This is a guest post by a new con­tribut­ing Author Mr-Jones.  Mr-Jones and I know each oth­er pri­mar­i­ly from Face­book, and some of the same forums, and have become fast friends, online.  I have asked him to con­tribute when he can, and I great­ly appre­ci­ate it.  Please wel­come him… 

What exact­ly would it take to trig­ger a bug out?  Just like you have, I have read a ton on bug out bags, bug out routes, and bug out des­ti­na­tions, but I sel­dom receive a sat­is­fac­to­ry answer to the ques­tion:  If it came down to it, what exact­ly would trig­ger you to pack up and leave your pri­ma­ry res­i­dence?  I ask this for a rea­son.  In my mind, any exit strat­e­gy has to have a trig­ger.  In a busi­ness, it’s usu­al­ly a mon­e­tary trig­ger.  But it could be an mile­stone event in the cycle of decline, such as, when your dis­trib­u­tors freeze your cred­it lines.  What would have to hap­pen to trig­ger your bug out con­tin­gency plan?  If you plan to leave before the hordes of sheeple exit your city then you have you to beat them to it, right?  If you plan to bug out before the road­blocks go up, you need to leave before that … or do you have a con­tin­gency plan for that? What if, in this age of infor­ma­tion, you don’t beat them?  This could hap­pen because of geog­ra­phy or it could hap­pen because some of the sheeple are not pack­ing any­thing or it could hap­pen because you were either too lazy or too unin­formed to iden­ti­fy pos­si­ble trig­gers and wait­ed too long.  I want to focus on that last bit.

I had some events that caused me to rethink my posi­tion­ing.  At the time, I owned a busi­ness locat­ed in a cou­ple suites of a strip mall in the Phoenix-Metro area.  One of the events was a pow­er out­age … the pow­er turned off, (this is not an abnor­mal occur­rance, all of us have prob­a­bly been through pow­er out­ages) but the pow­er usu­al­ly turned back on in a few sec­onds or a few min­utes.  Sec­onds turned into min­utes and min­utes turned into hours.  And I real­ized … “Hey, dum­my, the back­up bat­ter­ies for my busi­ness alarm sys­tems should be run­ning out about now.”  So I found myself in a prison of my own mak­ing.  I had envi­sioned myself bug­ging in at home, or bug­ging out to one of a few des­ti­na­tions.  Instead, I went down and guard­ed my live­ly­hood until the pow­er came on … not unlike the Kore­an shop own­ers in the LA riots.  Since then, I even­tu­al­ly repo­si­tioned, accept­ing low­er pay, but bet­ter­ing my foot­ing in an emer­gency.  Now I live in a rur­al com­mu­ni­ty that, in all like­ly­hood, (and unlike Phoenix) won’t have riots, and will have water post-SHTF event.  I’m not say­ing that no one will be able to sur­vive in Phoenix.  I’m just say­ing I trad­ed some­thing good for some­thing bet­ter.  I’ve already “bugged in” out­side of major metro areas, and sev­ered my ties to my busi­ness, so that frees me up and decreas­es the chance I will have to bug out in the first place. But it’s always a pos­si­bil­i­ty.

Do you do drills?  If so, do you time your­self?  Have you trig­gered a bug out before?  I have done some “sur­prise” drills.  I say that tongue-in-cheek because, how can you sur­prise your­self?  One Fri­day, I just say, OK, “Go!”  I look at the clock and see how it turns out.  How fast can you even go on a camp­ing trip?  Can you do it with­out stop­ping at the store or stop for gas?  If not, that gives you a pret­ty good idea of where you need to focus your prepa­ra­tions.  Stop for gas will sure­ly turn into wait in line for gas, and then you’re too late.  What is a rea­son­able goal for you to shoot for?  It’s prob­a­bly going to be slight­ly difer­ent for a sin­gle fel­low than for a cou­ple, and dif­fer­ent still for a fam­i­ly.  Do you know where you’re head­ed?  I think it’s healthy to focus on the basics and to have rep­e­ti­tion in skill train­ing. Some num­bers on that … the first time you train or are trained on a giv­en top­ic, reten­tion is some­thing like 13% on aver­age … sec­ond time, it goes up to say 21% … but the third time, it goes up into the high 60’s per­centile-wise.  Just a tid­bit on skill train­ing to help you train smart.  Anoth­er thing that might help is to have a fol­lowup mech­a­nism.  For me, it’s a small Rite-In-The-Rain jour­nal.  I vol­un­teer with my Com­mu­ni­ty Emer­gency Response Team and the Ama­teur Radio Emer­gency Ser­vice.  Every time I prac­tice bug­ging out, go on an out­ing, do a major train­ing excer­cise with CERT or ARES, or I’m deployed, I sit down after­ward and make a jour­nal entry.  I include the date, how long it was, what the weath­er was like, a short review of my per­for­mance, how my gear per­formed, and any­thing I could sub­tract from my gear or that I need for my gear.  Even­tu­al­ly, mak­ing your gear light­weight will be as impor­tant as buy­ing new gear … age will even­tu­al­ly catch up to you.  Or, if you’re a new prep­per, you’ll very quick­ly find that you can’t car­ry all your gear with you.  That very quick­ly turns into “you can’t car­ry every­thing you’d like” with you.  By now you have prob­a­bly noticed that I’m a gear junky and I need to improve on that.

