How to Prepare to Bug In – Ultimate Checklist

Let’s walk through how to prepare to bug in using simple checklists to make things easy. We’ll touch on important topics such as water, food, medical, and security – as well as some less talked about topics including sanitation, documents and information, and passing the time.

A special note as of February 2020 – Coronavirus

There are currently 77,813 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID19) across the globe. 20,000 of those have recovered, 2,360 people have died, and 1,525 of those cases are outside China. That means approximately 75,000 people are currently bugging in inside of China alone. In coming weeks as the virus is likely to spread to other countries, we may see that number increase dramatically. Are you prepared to self-quarantine for at least 14 days?

Household Checklist

A household checklist is a perfect place to start preparing to bug in. Each person’s situation is unique and depends on family, friends, location, health, and other factors. Consider creating a checklist for each of the following scenarios. Always prepare for the most likely situations first. All of these checklists are based on the premise that you already have at least 2 weeks of water and food at home, and have emergency funds available in cash on hand.

Print out your checklists, and put them in an easily retrievable location. Everyone in your family/group should know the location and know to get started if you aren’t there. Keep a flashlight, pen, and extra paper with these lists.

Reasons to bug in

  • Financial Hardship
  • Economic Collapse
  • Power Grid Failure
  • Cyber Attacks
  • War and Terrorism
  • Resource Depletion
  • Epidemic/Pandemic
  • Natural Disasters
  • Crime, Violence, Civil Unrest, Riots

Financial Hardship

This sounds boring, but it is 100% the most likely situation you need to prepare for. A nuclear war or cyber attack may seem more dangerous, but losing your job, medical insurance, housing, and transportation will be just as deadly. Read more about how to prepare for financial hardship

Economic Collapse

Stock market collapse, devaluation of currency, and hyperinflation can all be signs of coming or present economic collapse. An example of a checklist for economic collapse might be

  1. Speak with financial advisor
  2. Contact family members
  3. Fill vehicles and extra gas cans
  4. Go grocery shopping
  5. Withdraw funds from bank accounts, retrieve valuables from safety deposit boxes
  6. Contact your workplace for information
  7. Cancel subscription services/monthly expenditures
  8. Attempt to make last minute orders for essentials online

Power Grid Failure

Power outages can be caused by any number of events including natural disasters, cyber attacks, terrorist attacks, civil unrest, and war. Here is an example of a checklist for when the power goes out.

  1. Assess the situation, determine the duration of the power outage
    1. Check circuit breakers
    2. Call power company
    3. Check social media, contact friends
  2. Distribute light sources to family
  3. Disconnect sensitive electronics and appliances from power outlets
  4. Check other utilities including water and gas
    1. If the gas is out, shut off the supply to house to prevent fires when it is turned back on
    2. If water is out, conserve water carefully
  5. Contact family members not present (cell towers may be down)
  6. Set a timer for 12 hours, at 12 hours turn on generator and plug-in refrigerator. Run in shifts of 20-30 minutes every 4 hours
  7. Check on neighbors, especially elderly or sick
  8. Set out solar panels to charge batteries

Cyber Attack

We live in a time when cyber attacks are becoming more common. In addition to the internet itself, critical infrastructure such as water, power, gas, sewage, and transportation are all connected with computers. Any of these systems could be targeted and attacked causing short or long term outages. Here is an example of a checklist for when a cyber attack happens.

  1. Assess the situation, attempt to determine affected systems and duration
    1. Contact friends, family, neighbors, utility companies
    2. Turn on radio (FM and amateur)
    3. Use social media – identify groups in advance(reddit, facebook, nextdoor, etc)
  2. If power is out, see power grid failure checklist
  3. If the gas is out, shut off the supply to house to prevent fires when it is turned back on
  4. If water is likely to be affected, fill extra containers and conserve water
  5. Disconnect internet gateway and router until it is determined local networks are safe from attack
  6. Contact any family or group members not present (cell towers may be unavailable)
  7. Go grocery shopping
  8. Fill vehicles and extra gas cans
  9. Check on neighbors, especially the elderly and sick

War and Terrorism

Here is an example of a checklist for what to do if war breaks out

  1. Reduce visibility if under direct attack. Shut lights off, cover vehicles, gather in safe room
  2. Assess the situation, is bugging in the best choice, or should you attempt to flee
    1. Contact family, friends, use social media
    2. Turn on radio (FM and amateur)
  3. If nuclear or biological weapons used, retrieve safety equipment
  4. Withdraw funds from bank accounts, retrieve valuables from safety deposit boxes
  5. Grocery shopping
  6. Fill vehicles and extra gas cans
  7. Check utilities
    1. Unplug critical electronics to protect from surges. Consider unplugging appliances to reduce risk
    2. Fill extra water containers
    3. If gas is out, shut off supply to house to prevent fires when service is returned
    4. If power is out, read through the power grid failure checklist
  8. Check with neighbors, especially elderly and sick. Set up a regular meeting time with neighbors. Share radio channels/frequencies for emergencies.
  9. Record any events and details of enemy movements to provide to local authorities

Resource Depletion

Resource depletion can be a complex topic to prepare for, and is unlikely to be an immediate event. By this I mean that there will be signs of it happening, and a resource won’t magically disappear one day. For that reason, I do not have a checklist.

Epidemic/Pandemic

As of February 2020, we are facing a global pandemic of the Coronavirus COVID19. Here is an example checklist for when a pandemic starts or reaches your area.

