How to Make A Basic Bug-In Survival Plan

All you ever read about is bugging out, and bugging-out if the ‘’Stuff Hits The Fan’’, or ‘’It’s The End Of The World As We Know It.

Whether your plan is to bug-out to your second home in the country, your cousin’s farm that you visited once when you were eleven, or some random spot in a national forest somewhere I hope you can get there.

food stockpile

I will admit I wish I had a second home to go to, but that is not an option for most household incomes! Yes I do have some rural places to go to in a few states, and even private land that I could park my camper on if I bug-out.

I live in Colorado, so I could go to the National Forrest and set up camp somewhere, hopefully. All three are great ideas if you know for sure that  you can get out of town.

The county I live in has a population of 620,000, so imagine just one third of these people trying to get out of town at once. It could be impossible to leave the city for days.

There will be horrific traffic jams with very angry people that want to get their families out of dodge no matter the cost. Massive road rage will most likely take over the normally peaceful driver who is in such a panic that he will push you off the road, shoot you, or whatever it may take to get in front of you.

The ditches will be full of broken down vehicles, wrecks and people begging you to let them ride with you or to take their children with you.

Nope, that is not something anyone would want to put their family through, especially me. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a bug-out plan, but my bug-in plan may be more important and you should have one as well.

In the event of a worldly, domestic, or catastrophic event, grocery stores could run out food in 3-4 days and the same with fuel at gas stations. NO Diesel NO Food! Remember that!

The Basics

Do you have these basics items: 1-3 months’ supply of food, guns, ammo,  garden, first aid, water, a secure home, wood burning stove, friends, you get the idea.

These are just a few basic items that everyone should have at their home, but you should make a list of everything that you would want at your home in the event of a collapse.

Unless there is a poisoned gas cloud coming my way I will most likely be bugging in for a few days, or years. Well this may seem a little over whelming, but let’s take a look at some basic prepping items that are affordable and easy to obtain.

Unless you are new to prepping, then you know that food and water is the first thing you should have on your bug-in list. If you are on a tight budget like we are, you cannot afford to go spend 2-3k on a garage full of freeze dried food and grains.

What we have done is started tracking how long it takes us to consume our normal grocery store items on our calendar. By tracking these items and buying extras at bulk prices at Sams and Costco you will have a 1 year supply of food for a family of 4 within a few months!

One thing you can do to get a month’s worth of food for under a $100 is to go to your big bulk store and buy one large bag of dried beans, one large bag of dried rice, a couple of cases of canned vegetables, and some noodles or Ramen noodles.

Most noodles, beans, rice, and canned food have a good shelf life and if stored in a very cool, dry place will last even longer than expiration dates. Canned tuna in oil is cheap with a long shelf life and the oils can be drained to cook other foods.

Now you have an emergency food stash that has a good shelf life, not too bad to eat, and very affordable. Start watching for sales at the grocery store for canned food, clip coupons, go on double coupon days and you will have a hundred cans of food before you know it.

Now that you get the idea on starting your food bank also you will want to have cooking oil, sugar, salt, and other spices in stock to help keep your recipes from being the same every meal.

Don’t forget to rotate and start eating the food that is about to expire or donate it to local food banks. A 2-3 months’ supply of the food you use every day could be stocked very quickly, but do start buying grains and freeze dried food if you can afford it.

Basic Gardening

Learn how to grow a garden and start learning how to can your food. When I was a kid we seldom bought a vegetable from the store for we always had a can of something from the garden. Dig a cellar to preserve carrots and other long shelf life vegetables.

Protect your garden from animals, both 4 and 2 legged. I think razor wire is nice for garden protection. Also think about a hail storm coming down in June when the garden is about ready to produce and ruining everything.

A full ½ x ½ wire net for a roof will protect from hail and animals as well. Make sure your garden net will hold the weight of a large hail storm or snow. In addition, stock up on seeds, they are cheap and could feed you for life.


A family of 4 will consume somewhere around 700-800 gallons of drinking water a year; that’s a lot of bottled water!

