How to Bug In – The Ultimate Guide

Bugging out is often thought to be the ideal response to all sorts of problems for preppers, but despite its iconic place in pepperdom, in most situations you are likely better off staying put, hunkering down, if at all possible.

To bug-in, as the name suggests, is simply planning to stay put where you have home-field advantage, hopefully a huge stockpile of supplies, and all the people you care about in one place or at least close at hand, both for safety and for mutual support.

If your home is your castle, why wouldn’t you want to occupy your castle for the duration of a crisis?

But bugging in is more than just locking the door, lighting some candles and waiting for a bad situation to blow over.

If you are serious about prepping, and serious about using bugging in as a survival strategy, there is plenty you will have to plan for accordingly.

In today’s article will be offering you a primer to help you get set to bug-in when times are tough.

Reasons Why You Should Bug-In, Instead of Out

Comparing bugging out to bugging in as a response to a given crisis or disaster is really not much of a comparison.

Generally, you only want to bug out when you absolutely have to; when you have no other choice or when it is in pursuit of an objective which you simply cannot fail, reuniting with a family member or something like that.

Bugging out entails considerable amount of risk, and many unknowns.

Now let us compare that with the bugging in! Several reasons why you should bug-in instead of bug-out:

1. Knowledge of Area

If you decide to bug in, all you will really do is implement plans and procedures at your home, or other domicile of your choice. The entirety of your supply cache will be there. You will know the terrain.

You’ll know the surrounding area. This will translate to a definitive “home field advantage” no matter what happens.

2. Safer at “Home”

Even if going by vehicle, the amount of cargo and supplies you can carry as well as the variables pertaining to the trip itself are many, and the stakes will be high.

If your vehicle gets immobilized out in the middle of nowhere, or you should become injured far off the beaten path, you could be doomed since you will not be able to rely on anyone else coming to rescue you, or even knowing where you are.

It is true that, sometimes, you will have no choice at all, and you must risk it but you shouldn’t risk it for nothing.

3. Recovery

When bugging in, if something does go wrong you have a much higher probability of being able to fix it, and keep on sustaining in place.

For this reason, unless you are facing an event that is so slow moving and so destructive that early evacuation is the obvious and easy choice, or despite your best efforts the situation is deteriorating to a point that staying in place has grown too risky, you should plan on bugging in as your default response to the majority of disasters and crises that could befall you.

4. Group/Network Advantage

For the vast majority of us we will have family members, relatives, friends and neighbors that we can count on who can also count on us. Having people to watch your back and help accomplish tasks is invaluable in any survival scenario.

When you are away from your primary residence, especially when fleeing into a relatively unknown area, you will be a stranger surrounded by strangers.

You will have few if any meaningful connections that you can rely on, or at least use to “rule out” people who you have to keep an eye on.

5. Security

It is far easier to stay safe using all of the above advantages in concert in your own home, in your own backyard, than it is when roughing it in the wilderness, living austerely at a secondary location or just heading off away from danger into the wild, blue yonder with the mad hope that you find safety elsewhere.

Even if you wind up having to bug out in the end, knowing how to bug-in properly (what is required, what you should consider and so forth) is still an important part of a comprehensive and holistic survival plan.

So don’t become of the mind that you have to pick one of these strategies as your definitive go to and then adhere to it regardless of any changes in the situation; survivors are adaptable, and so too must you be when dealing with an SHTF scenario!

As with all preparations, context is everything. The following is not a gradient, and achieving all of the above does not mean you have the ideal bug in property.

Since everyone’s lives and living arrangements are different, you’ll probably be excellent in some areas and weak in others. Some of these factors can be improved, weaknesses can be shored up. Others will be “hard” shortcomings that you can only try to work around.

Depending on the greater situation at large, your strengths may be enough to save the day. Or, in certain situations your strengths may matter very little. There are so many variables that books could and have been written about the subject.

What matters is that you do a comprehensive assessment of your particulars, and weigh it against your most likely threats that could occur. Only then will you be able to formulate an intelligent, well thought-out response plan.

Getting Home

I would be remiss if I did not mention a “getting home” scenario. A getting home scenario is, as you are probably already expecting, one and where you actually must reach your home in order to begin the proper business of long-term survival.

If it sounds counterintuitive, like perhaps you are already bugged out and instead just change your mind to go home, you are missing the point a little bit. Allow me to clarify.

Imagine a scenario where you are significant distance from home, perhaps a county or two away, or even farther on a trip for business, pleasure or just an errand. Maybe the rest of your family is at home waiting for you when disaster strikes.

What are you going to do? Are you just going to say, well I guess that’s it and stay where you are and wish them all the luck in the world? Of course not.

The scenario could also take the form of you and your family being away from home together when the balloon goes up.

