Let's be honest. Planning for the apocalypse can actually be kind of fun. All the cool gear and gadgets and skills and the daydreaming about finally getting to go on that grand survival adventure—it can be pretty intoxicating.
Unfortunately, the many offerings from the prepper industry can also have the effect of skewing our common sense about what an emergency scenario might actually involve. I was teaching a tactical pistol class recently and the subject of emergency preparation came up. One of my students started talking excitedly about his bug out plan and his bug out bag.
It reminded me of when my kids were little and I had my bug out bag full of all sorts of goodies—freeze-dried meals, communication devices, night vision…and zero diapers. If we were going to bug out for even a short period of time, I couldn't imagine the number of diapers that would require.
And the more this student and I talked, the more his plan seemed to fall apart. He was talking about bugging out, and I'm asking things like, "Do you have any family or friends in the area?"
"Well, unless you're willing to abandon your friends and family, you're not bugging out anywhere with your current preparations."
He was crestfallen. I could tell like many of you and like me in the past, he'd spent some time developing his bug out bag and his bug out plans, but he'd failed to just think of some very obvious things…and people.
Sheltering in Place Might Be Preferable to Bugging Out
First of all, in the days or weeks following an "apocalyptic" event, chances are pretty good that your best bet is to shelter in place. Of course, this assumes that you've taken some steps to make your home ready for such an event. If not, this needs to be a higher priority than escaping your home. Food, water, water filtration, heat sources, security, etc.
Now when we start thinking about emergency preparation and bugging out, we always have a "grass is always greener" mindset, and we think we're a lone wolf. Well, you're probably not a lone wolf in real life. You have a mom, maybe you have a sick grandmother. You've got cousins, you've got friends, you've got neighbors, and a lot of people that are woven into the fabric of your life, and if they were truly in trouble, you'd help them. I know I would.
Less than a hundred years ago, it was pretty common for families to have a root cellar or supply stash that would allow them to survive harsh eventualities. I'm not a paranoid, Chicken Little, capital P prepper just because I have all kinds of food, emergency supplies, and survival gear. I'm doing today what was common sense for my grandparents' generation. And that should be step number one.
Tomorrow is probably going to be a normal day, but in the event that it's not, you want to be ready to feed and protect your family at your house. In the event that a natural disaster, EMP, or war breaks out and people lose access to critical resources, the whole world is only about nine meals away from anarchy.
So take some small steps on a regular basis to be ready—extra canned goods every time you go to the store, keeping water filtration systems available, canning your own vegetables, learning how to grow a garden, being prepared to forage or hunt for food etc.—can be fun and also life-saving.
You should encourage your loved ones to do the same so that if something were to happen, you all could help each other out.
Other Things to Consider Before Bugging Out
Your Get Home Bag. What if something happens while you're out and about on your daily routine? Always have a get-home bag in your vehicle. In a major city, if driving is no longer an option, your regular commute suddenly becomes a full-day or multi-day trek just to get to your family. What would you need to get home safely, especially if things are hostile? Food, water, tactical tools, evasion and counter-surveillance, etc. Anyway…something to consider.
Is My Bug Out Location Better? So let's say the world (or maybe just your corner of the country) went from zero to zombies overnight and they're coming in search of brains. If you bug out, you leave all of your assets, all of the stuff, all of your stockpiled provisions. If you bug out, you're likely to get into some serious trouble in transit to and fro. If you do bug out, who's to say that the place you're bugging out to isn't going to be worse than where you are?
You Need People. It's difficult for one family to face the apocalypse alone. Your most important resource in a terrible situation are people you can trust. If you've got provisions, you're going to need to secure them, and you can't provide security for your home alone. Whether bugging out or bugging in, who will join with you? You can't pull guard shift 24/7 by yourself. You're surviving as well.
Train hard. Train smart. Don't Forget Common Sense.