Should I Stay Or Should I Go – Why Everyone Should Have A Bug Out Bag

If you talk to a number of people in the preparedness world, many will advocate staying put over “bugging out” (i.e. fleeing). Many times, this discussion is far too narrowly focused and often fails to account for a large number of things that could realistically happen.

As I type this, I’m looking out the window at a vaguely orange-ish gray sky. Gray isn’t uncommon here in Western Washington State though it’s usually cloud cover. This isn’t. This is sun trying to shine through smoke that has blown down from Canada and over from Eastern Washington. Wildfires being the source in both cases. Thankfully nothing local at present but that could change.


While many plan to “bug in” or stay home in the case of emergency, that may over look some things. Are you near railroad tracks? What would you do if a rail car ruptured and spilled toxic gases or chemicals?

Are you near a chemical plant that could have a lethal gas leak? An industrial plant in Tacoma, Wa had a chlorine gas leak that sent 12 to the hospital and evacuated 100 others in 2007.

Another consideration is, are you near an underground oil or gas pipeline? These are all over the place. Three were killed when one exploded near Bellingham, Washington. All it takes is a leak to pose a hazard that may require an evacuation.

Does the area you reside in ever have dry periods that result wild fires or brush fires? This is a not uncommon occurrence here the area I reside.

What about tornadoes? Floods? Volcanic eruptions?

Or, my personal favorite, some form of law enforcement action. This one can range from a matter of minutes to hours and potentially even days.


Clearly, the answer to the question of “bug in” or “bug out” becomes¬†it depends.¬†All of these are things that could put us in a position to temporarily relocate and thusly require some form of supplies. At this point, the bug out bag or kit becomes advisable.

Tuesday I’ll discuss what we may want in our bug out bag or kit. Stay tuned.



4 Replies to “Should I Stay Or Should I Go – Why Everyone Should Have A Bug Out Bag”

  1. I have a bug out bag hanging in my front porch. I also have a box of stuff that needs to go into it, but since I haven’t finished filling out my list I haven’t packed anything. Hopefully I won’t have to bug out anytime soon.

    One issue that I haven’t resolved yet is that of firearm and ammunition. My intent is to keep my old revolver and a couple boxes of cartridges in the bag, but then I have to remember to take the bag out of the car whenever I go to the Great White North. Now that I think about it, ditto a camping knife. They frown on camping knives (in fact one time when I was crossing they frowned on a pocket knife, even though it was perfectly legal to own and carry in Canada. Maybe I just got that one jerk).

    So that means that if my BUB is to be properly equipped I have to keep it in my house, hoping against hope that there will not be an emergency that requires me to leave home while I am elsewhere.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts as I figure this would also apply to people who live in states where they can’t keep a firearm in their car when they aren’t in it.

    1. So, I’m not a fan of leaving firearms in vehicles due to having experienced too many vehicle break-ins in my life. To me, it’s a liability. Now, if you carry on a regular basis, you minimize the need to keep a firearm in the kit as it’s already on your person. Sadly, I don’t have much in the way of answers for dealing with Canada. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ventured up there.

      In the end, you do the best you can.

  2. We’ve had bags for some years now; they travel with us as “Get Home” bags as much as anything else.
    We have the experience of being evacuated twice for fires a few years ago; it can be a very good exercise but is not exactly analogous to “Bugging Out” – we fully expected to be back in our home (and we were) but more importantly we were not heading out to the great unknown; we were headed to a hotel (which ironically was in the evacuation zone the second time we were evacuated); we took many more personal items (photos especially) that we would have displaced with food water, ammo et al had it been the “real thing”. Nevertheless it was good practice and led to “lessons learned”. It also provided good opportunities to demonstrate to others that it’s not just TEOTWAWKI that can demand plans, procedures and most importantly LISTS. Packing lists and checklists are important.

    1. Oh definitely not TEOTWAKI, just more likely than TEOTWAKI is all. Sounds like you got some great practice runs in from that.

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