Home, you know, the place where all your preps are that you have spent a considerable amount of your life and resources amassing. It therefore makes sense to not declare those things lost under the circumstances, and instead have a plan for getting home so you can bug-in and lock down properly.

This takes on other level of planning on its own, and the basis for ensuring that happens is keeping a GHB, or get home bag, in your vehicle at all times whenever you travel more than a short distance away from home.

A get-home bag is specialized compared to a bug out bag, and that it is designed to be lighter, faster and carry only the bare minimum of supplies you need for a long walk home if worse comes to worst.

Preparing to “get home” is an entirely different guide in itself, and we have covered it many times on this website, but I mention it here since it could be the prerequisite for implementing your bug-in plan.


  • Plan a few theoretical responses to getting home based on your typical travels.
  • Assemble a GHB (Get-Home Bag).
  • Rehearse procedures with your family in case you are separated when disaster starts.

Sustainment Considerations

You can think of a homestead as a self-sustaining, or nearly self-sustaining property that is a combination of home, farm and perhaps a working ranch.

This is the way a vast majority of people used to live back in the day, back when it was just called living and not surviving.

Obtaining and running your very own homestead is seen as something of a crown jewel for preppers since it gives you the most possible freedom, and the least possible amount of dependency compared to the average life that people lead today.

A proper working homestead will grow a majority or the entirety of the food that your family needs, will often supplement this grown food with the raising of livestock providing meat, eggs, dairy and even supplementary products like wool.

A homestead will often be optimized for sheltering in place without any dependency on the existing infrastructure of human civilization like sewage and electricity.

Even though the typical idea of a homestead is a remote or rural property for you and yours to live the remainder of your days on a bountiful green acreage, an adaptable prepper will make do with what they have.

Urban dwellers can still make use of the lessons that homesteading has to teach us in order to decrease their dependency on the oftentimes fragile technological infrastructure of modern life.

In short, what you cannot produce yourself you either do not need or depend on a close association of your fellow preppers to take up the slack with the products that they produce on their homestead.

We will dig into a few of the specifics to help get you started just below:

Crops, Gardening and More

The growing of vegetables and fruits along with certain grains is often the cornerstone of providing your family’s next meal after society falls apart.

Even something like a simple “hobby” garden can produce a surprising amount of food which can be stretched for a long time while providing extremely high-quality nutrition.

Larger gardens can provide enough fresh vegetables and fruits for several families, and produce bumper crops they can be preserved by freezing or canning, ensuring that none of your hard work goes to waste, and you will always have a ready reserve a food for your effort.

Larger homesteads might institute actual raising of crops on a large scale, crops that can still be tended to by hand or with the use of machines.

This will definitely produce more than even several families can consume under any conditions, and will form a sort of currency that you can use for trading to get other things that you want.

Unless you live very far outside of typical habitable zones with fertile soil, no matter where you are there is some type of crop, be it vegetable or fruit, that you can grow where you are with a little skill and diligent care.

A few high-yield crops you might consider:

  • Potatoes
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Rice
  • Carrots
  • Buckwheat
  • Kale


  • Identify what crops grow best in your area.
  • Determine what is required to grow them.
  • Select two or more that will provide a good nutritional ROI.

Container Gardening

Raising nutritious vegetables and other plants is not always about tilling the ground, pulling a plow and transforming unimproved land into tidy rows of plants.

For urban dwellers, or people who have no good soil to work with, container gardening on any scale is an excellent supplement for what provisions you procure and other ways.

Container gardening, as its name suggests, is the growing of plants, in our case certain species of vegetables and many herbs, and containers that are not in the soil itself.

Our containers hold the soil, but are not in the ground even if they’re so big and heavy that we cannot easily move them.

This makes it possible for people without access to enough bare, secure soil to grow what they need at least partially.

This is a perfect entry-level step for all kinds of preppers getting into permaculture or urban dwellers who might only have access to a balcony or even a sunny windowsill.

Even on a very small scale it is entirely possible to grow herbs which will not only make your food delicious, they have many health benefits, even medicinal properties.

A packet of seeds and a little bit of diligent care could see you turning out world-class, farm-to-table dishes even in the middle of a disaster to say nothing of supplementing your personal pharmacy.

Some herbs, fruits and veggies you might consider growing for taste and wellness include:

  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Potatoes
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Berries


  • Determine how much room you have for containers.
  • Choose containers based on living arrangements- Cans, pots, barrels, or raised beds.
  • Implement proper procedures and start growing herbs and veggies.


There are few investments as a prepper that you can make that will provide a better return on investment than raising animals. And I mean animals of any kind, traditional livestock.

The raising of livestock can provide you today virtually endless supply of the highest quality meat, milk for all sorts of dairy products, eggs if you raise chickens or ducks, and supplementary products like wool, though the bones of animals can be used for all kinds of things along with the sinews if you have the skills.