Now if you know the water supply is going to stop any minute start filling up every container, glass, coffee cup, bowl, cooler, and bucket right away. Stock what you can, but you will need to have rain barrels and filters to make sure you have enough to keep you alive.

Read up on water storage, well digging, cisterns, solar stills, and rain water collecting to be ultimately prepared. Without water we are dead!

You will also need water for cleaning dishes, if you can build a stock of paper plates, bowls, and plastic silverware that will help keep your water use down.

Baths will have to be minimal with shared water from a tub using a wash cloth with very little soap. Save baths for when it rains, or try to bathe in a nearby  creek  or lake.

First Aid

First aid and medical preparedness is just as important as water storage. Stock up on basic medicines, bandages, first aid cream, antibiotic ointment, feminine hygiene products, and prescription drugs.

The way to stock up on prescription drugs is to refill them a few days before you run out of them and that way  you can save a few a month’s supply or talk to your doctor about a having an emergency supply.

If you are using your food bank and scrounging for food, you might need some antacids and other digestive medicines to help you with your new diet of rice and rats.

Multi-vitamins are a must have, even if you do not take them now. Since fresh food could be hard to come by, a vitamin deficiency could be possible.

Ask your doctor what he thinks will be best for you and your family based on your medical history before taking any medications or vitamins.  We got some vitamins from a health food store for our kids with the directions saying take 2 a day.

I took the bottle to our doctor, and he said 1 a day would be better for our kids. So learn what you will need to do when your body starts going though changes from a new diet.

Immediate diet changes can be bad for your health, especially if you are not healthy now. Talking to your now doctor could be vital to your survival.


Guns, if you do not have one then you need to get one and start learning how to shoot now! They will save you and your family’s life and property.

Stock up on plenty of ammo, 5-6000 rounds is a good amount to have. Used 22 Rifles are cheap and the rounds are even cheaper. If I had to pick one gun for life, I would pick a single shot, bolt action 22.

There are few parts on a bolt action 22 and if you are a good shot you can drop any animal 2 or 4 legged with a good head shot. A good 12 gauge shotgun and larger rifle like a 30-06 should be added to your arsenal with a few handguns like a 44mag or 45acp as well.

A good AR style rifle in a 223 or a 7.63 x 39 round is a great defense gun to have for your home. You do not need 100 guns to survive, just a few, plenty of ammo, replacement parts and, how-to-repair them books. If you want multiple guns, buy the same exact models so if breaks you can use it for parts to fix the other one.

Learn how to shoot the guns you have, if you are not a good shot now, chances are you will not be a good shot when you need to kill the cat in your yard for food or to defend yourself from an intruder.

Learn to hunt, trap, fish for food and tan hides to trade. Learn to use every part of the animal, for that cat you killed in your front yard might be the start of a good fur coat.

Home Security and Defense

For your home, have security bars ready to be installed on all windows and doors. Wood pallets can be picked up for free at many places if you look for them and there are many uses for them if you take them apart.

I will have window barricades from used wood pallets with a steel backing to install from the inside of my home. It would be nice to have these window barricades so they are bullet proof and easy to shoot from, steel can get a little pricey though.

Old car doors and hoods could be used to cover windows and doors as well.  The barricades will be set in tracks or hinged so they can be moved to still get the use of a window or door.

A 6’ privacy fence would be good to have now because you can add to it later if you need to. I plan to have used wood pallets to build my existing fence higher and harder to climb over from outside the fence.

Try to secure your home the best you can without making your home look like a target for would be criminals. If your house looks like it is really worth breaking into someone will drive a truck through it so his 20 buddies outside can come in and over take you.

Have one or two friends or family members that will move in with you for help with all of this work and to have another sharp shooter in the house. And  any one that will move into your home should have the same amount of food and water as you have.


How are you going to heat your home if the gas and electricity quit flowing? I have a wood burning fire place now, but I also have a used wood burning stove in my shed ready to install to help heat both floors and to cook on if needed.

