It should be no surprise to anybody who’s been around my blog for any length of time that I am NOT a big fan of bugging out. Not at all. I feel that in most situations you’re far better off trying to survive at home, after all, that’s why I’ve created The PREPARED Path course.
That said, a portion of the course does discuss the need to be prepared to bug out. Because, obviously, you can’t plan your family’s survival on just ONE option.
The question today–ignoring many others–is in what time-frame should you be ready to bug out? Certainly there are many opinions and I’ve got mine. But the answer should really depend on the situation. Some situations might dictate a nearly immediate bug out, such as with an approaching wildfire, whereas other situations might allow for more time to leave, such as a forming tropical storm that’s expected to make landfall days from now.
With this in mind, I’ve got my strategy in place so that we should be able to bug out in different time-frames depending on the situation. Specifically, I think 15 minutes, 1 hour, and 1 day are appropriate time frames to plan around. The thought is that the more time you have to plan the more stuff you can take with you. Granted, some of this has to do with available cargo space and whether or not you can take two cars, for example, but the idea is the same: less time equals take less stuff, more time equals take more stuff.
Today, I want to focus on being able to bug out in the shortest amount of time allotted: 15 minutes or less. Of course, it is possible that you may have literally no time whatsoever to bug out–you just have to grab your BOB’s and go, but let’s say you have a small ability to take the MOST important stuff and pack a car, what would that stuff be?
Before discussing specifically what to take, there are two important considerations I want to point out: (1) what you think is important and what I do may be very different and (2) you really don’t know what you can take with you until you’ve actually tried. This is particularly critical for small cars (as opposed to trucks and SUVs) because there really isn’t that much space in them to begin with. Once you get people and maybe pets in there you’re kinda out of room. There are really only two solutions here: get a roof cargo bag/carrier or a very small trailer of some sort and hitch, that is, assuming you want to bring much of anything to survive wwith. Well, there ARE other options, including taking less stuff, utilizing multiple cars, or trading in a car for something larger. Regardless, you really need to figure out what fits and precisely what stuff goes in what vehicle if you expect to take much more than the clothes on your back. Go try it!
Now, let’s talk about time. 15 minutes isn’t a long time. It’s WILL go by in a flash in an emergency situation. You and everyone else will probably be running around frantically, grabbing random stuff, yelling, screaming, etc. You need a plan…
To be honest, it’s not hard to develop a plan you can follow. Get out a piece of paper and start writing. Jot down what’s critical to you for your survival, note where each item is (by room), and if you like include some numbering system to show how important each item is. So, for instance, I might suggest that my bug out bags are top priority whereas my firesafe is slightly less important and my wife’s numerous photo albums at the bottom of the list. I would then list these items, note where they are, and then sort them from most important to least important (e.g., 1 to 5 with 1 being most important) or whatever system works for you. You’ll have a good-sized list fairly quickly. I use Excel for this purpose but pen and paper work just fine too.
Now, you need to decide what’s really important. That’s why I like segregating my lists into 15 minute, 1 hour, and 1 day lists so that if I have more time I can pack more stuff, otherwise, I just grab the MOST important stuff. That’s the stuff that makes my 15 minute list. Slightly less important stuff makes the 1 hour list, and nice to have stuff makes the 1 day list. See?
So long as you’re ready to bug out in 15 minutes, in that you’ve got the gear and plan to make it happen, they you’re really ready to bug out given any time-frame presented… then it’s just a matter of “playing Tetris” in your vehicles to fit more stuff.
Again, I pinpoint 15 minute as being the critical time-frame to consider because anything less means you’re probably just grabbing your bug out bags and high-tailing it ASAP. 15 minutes or more means you can enact a plan, shove stuff in a car, and get a move on. Well, that’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.
As for what to bring? It’s simple, really. Focus on the normal survival priorities like appropriate clothing, weapons and ammo, Rx and OTC medications, first aid supplies, some water, food, etc. I consider these the bare essentials. I would also include other things like evacuation routes, money, personal documentation (stuff that’s hard to replace like birth certs, deeds, etc), extra gasoline, and and batteries as also being pretty darn important. Make your own list.
My advice: do your best to be ready to bug out within 15 minutes. Get your essential down to the bare minimums–whatever that means to you–and then expand on your plans to include more stuff, more vehicles, etc. Use a simple sorted list to decide what’s most important and there you have it. Of course, I have my own ideas on how to do this and include a complete template in my Prepared PATH course but you can certainly make your own too. The point is to follow Nike’s slogan and “Just do it!”