The only downside to the raising of livestock is it they need a considerable amount of room and attention, and animal husbandry is no joke. It is not like feeding your faithful dog.

Animals require specialized diets and care regimens, and will only be healthy in certain biomes depending on the species and the breed.

When a member of your herd or flock falls ill or gets injured you have to know how to deal with it, even if it is difficult, less they affect the rest of them and potentially collapse the rest of the group.

This is another instance where you may not need nearly as much room as you think employment the raising of livestock.

A backyard chicken tractor with a handful of plucky hens is becoming increasingly common fixture in towns all across America, since backyard chickens are easy to raise, hardy, and supply a seemingly limitless amount of fresh eggs that will beat the pants off anything you can buy in the supermarket.

They also annihilate pests roaming in your yard and their leavings make excellent fertilizer. Just another link in the chain of permaculture!

Some species of livestock worth looking into:

  • Chickens – Need little room, produce eggs, meat and feathers. Easy to raise and tend to, though predation and noise can be a problem.
  • Cows – Can be reared for meat, dairy or both, and making use of their hide for leather is not out of the question if you have the skills. Cows require quite a bit of room, but a couple of females and a single bull can keep you in meat and milk for a long time if managed carefully without a substantial space requirement.
  • Goats – High-quality dairy and meat. Rambunctious and destructive if unattended, but require far less room than cows. Some species are sensitive to altitude and humidity. If space is an issue, miniature goats may be the solution.
  • Pigs – Provide extremely high quality meat, and potentially skins, but latter is a tricky proposition. Pigs require more work and effort than cows, and might not be worth the tradeoff for most preppers.


  • Determine what species are viable in your area and climate.
  • Research various breeds for pros and cons.
  • Learn about proper care and feeding.
  • Understand essential healthcare requirements of breed.

Fuel Considerations

Large-scale farming to say nothing of operation of generators and other vehicles utilizing internal combustion engines will require fuel in abundance, fuel that you’re unlikely to simply be able to go out and pump yourself like you could before SHTF.

That means just like anything else if you want to count on it you had better have it on hand before the sky falls.

Storing large quantities of fuel presented many challenges for preppers but they must be tackled head-on if you want to sustain use of your labor-saving machines for the duration.

We are all familiar with a common, red gas cans you can pick up almost anywhere, but even the largest of these is not a lot of fuel when considered in the context of a long-term disaster.

Sure, you can get multiple 5-gallon “jerry can” type containers, but eventually storage of these is going to become challenging. Many preppers who are storing substantial amounts of fuel will rely on 55 gallon drums for the purpose.

Beyond the container, keeping the gas viable over a long period of time is another challenge unto itself. The simple fact is that gas degrades and, if you are smart, you will be rotating your gas supply just like you rotate your stored water supply, your food or anything else that is perishable.

The climate the gas is stored in as well as the suitability of its container will play a major role in determining how long it can go before it will no longer reliably function in an engine.

One way to prolong the life of your fuel, all other things being equal, is to make use of fuel stabilizers and other additives that you can mix with gasoline to extend the shelf-life.

This is not something that could be undertaken lightly, send it will require much research and careful attention to amounts, as well as mixing and subsequent storage to ensure effectiveness, and even then there are some people who swear by it and others who wouldn’t waste a dollar on these additives.

It also must be said that any sizable store of flammable liquid, especially one as volatile as gasoline, comes with substantial risks to safety. A spill and a single spark may result in massive blast, or a devastating fire.

The greatest hazard from gasoline actually comes from vapor build up in the air resulting in a atmosphere that is set to blow up, not the gallons and gallons of liquid itself, since it is too rich to ignite on its own in most circumstances.

If you are storing a mass quantity of gasoline, you would be best served by keeping it well separate from your house and garage in a sort of fuel dump or, at the very least, if you’re keeping a smaller quantity keep it in the best possible container that is lined invented to help prevent accidents.


  • Obtain containers, even if it is just an extra five gallon can.
  • Keep fuel on hand and dated, rotate when required.
  • Explore stabilizer options.

Repair and Re-Use

It is not hard to see how all kinds of things are going to get broken in the immediate aftermath of any disaster, especially your house, outbuildings and vehicles.

Even if they don’t have to rely on all the above without regular and certain access to experts who can maintain them, repair them and get them back in working order when things do break is certainly going to leave you in the lurch.

You can see where I’m going with this already: yes sir or yes ma’am, you’re going to have to learn to fix all of these things yourself.

Lucky for you we are in sort of a DIY Renaissance thanks to the internet, and a growing culture of self-sufficiency and personal radius that looks on people who do it themselves with approval instead of disdain for not being able to afford expert knowledge.

