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.