What goes into iden­ti­fy­ing my trig­gers?  My back­ground is in busi­ness, so how I do it, its how I would devel­op a trig­ger for an exit strat­e­gy.  I Iden­ti­fy qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive trig­gers … or trig­gers that are both.  For qualata­tive trig­gers, think about the “qual­i­ties” or con­di­tions such as “mobs in the street.”  For quan­ti­ta­tive trig­gers, think:  “a mob is 5 or more peo­ple.”  For both, think: mobs (5 or more peo­ple) with­in 10 blocks of my apart­ment.  Then, I make my trig­ger a con­di­tion­al (If/Then) action state­ment:  If I have reli­able reports of mobs (of 5 or more) with­in 10 blocks of my apart­ment, then I will imple­ment bug out strat­e­gy Alpha.  That’s just how I do it.  I’d love to hear ideas to improve my method.  I will steal them and nev­er give you any cred­it for them.  That’s what I learned in self-defense class­es … when lives are on the line, it’s OK to lie, steal, and cheat to win.

I think the actu­al trig­gers vary great­ly based on your geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion and the threats you face.  Do you live in a seizmi­cal­ly active area? I do.  My house could be ren­dered unsafe by an earth­quake and I could have to bug out.  In this case, it might not even be that far.  Often one house is destroyed and the one next to it is fine.  It could be a fire … that could affect most of us.  It could be an NBC event.  I’m not real­ly in a fall­out zone (giv­en nor­mal wind pat­terns) for any high val­ue tar­gets, but my lit­tle city does have a meat pack­ing plant that stores ammo­nia.  Do you know where you live in rela­tion to tar­gets and wind-pat­terns?  How much radi­a­tion would cause you to bug out?  Can you mea­sure it?  That reminds me that it’s time to have my instru­ments re-cal­i­brat­ed.  Could it be drought?  Famine?  If so, what would the trig­ger be?  How long would the pow­er have to be off?  Would you EVER have to bug out because of a pow­er out­age?  Per­haps a local­ized EMP from a solar flare for you peo­ple with your own micro-hydro plant, solar pan­els and wind gen­er­a­tors.  How about an influx of refugees?  How soon would you leave, or would you, in a gov­ern­ment ordered evac­u­a­tion?  How about a pan­dem­ic?  Could your home be ren­dered unsafe by a tor­na­do or a micro-burst?  How about a weath­er event with a warn­ing like a hur­ri­cane?  How big would it have to be or is that a con­sid­er­a­tion?  Could it be flood­ed?  Could your water sup­ply become con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed?  Yes, the list is end­less, but what is in the top 10 for your local?

In sum­ma­ry … what if the unthink­able does hap­pen?  What are those trig­gers we talked about?  Is there just one?  Is it dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent con­ti­gen­cies?  I’m going to leave you with these ques­tions, because I haven’t been able to come up with any one answer that is right for every­one in every sit­u­a­tion.  But I hope­ful­ly have giv­en you some ideas of how to iden­ti­fy some trig­gers and I chal­lenge you to think about your top 10, write some trig­ger state­ments and respond.  If you do it in the form of a qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive action state­ment, browine points for you.  If you do it in your own way, good for you, you’re still bet­ter off than before you iden­ti­fied your bug out trig­gers.

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About Mr-Jones

Mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional Prep­per, Eagle Scout, NRA Sharp­shoot­er Trained by John C Coo­ley, Nation­al Junior Small­bore Com­peti­tor, CERT, ARES, Ama­teur Radio, Urban Firearms Insti­tute, CCW by Ken­ny Woodard, Tac­ti­cal Pis­tol 1&2 by Dave Vaughn, Tac­ti­cal Shoot­ing Skills by Glen Gar­ri­son, CCW Renew­al taught by a Judge, Tac­ti­cal Car­bine, Defen­sive Shot­gun, ASP Basic Course (ASP Baton & Pep­per Spray) Pre­ci­sion Ord­nance Prod­ucts, Less-Lethal Weapons, Stun Muni­tions, Dynam­ic Entry, High-Explo­sive Breach­ing, Aiki­do, SCARS CQC, Edged Weapons, Intro to IPSC by a Ret Delta Force Lt Col, Learn­ing Long Range Hi-pow­er Rifle, Work­ing on EComm Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, Hunter, Back­pack­er, Some Fish­ing, Boat­ing, 1yr Food Stor­age for 2, Gear Junky, Com­put­er Back­ground