Jan 07

10 Tips for Bugging In

Bugging in is most likely the first option in the prepper playbook that will be employed by most of us when confronted with a crisis, regardless of how much time is spent chatting about the far sexier concept of bugging out.  Let’s face the facts, you and I are much more comfortable on our home turf.   Most (if not all) of our supplies are there with us and unless a fully stocked survival ranch is awaiting us in the redoubt our chances of making it are far greater at home versus heading off blindly into the unknown.  This does not mean that we aren’t ready to bugout at a moment’s notice, or that we have not rehearsed this many times over, it’s just that we simply do not want to.

Bugging in does present a few challenges, some of which are dependent on the type of SHTF scenario that unfolds.  It is impossible to write about every scenario and to take into account each specific circumstance so I’ll just keep things rather generic and hope that you can adjust as needed.  What follows is a list of 10 things to keep in mind when bugging in, feel free to add more of your thoughts in the comment section below the article.

1- Hygiene:  I listed this as #1 because I believe this potentially presents a much greater threat than any pack of gun wielding evil doers.  Even something as simple as continuing to use the bathroom (no doubt outside in a pit after T-SHTF) without paying proper attention to the washing of one’s hands before eating could lead to severe sickness.  Add to that the fact that there could be very few accessible Doctors or prescription drugs and things could quickly spiral out of control.  Great care should be taken to maintain some semblance of clean living, brushing and flossing one’s teeth daily, using baby wipes or other methods to “shower” up (read: get the funk off your body), disinfecting the small wounds that are sure to occur to avoid infection et al.  The list goes on and on, but I wanted to make sure to list this first because I believe that it is often overlooked by many in the prepper community.

2- Security:  Obviously very important in any SHTF scenario.  Hopefully you would work with your community to identify and secure a small area encompassing all of your homes, almost creating an outpost of sorts.  Also consider the following when planning your security strategy.

a. Appearance.  There has to be a careful balance here, you don’t want to attract attention to your house but you also do not want to be seen as a soft target.  Based on your home’s location and how many people you have living in close proximity to you will help to determine what course of action you choose.  Personally I think the “ransacked house” look is much more practical than the “fortress.”  A home that looks like it has been torn through a few times will be much less noticed than a home with boarded up windows, sandbags and concertina wire in the front yard.  Hopefully you will be able to find a decent compromise which allows you to remain somewhat incognito but still maintain some semblance of security.

b. Light Discipline.  When the sun goes down, all lights stay off, it’s just that simple.  Most people who do end up on the road will probably travel at night as a precautionary measure, and keep in mind even a small candle can be seen through a window from miles away.  You don’t want to broadcast your location to the world by keeping the lights on at night.  Use a red or blue lens flashlight if you have to and cover up the windows.

c. Guard Roster.  Depending on how far into SHTF things have progressed and how volatile things are in your area you should consider leaving someone up at night.  Think like a bad guy for a second.  They will try to break into your place under the cover of darkness and it will probably be sometime just after midnight when they think you are completely asleep.  Even bad guys don’t want to wait until 3 or 4 in the morning, besides they are factoring in the time needed to ransack your place and still get out under the cover of darkness.  If you can’t spare anyone to stay up at night hopefully you have an alert dog.

d. Locks, Bars.  Consider additional low cost methods of securing the entry points to your home.  If you have a sliding door which leads to a back deck or patio, realize this is a huge security risk.  It is relatively simple to pry a door up out of its tracks and it can be done quickly with minimal tools.  Consider using a barricade on your door, or even something as simple as a door jammer.

e. Early Warning.  Cheap early warning devices might succeed in thwarting amateur-ish criminals, at the very minimum they could wake your dog or provide you with the suspect’s location (if you are alert).  Something as simple as stringing up a few pop cans on para cord, or emplacing one of these Cyalume trip flares will let those who are approaching know that your home has not been left undefended.

