There are several challenges to living off the grid, along with the decision to bug in inside a safehouse in the event of a crisis or emergency. Of course, staying at home during a major crisis and failing to act after one is just as – if not more – dangerous.
To help better prepare you and your family let's review five simple but overlooked things that should be avoided when bugging in during a crisis. While these precautions can take some effort to put together, it's a relatively small gesture considering it's going to help save you and your loved ones lives.
1. Not Understanding Your Surroundings
If you’re an active prepper, then one thing that is constantly on your mind is how to improve situational awareness and get a better understanding of your surroundings. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between regular background aspects of your life that you could live without in a crisis, and things that are truly important to your survival.
The areas where you might get caught out are;
- The suitability of the building and land that you are 'bugging in' on
- A thorough, accurate assessment of the risk of exposure to looters and rioters
- A thorough and accurate assessment of how the crisis will be responded to by the government and any first responders
- The personal advantages and limitations you have, and how they will change over time
- A lack of knowledge about regulations such as zoning laws and how they will prevent you from preparing for a crisis and responding to it properly
Most people are under the impression that if something is bad enough, then the local, state, and even federal government either won’t care enough about enforcing regulations or simply won’t be there to stop them from storing and using their survival equipment.
The truth is grittier than we may like to believe. The truth is, we don't know. We don't know if law enforcement will be there to come to our aid. Especially depending on the severity of the situation. The point is, you need to know how to defend your property and family while staying within legal means.
2. Believing Your Home is the Safest Place to Be
Most people feel that their home is the safest place to be no matter what. It’s where they can find food, have a shower, and sleep comfortably.
Your home is much more than just a place where all of your comforts are and where you can take care of yourself and those around you. Your home is your safe-haven. Even people who are deathly ill and need extensive medical care say that they feel safer at home and they want to go back as soon as they can.
With that said, there are several situations where staying at home is riskier than leaving it and going somewhere else. When a crisis hits there’s no telling whether staying at home would be the real best option. Take the story of my family during the hurricane for example.
Even in the event of a flood, hurricane, or earthquake it’s entirely possible that your house will be fine while the one next door is destroyed. You should never overlook the simple fact that there may come a time your house is not the safest place to be during or after an emergency. So you need to be prepared for either situation.
Here are some of the reasons that your home isn’t the safest place to be if you want to bug in and hide away at home;
- The structure – roof, walls, and floor – is in disrepair
You’d be surprised how many people have tons of debt for their car, mortgage, or credit card even though their home is falling apart and they’re catching leaks in buckets. A house can be a “home” even in this condition, and you can have trouble leaving it, but it could be the death of you in a survival situations.
You might feel that you would be comfortable dying like that, but you might reconsider that when you or one of your loved ones is trapped under debris and screaming for help they know will never come. It’s not a pleasant way to go.
- Your debt and how it affects where you can live
Most people in debt would likely welcome some kind of major crisis that wipes out all debt. Waiting for that sort of crisis and feeling that you could survive where you currently live is the equivalent of believing that the poisoned Kool-Aide is going to take you to the promised land.
You must understand how your current debt and income profiles can affect your ability to maintain your house and how they prevent you from living in an better home or house in a better neighborhood where you have a better chance of surviving.
It's okay to forego other prepping activities like stockpiling temporarily in order to focus on resolving your debts and finding a better place to live. There’s nothing stopping you from taking care of the conventional aspects of prepping after getting a home you can safely bug in with.
As you take care of your finances, you’ll still be building knowledge of prepping and perfecting your survival plan. That way you’ll know what you need to buy, the best places to buy it, and how to properly use it when the time comes.
3. A Lack of Knowledge and Training on Survival
Starting out each day with breakfast and a nice shower is no reason to assume that you have the knowledge needed to make it through a major crisis by staying at your house. The fact is that most of the habits that you take for granted right now could prove fatal in a crisis situation. Consider being in a scenario where you choose to bug in following a massive flood or hurricane.
