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What does it mean to bug out?

And why would you need to?

Bug out is a military term. It simply means to retreat, or evacuate. Modern day preppers use this term to describe being in a situation wherein one would need to evacuate their home. Whether it would be due to an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, fire, flood, landslide, nuclear disaster or attack, cyber attack on our electrical grid, nuclear EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack or a solar EMP, the apocalypse, or zombie attack (yes, some people really do believe in zombies).


Everyone should be aware of any national disasters that are likely to happen in the area where they live. It is my belief that a wise person will be prepared for any such disaster or emergency situation that is common to where they live. Here is a link to the American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Plan. Please read this if you need help in your preparations.


Should I stay or should I go?


When disaster is approaching, or strikes, we have to decide whether or not we are going to bug out, or bug in (stay and shelter in place). Depending upon the situation, there may be a period of time where you might be able to stay in your home. Whether you decide to stay or go will depend upon the individual circumstances and whether or not you have the supplies and capabilities necessary for either decision. Or, you may need to leave and go to a place of safety right away.


Obviously, in the case of a natural disaster such as a fire (either house or wildfire), hurricane, flood, or landslide you should go to a place of safety, as quickly as possible. That really shouldn't even be a question. If any of these disasters were to happen, it would be wise to have a BOB for each family member nearby so you can grab it and go. If you don't know what a BOB is, see my article Prepping 101 | Bug out Bag (BOB).


I live in an area where we often have tornado warnings during the warmer months of the year. Obviously, we don't flee to the hills every time there is a warning. But, when there is a tornado warning we do retreat to our basement where we have our BOBs in case our area is actually hit. In other words, we bunker down and shelter in place. Of course, if there was any structural damage to our home that would make it where we couldn't stay there then we would definitely have to evacuate (bug out). And, in the case of structural damage severe enough to trap us in the basement, we would have our emergency supplies (BOB) with us, which would have water, food, clothing, and medical supplies among other things that may be needed.


If you live in an area that is susceptible to earthquakes, you wouldn't run out into the streets if there was one. At least you shouldn't. In the case of an earthquake you would not need to bug out unless there was considerable structure damage to your home. However, if you do not have an emergency plan in place for you and your family, please do not wait any longer. Being prepared can make a difference, sometimes in life or death. Here is a link to the American Red Cross Earthquake Safety page for earthquake preparedness. Please take the time to read it and take the necessary precautions to protect you and your family.


What if you live in an area where there is a hurricane warning? You would need to take heed and prepare to bug out. You should not bunker down if a hurricane is headed specifically in your direction. You should, of course, take time to prepare your home and make preparations to go somewhere safe as soon as possible. Please don't wait until the last minute as you may run into a catastrophic traffic jam. And, don't be like a sea captain who goes down with his ship. You're not a sea captain. Here is a link to the American Red Cross Hurricane Safety page. There is also a link on that page to help you locate local emergency shelters. Please take time to read this and act accordingly should the situation ever arise.


We've touched upon the most common natural disasters, what about nuclear disasters or attacks, cyber attacks on our electrical grid, nuclear EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attacks or solar EMPs, and the apocalypse? You may notice I left out zombie attacks in the list; if you believe those are possible please just follow the procedure for the others mentioned here. These are the types of situations where you will have to make that decision as to whether to bug out or bug in.


In the case of a nuclear disaster (explosion in a nuclear plant) or attack, you are going to want to bug in. You should plan ahead for the possibility of something like this happening. Know where you will go and how you will access food and water (for several days and possibly up to a month). Have a plan for your family to follow. Depending on how far away from the incident you are, if you are warned in time to do so, then you could take a chance on bugging out and getting far enough away to not be affected. However, there most likely won't be sufficient warning to go very far. It's best to plan to bunker down and stay indoors. Make sure you have a NOAA emergency radio in your BOB so you can keep up on any updates the government puts out. Once you are given the okay, that does not necessarily mean it's okay to go home and stay there. If you were in an affected area, it is best to bug out and go somewhere else that is safe once you can. The fallout from a nuclear explosion can have an affect in the surrounding area for years to come. Here's a link to the American Red Cross Nuclear Explosion and Radiation Emergencies page. For additional reading, here is a link to what FEMA has to advise regarding a nuclear explosion.


