There are typically two types of bug out: short-term and long-term. Both types of disaster situations need to be well-planned in advance, so it is more likely everyone in the family will get out of a dire situation quickly and find refuge in time.
Short-term bug out locations are pretty easy to set up. Long-term bug out spots may take weeks or months of scouting and planning to be ready when needed.
Setting Up a Short-Term Bug Out Location
Short-term bug outs are necessary when disasters are imminent that could endanger you or your loved ones, but will not be long-lived. These types of disasters include tornado, flood, hurricane and maybe even local civil unrest.
They have the ability to be devastating events, but do not last long, and it will be important to return as quickly as possible once it is safe, in order to restore what is left of your home and belongings, as well as to help others who may need assistance.
Arranging a short term bug out location is fairly easy. They primarily need to be some place away from your general location, so choosing a friend or family member who lives the next block over is probably not a good idea.
However, all you really need to do to set up a short-term bug out destination is ask someone close to you who lives a reasonable distance away (it should be some place you can drive to in a few hours) and make sure everyone in the household knows where the location is in case disaster strikes when you are separated.
If you do not have anyone close by, but away from the disaster zone that can help you out, or who has room for your family, temporary shelters are another good way to go. Have a tent on hand that you can grab and set up outside of the disaster area.
Scout out possible sites like wooded areas or parks. Even areas where camping is not permitted will likely be a reasonable resource when there is a disaster. Local authorities are very likely to either look the other way in that situation, or suggest a more fitting location if they want you to move out.
Setting Up a Long-Term Bug Out Location
Long-term bug out events are something that is extremely dangerous and not likely to be over soon. These can include war-time situations on homeland soil, unusual natural disasters and the most troubling and likely in many cases, economic destruction.
When these types of disaster hits, it will be necessary to get somewhere safe fast, and it is likely to be a long stay. Whether it is for a week or a lifetime, bug outs for long-term disasters need to be well planned out.
Points to Consider for Long-Term Bug Out Spots
You need to decide where you want your bug out spot to be, and how far away from your current living area will be safe.
Keep in mind that while having a bug out location near cities or suburbs will make them more convenient, it will also make them more vulnerable.
When real disasters strike, you cannot expect humanity to be humane. People act out in unattractive ways when they are hungry, cold and in danger.
Of course, it is a very noble thing to want to help others when things are bad, but keep in mind that the most important people to help are your family and close friends.
You simply are not going to be able to save everyone in a serious national or global disaster. At best you will end up feeling frustrated and distraught over not being able to aid all of those suffering around you.
At worst, you and your family will be in danger of others who are desperate. Rural, out of the way locations are usually the best when they can be arranged.
How rural you need to be will depend on your ability to access really out of the way places. All bug out locations, even long-term ones should be a place that you can escape to quickly.
It would be great if disasters announced themselves with lots of time to spare so you can travel several hundred, or even thousands of miles to reach your safe haven, but we know that is not the way the world works. When a devastating breakdown happens, it is likely to be swift and unforgiving.
Access to Food and Water
One of the most important things to set up when you find your long-term bug out location is a source of provisions for the number of people who will be staying with you.
A certain amount of the food can be brought in and stored, but keep in mind we are not usually talking about a few days or even weeks in the event of such a disaster. You are going to have to have some way of providing food and water for months or even years.
This is another reason choosing a long-term bug out location within driving distance of your current residence is important.
If you plant a garden, add livestock or do anything ahead of time that will give you a good renewable food source, it will need to be cared for and maintained all the time.
Waiting to create these resources until after the tragedy strikes can mean not having the access to the livestock, or taking longer to get going if planting from seed.
Look for bug out locations close to a natural water source. No matter how many bottles of water you stock up on ahead of time, they are likely to run out eventually. Judging just how much water you will need can be next to impossible, and the last thing you want is to run out of water a week before the situation is resolved.
Local rivers are the best way to ensure good running water, but no matter what type of resource exists, be it river, lake or pond, always invest in a good purification system.
Setting Up Housekeeping
Long-term bug outs are going to be more comfortable if you plan ahead and set up a home. Even a small cabin is preferable to living outdoors in most climates.
It is great if you find a spot that you can get to quickly, and can afford, that already has a home on it.
Otherwise, make sure you have enough time to erect at least a small living area that will hold your family. Some quick shelter ideas that do not require much in time and energy include shipping containers and mobile homes or RVs.
As time permits, it is a good idea to gather more supplies and materials so that if you want to add on and expand you will have it there. These items may be more difficult to get once there is a breakdown in society.
Protection from the Outside World
A real breakdown in society also means a real breakdown in security. You are not going to be able to rely on local authorities to provide protection, and while it may seem like a sci-fi horror concept to some, when real meltdowns occur, people will be roaming the countryside and they will be dangerous.
The next step after finding a location, building a dwelling and stocking it with food will be to make sure you have good, solid protection. Fences are good, but only if they are impenetrable. Common border fences like split rail or picket fences are attractive, but they won’t keep a determined person out.
Weapons are likely to be a good choice to stop invaders if they get to you. If you have weapons on hand, make sure everyone who is able can use them, and understands safety measures. It is better if they don’t find you though.
Use camouflage to hide your homestead when possible. Plant tall shrubs, cloak buildings in vines or cover them with branches.
If the spot is way off any regular path it is very helpful, but if it is easily spotted from a road or path, have lots of materials on hand to set up quickly that will block the way through. That will, at least, stall any invaders from getting through while you prepare defenses.