  1. Contact your workplace for information or to arrange leave/vacation
  2. Buy extra regular consumables. Pandemics are likely to affect supply chains. Consider online orders to avoid human contact
  3. Prepare for self-quarantine for the indicated period by the authorities. COVID19 has an incubation period of at least 14 days. Shop for or order enough food for 14 days
  4. Prepare quarantine area within your home for anyone who may get sick or arrive sick
  5. Organize water, food, and medical supplies for self-treatment
  6. Take vitals twice daily, noting any changes in temperature or symptoms
  7. Clean surfaces regularly with anti-bacterial cleaner, especially after entering/leaving the residence

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters come in many forms. Consider having a checklist for each that is possible for your location. This is a general checklist that may apply to each, be sure to review carefully and add any that may be specific for your situation.

  1. Assess situation carefully; many natural disasters warrant leaving the area (bugging out)
  2. Shut off gas supply to your house and work with neighbors to do the same for them
  3. Shut off circuit breakers especially when flooding has occurred
  4. Plug sewage drains to prevent backflow/overflow
  5. Put on protective clothing including quality boots, gloves, safety hat, and long pants
  6. Check on neighbors especially the elderly and sick
  7. Generally read through the Power Grid Failure checklist – unplug electronics, pass out light sources, get communications, etc

Crime, Violence, Civil Unrest, Riots

General civilian unrest can be caused by any number of things. If you’re looking to stay out of the way of these groups and situations, here is an example of a checklist for when civil unrest breaks out.

  1. Reduce visual signature. Turn off lights, gather in central, safe rooms. If not at home, enter a building and get above the second story (out of throwing range).
  2. Avoid travel. Use back roads if necessary.
  3. Increase self-protection loadout and keep items more readily accessible than normal
  4. Put on protective clothing and good footwear
  5. Establish communication with family, friends, and neighbors
  6. Barricade entrances/exits

Water

Water is the first item on our list of preparations for good reason – we can’t go long without it, especially under stress! The general rule for water is to have 1 gallon, per person, per day. This will include both water for drinking and sanitization.

How much water to have for bugging in

Your first goal will be to have water for everyone in your household for 3 days. The long term goal will be 2 weeks (note: February 2020, Coronavirus quarantine is 14 days).

How to store water for bugging in

  • (Free) Clean and reuse drink container such as milk and juice
  • (~$35) Waterbob – a plastic liner for your bathtub
  • ($10 – 40) Water containers – Be sure to get one with a spigot for easy use
  • (Free – $$$) Rainwater barrels or tanks
  • (Free) Water stored in your hot water heater tank
  • (Free) Water stored in the tanks of your toilets
  • (Free) Water held inside hoses and sprinkler lines
  • ($10-$100) Water filter (I recommend the Sawyer Mini)

Other water considerations

If water from the utility stops, your toilets will not flush. You’ll need to add water from your reserves to the tank to facilitate the flushing process. Consider using rainwater since this does not need to be clean water.

Do not let dirty dishes sit for long, this can cause unsafe conditions where sickness can spread. Read more in the Sanitation section below

Food

Food preparations for bugging in should closely match water preparations. You don’t need 3 months of food if you don’t have any water!

What food to buy for bugging in

The best way to prepare food for bugging in is to buy extra of what you already eat regularly. Buying a ton of canned food, MREs, or freeze dried potatoes might seem the best route, but I assure you it is not. Drastically changing your diet under stress will likely lead to upset stomachs. Buy extra toilet paper! It is much better to have extra of the food you already eat regularly. Consider buying a small chest freezer, even if you’re in an apartment, to have extra meats and vegetables.

Preparing and cooking food

If the power goes out, how will you heat your food? Firstly, try to have foods available that do not require cooking, this will save you time, too! A few things I keep on hand are granola/protein bars, PB&J sandwich fixings, fruit, nuts, crackers, and meat jerky. For cooking, consider propane stoves, camping stoves, grills, and having supplies to cook over a campfire. If you plan to cook over a fire, have plenty of dry pre-seasoned wood on hand!

First Aid & Medical

This topic is so well covered by other sites, I will simply say this: First aid is an absolutely critical piece of preparations. Many events and scenarios that cause you to bug in come with risk of medical injuries, all the while shutting down regularly available medical care such as doctors, ERs, and urgent care locations. You need both and individual first aid kit, and a more robust kit for your home. If you don’t already have a kit, here are lists for an Individual First Aid Kit and a more robust Home Medical Supplies Kit.

Light

If the power is out, you better have a backup light source. In addition to that, you should be sure that security/motion lights work whether the power is out or not. Natural disasters can bring out the worst (and best) in human behavior. We’ll dive into this more in the security section. For now, let’s run through what supplies would be a bright (haha) idea to have on hand.

Best lights to have for bugging in

  • Handheld flashlight that takes common (AA or AAA) batteries
  • Headlamp – if you’ve ever tried to prepare food while holding a flashlight you know how valuable a headlamp is!
  • Lantern or diffuser for flashlight
  • Extra batteries for any lights. It best serves you to make sure all of your lights take the same type of battery so you need less batteries
  • Candles – Everyone should have a 100 pack of tea candles. I also recommend a few candle holders that help lift the candle up helping the light to spread.

Communication

Communication may be deserving of it’s own post in the future because of how complex it can be. For now I’ll make it simple and short. Information is king during disasters, and can literally be the difference between life and death. Let’s make sure you have what you need to get information and provide that information to others as well!