No matter who you are, no matter where you live and no matter what your bug in plan is you had better be ready to fix things yourself if you want your life to not suck in the aftermath of a disaster.

Leaky roofs, recalcitrant engines, sagging doors, dull blades, fried wiring and more awaits every single one of us when the paradigm shift occurs.

What good is living a sustainable lifestyle if all that stops and comes to a screeching halt the moment something breaks down, or just starts behaving erratically? Some ingenuity and fix-it-ability might mean the difference between dire straits and a momentary delay.

  • Home Repair, especially roof and wall
  • Automotive
  • Small Engine
  • Basic Electrical
  • Well Pumps
  • Blade Sharpening
  • Basic Blacksmithing

Of course the skills will only take you so far. You will need the tools to go with it, and having a broad, generalized set of tools of all types will help you deal with breakages, breakdowns, misbehavior and mishap while bugging in.

Obtain the following:

  • Carpenter’s Hammer
  • Handsaw
  • Hacksaw
  • Axe
  • Splitting Maul
  • Sledgehammer
  • Shovel/Spade
  • Screwdrivers
  • Crescent Wrench Set
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Socket and Ratchet Set, complete
  • Hand Drill
  • Pipe Wrench
  • Vise Grips
  • Clamps
  • Manual Air pump
  • Electrician’s Tool
  • Hoe
  • Scythe
  • Trowel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Post Hole Diggers
  • and more

Sitting around scratching your head why all the fellow members of your family or group look to you for a solution is not a good feeling. Make sure you can do it, but also make sure you can fix it!


  • Start attempting repairs on things you normally outsource.
  • Assemble a basic household toolkit.
  • Consistently add required tools to your collection as time and resources permit.

Efficacy of Dealing with Waste

You must have the plans, procedures, materials and skills for dealing with the accumulation of waste if you want to survive long-term.

Humans generate a considerable amount of liquid and solid waste every single day, and improper procedures regarding its disposal as well as hygiene means that disease will cripple or kill you along with every single person in close proximity to you.

If you are an urban dweller you can rely on modern sewer systems to carry away your waste every time you press the lever on your toilet.

Even if you still have running water in the aftermath of a disaster, you will not be able to count on that sewer system any longer since it requires a dedicated staff of professionals to operate and maintain it at the citywide level.

Before too long, that system will probably break down if it does not fail immediately in the aftermath.

There is no shortage of information in books and on the internet for “taking care of business”, ahem, using primitive techniques. What you must keep in mind, though, for the purposes of bugging in is how you will employ those techniques.

Rudimentary control of human waste will look very different for an apartment dweller in the city versus a family on a large, multi-acre property living out in the country.

Allowing human waste to contaminate above – or below-ground water sources is a leading cause of hideous disease the world over, and must be avoided. Even if you have lots of room, proximity to and location near water sources may mean disposal of your leavings is a no-go.

If you do live in a rural environment, you are probably already using well water and a septic system. Good for you. Assuming you can continue to rely on your well pump, you are all set to keep going to the bathroom as normal.

Even if your pump fails so long as you can manually charge your toilets with water (assuming you have it to spare in abundance) you can keep right on flushing.

Even if conventional indoor plumbing should fail you for whatever reason you won’t have any shortage of room when it comes to siting and digging an outdoor trench for the purpose.

Those living in suburbia can do much the same so long as they have a sizable backyard and no downstream hazards nearby. But things get tricky if this is an impossibility due to living in multifamily housing or just deep in the concrete jungle.

In that case, you’ll need to employ temporary storage for waste in the form of sealing buckets, moisture control media and heavy-duty contractor bags for the purpose.


  • Assemble needed supplies for alternate waste disposal and storage.
  • Practice assembling a makeshift toilet.
  • Start stockpiling odor control media.

Group Considerations

The number of people in your immediate family or group is another major consideration when contemplating whether or not to bug-in or bug-out.

The people you have at your side will play a major role in your (mutual) survival and success, so learning how best to employ, manage and care for them is crucial.

This comes with many tradeoffs, as you might expect, since more people can mean greater material demands and more problems as personalities start to clash.


When viewed through the lens of your home or other domicile, how much space you have will determine how many people you can comfortably support and for how long?

Cramming 8 or 12 extended family members into a tiny studio apartment will quickly become miserable. Trying to secure a large ranch in a rural area with just two or three people might well be impossible.


There are many ways to come up with people for a dedicated survival group when bugging in.

Some of them will be a part of your life whether you want them to be or not, like your immediate family members. Others you may willfully choose to include so you can all take your chances together, close friends, distant relations and the like.

You might even inherit some of them in the form of neighbors or acquaintances who have no one else to turn to but no you are the one with answers for times like these.

But assuming you are without friends, family or other meaningful relationships in an area it is possible to come up with a survival group by searching out what is known as a mutual assistance group, or MAG.