You will need to know how much firewood it would take to keep your home warm for an entire winter, so practice heating your home during the winter without other means and track how much fire wood you are using.

Once again, used wood pallets make great fire wood when broken down. We are building an outdoor fire place, grill, and smoker to use for outdoor cooking out of river rocks that we have been collecting the last few years. An outdoor cooking area will keep your home cooler in the summer.

Make sure your attic is well insulated. That will keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Want air conditioning? Forget about it, you have better chance of dying from hypothermia than from heat stroke.

Air conditioners are not even 200 years old; heat has been used since the beginning of mankind. Look into geo-thermal cooling if you really want to cool the home down a bit in the summer.

There are solar heaters and furnaces that you could fabricate yourself from junk windows and glass. Learn how to make one or go buy modern ones now if you can.

Where are you going to store all of this stuff that you are collecting? Building a shed from used wood pallets will only cost you some nails and screws.

Start by leveling the ground and placing pallets in a square or triangle. Fasten the pallets together using boards from pallets you have already torn apart and nails or screws.

Use the same method to build the walls using torn apart pallets to secure everything together, but leave room for a door. Make a simple roof that slants to one side only by making one wall one foot higher than the other so it will be easier to build and collect rain water. You can make a door out of used pallets as well.

Now to cover the walls you can take apart longer pallets to use as over lapping siding panels, or buy siding to match your house and install. If you can find a local roofing contractor or roofing supplier you can get used or damaged roofing materials to use or just buy new materials to match your house.

I was able to get the used materials from a metal roof that was being replaced to cover my walls and roof for free. There are some plans available on the internet that will give you better details and ideas on how to build a pallet shed.

The uses of wood pallets are almost unlimited; you could build a chicken coup, outhouse, dog house, and spare room or create more roof space for collecting rain water.

Sewage Back-Up

Something that I have never heard of anyone preparing for in their home is a sewage back up. If the water supply has stopped, I seriously doubt that the city sewer workers are going to be around to make sure everything else will be flowing.

Without the normal waste water from washing dishes and taking baths the sewage pipes will quickly clog with human waste and debris.

After a clog is formed the sewage pressure that can build up and it can come into your home through your sinks and toilets, filling your entire home with raw sewage.

Talk about stuff hitting the fan! This could ruin all that you have including food and water storage. You would have to move out of your home for it would be ruined!

Unless the insurance companies still exist and you have the proper flood and drain coverage on your homeowner’s policy you could be out of luck. Have a plumber come to your home and prepare you for an emergency sewage blocker.

He may not be able to install one do to local codes, but he could provide you with an idea that prepares you to stop a sewage back flow.  In addition, you should know how to turn your water and gas off inside your home from the main lines.

If you do still have running water but do not have enough heat for your home then you may have to worry about a busted water pipe flooding your home. However, knowing how to shut the water off from the main line can help prevent this disaster!


What you have just read is a good basic “starter kit” for bugging in. Get a note pad, and start writing down the things you would like to have in your possession in bulk and not just the items I talked about.

Make your own list of items for you and your family! You will still need to have a good bug-out plan and how to get you and all your possessions to where you are going.

Buy used materials to help make your home more secure and keep an eye open for free materials on Craigslist and in the newspaper.

Go to Goodwill, buy extra clothes and keep the ones you have. Extra cloth may be hard to come by someday. Learn how to grow a garden in your region by taking a gardening class.

Learn how to shoot by taking a gun safety class and take self defense classes. I am only offering a small but practical bit of advice to help you start a bug-in plan, so be prepared and start prepping now.

Be ready to live life not as you know it now, but like they did in the old days where you worked all day just to eat the next. Have the tools you will need to survive and know how to use them.

Practice and preparation could save time, money, and maybe even your life in the event of bug-in scenario. We never know if The End of The World AS We Know It will happen or when, but I want you to be ready.

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15 thoughts on “How to Make A Basic Bug-In Survival Plan”

  1. Hmmm..pretty good guest post. When it comes to water filtering and I had just started prepping I didn’t know what I know now. I realized you can use standard buckets with, sand, pebbles, rocks, and charcoal to make your own really water filter at barely any cost. Here is a great website for building pretty much anything.