3- Water:  I’m assuming you probably have enough potable water on hand to sustain your family for a few weeks or maybe even a month.  I am also assuming, like any good prepper, that you have ways to filter water obtained from various non-traditional sources.  Does your neighborhood have a pool?  This will be a huge resource if T-SHTF.  Remember the Berkey filter system can make chlorinated water safe to drink although it will wear down the filter elements faster.  Don’t forget to identify ponds, lakes, streams within your immediate area and your methods for retrieving water from those sources.  Water is heavy and constant trips to a river which is 1/2 mile from your home (one way) will prove to be exhausting if done on foot.

4- Fitness:  You simply cannot sit inside your home every day, eating MREs and pulling guard duty and not expect to get fat.  Have some sort of fitness plan which incorporates muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness.  You don’t need a gym or running track to accomplish this task, much can be done utilizing one’s own body weight and a jump rope.  If the SHTF does occur and 6 months passes those who have put in the extra effort to continue on with some sort of fitness plan will be leagues ahead of those who did not, especially when it comes to the ability to work, defend, survive.

5- Fire:  If your home starts burning the local fire department will not be there in short order to quench the blaze, nor will an insurance agent be there with a check to replace your home in a week or two. Resist the urge to build a fire pit in your living room, do not bring your propane (or charcoal) grill into the house because “there are no rules!”  As a matter of fact pay special attention to your smoke detectors.  Even in a grid down scenario they should still be able to operate on 9v batteries, make sure they remain functional.  Fire is a very real threat and care should be taken to avoid catastrophe.

6- Medical:  Unless you are a trauma surgeon who is married to an anesthesiologist  with two kids who happen to be an ER nurse and EMT, you will probably experience situations which require more medical treatment than you can provide.  Even after SHTF it is likely that there will be clinics of some sort, most likely set up at local churches or quite possibly run out of the homes of medical practitioners   Remember even those people will need to eat and it is quite possible that you will be able to barter for medical care.  Seek out these treatment facilities and if possible identify who within your immediate community has any medical experience.

7- Trash:  I’ve written about the problems associated with trash after SHTF, remember Mr Garbage man won’t be around once a week to take your nasty bags of maggot covered pizza crumbs.  While it does stand to reason that there will be much less trash produced after SHTF (many items will be re-purposed) having a good plan for waste will be important.  You should also educate your neighbors if possible, I’m quite sure they will be more than willing to simply toss stuff out into the street which is completely unacceptable.  Once the critters and vermin arrive they become very hard to eradicate

8- Communications:  I’m doubting that your mobile unlimited plan will be worth anything after T-SHTF, so it might be a good idea to have a commo plan in place when operating around your home.  2 way radios are a great option, many have cool features which allow them to double as weather radios (assuming reports are still being issued).  If you are out collecting water or even doing perimeter checks having a radio is a great way to keep tabs on what is going on near the house itself.

9- Egress Strategy:  Nothing more than your Bugout plan, which of course could be complicated by the fact that your vehicles no longer work and you have long since dug into your supplies (reducing your overall readiness level).  While bugging in might be your plan if you get word that the golden hoard is 2 days away and closing in on your location a plan to pick up and move needs to be ready to go.  Unless of course you fancy going out like Davy Crockett while trying to defend the Alamo.

10- Food:  No matter how much food you have in storage, given enough time it will run out.  It could run out much sooner than you think if family shows up unexpectedly on your doorstep with nowhere else to go.   With that in mind you should already have identified ways to come up with additional food through other means.  Whether that involves starting your own garden or attempting to hunt (although you shouldn’t depend on that) emphasis should be placed on finding sources of food through unconventional methods.  Even a robust food storage supply can be depleted much quicker than anticipated.  What is a year’s supply of food when weighed against a crisis that lasts 3 to 5 years?  Have a plan which will keep your family fed long into any crisis.


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    • Lux on January 8, 2013 at 9:04 PM
    • Reply

    Hello PJ,

    I would like to add a couple of things:

    I have 5 fire extinguishers. They are a good thing to have even under normal circumstances and the smaller ones are not that expensive.

