If You Have to Bug Out, Don’t Become a Refugee

Throughout history, refugees have always been a fact of life. Whether driven from their homes by weather, a natural disaster, war, persecution, or some other event that causes their homes to become more dangerous than hitting the road. In all cases, these people have come to realize they have no other choice.

In modern-day America, we’ve seen our share of refugees in such instances as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, but who knows what future events may cause you to decide your home is no longer a safe refuge. If that time ever comes, you’ll be glad you spent time thinking through your options and doing some planning for bugging out.

Bug out the right way

You will become a refugee, too, if you don’t bug out correctly. The biggest bug out in U.S. history was the result of the hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans.

You can learn a lot from that event. First of all, look at the large number of people who failed to leave and waited for the government to rescue them. This was a ideal situation in that the people were warned and had opportunities to leave. Additionally, a number of people were forced to relocate by floodwaters. This book about evacuation planning is one of the best I’ve seen to make sure you aren’t caught unaware.

If Katrina had been an economic disaster, EMP or an earthquake, rather than a hurricane, I think more people would have stayed home. Personally, in these scenarios, I think that the majority of people will not leave due to various problems:

  • Lack of transportation
  • Age
  • Physical condition
  • Traffic accidents
  • Shortages of fuel
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Desire to loot
  • Belief that the government will rescue them
  • Lack of information about event

To avoid becoming a refugee, you need three things

  • A bug out bag. By “bag”, I am referring to the supplies that you would take with you, regardless of how they’re carried. This could include a vehicle and fuel.
  • A plan. Know what supplies you need to take with you, and have several routes planned in advance.
  • A destination. Without a destination, you are just one of many refugees, maybe a bit better equipped than most. You need a destination, whether it is a cabin in the hills, the homes of friends or family, or even a remote location that you are familiar with and have stashed some supplies.
See also  Supply Caches, a Good Idea or Not?

Now, different scenarios will affect you in different ways. For instance, if the evacuation only occurs in a portion of the country, you still may have access to your bank accounts. The thing that you have to watch here is that you have your money in a bank that has many branches throughout the country. Some people who had money in small local banks after Katrina, were unable to draw it out for several months, because of the damage to all the branches.

If at all possible stay out of refugee camps. You will be under government control if you enter them.  You will be disarmed and may lose most of your gear. Red Cross shelters require that you sign in and out, you won’t be able to bring your pets, and they have many rules. If you have absolutely no place to go, it’s better than nothing, but you should know what you’ll be required to give up in exchange for a place to sleep and eat.

A question was asked in a comment on yesterday’s blog, about groups of people buying property together. Personally, the only people I would buy property with is family, and even then, only if we were really close and had the same goals for its use. Better to have a smaller place and have full control than sharing a larger piece with people that cause trouble.

If you live in any large urban area, plan your evacuation routes ahead of time.  If the times comes when you are in more danger by staying than leaving, get out of dodge.


Update from Noah: Howard’s last comment about getting out of Dodge, reminded me of a series of articles in which well-known survival and prepper experts were asked, “When do you know to get out of Dodge.” Here’s the link to part 1 of that series.

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6 thoughts on “If You Have to Bug Out, Don’t Become a Refugee”

  1. If you don’t have a bug out location you’re a refugee.

    Well if the situation is so bad for you to not just evacuate but to bug out then it’s very bad, so what makes you think your friend’s place or a cabin in the wood would still be there? Right now people are going to those back roads or trails and looking at what is at the end of it and some even not just to look but to loot. And that is in good peaceful time.

    There’s much worst than not having a bug out location… it’s to believe you have one and you don’t.

  2. Son of Liberty

    That’s why you leave ahead of the collapse, ahead of the crowd, and before the bedlam (read SHTF) occurs.

    Keeping your head on a swivel, being prepared to leave at a moments notice, and reading and discerning the conditions are invaluable. This is where (I believe) a Christian who relies on the Holy Spirit has a distinct advantage. As one is in touch with the Holy, and is readily conversant on an on going basis, the Holy Spirit can/will lead us.

    You may call it intuition. If that’s what you have and choose to use, blessings on you. Many women are particularly adept at relying on their intuition. If that is a strong point of your spouse, trust her (or him) for your and the entire families benefit.


    Son of Liberty

  3. Either love early or “much” later. If you leave early (the first 36 hours) you will more than likely beat most of the crowd. If you leave with the crowd you will probably not make it. If you leave later you should wait for things to calm down. Then leave during bad weather (rain) because government and civilian roadblocks will be less efficient.

  4. David H Klover

    Thanks for all the info you provide; I’ve never experienced evacuation in any form yet, but we live near all the past hurricanes that have devastated the gulf Coast are; we are working on getting ready for any and all situations; your info is very appreciated; I am a 10 yr Army veteran so I’m always looking for a heads up approach; thanks again!

  5. My daughter and I are bugging out in at home. She is mostly disabled and I’m not equipped to walk very far at all because of bad knees and hips ., Hopefully with this being here at home and prepped we can weather out anything until things stabilize ., I’m not sure what we would do if people decided to break in other then we have two dogs to dissuade them in several firearms. My closest neighbors are good people but they do not prep as far as I can tell in fact they live pretty much from day today. Only time will tell what happens if shit hits the fan.

    1. TJ, I am in the same situation as you. I am disabled and cannot go far as well. The one thing I do have going for me is my 24 yr old son lives with me now to help me out and he has just recently gotten out of the Marine Corp. I plan to bug in. We are getting the apartment secure in various ways. living in an apartment complex is tricky though. You cannot make modifications and you have to bring in any supplies at night time so no attention is drawn to you.

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