I have written a fair bit in the past about the pros and cons of bugging in versus bugging out. Many preppers subscribe to the belief that most of our major cities are so congested as it is you are better off having a full time Bug Out Location (B.O.L.) and living there permanently . While that may work for some people the reality is many of us are tied to the cities for our jobs and our families.
So today I want to hear from you guys on your best tips that you have heard over the years for bugging in, whether that’s a suburban home or apartment building
I know you guys have opinions – so let’s hear them!
I recently created a step-by-step course on how to bug in if you were a city dweller and were stuck in
an apartment. The response to that course was very positive, with quite a few people writing in and
asking if I would do one for those of you who live in the suburbs but plan to bug in, when the SHTF
(Sh*t Hits The Fan, for those of you who are not familiar with the acronym).
In this guide I spoke about one of the biggest dangers facing preppers in any threat, whether terrorist,economic collapse or some form of pandemic is that of population density – the further you live from people, the more chance you have of living through a crisis like this. However, not all of us can live offgrid at the present time or in a million dollar compound in the hills of Idaho. In fact these days it is very hard to have some form of decent paying career without living close to a major city.
I really do think preppers living in the suburbs have a much higher chance of successfully bugging in
compared to inner city preppers, but at the same time keep in mind that in the advent of a long-term
grid-down situation, sooner or later you may have to bug out to a rural area.
Of course in a situation like Hurricane Katrina (mass flooding) or a fire that is engulfing your
neighborhood, bugging out is your only option. For other SHTF scenarios where you may have the
option of bugging out to a FEMA camp, I think you have a much better chance of survival hunkering
down at home versus the Government disaster camp option.
One of the plus points for an apartment prepper compared to those of us living in the suburbs is that in an Apartment (that is off the ground floor) you really only have one or two entry points, the front door and perhaps a fire escape window, which makes them a lot easier to defend against an angry mob. In
the average suburban home there can be multiple entry points making it much harder to defend against
attacks from say the front door as well as a side window simultaneously.
With that said let’s get into it.
Security and Defense
There is an old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you look at home invasion
type scenarios, the weakest links are points of entry such as your windows and doors, with the most
common home invasion entry point being your front door.
Most suburban home doors are next to useless, super lightweight material (masonite), that would not
last a good firm kick or two. I am sure you probably don’t want to think about it but in reality you
might be better off replacing the front door with something like a galvanized steel door from a Home
Depot or Lowes, which will set you back about $400. That’s my ideal choice – make sure you get the
one with the reinforced frame too.
If your wife or loved ones think you are going too far by replacing your decorative door with a
unsightly (but much safer and secure) door and you really can’t make the switch over, as an alternative ,consider a security door which goes over your nice existing front door. Some of them have very
attractive patterns which might make people with more sensitive sensibilities feel less like they are
living in a prison. These are lockable from the inside so it gives you an extra layer to prevent your door being breached so easily.
Even after your replace your door with a reinforced one it pays to have some extra locks on it – most
doors lock in the middle – you really need to have two extra locks on the door (one lower and one
higher) to help prevent it being kicked in. Forget about one of those chain locks they are more for peace
of mind than to actually do anything to slow criminals from entering your home.
A simple device called a door jammer is also a good investment. Do a Google search for “nightlock
door brace” to find their website. If things do get hairy out there and you are facing a two week plus
bug in, even a 2 x 4 nailed to the floor behind the front door will suffice to slow intruders down when
trying to force entry.
Even though 70% of break ins are via doors, windows are the next weakest link in the chain. When I
lived in the big city, all down stairs windows (basement and first floor apartments) had bars on the
windows. I had a second floor apartment, but in which there was only really one window that posed a
security threat and that was the one next to the fire escape. The trouble with suburban houses are that
you have multiple ground floor windows and many houses have the nice sliding patio doors which
pretty much any intruder can grab a piece of lawn furniture, fling it through the window and gain entry
to your house.
Sure you can have bars over all your windows but depending on the layout of your house and the
amount of ground floor windows and sliding patio style doors that you have, you may want to look into
those accordion style hurricane shutters. You can get them fitted to all your doors and windows and
they roll up for unobstructed views when everything is normal, they can be hand cranked if there is a
power outage, they protect your house in extreme weather and of course prevents burglars and
If you are worried about feeling like you live in a prison if you do choose to go the option of security bars on your windows or perhaps there are no local firms that install the hurricane shutters please don’t despair as there are plenty of ornamental style bars for windows these days. Just be sure to have a professional to install them and make sure the bolts they use are deep and not the small ones that usually come with the package. Since these can be ripped off with a bit of leverage. One down side of bars on windows is that they can also trap you in your home during a fire (a big no no).
Another alternative to bars is security film for your windows. Many businesses use these to reinforce
their windows against vandals. These do reinforce your windows against someone smashing them but
with enough force they will still break. If you do end up using these, see them at best as a stalling tactic while you and your family either hit a safe room in your house or escape via a pre-arranged exit point.
Window locks are another cheap and effective way to stop people gaining entry to your apartment.
There are many different varieties on the market these days. I prefer the casement style ones that
operate with a bolt – in device and are unlocked with a key.