This is a group of often unrelated people who have decided to band together for their common interests when things get tough.

By making the right connections and talking to the right people you can join a group like this, though you will often be dealing with wedding restrictions, contribution requirements and a leadership structure that is not of your choosing.

Work Details

You should divide up work and other tasks necessary for survival based on who is best suited to complete the work and how capable they are.

The very young and the very old will obviously be quite limited on what work they can accomplish reliably and in what time frame, and the same goes for anyone who is very sick or injured.

In general, the most able-bodied or those with the most specialized skills should be detailed to the most important tasks that you absolutely cannot afford to fail.

Give less important or menial tasks to those who are less capable to keep them involved in contributing to the group in a meaningful way to improve morale and maintain cohesion.

Medical Issues

I’m not saying you will not have to deal with issues as they arise, since illness, disease and injury all go hand-in-hand with survival in the aftermath of a disaster, but think twice before you recruit anybody elective into your group who has significant medical complications they are dealing with. These can often turn into quite a logistical strain.

On the other hand, people that you absolutely cannot turn your back on- family or close friends- who have medical conditions should have those factored into your plans so you can make allowances for them.

Drills / Meetings

Just like you cannot take a random group of players, and drop them on a sports team and expect them to perform like a well-oiled machine, neither can you do the same with a group of people who are all trying to survive together.

It will take meeting, planning and the setting of clear expectations for every member of the group to ensure everything that needs to get done will get done in a timely fashion and properly.

It is essential that you spend time with each other whenever possible not just for bonding but also for skill-building and performance verification.

This can take the form of doing defensive drills, learning skills from one another or the group expert, contingency planning, airing grievances, and hearing concerns or ideas.

Only by responding do challenges and emergencies as a cohesive unit will everyone be able to survive for the foreseeable future, and the only way that will be possible is there dedicated, invested practice and training.

There is a sweet spot to having just the right amount of people to meaningfully contribute to your survival efforts on a given property while consuming the minimum amount of supplies.

The very young and the very old will not do much except soak up attention and supplies, however treasured they are.

Children in the twilight of their teenage years, young adults and adults in early middle ages are healthier, work harder and longer, and require less rest than others.

But no matter how many people you have bugging in with you, it is a far easier thing to provide for them in one place rather than on the move when bugging out.


  • Start assessing potential survival group members.
  • Determine potential roles and responsibilities for members.
  • Practice skills and responses with all members.

Supply Considerations

The amount of supplies you have on hand largely determines how long you are able to truly bug-in, as in button-up and stay put without leaving your burrow on any extended foray.

And beyond the typical provisions like food and water you will also need to make room and budget for medical supplies, household goods like trash bags, cleaner and so on, clothing, and countless other things that make life go in the interim.

Concerning calories, you can calculate your survival time by totaling how many total calories you have on hand and then dividing it by the nominal nutritional requirements of the people in your bug-in group: adults need around 2,200 to 2,000 calories a day.

Children need around 1,500-1,700. All will need more if they are exerting heavily. The resulting number is how long you can go, in days, while providing for full nutritional requirements.

Not necessarily full bellies, mind you, as it is possible to extend this time through rationing be it mild or severe.

Water is very much the same. The average person needs at least a couple of liters of water per day both for hydration, and general cleanliness and sanitation.

Water is heavy, and takes up a lot of room. Ideally you will have a renewable and sustainable source of water on hand, but if you don’t you should implement a system for storing a large volume of it, either in the form of barrels or something simple like a bathtub basin bag.

You must also consider things like medicines, especially prescription medicines which are required for survival, or just quality of life. You cannot assume you will be able to access these medicines in the aftermath of an event.

You might not even be able to find them if you scavenge and search for them. It is imperative that you keep a significant supply of any required prescription meds on hand, and rotate them accordingly so you always have a fresh, viable backup supply for all members of your group.

This goes back to my previous point about the size of your bug-in group: a large group will wipe out a relatively small or lean supply in virtually no time. One or two people sitting on a massive stockpile can go for a very long time without resupplying at all.

Consider the other variables, too: hot environments will mean that people need more water. Hard work schedules will require more food to refuel bodies.

Resupply Considerations

It is not all about how much food and water you have on hand, and on your shelves inside your home.

You should factor in how likely it is that you will be able to resupply all essential provisions from where you live. This is a factor whether you live in a rural environment or a suburban or urban one.

A prepper who is bugging-in in the middle of or near farmland of any kind will likely find it easier to procure more food, the same as a prepper who is a capable hunter and near an area that is bountiful with game.

Don’t count out the vegetarians though, since certain biomes grow more than enough edible and medicinal plants to help pad in your pantry, as well as your personal pharmacy.

