I have a couple philosophies as I am an apartment dweller outside NYC with little space for storage, as well as a Bug Out location 100 miles from my apartment. So here are several philosophies of mine that I think might resonate with you:

  1. Bugging Out. There is NO predetermined formula or time to Bug Out. Period. It is subjective in nature and you should use your instincts. In an urban environment like ours, Bugging Out should be an important step when faced with natural or man made disasters. Bugging Out applies itself to you, I , and others to be more acutely aware of the world around us so that we can Bug Out at the appropriate time, and not be part of a refugee flood of people trying to get out of the city at the last minute. This would lend itself to being disastrous.   My friend Martin, also adds this:  “If you bug out without a retreat, friend or family as your destination you become a refugee, a scavenger or looter. Any which way, you can’t expect a warm welcome. If you do plan on bugging out, I would recommend carrying some kind of documentation proving that you own property or have family at your intended destination or you may find your way blocked by locals. Many people trying to flee New Orleans during Katrina found the highway out of town blocked by the local racists-r-us sheriff’s department. Unfortunately, how you look, what color your skin is or who you know, may determine whether or not you are allowed to pass a roadblock. Katrina demonstrated that fear often overrules sound judgement during emergencies.” Martin Jones.  Bugging out also lends itself to looking different when leaving the city or suburban areas, heightening the awareness something is wrong, of those around you.  When everyone is in their car or running for the bridge to get to the other side, with nothing but the clothes on their back and you stroll up in your pack with three days worth of food, clothing, and supplies, you could draw the wrong kind of attention. So all of that said, for guys like you and I, Bugging Out should be a well thought out plan, and we should bug out only at the SERIOUS and ominous sign of a real threat. These threats could be Hurricane, Earthquake (this is most likely after the fact, however), serious threat of some kind of NBC attack, or any other life threatening issue that can be conceived on a mass casualty scale. Also, Bugging Out doesn’t have to make you homeless. Bugging out can be a temporary thing. Trust me; if a threat of a monster Hurricane or monster tropical storm threatened physical harm to the “homes” of people where I live, you better believe that I would high tail it out of here until the storm has passed. Keep in mind as well, Bugging Out is optional and your decision to preserve your life and way of life.   Also, to date, I am a loner, by way of Bugging Out. Meaning if I leave, it is just me.  As it stands, I do not have to worry about anyone else. There will be physical and mental challenges you should be prepared for.  recently I have been preparing for the physical challenges.   Not to mention the psychological effects of friends you may have left behind, etc.  All these thoughts will cross your mind at some point. You have to evaluate what and who is important to you and how you want to handle that, now. If you want a team, recruit your friends into your cause. If they do not want to believe, well, then don’t worry about it. But give it a shot. It has taken me a year and other outside influences to have a couple friends just start to see the light and begin prepping for the future.
  2. Bugging In. Well, there is no other way to say this than just say it. Bugging In is a necessity. Period. You will need to whether you want to or not. I say this for various reasons. First, the weather; The weather has gotten so screwy that no one can depend on the type of weather that they are used to in their geographic area. Hell, even south Florida hit 30 degrees this winter with snow flurries, and for them, that is almost a Bug In situation. For anywhere south of the Mason Dixon line, if a little snow falls they are paralyzed for a couple of days and most people stay home. So, that said, Bugging In preparedness requires just as much thought as Bugging out. For example, after I got over my “Oh no, we have an idiot in the White House who is going to further destroy our economy, I need to be prepared to get out of here, hysteria,” I realized that I am not prepared for ANY situation that may require me to stay inside for any length of time. I started doing my homework. The first thing was water. The second was food, and the third was home protection, and I am not just talking weapons here. I am talking about 10 mil thick plastic sheeting, duct tape etc, if I have to cover the window and door areas of my apartment for fallout, chemical, or biological attack for any length of time. A few examples of what I store:
    1. 35 – 50 gallons of water in a closet. I have all the water stored in five gallon collapsible water containers used for camping that are stacked together in the corner of the closet. Each is full with a ½ tsp of bleach added to keep the water potable for about a year. http://tinyurl.com/y93oxej
    2. 1 dozen MREs without heaters: http://tinyurl.com/ycnxgms
    3. Qty five – Mainstay Emergency Food – 3600 Calorie Bars (One in car, two in BoB, and a couple in the apartment in storage): http://tinyurl.com/ya2f7q9
    4. Various dried, freeze dried, and non dried food stores, with roughly 90 – 120 days of food in the event of a SHTF Bug in or Bug Out situation. I am dehydrating vegetables as we speak to store as we speak as they take up less space than hydrated, albeit they utilize more water than you would normally for re-hydration. I also have multiple bags of flour, both wheat and bleached for making bread, and have boned up on recipes and ways to cook if the gas and electric were off. Much of the food I have can be thrown into my truck, as I have it in plastic buckets, in a Bug Out situation as well.
    5. I have recently purchased a couple of kerosene lamps and lamp oil in case the power goes out, and purchased a heat source in the event I have to stay in one room of the apartment for an extended period of time. http://tinyurl.com/ygvrqs5 I try to buy the 16 oz. propane cans every time I go to Lowes or Home Depot, just so I can have a good cache of them. I rotate them out and use them with my portable Weber grill which can be thrown in the back of my truck if I Bug Out. http://tinyurl.com/yzcfwf9
    6. Other considerations I have not fully explored.  Supplemental power for appliances (refrigerator and freezer), proximity protection for my apartment; camera(s) or alarm system, additional water storage, ventilation, and much, much, more.

I have found it is not inexpensive to be prepared. It is easy to spend money on stuff. My advice is to craft a careful list. Get out there and price everything you think you will need, prioritize the purchases (not emotionally) pragmatically, and start buying based on your budget. My spending has gone way down recently, but I continue to buy and be prepared.

Take a course or two on First Aid, any survival courses you can get your head around, foraging, think about learning to hunt (legally), go fishing (gut and learn to fillet a fish), cook, learn how to shoot a gun from a professional or someone who knows, tie knots, go camping, hiking, etc. These are all skills that you can apply to real life every day. You don’t need to be a survivalist to use them in your daily life.

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We’re a group of suburban preppers in the Northeast and live in the NYC suburbs that write The Suburban Survival Blog to talk about preparedness and self-reliance out there to help others prepare for what could be an uncertain future due to economic, weather, and other reasons.