In the event of a real bug in, I suggest that you have previously purchased plywood (from your local
lumber store) and have it pre-cut to fit on the inside of your windows. Once it has been cut, you can
mark each sheet of wood on where it is to be bolted on, and have it screwed into your window frames,
leaving the curtains appearing on the outside. Important point, if the grid goes down and there is mass
chaos on the streets you do not want anyone to know that you have power and food inside your place,
especially at night where any lamps or lights can be a dead giveaway. Remember in the movie 28 Days
Later, when they have to spend the night at Jim’s parents place and while reminiscing at night he absentmindedly switches on a light which attracts the infected, costing one of them their life? Well you don’t want to be doing that! Once the plywood is pre-cut you can install the sheets in your garage,behind book shelves or under your bed until needed. Again like I said clearly mark the inside of each plywood sheet on where it should go (front room right window, the front room left window, kitchen window, etc.).
It goes without saying that marking the sheets on the side that goes outwards is definitely not advisable.
I grew up in Australia and pretty much 99% of suburban homes have a large fence covering their back
yard. I have lived in the United States for over 15 years and have been all over this great country and
very rarely do I see suburban houses with any kind of fence. Now I am not sure if this is a customary
thing or a local city by law, since some neighborhoods have them and others do not. It is well worth
checking what the local laws are like in your area. Think on this, if you are in a grid down situation and people are seeing you in your back yard, whether it’s working on your veggie patch or accessing some sort of water storage system, all of a sudden you are going to have more people to feed and water.
I am sure you could tell people it’s to keep your dogs out of their garden (or your kids) and that’s why you have a 6ft high fence. It’s not so bad if your neighbors are preppers but if they are the sort who “poo poo” the prepping lifestyle rest assured they will be the first ones to coming knocking on your door when the grocery stores run out of essential items. Having a vegetable garden, propane gas tanks, water storage etc. should be on a need to know basis only. If they are not on your team then they don’t need to know!
I know preppers who suggest that you glue crushed glass to the top of your fence to stop people from
leaping over, other preppers suggest planting spikes in the ground at the bottom of your fence (except
where you have already decided to exit your yard) so that any intruders leaping over will be impaled.
As much as these medieval ideas are very effective I also feel they could back fire on you in an
emergency. If you ran out in a panic at night, adrenaline pumping and you run right into your own trap.
That said it is really your call, especially if you have a young family who could get injured playing in your garden on a regular day it may not be worth the risk.
It is not socially acceptable to have a massive 6ft high fence around your front yard, not in Australia
(where everyone has one for their back yard) and not in the United States unless you happen to live in a mansion in Beverly Hills, ha ha. What I do like and recommend is the short brick walls that often come with ornamental bars in between the pillars. One of the nice things with these is they make it so much harder for a car to get a good run up to ram raid your home plus if you plant some nice shrubbery as well it will give your front yard an extra level of concealment in a grid down situation. As always keep in mind that any really determined raiding party will eventually destroy a brick wall but the minutes it takes them to drive back and forth to smash it down might just save you and your families lives. Water
As any prepper knows the three keys to surviving any situation are shelter, water, then food. Let’s
discuss water options.
Most preppers advise you to store an average of 2 gallons a day for a family of 4, in reality the average American uses up to 30 gallons a day! Of course it is just not realistic to prep with this much water, but I do think that most people will be unprepared to use so little water in a survival situation, especially for washing and going to the bath room.
One of the many plus points for prepping in a suburban home versus say an apartment is that you have
much more room to store water, especially in your back yard. (Now you see why it’s so important to
have a nice secure back fence for your yard?).
You can actually set up a simple system to capture rainwater using the existing gutter on your house for a little over $100
Just make sure when you purchase your 55 gallon drum (about $90 from a Lowes or Home Depot) that
you get a food grade one. Food grades are 1, 2, 4 and 5. The best food grade drums are marked number 2
In general I only use my rain water tanks for washing and flushing the toilet in a grid down situation. If you are in a bind and have run out of drinking water it can be used but you need to purify it first.
One of the simplest ways to kill bacteria in your water to make it suitable for drinking is to use NON
SCENTED Chlorine Bleach by adding 2 drops to every 2 liters of water you are preparing and let stand
for half an hour before drinking.
Iodine is another common method to purify water to make it safe for
drinking – however it should be noted that people who are allergic to shellfish will not be able to use
this method. Iodine must be stored in a dark place (kitchen pantry or a closet ideally) and not left out in direct sunlight. In fact your stored water is also best left in a dark closet as opposed to sitting out in the sun
Since we are preparing for a semi short term bug in scenario, many preppers argue that a big bunch of
cases of bottled water would cover you for a 14-30 day type scenario. Personally I think the bottled
water is the wrong way to go. Ok I know that you can get sweet deals at places like Costco, but for the
amount of water you would need for even two people to bug in for 30 days it’s going to take up way
too much space. Plus the fact that if you do have your home boarded up like we described above and
things are hairy outside, you are going to have a lot of empty water bottles lying around. A LOT!
I do recommend for home preppers to have a couple of 55 gallon drums stored in their house, say their
basement if you have one but I would also suggest you invest in a few water bricks too. Water Bricks
which can be bought online – they are a bit more in price but the plus points is that they are stack-able and if say you do have to make a break from your house to a second location, these are so much easier to move and transport over a full 55 gallon drum.
Look them up and weigh the pros and cons. To me I think they are the smart way to go, because they
stack easily in your pantry or storage closet and are much easier to transport individually than a huge
Houses in general have much more space to store food than your averaged sized apartment which is
another plus point to bugging in, in the suburbs versus an inner city bug in.
Personally I think the best way to go for a medium length bug in is a good mix of prepper
dehydrated/freeze dry meals, MRE’s (meals ready to eat), and canned goods from your local
supermarket. Many of the MRE’s are heavy on calories but not so much on protein, since they were
predominately designed to give soldiers carbs/energy for a long battle.