Communication tools for bugging in

  • Smart phone
    • As long as cell towers are up, this will be your primary communication tool
    • Have backup power options such as a USB power bank
  • Multi-power, multi-band radio
    • Crank, solar, battery power
    • FM, AM, Weather at a minimum. Short wave + amateur bands a plus
  • Two-Way Radios (2)
    • Ideally one for each person in your house
    • Determine a neighborhood channel that can be used at any time for emergencies and general discussion
  • Notebook with paper and pencil
    • Keep notes of important information from authorities, upcoming weather, and any number of other things you don’t want to forget
  • CB Radio
    • Especially useful along major transportation routes where trucks are
  • Amateur radio
    • Range is much further than regular two way radios
    • Requires a license
  • Satellite phones

Security

Though far less critical than items like water, food, and first aid, security should not be forgotten. We only need to look as far as the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the civil disturbances it caused.

Hurricane Katrina was characterized by extensive reporting of looting, violence, shooting against rescuers, murder and rape.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_Hurricane_Katrina_in_New_Orleans#Civil_disturbances

While overall the reports were exaggerated during this time period, there were no doubt critical safety and security issues all over the affected area. Depending on the situation causing you to bug in, issues such as these may be more or less likely. Prepare your household accordingly.

How to secure your house to bug in

  • Security lights with motion sensor – preferably solar powered
  • Deadbolts on every door with 3″ screws into the frame of the door
  • Lock interior door to garage – garage doors are very easy to break through
  • Tall fences around property and thorny bushes below windows
  • Alarm system with battery backup
  • Break-in plan and safe room
    • Pre-agreed upon plan with specific room for everyone to meet
  • Non-lethal and lethal tools
    • Pepper spray – must test before to know how it works!
    • Stun gun
    • Extremely bright flashlight
    • Firearm – Rifles are easier to use than pistols

Tools

Natural disasters are likely to cause damage to your house. Having tools available to repair or prevent the damage could save you a big headache in the long run!

Tools to have for bugging in

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Shovel
  • Sandbags (for flooding)
  • Hammer and Nails
  • Tarps – can be used to keep water out of damaged structures
  • Pry bar
  • Duct tape
  • Silcock key – can be used to turn on water from outside water spigots especially in apartments
House in somerset barricaded from flood
A house in Somerset completely barricaded from a flood

Sanitation

COVID has shown us just how important sanitation is. Even if the disaster you’re experiencing isn’t a pandemic, keeping clean and sanitary is key to staying healthy. Staying healthy is critical when toilet paper isn’t available 🙂

  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Disinfecting spray
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Garbage bags
  • Hand soap
  • Dish soap
  • Dishwasher soap/tablets
  • Disposable gloves
  • Reusable rubber gloves
  • Bleach
  • Wet wipes/baby wipes
  • Toothpaste, toothbrushes
  • Deodorant
  • Laundry detergent – and a bucket if the power is out!
  • Feminine products
  • Bucket toilet seat and 5 gal bucket – if water stops or the sewers back, you need a place to go!
  • Pest control – bugs and rodents can and will cause plenty of problems if left unchecked

Power

As a society, we’re more reliant on electricity every day than the previous one. It’s wise to start taking steps now to limit that, but be prepared for when the power is out and you’ve bugged in.

  • USB battery for phones
  • Gas, Diesel, Propane, or Natural Gas Generator
  • Solar system – requires special batteries, inverter, and charge controller. Look for a post on this in the future
  • USB solar panel – do not charge devices directly as heat from sun can damage. Charge a USB battery
  • Vehicle 12v inverter
  • Alkaline batteries in common varieties (AAA, AA, 9v)
  • Rechargeable AAA, AA batteries for flashlights
  • A way to charge whatever communication gear you’ve decided on
  • Solar lights – both for security outdoors and interior lighting into the evening

Heating and Air Conditioning

Do you know what your Heat and A/C are powered by? Natural Gas? Electric? Propane? Are you prepared for 100 degree days with no A/C, or -20 degree days with no heat? When you’re bugging in, prepare to spend the whole day dealing with the elements!

  • Extra blankets
  • PVA cooling towels
  • Battery or DC powered fans
  • Interior safe propane heaters
  • Woodpile and wood stove, or a fire place with a blower
  • Evaporative cooler – will only work in drier environments

Documents and Information

If you keep your important documents outside of the home, or in the cloud, it’s time to make backups! Bugging in may mean you don’t have the option to get to your safety deposit box or access those documents stored on iCloud or Google Drive.

  • Personal information
    • Bank and Investment Account Details
    • Copies of Personal ID’s
    • Last Will and Testament
    • Property ownership papers
    • Vehicle ownership and registration
    • Passport. Every prepper should have a passport as a last resort.
  • Local information
    • Weather and emergency station frequencies
    • Emergency medical care facilities
    • Emergency pet care facitilies
    • Paper maps of local area
    • Neighborhood directory

Keeping Busy

Keeping your mind busy when you’ve been forced to bug in and your normal schedule is gone can be very difficult. Being quarantined can cause real mental health issues. What if there is no internet? No phone? What will you do for you kids?

