How to know when to bug out ( Top Signs )

As a prepper who has been preparing to bug out in an emergency situation, it is vital to know when to actually bug out. The problem with most preppers is that they consider bugging out as a last resort although this doesn’t really has to be the case. If you have a family then your top priority is to protect them and this means that you have to bug out while it is still safe, do it too late and you are just making things harder for you.

You can know when to bug out once you notice prolonged civil unrest, people panic buying, natural disasters taking place in the surrounding areas, the local authorities order an evacuation, people doing bank runs, war breaking out, the power grid is down for an extended period of time, food shortages, a massive increase in taxes, increased crime and even if your home gets compromised.

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Generally speaking, most preppers who have a bug out plan will never use it, as there is no need to bug out if the situation is not calling for it. On the other hand, there are preppers who have a good bug out plan and they simply refuse to bug out as they are worried about having their home damaged and looted. In every prepper’s life there comes a time when they will need to make a tough choice, either bug out or stay home and hope the emergency situation passes over quickly.

The good news is that there are a couple of clear signs for which you should look out for especially if you live in a disaster-prone or civil unrest prone area. For the most part, if the local authorities order an evacuation then you have to evacuate, although ideally, you should bug out before such an order is given out. How easy or how hard will it be to bug out will depend on the actual emergency situation.

If there are a couple of clear signs that you have to bug out then do it, in the best case scenario you didn’t read the situation correctly and you will spend a couple of days at your bug out location. On the other hand in the worst-case situation, you have probably dodged a bullet. If you are new to prepping then I highly recommend you check out my recent article How to start prepping in 12 Steps ( Prepping for Beginners ).

Prolonged civil unrest

People are going to protest no matter what, for the most part, protests tend to be fairly peaceful although some of them come with violence and looters as well. The occasional protest will not pose a big threat but if people start going to protest every day then it is only a matter of time until things get out of hand. In this case, you should either bug out or prepare to be able to bug out at a moment’s notice.

If you have a small business then you should keep a close eye on the protests, how the authorities handle them, and most importantly how the protesters react. Ideally, you should take a couple of steps to protect your business before you bug out, for more information check out my recent article How to protect your business from looters ( In 13 Easy Steps ).

People panic buying

One telltale sign that you should bug out is when people start panic buying although you should take this with a grain of salt. In most emergency situations people will start panic buying and oftentimes they will buy the most useless stuff like toilet papers. Once the toilet papers are sold out at a store people will start posting images that there is no more toilet paper, then the media picks it up and reports on it.

This, in turn, will make other people panic and buy toilet paper in bulk, basically, it is a vicious cycle of stupidity. Toilet paper is produced locally no matter where you live, they are extremely cheap to produce, and the only significant cost is the actual costs of transportation. There is simply no financial reason why a company should import toilet paper from abroad unless they are able to sell a roll of it at a significantly higher cost. If you want to know what are the best alternatives for toilet paper then check out my recent article No toilet paper? ( Top 21 Alternatives ).

Natural disasters in the surrounding areas

If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters like floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and so on and these natural disasters are taking place in the surrounding areas then it is time to bug out. For the most part, local authorities will order the evacuation, but you should not wait for this order. Once the evacuation order is given most people will start evacuating at once, and this will only end up in massive traffic jams.

If you know that your area is prone to flooding for example and it has been raining in the surrounding area for a couple of days already then odds are that the neighboring area will start flooding and it is a matter of time until your area is flooded as well. If you want to know some good bug out locations then check out my recent article Bug out location ( Top 16 Things To Know ).

Evacuation notice by the authorities

Evacuation orders or notices are given out by the authorities in order to prevent any casualties and these usually tend to be issued due to natural disasters although they are also issued during wartime. These orders or notices tend to be the last resort and once they are given out most people will follow them, although in certain situations they are making things more difficult for them. If a lot of people start evacuating an area at the same time then most of them will be blocked in traffic.

In addition to this, a lot of people will check on their relatives which only increases the amount of traffic in the area. Ideally, you have already bugged out before the local authorities have given an evacuation order.

People doing bank runs

Bank runs are when a lot of people chose to withdraw money from the banks, and they usually do this out of fear. Once you see people standing in line to withdraw cash day after day then you should seriously think of bugging out. The problem with bank runs is that most banks do not have a lot of cash, most of the money is digital. Once people withdraw all the cash from a bank they will panic and go to another one and do the same.

Most banks will close their doors at that point and people will panic, although the banks didn’t actually close due to an emergency situation but because they didn’t have any cash at hand. This is another vicious cycle that has been played out a couple of times during recent history.

War breaking out

In case a war breaks out you should consider bugging out, although this really depends on where you live and which country has declared war. The good news is that a world war is less likely to happen nowadays, as most countries depend on each other in order to survive. Wars are still taking place all across the world, although they are smaller in scale and for the most part, they are local but that doesn’t mean a small war can not turn into a world war.

The power grid is down for an extended period of time

If the local power grid is down for some reason then you will find it difficult to get any reliable information. Generally speaking, the power grid goes down due to natural disasters, which also includes solar flares. Although if the power goes out for a couple of hours in your area then don’t panic, just wait for the situation to come back to normal. On the other hand, if the power grid is down for more than 1-2 days then you might want to think of bugging out.

Even if the situation is not that serious it could still take a couple of days if not longer until the power grid is up and running. Maintaining the power grid is extremely expensive and in a lot of areas of the country they are not maintained at all, something as common as a storm could disable the power for an entire area. As the local power grid has not been maintained properly the electricity company will have to do some serious repairs which will take a long time.

Food shortages

Although food shortages could happen due to people panic buying, but if these shortages are due to broken food supply then things will go from bad to worse in a matter of days. If you have a clear bug out plan and a destination that has plenty of food then you should definitely bug out. If you have a lot of food stockpiles at home and you do not want to bug out then you have to think of rationing food as who knows when food will be readily available.

According to the United Nations, around 25000 people die of hunger every day, and these are not necessarily in countries that have little to no agriculture. Although we live in an era where food is plentiful this can change extremely fast, especially if people waste more food than what they actually at.

Increased crime

It doesn’t take a natural disaster or a man-made disaster to consider bugging out, oftentimes small things could make people bug out and some of them will simply relocate to a new area. Crime has been a major problem in a lot of large cities and the local authorities are not handling the situation. A lot of areas are overrun by a crime wave and the average person can’t do anything about it, sooner or later they will bug out.

Massive increase in taxes

For the most part, no matter where you live the taxes will increase incrementally, although local authorities are doing it in small increments so that the local population doesn’t really feel the effects. On the other hand, there are some states which have simply run out of money, and instead of investing in the local economy, they will start increasing the taxes. This is a recipe for disaster, as everybody who is able to leave will do so.

The only people who will not leave the state if the taxes increase by a significant margin are the poor who do not have a choice. In addition to high taxes, crime will also increase in these areas, especially once the people who pay the majority of the taxes have left.

Compromised home

For the most part, you should feel safe in your own home, but if your home gets broken in or looted then you will no longer feel safe in your own home. This is probably one of the worst feelings, and you will have to assess the situation with logic and not with your feelings. If your home has been compromised in such a way that you no longer feel safe and you can not even protect it then it is time to bug out, at least for a while.

In conclusion

As you can see there are a couple of clear signs for bugging out. With that being said you should not rely only on one sign, and rather than thinking emotionally you should have a clear head and think as logically as possible before deciding to bug out or not.