Freeze Dried Meals
These come in a variety of flavors and last a long time (the ones we sell last up to 10 years) and cook in the pouch by adding hot water. Price wise they are relatively cheap and stack easily if space is a
concern for you. Many health conscious people worry about the amount of sodium in some of these
brands, however I think if I was in a position of going without something to eat for two weeks and
consuming a meal with high sodium content – I know which I would go for.
Meals Ready to Eat (M.R.E.)
As mentioned above, these were designed for soldiers on the battlefield, many of these come with a
nifty little built in device to cook the meals in the bag. They are also very carb loaded, not that that is a bad thing. Some people like me have a high metabolism and if I don’t get a lot of carbs I get hungry shortly after. Other people have to watch their caloric intake or they gain weight. Again, I think it’s worth having a combo of freeze dried, MRE’s and grocery store food for an apartment bug in.
Canned Goods From the Grocery Store.
When I first realized I wanted to start storing food for a home bug in, I slowly added a bunch of extra
cans of food to my weekly shopping list and it wasn’t long before I had a back up supply that would last me three months. Make sure you pick up a good balance of canned fruits and vegetables – try to go for low sodium veggies and low sugar or no sugar fruits if you can. After two weeks of living on MRE’s
you will appreciate the fiber in the veggies and the vitamin C in the fruits. Of course you can also pick up cans of tuna, beans, soups, breakfast cereals, ramen noodles etc. Cooking
Most suburban home owners have a BBQ grill of some type that’s pretty safe to say. However in a post
collapse type scenario the last thing that would be smart to do is fire up your grill to cook up some of your stocked food. The next thing you know you will have every hungry neighbor in the area asking
you for something to eat. Perhaps if you have a chimney in your house you MIGHT be able to get away
with using your griller inside but I would still be scared of the fire risk, asphyxiation and potential
smoke signals (so to speak).
What I like to use for indoor SHTF cooking is one of those little sterno fuel can devices. You have
probably seen one if you have ever been to a catered event, at the buffet table, chances are they have
used them under the big dishes of food to keep them warm. You can pick up a packet of two for around
$6 and they have about two hours of cooking time in each one. Now bear in mind these are far more
suited for warming food than say grilling steaks but again, we are trying to prep for a worst case
scenario bug in and a warm meal will be greatly appreciated. When you go buy them from your
camping store, Kmart, Walmart, etc, make sure you get one of the little stands that go with them to
cook your meal on. They usually cost about another $8. I know my local Kmart sells the cans and
stands side by side. Fire safety
* In a mass grid down situation there will be little to no emergency services. If you are cooking at
home with gas or using candles to light your place then you must take extreme precaution to make sure
you do not start a house fire. Here are some quick fire safety tips.
Leaving Cooking Unattended
Cooking accidents are one of the most common causes of fires in the home. In a grid down situation
you may still be cooking with gas or perhaps a Sterno cooker and just one little mistake can cause a big problem. You will not be able to call the fire department if something goes wrong. It may sound simple but do not leaving cooking pots unattended. My current kitchen has one of those cooking timer clocks on the stove top and countless times I have set water to boil and gone off and done something else (which at the time I think is more important) sure enough when the timer goes off I am thinking “what that for?” In a SHTF situation you cannot afford to make mistakes like that – stay and keep an eye on any food that you have cooking. Grease fires are bad news – never ever throw water onto a grease fire as you will end up only making things ten times worse and more than likely burning your house down. Smother a grease fire with a lid on the pan or by pouring baking soda on it.
Lighters and Matches
Always keep lighters and matches well out of the reach of children.
Chimneys and Fireguards
If you have a fire place make sure it is clear and has no blockages before using – especially after
Always use a fireguard/screen to stop sparks from leaping out of the fire
Don’t leave wet clothes to close to a fire to dry out.
If you still have electricity make sure you do not over load sockets with too many plugs and adapters,
as this has been known to start house fires as well.
Putting heaters or candles too close to something that can burn like newspapers or curtains is a sure
way to start a fire inside, sounds like common sense but make sure you keep heaters away from
Have a Plan
Make a plan to make sure you have two ways out of every room in your home. If you are blocked from
one exit you can use the other. You and your family should practice you escape plan twice a year. Kids
do fire drills at school these days on a pretty regular basis so it should not be anything new for them.
Make sure everyone understands that when there is smoke you have to get down low for the safe air.
Invest in some smoke detectors – you can pick up a set of these from any home depot or hardware store.
Don’t skimp on getting cheap and nasty detectors your family may depend on these! You should have at
least one on every floor of your home and one outside of every sleeping area as well. The ones I have
beep when the battery is getting low. Make sure you have sufficient spare batteries to fit each of your detectors. I would also do a check of the batteries every three months or so just in case they have run down and you get caught out.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common type of fatal air poisoning in many countries. Back
when I lived in New York City there was a spate of Carbon Monoxide killings. This colorless, tasteless,
odorless gas killed a few different people across the city in leaks. So common was the poisoning that
they passed a law where all apartments had to have C0 detectors installed. Make sure you do the same
as well have a detector on each floor of your house.
I got mine from Home Depot – the Kidde brand – they were about $50 each. I have a Class B:C in the
kitchen – which is good for Flammable liquids and electrical fires and a Class A:B:C in the living room
and in the master bedroom. Class A:B:C is more suited for Woods, textile and plastic fires. Again twice
a year or so test them out and make sure they still work. At my old office we once had to use the fire
extinguisher that had been pinned to the wall for 7 years and of course when we pulled the pin to use it nothing happened! Scary stuff.