  • Games
  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • Battery-powered movie player
  • Movies on a hard drive with a way to charge the computer
  • Magazines
  • Art supplies and coloring books
  • Multiple decks of cards
  • A workout routine
  • A journal – this is very important and can help you process what is happening
  • Community – check on neighbors
  • Creativity – use your imagination to create new games and adventures
  • Skills
    • Cooking
    • Sewing/mending
    • Textbooks

Backup Plan

While bugging in is the preferred reaction to a disaster, you must have a backup plan for your backup plan. If infrastructure is down or slowed events such as wildfires, house fires, floods, tornados, or simple crime & safety may require you to leave your house in an instant. A good bug out bag is a must, and a secondary location to gather is important. Talk with family and friends ahead of time so that if they need a place, they can come to you, or if you need a place you can go to them.

How to prep for beginners

How do I prepare for financial hardship?

The first thing you should do is create an emergency fund. Unexpected car repairs, damage to structures, and personal medical emergencies can all drain your accounts or put you into debt. Your first goal is to have enough in your fund to live off of it for 1 month. Once 1 month is achieved, set aside a recurring monthly amount to add to your emergency fund until you reach 3-6 months.

Secondly, once you have 1 month of emergency funds saved and you’re adding regularly to that fund, begin paying off debts. If you’re already paying them off, pay them off faster. Always pay off high-interest loans first, and once they are paid off add the amount you were paying towards that loan to the next. Paying your debts off may require a change in your lifestyle. Eat-in, cut monthly costs such as streaming services, and reduce alcohol and tobacco consumption.

Turkey Creek Trail at Emma Long Park

Turkey Creek Trail at Emma Long Metropolitan Park made it on our list of best places to hike in Austin, go check it out!

Overview of Turkey Creek Trail

  • Type: Out and Back with Loop
  • Length: 2.8mi
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Pets Allowed: Yes, Leash
  • Water Crossings: Yes
  • Traffic Level: High
  • Elevation Gain: 170ft
  • Address: 1401-1711 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730

Hiking Turkey Creek Trail

Turkey Creek Trail is not a difficult hike. While there is an uphill section that will get your heart rate up, most of the trail is fairly flat. Watch your step over rocks, ruts, and tree roots. 10+ water crossings snake back and forth across Turkey Creek. If you’re water averse, make sure you are very sure on your feet or wear a pair of waterproof footwear.

The hike begins with a 1.2mi section with 10 water crossings and very little elevation gain. Next up is the .8mi loop which presents an elevation gain of approximately 100feet depending on the direction you choose to take on the loop.

During the loop on the creekside, be sure to venture down to the water at the caves. You’ll likely find water dripping off of the cliffs above. This area is well shielded from the sun and stays cool. A great place to take a break and cool off for a few minutes while you enjoy the beautiful nature around you.

Wildlife at Turkey Creek Trail

Emma Long is a Golden Cheeked Warbler sanctuary. Along Turkey Creek trail you’re likely to hear their calls along with a multitude of other birds. Hiking this trail at less-trafficked times I have also found raccoons, deer, armadillos, skunks, and the other typical Texas creatures. However, due to the heavy traffic at this trail, it’s unlikely you’ll be running into these animals. If you hike this trail after dark, listen closely for coyotes in the area which often howl due to the dog population in surrounding neighborhoods!

Best Places to Hike in Austin 2020

Nature Connected Life’s best places to hike in Austin for 2020. This list will give you an overview of each along with the critical details you need to choose the best place to hike in Austin.

Turkey Creek Trail

at Emma Long Metropolitan Park

Best place to Hike in Austin: Turkey Creek Trail
Summary of Turkey Creek Trail

I have personally hiked Turkey Creek over 100 times, purely because I used to live so close to it. Turkey Creek deserves to be on the list of Austin’s best places to hike because of the relative ease combined with the beauty of the trail. 10+ lower water crossings make this a fun and diverse hike. The views won’t change your life, but everything else just might. I highly recommend this trail. Remember this trail can be very busy on weekends and holidays! Get the full details about Turkey Creek Trail

Hill of Life/Lost Creek

at the Barton Creek Greenbelt

Best place to Hike in Austin: Hill of Life/Lost Creek
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Length: 1.2-5.5mi
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pets Allowed: Yes, Leash
  • Water Crossings: Optional
  • Traffic Level: High
  • Elevation Gain: 780ft
  • Address: 1710 Camp Craft Rd, Austin, TX 78746
Summary of the Hill of Life/Lost Creek

Another beautiful trail sits on our list of best places to hike in Austin. Starting at the top of the summit, you’ll drop 780ft down to Barton Creek where you’ll have multiple options for trails. Take a break at one(or all) of the waterfalls along the way. If you bring your swimsuit, this is a perfect place to take a dip as long as the water level is good. The hike back up is difficult and you’ll get your heart rate up. If it’s warm out, be ready to work up a sweat!

The Flats (Spyglass)

at the Barton Creek Greenbelt

Best place to Hike in Austin: The Flats at Spyglass
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Length: 1-6mi
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Pets Allowed: Yes, Leash
  • Water Crossings: Optional
  • Traffic Level: High
  • Elevation Gain: 50-100ft
  • Addres: 1599 Spyglass Dr, Austin, TX 78746
Summary of The Flats/Spyglass

Access to The Flats from Spyglass drive is a well-trafficked loop in the Barton Creek Greenbelt. On summer days and holidays expect to find hundreds of other hikers and nature-seekers hanging out down by the water in the main area. If you’re looking to make friends, this is a great spot. If you’re looking to get some solitude, either hike South instead of North or pick a different trail. With an optional water crossing, you’ll find a beautiful cave that overlooks Southwest Austin. Other options in this area include multiple sets of rapids, waterfalls, cliffs (for viewing or jumping), and rope swings.

Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls

at the Barton Creek Greenbelt

Best place to Hike in Austin: Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls
Summary of Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls

Just south of the 360/Mopac South intersection you’ll find parking for the Twin Falls/Sculpture Falls trailhead. This trail is on our list of the best places to hike in Austin for its beautiful waterfalls, views over the greenbelt, and great swimming opportunities. Skip this trail on summer weekends and holidays as parking is all but impossible, but any other time this trail is an absolute must.

Saint Edwards Park

at the Bull Creek Greenbelt

Best place to Hike in Austin: Saint Edwards Park
Summary of Saint Edwards Park

Another one of my personal favorites and most hiked trails is Saint Edwards Park. This trail is easily one of Austin’s best places to hike due to the many route options throughout the park. Everything from an easy 1mi loop to a 4mi loop which includes 2 rivers crossings, beautiful cliffs, and waterfalls. Take your time here and enjoy the quiet area this trail sits in, great for families, solo hikes, and pets!

Canyon Creek Nature Trail

Best place to Hike in Austin: Canyon Creek Nature Trail
  • Type: Loop
  • Length: 5mi
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pets Allowed: Yes, Leash
  • Water Crossings: Optional
  • Traffic Level: Light/Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 377ft
  • Address: 10984 Boulder Ln, Austin, TX 78726
Summary of Canyon Creek Nature Trail

A hidden gem in Northwest Austin, Canyon Creek Nature Trail offers less traveled paths through the beautiful Canyon below Concordia University. Part of the loop will either require a second car or a 1mi walk on the sidewalk along Boulder Dr. No list of Austin’s best places to hike would be complete without mentioning this beautiful trail.

Best places to hike in Austin

Austin offers so many great trails to hike, these are just our favorites here at Nature Connected Life. The best places to hike in Austin is obviously a subjective list, and we know that some of you will feel different. We’d love to hear your opinions on why or why not these trails belong on the list, and what trails we may have missed. What’s on your best places to hike in Austin list?

What should I put in my WUSH bag?

What is a WUSH bag?

WUSH stands for Wake Up, Stuff’s* Happening. In the simplest of terms, a WUSH bag contains the absolutely essential items that you will need if you have to leave your house in under 10 seconds. These items help your make it through the first hours, and then rebuild your life with fewer headaches in the days/weeks to come. Your new WUSH bag must keep this bag at your bedside, or with you when you travel. In the event of being awoken to a fire, flood, or other dangerous situation requiring you to leave your house, you would ideally grab your WUSH bag first, phone second, and shoes third. This order of events assumes that anyone else in your house is already with you or safe.

House fire with firefighters on the roof

How is a WUSH bag different from a Bug Out Bag?

The purpose of a bug out bag (BOB) is to sustain the owner for 24-72 hours (typically) in a completely self contained package. This means that a BOB must contain shelter, water, food, medical supplies, and other goodies. A WUSH bag only contains what you may need in the first few hours, and some longer term needs such as Photo ID’s, Financial Records and Contact Information.

Do I need both a WUSH bag and a Bug Out Bag?

Your first priority should be a WUSH bag. You are far more likely to leave your house in a hurry from something like a flood or house fire than you are a longer term survival situation. You can read more about Bug Out Bag’s in Nature Connected Life’s post How to Make a Bug Out Bag. To learn what you put in your WUSH bag find our checklist at the bottom.

Why Do I Need a WUSH Bag?

Here are some events and statistics for the United States for disasters that may require you to leave your home in a rush.

  • 1,319,500 house fires in 2017
  • All 50 states have experienced flooding in the last 5 years
  • Floods are the number 1 disaster in the US
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes (grab before sheltering)

WUSH Bag Checklist

Here is the packing list for your WUSH bag. I’ve linked any products that I put in my personal bag.

Protip: consider buying multiples of items to save money. Give a WUSH bag as a gift, or organize with a friend to split the cost.

Best Bag for WUSH bag

This question is open to interpretation, however I feel the smallest bag you can fit your gear in is best. This allows you to store it unobtrusively near your bed, making you more likely to keep it close and accessible. I am personally using the Maxpedition Fatboy Versipack because I found a great deal on it some time back.

First Aid Kit

I like to buy a cheap kit, then supplement with the following.

Important: Print or write out a list of medicine including name, count, visual description, and dosage information.

  • Generic First Aid Kit w/ Bag (Oumers First Aid Kit Medical Bag)
  • Meds
    • Acetaminophen
    • Ibuprofen
    • Antihistamine
    • Anti-Diarrheal
    • Antacid
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Optional: tourniquet, chest seal, gauze, sleep aid

Tools and Supplies

Personal/Customized Items

The bag is nearly useless without these items. Do not neglect to complete this part!

  • Wallet
    • Copy of government ID
    • Copy of passport
    • At least $50 in assorted bills including 5 $1
    • $4 in quarters
    • Medical ID cards and insurance Info
    • Copies of credit cards
    • Copy of social security cards
  • Physical list of important contacts including out of state (If local networks are tied up, long distance often still works)
    • Must include phone, email, physical address
  • Physical copy healthcare power-of-attorney (if you get injured)
  • Copy of any/all residence and vehicle keys

Optional items for your WUSH bag

  • Prescription meds
  • Glasses
  • Paper map of area
  • Two way radio
  • Legal documents (May be digital on USB)
    • Will
    • Bank info/safety deposits/investments
    • Lawyer information
    • Land ownership
  • Extra 3g cell phone w/ sim card (MUST BE 3G) and charger
  • Self Protection (Non-lethal, lethal)
  • Socks/Footwear
  • Energy bar
  • Toilet Paper
  • Pet Accessories(leash, collar, etc)

How to prepare your house to bug in

To answer the question of how to prepare your house to bug in, we must answer 3 primary questions.

