Keeping litter, noise and light discipline in a high-risk environment
by Jon E. Dougherty, BugOut As your bugout experience continues into weeks and months following a societal collapse, you and your group will be forced to survive various challenges and hazards day-to-day. One of your most precious commodities, so to speak, will become security – that is, staying safe from marauding bands and hostile bands of thugs. As long as you’ve got something someone else wants – food, medicines, water, clothing, guns – you’re going to be targeted. Without a doubt, the very best way to avoid hostilities and potential loss of life and gear is to first avoid detection. Avoiding discovery and detection by those who mean to harm you really boils down to three essential principles or disciplines: Litter, noise and light discipline. Litter discipline refers to the practice of picking up after yourselves and not leaving a litter trail for others to find and follow back to your camp. It isn’t radical environmentalism – it is a practical skill that you’ll need to engage in if you want to make it harder for people to find you. If you’re patrolling our out on a food or water run and you have something to eat along the way, pocket your trash instead of tossing it on the ground. Blood can be a “litter” as well, as a bleeding wound can leave a trail. So make sure you treat any would on the spot. Light discipline means simply that you dramatically reduce the amount of light you and your camp might emit. That means shielding all light behind a curtain, inside a tent or similar action in order to keep it from being seen at a distance. In light discipline, buildings and other facilities are lit internally through the use of camouflaged lighting, and entrances, windows, and other apertures are darkened by means of blinds and other devices. Signal devices and transport lights are camouflaged with caps, visors, and screens. If you’ve bugged in and are still at your home, find ways to block your windows – heavy trash bags or thick blankets work the best – especially at night. And when using light, try to use something personal, like a small flashlight you can direct or a candle. Also, note that light discipline can apply during daylight as well; if you’re trying to signal someone in your group from a distance or are using objects that reflect sunlight, your position could be revealed to bad guys. One other thing – a full moon might be romantic but it can illuminate your movement at night, so be cognizant of that by not silhouetting yourself on top of a hill and by avoiding crossing broad, open fields if possible. Here’s a demonstration video: Noise discipline is just as important as either of the other two principles. Long before the bad guys see you, they will probably hear you, and then use the noise to walk right up on your camp. Keep voices down by moving close to each other when speaking, and don’t ever shout. Avoid noise-creating activities like gunfire or using power tools. If you have to use a generator, then surround it with a wooden or metal wall to deflect and/or absorb the noise. Also, it’s a good idea to use your most noise-producing equipment during the day, when there is generally more noise anyway. Always remember to post look-outs and perimeter watch anytime you’ve got to use something that makes noise. If you’ve got to make a patrol or a food/water run, learn how to communicate using hand signals. This will be more difficult at night, of course, but with practice, you’ll get most skilled at it. One more discipline – smoke discipline, or the reduction or non-use of fire, may cramp your style and make life a little tougher for a while but there may be times when this becomes necessary. You can, at least, diffuse your smoke somewhat if you’ve got to have a fire by building it under a leafy tree.