Smoking in the house
If you smoke (and you shouldn’t as it wrecks your health, yada yada) make sure you do it outside. My
childhood friend and I cut school in the 8th grade and went to the county fair – we ended up taking in
the Fireman’s exhibition and they showed us numerous photos of little old ladies legs…where they had
been smoking, fallen asleep and burned up leaving just their legs. Obviously it scarred our fragile little minds for a long time after that. 35% of fatalities caused by house fires in the United States last year were caused by fires that started by smoking indoors. This is also with an active fire service, when the grid goes down rest assured most firemen will be staying home to make sure their own families are safe, so take that warning. Smoking, in fact is the NUMBER ONE cause of residential fires in the United States.
If you use propane gas to cook with or warm your house in a grid down situation make sure you store
the tanks outside and not in your house. Ideally you want to store spare propane or gas tanks in a shed
not connected to your house. If you do experience a small, manageable fire in the kitchen for example
any tanks that catch fire could prove to be deadly.
I was in New York City when 9-11 happened and the cell phone network was nowhere near as used as
it is now in 2014 (way less people had cell phones). When the attacks happened, guess what? There
was no cell phone network. I recall people lining up to use payphones to call their loved ones. Next time you are out and about make a mental note of how many payphones you see on the streets these days. Guess what? I never see ANY. There were people lining up to wait their turn to use payphones back in 2001 – so what happens, the next time the network goes down? Yup nothing. A good set of two- way radios picked up from Radio Shack or a sporting goods store will set you back about $60, a smart investment for sure. Buy them, buy a couple of sets of spare batteries for them, and store them in a
closet for when they are needed.
Stock up on any medication you are on. If you are on prescription drugs, it is very hard to get more
than a 30-day supply from your local drug store
I have found the best way is to tell them you are going on a three month trip and usually a sympathetic clerk will let you get that many refills if you have them on your prescription.
Nothing gets a person’s morale down more in a bug in situation than the lack of being able to get clean.
Depending on how much water you have stored away you may not be able to have sponge baths every
night and you would be well advised to invest in wet wipes as part of your prepping stocks as they can
suffice if you are in a jam and need to get clean. In fact many touring musicians on the club circuit,
where there are not always facilities, resort to this method of “staying fresh”.
Stock up on bleach as well since it can be very useful for washing clothes when you only have a little
bit of water available. As an added bonus non-scented bleach can be used as a last ditch method to
purify water if you have run out of fresh drinking water. Recommended use is 8 drops (unscented
bleach) per gallon of water.
Stock up on shampoos and conditioners, too. Water may be limited depending on your bug in time, but
at least trying to wash and keep your hair clean will keep your morale up (the dirty water can be used to flush the toilet).
Walmart has a $25 porta potty with a bucket inside that can be lined with a kitchen size trash bag.
Sprinkle cat litter in the bottom, use it , and sprinkle more cat litter on top, then put the lid back on. Depending on how many people are using it, you change it out once or twice a day. Because eventually you will need a non-water option.
In a temporary bug in situation depending on the scenario, you may have electricity for a few days
before the system stops running. The trouble with most generators built to run all your major
appliances is that they are noisy and not very discreet – if your whole neighborhood was without power
and 3 weeks later they hear your generator rumbling along – guess who is going to get a visit from the
hungry mobs? You are!
Your two best bets are going to be solar power or wind power depending on where you live and your
logistics. Keep in mind that you can get wind powered generators for a couple of hundred bucks on Ebay or Amazon. These are pretty much just useful for charging batteries, an ipod, or cell phone. They
will not power your family sized fridge, your dishwasher or washing machine!
If you purchase and install one of these somewhere on your roof before any type of grid down
situation, these might be ideal to run, especially if they cannot be seen on the street by hungry
You do not want to have one and install it after a few days of the lights going down as neighbors or
hungry mobs might get a clue that something of interest is happening at your place.
Failing that perhaps setting them up at a back window as long as it is somewhere you usually get a
strong steady wind. A friend I know that uses these for home generators report varying results, anything from 12 mph winds generating 60 watts of power to 30 mph winds getting 270 volts of power. Again, it really depends on the location of your apartment building and your available options.
Solar generators are another good alternative energy option, but it really depends on where your house
is located. Even during the cold and frigid NYC winters, we still had blue sky days that would give the
generator that I had set up against my apartment alley wall enough of a charge. You can get a decent
one that would take care of some lamps, cell phone charger, and electric razor for around $200. Again,
like the wind generators, these are not suitable for running major appliances, but small essential items.
I thought long and hard about even mentioning weapons in this course. For a variety of reasons:
#1 Not all states and cities have the same gun laws. What might work for me, might not work for you.
#2 A chapter covering guns? You could easily fill a course on purchasing hand guns, shot guns and
rifles separately, plus extra courses on training with each different type of
firearm as well.
#3 While pretty much every prepper I know loves a good gun collection, like football teams everyone
has personal preferences on brands, models and of course ammo.
With that said let’s at least cover some basics: Shotguns
A shotgun is a great home defense weapon. If you are on a tight budget and can only afford one gun for
home defense then a shotgun is THE way to go. You can get an efficient model for under $200 and if
someone takes a direct hit with a shot gun they are not going to be giving you any more trouble. There
is a lot of talk about penetration (into walls etc.) but trust me birdshot is not the way to go. Most home defense preppers prefer 00 gauge buckshot for its stopping power. Shot gun ammo is relatively cheap and sold everywhere. Unlike going to the range with an AR-15, you don’t need nearly as much ammo
to be well prepared.