  1. What
  2. Where and When?
  3. Who?

With the answers to these questions, you will be able to confidently make decision about how to prepare your house to bug in when it comes to supplies and plans. I assume if you are reading this you’ve already decided it’s good to go above/beyond the governments recommended preparations of 3 days of food and water per person.

What happened?

First thing first, let’s consider what may happen to cause us to prepare our house to bug in.

Is bugging in the right choice?

Let’s ask ourselves why we think we need to bug in. Should I bug in or bug out? Obviously if there is an immediate danger to our home such as fire or flooding we should not be bugging in. For other reasons we may need to bug in. Here are a few you may think through and consider if your home is at risk for.

  • Tornadoes causing power outages and/or localized flooding
  • Severe thunderstorms or hail storms causing power outages and/or localized flooding
  • Flooding caused by changes in water levels from rivers/lakes
  • Ice storms that block travel routes
  • Abnormally severe temperatures (hot or cold) that cause the power grid to fail
  • Infectious diseases, or if you have a weak immune system, a bad flu season

After reading through that list (which is not exhaustive) take note of the events that could reasonably happen in your area. Ask the following question about each potential scenario.

What is the timeline for the ‘what’?

Consider the events above that would cause you to bug in to your house. What is the potential timeline for given how remote you are? Here are some estimates

  • Tornado
    • Urban: 1-7 days
    • Remote: 1-14 days
  • Thunderstorms and Flooding
    • Urban/Remote: 1-21 days
  • Flooding from rivers/lakes upstream
    • Urban/Remote: 1-21 days
  • Ice Storms
    • Urban: 1-3 days
    • Remote: 1-21 days
  • Abnormally severe temperatures
    • Urban/Remote: 1-3 days
  • Infectious Diseases

Where and When?

Consider where you live relative to other risks, and the season/weather for the given area.

Are there other risks near you?

When deciding how to prepare our house to bug in, we have to be aware of other risks in the area. Here are a few risks you may find in your area that could affect your decision to bug in. Remember this list is not exhaustive!

  • Power plants
  • Chemical production/processing
    • Trucking distribution
    • Shipyards
  • Railroads
  • Forests
    • Forest fires are easily started during times of intense heat or dry weather
    • Tornadoes often cause fires due to damaged power lines
  • Rivers, Lakes
    • Unrelated weather upstream may cause delayed flooding
    • Hurricanes carry rain inland which naturally flows back towards oceans and can cause secondary flooding

Now that you’re aware of secondary risk from other dangerous locations and natural features relative to your home, we must answer the following.

What time of year is it? What is the weather?

You’re likely already aware of this more than most of the other questions, but make sure you think through it carefully. If it is Winter where you live, have you prepared your house to stay warm if there is no electricity to heat it? If you have extreme summers (looking at you, Texas) are you prepared to stay cool in dangerous temperatures?

Who must we prepare for?

Finally we must answer the question of ‘who?’. How do you prepare your house for ‘who’ may be there? You must absolutely prepare for those who live with you. You must absolutely consider your neighbors and anyone else who may show up. You (more than likely) care for these people, and do not want to see them in need if you could help it!

Who lives with you?

Total up your family members who may be at home. Don’t forget that this includes college students who may come home, children in split custody, and those furry creatures we call pets. Don’t forget prescription medicine! You can often ask for a month extra from the pharmacy for travel or just preparation.

Who are your neighbors?

Are your neighbors the prepared type? Do you live far away from your neighbors? In a town home? What about the old lady downstairs who needs oxygen, do you know how to help her? What about your next door neighbor’s son with diabetes, do you know how to help in an emergency?

Who might show up?

Family who doesn’t live with you, friends, and other community members may lose their only shelter. Have you considered having a few extra people sleeping in your living room?

How to prepare your house to bug in

You now have answers to the critical questions that you must prepare around. Here is a list of supplies for you to consider, the amounts will vary given your answers above. Top level topics are generally in priority order.

Medical (*required)

  • Medication
    • *Prescriptions
    • *Pain killers
    • *Antihistamine (e.g. Benadryl)
    • *Hydrocortisone cream
    • Cough/Cold
    • Laxative
    • Sleep aid
  • *Antibiotic ointment
  • *Bandaids
  • *Anti-diarrheal
  • *Non latex gloves
  • *Tweezers
  • *Alcohol or iodine (comes in bottles or pads)
  • Gauze pads for larger wounds
  • Adhesive tape
  • Elastic wrap bandage
  • Instant cold pack
  • First aid manual

Shelter (*required)

  • *Flashlight, lantern
  • *Candles
  • *Blankets
  • *Winter clothing (hats, gloves, warm socks)
  • Firewood
  • *Rain gear (jacket at a minimum)
  • *Tarp to cover damage to home (e.g. tree fall)
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Generator and gas

Water (*required)

  • 1 gallon/person/day (personal note: unless you’re doing strenuous activity/bathing, it’s unlikely you need this much)
  • *My recommended storage container is the Aqua-Tainer
  • Electrolyte source (e.g. Gatorade)
  • WaterBob for sanitary bathtub storage
  • Your hot water heater stores water that can be accessed from a nozzle at the bottom (careful, hot, obviously)
  • Your toilets store water (not for drinking)

Hygiene (*required)

  • *Anti-bacterial soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • *Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • *Trash bags
  • *Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • *Feminine supplies(men, don’t forget this if there is a chance of a female showing up!)