And it isn’t all bad news for city dwellers. All the settlements of mankind will contain within their bounds every material need you could possibly want if you can get to it and obtain it.

While you should not count on businesses operating normally and the aftermath of a major disaster that does not mean you will not be able to access or scavenge what supplies are there for the taking when things are dire.

Some locations will afford you the best of both worlds, being near rich animal farms or bountiful croplands and also close enough to a city or larger town to enable you to obtain and resupply with all the man-made goodies you need.

If you are bugging-in in the middle of an inhospitable location far from any neighbors and any settlement, you will effectively have what you have and nothing else.

This means that you can think of your supplies as closer to an air supply on a submarine; once the air runs out, you’ll be in trouble.


  • Ensure you have at least one viable method of resupply no matter where you are.
  • If moving, pay attention to resupply possibilities in the area.


Cooking is not going to be as simple an affair in the aftermath as it is prior to. Obviously if you use electricity to cook with, that is going to be something that is either only sporadically available or eliminated completely, unless you really have the home power generation thing on lock.

You will instead be cooking using traditional methods like an open fire or more modernized contrivances like a solar oven.

If you’re ever going to be cooking inside using an open flame, it must be properly vented to the outside to prevent the buildup of poisonous gases like carbon monoxide. Failure to do this can doom the occupants of your home to a slow death.

For this reason it is best how to set up your bugging location with a ready-made method of safely cooking on an open fire inside.

This could take the form of a fireplace, a wood-burning stove with a griddle top, or even a camp stove placed near a window that will allow for copious ventilation.

Regardless, you must keep in mind that when other people are doing without and you’re not, the smoke rising from a chimney along with the delectable aroma of cooking food is definitely going to attract attention.

That is something that you must be prepared for that we will address in the “security” section.

Refrigeration and Preservation

Among the most used and greatest of our modern appliances, the refrigerator, more than any other, probably forms the beating heart of the American home.

It is used constantly on account of its importance, functionally extending the shelf life of many foods and it is solely responsible for making quite a few food do you enjoy viable.

Without refrigeration, you would not be enjoying nearly as much dairy products, and would require much more planning if you wanted to safely implement meat into your diet.

Unfortunately, refrigerators are massive power hogs, and this means they will likely be one of the first casualties of Modern Life in the aftermath of a disaster.

Regrettably, you will need to preserve food and keep certain foods at a safe temperature will not disappear with it if you want to keep eating those foods for the duration.

For this reason, it is time to look into alternate methods of food preservation, including a few that function like primitive refrigerators.

Quite a few food preservation techniques have been around for hundreds or even thousands of years, and are still used successfully all over the world and austere environments and in primitive cultures.

There is no reason you cannot make use of them during a bug-in scenario. your two most viable options for ongoing food preservation through refrigeration is by continuing to power a refrigerator, or a smaller, emergency refrigerator, the electricity that you generate through use of a generator or a solar power farm.

Another alternate is to make use of cold outside air by employing a windowsill ice box like your great-great-grandparents did.

Aside from refrigeration, the most reliable and effective method of food preservation is canning. Some families are prolific canners, with many mothers handing it down to their daughters, they first learned it from their mothers in childhood.

Canning is not particularly difficult, but the steps too successfully and safely executed are exacting, and of course you have to have a supply of cans and lids with seals intact and boiling water. This is still entirely achievable with a little preparation in an SHTF situation.

Below is a list of preservation and refrigeration methods you should investigate:

  • Pit Chiller
  • Root Cellar
  • Evaporative Pot Cooler / Zeer Pot
  • Swamp Cooler
  • Wood Ash preservation
  • Canning


  • Calculate how much food and water will be needed for long-term sustainment of group.
  • Start adding to stockpile steadily.
  • Assess viability of food preservation methods in your area.
  • Practice food preservation techniques before you need them.

Defense Considerations

It is an awful thing to consider but if there’s one thing you will be able to count on in the aftermath of a major disaster it is an increase in criminality and predation by your fellow man.

Depending on where you live and what happens you might be dealing with a reduced, significantly impaired or even total absence of typical policing at the local, state and potentially even federal level.

And as the saying goes, when the cat is away the mice will play and, for our purposes, the mice are the psychos, the sadists and the scumbags that infest the fringes and dark places of every society.

Plan for dealing with them, especially since the longer things go on without any institutionalized policing (or at the minimum organized community defense) the greater the likelihood is that you will face organized if ramshackle bands of marauders who are looking to have the time of their lives at your expense.

Plainly stated not every area will be as defensible as another. Your bug in location might be located too close to areas of significant interest to the criminal element, or it might simply appear as a juicy target in a well-to-do and vulnerable part of town.

Regardless, you should take adequate measures to defend it, including blocking most entryways, having escape routs, and even planting thorny plants to discourage break-ins.