There is a lot of talk from naysayers on the spread of buckshot but in a close quarters home defense situation, I do not think you need to worry about that. Most of the issues with
spread come in the 50 – 75 yard range.
That said do not believe the myths about “the good thing with a shot gun is you don’t have to aim at
your target”. Like all weapons the more training you do with your weapon the more effective your
shooting will be. You would greatly benefit from taking a tactical shotgun course.
In a shtf home bug in scenario, a hand gun is useful to keep on you at all times. It’s so much easier to go about your daily life with one strapped to you then carrying a shot gun or rifle all through the day and night. Your two choices in hand guns are going to be a revolver or a semi-automatic. If you are new to hand guns and do not have much experience or training then I would definitely suggest you start
with a revolver. They are a lot simpler to use and have less moving parts, so much less can go wrong.
The last thing you need is to have a shootout with someone trying to break in and have your handgun
jam up on you with no clue how to clear it.
The only down side to a revolver versus a semi-automatic is the capacity or how many bullets the gun
has. A revolver has six only.
A semi-automatic can have up to 14 rounds. Again training comes into play here. I have seen people fire off six shots in the heat of action and all miss their target.
Most common rounds for handguns are 9mm, .45 and .40. I would recommend any
preppers avoid purchasing a .44 magnum or a desert eagle as it is just too much gun for a close quarters situation. The last thing you need is to miss your target and end up penetrating your neighbors’ wall and killing poor Mr. Jones next door.
If you are concerned about the over penetration of a 12 gauge filled with 00 buck gauge shot keep, in
mind that most AR-15 bullets will break up hitting the wood paneling of an apartment inner wall much
more likely than shot will.
That said, it is VITAL to have drills for an attack scenario. Perhaps it’s your wife’s job to confirm the kids are behind you in a safe part of the house. (see below for more info on drills and training).
I am not joking – even to play “grid down” for 24 hours is really tough. Our brains have become so
hard wired to electronic stimulation, the internet, cat videos, cell phones, texting, etc, going without can cause serious detox side effects.
Imagine spending a month bugging in trying to remain quiet and not alerting others to the fact you have
food, water and power? It’s not easy but it is do-able. Stock up on cards, card games (I picked up a
cheap chess set from my 99 cent store for this very purpose). If you are bugging in with kids, lots of
coloring books and some board games. For teens – oof, that is going to be a very hard one. Perhaps diaries or journals for girls and involve teen boys in helping you keep security flowing. Paperback
books for all ages and interests for everyone in the family help too. Have a variety of old favorites and new ones that people have not read before.
With all that said look at the early settlers – they made do without all this technology. Again it is
something to practice before any real crisis hits.
Extreme Weather Hot/Cold
Anyone who lives in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, the North East of the US and pretty much all of
Canada knows that it can get soooo cold in the winter time. If you find yourself in a grid down situation during the winter time you will need to stay warm. Of course in a bug in situation chances are you are likely going to have access to your winter wardrobe (unless of course you have so many clothes you do what some New Yorkers do and keep their winter/summer clothes in storage – depending on the season.
Lots of light layers is best – when I was in NYC I often would have up to 4 layers on – thermal shirt, t-shirt, sweater then coat. Gloves and mittens will probably need to be worn too. If you do find yourself bugging in with no power mid-winter try to have the family stick to one room – say the living room and keep the door closed to trap the warmth in. Again if we go back and look at the early settlers we know that it’s a lot easier to keep a one room cabin where people cooked, ate and slept warm mid-winter than a 3000 sq ft McMansion.
Extreme Hot Weather
In some ways it can be more insufferable bugging in when you are in a hot climate say the South West
of the USA (Southern California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona etc) After all you can only take off so
many clothes! Best to wear light fitting linens that let your skin breathe and to make sure you stay very hydrated. Early settlers to Arizona would wet a sheet at night and hang it in a door way to catch a breeze to stay cool (this was long before the invention of air conditioners by the way.) In extreme
temperatures bugging in I prefer to wear light weight sporting shorts and a sleeveless tank top – for
some reason not having sleeves on seems to keep me so much cooler. Not sure on the science of this
but it totally works for me! 🙂
If you are bugging in during a heat wave, happened to me in August 2002 when the New York State
power grid went down – due to it being so antiquated and so many people running A/Cs all at once, one
of the best things you can do to sleep is to sleep on your floor – or pull the mattress off you bed and
sleep lower to the ground. It really does make a huge difference due to hot air rising.
Everyone’s situation is going to be different: depending on their location and even if they have a garage or park on the street or their lawn. After bugging in for 30 days, your car may not be where you left it, or it may not work (if there has been an EMP attack and you have a new car with an on board
computer). If you have street parking someone might be desperate enough to attempt to steal your car
to bug out while you bug in. Be prepared to store your car somewhere safe if you do not have a garage
or perhaps even have bug out plans that do not include using your car. Again, everyone’s situation is going to be different – when I lived in NYC we did not own a car. It was easier to travel by Subway
Escape and Evasion
E&E as it is known is very important in a suburban home bug in scenario. Worst case scenario,
someone gets wind that you are well stocked with food in your house and wants to come and relieve
you of it and it ends up looking like they might breech your security measures. Then it’s crucial that
you and your family have a couple of escape routes mapped out already and that you practice doing
them (see training/ drills below).
If you have young children you need to know you can get them out safely in the event of a hungry mob
trying to break in. In my old house, the plan was if the front door was breached,
we would exit out a rear window and slip out of a back yard via an exit we had set up hidden in our garden. Then to make it down to a corner of the local park two blocks away.