Food (*required)

If you don’t want to eat these cold, be sure you have a way to cook them such as a grill, camp stove, or fireplace/fire pit with a grill top

  • Assorted canned vegetables, meats (make sure you own a can opener…)
  • Dried fruits
  • Freeze dried meals, backpacking meals
  • Granola bars
  • Protein snacks
  • Candy/sweet treats, especially to keep the kids happy
  • Coffee

Protection

Do not use without proper training and legal knowledge!

  • Police services may be predisposed, leaving smaller/petty crime unchecked
  • Non-lethal
    • Pepper spray (personal note: buy 2, use one to learn how it works)
    • Stun gun
    • Club-like tool
  • Lethal (in priority order)
    • Rifle
    • Shotgun
    • Handgun

Communication (*required)

  • *Hand crank fm/am radio
  • Pair of walkie-talkies
  • *Notebook, writing utensil
  • ham radio (with training, if you don’t have training, don’t waste your money)

General items (*required)

  • *USB battery phone charger
  • *Multi-charge cable
  • *Extra batteries for flashlights
  • *Duct tape
  • *Written contact information for family or friends out of state (local calls can be overloaded during disasters while long distance still works)
  • *Books, magazines, cards, boardgames, other pleasure items to help pass the time

Baby supplies

Previous Post: Bug In or Bug Out?

Up Next: How to prepare your apartment to bug in

Follow Hollow Socks Review

My Follow Hollow Sock Review is as follows. Skip to the end to grab the conclusion, but this review isn’t that long anyways! The socks arrived this past Thursday that I ordered through the kickstarter campaign. Today is my 4th day of wearing them. These are my impressions so far. I will update this review as I gather more information about the socks from adventures, camping, and backpacking.

Follow Hollow Initial Quality Review

The quality versus “big box” socks is apparent quickly. You can feel the quality when you pick the socks up to handle them, and when you wear them. After 3-4 days wearing them all day(16+ hours) with no washing, they have started to pill. I’m not sure if this is a major concern for me, but given the price I am a bit surprised. Overall the quality of the Follow Hollow Socks doesn’t seem to beat out my other higher quality socks that I wear regularly. Time will tell more about the quality of these socks. Check back in 6-12 months and I’ll have some better information!

Follow Hollow Comfort Review

The comfort of these socks is fine, I guess? I actually feel like my feet are sweatier wearing these. Maybe that’s because they’re wicking the moisture away quickly and it feels cool due to air flow. I will also comment on the size of the socks. I ordered the medium size. Here is what Follow Hollow states as their sizing:

  • Medium
    • US Mens: 8-10
    • US Womens: 7-10
  • Large
    • US Mens: 10.5-13
    • US Women’s: 10.5-12

I personally wear a size 10 shoe, but found that the medium is tighter than I like my socks to be. I would love to try out the large size to see if that makes a difference for me, but at $25/pair this medium will have to prove itself first!

Final Thoughts and Video Review

They’re fine. Not mind blowing or revolutionary for me. Time will tell on quality. I would say that if you have tried all of the other less expensive high quality socks options and they don’t work for you, try out the Follow Hollows. Make sure you get the right size!

If you want to buy or read their marketing material, here’s a direct link to the Follow Hollow Socks website.

Bug In or Bug Out?

To Bug In or to Bug Out, that, is the question. Let’s explore the benefits of each and then weigh the outcomes.

Bugging In

Bugging in is the act of staying in the location of your primary preparation supplies. Your home, apartment, or other living situation is the most likely location.

Example: The area floods but your home is safe

Benefits and Advantages
  • Familiar surroundings, people, and terrain reduce the amount of Observation required (OODA Loop)
  • Reduced activity means reduced nutrition requirements
  • Risk of injury is lower
  • Medical treatment and sanitation are easier
  • Larger storage area for supplies
  • Family and friends know where to find you
  • Community of neighbors for support
Drawbacks
  • You may still be in the danger zone of any disasters
  • If the entire region is affected by the disaster, access to new supplies is limited
  • Professional medical treatment may be unavailable
  • If sewer/waste is non-functional, hygiene will become dangerous

Bugging Out

Bugging out is the act of leaving your primary shelter that contains your supplies. Modes of transportation may vary between vehicles, bicycles, or foot.

Example: Evacuating before a hurricane arrives

Benefits and Advantages
  • Mobility can mean safety during unpredictable circumstances
  • You may avoid the situation altogether (see: hurricanes)
  • Possibly easier to avoid other people. Important if disease is an issue
Drawbacks
  • Limited supply load
  • Activity levels require additional nutrition and rest
  • Unfamiliar terrain may increase risk of injury
  • Additional cost of food/lodging if available
  • Family, friends, and other community not available unless you have family you can bug out to
  • Travel by foot or road can be dangerous during disasters as people are unpredictable
  • Traffic may prevent expedient travel, leaving you more exposed than if you were at home

Should I Bug In, or Bug Out?