There's been a lot of talk about cyber attacks on our electrical grid recently in the news. Apparently, President Trump has accused Russia of attacking us in this way. In fact, we've actually had a few cyber attacks in the past couple of years here in the U.S. But, not many of us were actually affected by them. I personally, think those may have been tests to see how far and how easy it would be to attack us. It has gotten to the point where those type of cyber attacks are now actually referred to as cyber war. Personally, I don't think even a full out cyber attack would be enough to make most of us have to bug out. Unless, it took longer than a few days or a month or so to get things back up and running. If that were the case, then we may have to consider bugging out. Again, it would depend upon our individual neighborhoods and the amount of violence we may be dealing with. Either way, it's best to bug in for as long as you can safely do so.


Have you ever heard of an EMP? A lot of people haven't. There are actually two types of EMPs that I'm aware of. There is the solar EMP, also referred to a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) which is basically massive solar flares that escape the sun's atmosphere. And, there is the NEMP, which is a Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse; most preppers/survivalists commonly refer to the NEMP as simply EMP. The nuclear EMP is actually a nuclear bomb that is dropped off in the atmosphere above the earth. Both of the EMPs will produce basically the same results. They will not produce radiation like an actual nuclear bomb, but they can and most likely will disrupt communications and fry electrical systems and electronics. According to several news articles, the nuclear EMP is apparently what North Korea was (maybe still is) working on in their threats to bomb the U.S. If an EMP were to explode over our atmosphere, our lives would be changed drastically. We could have a total loss of communications, electricity, and electronic devices. It is even predicted that cars with electronic systems would no longer work. Anything electronic would basically be fried. We would likely be thrown back into the 1800s. It also is estimated that if an EMP attack over the U.S. were to happen, 90% of the population would cease to exist. Not immediately, but over time; and not necessarily over a long period of time either. Unfortunately, this is something that actually could possibly happen.


But, the question remains, should we stay in our homes or bug out in the case of an EMP attack? My family and I are not planning on bugging out right away should an EMP attack happen. We will bug in for as long as we can feel safe in doing so. We should have at least a week, maybe two before the world will become chaotic. Once people have run out of food everything will become chaotic. There will be looting, violence, and murders. I believe when the time comes for my family to bug out that God will warn us and let us know. Where will we bug out to? Unfortunately, like many, we don't have a cabin in the woods or another shelter somewhere safe that we could go to. So, we will most likely go into the wilderness and live in our tents. Timing can be very important in deciding when to bug out; and you will have to make that decision sooner or later, and I have no doubt that that decision will be necessary. If you go too soon you may run into problems and if you go too late you may not make it.


Last, but not least is the apocalypse. According to the Google dictionary, apocalypse means:

  1. the complete final destruction of the world, especially as described in the biblical book of Revelation.

  2. an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale.

Do I believe in the apocalypse? You bet I do! Why? Because I believe in God and His Word. We, as Christians (at least most of us) believe that we are living in The End Times. If this is true, then something catastrophic has to happen in our lifetime in order for God to bring that into fruition.


Jesus said in Luke 21:20-22, "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." King James Version (KJV)


When I read this scripture I hear Jesus saying, "When all of these things begin to happen, bug out! run to the hills!". So, no question about it, I would get as far away from civilization as I could. I don't know what's going to happen to affect the final apocalypse, but I know it will be big. Possibly, any or all of the things mentioned above could happen to bring us to that point.


That doesn't mean that we have to have fear about those things which may happen in our lifetime. In Matthew 24:13 Jesus was talking to His disciples about the end of times when He said, " But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." I believe by endure He may have meant that we need to keep our faith. No matter what we have to endure or go through, we need to keep our faith and our trust in God, our Heavenly Father. For we are His children and He will see us through and see that we are taken care of.


If He has been nudging you to prepare your home and your family for any of the situations above or whatever could and may happen, please listen to Him and take the steps needed to begin preparing.


I hope that in some way you have gained a little knowledge about the reason some of us feel the need to prep and why we acknowledge and realize that there may come a time when we have to retreat, evacuate, or bug out. There are things in this world that we have no control over. However, making sure we are prepared for whatever may come our way is something we can take control over.


Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!

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