6 Bug Out Dangers (And How to Prep for Them)

by guest blogger, Dan Sullivan

Bug out or bug in? Leaving your home in case of a natural disaster or societal breakdown, is one of the most discussed topics among preppers. It's also a lot harder to prep for and do (compared to bugging in) because so much can go wrong. 

When you're out there, running for your life with nothing more than a backpack and the uncertainty of not knowing if you'll ever reach your bug out location (BOL), bugging out is daunting to say the least.

But you don’t have to feel helpless. In this article, I will prepare you for 6 problems you may encounter on your journey. Here we go!

bug out tips

1. You May Get Injured

Pop advice on TV or the Internet about injuries goes something like this: you get injured, you use your first aid kit. But what happens after that? You still need to continue your journey, but it's not going to be the same. Once you make your sling for, say, your injured arm, how are you going to carry your bug out bag?

One solution would be to have a separate pouch inside your backpack that you can take with you in case you need to abandon your bug out bag. It should replicate some of the critical items you already carry and it should be small and light enough to take with you in case things go wrong.

Essentially, it is a mini bug out bag inside your larger one. A fanny pack is a great option. It is small, lightweight and buckles tightly around your waist, leaving your arms free.

Another aspect to consider is the mental trauma. If you do get hurt, how will you be able to move given that you'll be in a lot of pain and you'll know you won't be able to use an arm anymore? How did you react the last time you got hurt? Were you still able to focus and get things done?

One thing is clear, you should at least get some basic first aid training. Every adult in your group should know how to treat injuries in case one of you becomes incapacitated. 

Redundancy is key to survival when bugging out.

2. You May Have to Cross a Body of Water

Do you live near a creek, stream or river? If the bridge you were hoping to cross has collapsed or if there's a checkpoint, you'll have to get creative to get to the other side. You'll also want your backpack with you and the items inside to stay dry. Some ideas include:

  • Keeping an inflatable boat in your car's trunk. Consider that you might have to take several trips back and forth to carry all your equipment and people in your group safely to the other side. 

  • Learning how to row a boat or paddle a canoe, especially if you’ve never done it before. (It’s harder than you think.)

  • Having flotation devices that you can tie around you and put inside your bug out bag to make sure you stay afloat. Arm floaties (like for children learning to swim) are good options. They’re small, lightweight and easy to inflate. However, in an emergency, plastic bags, Tupperware and even an inflatable beach ball can work. 

  • Becoming a good swimmer. Take lessons and learn how to swim the survival backstroke and sidestroke.
  • Having a strong rope, such as 550 paracord, to help others cross the river easier or to throw it to someone to pull them out from the river.

  • Having the means to dry yourself once you get to the other side, as well as spare clothes. If hypothermia gets to you, your bug out will end before it begins.

3. Your Spouse, Your Kid or Your Pet Could End Up Missing

In this case, you may decide to stop everything and focus on finding them. Who knows how long it will take to find them, if you find them. The reality is that hundreds and even thousands of people end up missing in case of large catastrophes and many of them are eventually found dead. Will you jeopardize the lives of everyone else in your group to find the missing person?

It is much better to prepare for this scenario in advance. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Establish rally points in case of separation.

  • Make sure everyone has whistles in their survival bags.

  • Get glow in the dark leashes for your dog or cat.

On the other hand, if a certain amount of time passes and you still don't find them, will you be able to leave them behind and move on? This decision is of course very difficult, so make sure to plan ahead as a group prior to bugging out, so you don’t waste valuable time deciding what to do in the event someone goes missing. After all, the more time you waste in an emergency, the more likely it is that something will happen to you too.

4. Your Bug Out Bag is Lost or Stolen

If this happens, the only gear you can rely on is what you have on your person. This is why having an Every Day Carry (EDC) pack is important (we made a list of the best EDC knives, by the way). Some of the things to consider keeping in your pockets include:

  • a mini-flashlight

  • a pocket knife

  • a multi-tool

  • a mini-first aid kit

  • a compact pistol

You may not have the chance to stuff your pockets with backup survival gear before you leave. Once you're on the road and take your first break, it won't hurt to remove some of the items in your BOB and stash them inside your pockets. The added benefit is that you'll take some of the weight out of your pack, which means less pressure on your shoulders and back.

5. Your Bug Out Bag Will Weigh You Down

Carrying a backpack gets surprisingly tiring quicker than you think. Even a relatively light 20-pound pack will make your shoulders ache within an hour, especially if you aren’t used to carrying one. 

If you find the pain too much to bear, you'll either need to take frequent breaks or continue your journey without it. If someone's chasing you, the only option may be the latter, but leaving all your gear behind should be your absolute last resort.

We already talked about having a smaller pouch inside your BOB. You can just take that and continue to bug out while still having as many essentials as possible. We also discussed adding survival items inside your pockets.

However, you should practice carrying your full pack. Even if there are multiple able-bodied people in your group to share the load, you should get used to the weight. The best option is to reduce the weight in your pack as much as possible. Anything that could be considered a luxury, get rid of it.

6. You Will Get Dehydrated

Though the rule of three’s says you can live up to 3 days without water, the reality is your body will begin to shut down long before that. Also, consider the extraordinary circumstances that you'll have to face. Consider the energy you'll have to spend to get to your BOL. You need to stay hydrated and that means having water purification tablets, a personal water filter, like a survival straw, and a bottle of water in your backpack.

Plan now to survive a bug out later. 

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About The Author: Dan Sullivan is the rising star among survival bloggers through his unique, fluff-free content. Although he's aware things are going from bad to worse, he doesn't shy from encouraging preppers to also live their lives in addition to prepping for the worst.

Want more bug out bag tips? Check out more bug out bag checklist ideas here.

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