If you have little way to see trouble coming and even less time to react to it, you’ll be living in a permanent barricade scenario or constantly on edge.

This is a factor that requires considerable attention to nuances in order to arrive at the correct answer.

You might have a very defensible structure or the terrain around it might be conducive to a strong defense, but you may have no way out if a fight goes against you.

Conversely your chosen bugging location might not be particularly defensible but may be easy to escape from or to get into or leave discreetly.

Depending on what type of area where you live, its existing criminality and other demographic factors, security may be a greater or a lesser concern in the aftermath of a disaster when you are bugging in.

A natural event will likely mean that security is of secondary importance compared to a man-made situation like major civil unrest or physical security from other people is the event in itself.

Get Advanced Warning with an Observation Post

Consider setting up a listening post observation post, or LP-OP on or near your property, ideally in a camouflaged, hidden position that can be entered and exited discreetly.

This way, someone in your group can stay on watch and keep an eye on strategically important approaches to the property itself. If they hear something, see something, or suspect something coming down the turnpike you will have early warning.

Advanced notice is a simple form of “battlefield intelligence” that can make all the difference in your response to potential threats.

Built-Up Area or Isolated Structure?

Many preppers see a remote dwelling far from all population centers as the ideal place for bugging in. The idea goes that the farther you are away from people, the farther you are away from the potential harm that they can bring on, be it directly or through the mass consumption of resources. This idea has some merit, but also some shortcomings.

History provides plenty of examples that when society falls apart people that are isolated are almost always the most vulnerable, to both accidents and to attack.

The notion of a lone wolf is extremely attractive to many preppers, but is functionally, usually, a non-starter.

If it is only you or you and a couple of family members living far away from any potential help you will have no one to ride to your rescue when you get in over your head.

On the other hand, living in the middle of society surrounded by people who are by-and-large complete strangers to you does not exactly inspire confidence either.

Grouping up in one area, a single building or a couple of buildings with multiple families that you trust can provide the manpower for work and mutual defense living in the aftermath of a disaster, and also afford you a little bit of “herd immunity” to predators.

However, there is no way around that the closer you are to masses of humanity the more contact you are liable to have with the desperate and the criminal.

It is of course possible to live somewhere in between these two extremes, and many people do, but there is no free lunch.

You can have the advantages of one, the other or a balance of the two but no matter where you live you will have to take the good and the bad when it comes to bugging in.

If you have the financial means to shop for a property that could potentially become your bug-in location, or if you are just moving to a new area, keep these principles in mind.

Look for ready access sources you could rely on during a disaster. How close is the nearest major lake, or river?

Are there any ponds on the property that you could perhaps stock with fish? Is there any deep woodland or other wilderness areas they could potentially have game and medicinal plants growing inside their bounce?

When you start looking at a new home through the lens of future preparation, you will make your bug-in plan all the stronger.

Means of Escape / Evacuation

Just because you are deciding to bug in does not mean you won’t have to leave in a great, big hurry when the situation changes.

A bug-in can turn into a bug out at a moment’s notice, and if that happens it is imperative that you know about how to get away and that your escape route, or routes, are still viable.

This might be an issue if there is only one effective route in or out of your bug-in location. If it should become blocked or otherwise impassable for any reason, you are now facing a dangerous situation or worse yet perhaps having to remain in place when you really need to flee.

This is important even if you plan on evacuating on foot, but it is doubly important if you plan on leaving by vehicle since they are more restricted by terrain type.

You should always have a means, a route and a plan of escape no matter how safe, secure and unassailable you think your bug-in location is.

Failure to account for this might mean you will be trapped like a rat on a sinking ship. Preppers are adaptable; be ready to respond to a paradigm shift that sees you evacuating!


  • Prepare for defense against other humans.
  • Obtain and get training with firearms.
  • Make sure any bug-in location has escape route if situation turns against you.
  • Consider risk/reward of isolation against group setting for survival chances.
  • Start planning potential observation points.

Strategic Considerations


Simply stated, what are you dealing with, what are you facing? The situation at hand will play the biggest part in determining whether you bug-in or bug-out.

The vast majority of natural disasters can be faced by bugging in so long as your house is sturdy and correctly sited. A great many man-made problems can likewise be faced head-on by sheltering in place with a reliable group of people at your side.

Natural Disasters

Certain situations will, of course, mean that all of your preparations and all of your defenses in your home, no matter how sturdy it is, will come to naught.

The most powerful tornadoes can level all but the most hardened and reinforced structures. Hurricanes can annihilate entire towns, drowning the remains that are not blown away.

Any home on a 100- or 200-year floodplain may be effectively immune to typical floods that occur but could still be submerged or swept away by those once in a lifetime mega-disaster floods.

Severe flooding will obviously compromise any structure no matter how well-built that lies on a floodplain or lowlands.