    I have one of those 12 volt alarm horns that run off of 12 volts. Not the entire alarm, just the black horn part that makes noise. I will be installing that outside with wires running inside so if necessary I can alert the whole neighborhood to a problem if necessary. In an emergency situation you can bet everyone will look out the window if they hear something.

    Being the wire head that I am, I have built a few battery operated microphone preamps and amplifiers over the years. The microphone(s) will be re deployed outside in an emergency situation. I did extensive testing with these. Typically the set ups I have, make it sound a lot like being outside. So from the inside of the house I should be able to hear the sound of crunching leaves and some footsteps. The sound of cars and normal conversation are no problem to pick up. Quiet talking may be unintelligible if it is too quiet but just being able to hear that there are people outside will be a plus. So I will have a heads up to what’s going on outside. This will enhance the effect of various noise makers such as leaves on sidewalks and tin cans on fishing line hidden in foliage. The amplifier will be run off of a car battery which is charged off of one of my micro-solar set ups so I can have continuous audio surveillance of the outside.


      • PJ on January 9, 2013 at 8:02 AM
      • Reply


      The microphone and amplifier setup you have sounds really cool. How will you protect it from the elements? Also I too have many fire extinguishers, always good to have those. Thanks for the comment.


        • Lux on January 9, 2013 at 9:06 AM
        • Reply

        The only thing that is outside is the condenser microphone element and the shielded cable (audio or video) that it is connected to. The element would typically be located under the eaves of the house. A plastic sandwich bag can be placed over the microphone with tape or a rubber band to hold it in place. The other electronics are indoors connected to the other end of the shielded cable.


          • PJ on January 9, 2013 at 3:52 PM
          • Reply

          Sounds simple enough, maybe you could write up the specs of this home made security system. 🙂

            • Lux on January 10, 2013 at 10:53 AM

            Will do.

            The short version of the easiest set up I did was as follows:

            I bought a tiny guitar practice amplifier at Walmart one year when they went on clearance. It was made (or marketed) by “First Act”. The model number is MA104. You can still buys these on Ebay for under $20. It is ideal for this application because it runs on a 14 volt wall adapter power supply so you can hack the cable on that to make a cord that plugs into a cigarette lighter jack in a car. The amp has plenty of gain so you only need to make the circuit to power the condenser mic element (no preamp needed). I will probably be able to do an instructable on the condenser microphone power supply in the next couple of weeks.


            • PJ on January 10, 2013 at 6:43 PM


            Good stuff, I have a small 15w guitar amp that came with my beginner kit years ago. I could probably use that! If you come up with an instructable on how to set up the security system let me know and we’ll try to get it up for everyone to see.


    • Melissa on February 6, 2013 at 6:20 PM
    • Reply

    My security is not that sophisticated. I have a bunch of magnetic child proofing alarms, they run off 2 AA maybe AAA they have a little switch to turn them off and on and sticky pads to adhere them to door frames. It’s a loud little alarm. I put them on every window, outer door and door to a room & closet that house supplies or firearms. I have 4 young kids ages 2-10 so I have to keep them out of the stuff too! I rent so I’m not allowed to install anything that requires so much as a screw or nail hole.
    Buying a home is not an option for us right now so any security tips for renters (we have a house) who aren’t allowed to install stuff or dig holes outside would be fantastic!

      • PJ on February 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM
      • Reply


      At least you have taken some action to improve your situation. Renting can be problematic, but there are still things that can be done.