    I eventually decided I needed something smaller, cheap, more portable, and easier to maintain. I went with Sawyer mini water filter. One of these bad boys will filter 100,000 gallons of water. They also are 0.1 micron filter which is the lowest I can find. Even Lifestraw is only 0.2. These are under $20 and I’ve even found some for $15.

    Plug for Rourke here. If your a member of the Patriots and if I’m not mistaken. I believe you can get a discount price through Rourke’s website.

    Also, might I add…especially since I’ve yet to see this fully covered anywhere. Consider firefighting. Why? Well, it doesn’t take much to burn you out of where ever your location is. Any none prepper can lite a fire and burn you out.

  2. lots of good stuff here. . . . not dramatic or “cool”, but for those of us who are not wealthy, some good thoughts. . . . I will have to bug in. . . . older folks to take care of, some with dementia, limits my options.. . . network with like minded people, now , rather than when it is too late

  3. I strongly suggest that anyone thinking of bugging into a city of 650K, also stock pile about 1000 ten pound fire extinguishers and fire proof suits: to deal with the firestorm (google it) sure to come your way due to looting, idiots cooking with wood and gas…..and no water pressure or emergency services to deal with it. I’m sure to get flak for this as even preppers are prone to avoiding reality.

  4. Jon exc. post.Rourke-thanks for re-running it. D exc. point !!!!
    Folks lets face it we will endure hell on earth for awhile until lots of people unfortunately die and first a rapid then a long,slow descent of normal living re-balances into a new abnormal.
    Prepping hard and praying hard are my two daily activities.
    Salt can also help to extinguish fires.Arlene
    After a devastating monumental flood from Irene here many homes are still uninhabitable and we still do not have a new county jail and thats 4 years !!! Poor Texas and Ok. Thats how fast FEMA and our gov. “works”

  5. If you want to read an excellent book on the subject of “bugging in” and how to defend your home and neighborhood, I highly recommend “A Failure of Civility” by Mike Garand and Jack Lawson. It’s one of the most complete (394 pages!) and realistic reads on the subject that I’ve found. Another kudo to Rourke; I believe this book was mentioned in one of his posts….

  6. We use an osmosis system along with Big Berkey for Base use or home. Sawyers, Katydyne Hiker pro and Renovo Trio personal water filters. We keep 135 gallons on hand stored in nine, fifteen gallon drums. Good article

  7. FYI: My sisters in laws in San Marcos who lost there farm to the flood, turns out they had no flood insurance, since they didn’t live in a flood plain they didn’t buy any. There cousin who live in Wimberly lost there house as well. At least they got out with there lives

  8. D? Preppers, known for avoiding reality? Do you mean when facing a change to their plan? Otherwise, that wouldn’t make sense as preppers are the only one’s over all facing the reality of the economy and state of the union. Badger,..I’m sorry to hear your sisters were wiped out, but glad they are alive. Maybe this is a great opportunity to get some assistance and group together? That’s a pretty impressive haul of water on hand imo.

    I’m glad D and Arlene pointed are pointing out fire information. Rick, I’m guessing you’ve already looked into “what if I have to bug in” materials. Thanks for the suggestion Austex. As far as 1000 ten pound fire extinguisher. You wont need that much. If a firestorm happens, which as D points out, could happen anywhere. You have no choice but to bug out or well…you know. Otherwise, unless you have the chance to make a fire break of some sort, you do have water to wet things, and put out fires. I have the Katydyne Hiker Pro also. Shoo..that one was pricey.

    I wonder how much salt it would take to put out a fire per ratio. Like most preppers I have rain barrels, but they are taking up to much room. We are going to buy some IBC containers now. There are 2 types 275 and 325 gallon containers. You can stack them when not in use and they don’t look like horrible. You can get clean used ones that only had soap or something non-toxic in them for like $80 from Craigslist.

