“If you can’t evacuate your house in 5 minutes flat then stop what you’re doing right now and…” Ever heard that before? Did it scare you? Make you think, oh my gosh I better get prepared!
Most people who have been in the “survival” or “preparation” mode for any period of time have either read such a statement, or made a similar one themselves. The only problem is that the concept of leaving your home in 5 minutes flat with only what you can carry, or jam in your car is actually a very dangerous proposition.
The “bug-out-bag” is perhaps the most highly regarded sources of “prepper” lore around. Discussions on what goes in it, where it should be stored, how often it should be inventoried, and even what kind of material it should be made from take up a multitude of room in many articles, blog posts, and conversations.
The only problem is that this seeming fascination with the “Art of the Bug out Bag “ is actually one of the most dangerous and potentially damaging discussions in the Prepper community right now. (IMHO)
Why would I say such a thing? Well let me start by saying that I am not categorically against having a bug-out-bag packed and ready to go in the event that an emergency evacuation is actually called for. In fact mine is ready to go even as I write this. The problem is what the bug-out-bag actually does to you mentally.
Let me give you an example. Last week I attended an Emergency Preparation Meeting that was held and sponsored by a local church in our community. Among the many “experts” present was a former employee of FEMA who had great expertise in survival planning. A question about bug-out-bags and their contents was put to him and he dutifully answered with his opinion on the appropriate contents of a bug-out-bag. I then raised my hand and asked him under what circumstances he would actually use his bug-out-bag. He immediately answered and said anytime he had to evacuate his home quickly. I pressed for further clarification and asked if he could recount for us any specific circumstances under which he would find it necessary, or wise to leave his home in the event of an emergency. At this point he smiled and said, (and I quote) “Well, now that you actually mention it, I can think of very few circumstances where I would ever leave my home in a hurry. It’s still a good idea to have one though.”
My point exactly! Ask yourself this question. When you grab your bug-out-bag, leap into your 4WD get-away vehicle and leave your house, where are you going? I would argue that in the vast majority of cases the answer is – no-where fast. I recently was driving north in I-95 in Virginia. A paving operation during the middle of the day that closed 1 lane of the interstate for approximately 2 miles caused a thirteen mile back up that took approximately 140 minutes to get through. Now think about this, if a paving operation can basically shut down an interstate in the middle of the day what do you think is going to happen in the event of a real emergency? Does the word Gridlock come to mind?
The problem with the focus on bugging-out is that it puts people in the mindset of getting away from their home – the place where they have: food, water, shelter, and the ability to defend themselves. It puts them in the mindset of being on the road, and in the escape mode. Again the problem here is that the last place you want to be during an actual emergency (let’s categorize that as: terrorist attack, weather event, nuclear meltdown event, societal breakdown, TEOTWAWKI) is in a car, most likely backed up on some highway with very little in the way of water, food, or protection. (Oh, and did I mention surrounded by hundreds of enraged and frightened other people who all, within about 90 minutes need to go to the bathroom.)
The idea of having an off the grid getaway tucked away in a holler’ in the mountains that hasn’t been seen by anyone but the Indians for the last hundred years is certainly appealing. It has it’s own fresh water spring inside a cave that can double as a refrigerator. You’ve already stocked the cabin with a supply of food. Your heirloom seed vault is there ready to produce the ultimate garden within 120 days of your arrival and your pre-positioned arms and ammunition cache is in place and carefully concealed. All you have to do is get there… and your bug-out-bag is just the thing to tide you over until you actually do get there.
Believe me I get it!
But please don’t underestimate the potential difficulty of that trip. My contention, as well as the contention of the guy from FEMA is that – in the event of a real, unexpected emergency, your best and safest place is in your own well stocked and prepared home.
Get your home ready to withstand the rigors of a catastrophic event before you do anything else, and remember, perhaps the very worst place you can be in the event of a real TEOTWAWKI event is stuck in a car on the highway surrounded by a bunch of angry scared sheeple.