Should I Stay or Should I Go?

by Daisy Luther, The Orangic Prepper

When disaster seems imminent, there’s one vital decision that preppers have to make: bug in or bug out?  The lyrics from the chorus of a song by The Clash sums it up – you’ve got trouble either way,  but one way will be worse than the other.

Because this song is now stuck in my head, I thought it should be stuck in your head, too.

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

~ The Clash

Bug in or bug out?

First, some definitions:

Bugging In: This is when you shut the gate, lock the doors, and hunker down to weather the disaster at home with your supplies.

Bugging Out:  This is when you grab your bug-out bag and you hit the road to go somewhere else because your home is not safe.

In all but the most desperate circumstances, my personal plan is bugging in.  Being out on the road in the midst of a disaster means you’re a refugee. It means your supplies are minimal and that the things you’ve carefully stored over the years are very possibly going to be lost to you. The personal sustainability you’ve been cultivating at your home is also lost, including your garden, your livestock, and your water plan.

But, this is not a decision that’s engraved in stone. A while back, I wrote about the 3 steps to surviving any crisis:

1.) Accept

2.) Plan

2.) Act

If you are completely married to one, and only one, course of action, it limits your ability to perform the first step: accepting that whatever horrible event is out there, has actually occurred.  You have to be adaptable if you want to be able to survive extraordinary circumstances. Disasters rarely go by a script, and your plan can’t either.

The variables to consider

The answer to this question is hard to come by. There are so many different variables, there can never be a one-size-fits-all response.  Here are the major factors you have to look at.

Will you be safe if you remain at home? Bugging in is my first choice, but there are some situations in which evacuation is a necessity.  Last year, during the King Fire, we were only a few miles from the evacuation line. Had the fire leapt that line, it would have been suicidal to stay home. If you live near an erupting volcano, same thing. Storms like Hurricane Katrina also indicate that evacuation is a wiser course of action. Chemical spills, fires, biological contaminants, and extreme civil unrest can all be good cause to get-the-heck-out. You have to be willing to accept that no matter how fantastic your survival set-up is at your home, there are some circumstance beyond your control that would absolutely require a bug out.

Do you have a place to go? Bugging out to the woods to live off the land is not a good idea for most people. While there are some folks that would be just fine, most of us would not.  Are you going to go live in the woods with your children, your elderly mother-in-law, and your diabetic spouse?  Even though it’s a stretch, it might work briefly in good weather. But what about when the snow flies? What about when your food runs out? What about the fact that every third prepper has the same idea and will be out there shooting at deer, thus rendering your ability to bag one nearly impossible? If you do get one, do you know how to preserve it with only what you carried out to the woods on your back?  That list could go on and on. The point is, do you have a reliable retreat that is stocked with supplies?  Do you have a friend in the boondocks to whom you can go? Is that friend actually expecting you, and have you ponied up with some supplies before the event to ensure that you are welcome? If you have your own retreat set up somewhere, what will you do if someone hostile got there first? If it has really, truly hit the fan, your best bet for bugging out is a well-stocked retreat location where someone in your group resides full time.

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