  9. Horrific advice. If you plan to bug-in during a long-term SHTF scenario you’ll be dead within a month. I’m sorry, but this is a clown shoes article by someone who doesn’t understand human desperation when 625k people start to starve. Wooden pallets for your windows, haha. Why not just hang a sign out front saying “I have something valuable to protect!” Wood stove burning in the city? You’ll be one of the few people with smoke coming out of their chimneys which will draw the looters and raiders from miles around like moths to the flame. i understand that not everyone has a country retreat to bug out to, but articles like this that convince people to stay in the city and “Bug-In” will result in tens of thousands of preppers being killed needlessly. If you are bugging in, all you are doing is stocking up food for the local warlord. Terrible advice…

    • Jonathan, I couldn’t agree more. I was trying to be nice with a dash of sarcasm. Cities will just be giant abattoirs in short order.

  10. Here’s a simple fix for the issue of sewer backup and it will be code compliant. If you do not have the expertise, have your plumber install a combination lateral in your house sewer just outside of the foundation. Include a clean out fitting. Purchase an inflatable test plug for the sewer. If there is an event and you need to isolate your sewer from the main, insert the plug, inflate using a bicycle pump. You can open the sewer later by allowing the air to escape.

  11. That is a great suggestion Oren. Jonathan points out some valid points and some good perspective. I believe what Jonathan and D are pointing out is very likely. However…and I do say however. I would like to point my brothers in the Marine Corps before me. Under extreme conditions, equipped with military arms, still out gunned, out manned, trapped, and still come out on top. Horrific conditions in the WW2, Battle of Khe Sanh? Battle of Hu?How about the Battle of the Bulge? So don’t tell me it can’t be done. Each one of these battles resulted in back up coming in some form to rescue them. The point is that before….help came to them. They held off every attack. Also, that was an attack from well armed military in the hundreds. You will not be dealing with military in the hundreds. If you live in the suburbs most of them will kill each other off before they reach you greatly reducing the number. I must say also that Marines have mind set different from other people. This mindset can be attained by others. It depends on the individual and how they mentally prepared. Some battles have been “The Alamo” 😮 (

    If you must bug in…and you have absolutely no choice. Then you must prepare yourself mentally and your bug in location. Prepare it like a military fortification on the inside, but make it look like every other house in the neighborhood…abandoned. Certain thick plywood mounted properly to a house window will keep a group of people from just “breaking” them down. Books….that’s right books. Certain thickness of books stacked up will literally stop slugs from a shot gun. Sand…This is what we used in the military. Sand in hesco barriers stopped bullets and RPGs. Perhaps if you can make some make shift connection to abandoned house next to you, you could pop out on some of them and take them out from behind. You would really need a lot of thought process in advance if your going to bug in. So are taking a higher risk of being taken out if you bug in. However!! if you prepare yourself mentally, physically, and the house. You can survive, but it will take everything you have. The only real question is how long can you last?

  12. Capt….How long can you last? With an entire city burning out of control down to the asphalt, around your ears with fire tornados above, not long. No amount of preps will allow you to fight a Dresden style firestorm, this very real scenario is not Hue or the Alamo. BTW I was in the TET offensive, It was nothing like what I speak of..

  13. D, first of all thank you for your service.. As far as TET,..I’m not sure what part of it you were involved in and by all means not challenging that statement. I’m just saying if anything you can attest to the fortitude of a person’s fight. The principle is the same, period. During those situations each person contributed to surviving the attack? Each engagement I listed had to do with people surviving the attack brother. I mean, your clearly sill alive. By God’s grace I survived the firefights I’ve been in also, but would really rather not go there on these discussion boards or anywhere else for that matter.

