R. Ann Parris on Everyone Needs a Bugout Plan


Everyone Needs a Bugout Plan by R. Ann Parris for PrepperGroups.com

I’m not big on the theory of bugging out to the wilds for any amount of time, for oh so very many reasons. However, I am a big believer in everyone, everywhere having a bugout plan. Too many things can go wrong, now and especially “later”, to stubbornly insist we’re never leaving home.

Fire is a big one.

In the times before electric cooking and phone-in emergency services, fires ran rampant. They burned out settlers in small cabins and they raged through whole metropolises. Right now, with relatively few relying solely on firewood and candles for heat, light, and cooking, with relatively few using heat lamps in barns and piling up haystacks, with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inexpensive and prevalent, with fire departments available at the tap of a thumb and roads largely clear and passable, fires still occur — daily.

All kinds of things spread.

It would be hard to find a spot in the U.S. and Europe where a river, train tracks, and factories don’t represent a risk from some kind of agent. Derailed/sunk, on fire, damaged by a storm, or “just” leaking chemicals have caused evacuations for miles around or contaminated waterways, to include aquifer and spring recharge sites and our wells.

Storms won’t stop because normal life did.

Whether it’s only a disruption for our household (income loss, death/disability, housefire) or a widespread event, the same storms that generate warnings now will continue to shake life up.

Tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes are only the biggies. Dry summer storms, pounding rains, and ice and snow loads can all cost us our homes, directly and indirectly, with roofs and windows blown around, chimneys blocked or wrecked, and tree limbs and trunks falling. A simple over-wet season followed by fairly normal high winds can uproot trees as well.

Then there’s the incredible force of water.

A near-universal trend is tapping our waterways. In some cases, it’s locks and channels for shipping. In other cases, it’s hydro dams. And in some, we’ve built levee and dike systems to prevent or control flooding.

In many cases, they’ve been “controlled” so long, we’ve collectively forgotten where the old flood lines lay. Even the old fifty- and hundred-year flood zones don’t tell the full tale of the forces we face when we open spillways or a construct fails. The flash floods that result can sweep into areas immune to “normal” flooding from the past, and those flash floods can wipe out services, roadways, bridges, and trees, further impacting our ability to stay home.

More water also means more mudslides — especially in conjunction with droughts and fires that further remove landcover and change terrain composition. And with those mudslides, additional constructs can be removed and damaged … or in some cases, created, with a natural dam or reservoir forming.

We see those reservoirs in cold climates even now, too.

As river ice starts to break up, it can lodge into massive walls with the waterways backing up behind the natural dam. When that dam finally breaks, it turns into a raging flood. It happens both small scale and large, and it has been wiping out homesteads and small villages forever. It’s just not one we hear about all that often.

Gushing and rising waters have immediate, direct threats, but then there’s a whole slew of others. One, the chemicals mentioned above as it disrupts lines, tankers, factories, etc. Two, while we may be above and out of reach of the flood waters, we may be close enough for insect and animal vectors to spread the diseases common to floods, or for those to contaminate our fields and water sources.

Evacuation and relocation have always been part of human existence.

Settled agrarian and post-agrarian lifestyles are relatively new, and even with those modern permanent settlements, we end up evacuating. In the past, it’s been caused by flooding, droughts, food scarcity, wildfires, and disease. Those are the exact same threats we face currently, still, and the exact same threats we’ll face during any crisis.

Like the people of old, we have to be prepared to leave.

That doesn’t mean going off to live off the wilds. It just means having a kit — ideally, basics we need for modern life and basics we’d need in a grid-down world, packs or a small cart or sled and our primary vehicles. It means those without primary transportation, those who rely on mass transportation or only have one vehicle that doesn’t actually fit all members of the household, have some extra homework to do in case they need to evacuate.

It also means we need to have some destinations in mind (and on paper/electronics). Those are going to be situationally dependent, but it doesn’t always or even usually mean a packed stadium shelter or “the wilds”. It just means somewhere else, maybe even just for a little while.