The Art of Survival

Bug Out or Bug In? The SHTF Scenario

This has been a hot topic for quite some time. You are facing an emergency SHTF crisis and things are getting serious, do you bug out (leave)? or bug in (stay)? Many people ask this question quite often. We see it on forums, Facebook posts, Twitter etc. So today we will look at each option and discuss them. The views here are from the viewpoint of former emergency, military and law enforcement personnel as well as the average backwoods survivalist. These are in no way a solid recommendation but is presented to facilitate discussion in order to help you tailor your individual plan. In addition to the advice we offer here, you may wish to consider taking a look at our article on the Rule of Threes so you can have a firm grasp on reality when it comes to bug out of bug in planning.

How Do I Know?

The idea of bugging out can be scary and uncertain. In some situations it can be the one decision that can save your life, on the other hand it can be the decision that ends your life. So what it the right time to “Bug Out”. Honestly there are so many factors to consider but there are also some very basic rules that can help you decide when to split if the SHTF scenario comes your way. The first and most important factor is your safety. You can’t find food or water if  you are injured or dead. Consider the situation. Ask yourself am I in danger? Will there be people coming here looking for what I have? Am I considered a hard target or soft target? How bad is it really?

There have been approx. 242 civil unrest events in the United States between 1900 and 2019. The most recent years 2000-2009 having 14 incidents but that number more than doubled in 2010 to 2019 with 38 incidents nation wide. The majority of those 38 incidents were either racially or politically motivated. Those two types are the most dangerous of all civil unrest movements. So you must ask yourself, is this event racially or politically motivated? Is this a protest over something smaller? What is the potential escalation factor? Even a protest over work wages can become violent in a hurry. How passionate is the cause for which the unrest is being made? This assessment will give you a good indicator of your risk factor.

What is Now, May not Soon Be

Events can start out non violent but all it takes is a few bad apples. Crowds are often affected by synergistic behavior. This is the effect of 1 or more persons behavior influencing other individuals. A classic example was in Ferguson, Missouri Riots of 2014 when the crowd was fairly well behaved despite the situation. When the ruling came down, even then the crowd was still well behaved. It took the outburst of two people to trigger the immediate crowd and then that behavioral action spread throughout the city until it became a very volatile situation. This was a classic example of synergistic behavior. This a key ingredient to look for in any civil unrest matter, is there a bad apple in the batch? One needs to keep in mind that racial or political unrest movements can be among the deadliest civil disturbances.  Monitor situations close and if you feel threatened, then perhaps it is time to consider bugging out however, there is more to consider here when making such an important decision.

Risk Versus Reward

If you bug out do you have a lot to lose or far more to gain? Factors to consider are food resources, water, shelter on the way to your destination, shelter once you get there, safety, personal health issues etc. You have to think of this from a point of “What will impact me during this transition?” and then ask the question “what do I have to gain versus my loss?”. If you have solid food resources on hand and you are leaving out into uncertainty then the risk of loosing food if far greater than the gain, however if you are in high danger of loss of life or serious injury then the loss of the food becomes less important and loss of life is a more important consideration. This can go many ways and you must carefully weigh the options.

Consider this in the Risk/Reward scenario. You have zero food on hand but at your cabin you have plenty stored up. You know you can get there but the guys outside your door may kill you when you leave. Your risk factor is high if you bug out but you will starve if you stay so either way risk is high but reward becomes greater if you make it.  Now in reversal, you have lots of food but people are outside the door and they want in. You know you simply can not defend the place. If you bug out you will go hungry but you may not die, you can escape out back and be gone. Here, the risk of bugging out is high because food will be lost but, you live to eat another day. Even if your risk of getting away is high, in this case it really does not matter because either way you don’t have much of a choice. In this case, it is indeed bug out time.

The idea of bugging out in a SHTF event has some critical needs associated with it. These need to be weighed heavily when making such a decision. Those needs are shelter of some sort, can you gather and store food there, is there water nearby and the security of the location. If you do not have any of those or even lacking one of those, then your bug out location is inadequate. Now with that being said, if going to this location prevents you from being killed back in town then by all means make the move because risk in staying is higher and you can always move on to a better location once clear of danger. So as you see it can be a very complex thing when making this decision.

If you realize you have plenty of food, water and good shelter and you stay then you will need to address security. Can you defend the location adequately? do you have the weapons required. Many people don’t want to think weapons but in a crisis they are critical tools. Being able to defend your property, food stores and family is essential. If you don’t have a defense plan in place then it is not a matter of “if” you lose but “when” you lose. You are going to need a handgun for close quarters encounters, shotguns for multiple adversary situations and a rifle for long range engagements. Learn to use these, take a course in weapons handling and you will thank me if the shit ever hits the fan. Keep in mind however, staying put means you are slowly running out of bug out options as more people start to make the bug out choice.

In either situation you will have to address the bug out bug in needs discussed in this article. Shelter, food, water and security but it does not stop there. You have medical needs, communication needs and so much more. What i you run out of ammo for your firearms? How will you address that? What if your bug out location is compromised? Where will you move to next? This topic is one of many what if scenarios and it has a lot of answers depending on your health, age, number of dependants, time of the year and magnitude of the event. Multiple plans are a must, always have a failsafe.

So back to that basic question of do I bug out or do I bug in?. I think with the information and suggestions I have provided here you can start to make a determination as to how to answer that question. In the end there is no one who can give you that answer but yourself. I will say this, if you live in a city with a large population and there is civil unrest that is getting bad, you are simply waiting on the inevitable attack if you stay within the city limits but, beware, if you move you need to consider that others may have decided to to the exact same thing.

In future articles we will go over some of the steps outlined above in detail and see if we can help you formulate a plan for your Bug Out or Bug In scenario. Here at Snare Trap Survive (soon to become Hemming Outdoors) we have  goal, teach every soul the importance of being prepared.

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