You might need a rope ladder to get out of any upper bedrooms if that is where you find yourself
trapped. How many times have you seen a movie where someone leaps from an upper window to
escape the relentless killer and they sprain or injure their ankle?
You may also up having to leave through the front door if people are trying to enter via the back of your place.
It is also important to plot out a safe meeting point (for us it was a local park a short walk away). For anyone who is a fan of the zombie TV show The Walking Dead, you will note that in Season 2 when
they were staying at Hershel’s farm the meeting point was the abandoned cars on the highway, where as
it certainly appears in Season 4 of the Walking Dead when the prison was breached by the Governor’s
forces – they had no prearranged meeting point and the survivors group was left wandering aimlessly,
leaving them vulnerable to other predatory groups and walkers.
A safe place could be a friendly neighbors place down the street or in our case it was a self-storage
locker up the street that we had packed with bug out bags.
The best soldiers in the world spend all their time, (when they are not at war), drilling and training
different tactical scenarios.
I highly recommend you spend a weekend every couple of months rehearsing a grid-down type scenario – no need to bolt in the wood to your windows but you could try a day and a night with no power, no cell phones, no video games, no tv, no internet. Cook and eat meals from your bug in supply, either MRE’s cooked in the bag or meals over a single hot plate (sterno can etc).
I guarantee you after the first 2-3 hrs you will be desperate to check your emails or update your
Facebook, but the aim of the game is to go 24 hours without succumbing. You will soon see that we
have all pretty much become reliant on modern amenities. This is a great way to see how much light
your flashlights and reading lamps illuminate and you will also see which freeze dried meals you love
(and hate)! If you live in your apartment with your family – you can tell your kids it’s a game and get
them to play along with you. Be sure to make a mental note after your 24 or 48 hours, what areas of
your prepping need improvement and what ones you got right.
And finally the most important point: Networking
Like I said at the start of this course I think yes, you can successfully bug in to an house for a medium amount of time (say 2-4 weeks), but I do think that in the advent of a long-term crisis it’s going to be hard, very hard. It means having a food supply and a reliable water source, which as opposed to hunkering down in an apartment could be do-able bugging into a suburban home. Especially if your preps include a rain water storage system and a back yard garden. In general I believe after years of watching how the general public behave and the fact that most families keep no more than 3 days food
in their house at any given time – that things will get scary, very scary within the first week and by
about week 4 those who are still left in your neighborhood would have settled down, either by
resigning to their fate or by leaving the area in search of food and other essentials. Your best bet in
riding out a suburban collapse is to stay off the radar as much as possible. Having a cook out with some nice juicy steaks whilst the rest of the neighborhood is going without will end up with you having to feed a couple of 100 unwanted guests.
Truth be told to successfully bunker down I don’t think you can do it alone – you have to have a support group, whether that is someone like minded in your own family (younger brother, etc) or someone in your secondary family ( your wife’s brother etc). Think about it if you have a young family you can’t expect them to do much more to help you then to keep an eye out for strangers in the back yard. A
second set of trained eyes and ears focusing on your back yard, while you take care of the front (or
whilst you sleep) is going to come in very handy.
If you , like many Americans live nowhere near the rest of your family, or your family thinks preppers
and the prepper lifestyle is something kooks with tin foil hats are into then you need to network with
like minded souls especially ones in your local neighborhood.
When the economic collapsed happened in Argentina at the beginning of this millennium there were
cases of armed bandits pulling a home invasion on one house on the block, perhaps killing the men and
raping the women then using that house as base whilst they took their time plundering and pillaging the
rest of the block.
If you have a network of like minded souls living in your area it would not be hard to pull a couple of
cars across the road to work as a blockade, to slow any roving mobs down, or at least if they had to
shunt the cars out of the way it would wake everyone to the fact they were near by. There really is
strength in numbers. Plus when plotting out safe houses in case yours does get raided a supportive like
minded nearby neighbor is going to come in handy.
Worst case scenario if you live in an area where you just cannot find like minded neighbors and your
family lives too far away you can try to fake that your house has been ransacked already. By throwing
trash and other garbage (perhaps an old tv and stereo system you have had stored in the basement) old clothes etc it will look like the mob has already been through your house and taken anything of value.
You will just have to make sure to stay out of sight and not appear to well fed if your neighbors do spot you. In New Orleans after Katrina rescue workers were marking doors of places where there were dead inside. You could consider taking a leaf out of the TV show The Walking Dead and spray over your
boarded up front door “Don’t open – Dead inside”.
A couple of ideas on Networking that can help you if can’t easily find people who are on the same page
1. There are plenty of forums and Facebook groups you can join and participate in. Once you do, you
will be surprised to find out how many like-minded people live close to you.
2. If your neighborhood has block parties or BBQ’s and you think people are open to talk – feel them
out by asking “Have you ever seen that show – Doomsday Preppers? What do you think of that?” If
they say those people are a bunch of kooks then you know they are not going to be open to any further
discussions in keeping your neighborhood or building safe and secure. These are not the people to
On the other hand if you have any emergency service workers, ex-military or cops living on your street,
they might be ideal to become friends with. They have emergency training, access to communications
that regular Joes like you and I don’t have and access to legal firearms in many places with strict gun
laws. Of course you are not going to instantly connect with everyone you meet but the idea is to start
now. As corny as the old saying is “there really is strength in numbers,” and in a long -term bug out –
you can’t just go it alone or with your immediate family. The more like minded people you have pulling
together in the common goal of survival the better off you and your family will be.