    1. ya missed something with the fire exstingusher lmao its the best non persistant deturant you could want imagine someone creeping up beside your house and they catch that fishingline ya put in the trees now think if that line ran back to a abc fire exstinguisher or worse a purple k one just the blast from the bottle would scare most away but those who deside oh no im going in naaaaa wont happen hes still gotta get that dry chem out his chest before he can do any heavy breathing past something that looks like a heart attack or asthma and its completly legal i carry a small one in my truck for wrecks or whatever but try to rob me i got ya and you will beg the cops to take you to an er

    2. just as i said to the gentalmen above fire exstinguisher totally legal with stop a assailant in their tracts its generally not life threating and the police might thank you cause your attacker will be on the ground curled up covered in a white pink or purple powder that will keep them from fighting you oh and what are children taught in schools not to play with them because they are for fire and emergencys now why did they allways tell us that now i know what that and emergency is lol its the only other use i can come up with seriously lmao what else would you use one for

        • Jeremy on February 6, 2016 at 11:54 PM
        • Reply

        That is the longest run on sentence I’ve ever seen. Super annoying dude

  1. I think just sleeping in shifts to guard food and supplies is your best bet.
    when bugging in.

      • PJ on July 15, 2013 at 10:23 PM
      • Reply

      Sleeping in shifts is a great idea, just be careful trusting one person to stay awake. It seems like it wouldn’t be an issue now, but a week or three into SHTF when everyone is exhausted and that 0200-0400 shift will be absolutely brutal.

      1. ya lol i can attest to this one personally lmao
        try the korean dmz in the middle of winter with no heat stuck in the bush for 3 weeks man o man ya about 2-6 am is the witching hours z monster will jump up and slap ya out lol you wont even know you fellasleep so we cut guard shifts down to 1.5 hours little less if the person has been at it for a while now that being said they guy who got to set on tent guard while we did work guess whos got the longest but last guard shift yep he got his rest but he gets the later of the witching hour and has to wake everyone up to he also normally starts the coffe hey were gonna have coffe damnit in my shtf there is a abundance of coffe creamer and sugar not to mention starbucks if yall didnt know is totally imune to alll disasters even zombies especially zombies lmao we have to have fun with this while being serious were talking about the tamed world falling apart i think its gonna be far more worse than we are thinking

          • Kerry on April 14, 2016 at 1:50 AM
          • Reply

          Terrell, please do not comment in any way without the use of proper punctuation. It is incredibly difficult to read/understand, and it comes off as just plain ignorant, regardless of the content therein. If you are unsure how to write a sentence, I suggest you type in “proper use of punctuation” into a search engine. Start with the “period.” The “period” is that little dot at the end of a sentence that let’s the reader know that you have finished a complete thought, signaling that anything after it (and a space or two) will be a new sentence/complete thought. Education is a prepper’s best friend.

    • lauren thomas on January 5, 2016 at 12:44 PM
    • Reply

    I have baby monitors on my list to put around the property when I bug in

    • James on January 26, 2016 at 5:19 AM
    • Reply

    This is a great list and thank you for mentioning two of the topics most often overlooked by the prepper community as a whole. Absolutely, hygiene should always be taken into consideration. It should be the number the number one priority along with efficient water rationing, gathering, & storage. Either one of these two things, if ignored or not taken seriously, can make someone ill or potentially dead. Additionally, they can harm the rest of the group (i.e, outbreak of cholera or group morale plummets after beloved group member dies from dehydration). All in all, this list is basic enough for the beginner prepper to gain a greater understanding of day to day life after SHTF. It’s thorough enough to make those of us who have been at it for a while, think a bit more deeply about it, too. Do you have a post about developing and implementing a strength and conditioning fitness plan after SHTF? Thanks

    • Texaslorraine on May 10, 2016 at 10:20 AM
    • Reply

    Bugging in is adventitious for us older folk. Afterall, though i have my BOB packed n ready, at 71 i am not looking forward to trekking thru the woods. Nor does my 76 yo husband want to either. So bugging in is the first step. We are rural in Texas, well, food storage, ammo, well, etc. security comes in the form of our DEW line…”dog early warning” line. The two outside dogs are always alert and the inside dogs pick up the cacouphanous din- and I am wide awake and moving. Shotgun near and AK close too. Love my “dew” line

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