    How long can I last? Well, I’m not really sure how long. I am..a Survivor on all accounts by what I went through and those along side me that did not. There seem to be 2 different discussions here. Somewhere the conversation it seems to have branched off into a firestorm or surviving in a bug in location at all. A literal firestorm? One would think no one can survive in the woods or in a bug-in location unless you have a special fireproof bunker. I choose to leave the city for better chances. However, telling some you will die for sure, is a lie. Neither you or me have the ability to say that for a fact. But telling someone that’s stuck without the ability to leave their location and no instructions to at least attempt to survive is like saying your screwed, just die. Perhaps you need proof? Sigh

    That’s what a leader does. He/she inspires, encourages, and leads the way. Surviving the onslaught of people from the city? Possible…and there is no telling how long you can survive depending on your resourcefulness. There are some leaders that have had the title and were not good leaders or should have not had that title, but over all that’s what a leader does. The truth that we will all die one day does not dictate I need to push that truth either. It’s still the truth, but I would rather look at living as to wasting all the rest of my days looking back in misery while I move forward. Kind of like driving down the road while continually looking into the rear view mirror. Just don’t make no sense.

  14. Capt Michaels, Sorry but your article actually proves my point. Your focusing on the miracle of how the one family made it through the firestorms of Dresden but the other side is that 25,000 other people died. So your point is made, as is mine. Yes… technically you can make it through the SHTF by bugging in, but your chances are about the same 1 in 25,000. I don’t know who would even consider taking those odds.
    Now, we’re all military guys here so lets keep it civil. One issue I have with ex military advising Preppers is that their perspective is all wrong. While military training is very helpful in a SHTF situation, you must tailor it to the situation. Prepping is about surviving, not winning a battle, not taking a hillside, not defending a road or a bridge(or in this case a house). Can a house be turned into a fort… NO! You of all people should know that bullets will go through multiple walls of a house like swiss cheese. Are you advocating lining the entire inside of your house with sand bags? Where would you get 10,000 sandbags post-SHTF? Where would you get the sand? Would you really want to take the entire first week after the SHTF wasting calories filling and carrying sandbags??? Houses are NOT forts, they are not fireproof, they are not meant to be a defensible position.
    Yes, there have been Companies of Marines and military that have stood up to horrific situations being outnumbered etc… Guess what, THEY WERE ALL FREAKING MARINES!!!!!!! We are advising preppers where MAYBE 1 out of ten in their household MAY have served in a combat role. You are talking about a warrior mindset to people who don’t even know what that is (not an attack on you civilians, just the facts). You are advising them to DEFEND THEIR FORT like a Marine. Why? Prepping is about surviving, not winning a battle or war. There is no advance the fight or the front lines. The proper answer to gunfire in a SHTF situation is to lay down cover fire and retreat…EVERY SINGLE TIME!
    There are no medics in a SHTF scenario (those surrounded marines had medics). There is no one coming in to rescue you at the last minute (Like those surrounded Marines knew were coming at some point). There is no Hospital to take your wounded to after rescue (like the surrounded Marines had access to once rescued). Bullet wounds and casualties are not acceptable in a SHTF scenario(The surrounded Marines took heavy casualties and wounded, which again eventually got medical treatment). And when I say wounded, I’m not talking about a fellow Marine screaming for a medic. I’m talking about your mom getting shot, your little sister lying next to you, still alive with her guts hanging out, your brother’s infant daughter getting her head blown off from a stray bullet. War is not pretty. Terrible things happen when the bullets start flying, which is why you want to avoid population centers like the plague post SHTF! But by all means, board up your windows and doors and ride it out. Maybe you’ll end up being the 1 in 25,000… who knows… ANd let’s even say that your family and relatives (who are all apparently Seal Team 6) do repel attack after attack after attack after attack with no casualties. Congratulations! Do you think the raiding party that you defeated is going to tuck their tails between their legs, carry off their wounded and say “Oh Shucks!” and then leave you alone? NOT A CHANCE. You kill a bunch of their buddies and I can pretty much guarantee they are going to fire bomb your house and watch your family burn to death out of spite before moving on to the next house on your block.
    ITS NOT WORTH THE RISK BUGGING-IN!!! Capt Michaels, you need to take your years of excellent training in the military and learn to “Un-think” as a Marine and take those skills you’ve received and tailor them to surviving not winning a battle. Love ya bro, just think about it!


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