As with many other things in life, the answer is: it depends. You must use your preparedness mindset pre-event to determine which situations warrant staying, and which warrant leaving. There are not absolutes. Wildfires may spread and block your bug out route, but may destroy your home, floods may block travel, earthquakes may cause fires or broken roads. Ultimately, you must use your OODA loop wisely, and do the best you can. Given the advantages and disadvantages of each listed above, it is clear that bugging in is the most ideal option.

Up Next: Chapter 4, Bugging In

Disaster Preparedness Mindset

Mindset is critical before, during, and after a disaster. We will categorize disaster preparedness mindset into three timelines. Pre-Event, Event, and Post Event. A wise preparedness mindset will balance all 3 in correct proportion with a primary focus on pre-event.

Pre-Event Mindset

The pre-event disaster preparedness mindset should not be one of fear. Rather, we must consider possibilities with wisdom, reality, and care. Our primary goal during the pre-event mindset is to remove the D step from the OODA loop. The OODA loop consists of 4 steps, Observe, Orientate, Act, Decide.

  1. Observe surroundings and situation
  2. Orientate to the observations (process them)
  3. Decide how to act (this is the step we can eliminate almost completely)
  4. Act
OODA Loop Diagram, Observe, Orientate, Act, Decide

By using our imagination to place ourselves in a situation before it has ever happened, we are able to make a decision ahead of time. You wake up, your home is on fire. Do you know exactly what you will do and the exact order that you will do it in? Do you need to get your kids? Papers? Photos? Computer? By using our disaster preparedness mindset pre-event, we’ve already made the decision, and now only have to carry out the action.

Event Mindset

During a disaster event our senses will likely be overwhelmed. This is where pre-event disaster preparedness mindset shows. As many decisions as possible should have already been made, and now we are simply carrying them out. Have you yourself been in, or observed anyone else encounter an accident, be attacked, or otherwise be put into a high stress situation? What was the reaction? Many will freeze, unable to complete the OODA loop fast enough or at all. Even the most timid/indecisive person, typically incapable of dealing with life-threatening events will be able to react quickly and properly if they have already prepared themselves for the given situation.

Keeping a positive and hopeful attitude will likely save your life. It will keep you going when the odds may be stacked against you. That attitude will be even more important if you have others around you – family, friends, especially children. We often look to others to determine our emotions during times of trouble. Be the person that keeps everyone else moving towards the goal.

Post-Event Mindset

The post event disaster preparedness mindset is probably the least talked about part of preparedness. Many fantasize the end of the world, so there is no post event. Others only worry about surviving the immediate dangers. Consider a hurricane that comes through a coastal town. Houses are destroyed, electricity will be out for 3 weeks, and local businesses are unable to supply for your needs for 4-16 weeks. Despite only losing your roof, contractors are limited due to the sheer amount of destruction. It will be approximately 18 months before you have a livable home again. How will you make it through the next 18 months?

In the United States we idolize “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps”. What if you don’t even have boots anymore? Having a support system of family, friends, a community, or a church can only help. Don’t worry, plenty of hard work will still be required from your side! Create relationships now that will be there when they are needed most. It goes both ways, others will help you, and you’ll help others. Be the person who creates a community that can provide support during disaster.

Disaster Preparedness Philosophy

Disaster preparedness may seem an odd topic for Nature Connected Life. However, I maintain that it is a natural result of spending time in nature. As campers, hikers, adventurers, and explorers we all know how quickly a situation can turn due to the weather around us. While a thunderstorm may not ruin our day when we’re at home, it certainly can while we are away from shelter. This series will help you develop a preparedness philosophy so that you can help yourself, your family, and your community.

Prepper is a Dirty Word

If you have negative feelings towards the words prepper or prepping do yourself a favor and clean that slate. Carrying this weight will only hurt yourself. As people, we avoid becoming things we see portrayed negatively in the media. Thanks to shows like Doomsday Preppers the general populace thinks preppers are extremists. I want to help you rethink that.

What is Prepping?

The type of prepping Nature Connected Life advocates is one of wisdom, restraint, love, kindness, gentleness, and peace. This is not doomsday prepping. If you came here for fantasy, I hope that I will persuade you into a new approach. Disaster preparedness has two primary facets.

Philosophy for Disaster Preparedness

Just as critical as any physical items is our preparedness philosophy and mindset. Think of a fully stocked kitchen, all of the tools, food, and supplies to create unending meals. However, the chef who stands in the middle has never cooked a meal in their life. That person is mentally unprepared to accomplish any task in the kitchen, because they had not trained or thought through the necessary execution steps. The same thought and training should go into disaster preparedness.

Physical Supplies for Disaster Preparedness

Equally as unable to complete the aforementioned task is the chef who stands in a kitchen with no tools. They have all of the knowledge, but no way to complete what is required of them. In order to consider ourselves prepared we must gather or have access to any required supplies for a given situation. The time to buy Disaster Preparedness supplies is before, not after a disaster occurs.

Why Care About Disaster Preparedness?

We cannot always rely on others to be able to care for ourselves, our family, or our community during a disaster. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, or tsunamis can all render local aid inoperable for some amount of time. Whether that time period is 1 day, or 1 month, we would be wise to have mentally and physically prepared ourselves and our families. When we are not prepared, we actually stress the systems in place even more. Not everyone will prepare, but you can. With very little work, you can be the one who provides food, water, medical help, or information to your family and community. You can be the exception.