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Editor’s Note: This article was generously contributed by Bolo. It is the first of a two-part series on knowing when to bug out. In this series Bolo will lay out a large number of triggers that could signal to you that it is time to pack up your bug out bag and leave everything behind for your family’s safety. When that day comes will you know when to go? Will you be ready?
What conditions would have to exist for you to decide that you had to abandon your home; that remaining there had become more dangerous than bugging out into a world that has gone side ways (at least in the corner of it that you can observe)? Some natural events are pretty easy to visualize, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and out of control wild fires. But these are actually localized evacuations and not ‘bug outs.’ In these events you can reasonably expect that first responders will flow into your area quickly. They will be followed by state and federal agencies with varying degrees of timeliness and effectiveness. Disaster relief funding will be appropriated, insurance companies will write you a check to repair or rebuild and, eventually, you will be able to move back into your property. In other words, the massive infrastructures of local, state and federal governments will have continued to function throughout the disaster. All’s well that ends well, right?
But, what if there weren’t going to be any first responders? What if state and federal governments were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, or if they effectively ceased to exist at the very moment of the event? In some SHTF scenarios those conditions might prevail and you simply haven’t learned of it yet. So, here you are in your dark home, with no water. You’ve burned the last chair from your dining room set to keep warm and you haven’t seen any neighbors for more than two weeks. Maybe it’s time to go, but you aren’t really sure.
If you find it difficult to articulate the conditions under which you would be willing to bug out, you aren’t alone. That difficulty is compounded by generally vague SHTF/TEOTWAWKI scenarios and a lack of meaningful decision trigger points. What are the differences between an inconvenient, undesirable situation and one that has become intolerable and possibly life threatening? Can you make such a decision with the full knowledge that no “mulligan” will be issued if you get it wrong, that once you step outside the door of your home, it may be for the last time?
For purposes of this discussion, I make the following important distinctions between evacuation and bugging out:
With two exceptions (#22 and #23), all of the questions that follow are independent of any specific type of SHTF event. Instead, they deal with conditions and information that will help determine whether or when you need to bug out. The list is by no means complete; you are welcome to add questions that pertain more directly to your own environment. Rather than treat them with simple yes or no answers, consider the degrees of risk that may develop as time progresses. As you work through the list it will become evident that answers to multiple questions can lead to a more complete understanding of your situation and the world around you. Having many data points is more reliable than basing a decision on a single piece of potentially flawed information.
The questions deal with specific aspects of public safety, public or government infrastructure, your own resources, or conditions in your immediate area or region. There are no redundant questions. For reasons that should be obvious, this article assumes that you have already made some level of preparation to bug out.
In Part 2, we will examine the remaining questions that you should evaluate when before making a decision to bug out.
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