A cabin or house situated on a mountainside will have to worry about landslides and avalanches where one situated on flat land would not.

Man-Made Disasters

Certain man-made hazards may also render your plans to bug-in and all your preparations moot. Any threat of nuclear war may mean you want to head for greener pastures if you live near a major population center or strategic target.

Anybody who has a property they plan on bugging-in at that is near a nuclear missile silo may not have anything to worry about unless, God forbid, a nuclear exchange were to occur in which case the surrounding area, that is basically at their doorstep, is going to be ground zero as soon as the warheads hit.

An idyllic, sleepy country town is not likely to be victimized by politically or racially motivated violence, but a dense and diverse urban metropolis with a history of political agitation and other social conflicts might very well be pushed over the brink by national events.

Intense rioting or civil unrest along sectarian lines might mean that you are better off anywhere else rather than face the will of the mob where you are.

If you live near a major chemical refinery or production plant a serious accident or natural disaster might see all manner of harmful or even lethal chemicals released into your air or water, a problem that locations a hundred or more miles away simply would not face.

Exceptional Suitability

But even then there are always exceptions: An earthen home built into a hill or the side of a mountain will have little to fear from tornadoes. A sufficiently hardened structure that is well above sea level can endure all but the most direct impacts from a hurricane.

An underground home won’t have much to worry about from wildfires or even nukes, barring a direct or very near hit. Any home situated far away from an urban center will not have to worry about any rioting occurring in a metropolitan area one iota.

Take the time to objectively assess your home, whatever kind of structure at might be, and think about how it will affect your survival chances during various events. If it is particularly unsuited for one or more types of disaster, those are the ones where you’ll need to have your bug-out plan ready to implement.

Force Projection

The longer things stay bad in the aftermath of a society toppling disaster, the more pronounced the factionization you will see. People will start banding together in groups. They will decide who is “us” and who is “them.”

It is natural that these groups will come into conflict over access to resources, land and control of routes in and around the area. It has happened this way since time immemorial.

You must be ready to meet force with force if you want to keep what is yours and you don’t want to keep paying the toll, the tax, protection money, or whatever you want to call it. This is where having a large group is absolutely essential.

You can forget all fantasies of being the lone wolf, the spartan, a John Rambo, or any other disproportionately lethal, mythical survivor who will hew down foes by the dozens or even hundreds.

If you don’t have people you can trust that happened to be people who can fight on your side when violence breaks out you are probably heading for a bad time unless there is an exceptional disparity of capability, terrain or some other X factor on your side.

This is where a MAG, large family, or multiple families living together on one property will have a decided advantage over a single individual or a small family.

Being able to put multiple bodies in position, with guns and a plan is the only way you will fend off a coordinated assault or great show of force.

Oftentimes, just looking at like a hard target is enough to fend off the attentions of smaller, less capable groups who would otherwise prey on you.


Barter is the oldest form of commerce there is, and it will likely become the coin of the realm if you are living through a paradigm-shifting event.

When paper money and coinage is no good and electronic currencies are nothing more than a memory, barter is how people will exchange goods and services.

It might be in your best interest to remain close enough for a population center in order to access it in the aftermath, if only periodically, in order to trade for those things that you cannot produce yourself or obtained from your nearest neighbors.

This must be done cautiously, since not everyone will be interested in fair play.

Barter is oftentimes a strictly cash-and-carry operation. There is no credit or payment in arrears unless you are very well-known and trusted by the party you are dealing with.

That means anything you plan on trading you will have to carry with you, and that will make you vulnerable, both people who would scam you to your face and those who would shoot you in the back when you are coming or going to barter town.

This means you will need to implement shrewd negotiating policies as well as excellent security while underway and while at the negotiating table in order to ensure that you do not get rolled.

Barter is a reliable form of commerce, but that doesn’t mean you can trust the people that you are bartering with.


  • Analyze area-specific hazards and risks for your bug-in location.
  • Start planning how to barter safely if required, or minimize your dependence on it.


Bugging in is often a better choice than bugging out when possible.

Bugging in will provide you with access to more supplies that you have stockpiled, an intricate knowledge of surrounding terrain and hopefully a group of people you can draw on in order to survive your trials and tribulations together.

Don’t give up all the advantages you have worked so hard for just because a disaster threatens; your best chance may come by staying home!

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1 thought on “How to Bug In – The Ultimate Guide”

  1. this was a very good article, thank you. but lets face it, if you are not very rural and have not been in the area for years to make friends in the community and not have the tools, the land and the know how to make it work, all you can do is plan for the short term. sustainability takes a lot of money , hard work and time. its not easy, but it makes you sleep better at night. it doesn’t happen overnight or with a few clicks on amazon. start now for a better tomorrow


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