If you live in a town or city then chances are you’ll be reliant upon local water supplies or municipal water for your water; systems that have likely been contaminated by the sewage system overrunning. It’s strange to think that there are people who are comfortable showering when they are told they need to boil water to make it safe for drinking. What makes them think it’s clean enough for bathing?
Not only are you risking exposure to raw sewage and all manner of dangerous chemicals in that sewage, but you risk exposing yourself to deadly and dangerous diseases too.
This is only one prime example of where a lack of knowledge or training in departments that you feel comfortable with can cost you. Here are some other things that people bugging in may overlook while putting together their plans for survival;
- How survival situations change hygiene protocols such as bathing
Even camping regularly and participating in outdoor activities doesn’t truly prepare you for the times when you have to conserve water for days on end; times where you need to use resources such as wet wipes to bathe and get rid of body odor.
- Changes to preparing and cooking food
If you’re the type of person who stocks up on frozen foods and pre-packaged “ready” meals, then you’ll lose everything when you lose the power to run your refrigerator or freezer. IF you don’t know much about cooking other than using your microwave and coffee maker, you are going to have difficulty safely operating an open fire or a propane stove for cooking.
If you choose to bug in so that you can avoid some of these “outdoorsy” situations, then you could find yourself at a massive disadvantage despite still being at home.
- Changes to how medical conditions and needs are managed
While you can stock up a pharmacy’s worth of herbal remedies, most people don’t know how to find and choose great products, let alone make proper use of them. There is a major lack of interest when it comes to things such as general first aid, advanced first aid, bystander CPR, and the latest emerging medical technology.
You might not have any interest in becoming a doctor or a medical professional of any kind, but this doesn’t preclude you from learning important skills like splinting a broken bone and stopping bleeding. It’s also important to keep up with advances in medicine and the latest changes and breakthroughs.
Lots of things that were believed to be true about a range of medical conditions are being disproven all the time. You can see this for yourself by doing a bit of research on leaky gut syndrome to see what it can lead to.
If you are dealing with these conditions, then you can give yourself an advantage by finding alternatives that ensure you stay healthy instead of just hoping that you have enough medical supplies to make it through the situation.
- You are scared by the idea of “situational awareness”
Being more imaginative about situational awareness makes you less prepared to defend yourself and your home or escape to safety in the event of an invasion or riot.
It doesn’t matter how cool and calm and collected you feel you will be in a crisis, understand that the adrenalin alone is going to shake every single thought from your mind and your attempts to fight back will be slow and miss their mark.
If you’ve never found yourself in an actual street fight or been in a situation where you have to disarm someone or use a weapon yourself, then you’ll never know what it’s like and how to respond.
You’ll never understand what it takes to defend yourself and your home from attackers. You should never assume that being at home means that you are safe no matter what has happened to society as a whole.
Also don’t dedicate “situational awareness” to just self-defense. Situational awareness applies to every aspect of life. The more you understand about your surroundings and what is happening within and without you, the more you understand what needs to be done.
Don’t forget about the internal landscape of your home. We know that you want your home to look nice, but there are ways to arrange furniture that spell disaster with home invasion situations by making it all too easy for attackers to get in and around your house.
Make sure you understand fields of fire and how to use them, and how to force invaders to go to areas where you can better deal with them. Don’t assume that what you have is enough.
If you’ve got a gun then you should take time to hit targets in these special areas with a laser sight, throw knives, practice using rubber arrows, and shoot soft darts. This builds up muscle memory and the more of that you have, the more confident you will be of the fields of fire in your home and the better you will be at defending your home and yourself within it.
Make sure you understand things about human behavior and human intentions. It’s far too easy to become paranoid in a crisis situation and lose sight of how people can come together to make it through a crisis.
Make sure you know when the time comes to defend yourself with your words and when you can shift something to your advantage. Taking a “shoot first and ask questions later” approach to every situation makes you a target for anyone that sees you as a potential threat, not just gangs.