It also goes without saying that anyone who is not “in” on your plans does not need to know you have a
couple of month’s worth of water or food stored in your home. They will be the first ones to come
knocking on your door begging for a hand out if things get ugly.
Ultimately if a crisis continues with no sign of being rectified over time then you are going to have to get the heck out of dodge sooner or later. You will have to bug out but that’s a whole different can of worms
Check List of items you may not have thought of:
Dental floss and tooth paste – nothing more miserable than tooth problems post collapse – look after
Kitty litter – even if you do not have a cat. Kitty litter has many uses for a prepper
Matches/fire starting kits
Paper plates, bowls and plastic silverware
Dish-washing liquid and dish washing gloves
Plastic buckets – for washing clothes and handling sewage
Hand sanitizers – saves on water when washing of hands
Spare flashlights and batteries
Rechargeable drill and screws
Manual can openers – not electric ones for obvious reasons!
Well that’s it for now – please feel free to email me any time with any questions that you may have and
again thank you so much in purchasing this course.
Stay safe out there folks!
Alex the Prepper
Ok folks – so I’ve been doing this blog for a little over 3 years now – sharing my thoughts and wisdom on Prepping with you all. So I want to do something different this week – I want to HEAR FROM YOU. Today’s question to you is, what advice would you give someone who is just starting out in the Prepping World “How Do I Start Prepping?”
Whether its something as simple as “start buy picking up a few extra cans of food, toilet rolls, tooth paste with your weekly grocery shop” or taking an advance shooting course – I want YOU to leave your feedback and comments in the section below!
As preppers most of us are very aware of the difference between cover and concealment. If not, to recap quickly cover will save your ass and concealment will just hide you from view. It may seem obvious but just because you cannot be seen by an assailant does not mean that they cannot shoot you.
Plenty of us here in the USA live in homes constructed of wood (as opposed to brick) and I thought it would be worth discussing how safe we are from gunfire in a wooden home.
Whilst hardwood may stop some pistol rounds it will not stop a rifle round in fact I had a colleague who had someone fire a rifle round that traveled through 5 wood walls of his house before coming to a stop. Law enforcement assumed it was a 30 cal round. Needless to say shortly after that he bought a home in a more secure location.
One of the few woods to slow down bullets better than most is maple , such as the maple used to make bowling pins. I have seen people test a .44 magnum on maple only to have the bullets simply bounce off.
Brick or block homes are a better option however acknowledge that if you do come under fire there will be concrete flying about. If you are taking machine gun fire and your house is built from concrete blocks ..it won’t be cover for long.
That’s why many preppers recommend purchasing bulk sand bags especially if the SHTF and we start living in a world without rule of law.Sand bags and earth stop bullets far better than concrete and metal do but sooner or later any sustained attack from a machine gun or rifle fire will compromise your cover.
The bottom line is the outer walls of the average house will stop nothing, If you use cinder blocks you will need to fill them with steel reinforced concrete and make it two courses thick, staggering the weak points between both walls so you are not left vulnerable. Which is pretty much going to make you feel like you are living in a prison cell.
I guess what started off as an article looking at the stopping power of your wood home has morphed into a piece on home defense, the bottom line is if aggressors have you and your family pinned down in your home ..its not good….that’s why it always pays to have a large remote property and have concentric circles of defense before invaders even get close to your home.
Ultimately the best defense is a house with an unseen entry and exit that can be used if needed to silently slip into the wilderness .
We had so much feedback on our recent blog post on Ak47s versus Ar15s that we thought it would be cool to do a piece covering the pros and cons of revolvers versus pistols. While I own a couple of each, this blog post is going to cover the pros of adding a couple of revolvers to your personal arsenal especially now before the cost of owning a quality one goes through the roof.
Personally I think a revolver makes a great “nightstand gun” perfect for a middle of the night home invasion type scenario. I think the average civilian with little practice with their semi automatic pistol would fumble with it especially with the adrenaline dump of being suddenly awakened by intruders in their house. At least with a revolver a live round is already chambered and there is no safety catch to mess with. All is needed is to point and shoot.
Another plus point with a revolver versus a semi automatic pistol is if you do have a dead round with a revolver you can keep pulling the trigger..with a pistol you are S*** Out Of Luck.
If you are keen on investing in a revolver consider purchasing a 357 as you can use both .357 and 38 special ammo with it.
I use my revolver (as mentioned above as a night stand gun) but I know plenty of people that use one for their Every Day Carry (EDC) a friend of mine living in bear country swears by the heavier copper jacketed ammo for his .357 as he swears its good enough to stop a bear. Something your 9mm will not do!
A question I get asked often is which is a better rifle for reliability the Ar-15 or the AK 47
Let’s look at the pros and cons for both today:
As much as I love a good AR I am going to have to veer towards a AK 47 as far as reliability is concerned. You can literally leave them out in the snow, not use them for 10 years and come back to it and an AK is going to work for you.
There is a very good reason why the Ak47 is the rifle of choice for poor people living in the third world. The system can take a fair bit of environmental abuse and with minimal care and maintenance it will shoot. Of course like all things in life there is a trade off and that one being you lose accuracy on an Ak vs an AR
AR’s, M16 and M4’s require much more maintenance to keep them functioning properly especially if they use a direct impingement system (rather than a gas piston) Of course if you keep them in good condition they will perform excellently
If you are looking to purchase a good quality AK try to get an original with a milled steel receiver and not one of the later versions which used stamped steel.
