded spot and pitch a tent.
The problem I see with Bugging-Out for city-dwellers, is that for most people, it's just not possible or feasible to own a bug-out location. For residents of major cities, millions of people can't leave their apartments and homes for the countryside. The countryside can't support that many people, the national forests can't support that many people and rural communities do not want nor can accommodate city folks sleeping on their lawns.
It doesn't seem feasible for millions of urban and suburban residents to leave town, even if a large scale disaster is on the way. People here will have to learn to Bug-In and hunker down or find an alternative location in another city.
Options for Bugging-Out (Leaving Home)
Option #1: Your car.
Your car, if large enough for your family, could provide mobile water-proof coverage from the elements. As you, and likely many others, plan to evacuate an area, highways may become clogged. Your vehicle will become your home base as you travel to a safer place. Even if you don't plan to stay in your car, pack it as if you won't reach your intended destination.
Before the disaster hits, prepared your car for a trip now. You may have advance warning for a hurricane or snow storm, but when it comes to actually leaving, your exit may be unexpected. Here are some generic car items that are good to have for day to day trips around town (35 Items You Need To Put in Your Car Right Now). This list recommends the basics: food, water, first aid, spare tire, jumper cables, blankets, change of clothes and flashlights, along with other items.
However, if you have to live out of your car, here are some extra items that may be helpful:
- cook stove (my camp stove)
- extra sleeping stuff
- extra clothes
- food (my favorite protein bars)
- water (sawyer filter, water bottle)
- first aid kit (pre-made kit)
- weapons (knives, pepper spray, etc)
- tools (cooking knife, hammer, scissors, etc)
- duct tape
Option 2: High-rise apartments.
Find a friend or relative with a high rise apartment. This may provide protection from flooding or civil unrest in the streets. While high rise apartments come with their own hazards like electrical fires, they also can raise you away from the street. There have been cases where flooding causes electrical shorts that can cause fires. Also, sewage backup is always a potential with flooding. But for cases of civil unrest, being on the fourth floor puts over forty feet between you and riots below.
But please don't show up un-annouced. Plan ahead with your high-rise living friend if they are willing to accommodate your family. Bring your own supplies with you like bedding, food, and water if you are able.
Make a plan. If the streets were to flood then make a plan with your high-living friend on how you would handle sanitation, cooking, and heating/cooling if the power were to go out and you were trapped in the apartment. Some articles that handle each of these cases:
- 5 Steps for Handling Water during a Power Outage
- 7 Actions for Heating Your Home During a Power Outage
- 7 Steps for Maintaining Proper Sanitation during Power Outage
Option 3: Suburban friends.
Talk to your friends and relatives about the advantages of their homes for various situations. While it may not be possible to get into a completely rural community, having the option to retreat to a more suburban house may have benefits. Perhaps even store survival items you would want at their house, so there is less to carry when you do need to evacuate.
Share your home's advantages with them. It may happen in other situations, your home may be better for your friends or family. Friendship is a two-way street. Store some survival supplies at their house but host their box at your home. This could double as a fire insurance box, if you house is destroyed you would have a change of clothes at your friends house. In return you could host a box of theirs at your apartment or home, and make a plan if your house is a better option for them.
What to keep in the off-site box:
Option 4: Hotels or Motels in Another City
Try finding a motel in a different city. While many don't take pets, and will become booked quickly. It may be worth it to find a room to live out of in another city. Motels could also provide a stop over point to a further destination. We still recommend bringing the same supplies as you would for any of the above options. The motel could also lose power or running water.
Try not to let others around you see the supplies in your car. You packed your car with supplies and evacuated like many others. Don't make your car a target by leaving food, water, or other supplies in view. Throw blankets over your supplies, much like you would hide your purse under the seat in the the sketchy city neighborhoods.
Option 5: Campgrounds
I only recommend this option for people who already go camping in tents or at campgrounds. While it may seem like a good idea to camp out for awhile in a rural place, they are often crowded with one site right next to another. Camping in this manner also requires gear and skills, like camp cooking and sanitation practices. If you have never camped out, during a crisis in not the time to learn. If you have an RV or camper, campgrounds may be the natural first option for escaping the situation.
To learn these skills, try taking the family on a trip for a weekend during the summer. This will give you an idea if this solution would work for your family. Those in wheelchairs or who have other dependents, may find this option unavailable to them. Of course, if it's your last option, make do with what you have.
Actions to Take Today
- Evaluate your bugging out options: your home, friend's home, motels, nearby campsites, etc
- Prepare your car and make a plan to build an off-site box: clothes, tools, backpack, vital supplies
- Learn to cook, clean and stay happy without electricity (food, water, heating, lighting, sanitation)
We believe that if everyone was a bit more prepared, the community as a whole would be stronger. If you have relatives who live further away or in a remote cabin, bugging-out to that house may seem like the best option. Of course, ask your relatives if they are willing to host you if things get rough. Don't assume you can show up at Uncle Tony's cabin in the middle of a snow storm because your city apartment lost heat.
Have you ever had to evacuate? Share your story in the comments below.