This makes it difficult to get out of a situation alive, if not impossible, particularly when everyone else starts coming together to rebuild and leaves you out of their efforts. Remember you catch more flies with honey than vinegar...
4. Not Having an Exit Plan
There will be several situations where you decide that you would prefer to die at home rather than dealing with everything that comes with bugging out and escaping. Crises such as hurricanes, floods, and 9/11 have shown us that you won’t always have a choice about whether you get to survive the crisis or not.
No matter the situation that forced you to leave your home or made you consider leaving, you may find yourself surviving and doing well for yourself, but without the ability to live at home anymore.
Not having an exit plan for just such an eventuality can be worse than fatal. Never forget that those around you that were injured or killed would have given anything and everything they had to be in your situation.
Don’t waste that good fortune that you had to survive a crisis situation by not having a viable exit plan ready to go if you can’t bug in for whatever reason. Here are some of the basic aspects of any good exit plan;
- Names and locations for friends and family, whether they live close by or not, that can offer you a place to stay when you need it. One of the hardest parts of bugging out is being afraid that you won’t have anywhere to go. If you’ve got a location or a person in mind, it allows you to focus on the goal and use it as motivation to get moving out of a crisis zone.
- A bug out bag with all the necessary tools for navigating, finding and preparing food, purifying water, and handling basic medical needs. If you plan on traveling somewhere with a different climate, then make sure you are wearing the right clothes to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls. This includes clothes that help prevent frostbite and clothes that help prevent dehydration and heatstroke.
- The financial means to be able to support yourself after leaving a crisis zone. If the crisis is fairly localized then there’s a chance that you can still get access to your debit cards and the money in your bank. To make the most of your chances to access those funds, ensure that you have one prepaid debit card at the very least. This card should be backed by a large bank that has branches across the world. Cash and coins are the best choices if you don’t want to be tracked, but having money on you means that you need to have be able to defend yourself against criminals and thieves targeting you for it.
- A list of the skills and knowledge to learn to survive. Make sure you know how to hunt and fish, how to build a shelter, how to purify water, how to navigate, how to defend yourself, and how to tend to basic medical needs. Also make sure that you learn at least one extended trade so you can barter your skills as you move through crisis zones. Even if you stay in the local area, these skills can help you interact with others trying to make it through the nightmare scenario.
5. Not Keeping a Bug Out Bag
You might be wondering why you need to pack up a bag of essential equipment and gear when you have an entire home to yourself for survival, right? But the right tools can make all the difference!
There are any number of situations that could make a room inaccessible, or you may run into other problems that limit how much living space you have. Having a bug out bag also makes it easier to cut and run if you have to because you’ll have everything necessary for long-term survival to hand.
The bug out bag can be limited to the most essential tools, such as things to obtain and purify water and tools needed to capture, obtain, and prepare food. You may be able to follow the basic guidelines for putting together a bug in bag, but do keep in mind that being limited in how much you can travel and the features of your neighborhood could mean some items are useless unless you are actually going to bug out.
For example, the classic bug out bag might include a fishing rod. If you live in the inner city, then you probably won’t be doing any fishing at all. At least, you wouldn’t be able to catch anything edible.
You may find it more useful to keep a list of the food pantries and food preparation locations you can find food, along with seeds and containers. These won’t give you immediate access to food, but they do enable you to get food to stay well-fed at home.
Preppers have spent years studying a wide range of situations and they came to the conclusion that bugging in is cheaper, easier, and safer. Sadly, those people may be lulled into a false sense of security that causes them to make a fatal mistake because they plan on staying in a place they feel safe and comfortable. Crisis situations can transform even the home you know and love into a dangerous and strange landscape.
Remember these steps to ensure you avoid these fatal mistakes to improve your chances of surviving a crisis situation when bugging in. And if you've ever had to bug-in, share your experiences in the comments below - we'd love to hear your personal tips!