Some specs that differentiate an original AK versus a modern one are:
* Original AKs have a larger and sloped Front Sight versus the slimmer one of a modern AK
* Barrels for the modern AK are much more lightweight approx 2mm thinner
* Original AKs have a more solid and thicker Gas block than the vented gas blocks of modern Aks
* The modern AK has larger and smoother cleaning rod retainers
* In original AKs the front sling loop wraps around the gas block and the bayonet lug and in modern AKs the front sling loop is integral to the Lower hand-guard retainer.
Some champions of the AR platform claim they see more misfires using an AK47. However, I personally believe that it is not so much the rifle but the quality of ammo out there for the AK, which can vary greatly. Installing a sharper firing pin in your AK usually helps with hard primers.
To sum up if reliability and very low maintenance is your only criteria then definitely go for an AK 47 but do try and get an original, keep in mind that you will be sacrificing accuracy for reliability,. Forget about hitting anything over 300 meters with your AK.
Like I said above I do love a good AR15 and they are not as finicky as people think they are.
Thanks for reading – I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback – leave a comment below!
If you’re planning to pick up a first aid kit at the store, you might be in for a shock. Most of those pre-planned kits don’t contain the items that you need for long term or even short-term survival.
Those kits were put together based on normal living conditions. Since surviving a natural disaster or other crisis situation doesn’t qualify as normal, you’re going to want to look specifically for a survival first aid kit. These aren’t the same as a regular first aid kit meant for a soccer mom whose kid needs a BandAid for a scraped knee.
You’re going to want to make sure you have what you need so if you can’t find a kit made specifically for survivalists, then put together the supplies you need yourself. Get a sturdy bag for it – you can use a hard shell case or you can use a backpack for your first aid supplies. If you use a backpack, mark it as your first aid kit.
You’ll want a first aid manual. No matter how much knowledge you have with emergencies, if you’re the one that needs aid, this can help someone else know how to treat you.
Next, besides bandages that range in shape and size, you’re going to want gauze pads. Make sure these are in a variety of sizes and make sure they’re the absorbent kind. You’re going to want butterfly strips, but in a pinch, you can make your own with regular medical tape – so make sure you have medical tape in your kit. Have burn dressings in your kit, too.
You need Ace bandages because these not only help with a sprain, but they can also be used to fasten a splint or a sling if needed. Have a supply of gloves on hand to use while you’re performing treatment.
You’ll also need a way to clean the wound. You can use a piece of gauze if you have to – but most people pack some cotton swabs. You’ll need scissors for cutting and you’ll need tools to get out splinters or other foreign objects.
Tweezers are best for this but in some events, you’ll need a needle. You’ll want a flashlight so that you can see what you’re doing. You’ll want a thermometer as well as the medication to treat in the event someone does have a fever. You’ll want one of those ice packs for help with swelling injuries.
Make sure your kit has plenty of antibiotic ointments and even allergic reaction tablets since you’ll be living in areas where you and your family may not have been exposed to the allergens. Pack the liquid kind if you have children who can’t swallow pills yet.
Having the means to suture up deep wounds in order to save a life is a necessity. For that, you’ll need a suture kit. Superglue can also be used to close a wound. Some people also choose to have a handheld blood pressure machine. You can find ones that can also monitor a victim’s heartrate.
If you’ll be out in the woods or if you’ve set up a camp somewhere away from your home, you might encounter snakes. So take a snakebite kit. It’s a good idea to investigate the area you’ll be staying in to see what dangers you might encounter so that your kit can be built specifically for those issues.
You never know when you’re going to have to get out in a hurry. Having a bag packed with all of the necessities you need – including clothing – will allow you to be prepared for any situation.
You already know that you should have the basic items like food, water and first aid. When it comes to clothing, it can be a little confusing knowing exactly what or how much to pack.
A good rule of thumb to follow would be to pack as if you’re going to be gone for three days. You’ll also want to consider exactly where you’re going when choosing what clothing to pack because the area you’re going to may have different weather than where you’re currently living.
If you’re heading to a rainier area, then you’d want to make sure you had rain gear – and if you’re going to an area where the weather is colder, you’ll want warmer clothing. Since room can be limited in a backpack, you want every piece of clothing to serve a purpose.
Pack two pairs of pants to wear. Since you’ll be wearing a pair, that counts as your third day pair. You’ll want to take long pants rather than shorts since you might be hiking through rough terrain. Plus, having long pants can help protect your legs against insect bites.
Take two shirts along for the journey. You’ll need one that’s fit for warmer weather – such as a short sleeve t-shirt. But you’ll also want a long sleeve shirt for cooler temperatures. Remember that temperatures always drop in the evening hours. By having both a short sleeve and a long sleeve shirt, you can double these up for warmth if needed.
For undergarments, you’ll need to take two pairs of socks and two pairs of underwear – but you’ll also want to pack a pair of thermal underwear. You can wear these under your clothing in the event of cold weather.
You’ll want to take along a hat to protect your head from the sun’s rays as well as to keep your head warm if it’s cold. A hat can also be useful to keep the rain out of your eyes.
A jacket is a must-have clothing item, but you want one that can serve two purposes. You want one that help you keep you warm but can also protect you from inclement weather like rain.
Many jackets have a waterproof shell and are lined with warm material on the inside. You can find some that are lightweight so that fitting them in your backpack won’t be an issue.
Don’t forget to pack footwear. When you first start out, it’s best to wear your waterproof boots and pack a pair of athletic shoes. Break them in ahead of time to prevent blisters if you have to hike around a lot.